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The Flat Cap on ... Doormats

After another day travelling into town and back by bus The Flat Cap arrived home tired and in need of a warming cup of tea. As regular readers will know from the previous blog on teapots our Bert loves a good cuppa. But with it being a typically cold and damp November day all he wanted was to clean his shoes on the doormat and then pop on something less sensible. Glancing down at his doormat The Flat Cap realised it was in need of replacing so he set about looking for something suitable.

The origin of the doormat is a bit of a mystery. Cave dwellers probably didn’t have them, and the more humble hovels couldn’t afford one. There would be little point telling guests to wipe their feet if the floor space of the hovel / mud hut / cave was exactly the same material as the ground outside. In medieval times some of the animals would sleep indoors, and they can be proper messy; especially the larger ones like sheep and cows. So The Flat Cap thinks it’s safe to assume doormats only came about when flooring technology advanced beyond dusty earth and the absence of cow pats. Build a church, a palace, a casino, a bingo hall or a health club with marble floors and the last thing you’d want is people bringing in mud or leaves, or a stray bit of dog poo. Put down some carpet in your hallway and the last thing you need are muddy footprints. Mrs Saunders who lives in the next road from The Flat Cap always makes visitors take off their shoes at the front door. Call round for a cup of tea at her house and she will insist you pad about in your socks. This can leave your feet feeling rather cold but it does reduce the number of home visits from The Rug Doctor. She also has a doormat for good measure. It is quite bristly and if you’re wearing anything but really thick hiking socks it isn’t pleasant to walk on. The sensible thing would be for her to supply plastic overshoes like they wear in hospital operating theatres. Instead entering Mrs. Saunders’ house is akin to going into a mosque.

Of course not all doormats are overly bristly. You can buy mats in a variety of materials, but if you want to get the mud off your shoes then The Flat Cap (and most scientists) agree that those made from coir are the best. Coir is essentially coconut fibre and once woven it can be cut up into mat sized lengths. This also means none of the coconut goes to waste after the milk has been drunk and the flesh eaten. Another good doormat material is jute. Second only to cotton in the amount produced and range of uses it’s become increasingly popular. It’s even more popular than sisal, although not as strong. Then there are grassy mats, and in Russia there are mats made from the inner bark of the lime tree. And if all these plant based products aren’t enough to choose from there are always plastic mats; which are easier to clean.

Once you’ve decided on your mat material you then need to think about the design. Plain is good, patterned is ok, but try to avoid ones with daft wording on them. “Welcome” is ok but “Welcome to the Harris Household / Routledge Residence” etc. is a bit ostentatious and makes you look like a snob. Similarly avoid mats from suppliers who market their products as ‘trendy’, ‘funky’, ‘witty’, ‘zany’ and so on. Chances are they arent’, and again you’ll just incur derision from guests and visitors alike. Whilst the following list is by no means exhaustive try to avoid mats emblazoned with:

Hi I’m Mat, Oh no not you again, I am a doormat, I am not a doormat, Don’t treat me like a doormat, I like it dirty, Come in only if you have beer / wine / prosecco / brown ale / chips, Wipe your shoes, Welcome to the asylum / mad house / secure facility / Bates motel , A big dog lives here, Not a trap door, Beware of the dog / wife / kids.

Rather than sit at home with the Argos catalogue The Flat Cap decided he would make another trip to the shops to see how much doormats cost, and get a feel for what would look best by his front door. It was whilst wandering around the local branch of Wilko that The Flat Cap met Mrs. Saunders and she shared the following doormat, bath mat, and mat supplier facts:

  • Wilko used to be called Wilkinsons until it was bought by former Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson. He decided to call it Wilko as there was already a shop call “Johnsons”, which is where he took his suits to be dry cleaned

  • Whilst there are over thirty one billion baths in the world there are only fourteen billion bath mats

  • The average household spends £11.18 on its front doormat

  • Tatami is a type of mat widely used in Japanese households. Although the word sounds like it is related to a mat it actually comes from the verb "tatamu" which means to fold, because early tatami were thin and easy to fold

  • Ancient Greek scientist and mathematician Archimedes discovered the law of hydrostatics, often referred to as “The Archimedes Principle”. History records that he did so whilst sitting in his bath. Less well known is that in repeating the experiment over and over Archimedes ruined dozens of perfectly good bath mats by overfilling his modestly sized bath. It was only after his wife slipped on the wet floor that he went back to doing difficult sums and inventing the catapult

  • Somewhere in the world a new doormat is sold every four seconds

  • Kid Creole named his backing singers The Coconuts after his tour manager remarked on the similarity between the ladies’ hairpieces and coconut matting

  • Marston mat is perforated steel matting that was used by in the rapid construction of temporary runways and landing strips. It was first used in Marston, North Carolina - hence the name

  • The oldest doormat in the world was discovered at the Great Pyramid of Khufu, Giza, Egypt. Built between 2551 and 2528 BC inside the entrance was a welcome mat which bore the words “Please Wipe Your Feet”. As these tombs were sealed up it is thought this was the pharaoh’s attempt at humour

  • The U.K doormat market is estimated to be worth £800 million per year

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