Yesterday I was in London and, armed with my copy of the Mass of Ages, I bought a new panama hat in Laird of London. This might seem an unlikely weapon for such an expedition, but Laird's has an advert in the magazine which entitle people brandishing it (or an LMS membership card) to 15% discount. This advert will be repeated in the forthcoming issue.
Laird is a brilliant little hat shop; well stocked and extremely cool. I was at the branch in Covent Garden, 23 New Row (link to map), not far, of course, from the LMS Office. The panama I got is the most comfortable I've ever owned (and I've owned a fair few!), because the band round the inside is not polished leather (too tight or sliding off the head) but suede, which stays magically in place. I'm delighted with it.
And a word to the wise: the less you pay for a panama, the less time it will last. This is true of most things, of course, but with panama hats the life of a cheap one has to be measured in minutes, not months. They dry out in the sun, and then they crack when you pick them up. The only exception of course is when you pay less because of an LMS member discount!
Let me end with a quotation from Jerome K. Jerome. Speaking of the occasion in Three Men in a Boat when, having forgotten the tin-opener, they attempted to open the tin of pineapple chunks with a sharp stone and the mast of the boat:
'It was George's straw hat that saved his life that day.'