Friday, July 01, 2016

Top Head Gear

So, what's the etiquette on wearing hats whilst driving?  To be clear, I'm not talking about the sort of protective headgear that racing and rally drivers wear for safety purposes whilst driving.  No, I'm talking about regular hats, you know, like bowlers, trilbys and homburgs.  I used to sometime drink with a guy who would get incredibly animated on the subject: to him it was some kind of affront against both nature and human decency to wear a hat whilst driving a car.  "Is there some kind of separate eco-system inside the bloody car?" I recall him ranting over a pint of Real Ale after he'd seen an old bloke in a flat cap behind the wheel of a Mini Metro.  "Does he think it's going to bloody rain on him in there?"  Up until then it wasn't something I'd ever really thought about.  But it's a good question - should one wear a hat whilst behind the wheel of a motor vehicle?  Although, these days, I often wear a hat during inclement weather, (my thinning locks have turned me into quite a hat fan), I must admit that I always remove it once I'm in the car.  For me, being in a car is effectively being 'inside' and I always take my hat off when entering a building.

I remember that my father, in his later years, would often sport a hat whilst driving - perhaps it is an age thing?  Certainly, my father was born in the 1920s, when, for the working classes at least, cars were still something of a novelty.  Moreover, they were often open topped back then, perhaps leading people of his generation to consider them as being 'outside'.  But are there any practical reasons for not wearing hats in cars?  I suppose that it is possible that a wide brimmed hat, or even the peak of a cap, might conceivably restrict a drivers vision.  (Although surely not as much as driving with the hood of your hoodie up, as I once saw some idiot doing.  Needless to say that his peripheral vision was severely compromised, as he demonstrated by nearly colliding with several cars on the roundabout he was trying to negotiate).  Anyway, I was put in mind of all this when, this morning, I found myself driving behind car whose driver appeared to be wearing a stetson.  Which is quite a startling thing to see on the streets of Crapchester.  I have to say that it looked all wrong.  Not only was the brim of that stetson clearly going to obscure their vision but, the fact is that the only way you can get away with driving in a stetson is if you are Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit.  And let's not forget, he was driving a Trans Am, not a Vauxhall Vectra, the interior of which was virtually filled by that hat.  Not only is a Trans Am far cooler than a Vectra, it is also far roomier.  Actually, as a fan of both Burt Reynolds and the second generation Tans Am he drove in those films, I have to admit that one of my few regrets is never having owned such a car, so that I could pay homage to 'The Bandit' by driving it whilst wearing a stetson.  (I did once own a second generation Camaro Z-28, which was based on the same body shell and transmission as the Trans Am, but it wasn't quite the same thing).  So, I guess what we've learned here is that it is only OK to wear a hat whilst driving if you are a seventies icon in a classic muscle car.



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