Wednesday 25 June 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

40 hats travelling the world to celebrate one man’s 40th birthday. But who will get to wear them? And where will they end up? Follow the stylish headgear as it starts to circle the globe.


What is this hat thing all about?

40 branded hats are being released from London in celebration of Phil Woodford’s 40th birthday. Recipients wear the hats and get a photo taken of themselves, which they mail to this site. Afterwards, they sign the inside of the hat and pass it on to a friend they think is stupid enough to do similar. The hats start to travel.

Isn’t that a little crazy?


Who is Phil Woodford?

A 39-year-old Londoner who works as a freelance writer and trainer. He wants his 40th birthday to be a little out of the ordinary.

When you say the hats are branded, what do you mean?

They bear the legend P40B, which is the official logo for Phil’s 40th birthday.

The birthday has an official logo?

Yes. The hat thing is just one of a number of ways that Phil will be celebrating. The logo helps bring the whole birthday concept together. It serves as a coherent and resonant brand identifier in a crowded market place. Or something like that.

What other things is he doing?

Watch this space.

Is his 40th birthday really that important?

In the world scheme of things? Compared to peace in the Middle East or the result of the American Presidential election? Probably not. But it’s going to be good fun.

Can I get to wear a hat?

Yes. 30 of the hats have gone to Phil’s friends. You’ll only get one of those ones if you’re a friend of his friends. Or a friend of the friends of his friends. But 10 hats have been kept back initially and will be sent out to people who can make a good case for having one.

What’s a good case for having a hat?

You’ll promise to wear the hat in a particularly unusual location perhaps and take a picture of it. Or maybe you know a celebrity who’d be prepared to wear it. The further away you are from London, the more interested Phil is. He will also want to know you have a good network of friends who’ll pass the hat on when you’re done with it. So it’s worth emailing Phil at No promises though. Demand may be high. And there are only ever going to be 40 hats.

I already have hat. Should I keep it until a really good photo opportunity comes up?

No. It's more important to get the hats moving wildly and unpredictably around the world. Unusual photos and exotic locations are great, but it shouldn't be at the expense of hat circulation.

I have taken my photo and supplied it to you. Can I hang on to the hat as a memento?

No. When you were given the hat, it was on the understanding that you'd pass it on when you'd finished with it. Please let other people share in the experience. When Phil's 40th birthday takes place on 1st November, those in possession of hats at the time will be allowed to keep them.

Can you tell which hat is which?

They're numbered with a marker pen. That way, we’ll know that number 16 is in Shanghai and number 17 has made it to Shepherd’s Bush.

What do you mean by the 'status' of a hat?

A hat will fall into one of four status categories during its travels:

Controlled Release: Passed to a trusted friend or acquaintance to start its journey.
Semi-wild: Passed around between a group of friends or work colleagues, before release into the wild.
Wild: Truly viral and passing to people that I've never heard of.
MIA: Missing in Acton. Or missing just about anywhere else in the world. Lost or damaged.

What happens to the hats after it’s all over?

The last day for posting photos is Phil’s birthday on 1st November 2008. After that, whoever has a hat gets to keep it. Or put it on ebay.

Has Phil done this kind of thing before?

Sort of. When he was 35, he invited 35 celebrities to join him for a birthday drink at a pub in London (see None came, but Radio One DJ Scott Mills gave Phil a lot of time on air and the chance to speak to Sophie Ellis-Bextor. There were also interviews on radio stations around the world and a German TV company that was seriously interested in filming the party.

Know any good hat songs?

“Where did you get that hat?”

“Wherever I lay my hat (that’s my home)” by Paul Young

“Hats Entertainment” by The Jam

“Hats the way I like it” by

“Rehat” by Amy Winehouse

All other suggestions welcome:

Know any good hat jokes?

Heard the one about the typographical error that led to the arrest of a milliner? Police ended up nicking a hatman rather than a hitman.

Other suggestions desperately required. Please send soon to

Why is inflation running so high at the moment?

Price indices are registering the increased cost of oil and gas, as well as the scarcity of staple commodities. The danger now is that inflation becomes embedded in the economy through unreasonable wage demands.