I do seem to be wearing rather a lot of different hats these days. Certainly rather more than in my previous life as a Working Gal which feels like a lifetime away but was, in fact, only a little over two years past.
A smart hat is in order for when I am required to attend a Board Meeting or a School Governors’ Meeting. This is to go with the few smart clothes I have
remaining in my wardrobe, relics from my working life. It would be a foolish waste of money to invest in new clothes that I won’t wear very often, so I find myself turning up at meetings wearing two or three outfits in rotation. Hopefully nobody
pays sufficient attention to what I am wearing to notice this; as Young Faris is fond of reminding me on those occasions when he takes over the Daily Blog, I have now reached a Great Age and, in common with others of the same generation (and this is well documented
fact), I have become largely invisible.
Hats and I do not suit each other, we are mutually incompatible. I have yet to find a hat which really suits me, whether
that’s of the over-the-top wedding variety, or the common or garden sun-hat. The largest hat I ever wore was at the Middle of the Darling Daughter’s wedding ten years ago this year. In order to put this information into context you need to
know that she gave me precisely five days’ notice of the date of the wedding, apologising profusely for the fact that this would certainly curtail any Mother Of The Bride shopping trips I might otherwise have enjoyed. She had, however, reckoned without
a lovely friend of mine who loaned me the complete outfit she had worn for her own daughter’s wedding – from (slightly too large) shoes to the most amazing hat. I wasn’t sure Merton Register Office was ready for me and The Hat but I felt
it only right to wear the outfit in its entirety. The bride was suitably amazed.
I do also own what I understand is called a “fascinator” which perches
in an ungainly fashion on the top of my head, looking like some exotic Bird of Paradise which has accidentally landed in a strange, foreign land of wayward curls. I am still trying to decide whether to wear it to my lovely niece’s wedding in October
or whether I should leave it in the wardrobe for fear it might scare the real birds.
When I talk of “hats”, you see, I am not referring to actual head-gear.
I am referring to the various roles I have taken on in retirement. Every time I spring out of bed in the mornings (or, alternatively, drag myself out from under the covers) I have to remind myself which hat I will be assuming that day. Along with the
more formal roles described above, there is my role as Chief Companion to Mr B which often requires no more than being prepared to “just be” rather than rushing about here, there and everywhere. A slouch hat, maybe? Then there is my role
as a researcher of the family history – in hat terms, a deer-stalker methinks? There are the increasingly rare occasions when I adopt a sporting stance – meriting a baseball cap, don’t you think? – worn back to front in imitation of
All this talk of hats comes about because yesterday, along with my brother and sister, I was privileged to attend my dear cousin Michael’s
funeral. He was a “wearer of many hats”, the charming woman who led the service told us – not least his trade-mark Panama hat which nestled among the family flowers atop the wickerwork coffin prompting mixed tears and smiles from all present.
Michael was, first and foremost, a devoted husband to Diane, a loving father to Martin, Duncan and Alistair, and a beloved and attentive grandfather. He was also a gardener,
a scientist, an artist, an engineer, a badminton coach – just a few of the many “hats” he wore which earned him love, respect and admiration in equal amounts. I remember him showing me some of the amazing models and toys he had made for various
children and grand-children – sadly I never got to see the life-size Dalek he constructed for one of his sons but it received a special Mention in Despatches at his funeral. Whatever became of the Dalek? someone asked at the wake which followed the service.
Apparently it was sold to help finance the purchase of a motor bike for the son concerned. Michael would not have minded at all, the pleasure being all in the making for the ace modeller (yep, indeed, yet another of his “hats”.)
Michael was always so good to my Mum. After she died, when I came to look through her papers, I was grateful to find lots of letters, post-cards and loving messages “to Auntie
Dolly, from Michael.”
She will surely have been looking down on us all, quietly pleased that three of her four children (and our spouses) were there at the
funeral to celebrate our dear cousin Mick’s many-hatted life.