By Phil Weir
My name is Phil Weir, I’m a cloth cap addict and I’m proud – that’s the sentence I kick off my sermons with every week down at the United Free Capaholics Unanimous Chapel.
UFCU was set up by myself and other hardcore cloth cap-wearers in 1981, as the TV series When The Boat Comes In sadly went to the breakers’ yard. We felt then was the right time for all secret cloth cap wearers to come off the hat stand hidden in the closet under the stairs and step out into the broad light of the downstairs hall.
I think I was about 12 when I first got the notion that one of the things that could make me happiest in life would be the wearing of cloth caps. Back then I wore a bush hat in summer and tammies in winter. However, my father wore cloth caps, as did John Wayne in The Quiet Man, so I had the role models. I probably bought my first at 17. It was white. Not because I was into lawn bowling, but, by 1974, The Rubettes were big in the pop charts, and Robert Redford’s Great Gatsby was showing at the cinema. I must have seen myself as some sort of The Great Rubette.
As the years passed I flirted with baseball caps and the occasional deerstalker or fedora and, for a short time, a fez, but cloth caps have been my enduring love.
Now, I must have around 50. Generally speaking they have to be of the type known as a six-piecer – the meat and potatoes of such a milinery magnum opus, is made of six triangular segments of material, sewn together, with a button at the bull’s eye. The nearer the titfer is in size to a dustbin lid, the better pleased I am.
And in general style, if it wouldn’t have looked out of place on the bonce of a Raith aficionado stood on the terracing at Stark’s Park in 1927, then that’s the cap for me. Equally, if it could blend in with the shenanigans on the current Peaky Blinders TV serial, which is brimful of classic ‘Ecky-Thump’ headwear, I’d be more than pleased to sport it on my noodle.
Boy, do I cherish my caps.
But, as they sadly say, you can’t take it with you, nor me, them. And so to my funeral (far-off may it be). After all, it’s wise to be prepared. So I’ve left instructions.
When mourners arrive at Kirkcaldy crem for my fiery send-off, they’ll find a large skip just outside the door.
It will be full of my caps. Any overflow will be in several Fife Council blue recycling buckets alongside.
Family, friends, the coachloads from the congregation of the United Free Capaholics Unanimous Chapel and the melee of attending journalists from the bonnet media will be invited to choose a cap and wear it during the service.
At the end of the ceremony, in a break with normal crem procedure, the crowd will troop out to the garden of remembrance where my coffin will be placed on a funeral pyre.
Once it is lit, the gathering, in something of the manner of a ‘when the boat goes up’ Viking farewell, will be requested to soak their caps in petrol, ignite them with small black, disposable funerary ciggy lighters, and hurl them, like blazing frisbees, into the growing flames.
Throughout, in the background, Buckhaven and Methil Miners Brass Band will be playing a slow, melancholy version of the ‘Thou shall hev a fishy’ theme from When The Boat Comes In.
On departure, the mourners can choose another cap from the skip as a memento of my life. Any hundreds of caps that are STILL left over? Well, I doff my cap to posterity and leave them to charity.