The Twat In The Hat

I’m the sort of person that people notice. That is, except when I want them to notice me. When I have a marketing budget of about £2000 people tend to do a pretty good job of ignoring me. But when I’m walking down Colchester High Street, Saturday morning at 1am thinking “please don’t kick my head in, please don’t kick my head in” I attract huge amounts of attention.

It’s always been this way, probably because I’m tall. I always have been. My height is not down to an end of Year 8 summer holiday sprint that left me ankle flapping in grey polyester come Harvest time. No way, my trousers always flapped around my ankles, from bottle-green cotton cords aged three to Stella-stained charity shops suits round about sixteen when mum’s grey pencil shakily scored 6’4″ high on the kitchen wall.

As a consequence of being tall I’ve always stood out. This was not helped by the fact that throughout my teens my best mate was a five foot dwarf called Jon. We’d skulk around town on Saturdays, him trotting, neck craning; and me lolloping, shoulders hunched, embarrassed for myself; both of us squinting as we talked ten to the dozen.

When I was fifteen I went to my first festival: V97 – like Glastonbury with training wheels; like going bowling with the lane sides up; the Game Genie of music festivals. At the time we were into Britpop and crimes of a similar nature: baggy, shoe-gazing, grunge, dad-rock. If the NME could pigeonhole it we would listen to it. For young men such as ourselves the desirable head gear at such at time and at such a place as V97 was, and still, is the ‘Reni’ hat, so called after their principle model Reni of the Roses (that’s Stone Roses to you.) It has a mature edge to it; it says “Spike Island yea, yeah man, best gig of the nineties. Knebworth’s gay.”

The Reni hat was a kind of fishing hat, only straighter and a bit smaller. A fishing hat on amphetamines – slimmed down and toned, like an iPod Nano. Despite their popularity, getting a hold of one of these things in north east Essex, and on the high street where we shopped, looking for passable non-vintage Addidas, was nigh-on impossible. In the end I had to settle upon my dad’s actual fishing hat that he actually wore when he used to go fishing. *Gulp* Functionality!

This hat was baby blue and unlike the Reni hat, the brim of which formed a neat rectangle, the ‘Luki’ hat had a crimpled edge that framed my face in much same way a sun hat would a Victorian infant’s. That coupled with my freakish height, ambling gait and large mooney face made bemused passers-by wonder if the love child of the BFG had escaped and began indulging in a penchant for Army surplus and Hooch. But just as when an anorexic looks in the mirror and sees a biffa, an arrogant 15 year old boy looks in the mirror and sees a rock star. I grew a long fringe, bought some blue-tinted circular shades and set off to V97 with Dwarfy.

Now I’m not one to pay much attention to name calling. Sticks and stones and all that, but as I drank and lollopped through the rolling hills of Hylands Park in Chlemsford, grinning and flapping my arms as only teenage boys can do, it became clear the mirror had lied. Not one person, but four separate people from four seperate groups, proclaimed loudly, and with the seemingly with the intent that I should hear them: “Look, over there. It’s the Twat in the Hat.”

Today I still wear hats. I’m rather fond of trilbys. They have a curious effect, once or twice in say every ten glances in a shop window I see a rather dashing figure – tall, and perhaps just a tad mysterious, like a fifties detective. However the other eight or nine times I just see that Victorian infant gurning back at me, his eyes seemingly suggesting that for all the learning, stage craft, wit and self-consciousness I have clawed into my possession over the last 11 years, there will always be a part of me that is still the twat in the hat. Which, I think, is a rather fair appraisal of me as a human being.

1 Comment

  • fstopblue January 31, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    As a resident of Colchester, I’d say that walking down Colchester High Street at anytime of the night or day is pretty risky, hat or no hat!

    p.s., why do you always play in Colchester when I’m at uni in Brighton and Brighton when I’m back for the holidays in Colchester? =)

    Reply

Leave a Reply