|A Man Needs a Hat|
Pixelsmith - now featuring two of the seven things every man needs.
A MAN needs a hat. I think that's written down somewhere, in the big book of things a man needs to own if he is to be considered a man. A hat, that's one. A watch, there's another. At least one pair of very expensive shoes. And a suit. Multiple suits, for preference. Oh, and some good aftershave. And a nice car. And a firm handshake. I think that's it. That's the complete list.
I'm not sure where this list came from. As far as I can tell it was devised in the great days of the British Empire and has survived ever since, with the addition of some modern items. For example, I remember from history lessons that the only cars they had in the early 19th century were very basic 1 litre models with no alloy wheels or turbo, so the Imperial gentleman's idea of a nice car was very different from ours. His ride would have had a camel on the front, a bucket at the back, a single (square) wheel and a simple dashboard made from rudimentary polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride and thermoplastic. Ludicrous by today's standards, but back then he would have been the talk of London town.
As for watches, without looking it up on the internet my guess is that the watch was invented in 1974 by a man called Colin, which would mean no watches for the historical British male. But though he had no watch, he was aware of the importance of keeping his eye on the passing of the hours, often waiting until the dead of night before shooing his army into some Indian province to steal all their turmeric and women. And so those who could afford it, would employ a servant to follow them with a sundial, like a time caddy.
That just leaves aftershave, and it's anyone's guess when that came along. 1975? Colin's second great success, perhaps, before he recorded an ill-advised pop single, became a monk and faded into obscurity.
The list, then. Its origins are a mystery, but it's out there in the ether: hat, watch, suit, shoes, handshake, car, aftershave. Get those covered and you're James Bond, give or take a bit of travel, some light violence, a spot of espionage and a series of encounters with women covered in paint. That stuff would naturally follow, once you'd cracked the list. Roll up to a casino in your Bentley, dressed like an Italian and smelling like a Frenchman, and you'd be fighting off the gold-coated women with a big stick. Mainly to stop them getting paint on your suit.
There's paint on my suit. I dropped the jacket directly onto an open can of white paint, the morning after a party and barely a week after it left the shop. I ran it under the tap, and when that didn't do anything I took it to a dry cleaners, where they told me it should be fine as long as I hadn't run it under the tap. And I haven't trusted myself to own any clothing that valuable ever since, so now I rent suits for weddings like a tramp.
What about the car? Do I have a nice one? Well, yes, if fuel economy plays a key part in your definition of "nice", but no if you're a normal human being. Grey Skoda. Dent in the back where I reversed into a railing. Passenger door handle broken. Heater not the same since that time the leaves got in. Weird rattle in second gear. Excellent fuel economy.
Aftershave? Well I've tried, I've dabbled, but I always end up forgetting, leaving the bottle in some forgotten drawer and finding it years later, by which time it's pretty tough to know whether it still smells of what it ought to smell of and harder still to interpret whether it's still in fashion.
A watch? Who needs a watch when they've got a mobile phone? Update yourself, list.
A firm handshake? I tend to recall that I need a firm handshake right after I shake somebody's hand, which is why I like to be introduced to two or more people at a time to guarantee the respect of at least one of them.
Shoes I can do, as I bought some posh black brogues for a wedding to match my rented suit.
And a hat? Well, I look terrible in hats, due to my ears or my eyes or my eyebrows or my nose or my head. Thus I have one hat, a woolly beanie hat which covers as many of these elements as possible without being a balaclava, thereby allowing me to go the shop when I've just woken up. It's not the right sort of hat for the list, but it is, literally, a hat, and you can't take that away from it.
Shoes and a hat. And the hat's up for debate. What a poor showing. I'd be horrific in a Jane Austen novel.
Did I mention I can juggle?