There comes a time, for a lady, as indeed for a gentleman, when an invitation is received to attend a function at which the wearing of a stylish hat is de rigueur. Receipt of such can fluster the hatless and the poor. Imagine you are a pauper without a hat to call your own. Enchanted as you are to be expected at, say, a king’s levee, you will be plunged into seething fret by dint of both your hatlessness and your impecunious state, which forbids you from simply dashing out to a hat shop to purchase a stylish hat, as a non-pauper might do. You could, of course, steal a hat, but that would be a step into a moral sewer, and at the last, when your time on earth is done, you would be dragged by fiendish claws into the hellfire, there to burn and rot in all eternity.
But fear not! For here is salve for your agony from Hooting Yard’s hat person Fatima Gilliblat. Fatima has given much thought to the hat/pauper conundrum, and we are pleased to reprint her excellent advice:
During my long and searching wanderings through the hovels of the destitute, I have always been impressed by the fact that even the meanest midden has in it, on a windowsill or mantelpiece, a vase of flowers. Perhaps this is due to the influence of John Ruskin. I do not know, but I know the evidence of my eyes, and everywhere I look I see vases of flowers.
I am only too well aware of the flap a pauper gets into when postie saunters up the filthy lane bearing an invitation to a municipal function or a swish cocktail party or even a king’s levee, any kind of do where one will be barred if not wearing a stylish hat. So I have come up with a simple solution, which is to turn your vase into a hat.
The first thing to do is to remove from the vase the flowers lodged in it. Without water and bionutriment they will soon die, but you must get your priorities right. Later you will have time to weep over them. For now, however, you also need to empty the vase of said water and bionutriment, so upend the vase and pour the w and the b down the sink. If you are so poor that you have no sink, go outside and empty the vase into a ditch.
You must ensure that the innards of the vase are clean and dry, so wrap some rags about your fist and plunge your arm into the vase, then make the sort of motion with your hand as you would were you whisking eggs. If the neck of the vase is too narrow for your arm to fit inside it, tie the rags to a stick and poke the stick into the vase instead.
Now turn the vase upside down. Go and get some butchers’ string. You will be using this to create a loop or lanyard, fixed to the vase, to be tucked under your chin, in order to steady the “hat” on your head and ensure it does not topple and smash upon the floor, embarrassingly, just at the moment you are presented to the king, or handed a cocktail, or asked to draw the raffle at a function. Cut the required length of butchers’ string and then dip each end into a pan of the homemade glue you will have boiled up earlier. Press the sticky ends to the vase, holding them in place until they are stuck fast. Try a few experimental tugs to ensure the string is secure. You can now place the vase – still upside down, remember! – upon your bonce, and adjust the lanyard under your chin. There, you have a stylish hat.
But waste not, want not. You still have a lot of glue in the pan, so gather such items as fruit and glitter and decorative baubles and smashed-up mirror fragments and stick those chaotically all over the vase. Now it is even more stylish, and when you sweep elegantly into the levee or party or function, all eyes will be on your hat.
Afterwards, unless you expect another invitation in the very near future, you will probably want to put the vase back on your windowsill or mantelpiece and place within it fresh flowers grown on your sordid little allotment. Before doing so, you should remove the butchers’ string and the fruit and the glitter and the decorative baubles and the smashed-up mirror fragments. If the glue you boiled is of incredible adhesiveness, this will be quite a difficult task. But there is always a price to pay to achieve style and dash, as I know from my own experience, the telling of which would make you shudder.
Next week, teabag as lampshade.