I may or may not have mentioned that when out in Aus some years ago I picked up the phrase whilst out driving with my expat friend – beware the hat.
Inquiring after the meaning, I was informed it referred to any one driving a closed topped car who wore a hat, in particular it referred to hoons, young people who drive like idiots all of whom seem to wear hats and elderly drivers who it would appear either wear a hat all the time indoors or out and don’t realise it’s there until bedtime and then not always and those who like the hoons only wear a hat when driving in a closed top car.
Of course once having been informed of the relevant facts, one’s eyes immediately start to notice all people that fall into that category and take the necessary defensive driving actions when encountering them. This sadly has stayed with me since those now somewhat distant days and I still on occasions can be heard in a car muttering “beware the hat” when appropriate, but I have to admit that apart from viewing from far some strange and potentially dangerous driving from these poor souls who wear hats in cars it has never personally had a direct effect on me, until now.
On a visit to the local surgery to collect an ever larger consignment of medication for my dear wife I turned into the surgery car park entrance just in time to see a car parked sideways starting to move out across the entrance. I stopped as until he went out, there was no way in and so I waited.
After much deliberation and slow wheel turning he (I’d ascertained it was a he by now) managed to mount the opposite kerb and came to a halt, with the window wound down I could see a slightly bemused look on the elderly driver’s face and got out of the car to see if I could help relieve the now increasing log jam.
The elderly driver also got out to see what his predicament was – there was no predicament that wasn’t solved by simply reversing – and I realised that he was wearing a hat – the tweedy type worn by people who shoot.
I asked if he needed help but he replied that he just wanted to see if he had caused any damage and wandered round the vehicle, found nothing and got back in his car, putting his hat back on as he did so, then proceeded to forward reverse several times and finally disappeared to wherever people who wear hats in cars go to.