One amazing hat, courtesy of the Eurocap project

'A highly skilled team is fusing the best aspects of hats, caps and fezzes from all over Europe'

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The examination of popular culture by popular culture is a phenomenon of the past 20 years. Nowadays, TV endlessly examines its own video entrails, especially in respect to pop music: there seem to be an infinite number of programmes such as
Young Guns Go for It,
Routes of Rock and many others concerning the musical movements of recent decades.

The examination of popular culture by popular culture is a phenomenon of the past 20 years. Nowadays, TV endlessly examines its own video entrails, especially in respect to pop music: there seem to be an infinite number of programmes such as Young Guns Go for It, Routes of Rock and many others concerning the musical movements of recent decades.

In the interviews with members of bands from the previous decades, the main point of interest for me is to see which of them have gone bald. Madness, for example, have been victims of particular tonsorial depredation, with something like four out of the seven suffering substantial hair loss although they are all still relatively young men: while from an earlier generation - where you would expect baldness now - the Rolling Stones have 100 per cent hair retention, as do the remaining Beatles. Mind you, being an old timer is no guarantee of hairy happiness. The Bee Gees - admittedly, there are genetic links within the group - have a 66.6 per cent slaphead quota, perhaps the highest in pop music (I also have to say that, though we weren't a pop group, the five Young Ones have been hit quite badly; only Chris Ryan and Nigel Planer still retain a full crop of wheat in the top field, with myself being the most lunar in the head department).

The other aspect to this baldness problem is how the band member who has been affected copes with the problem when on public view. There are only three strategies available to challenge male baldness:

1. Permanent stupid hat.

2. Wig.

3. Shaven.

Another way to put that would be:

1. The Edge out of U2.

2. Elton John.

3. Michael Stipe.

Some move from one to the other, like the Gibb brother who was a stupid-hattist of long standing but has recently become a convert to wiggism (though there is no one who ever seems to renounce wiggism once they take it up).

The shaven-headed option is, of course, the most cool, though, as a bald person myself, I find it annoying when I see it adopted by those who aren't bald, such as David Beckham. As a shaven-headed bald friend of mine said of them: "That's our haircut. They can have any haircut they want, so why don't they leave ours alone?"

Being bald probably makes you more hat-conscious, and, after a long search, I have become aware that there is only one hat or cap that isn't stupid in the whole world, and that hat or cap is the baseball cap.

Wherever you go in the world these days, that is pretty much the only headgear you'll see. I was recently filming in Sardinia, and all the shepherds, on top of their traditional garb, wore baseball caps advertising places they couldn't possibly have been to, such as "Bubba's Barbecue Shack, Aspen, Colorado" (unless Sardinian shepherds earn a lot more than I suspect).

There is only one major problem, of course, with this cap, cool though it is, and that is that it is American. The baseball cap is another example of US cultural hegemony and, in the minds of many leaders in the European Union, an example too far. That is why Brussels - with full MEP and commission support - has launched the Eurocap Project. This is an undertaking that will devise an entirely European cap, which will be able to halt the spread of the baseball cap and will give all men in the community a truly European cap, with European nonsense written on it, to cover their baldness.

At a specially constructed research facility outside Toulon, a highly skilled team is attempting to fuse the best aspects of caps from all over Europe into a piece of headgear truly appropriate for the 21st century. As a gesture to French sensibilities, the Breton fisherman's cap will make a strong showing in the central hat area, and there will be a substantial British input with a touch of the Scottish deerstalker, with its innovative peak at both ends and its remarkable system of earflap stowage. According to advanced plans that I have seen, the peak of the Eurocap will be constructed in a brand-new facility of the British Hat Corporation being built near Harrogate. The peaks and earflaps will be flown to Stuttgart for final assembly of the headpiece.

Of course, as with all projects that have sprung from a political rather than economic imperative, huge problems have appeared. As a result of trying to incorporate all the competing caps, hats and fezzes of the EU into the Eurocap, the prototype hat weighs over two tonnes, and several test pilots have had their necks broken trying to wear it. So, to support the weight of the rim, large struts with wires attached have had to be built, rising from the white cupola, so the strange thing is that in its appearance, the Eurocap looks exactly like the Dome. But done as a hat.

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