Alright, I was now up for Conference but the finishing touches were missing. Yes, it was time to go shopping. Fortified by a list from Ros, and with jaw pointed towards the town centre, I set off in search of stuff.
For myself, I had a suit in mind and, as I strolled through the sunlit gardens, a thought stirred. A hat is what a liberal bureaucrat should have - a proper hat, not something garish or silly, or even practical, just something elegant. And so I searched. I picked up most of the things that Ros needed - where do you find sage in Bournemouth? - before turning to me. The suit was easy but a hat? I tried Debenhams - useless. Dingles? Actually, no hat, but I did find some costume jewellery for Ros.
Fortunately, Bournemouth has Beales, a proper department store. I found Nick (no, not that one!) in the menswear department and noted the apparent absence of hats. He very kindly led me towards a small selection, none of which were what I had in mind, a point I noted. "What sort of hat do you have in mind?", he asked. "I don't know,", I replied, "something like a panama, I suppose, but with a wider brim.". "I think that I have the very thing...", and he disappeared, returning with a small, but perfectly formed selection. Amongst them was exactly what I had been looking for.
So, I am now the possessing of a rather splendid hat, which came in rather handy in yesterday's warm sunshine. It will next travel to India, where it might be worth its weight in gold...