As regular readers and indeed those of you who have read my book will know, I am the proud owner of a rather stylish big leather hat. The Big Leather Hat and I have been companions for over a decade now, staying together through thick and thin, through triumphs and tribulations. I have come to consider the Big Leather Hat to be as much a companion as an accessory. At first we struggled to get along, the Big Leather Hat petulantly refusing to cooperate with me in matters of both fashion and more importantly money.
I’ll start by talking about the fashion aspect. It is difficult to carry off a hat as outrageously fashionable as the Big Leather Hat clearly is. Even the seasoned traveller would do well to remember the following;
This is how you see yourself when wearing it
And this is how the rest of the world sees you
The second problem to bear in mind is that before you have fully cemented your relationship with your hat, it will try everything it can to bankrupt you. You may not notice at first but that hat you are so proud of is sitting atop your swede literally shouting “more money than sense” at the locals. There is nothing you can do about this, and it will continue for months until you can find a way to stop looking like a line dancer when you wear it.
Okay, so maybe line dancing isn’t that bad after all.
The other thing you will need to do is make sure you wear it regularly. I don’t mean twice a year when you go to the beach, strumming your acoustic guitar in the hope that appearing bohemian will help you to meet women. (Something that I would never do of course.) No. I mean every day. This will mean that firstly, the hat will mould to the shape of your head, meaning that it will look slightly less like you are in fancy dress. The other thing that will happen is that the hat will get damaged. This sucks at first and will annoy you, but the more the sun bleaches the felt, the more it gets battered and squashed and the more times your “hilarious” mates spill their lager on it while graphically re-enacting scenes from Brokeback Mountain, the more character it will take on.
Okay, so maybe sometimes I deserve the Brokeback Mountain jokes.
To illustrate my point, the face below has so little character that it makes me feel physically sick if I look at it for more than a few seconds.
On the other hand, a “lived in” face can tell a story without having to use any words at all.
The same rules apply to hats.
The people of Kenya have always been famous for their discerning taste in headgear, and so I wasn’t surprised to be complimented numerous times on the fine Big Leather Hat which I sported while over there. Had I realised just how taken with the hat the people of Kenya were going to be, I would have brought a couple of hundred of them with me. Several times a day, people would try to buy it from me but after 10 years I couldn’t bring myself to part with it. Had I had the foresight to bring a box of them I could have made a small fortune in Kenya rather than just spending one.
The down side for the Kenyan however, is that he see’s me and the Big Leather Hat after 10 years together, looking every inch the Great White Hunter, dancing the lion dance with the Masai warriors.
Rewind 10 years and I look like this
I rest my case.
Daniel Brace is a freelance travel writer and author of Going Somewhere – An Australian Adventure available now in paperback or as an e-book. He has travelled extensively in Asia, Oceania, Polynesia and East Africa and is available for freelance writing and public speaking events.