The hat department of any good store is a bit like an exotic forest, with feathery chiffon treetops and branches of fascinators. You can get lost in millinery, bags and accessories.
There might be grand dames of the New Town who have never left the hat department of Jenners, roaming freely through a canopy of quills, ribbons and felt, trapped on their way to afternoon tea, lost in their admiration of cartwheels, fedoras and pillboxes, and daringly, perhaps even glancing over at a beret.
Incidentally, no-one has ever pulled on a beret without adjusting the hat to a jaunty angle and the accent to fake French before looking in the mirror to say ‘Leesten carrefullee, I shall say zees oanlee oance’.
Every now and then I go and try hats on, in a desperate effort to find one that suits me. It’s always an exercise in abject failure. This is why I like the lush growth of the hat department. I can lurk in there like a Japanese soldier who refuses to believe the war is over, avoiding the pitying looks of the sales teams who prefer to hunt on the wider, more open veldt of ladies shoes, or the empty vistas of men’s clothing.
In a secluded glade I can try on a romantic chiffon glory with a brim wide enough to be in a different time zone, and then glance coyly at my reflection.
In my head, I am Bette Davis in Now, Voyager, looking up from under the rim of an impossibly huge hat, great gleaming eyes locking with Paul Heinreid as he lights up two fags at one go.
In the mirror, I am Gollum under a pastel satellite dish, with the unmistakable look of a gaffed fish.
It’s not a good look for anyone, but it’s also not the look you really want to inflict on an 88-year-old great-grandmother who’s invited you to her gaff for a bit of a do.
Yes, the queen has invited me to that bash she has in her back garden every year. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s to help the staff clean up afterwards.
All I know is, hats would seem to be the order of the day. My mum says so, and believe me, I didn’t reach this age by arguing with my mum.
I’m lapping up the royal treatment
Well, obviously Liz didn’t actually invite me, I mean, she didn’t phone me up with a breezy “hullo, how d’ye do, fancy a party and can you pop by Lidl on the way for some firelighters, Phil might spark up the barbie?’
It was a letter, which you will all be very glad to know was dispatched via second class post. Very commendable. The Lord Chamberlain – a title straight out of Gilbert and Sullivan – wrote the invite out.
It’s like when you have a birthday party for your five-year-old at soft play. Mind you, I don’t expect a bouncy castle, but I hope there’s a goody bag.
The queen of Leith
ALL hail to the Queen of Leith, the mighty and formidable Mary Moriarty, once chatelaine of the Port
O’ Leith and a woman who fully deserves the title of legendary. The Other Queen has offered Mary an honour. It’s something to do with the British Empire. We must have bits of an Empire lying about. Imagine that.
Every community should have a Mary Moriarty. You go, girl!
Great Unwashed’s crowning glory
WHY everyone who meets the Queen has to wear a hat is a bit baffling, but it does seem the right thing to do.
Of course, it could be that the wearing of clearly distinguishable head gear was taken as a safety precaution in years gone past. Members of the working classes like myself would naturally be worried that the Duke of Edinburgh, startled by the appearance of The Great Unwashed in the shrubbery, might suddenly conclude the revolution had kicked off and start banging away with a 12 bore.
Nothing says “party’s over” like a couple of downed dudes leaking innards all over your herbaceous borders. Not even the most ardent Bolshevik stormed the gates of the Winter Palace wearing a chiffon cartwheel with contrasting ribbon trim. It therefore makes sense to calm any fears our royal hosts may have of the revolutionary classes running amok amidst the tea and sarnies by wearing hats.
That’s my theory, anyway.