Susan Morrison: How wellies made us invincible

It's true. If it wisnae fur yer wellies, where would you be? You'd be in the hospital or infirmary, to quote Sir William Connolly, Billy to his friends.

Friday, 9th March 2018, 6:00 am
Wellies made you feel invincible (Picture: Getty)

The welly is Scotland’s national footwear. They briefly fell out of favour back in the 80s, when we drove everywhere, and all dancing was done indoors. Then dancing outside at festivals became all the rage.

Scotland’s weather is notorious. There’s a reason why we used to pack duffel coats for July holidays in Girvan. Outdoor festivals in the UK are a triumph of hope over experience, as anyone who’s ever experienced T in The Park will tell you. I’ve seen Belladrum turn into a sort of giant muddy World War One battlefield re-enactment, albeit with Deacon Blue in the background.

Wellies came back, bigger than ever. And brighter. Flowery ones, tartan ones and neon pink, yep, the national boot got wellied into fashion.

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None of this flowery nonsense for my childhood wellies. Oh no, welly boots were black, weighed a ton and could probably have done shifts on storm-lashed North Sea trawlers, never mind walking to school on a mildly drizzly morning.

My wee brother (aka The Pest) never removed his, not even for our one summer holiday in Bournemouth, that most English of seaside resorts. He accessorised his welly boots with a knitted tank top, shorts and, for some reason, a Glengarry forage cap.

My hip, cool, capri-pant sporting mother was beside herself with mortification, but my dad (wide-legged shorts, sandals, socks and a pipe) thought The Pest looked a hoot.

Mum insisted that they walk on the other side of the road.

The Pest kept his boots on. As a result, he had a tan that stopped at his knees, and a constant red mark round his calves because summer shorts exposed soft skin to the ruthless unfinished rubber round the edges at the top of the boot.

Weeping sores around the legs were not considered to be a fashion faux pas for children back in the 60s.

With Scotland in the recent grip of the Beast from The East, I can confirm that no puddle, no snowpile, no slush loch holds any fear for the wellington boot.

You can conquer the deepest drifts, secure in the comfort of dry cosy toes.

You are invincible in wellies.

Okay, you’re not completely invincible in wellies

No matter your age, pulling on wellies unleashes the inner 11-year-old. Slush ridges? Satisfyingly crunch over them. Puddles? Stride boldly through, no fearful faffing about the edge. Snow drifts on Pilrig Park? Quick glance round to see that no one is watching and straight in, feet first, amigo.

The danger with that is, I’m a lot shorter than I think I am, and some of those drifts were way bigger than I thought.

The two terrible downsides of the welly. Trapped melting snow sloshing about your toes till you get home, and two, getting the darned things off…

Leith more at risk from scurvy, than zombies

So, come the first warning of the zombie apocalypse, you bet I know what I’m seizing in my first loot of the supermarket shelves. Pizza. Whilst people were posting up images of whole aisles devoid of milk, eggs and bread, I was taking snaps of pizza-free shelves. Leith was a pizza-free zone. On the other hand, more cabbages and oranges than you could shake a stick at. Come the apocalypse, it won’t be the zombies that get us. It’ll be scurvy.