This is a story of family – fighting adversity – it’s about a brother and a sister – words written by Hal Brinton ( my brother ) - who accompanied me on a MADHAT mission to find the truth. What was waiting for us was wonder and the power of family.
There we were, cameras in hand, notebooks in pockets, searching, looking for a man that we thought could not be found. Perhaps one such as he didn’t want to be found, perhaps one so mysterious and intriguing operated as such that he could only been seen as and when he chose. Never the less, it had been decide, we had committed to search out this man in a hope that we would learn more from his eccentric Hats. To a get a full picture let me explain the detail as it happened, the answer for why we sought him out. It was a snowy Saturday in Nottingham, which was rather unusual for the time being that it was the beginning of spring and we had chosen to walk and play, after all we had to make the most of it before it was gone. Entering the market square to grab a coffee as we would often, we noticed a mass of people, calm, excited and dedicated. They had congregated outside the council house, the lions almost as though they were their guardians. Unbeknown to us at the time the Panthers, the mighty Ice hockey kings had just won the cup that they had worked so valiantly for. The crowds were happy, smiles everywhere. There were men women, family’s and even children, all there to show their support and appreciation for the band of brothers. It was then that my friend noticed another fan, another happy face in the crowd. He wasn’t exactly in the crowd, rather more he was like standing behind it, a happy glair in his eyes, almost a though he was at peace with the excitement around him. Intrigued, we approached and as we got closer we could see what can only be described as amazing hat on his head, with a shiny trophy on it. Gwen said ‘hello’ first and enquired about his marvellous hat, it seemed as though he had his own method of displaying appreciation for the win. He introduced himself as Madhat, in words as eloquent as ‘I’m Madhat, look at my hat, do you like it’. We then learnt and very graciously I must add, that this was no ordinary hat, it was one of a collection numbering in its hundreds. He was such a happy chap and showed so much genuine pride in the hat, the hats he had crafted and of the Panthers and the city. A good half an hour later and after much insight into Madhats life we realised that we should go, we had to be back to make tea for the other flatmates. Before we left Gwen requested a few pictures being that she is a photographic journalist. Madhat was ecstatic at the suggestion, indeed he was very photogenic. The pictures were taken, the crowds were dispersing and we were leaving, unexpectedly happy with the chance encounter that we stumbled across. As we made our way through the snow on rout to the flat Gwen couldn’t stop herself from thinking about Madhat, she was obsessed, I was too although my immediate thoughts were centralised on what to eat and what to serve. We were home eating and talking with the guys and as expected Madhat came up in the topic of conversation. It was then that Roberto said rather ecstatically, ‘ohhhh yeaaaaa I saw this guy, yes yes yes’, Roberto often expresses excitement with a succession of yes’s.’ yes I know this man, I saw him before and I saw his face in the paper, the Nottingham one’. We were then regaled with the story and began to research about Madhat. Alas we couldn’t find anything and I mean we really tried. Hmmm, a mystery of sort. A day or so passed, we carried on with life and put it down to a funny experience. On Monday morning though, I woke to Gwen waiting with a coffee and a huge grin. ‘Let’s find Mathat’ she said. We walked, again on the road to town as we did before without knowing where to start to look. It was agreed that we should operate like two detectives, firstly by going back to the scene where our paths had crossed. In actual fact our detective skills were lacking it was purely that we didn’t know anywhere else to look that we went to the square. We sat waited, time passed, nothing, ‘let’s get a coffee’ I said. Again we sat, waited looking, situated on two stools by a large window, the best view point, to watch the people pass, just in case that maybe, just maybe he might appear. Well into an hour at the coffee house we began to make up ideas in our mind about what the man known to us as only as Mahat might do, where he might live. I decided that he used to work on the train tracks and that he resided in Sherwood. Gwen added that he also liked to have an occasional bet, for good spirit but never in a casino or anything like that, more like harmless fun, nothing serious or to be concerned about. A young guy that had served us the drinks noticed that our cups had been empty for quite some time and in a friendly of sort of manner cleared away our empty’s; humbly we took this as our cue to move. Out into the cold again, quite windy now, ‘right we have nothing’ G said,’ so I’m taking the initiative, let’s go to the bookies and show them the pics I have, see if anyone recognise him’. Of we went 5 meters down the road, G rushing in front of me, leading the way, I was hesitant, never been into a gambling shop now, if I’m completely honest I was scared and decided to wait outside. The minutes passed, I thought to myself no she’ll be out any moment with nothing. 5 minutes now and I was still outside, and then just as brush of wind blew down the street she emerged, a huge grin on her face, ‘they know him’ she said ‘they know him we found him’. So we walked… G explained to me that the staff had informed her that our mysterious figure was a well know face, not that he went there much to bet, in fact they had not seen him for some time but that his hats were something of a local heritage. Apparently whenever there would be a big event on, something sensational, he would, surface with a brand new hat, home crafted of course. We were ecstatic, ‘right’ I said, ‘let’s get some more info, this is a signe, let’s get to all the local betting shops and ask again’. This time I accompanied my Sis and her camera inside. We approached the desk, some strange looks at first, yes we don’t really look like we want to place a bet but we did have excitement in the eyes, our mission is different. We asked we showed the pic, nothing. We left and as we did I remember saying to G, ‘yeaaa they knew something, just didn’t want to say’, G said ‘are you sure’, ‘not sure just a hunch, anyway let’s move to the next one’. We began to up the walking pace, I could hear something behind us ‘oiii oiii’ we turned and,,, what was this it was a lady from the shop, ‘wait wait she exclaimed, ‘I know him I know him come on come on back inside let’s have a chat’. Then as if all our effort and excitement was being rewarded we were told that they too knew our elusive friend, he live outside of the city and that he would be back in the town with his hats going round to all of the bookies on the day of the grand national. It was set then, the day of the Grand National we would be there, once more in search X The staff regaled us with amusing stories of when he had popped up with anew hat, they said that he was the nicest person that comes through doors and that they wished to see him more, even if it was outside for a tea. ‘ don’t worry we said, might be able to arrange that’