Serializations of the Hitherby Dragons novels

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How embarrassing! I seem to have forgotten to post this between chapters 3 and 4. Adding, backdated.

British people often throw down their hats. It’s a fervent gesture! However, they do not always pick them up again.

Over time the hats accumulate.

They become a . . . there is no word for it. There is no standardized word for it, anyway. Where they are damp they become layers, bogs, and morasses of hypersaturated hats. Where they are dryer they stack into hills, though mush and mold often lurk just beneath the outermost layers of crisp and dry abandoned hats. They become a phenomenon — a geology.

A hat cemetery.

Police officers often come to a hat cemetery when they have just finished a car chase. The criminal has gotten away — that villain! The cops mark the occasion. One takes off their hat. They throw it down. They stomp on it. The hat joins the cemetery.

That’ll teach that criminal!

(Though, it is possible that the lesson is actually given to the cop.)

The haberbogs and haberhills — no. That is wrong. The . . . hatyards? I must settle for “the hat cemeteries,” again — are also a common destination for people of all political affiliations during an election. British elections are very complicated so sometimes everybody on every side wants to throw down their hat and teach the world what for. Sometimes when there is a boxing strike both the boxing managers and the boxing laborers (or “boxers,” but not as in the boys’ underwear) will throw their hats into the ring.

The ring, I mean, of dead hats.

The point is, I mean, there are very many hats there. They decay. They become a single tattered expanse of felt, covered by mud and clinging grass. If you touch them they will be mushy. They will offer up the mucilage of dead hats. They have their own ecology. There are special ants that only live in British hat graveyards. There are special anteaters that feed only on those ants. Sometimes you’ll just be walking down the street and a hopeful, hungry anteater will fwip your hat right off its head with its tongue. If you’re not British, you might not have understood what that was about, and I’m sure that you’re relieved that that circumstance has finally been explained.

It is not like the anteaters would wear the hats.

That would be ridiculous!

Over time the hat cemeteries have connected together, like rivers running to the sea; only in this case, it’s hat cemeteries conjoining through natural processes into a single hat mega-cemetery. Sea-slogs and cucumber millineries stretch across the English Channel to bind the cemetery together with the coastal hat graveyards of the continent. Underground tunnels originally created by urchins, pickpockets, and ne’er-do-wells link geographically disparate hatyards together as if by a milliner’s subway routes.

A comprehensive survey eventually established what British police officers and anteaters have always known: there is only one hatyard, only one hat cemetery, in all the British Isles and beyond.

It may seem sinister if you’re not used to it but it is in fact a perfectly natural thing.

The hat cemetery is part of the normal British environment, just like the American bullet warrens and the spontaneous kung fu monasteries of the mystic east. You shouldn’t listen to the corporate interests that proclaim the hat cemetery “unnatural” and propose paving it over and turning it into a gigantic pleasure palace for corporate executives. They genuinely believe that this will stimulate the economy and help everybody, but that’s just voodoo economics!



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