Saturday, April 21, 2012

To make perfect hats.

In the short story,“ The Amazing Hat Mystery”, P.G.Wodehouse describes a hat-maker called Bodin’s who made the most perfect hats possible.

“People can say what they please about the modern young man believing in nothing nowadays, but there is one thing every right-minded young man believes in, and that’s the infallibility of Bodmin’s hats. It is one of the eternal verities. Once admit that it is possible for a Bodmin hat not to fit, and you leave the door open for Doubt, Schism and Chaos generally."
And when one of the characters, Nelson, is told by his girlfriend Diana that his Bodmin’s hat did not fit him, this is how he responds.

Over the door of his emporium in Vigo Street the passer-by may read a significant legend. It runs: “ Bespoke Hatter to the Royal Family”. That means, in simple language adapted to the lay intelligence that if the king wants a new topper, he simply ankles round to Bodmin’s and says     “Good Morning, Bodmin, we want a topper”. He does not ask if it will fit. He takes it for granted that it will fit. He has bespoken Jno.Bodmin and he trusts him blindly. You don’t suppose His gracious Majesty would bespeak a hatter whose hats did not fit. The whole essence of being a hatter is to make hats that fit, and it is to this end that Jno bodmin has strained every nerve for years.
Unfortunately, Wodehouse doesn’t explain in that story what magic or technique was used by Bodmin’s to achieve that degree of perfection. But I found a possible explanation in this lovely piece titled, “The magical way hats are made” :  "After dark, in the millinery workroom, mini maintenance workers construct hats in the most clandestine way." Straight out of Gulliver’s Tales.

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