It was like a scene out of “The Birds,” the Seagulls diving all at once, ripping his hat to shreds. A bowler cap, timeless and stylish. The wind blew it down Swansea Beach and into a discarded chip tray where the seagulls had destroyed it. In the days that followed, his head felt naked and exposed, despite the matte of prematurely greying hair that lay on his head like a sleeping dog.
His girlfriend was secretly relieved; she thought the hat was silly, so when he decided to search out a new one she accompanied him with great reluctance. He searched the charity shops first, but their aisles of cast-off clothes held nothing for him. His mood worsened; he told his girlfriend of the time his mother had lost her favourite brooch and how she brooded for months and it must run in the family. She nodded and made him tea. He searched the aisles of Debenhams and the racks at TK Maxx. He walked the beach and cursed the seagulls. He started noticing people’s hair and when he was with his mates he constantly compared. His best friend drove him to Cardiff where they ruffled through boutiques and found a few that fit in size and style but were too expensive—the last one had come to him cheaply, so should the next.
He stopped looking. He stopped combing his hair. He took to eating lots of sea food and bitterly cursing all men his age whose hair retained its youthful brownness. One day he stood in line at the market for an order of cod and saw the vendor a booth over wearing a stylish golfer’s cap, checked and full of life. He looked once, then twice. Mid-purchase, he dropped his fish, ran and made an offer.