My Father’s Hat – by Jennie Farley


Oriental Panama, Size 6 (redolent
with Bay Rum hair tonic and Craven A).
It features in the family snapshot album.

Outside the Grand Hotel, Scarborough, circa 1936.
My father, hat on head, playing the giddy goat,
balanced on one leg in an ornamental urn.

It could be a Scott Fitzgerald beach party,
striped canvas hut, cloche hats and panamas –
except it’s Filey, where the wind blows chill

A few years later. Our garden on a sunny day,
Clutching a small shawled bundle beneath
his arm, the tipped hat shows his jaunty pride.

School Speech Day. Playing cricket for
the parents’ team, white flannels secured
by a striped silk tie, and panama. My hero.

My wedding. Dad in morning suit
escorts me down the aisle, but he’s
not my Dad without the hat.

The final snapshot. Forty winks
in a deck chair beside the sweet peas,
his bald head shaded by the hat.

To keep me safe I keep my father’s hat
on the back shelf of my car, as he did
in his old Ford V8 on family outings.


Jennie Farley is a published poet, teacher and workshop leader. Her poems have featured in numerous magazines, her latest collection My Grandmother Skating (Indigo Dreams Publishing) came out in 2016. ‘An only child I was treated by my father as a boy, his chum, accompanying him to cricket and football matches, on country rambles, playing tennis, singing old music hall songs, doing crosswords. He taught me independence, perseverance, curiosity, how to drive, and Latin. He was the perfect Dad.’

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