On buying a hat…

I have a little problem.

You see in five short weeks time I will be whisked away from these lands to a place in the Mediterranean that flies the flag of Greece and is known to the international community as the island of Corfu.

I last was in Corfu in August 1980 but even with the passage of 31 years I do recall that August in Corfu is rather hot, indeed it is very hot with lots of unfettered sun, and unfettered sun is bad for those who do not have a generous hirsute covering on their head – I fall into that category.

In short I need a hat.

But which hat ?

There is my quandary.

 I favour one of these, a nice Panama, especially one a little battered like the one in the photo, it adds a certain  elegance to the English holiday maker abroad, I believe “The Man from Del Monte” look is about right for a  person of my vintage, stylish, slightly eccentric, a presence in a crowd.

I used to have a Panama, albeit a cloth one and so not the genuine article, it was bought for me by my wife and  children on a day out in the Dales as a piss-take when I remarked that I rather liked the look of one in a shop  window, to their horror I adopted it and wore it frequently causing them to walk some distance behind me all  the time, I left that hat in the garage one year and it went mouldy so I no longer own it.

I certainly do not want one of these for there is something so wrong in a person who has reached adulthood but who still wears one of these creations, especially if worn backwards, a person who is in all other respects an adult who wears a baseball cap backwards is, I am afraid to say, slightly backwards in the brain, it looks cute on seven year olds with freckles, it looks like you’ve escaped from an asylum if you are an adult.

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The youth these days seem to be favouring the Trilby style, my own offspring own them, which is the only reason I need not to purchase one for myself, that and the small issue of resembling Harry Worth when wearing one.

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At a pinch I could get away with one of these, the larger the better but then there is the ever present urge to don a checked shirt, jeans, boots and leather chaps and before you know it you are striding bow legged along the beach in Corfu looking for all the world like Woody from Toy Story.

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I once owned one of these, in leather, well, plastic leather look-alike anyway, but I was very young at the time and John Lennon had made them costume de rigueur that summer, everyone who was anyone at Cayton Bay was wearing one and I was no exception, my cousin Jennifer borrowed it from me and I never saw it again, or her come to think of it.

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Of course I always have the luxury of allowing chef Rick Stein to model various hats for me in order that I can easily assess what the good folk of Corfu will see in me when I promenade there in August, no Rick, I don’t think that the Peking look is a good one for you, or me.

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So I believe it will be a Panama and my only conundrum now is how much to pay for the blasted thing. We were in York a couple of weeks ago and happened upon a hat shop, a proper hat shop that only sold hats, hats of all descriptions it sold and in that hat shop were genuine Panama hats made from tightly woven straw by buxom Panamanian wenches, and very nice they were too, the hats that is not the wenches for they had no photographs of the wenches, I suspect that they all looked like a straw weaving Bella Emberg but we digress.

I learned two things that day as I tried on various Panama hats, I learned that I have a large head for all of the Panama hats in that specialist hat shop were 58cm and they didn’t fit my head,  “You need a size 60” said the rather camp man in the specialist hat shop, and yes he was wearing a hat, a trilby hat actually, “Oh” said I, “do you have a Panama in a size 60 then ?”, and he searched high and low in his shop for a Panama hat in a size 60 but could he find one – he could not, “Its not a popular size Sir” he said with just a hint of “Jesus wept your head is f’kin huge, did you have trouble getting school caps to fit you?” and by the way, yes, I did have trouble getting school caps to fit me especially as mine spent most of its life on top of the toilet block roof after being snatched from my head and thrown there by School Bully.

The other thing that I learned in that specialist hat shop in York was that genuine Panama hats are just ridiculously expensive, even the ones that are too small for your head – I tried one on that was too small for my head and therefore useless to me and he still wanted to charge me £56 for it, I told him that I wouldn’t dream of paying a penny over £10 and he asked me to leave the shop with my big head so I still don’t have a sun-proof covering for my scalp in August and I’m beginning to wonder if it wouldn’t look too ridiculous to just paint my head with black paint to stop it getting burned.

Well it worked for Michael Jackson.

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3 thoughts on “On buying a hat…

  1. Never mind a hat, a hankie with four knots is waaaaaay cheaper and you can compliment it with sandals and socks! Don’t forget the socks. 😉

  2. I assume you are swimming there? As I seem to remember that you swore blind you’ll never get back on a plane 🙂

    Coincidentally I’ve bought a hat today. It cost me £50. I’m not evn sure I don’t look like a complete pratt in it.

    I do have around 70 hadrians walk buffs going for a very reasonable price if you want them? 🙂

  3. GM – I’d forgotten about the hankie, and of course I still have the Hadrians Walk buff which is a knotted hankie made fashionable.

    Dan – Thats what happens when you go to a BBQ on a May Bank Holiday, have two pints of lager and then join in a discussion about booking holidays, you wake up the next morning thinking, “Hang on, didn’t I say I wouldn’t…”

    All I can say is that the security at Doncaster Airport had better be in a good mood when I pass through.

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