If you want to get a head

November 12, 2010

Hats! Hats off to them!

If you want to get ahead, get a hat!

My minimal research shows that this was a phrase coined in the 1940’s by either Dunn and Co. or The British Hat Council. Go on, try finding them! I can’t find a council or any history of it. There’s a Guild, but try clicking on their website; it takes you to Banarnia!

And Dunn and Co. vanished from our high streets so long ago I can only vaguely recall the days when me and Mr. Trev ransacked the closing down stores, buying up their fittings and fixtures; old prints of long forgotten pugilists, antlers- yes antlers! Antlers, stuck on a wooden plaque. No deer head, just antlers. And even then they were plastic.

And umbrellas with dog-faced handles!

I’m losing the point. Hats!

Yes, sure, we get it. If you want to get ahead… a little play on words.

Get a hat and you’ll succeed. And we see it now in the glam hat revival that is Mad Men (I love this pic, whoever they are).

It’s as simple as looking. Here’s John Hamm as Don Draper.

Don Draper (image courtesy of Esquire)

And here’s John Hamm as someone else. Possibly John Hamm.

Photo by Rachel Sklar

There’s a difference. And the hat makes it.

With a hat, you don’t just get ahead, you get ‘a head’. It makes the man’s head.

But there’s a reason why men stopped wearing hats. (Sure, there’s a supposed revival on, but again, there’s a reason for that too.)

First, why did men stop wearing hats? Because, simply, we all realised we’re no Cary Grants, Frank Sinatras, Clooneys or Hamms. Even John Hamm has realised he’s not John Hamm. Or, put another way, John Hamm has realised he’s not Don Draper.

Don Draper is a fictional character (and let’s not get all meta-whatever now, I’m talking fiction as in made up, by a writer, not as in a character with a secret life etc. etc. oh, come on now, you know what I mean). He’s TV. And TV hat wearers have people who follow them around and when they take their hats off… Bingo! Stop filming! Maude! Touch him up! (I don’t know why Maude, it just seemed right). Hey Maude! John’s looking a little sweaty. He’s a little shiny. A little greasy. Get in there Maude! Touch him up. Make him Donish.

You get the drift. John gets Maude. We get no one. We take our hats off and we look like this.

Ken Dodd in Blackpool

And don’t get me started on antimacassars. Antimacassars!? Who thought that bloody word up? What the hell are they? Ok, so they’re anti… anti bloody what? Macassars? what the bloody hell is a macassar?

Oh… I see… thank you Wikipedia. So, macassar was an oil used in the 19th century. On the hair of course. Really, an antimacassar, should be called an antibrylcreem.

Are you still with me? (I haven’t written a blog post in a while so I may be getting a little carried away. Sorry). Antimacassars! Thery’re those intricate handkerchief-like things people of a certain age will be familiar with from their trips to their grandparents in the 1970’s. They look like this.

(I pinched the above image from nothingisnew; a lovely blog worth taking a look at, and with a whole post dedicated to antimacassars).

They look nice yes? The antimacassars you dope, not the girls! Well, they might look nice, but here’s what they really are. Horrible grease collectors. (No! Not the girls! Stop that now!)

Antimacassars were put on furniture to collect Brylcreem from men’s greasy heads. Sweaty greasy heads under hats. Hats now stained with greasy sweaty brims. Heads full of hair that, when hatless, had a deep rut marked in the grease from where the brim had once rested.

Wearing hats. It’s thankless without a Maude around to touch you up.

So we stopped wearing them.

And that’s that.

But… it’s starting again. Hats are back! Sure it’s one of those nostalgia things. But could there be another reason why we are wearing hats once more? Yes! We’re all bald!

Here I am in my new hat. If you like it get it. Primark £4.

Photo by ben Norris using Darrell K. Morris' camera

Here’s Primark’s blurb on ethical trading.


One Response to “If you want to get a head”

  1. Sharon said

    Glad to see you’re back in business.

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