I have this slightly bonkers theory that Western Civilisation starting going down the toilet when men stopped wearing hats. Not baseball caps and such like but proper “Foyle’s War” type trilbys and fedoras.
A long time ago, I had the most fantastic fedora. It was such a dark grey that it looked almost black. It was beautiful. I loved that hat. It was a Christmas present from my girlfriend at the time. Lynn. Smashing girl. I remember one evening we were in her flat in Vauxhall when I suggested that we should go and watch the sun come up. She sighed one of those sighs that women sigh when you suggest something they consider so romantic you just know you’re going to get laid! Anyway, we jumped into my MGB GT sports car
and drove to Ramsgate on the Kent coast which was the most easterly point I could think of, bearing in mind that my thought processes were under the complete control of my penis at the time! We arrived in Ramsgate in the early hours, just before dawn. We parked up on the sea front and saw absolutely nothing. It was foggy and we couldn’t see a bloody thing! Still, it was the thought that counts and we had a lovely time although I do still have a bad back. A MGB GT is not a large car. Unfortunately we broke up soon after but I kept the hat.
Back to the hat.
I wore that hat a lot. I wore it to work. I wore it nearly every day and every night. I cared for it. I may have slept with it on from time to time. I certainly bonked a girl or two while I was wearing it. It was the smartest piece of clothing I owned. My default dress code is called “scruffy”. Still is to this day. If I was to wear an expensive Hugo Boss suit I wouldn’t look like Gerard Butler.
More like his Irish mate, Sac O’Shit. Within half an hour of donning any smart clothing I would look like I’d been in several brawls. My hat though just looked the dogs danglies all the time. At weekends I would don my 501s, my Rolling Stones tee shirt (or the Led Zep one or the Frank Zappa one cos he had a moustache just like mine), put the coolest ever black leather jacket on, put my hat on my head and I thought I looked the bollocks. Probably most people on the planet thought I looked like a right whelk but I didn’t care. I was wearing my hat! Girls loved it. I would approach a young lady at whatever club I was in, doff my hat to them and say,
“May I have this dance?”
“Can I buy you a drink?”
“Fancy a shag?”
Worked every time.You know what they say; ‘You need a head to wear a hat’ or something like that.
One day I went to visit my brother. I put my hat upon my head and left my place to go to his. (I was wearing other clothes!) My brother lived in Brixton which is in South West London. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Brixton was a very expensive area in the suburbs. The houses were huge. The first road in London to get electricity was in Brixton and it was renamed Electric Avenue and that’s where my brother lived. Eddy Whatshisface wrote a song about it. As time went on though, Brixton started to fall on hard times, the houses were split up into flats and the whole area became a bit shabby. A lot of Irish families moved there and during the 1960s and 70s, a large proportion of the population were from the West Indies. My brother loved living there and I admit I loved to visit. It was always alive, the market was great, the pubs were brilliant and we had a good time whenever I visited. The hostility between the police and the local population didn’t really register with us although the presence of large numbers of police officers was always a topic of conversation. On this particular visit, unknown to both of us, the SPG (Special Patrol Group) were present and Operation Swamp was in full swing with the police stopping a multitude of young people, mainly black, under the “Sus” laws. The atmosphere was tense and you could feel it so we decided to go back to my brothers flat which he shared with 2 Irish lads. Shortly after we returned, we noticed black smoke rising from nearby Railton Road known as “The Front Line” to the locals. Rioting had broken out and the rioters had set fire to a pub.
Police arrived in my brothers road and all the shops shut, the street market closed and the whole road very quickly became deserted. All four of us were hanging out the windows of the top floor flat trying to see what was going on when, quite suddenly, a mass of people appeared around the corner like a huge tidal wave. They filled the road completely. There were thousands of them. The jewellers across the road had pulled their shutters down over the windows but within 15 seconds the rioters were in and looting the place. Every shop was broken into and looted. We looked on in total amazement.
Just down the road was a Curry’s electrical store. The rioters went through the plate-glass windows and stripped the place bare. Some of them hid their loot under the market rubbish but someone set fire to it. Others took their stuff to what appeared to be a wedding reception a bit further down the road. The newly weds had more fridges, freezers, washing machines and microwaves than they could shake a stick at. We heard people coming up the stairs so we went out into the hall to see what was going.
“We’re taking stuff up to the roof.” they said. This “stuff” was a bloody great washing machine and a fridge.
“No you’re not.” said my brother.
“Oh yes we are.” they replied.
“Not happening mate.” I said
Then they looked again and saw four burly blokes blocking their way. My brother and his flat mates played rugby and were built like outhouses. I’d been a canoeist for donkeys years and had very broad shoulders and a narrow waist. (Sadly, these have now swapped places). So they struggled back down stairs again and shortly afterwards one of them came back with an Easter egg for each of us. How nice!
We went back to watching the scenes below us. Gradually, the crowd moved away and the road was deserted again. Devastated but deserted. We saw an old guy on a moped riding past and picking up pieces of jewellery discarded by the mob. Then, in a scene that could have been from Shaun of the Dead we saw a guy walking down the road. He was looking around in total amazement. I think he lived nearby and after a heavy session the previous night had just woken up and gone out to the shops to be met with the most incredible scenes of destruction. His mouth was wide open and he was looking around trying to compute what on earth had happened and what had he missed. He stepped into the now empty Curry’s store and with unbelievable speed a police meat wagon screeched up, four huge coppers jumped out, grabbed the guy, threw (and I mean THREW) him in the back of the meat wagon and screeched off again. Been and Gone in 60 Seconds!
It started getting dark. From the roof we could see little groups of people sitting on all the roof tops with their loot, waiting for the whole thing to ease off so they could take it home or sell it. There were more people in the road again and as we hung out the windows, my hat fell from my head and floated ever so gently to the ground below. Some random bloke picked it up. I shouted out to him;
“Thanks mate. That’s my hat. I’ll be straight down to get it.”
Whereupon he stuck MY hat on HIS head and called out;
and he walked off!
With my hat!
On his head.
What an absolute bastard!
I have been traumatised ever since. I never got a replacement. It just wouldn’t be the same. I miss my hat and I often wonder what happened to it. I guess I’ll never know. I do hope though that the bastard who took it suffered a terrible fate. How could anyone take another mans hat?
Have an amazing week.
More Dick soon.