Monday, April 4, 2011

Which I Suppose Makes Her a Homburgler

When I tell Mr. CSB that he’s not allowed to wear his black homburg when we appear in public together — a rule he very intelligently ignores — is my objection that the homburg is inappropriate to this century, or am I worried that the hat is too attractive and other women will try to move in?

That’s unclear, but our dispute is longstanding — though not, as it turns out, very original. An earlier homburg-related domestic squabble, from Plain Tales from the Raj:
Wives who inherited their husband’s bearers [i.e., servants] were well advised to leave the running of the household alone. George Wood’s bearer, Mohammed Ishak, “fought an endless war” with his new memsahib.

“I decided that my husband’s grey homburg hat was rather nice for going out in the midday sun in, so I used to take it and push up the crown and turn down the brim, put it on my head and go out. In the evening Mohammed would rescue it from my room, knock in the crown, turn up the brim and put it back in the Major-sahib’s dressing room. And every day this went on. It was not my hat and he did not approve.”
Back in the present day, Mr. CSB and I have been watching Dollhouse, and after the first three episodes, he said to me, “Do you know has distressed me most? The fact that Olivia Williams has Red Label in her office. Red Label!” Which makes him exactly the sort of old-fashioned gentleman who can pull off a homburg in the year 2011, I think.

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