The perfect hat

I’m not attached to objects or I want to believe that I’m not attached to objects until I lose them and realise that I miss them very much. 

I still miss my yellow woolly hat which wasn’t even mine at first. I’d never had a woolly hat until I moved to London and was very reluctant to own one. I kept borrowing my friend Sam’s. His mum knitted it and it was just perfect. The perfect size – not too small so you don’t look like you are wearing a sock, not too big so it doesn’t fall on your nose yet big enough to pull it over your eyes and have a quick nap on the train or wear it sideways like a beret. The perfect yellow – not too bright, not too pale, more like gold without the glittery side. Eventually Sam gave it to me, in exchange for a red ski jacket that I’d bought on a whim at Camden market.

I almost lost my perfect hat many times. I left it in pubs all around London, running back after realising my head was cold as I was walking home, hoping that no one would take it. I remember countless mornings, panicking when I couldn’t find it, and the sense of relief seeing it on my desk when I walked into the office.

My luck changed last year on my way to work, did I drop it on the train, in the street, I will never know, it was gone. I have since adopted C’s bright red hat. Sam promised to ask his mum to knit me another perfect yellow one.

Desert island picks

If I was stranded on a desert island, I would want to listen to music that brings back special moments, reminds me of people or put me in a specific kind of mood. 

The first track I would choose is ‘I wish that I could see you soon’ by Herman Dune because I would miss my love very much on the island and this is our song. I can’t remember when or why it became our song but it will always remind me of those evenings dancing together in the kitchen, slightly pissed, watching the music video on our phones again and again, and copying the moves of the band to create our own choreographies. 

My second choice would be ‘Gnossienne 1’ by Erik Satie as it reminds me of an eureka moment. In 2010, I was working on a video piece made of clips of Mexican wrestling matches. I wanted to edit the footage to turn the fight into some kind of romantic courtship dance but I was really struggling as I didn’t have the soundtrack. This was until I saw Russel Maliphant’s Afterlight which opens with a long solo to Satie’s four Gnossiennes. It was one of the most beautiful pieces of contemporary dance I’d ever seen and that was it, I had my soundtrack and I finished the work.

My last pick would be something by the Smiths. I adored them when I was a teenager. I didn’t understand the lyrics at the time but somehow I felt that the songs were talking about me, were talking to me. I don’t understand why I still enjoy listening to these miserable songs, it’s definitely not about nostalgia, they truly bring me joy, it’s a complete mystery.

That’s good!

I stopped living with my mother when I was nine. We’re not close. I visit once a year, I call once a month, I send presents for Christmas and birthdays. 

The monthly phone call always follows the same script, she starts with the customary ‘How are things? Are you well? How’s the weather in London?’ but doesn’t really listen to the answers.

She talks about her day. She gets up early, she goes to the gym, she watches American soaps religiously, she tries not to eat too much, she tries not to drink too much, she goes for a walk to make sure that she hits 10,000 steps a day on her Fitbit, she spends hours reading her emails, concentrating on flash sales and deals of the week. It’s been the same day ever since she retired a few years ago. 

Sometimes she relays what she saw on TV: terrorism, accidents, natural disasters, only the bad news. She has the 24 hour news channel on all day in the kitchen. She also reports on the family, just the bad news of course. 

When she runs out of things to say, it’s my turn to speak. 

‘I’ve had a great weekend, went camping with S.’

‘That’s good’, she replies in a detached and indifferent tone, unfailingly.

‘We’ve just opened a new exhibition at the gallery, it looks amazing!’

‘That’s good.’

‘That’s good’, like an automated message punctuating each of my sentences, no matter what I say.

I always end the call, ‘I’ve got to go, speak soon, bye’.

She always complains that I don’t call often enough.