Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Mrs Pumphrey's New Hat

Mrs Pumphrey, as you know, is a connoisseur of all things millinery. She has a collection of hats - short ones, tall ones, some as big as your head - that would put Imelda Marcos to shame. If Imelda Marcos collected hats, not shoes. You get the analogy.
I've asked Mrs Pumphrey where her passion for hats came from. She says she reckons it's genetic, that she inherited it from her great-great- grandmother, Mrs Gloria Swanson Albertina Teacake Henpike, who was a lady-who-lunched back in the1880's and made all her gentlemen beaus buy her a hat before buying her lunch, because everyone knows that back then 'a lady hen was never observed in public with her comb swaying in the breeze.' (Mrs Pumphrey laughs whenever she tells me this, because apparently it's a little known quotation of Oscar Wilde's and was deemed quite risque in its day; personally, I can't see the joke, but then I'm getting quite prudish in my middle-age.)
Anyway, such is Mrs Pumphrey's hat collection that a special room has been built at Cluckinghen Palace to accommodate them. It's called 'The Hattery' and it's quite mad. Only les- chapeaus- du-saison are on display at any onw time. The rest are stored in cupboards, and every 1st of January, April, July and October there is a great hat kerfuffle as the old seasonal display is packed away in fresh tissue paper, and the new seasonal display is brought out of storage, dusted, hoovered and set upon the display stands.
Now, for the last week, Mrs Pumphrey has been watching her i-pad like a hawk, which is like a chicken only with a better head for heights. Every time I wander past to have a look at what she's doing (I like to think I keep a close eye on what the hens are up to on the interwebbly, just in case they are being groomed for a roast dinner or chicken chasseur) she covers the screen with her wing and gives me the evil hen eye.
'What are you doing?' I said.
'Watching my items on Eggbay,' said she.
'Any particular items?' I said.
'Not that it's any of your business,' said she, 'but a rather fine hat.'
So, two days ago, a massive shriek went up, and there was a great galloping around in excitement which I took to be a sign that either a) she'd won her hat on Eggbay or b) she'd been stung up her end by a wasp.
And yesterday, hat a arrived.
It was a beige hat. A tall, beige hat. Looked like a pretzel on its side. It looked rather familar.
'Have I seen this hat somewhere before?' I said.
'You may have,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'It has been on telly recently. On a rather famous head.
Oh-oh, I thought.
'Can I ask how much you paid for this monstrosity...I mean, hat?' I said.
'No,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'Besides, the money doesn't matter.'
'Doesn't it?' I said, thinking about me trying to find new job for September.
'No,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'It's the art what counts.'
Well, it was the best laugh I'd had all day.
And now, this 'hat' is on display in The Hattery, which is, as I said earlier, quite mad. And frankly, the best place for it.

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