I like scarves.
At school, I wear a shirt, tie, sports jacket, and trousers. In summer, the sports jacket is linen, in winter it is tweed. In autumn and winter, I wear a scarf.
I like scarves. I like long scarves. I like the sort of scarves that I can fold in half and then put the two ends through the loop and pull snugly around my neck. Or the sort of scarf that I can loop around my neck and have the two ends still at waist length.
It was such a preference that caused me disappointment in the spring – one of my favourite scarves was lost.
One of the students in school noticed it was no longer among the half a dozen that I wear. ‘Where’s the stripey scarf you used to wear, sir?’
‘I don’t know,’ I replied. ‘I must have left it in one of those classrooms.’
Normally, going into a warm room, I would take off my scarf and hang it over the back of the chair at the teacher’s desk. I rarely sit down during a lesson, so it is not in the way.
There had been three or four times previously when I had returned to rooms to recover scarves, (a small fraction of the times that I had returned to recover my external hard drive which contains my life’s work and without which I would be lost).
The loss of the scarf was annoying. I checked each of the rooms in which I had taught, I checked every corner of the staff room, I checked rooms into which I had not been, lest someone had picked it up to return it and had then put it down again.
The scarf was nowhere to be found. I concluded that either someone had taken it, or, more likely, it had been thrown away.
There were thoughts about buying a replacement. The cost of energy might mean scarves become indoor as well as outdoor wear.
Returning from a summer in England on Tuesday evening, I began unpacking my bags.
At the bottom of the chest of drawers, there is a drawer into which I put stuff that is rarely, if ever, worn. I opened it to throw in a couple of pairs of shorts not worn in years that had been lying in a wardrobe in Somerset. There was a moment of delight – there, neatly folded, was my scarf.
How the scarf came to be in a drawer of rarely worn garments, I have no idea. I have no recall of putting it there. All of my scarves are together in a cupboard, there is no reason why I would have opened the drawer and put the scarf in it.
Recalling the children’s story, my father would have said it was the borrowers.