I have a hat that looks like the friendliest hat in the world – it is large and very furry and although I am not small, and my head really is indisputably large – I disappear in that hat. It is my invisible hat. It holds my head like a perfect comforting hug. A Hugging Hat. A Hat of Love.
Recently I lost it. I dropped it at college and when I retraced my steps – soon after – it had gone. The corridor was suspiciously tidy and I suspected it had ended up in the hands of the cleaner. Whence from there? The cupboard? Lost property? The cleaner’s kid? I asked everywhere but no-one had seen it or handed it in, not then, not the next week. It became the Hat of Legend. In missing it, I conferred on it a weighty significance and thereafter I quietly rued the hurried afternoon when I had dropped it without noticing. My head was cold – no other hat was as kind.
Then long after – the early days of the following winter when it was still warm but the wind carried quiet hints that there was ear-pinching to come – my hat was found.
I received an email from the miraculous Samantha who runs our department, one of those incredible women who have it done before you can ask for it, who remembers what room you booked even if you didn’t book one, who magics time and space out of nothing. She saw a hat and knew, assumed, no, divined it was mine.
It is back.
Some people have a gift for knowing and remembering how many sugars you take. Others of us irrationally bestow real significance on items of clothing, and are more often brought tea than make it. It’s not right – but there it is.