All Around Somebody Else’s Hat

Earlier, we discussed the folk song All Around My Hat, and today I want to attend to its close cousin All Around Somebody Else’s Hat. Strictly speaking, this is not a song so much as a dance with chanting.

The basic idea is that the participants first have to steal somebody’s hat. Any old titfer will do, though personally I would recommend the sombrero or the trilby. Having picked the person whose hat they intend to use, the celebrants surround the victim and stun him or her with poisoned darts. These should be blown through pipes or straws from close range. Aim for the head, being careful of course not to puncture the hat. Occasionally, when obtaining the hat on a busy street in an important metropolis, the collapse of the hat-wearer on to the pavement, and their accompanying groans and feverish panting as the toxins course through their veins, can attract the attentions not only of passers-by but of police officers or community hub support patrol wardens. If this happens, dissemble. It can be helpful to point at a flock of carrion crows in the sky, or to start up a loud and hideous collective jabbering, or both. Pointing at birds in the sky while jabbering usually distracts bumptious persons in uniform, in most cities.

Next, the gaggle of jabbering maniacs should carry the stolen hat off to their lair. This lair can be sited in a cave, or somewhere up in the hills, or, at a pinch, down an insalubrious alleyway within the city itself. Hurl sulphur bombs at any interfering busybodies dim enough to give chase.

Once in the lair, whooping with frenzy and festooned with feathers and necklaces of bones and teeth and engarbed in golden cloth, the dancers place the hat in a puddle of brimstone, surround it with stinky herbaceous clumps aligned in a pattern of esoteric significance, and begin to dance around it, while chanting.

The chant itself can vary, which makes it rather more interesting than the frankly solipsistic All Around My Hat. Recent examples observed in the field have included the incomprehensible hooba hooba gooba nooba, the elitist ad praesens ova cras pullis sunt meliora ad quem ad quod, and the riveting Partick Thistle 3, Stenhousemuir 1.

After three or four days and nights of uninterrupted dancing and chanting, glimpses of the ineffable should swim into vision. These will be branded upon the brain. Later, when everybody has calmed down and taken in fluids, the hat can be plucked from its puddle and returned to its owner, who will almost certainly be found tied to a bed in the nearest clinic, shaking uncontrollably and babbling inanities.

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