The woollen balaclava surrounded the head of a young boy

like a facsmile of the Norman chain mail helmet

on my mother's knitting pattern together with fingerless mitts,

in today's world of sports gear an anachronism. 


Bestway Knitwear no. A 2624 4d. guided her as the fifties demanded;

said balaclava was as hot as molten lava,

as itchy as a false beard in a Shakespeare play

the precursor to sundry rashes. 


A kind of skirt recessed over the collar

preventing the egress of any invading wind,

the full monty so to speak, the wearing of which 

made me a target for merciless teasing at the time

by schoolmates whose own mothers spurned the needles. 




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Sat 8th Oct 2022 09:54

Yes Ray,

With regard to law enforcement collectively concealing individual identity...acting as a force for the remote instruments of power. It is exactly that which is sinister and regressive. Of course their masters will make mention of collar numbers etc...those people have probably never been exposed to officers in that scenario or know all to well the alternative practices of concealment individual officers can utilise.

Forgive me this comment does not really relate to your poem. I'll stop now.

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Fri 7th Oct 2022 11:39

A collision of perception and deception seem to be on the agenda with this - in my case a simple one of embarrassment albeit with a good intention. I have found that the balaclava was named after the battle of 1854, so its continuance has a military inspiration. Further than that I suppose one would be in the same territory as masked balls beloved of the upper classes in a less sinister context. Is there a parallel? Perhaps there is also a need for recognition of a massed kind rather than of individuals. What counts of course ultimately is the individual, often thus confined and suppressed in the very act of accomplishing that. Mmmm.....

Tom and Frederick thanks for your additional likes.


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Thu 6th Oct 2022 13:02

I'm keen to see how long this thread can be sustained.

How is it such apparently innocuous articles such as the Balaclava can be associated with so many negative thoughts, for example.

1. Criminality
2. Sinister state agencies
3. Terrorism
4. The humiliation and discomfort of school children.

I suppose some objects are more plyable to the wicked ways and intentions of men. Although I am reliably informed you can kill someone with a phone directory...if anyone recalls what such a thing is.

Next please...

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Thu 6th Oct 2022 11:06

Good for you Uilleam ! I think the wool ones were itchy but i'm sure you'll check for that. I wondered if your name is pronounced William - i'm interested in gaelic names . Thanks.

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Uilleam Ó Ceallaigh

Thu 6th Oct 2022 10:58

I've bought a bloody big balaclava, the type motocyclists wear, and I'm going to wear it this winter.

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Wed 5th Oct 2022 20:13

Thanks Frederick for coming through here.

I should explain that the knitting pattern was amongst some old memorabilia I saved as I am a coward when it comes to destroying family past items however modest.

Greg, a salient point, a reversal of roles . I supposed you could say I was a soft target. Thanks too for the analogy !

Wow, split loyalties Flyntland. Quite a skill for a man i'd say but why not indeed?

Hi Stephen. We had no car and had to brave the elements at all times. The young can of course be scornful , I was mournful..

Thanks Massoud, your first paragraph is spot on . Headgear always seems to foster controversy (as in the Burkha and the Sikh examples and especially in the religious context. Does the issue raise deeper matters? of course especially of perception as to the roles you mention. As far as a soap box is concerned you know my views are for revelation rather than condemnation. Very best to you!


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Wed 5th Oct 2022 09:17

A great piece of writing Ray.

Bullies will latch on to any opportunity to deflect from their own weakness. What is sad in the telling is that your Mother who presumably created this item of ridicule did it out of love and care for her much loved Son...maybe that is the act which so filled the bullies with hate...of course oblivious to their own short comings.

On other matters alluded to here, balaclavas have become fashionable in many elite fighting force. I note that unfortunately this has spread to so called specialist Police Units in the UK..of course they claim it is for security reasons and even HS&E reasons in some instances. To my mind if a Police Officer needs to hide his face whilst in uniform on operations this presents a problem...Our Police are not enforcers they are upholders of the law. Anything which fringes the paramilitary requires review. UC ops is completely different and much more regulated in this age.

We are far from being a Police State but I do not like and never have liked the drift toward paramilitary Police units.

I'll get off my soap box...hopefully having created topic for discussion.

More Importantly...good poem. Thought provoking.

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Stephen Gospage

Wed 5th Oct 2022 07:12

Good job you didn't listen to them, Ray. The kids around here waiting for school buses seem to take delight in freezing in sub-zero winter temperatures. Keep warm. My wife still wears a balaclava in cold snaps. Fine poem as usual.

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Tue 4th Oct 2022 19:11

Memories galore here - I can remember knitting a balaclava for my small son but I did not knit one for my daughter, I now wonder why - she got just as cold - perhaps girls were tougher.

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Greg Freeman

Tue 4th Oct 2022 16:45

And yet, decades later, men wearing them became people to be feared, not despised. How fashions change, eh, Ray? This poem is knitted together very well.

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