Observation on an Englishman and His Hat

The man of leisurely disposition and somewhat given to quiet reflection will often treat himself to a long country walk to aid him in that particular pursuit and before leaving his house, which is his castle, will frequently fix upon his head a hat, not only seeking the protection that accessory affords his otherwise naked pate, but equally calculating that same appendage will lend to his person an aspect not altogether displeasing to the eye and once taken as a whole together with the rest of that day’s elected drapings will rather propel him towards that golden standard that via the Greek philosopher we now know to be the harmony of parts.Lithograph poster showing a man wearing a tuxe...

But that same man of leisure and quiet reflection once setting foot outside his home, which has until now been unfailing in its duty as castle, redoubt and sanctuary, finds that once outside its protective walls, he is beset on all sides by the elements, and chief among them the second – namely the wind, which does conspire to dis-place that same covering from the perch where not five minutes past it was placed and not without some considerable attention paid to its aesthetic and umbrageous arrangement.

But the wind, caring little for such niceties, makes it his sole and express purpose to dislodge that ornament from atop his head and so, by a practised manoeuvre of backdraughts, updraughts and even occasional sidedraughts, works upon it with such vigour, buffeting and rocking and ceasing at such a time, one can only assume, as that hat is removed not only from its wearer’s head but quite beyond his floundering grasp too and settled, no doubt, in any great number of muddy pools with which the first and fourth elements have seen fit to bespatter his path in preparation for precisely this event.

But the man, already established as a gentleman more accustomed to leisure and quiet reflection and not the vexed pursuits of war, finding himself thus misused and abused adopts a more bellicose humour and resolves against all odds that his person and his headpiece must remain one and must by no means part ways.

And so, by degrees, he forms a strategy of his own, first rearranging his hat upon his head to give it greater purchase upon that structure, that is to say adding to the normal and universal effect of gravity in keeping it there and positively pulling it down front, back and side around his ears as though it were in fact a balaclava and not a bowler.

However, this method, while holding its own against the backdraughts and the occasional sidedraughts when they come, soon proves paltry defence against the many updraughts the wind counts among his arsenal.

And so our man of erstwhile leisure and quiet reflection, by no means forsaking his considerable powers of intellect for having now adopted a more bellicose humour, determines instead to outdo his foe, seeking to pre-empt his frequent sallies with a hand readied and poised to rescue his hat from the very best of his onslaughts and volleys.

But the wind, being altogether too cunning and wily a fellow to be outfoxed in this manner, forever catches our gentleman unawares and before his hand has barely left his side very nearly prizes his hat clean off his head, threatening at nearly every step to plunge it into any number of the aforementioned bemired basins with which the whole embattled panorama is littered.

And so our once proud man now reduced considerably in stature is forced, quite against his will and his Hellenic sense of all that is beautiful, to walk with his hand planted firmly on his crown for no other reason to keep his hat flying thence.

Now the sensitive reader needn’t be told that the man of famed leisure and quiet reflection looks quite the fool reduced to striding along with his hand a permanent fixture upon his pate and obliged – having no other recourse –  to acknowledge every passer-by with the manipulation of the whole cumbersome apparatus of head, hat and hand into a single awkward bow.

So, exasperated and not a little embarrassed by several encounters of this very sort, our man of leisure and quiet reflection hurries home, his face now red due to the equal operation of chagrin and the wind upon it – his hat, despite his earlier efforts, having remained throughout everything a bowler and not a balaclava.

And so our man of harried displeasure and pronounced disaffection, now reinstalled safley inside his caslte, slams his door upon the great and allied forces of water, earth and wind and promptly enlists the help of their as yet unnamed fourth member to torch his bastard hat.


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