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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

No Hats en el Pueblo

Well, except for two groups. Tourists, of course – and old Campesinos on their visit to town to drink a coffee, maybe call in at the bank or chat to great nieces and nephews parked on the zebra crossing, while traffic backs up and every horn toot creates some avant-garde orchestral piece. These old men congregate on street corners too, eyes as slitted as those of Clint Eastwood under the brim of their hats, a roll up cigarette in the corner of their mouths. Their half-mast trousers flap on their Queen Anne-legs and the suit-jackets may match for colour but not for size.

And yes, the tourists do wear hats; fake panamas with Feria de Moderación 2012 on a synthetic hat-band, baseball caps – peaks forward or back depending on how cool the logo might be on the front and – occasionally – something that looks like it should have corks dangling from the edge.

Locals call foreigners Guiris. It means someone who comes from somewhere else. Under Franco they used to use it to refer to the Guardia Civil. Now it means foreigners who live in Spain. That tells us something, I suppose. We Guiris, you might imagine, don't generally wear hats. We should, we know: the spectre of skin cancer looms over all white boys in the sun. In fact, if you do see an Expat in a hat, they've probably already had a brush with the Big C.

I like hats. I like the films they used to wear hats in. A policeman or a gangster in a hat used to be someone to take seriously. Imagine if you saw someone in the street wearing a trilby, a homburg or a bowler hat today! You'd think they were making a film.

So I say a metaphorical 'hats off' to the bold campesinos, for they can return the favour with no artifice, using the real thing. Only, well, these bold men in their titfers are also old men, so pretty soon it will be “no hats en el pueblo”.

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