Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Snobbery with violence

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 14 December 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d8048
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

Two whole generations, I suppose, may now have grown up without any knowledge of hat pins, not even that they once existed. I was raised just as they were disappearing along with the hats that they kept attached to ladies’ heads. My grandmother’s hat pin fascinated me almost as much as her smell of mothballs, and her fox fur stole that ended in fox heads with beady glass eyes. Her hat pin was by far the largest pin that I had ever seen, and had a sphere of jet at its end (all her hats were black). Even at the age of eight, I saw it as a potentially lethal weapon, and wondered what would happen if you stuck such …

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