I was looking for a boater … (or, Tipping my hat to Sylvia)

I was desperately looking everywhere for a straw boater this week.  My treasured ‘Dirk-Bogarde-Death-In-Venice-1912’ hat, I’d belatedly realised, looked a tad battered and forlorn after years of use, so I needed some alternative head-wear for our Rise Up, Women! (centenary commemoration of partial women’s suffrage with the 1918 Representation of the People Act) procession-performance in Brompton Cemetery (about which, a forthcoming blog post over the next day or so).

I tried John Lewis (they sell them, but did not have one in our local Kingston branch), Marks & Spencer, Bentalls, … all in vain: not a boater to be had anywhere.  Dishearteningly, there were certain shops (I shall not name them here) in which sales staff did not even know what a boater was.  I felt suddenly old …

I ended up doing a hat-less performance, no less appreciated for that.  But then today serendipitously (for I’d not been looking for this) came upon the video below of a 1913 suffragette procession in Trafalgar Square led by Sylvia Pankhurst (surely by far the greatest suffragist of them all) in which we see a veritable sea of boaters!

… and what that meeting might have looked like up close: Sylvia Pankhurst as portrayed in Oh! What A Lovely War (1969)

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