You can leave your hat on says RSA
Joe Cocker had a song about it and now the RSA is seeing whether it is “singing from the same song sheet” – as the modern corporate cliche goes.
That question has become a talking – and writing – topic after it was aired in this column.
A worried wife started it when she told how her veteran husband was refusing chemotherapy if an RSA club “hats off” rule stopped him covering his hairless head, risking him dropping out and losing contact with his friends. She has had this reply: Pat Herbert JP, chief executive, Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association: “We are very sorry to learn of your husband’s illness, and sincerely regret the distress that his wish to wear a cap as a result of that illness has caused both your husband and yourself.
“We believe that this is an issue that needs be considered by the RNZRSA national executive committee, and we propose to do just that, and refer this question to their next meeting on the April 29 and 30.
“We will be in touch again, following that meeting.”
The following letters to this column show how a simple issue can prompt such varying reaction, Dave Lawrence, secretary/ manager Titirangi RSA: “There is indeed a culture of no hats in the club from both service tradition and good manners but this does not apply to females or more importantly anyone with a medical problem.
“A member or visitor only has to mention this to our staff and a dispensation is given immediately on the spot.
“It is very much a welfare issue and happens quite regularly in our RSA and it’s also known as being nice instead of pedantic.
“Tell him he is welcome at Titirangi RSA even with his hat on.”
R M (Murray) Smith, president, Papatoetoe and district RSA: “The gentleman referred to, and anyone else in a similar situation, would be most welcome in this RSA wearing his hat.
“The only proviso would be that, as a visitor, someone in administration is advised of the situation so members can be made aware accordingly.
“Those who have refused or cannot make a decision on the spot is to me yet another example of the ever-present, hard-nosed attitude of some within RSAs that inevitably reflects badly on us all.”
Jean Brideson, Mt Roskill: “The RSA gives the impression that it is a place where members can feel at ease and cared for.
“You will hear all about this next week when they are out on the streets with their poppies, which are sold for the ‘welfare’ of returned services personnel.
“Many elderly members feel the cold terribly and also suffer from thinning hair.
“These people no doubt wear their woollen beanies for most of the winter and feel chilly when it is removed.
“Those members would feel at ease and cared for if their comfortable little headpiece was retained.
“These rules were probably all very well at the inception of the organisation and should now change to accommodate the present day membership.
“Otherwise, why do they bother to continue?
“Perhaps just in the hope of catching someone who has to shout the bar?”
Rona McKenzie: “Our club sympathises with members or guests of members who need to wear a hat for a medical reason.
“We do not expect their hats to be removed but they should make known that the reason for wearing a hat is medical.
“How rude and degrading to ask an unwell person to remove their hat.
“We have had occasions when a person is in the club wearing a hat for medical reasons. No problems.
“We need members. We don’t want to chase them away. Should the rules be changed? Well no – just make exceptions for medical reasons.”
And another: “I am ex-RN and it was naval custom to ‘off-caps’ in both the messdeck where we lived and the dining hall or any naval mess.
“Only officers and ratings on duty could enter a messdeck wearing a hat, such as on ‘rounds’, etc.
“Presumably, the RSA ruling is a continuation of what is basically a mark of respect, which I have no problem with.
“But what I found quite offensive at my local was being literally bawled at by a group of members from the gloom of the billiard room – they may possibly have lived there – when I went into the office one day to pay my dues and – heinous crime – absentmindedly failed to remove my sun hat.
“To me their manner was unnecessarily abrupt, rude and distinctly unwelcoming. A gentle reminder would have sufficed.
“Although still a member, I now rarely go there.
“Have your chemotherapy, mate, for your family’s sake if not your own, and apply to your RSA welfare fund to supply the wherewithal for a temporary hairpiece.
“You can then ‘hide under the thatch’ and spend as much time with your RSA mates as you wish as the treatment takes effect.
“My wish is that you will soon be restored to your family and friends in at least sound if not absolutely rude health very soon. Good luck.” – Name and club detail supplied
Marsden Stevens Fountain, Massey: “I am 82 and served in World War Two. I have been a member of several RSAs in my lifetime
“I sympathise with your correspondent’s husband as I lost my hair several years ago, due to alopecia and felt very sensitive about my baldness.
“My doctor wrote to the Health Department requesting financial help towards the purchase of a wig, which was forthcoming.
“My head is now safe from sunburn, melanoma, chills, etc. I look and feel better.
“I suggest that your correspondent’s husband makes some inquiries from his oncology department or the Cancer Society regarding financial help towards the purchase of a wig to cover his baldness.”
Another reader suggested joining a church which would give him fellowship and support.
Neville Brady, ex-RAF, aged 73: “I am not an expert on these matters but it occurred to me there are several occasions when a gentleman should remove his headwear: When meeting a lady, when a funeral cortege is passing, when holding a commission in a military organisation, wearing civilian clothes and being saluted by a subordinate in uniform, when shaking hands, for example, with a fellow competitor after a game, when entering a building.
“Common courtesy and manners dictate these simple rules and there is no stigma attached to any.
“My sympathies for the condition described in his wife’s letter but, for goodness sake, drop your pride, have the treatment and have a few more years with your wife and family.
“Remember Bobbie Charlton, one of the best footballers who ever lived?
“Recall how he used to sweep his last vestige of hair across his balding pate? I rest my case.”