It’s The Hat’s half-century! My heartfelt congratulations on making it this far still with inimitable good humour intact.

As my little contribution to the celebrations, I thought I’d go on a trip down memory lane.

I first met Mr Alexander Sinclair under a rainy bandstand at the Chelsea Flower Show back in 2006, when he was a mere spring chicken of 46, I believe.

It was my first time reporting from Chelsea so I was a bit starry-eyed, but James charmingly pretended not to notice and spared me far more of his valuable time than he probably should have done to talk to me on my rather earnest topic, which was Designers Versus Gardeners (yes, that old chestnut).

Sadly, the original recording on my trusty little Olympus is lost to posterity, but I did keep a transcription hidden in the dusty vaults of my computer’s hard drive. So from a happy half-hour of very quotable quotes, here are a few of James’s pithier observations.

“I’m never going to be a very good member of a boy band, and I’m never going to be a Spice Girl – so I decided at an early age not to be a Spice Girl and be a garden designer.”

“The purpose of clothes is twofold: it’s partly to stop you being naked, which is sometimes embarrassing, but also to show yourself off to your best ability.”

“I know everyone thinks designers are a load of silk-shirted woofters who just ponce about and say, oh yes, plant that there, and never get their hands dirty. I have very clean hands.”

“What percentage of the general public buy their underwear in Marks and Spencers compared to the general public who buy their underwear at Agent Provocateur? Yet everyone talks about the frilly knickers.”

Only one of these actually made it into the article along with the sensible bits. As proof that nothing on the internet ever dies, three years later you can still read the version with the serious bits left in here.

Have a wonderful day, James, and may all your knickers be from Agent Provocateur.