Country mouse reflects on his favourite hats

Hold on to your hats.

The hatbox that contains my top hat has a set of stamps on it with Edward VII’s image on them. It was my great-grandfather’s. His son’s bowler hat came to me via the husband of my godmother. They are the heirlooms— together with a watch and a penknife—that I have inherited from my mother’s side of the family and, although the hats don’t get many outings, I’m enormously proud of them. I like hats.

I like them because I associate them with events. I was very fond of a Tilley hat that journeyed with me to Africa and under which I caught my first salmon and many trout. But then I lost it and was bereft. I searched for it for weeks, cursing myself. A few years later, I lost a flat cap that I used for shooting, but that didn’t really matter, as it hadn’t been part of anything truly special. I bought another and it vied with a soft canvas hat for supremacy in my superstitious mind. The new flat cap got off to a poor start: two blank weeks of salmon fishing, but then some success fishing for sea trout, where the canvas hat had failed, nudged it ahead in my affection. Under its brim, last weekend, I managed to connect with the highest pheasant I had ever hit. The hat has reached heirloom status, which means I’ll probably lose it.

* Subscribe to Country Life and save