Sunday, January 17, 2010

Coping with loss

As I walked away from where the taxi had dropped me, and as it drove away, I suddenly realised that I was bereft of my favourite Fidel Castro cap. I was struck with a bleak and desolating sadness. That hat had been my faithful companion since Alpe d'Huez in the summer of 2005; thereafter it had kept the sun out of my eyes without lowering me to the level of a man who would wear a baseball cap. It had endured having badges attached to it, being washed with a selection of filthy underpants, and five years of perspiration.

And now my faithful companion was accelerating away from me, on the back seat of an uncaring taxidriver. Would he care for my hat? Would he assign to it the same value and cultural function that I could? Would he jam that hat upon his head to conceal his eyes, and sneak past CCTV installations in paranoid moments?

Or would his head not be large enough. My skull is of such gargantuan proportions that most hats fail to fit me. I worry now that just as my hat is probably alone, unloved, or on the way to the landfill, I too will wander the streets alone, hatless, weeping. Oh, dear, dear hat. How we chuckled together, when my friends described you as my 'Belgian paedo' chapeau. And now, you are gone.

I think it's fair to say that of all the awful things that have happened so far in this year, the loss of my hat is the worst of all of them. But I'm strong enough to cope with adversity, to press on, and hope against hope that one day I may find a replacement for my cap. I hope anyone else who has had anything bad happen to them this century, no matter how trivial it may appear now, compared to the loss of my hat, finds their way to recover. Grieve now, for my lost hat, but do not visit its grave. It's not there. My hat is all around us. As long as people can love one another, can sing and tell stories of my hat, it will live on amongst us.

Be strong. It's what my hat would have wanted of you.

On my hat's round-the-world tour, travelling in Japan


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