I didn’t do it!

No really, it wasn’t me. The work in this post is by my mum. I would love to be able to point you towards my mum’s website, but she doesn’t have one. I really should sort it out for her, but she gets sort of ranty about the computer and the fact that she can’t recieve any email. I have told her this is not my fault, and that its because her net provider is notoriously crap, but ranty mum is impossible to reason with, so I gave up trying decades ago. Lets just say she’s not one of the silver surfers.

Anyway, my mum has been researching and recreating british folk dress for years, and she’s very good at it. It started with a fascination with the Northumbrian bondagers – no, that’s not as pervy as it sounds – they were female bonded farm labourers, active up to the second world war, and had a very distinctive style of dress. I don’t reccomend that you try googling “bondager” though, not unless you enjoy bleaching your eyeballs.

Mum’s latest project is a cumbrian wrestling outfit for my long suffering stepdad. For those of you unaquainted with the, erm, artform, cumbrian and westmoreland wrestling is HUGE in the Lakes and surrounding areas. Men and boys of all ages gather at agricultural shows to grapple with each other and wear sparkly embroidered underpants over the top of thier long johns (there’s not much else to do in cumbria) whilst thier women folk cheer them on. Unlike the bondagers, its not an outfit in any danger of dying out, but mum does talks on costume all over the place so she decided to do her own version for demonstration purposes. She normally gets quite obsessive over details (don’t get me started on all the bits of fabric with incredibly specific patterns I’ve tried to track down for her) but she had a bit more fun with this one as there isn’t really a hard and fast style.

I think Peter is hoping he never has to stand around wearing his black velvet underpants over the top of his long johns whilst assorted members of the womens institute giggle in his general direction, and I doubt he’s about to take up wrestling (he’s 73), although he is cumbrian – he’s from Carlisle.

 This is the chest of the top that matches the long johns. Mum chose scarlet pimpernels  – they seek him here, they seek him there – because she can never find Peter when she want’s him.

I don’t know why she can never find him, it isn’t difficult, he’s nearly always down the pub, sometimes behind the bar, often underneath it.

I think the thistles are for his scottish heritage, not cos he’s a prickly old sod, which he isn’t.



 And this is the backside of his natty black velvet underpants. Laurels for him to rest upon, and I think the wheatsheaf is for beer – Peter likes beer.


I promise that next time I post it will be something I did do, but I admit I’ve been a bit rubbish this last week as I’ve got a minor cold and feel a bit tired and grumpy.

~ by opusanglicanum on May 10, 2012.

20 Responses to “I didn’t do it!”

  1. (giggles) we needz photos of Peter wearing the outfit and wrestling in it!

  2. Sometimes all your amazing historical stuff is a bit beyond me 😉 but I do know about Cumbrian Wrestling (being originally from Cumbria). Always thought it (and the outfits)looked very silly but I can appreciate the embroidery and the effort involved in making them.

  3. I love reading your posts – I learn so much, and this one was a much-needed source of chuckles at the end of this long day.

    • I think all the days are too long at the moment. mine got longer yesterday cos half an hour after I’d gone to bed one of the nieghbours cars caught fire and there were flashing lights everywhere. I think he’d left a ciggarette lit in his car.

      • Oh lord, I think I need more sleep. I read your post as “One of the neighbour’s CATS caught fire”. O_o;

      • I need more sleep, didn’t get much last night. I had a good look on my out this morning though – by the looks of it someone in the back seat was smoking cos that where the upholstery was melted.

        I think he drove it this morning though!

  4. I nearly died laughing when I read this!

  5. Hilarious post, I know how you feel about ranty mums. Sometimes when it comes to helpdesk stuffs it pays to outsource to a friend of yours instead. For some reason ranty mums will listen to complete strangers who sound authoritative about computer stuffs. Odd but there you are 🙂

    Hope you feel better soon.

  6. Good to know I’m not the only one continuing a family tradition of embroidery. I’ve heard a little about Cumbrian wrestling and it doesn’t sound like it’s for the faint-hearted!

  7. I’ve always wished I had some sort of specific cultural heritage to celebrate – now I’m not so sure. Kudos to mum and step-dad though.

    • there are bondagers, bargees, pithead lassies, and fishwives with thier own costumes, many of which were in regular use up until the second world war, but itseems we’ve forgotten them. Mum really needs to write a book. its interesting that most of our english costumes seem to be female though

  8. Very interesting post. You are lucky to have such a talented mum. Waves, during my brief vx to the V&A, I took a few pics of the burses. Would you like me tip send them to you?

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