One year my father came back with caps from Tripolis. He brought them down for Christmas and handed them out to the extended family. They were classic Greek village caps, with a short crescentic visor, a narrow head band and slightly bulbous cap. They were all in grey or blue flannel, not branded and handmade by a hat maker of his choice in Triolpis. I suppose they looked like a fiddler’s cap.
Wearing this cap made us feel part of a team, even when we were alone. My brother’s children were in their teen years and donned them like a fashion item. They were cool. The middle aged guys looked younger wearing them. And my father, well, he looked like an old villager who had weathered well when he wore his.
He used to wear his cap when he walked the dogs at home. He started wearing the cap occasionally when doing work for Pandenaughties Golfing promotions. He used to wear it at Christmas when they came down to the Midlands to spend a few days with us. He did not wear it to the office nor to meetings, and not when flying, although I am sure he would have loved to. He did not want to stick out of the crowd in business and professional circles by advantage of a classic cap.
His relationship with caps started with his admiration for Andy Cap in the cartoons. I remember him reading the cartoons in the Sunday papers and smiling. Andy Cap was always in trouble with the missus and love horse racing.
But I do not remember the Greek word for the caps. I know he told me where the hat maker’s shop was in Tripolis, but I do not remember and could not take you there. He really knew that town well. Granted it was a small market and university town that was home to the start of the 1821 Revolution and infamously home to the murder of 30 000 Greek Muslims shortly thereafter. There is really no outward sign that the Ottomans occupied the area. It is as if it never happened. There is only a statue to the hero of the Revolution, Kolokotronis, riding a horse on the slopes of one of the pine wooded slopes leading into the town. “So great was the slaughter that Kolokotronis himself says that, from the gate to the citadel his horse’s hoofs never touched the ground. His path of triumph was carpeted with corpses.”
The massacre was something we were never really told of; we only celebrated the glory of freedom from the Ottomans. We were engendered with an innate understanding that the Ottomans gave no quarter and were evil masters.
Come to think of it, some things have remained in Tripolis from the Ottomans. The food and music is unchanged in some quarters. And when I was in Constantinople I saw Turks wearing the same fiddler’s caps.