All right. So I’m just a little bit sunburned. The baseball cap doesn’t cut it here. But for some time now I have been coveting a new straw hat, of the style known in my family as Pop’s hat. This is due to the unexpected windfall of an entire shipment of straw hats which fell off the back of a truck sometime in the mid-70s and lasted my grandfather (and me, and several other people) for many years. Things were often falling off the back of trucks in Port Melbourne. Or off the back of ships into waiting warfie hands. Anyway, the hat is the cool bookie kind of hat, worn by such luminaries of the racing fraternity as my Uncle Teddy – in his case with a Hawaiian shirt (he was an early influence on me) or snappy suit. It’s the kind worn by Frank Sinatra on the cover of Songs For Swinging Lovers, if memory serves. You know the type.
Well, it turns out this is just the kind of hat for which Gozo is justifiably famous. So I’m at the market in the piazza and this is what happens…
Me: How much is this one?
Stallholder senior: No, no, signora, that is a man’s hat.
Me: That’s OK.
Stallholder’s son: Perhaps this one would suit you better?
Me: I really like this sort.
Senior (to assembled stallholders): She wants to buy a man’s hat!
Son: Perhaps this nice one with pretty flowers?
Me: Can I see this one in the mirror?
Senior (ditto): She’s putting on the man’s hat!
Me: Do I look like Frank Sinatra?
Senior mutters something in Malti like “Saints and angels preserve us”
Son: Well, it looks OK but it is still a man’s hat.
Me: It’s just like my Pop’s hat.
Son: This other hat has a lovely vinyl trim. See? Real vinyl.
Me: They are all very nice but I still like this one. How much is it?
Senior: It must be for her husband!
Son: Why didn’t you say it is for your husband?
Me: It didn’t occur to me, but now you mention it…
Senior (playing to the gallery): It’s her husband’s hat.
There is cheering.
I am at last allowed to buy the hat.