Angles Of Hats

This is a transcript of a handwritten piece read today on Hooting Yard On The Air on ResonanceFM. If you do not already keep your bakelite wireless tuned in to the station twenty four hours a day, for god’s sake get a grip!

It occured to me to write something on the bus on the way to the studio, to give this week’s show a really contemporary feel. I know that Hooting Yard listeners rightly expect a programme that has its finger on the pulse of the times, that is truly up to the minute. Well, this week it certainly is, because what I am reading to you was written within the past hour.

And I am reading it with some difficulty, actually, because a bus journey does not lend itself to the practice of exquisite copperplate handwriting. I am trying to make sense of what can only be described as a semi-legible scrawl. Buses bump and clatter and shake, and at times it is akin to being a sock or a napkin in a tumble drier.

God, this is dull. Let me turn to another, non-bus-related topic.

Recently I referred in passing to my Flemish cheesecloth suit, and as a result I received letters from several listeners who, showing great good sense, sought my advice on matters of style and fashion, of dash and élan. Strikingly, no fewer than four of these letters concerned the wearing of hats at a rakish angle.

“Dear Frank,” wrote one listener, somewhat over-familiarly, given that I have no idea who he is, “Can you tell me how best to calculate the exact angle at which I should wear my hat, or titfer, to maximise its rakishness?”

Well, for that correspondent, and for the others who raised this important issue, I am preparing a small pamphlet, not yet in print, which addresses the question with more vigour and panache than I would guess have ever been attempted since people began wearing hats, caps, bonnets, Tam o’ Shanters, berets, fezzes, and all sorts of other headgear, which as you are probably aware was an immensely long time ago, back in what we often call the mists of time, and certainly before you were born. By my reckoning, it took several centuries from the first wearing of a hat to the insight that to tilt said hat at a rakish angle lent the wearer a certain cachet among the other members of their tribe, or what, following Hazel Blears, we would now call their community.

Of course, there were many false starts. Some angles are simply not rakish, and never will be, but they were tried and tested, often with the use of protractors and sextants and astrolabes, and we should be grateful to those tireless but flawed hat angle experimenters, for without their work we would doubtless still be going about our modern gleaming city streets wearing our hats at ludicrously unrakish angles. Some people still do, of course, including one or two of my fellow-passengers on this bus. I think it is my duty, once my pamphlet is in print, to carry a carton of them with me where’er I roam, handing out free copies to the insufficiently rakish.

End of bus journey now. I shall lay down my pen, and speak to you soon.

One thought on “Angles Of Hats

  1. I was raised by Jesuits – pious men who taught me the virtue of probity. Since I was a tot I have applied unstinting jesuitical Rectitude to every aspect of my life, including the wearing of hats.

    Now that you know my upbringing, you will understand that for me to wear a hat at a “rakish” angle would be an act of grievous impety. I would be betraying the values which I have held so dear all my life. Nevertheless it occurrs to me that there is a compromise between Rakish and Un-rakish – call it a “grey area”.

    Readers of the Hooting Yard blog may be familiar with the concept of grey areas. Aficionados of Science-Fiction have suggested that our world will end, not with biblical Armageddon, but in a kind of “grey goo”, the ultimate grey-area. The grey-area to which I refer to is one less frought with physical danger but one which to me presents a great deal of moral hazard.

    As I have said, it would be unseemly for me to wear my hat at a “rakish” angle however there is no Papal Bull or Encyclical forbidding the wearing of a hat at an angle which is merely “Jaunty”. It can be said that wearing a hat rakishly is a sign of moral turpitude, whereas the jaunty-hat wearer merely wishes to proclaim his “Joi de vivre”.

    Perhaps you could produce a table which correlates the form of head-gear with the maximum acceptable angle for the particular saints’ feast days upon which it is customary to wear a hat? All of your readers can then be comfortable in the reassurance that they have not incurred the wrath of an angry-God for their hat related sins.

    Yours in Christ

    T. Wellington

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