Heads Up

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 1 October 2020

I've just been informed by my historical friend that Elizabethan hats were an essential part of clothing for men in the 'Peacock Age'. That they were, in fact, required to wear their headpieces, along with their codpieces, at dinner.

The old git has a panoply of hats; straw hats, deerstalkers, Russian military ushankas, a collection of woolly bobble creations, a Tilly hat given as a gift, tweedy caps, a Panama with a leather hatband, Swedish fur trappers, berets, buckets, and the ubiquitous beanie, not to mention a novelty Tricorn which he wears for acting in a spoof Dickens series written by our friend John. Coincidentally our neighbour has just given him a navy blue golfing cap. Today, however, he's sporting a Harry Hall's triple crown riding hat like what the Duke of Edinburgh wears at horsey events. It looks like a bowler but it has a reinforced crown just in case he falls off his horse - that's the old git not the Prince of Darkness - not that he has a horse but, ever the one for caution, my husband of thirty three thousand years, who is outside loading logs into the woodshed, has taken precautions just in case a lump of Silver Birch falls on his noggin, or a hefty lump of Ash dislodges itself and heads for his sizeable brain - Harry Hall's helmet has got his back or should I say, 'head'.

Many years ago I had a makeup artist who painted my face on a daily basis for 'Good Food Live'. She was a feisty mother of three who wore expensive cardigans and designer frocks, folded her clothes every change of season and stored them in a wooden chest. She was traditional, a devout Catholic, and not a little in thrall with the 'oosbind. She was fascinated by his range of headgear and would ring up and ask what titfer he was sporting. The Yorkshireman wears his head dresses both inside and out of the house. In fact, he is known more for his indoor millinery than his outdoor wardrobe.

In the attic we have a selection of Chinese silk conical caps - one has even got a black pigtail attached. On his bed head he has two velvet skull caps just in case he decides to convert to Judaism. In the cellar there is an Apache War Bonnet bought for his 70th birthday and a miner's hard hat from the last open pit in Rhondda. There are two baseball caps in the car, a boater in the studio and a Spanish cowboy hat; an array of porkpie hats given to him by our friendly homeopath and a hand crocheted thing from my mother. He is, however, on the lookout for a sombrero, sou'wester and Stetson and has recently declared an interest in a stovepipe hat for his Dickensian period wardrobe, a tam-o'-shanter for Hogmanay, a top hat for his impersonation of Fred Astaire, and a turban or two.

Years ago I filmed in 'Lock and Co's Hatters' in St. James'. The exact circumference of my head was measured using a contraption with pins and my bald bust was placed on a shelf alongside notable customers including Admiral Lord Nelson, Eric Clapton and the Duke of Windsor. LWT, may she rest in peace.

Two years ago today the world lost Charles Aznavour. When my husband played a military man in a touring production in small scale venues he went to 'Burmans and Nathans' to hire himself a costume. Bugger me if the name on the inside of the waistband wasn't that of Monsieur A. The French chanteur was 5ft 2" with a small waist. The old git was at least four inches taller although his waistline was the same, not now of course since Charles is but a cadaver in the Cemetery of Montfort-l'Amaury.

Those days of thespian scullwaggery, and televisual mischief are gone, I'm considered too old to be seen on the tarnished screen and the 'oosbind is 'resting'. Theatres and performance venues are closing down faster than it takes Boris Todger to change his mind whilst the likes of 'The Greyhound' pub are long gone. But society needs its actors and commentators, its critics and talking heads, for who is to hold the mirror up to society if culture is being dismantled. Who is to point out our weaknesses and strengths.

Take the recent American debate, with the noisiest iterations coming from the 45th arsewipe, sounding like the squawking of the noisy White Bell End - sorry White Bell Bird - we are left wondering what a Presidential performance should look like, certainly not what we witnessed this week.

Cliche though it is, united we stand and divided we open the gates to Proud Boys, white hoods and fascism. If we don't scream louder than a Moluccan cockatoo then the empty vessels will make the most noise. Even the Dames, in their pantomime crinolines, marched on Westminster with their pompadour's held high.

Oh no they didn't

Oh yes they fucking did.

It should matter to everybody that local theatres are being left dark. It should matter to everybody that regional playhouses are not part of any rescue package. It should matter to the nation that actors, dancers, musicians, set designers, prop makers, sound engineers, lighting designers, riggers, runners and the whole world of entertainment are being sent to the dogs.

I did think I would buy the old man a balaclava or a military style Sesto Senso Unisex Beanie Camouflage Thermo Winter Cap Windproof Ski Snowboard Cycling Cap, but he said when the insurrection comes he'll pull a stocking over his face and disguise himself as Ray Winston. So I say up with 15 denier tights, not only do they serve the rebellion but they can double up as part of his Widow Twanky costume.

Oh no they can't

Oh yes they fucking can.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes

Comments

1. At October 6, 2020 9:37 AM Lyn Misselbrook wrote:

Look out - he’s behind you!! Personally, I cannot survive without fiction: whether barely disguised satire, pure (or otherwise) hokum, intellectual treatises, hagiography, sci-fi, swords & dragons, etc etc. And fiction which comes in different media, tv, cinema (on the small screen during this pandemic), radio, theatre, opera, kindle, hardback, paperback etc etc. As someone on twitter rightly pointed out the revived Spitting Image is behind a paywall - so even if it could actually subvert its impact can only be minor. Creatives try to find a way to express themselves on social media but cannot have the same impact as, say, ‘Accidental Death of an Anarchist’ or ‘Hamilton’ or ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ or even ‘The West Wing’. A free society requires an active cultural input.
Oh yes we can support the Dame & the Principal Boy in hats, caps or wigs!

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