Thursday, 18 November 2010

Whatever happened to hats?...

I filled up with fuel this morning (early morning jaunt to Reading, damp, dark, and uninspiring), whilst I was waiting the eternity that it seems to take to fill my tank my eye was taken by a notice on the side of the pump. Now I know about the mobile phones rule, and the eating rule, and making sure that you report all spillages rule, I even know about children under 16 are not allowed to use the pump rule, but this was a new one on me. The notice read – ‘No pumps will be authorised if customers are wearing hoods and caps’.

No caps? No hoods? And is that together or either/or? And why not? After all garage forecourts are invariably the windiest places on earth. Why shouldn’t I protect my ears with a hood, or, cap, or a Stetson for that matter? If I put on my Stetson (not that I have one) and pulled it low over my eyes would I be refused petrol? And on what grounds? Are hats as dangerous as mobile phones are to petrol pumps, (which isn’t dangerous at all), and just what about that eating thing?

This is blatant Hatism.

I stood at the pump, nozzle in hand, remembering my grandfather who (when he was living) wouldn’t have been seen dead at a petrol pump without his cap, or anywhere else outdoors for that matter. He was never to be seen without a sensible flat tweed cap, at a nice jaunty angle, on the top of his flat tweed head - unless of course he was driving a sensible steam engine in which case he would wear a sensible dark blue denim engineman’s cap.

And what about my uncle Len who always wore his duffel coat in the winter – Hood turned up over his head all monklike! Well, it’s blooming cold for a milkman at four in the morning. Would he really be expected not to wear the coat’s hood when he was filling up his milk float? (not that he would have needed to as it was powered by 24 car batteries).

And what about our postmen and policemen, nuns and beekeepers, brides and bridegrooms, soldiers on home leave, sailors on shore leave, mortarboarded teachers on continual leave, and those men who deal with radiation leaks in science fiction films from the 1950’s? Will they all be expected to take their hats off before filling up too?

Time was when everyone used to wear a hat, or a cap, or a headscarf, outside. So what changed and just what did happen to all those hats?

I remember a high street full of hats, not everybody wore one, but Dr Beer wore a Fedora, Steve Cummersby a Trilby, an awful lot of men wore flat caps, and it wasn’t unusual to see the odd bowler – especially on market days with the farming folk were in town. For years I wore a school cap, and most mothers seemed to wear headscarves most of the time. Nearly all of the older ladies wore hats (mostly shapeless) for shopping, and no self-respecting woman would be seen at a wedding unless she was sporting some whimsical head creation made from feathers, flowers, and a little lace bow.

It seems, if I remember correctly, that all this started to disappear around the time of the Beatles. Up until ‘The Fab Four’ came along everyone had worn hats all, of the time, for hundreds of years! Perhaps it really was ‘Hats off to Larry’. (Google it)

Recently I’ve noticed a lot of younger people have started to wear hats again. Well, when I say hats I mean a collection of various tea cosy type things, mountaineering gear, strange dead animal affairs with ear muffs, and of course the inevitable hoody hoods from down da hood, blud, hoods. Problem is most of the time they seem to be wearing them indoors, hardly the done thing for a chap. Whilst baseball caps, all the rage a few years back with both youngsters and politicians alike, now seem to be the headwear of choice for sixty-something men who accessorise them with trainers.

So, you can’t wear a hat at the petrol pumps because the cameras won’t be able to record your face. How like Big Brother to introduce a ban on hats. What will it be next I wonder?

I wonder how the invisible man will get on in this new hatless society. Even without his headgear the cameras aren’t going to be able to see him. Perhaps we should start wearing bandages when we fill up at the pumps.


  1. Definitely chapish. I think we are on the cusp of a hat resurgance of the type one can doff to a lady. Please excuse spelling of doff if incorrect. Historical first use and all.

  2. Next it will be a ban on the scarf wrapped around your face in conjunction with a hoody look. I'm lobbying for it already.


  3. I recently bought a bowler hat from a bloke called Vince who runs a vintage shop in Afflecks Palace. I wore it for a whole evening around Stockport as part of a 'Splendid hats' birthday pub crawl. I felt superior to the hatless folk and got lots of nice comments.

  4. You used your phone to take that picture.

  5. Della Jayne Roberts commented on your Facebook:

    "Hats are all the rage here in Australia (especially in small country towns). And in cars (and when filling up at the petrol station). Akubra hats (like cowboy hats) are seen everywhere. Baseball caps are very popular as well. When it's sunny you often see older/asian ladies wearing white cotton no shape hats ... unless they have a sun shade (an umbrella not a parasol). For some reason, it really annoys me to see men (mostly) wearing their Akubra in the car (and baseball caps for that matter ... but does it matter?... )"

  6. Andy Bickerdike commented Facebook:

    Andy wrote "you forgot the french resistance and their beret's .. they'd not be able to get petrol to fight the bosh..

  7. Robert Mills commented on Facebook:

    Robert wrote "I was thinking about Bowler Hats the other day - London was full of them. Not one now. How strange. "

  8. Alison Gee commented on Facebook:

    Alison wrote "Get your hat on - I can just see you in a Quentin Crisp style trilby Andy"

  9. My dad wears a flat cap - always has done.

  10. Catherine Halls-Jukes commented on Facebook:

    I love hats, have a vast collection, one for almost every outfit, may have to stay at home and never travel, if i can not fill up wearing my hat!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Unless it's the only filling station in town, I'd just take my business down the road a piece, and perhaps let the station owner know why he's losing business. If he isn't an idiot, he'll take down his sign soon enough.