BY PHILIP DANTÈS
I have been distracted of late: hours pass; conversations drift like smoke from denuded cigarettes; I have not been myself. True, my mind is prone to wander. Employers despair at my lack of concentration, lovers at my lack of constancy. I do not mean to disappoint, but I often do. That is the curious thing. Instead of roaming where they please, my thoughts have fixed on one item in particular: a Jay Gatsby.
Downton Abbey was to blame. Its mix of well-cut scenes, clothes and accents had me hooked. Each subdued vignette, sidelong glance and stolen kiss confirmed I was born too late. I should be reclining in the library, a guest to bring scandal to a noble house. In this, I am with Monet: one cannot beat a duchess or a maid. Still, I would need the right clothes. The kind that would entice the daughter of an earl to run off with a tradesman: my eyes fixed on Branson.
Made of Hebridean cloth, the thread of time offset, it had a rootless quality – the sort of cap that suits a weekend in the country or a drunken night in town. Its eight panels, hand-stitched, would please a viscount or a vagrant, a scally or a Sloane. It could, to steal a phrase, do both. If I hoped to inveigle a lady away from her morals and into my flat, it was just the thing I would need.
To which end, after losing my sole to the high-street, a Cuban heel undone by the demands of scarce supply, I found a hatter online: my impatient cap arrives next week. True, it may not equal Aphrodite’s band, but it will look well. That is what counts. I may even put my new-found concentration to good use – not that the world could cope with such a thing.