Somewhere in a cupboard in Beijing there is a hatbox containing a very expensive hat - a real made-to-measure British Bowler. Yes a bowler - the favorite of Orangemen in Ulster, Bankers in the City, Max Sennett comics and little old ladies in Bolivia. It has perhaps only been seen on the head it was purchased for on two or three occasions but certainly not in the past 24 years.
What brought it to mind was a comment on CBC radio this morning that 156 years ago today James Lock & Co, St. James St, London sold the first bowler hat to Sir James Coke. It was meant to protect his gamekeepers from low hanging branches - and the butt end of a poacher's gun! The reason Laurent purchased one during our trip to London 25 years ago - that's as mysterious as why it's considered a bold fashion statement by the better-dressed ladies in the Andes!