Smart, Alec Hattery, 235 Gertrude St, Fitzroy. Phone: 9416 4664
We’re a frugal household here at CTS HQ.
We wear towels of both sorts to threadbare so they can no longer be used.
We get the lowest electricity bills of anyone I know – the one in the mail today, which covered multiple 40+ days – clocked in at $246.
Essentials such as books and music – and even non-essentials such as clothing and shoes – tend to be acquired on a drip-feed when-needed basis.
So we don’t have much truck with retail therapy.
But every now and then …
Some good news on the job front and some other comforting news on the broader financial front warrant a visit to Gertrude Street in Fitzroy.
We’re not all-of-a-sudden rich or anything, but …
First up CDs by Guitar Slim, Allen Toussaint, Ike Turner, Chuck Willis and Thurston Harris.
Then a brief stroll takes me to CTS’s favourite bricks-and-mortar book store.
I enter seeking a particular book on the history of curries and another on the history of eating.
They have neither in stock … so I depart happily with four beaut books, mostly of the memoir/road trip variety and all concerned with American food.
That lot should keep me engrossed for at least, oh, a month. Great writing about food – love it!
Then it’s right next door for me and into the headgear emporium known as Smart Alec.
When Bennie and I last entered these premises a few months back – on the same mission I find myself on today – the place was chockers with customers.
Today – for a while at least – I am the only customer, and I revel in it.
You see, my beret is looking tatty – I’ve had it for years.
Worse, it’s actually too small. So if I pull it firmly on my head, as in the case of strong winds, it leaves an unsightly band across my forehead.
(The one before it was too big, so regularly went flying down in the street in those same winds …)
I dig Smart Alex owner Michael immediately.
Here’s a man fully in thrall to his hattery passion, bubbling with chat and enthusiasm.
He fixes me up in short order.
Firstly, he spruces up my existing beret up with a steam clean. And then he stretches it so it actually fits, using one of three machines he has for precisely that purpose.
This one is French and a collector’s item. We both “ooohh” and “aahhh” over it like some people I know do over trains and 78s records, among other things.
So it turns out the floppy, lightweight cotton beret I quite like is not a necessary purchase today. Maybe for summer …
In the meantime, while Michael is serving another customer – the one who has rather rudely interrupted my, ahem, “private” consultation – I luck upon the perfect hat.
Finding a hat that fits, perfectly, first time is such a rarity for me that I sigh with the pleasure of it.
It’s a gorgeous diamond-top pork pie.
The price is right.
I don’t hesitate.
Maybe there will fewer gags thrown my way this winter about Mythbusters?