I realised as I left the house this morning that I really need to sort out replacing my anti-buzzard hat. It’s not just ASBO buzzard – who’s been rather quiet of late – or even the rain, it’s that having worn a flat cap of some form or another for so many years I feel somewhat underdressed without one. This morning it wasn’t raining but it was pretty nippy and I felt the lack of a head covering keenly. Not only does a good hat keep out the rain and keep your head warm and shade your eyes from the low sun, it does also give you a faint feeling of invincibility which is sometimes needed in order to get out of the house at all, let alone on a bike.
My first cap was a Chinese one (bought by my father in New York in the 70s apparently in order to impersonate a member of the Chinese UN delegation – I think for a comedy skit rather than diplomatic skulduggery, but you never know – and appropriated by me along with some Mao badges in order to annoy rightwing fellow students at university). I wore it for years and then left it in a cinema in Slough and it was never seen again. It was replaced for ages by my Akubra which is brilliant at keeping off the rain and making you feel as if you could wrestle a salt-water crocodile* at a moment’s notice but not that brilliant at staying on my head on the bike in a cross wind. When we moved up here the other half got me a waxed cotton flat cap for cycling in and that was fantastic until I dropped it somewhere in Bigtown and it was replaced by the most recent incarnation – a gift from my mum from Hoggs of Fife which was also pretty good, apart from the fact that I kept being sent catalogues full of exciting shooting products (I mean really, ear defenders so you can take your toddler safely on a hunt?)
I’ve been looking around for a replacement for a while now. Bigtown is full of flat caps but none of the shops stock ones small enough for my head, so I think I’m going to have to go online. And I think the time has also come to go for a proper Harris tweed one. Quite apart from the fact that it’s British made, which is quite something in this day and age, I can’t help noticing that every farmer over forty round here wears one, preferably so ancient its original colour has long since passed into the mists of time. Given that farmers have to be out in most weathers that suggests that they’re pretty practical, weather proof, and definitely stay on your head when bombing around on a quad bike, let alone a normal one.
The only slight problem I have is that tweed has inexplicably become a bit of a trendy urban bike thing, thanks to tweed runs and the like – although now that I’m about to adopt it, that will surely end. I need to find some way of wearing one that makes it quite clear that I’m not wearing it ironically. No doubt hanging on to it until it has become as shapeless and colourless as the farmers’ hats would do the trick – but that requires me not losing it for roughly 40 years. Which, on present form, is pretty unlikely. Meanwhile I’ll just settle for it keeping my head dry and the buzzards at bay…
*Obviously you probably couldn’t so don’t try this at home