"I know what I'll do," my old schoolfriend C exclaimed in October 2012, "I'll make you a hat for Ascot next year!" She's been on a hat making course in between scribbling gossipy articles for national newspapers. I was both grateful and impressed.
We discussed designs and colour in December. However, by May 2013 there had been no word from C and I was slightly worried. I called her.
"I've been meaning to call you," she began. "Sorry WW, I've been really busy. When do you need the hat?"
"18 June," I said.
"Let me come to Winchester to see your outfit. Then I can plan the right colours."
She duly arrived and outlined her ideas for her millinery marvel. It sounded wonderful. I was to collect it last Thursday.
I did think that such a creation may take quite some time to perfect, particularly when one has editorial deadlines to meet and guests staying.
C called on Wednesday, "WW, I'm so sorry but there's no way that the hat will be ready on time!"
"No problem," I said. "I can wear it next year!"
Another year, another Ascot, another hat crisis, I thought. I dashed off to the Harvey Nicks sale. Their hat department which used to be on the ground floor, no longer exists. They had seven hats on sale on the second floor, all half price, all ghastly and none under £300. I went to Fortnum's where there was no sale and saw one of the HN hats sitting there with a price tag of £1200! I eventually bought a plain pink hat which I thought was bargain in the circumstances (the madness of crowds?) and I got various flowers and butterflies from a haberdasher's which I sewed on to it.
"Fascinators are no longer permitted in the Royal Enclosure; neither are headpieces which do not have a base covering a sufficient area of the head (4 inches/10cm)" states the Royal Enclosure Dress Code. Do you think there'll be invigilators with rulers at the entrance? Anyway, it doesn't mention low-qual home made hats.