man in coat wiltshire story

A Story Overheard – Stealing Coats

I have just overheard a story that my dad was telling his old friend on the phone. I have never heard this particular story before. It is not a big story; it is an anecdote. A surname that jogged something in my dad’s memory and forced him to revisit a rather strange event.

My dad was in a pub as he occasionally is and he was having a drink as he occasionally does. All was as you would expect until a man came up behind my father and slowly lifted my dad’s coat from the back of the seat. The man then walked slowly away clutching my dad’s coat to his chest and proceeded to leave through the main door.

I imagine, although he did not say so, that my dad blinked his eyes heavily in confusion. After a few moments, my dad got to his feet and followed the man outside. He then watched in disbelief as the man put the coat on and started to walk off into the night.

What followed was a bizarre stand-off. My dad was dumb-founded – just why would this strange man so blatantly remove a coat that wasn’t his and put it on? It’s the Wiltshire pub equivalent of being in jail and the head of a prison gang piercing your last potato with his fork. You know what’s happened, he knows what’s happened, you can see that it’s happened, he knows that you can see that it’s happened. The situation screams, “Now what?”

Well, after a few moments, my dad finally managed to speak. Whilst keeping a safe distance, he asked for his coat back.

The man simply said, “You ain’t gonna call the police, are ya?”

“I just want my coat back,” my dad replied. I should point out at this point that my dad was in his sixties and not six. There were a few awkward moments, a few stretched silences until eventually the man handed my dad his coat back and walked off.

Later that night, the same man managed to make off with a sheepskin jacket from another pub.

Later still, three weeks later, the man barricaded himself in his home with three shotguns and several machetes. There was a stand-off with the police.

“A right bloody brain case,” my dad concludes. I can sense his friend nodding solemnly at the other end of the telephone. A right bloody brain case.


For more Wiltshire tales, try this story about Chickens and Country Folk.


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Tom Spooner

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