Thursday, 21 April 2011

Hats - Prevention rather than cure?

I took my yearly trip along to Jermyn Street the other day, something I do at this of year in order to refresh the old wardrobe, loaded down with a considerable quantity of spondoolas crammed in the old back pocket. While the area is not what it used to be, it is still pretty much a one stop shop for the gentleman intent on a reasonable degree of sartorial style.

Spinning along Piccadilly, and dismounting opposite Fortnum's I spied another cycling chap rather strangely attired in a large while polo helmet and three-quarter-length pedal pusher type know the sort of thing?.....white trouser type things worn by girlies?

I have a faint horror of the three-quarter-length trouser worn by men over 12 years of age. What on earth possesses them? Horrid little spindly hairy legs protruding from the bottom of the said garment looking like a chicken ready for plucking. I rather think that the Metropolitan Police should be given powers to arrest on sight any male over 14 years in possession of the said sartorial monstrosities. Any how....I digress......

The Polo hat in question, white and large, was at least slightly more appealing to the eye than the re-cycled plastic creation beloved by so many London cyclists. His lid arrangement not withstanding, as he stood astride his mountain bike I began to muse on headwear, safety and its effect upon the motorist.

I continued my search of the various boutiques along the famous old street popping in to buy the most wonderful addition to my cycling shoe wardrobe in the shape of Church's “Shanghai” model from 1929, a copy of the designs popular at the time in the British colonies and characterised by the balancing of different leathers, canvas and wonderful contrasting subtle colours.

Now during these rather wonderful few days we have been having recently I decided to start wearing a white straw Panama, which apart from the brim blowing over my eyes on fast downhill sections, has been doing sterling service for yours truly. It is quite a white Panama and I have been told stands out sufficiently for me to have been spotted almost a mile away across Hyde Park by a young Norwegian gal of my acquaintance I hope to be performing some horizontal flirting with at some stage later this week.

To cut a long story shorter I am beginning to develop a theory that it is not so much the protective qualities of the construction of the headwear, as much as the protective quality provided by wearing a piece of headwear upon a bicycle per se.

Let me illuminate further......cyclist without headwear merges into the street scene.....cabbie just sees yet another head......the unadorned head being a rather common site on the streets of our cities....all hatless individuals tend to merge into one....avec velo or sans velo.

Now change that equation with the addition of a brilliant white Panama....dark band cutting a stark contrast against the white of the straw.....head appearing unusually large and somewhat prominent clad in the product of various Ecuadorian straw weavers.

Do you get my drift? Hat wearing gives one an advantage of making you conspicuous, providing a greater degree of visibility over the none hat wearing.....I might have scoffed at "Mr White Polo hat".....but I damned well noticed him.

It might just be that a hat's protective qualities need not concern the rider if it's real effect is prevention rather than cure?

So I'm off to John Lobb to find myself a fedora for the autumn season.....toodle pip!

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