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Laurence Inman’s Blog




A hat for every occasion - that's Laurence Inman. Must be his age...

In a very short time I will be sixty years old.

I will not be more specific, because Time with a big T is not what it was and a year goes by in around ten weeks. When I was nineteen and a weightless wraith and didn’t actually believe I would ever die, then it was the other way round. The five weeks I suffered at Easter that year while my one true eternal lover was off who-knows-where doing heaven-knows-what with whosoe’er she wanted lasted a century.

That time could be anything more than the sudden present, the moment, is the most tragic illusion of youth.

These moments now are so much more generous, calm and accepting than I ever thought they would be.

And it’s not just the inside of my head that’s taken on a different shine and shade these last few years.

I’m letting my hair grow and I’ve started to take an interest in hats. With the grey/white goatee I could well turn into Willie Nelson.

The hat-final-decision was a direct consequence of the Leonard Cohen concert last November. I went down to Hat Man in Stephenson Street and bought a beautiful black trilby. It goes excellently with the long black overcoat my wife got for me at Christmas. And the dark glasses I have to wear outdoors these days.

But this is very much a winter ensemble. I also needed something lighter. So I visited that lovely hat stall in the Rag Market (where I’ve also bought two caps: a northern pigeon-fancier and a Joe Orton) and got me a whitish-yellowish-strawish narrow-brimmed trilby. I wore it at a gig the other Sunday – it seemed to go down quite well. I wear this one with the front brim slightly up, a la Angel in Dexter.

Then there’s my running hat. A dark blue baseball cap.

Proper running is returning to me. The secret hour every day when I can let my legs take my mind for a bit of blank-eyed communion. Cosa Mia. How could I ever have lost sight of its importance ?

So, there I was in Cannon Hill Park last week, in my lightest gear, with Bill my border collie, the cap, the hair, the beard, the dark glasses, the sweat, the half-smile.

There were lines and knots of young people down there, walking. Then I saw two faces I recognised: ex-colleagues from one of the last schools I worked in. There was laughter and exchanges of greetings.

Then it emerged that this was the annual sponsored walk, an event which involved the whole school.

They were walking round the park and along the river-path. Each child wore a bib with his individual number printed on it. Members of staff were dotted along the route, ticking off each number as it passed. Extra staff were grouped at ‘danger-points’ along the edges of the lake, the river and the canal along the walk’s final stages.

Now, when I worked at this school, the walk took place in the Malverns, or the Waseleys, or in the Clent hills. Everyone was dropped at the starting-point and was pointed towards the destination, six or seven miles away.

Some kids fell and cut their knees. One or two sprained their ankles. There might have been a case of heat-exhaustion. Some staff spent longer than they should have done at local pubs. So did some students.

But these days we have to live in fear of the banner headline in The Sun.

On a brighter note, my two younger kids are both at home and are horrified by my hair and hat choices.

Worse might be in store for them. Last Saturday I saw Bagdad Cafe. There was Jack Palance playing an old, eccentric artist.

He was wearing a bright red satin scarf thing tied round his head and falling down his back.


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