Bowler-hats & Rolled-up Black Umbrellas

By Pierre Jeanmaire

About 50 years ago we used to make annual rugby trips abroad to play against clubs  that were unlikely to beat us being too small or being relatively new to the game such as in Switzerland, and in those days Italy and France!    In Paris we all arrived wearing bowler hats and the next day laid all our hats across the Champs Elysee, daring car drivers to drive over them!   But they wouldn’t: they just waited in their cars wondering what to do and looking completely bemused.   Some of our club stalwarts started to jump over the bonnets of the stationary cars, causing even more consternation.  I’ll never to this day know why we were not arrested!   But the French got their own back by treating us to a splendid lunch before the game but fielding a completely different team to play against us who hadn’t had lunch or anything to drink.   Despite that we still won the game and honour was maintained!

Besides bowler-hats, we also took rolled-up black umbrellas.   On one evening we went to the “Folie Bergere’s” in Monmartre.   Mike Flynn and several others managed to secure seats in the boxes near the stage.   Every time a stripper appeared on stage they used their umbrellas to try and hook their bowler-hats on the breasts of the female performers and succeeded in some cases.   Again, I don’t know how we never got thrown out of the theatre!




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