You can leave your hat on says RSA

Auckland City Harbour News - - Opinion -

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.”

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