Jane Gardam is a British novelist, short-story writer, and the author of several children's fiction books. She occasionally contributes criticism to the Spectator and Telegraph, among other publications, and is a two-time Whitbread Award winner.
"In a corner of the room was a wooden carving, the head and shoulders of a man on a plinth, the wood so black it must have lain untouched for centuries in some bog, the cracked wood perfect for the seamed and ancient face, heavy with all of the miseries of the world. But it was the hat that informed the man. It was clearly the hat that had inspired the carving. It had a tight round crown and a cartwheel of an oak brim, biscuit-thin, spread out much wider than the stooped shoulders. The hat of a religious? A pilgrim? A wandering poet? Had it all been carved from one piece of wood? Was the hat separate? Did it lift off? She became hypnotised by the hat. She had to touch it."