It is still shiny. The purple velvet cap, bought in Carnaby Street in the late sixties, had a little outing recently, making an appearance on the local 6 O'clock News.
'Where did you get that hat?' I was asked.
'It's my mother's!'
I had to plough through our family snaps in an effort to date it. Here it is on a car-ferry with us in tow. Note Mum's brown suede coat with large rounded collars. She always worried about it getting spoilt in the rain. As children, we wore more resiliant anoraks or duffel coats with mittens attached to the sleeves. Turn your head and all you saw with the inside of the duffel's hood
We must have been off to the Channel Islands. What date? 1969? 1970? I would have been nine years old, wearing what we called a 'parker' - a prototype hoody made of pale grey cotton with someone's logo printed to the front.
Mum was working for HTV as a television presenter, making a special programme on Jersey when hired a sports car and zoomed around the harbour.
My mother bought the hat in an effort to look glamourous when there was no hairdresser at hand. She said it was very expensive but acquired at a good price because there was a slight flaw in the velvet. Here we are at a wedding, Mum in white tights and the three of us in itchy crimplene dresses and straw bonnets.
It can be seen here matched with frothier dress, what must have been a fore-runner to Laura Ashley's designs with lacy bits, frilly cuffs and a pie-crust collar.
Was this the same hat, far right, on the set of the HTV drama series 'Arthur of the Britons'? I wore brown cordory and Mum her safari jacket. My sister was in Saxon costume, standing by to appear in the arms of Oliver Tobias who was playing King Arthur.
I wear the cap now when skies are grey or when I'm sailing. It is comfortable and remarkably good in all weathers. It never complains. How old it is now? 47 years? 48? The label says, 'MALYARD HATS LONDON W1. Chris Holmes has written in to say it was probably designed by the leading London hatter and milliner George Malyard whose work is listed in the Archive of Art and Design at the V&A Museum. You can see photographs of other hats made in 1969 here and here
I hope it's not too precious to wear sailing.
~Author Sophie Neville on the Solway~