I bought this hat in a trendily avant-garde designer boutique in Deansgate, Manchester in 1976. It raised a few eye-brows then but it has been a loyal friend all these years and, recently, I notice, it has finally become fashionable. I’ve worn it on many occasions, at the races, on my honeymoon, on country walks and even in Wenceslas Square, Prague, just after the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
I had assumed that it would live forever but yesterday I went to put it on and discovered that it has finally succumbed to the invasion of clothes moths (Tineola bisselliella) that has infested this house over the last couple of years.
I think if it had just got a few holes in it, I would have carried on wearing it but…
… on closer inspection, I discovered that I could put my finger through some of the many holes that had been gnawed away in the ancient tweed.
Sadly, the old cap will have to go even though I don’t want to say goodbye to it. I was reminded of that poignant moment, the bass aria, “Vecchia zimarra” (‘old coat’), in the last act of Puccini’s opera La bohème when the philosopher, Colline, one of a group of poor bohemian artist friends, says farewell to his old overcoat before taking it off to the pawnbrokers.
My old cap, mio vecchio capello, hasn’t even the hope of the pawn shop, it’s off to the dustbin after a equally poignant, if unsung, farewell.
Addio, capello mio!
Perhaps I will leave the last word to Puccini and the great American bass, James Morris as my namesake Colline in a Metropolitan Opera, New York, production of the opera. Farewell, old cap. Here is “Vecchia zimarra” from the opera La bohème (1895) by Giacomo Puccini (1858 – 1924).
My novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love, was published on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.
It is now available as a paperback or on Kindle (go to your region’s Amazon site for Kindle orders)
…or from Amazon:
I lament the passing of your hat, Colin. I too once lost an old faithful, my first dockers (that’s longshoreman’s, not a company name) hat, which succumbed to a particularly eventful evening in Harlow and was never found. That hat had been through – well, never mind exactly what it had been through, but its successors are mere imitations of that platonic (in the original philosopher’s meaning of the word) ideal hat.