In every situation in life, there's always a way to make a tit of yourself
The view out of my bedroom window is usually pretty unremarkable – two houses, some trees, and a bus stop. There is a fair amount of traffic, and there are normally schoolchildren waiting for the bus, reasonably standard stuff I’m sure you’ll agree. In fact, the only wierd thing about this view is that there seems to be a strange predominance of people riding tandem bicycles. A phenomenon I am in whole-hearted support of, incidentally.
However, the other day something truly extraordinary happened, and thanks to my very good fortune, I was there to witness it.
Well, I say thanks to my good fortune, really it’s thanks to my poor time-management skills that I happened to be sitting at my desk on Saturday afternoon, trying desperately to write an essay on Victorian poetry two days before the deadline. And it’s thanks to the challenging yet dull nature of Matthew Arnold’s verse that I happened to be absent-mindedly staring out of the window.
But oh how glad I am that I was looking out of the window. Because my eye was caught by a flash of vermillion pink and I noticed that some eccentrically dressed people with excitingly multi-coloured hair were crossing the road outside our flat. Very curious was their attire, one of them was even wearing a top hat – think The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland (the fundamentally dubious Tim Burton remake, not the original) So naturally, I abandoned any hope of writing insightful literary criticism and started to watch this funny group of people.
They had parked a people carrier and a van (both silver, if that helps you visualise the scene) on the other side of the road, and by the time I spotted them they were walking off in opposite directions. Very odd. After a brief pause in which I worried that this excellent distraction might have come to an untimely end, they reappeared. Now they were carrying hold-alls, and carrier bags full of something bulky, I couldn’t quite tell what. They put them down on the pavement (which was fortunately devoid of slow-moving pedestrians you will be relieved to hear) and some of them started loading the van while the others disappeared off again down the road.
And now we come to what, to my mind, was the highlight of this strange occurrence. Those who had stayed at the van began to try on a seemingly infinite assortment of hats that they pulled out from behind the front seats. Top hats, bowler hats, a great many Trilbys, checking their appearance in the wing-mirrors. Very odd indeed. When this strange demonstration of fashionable headwear was over, they put the aforementioned hats back in the van and got in.
After another brief pause, my attention this time sustained by trying to see what they were doing inside the van, the others returned with some more bags. They loaded the people carrier, climbed in, and the perplexing convoy drove away down the road, never to be seen again.
For the rest of the day I couldn’t stop thinking about them, these mysterious hat people. Who were they? And what on Earth had they been doing outside my flat? A multiplicity of theories sprung to mind. Perhaps they were members of a travelling circus, or an acapella group specialising in melodic hat-based harmonies? Maybe they were a band of merry warlocks on their way to some sort of wizardy hat conference? Of course, they may simply have been a few friends, who happen to have a liking for strange clothes and excellent hats, setting off on a road-trip, but where’s the fun in that?
Whoever they were, those mysterious hat people succeeded in distracting me very efficiently from my work all afternoon. And then again today, when I decided to waste some more time by writing a blog about them.