20 October 2009

Jeremy Hackett Presents


17 October 2009

Valhalla Rising


12 October 2009

où sont les barbares?

11 October 2009

du crépuscule à l’aube

"Il ne faut jamais être fataliste. L’histoire est toujours ouverte et présente souvent des caprices et des retournements inattendus. N’oublions pas la formule de Guillaume d’Orange: «là où il y a une volonté, il y a un chemin». Pour l’instant, nous sommes dans une phase de résistance et de préparation à des événements très graves qui s’annoncent, par exemple la conjonction de guerres ethniques et d’une récession économique géante. Il faut donc dès maintenant penser à l’après-chaos et s’organiser en conséquence. Pour finir, voici le mot d’ordre que je diffuse souvent: «de la résistance à la reconquête, de la reconquête à la renaissance»"

Du crépuscule à l’aube: synthese d’une vision du monde, Guillaume Faye

08 October 2009

To Aloysius, With Love

Aloysius the Brideshead bear
By Ewan Fletcher
02 June 2007

During his Oxford days, Lord Sebastian Flyte was seldom seen without a teddy bear firmly clasped to his richly waistcoated chest as he hurried from one drinking den to the next.

Seen by millions in the classic 1981 serialisation of Brideshead Revisited, that bear, Aloysius, became as much of a star as the effete leading men Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons.

In his Brideshead days with Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews
But now, with a big-budget, feature-length version soon to commence filming, an extraordinary hullabaloo has scattered the pigeons from literature's hushed cloisters.

One of the new film's scriptwriters, Andrew Davies, announced last week: "There will be no Aloysius. He's out."

John Mortimer, who adapted Evelyn Waugh's novel for the 1981 series, was horrified.

"Aloysius is remembered by everyone," he said. "He's an integral character to the book. Waugh wouldn't have put Aloysius in there unless he thought he was an appropriate symbol of Sebastian not growing up. I would never have dropped him."

Possibly fearing a mass boycott before filming had even started, Davies's co-writer Jeremy Brock then issued a statement saying that Aloysius would in fact make at least a brief cameo appearance.

And yet, as the rumpus raged, the ursine actor kept his head down.
Indeed, the great bear has not been seen in any of the usual celebrity haunts for many years.

While his co-star Anthony Andrews went on to forge a glittering career on the stage and small screen, and Jeremy Irons, who played Charles, became a Hollywood leading man with an Oscar under his belt, Aloysius simply disappeared.

Theories abounded as to his whereabouts. Some said he had followed his old master to Morocco where he drank himself to an early grave.

He was reportedly spotted walking arm in arm with an equally camp teddy in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris.

There was even a rumour that he'd spent his small fortune on plastic surgery to give him the assets of a polar bear.

But after an exhaustive search, The Mail on Sunday tracked him down, finding him safe and well and happily living out his retirement in the Teddy Bears Of Witney shop and museum - barely a dozen miles from his old Oxford stomping grounds.

I went to meet him, dressed suitably for the occasion in my grandfather's three-piece Savile Row tweed suit.

It does seem preposterous that Aloysius, who has just celebrated his 100th birthday, shouldn't at least be asked to reprise his role in the new film.

But age is catching up with him and he does look a bit threadbare.

He possibly wouldn't want to repeat the scene in the 1981 production when, already aged 74, he was thrown by Sebastian from an overturning wheelchair - unless, of course, a stunt double could be found.

Neither does he need the money.

Aloysius's life story is a complicated one. Made in 1907 by the Ideal Toy Company in America, he lived quietly in Maine with Euphemia Ladd, sitting for four decades on a shelf in her grocery store.

It was only when the swinging Sixties were almost over that he had his first taste of show business.

The actor Peter Bull, most famously the Russian Ambassador in Dr Strangelove, wrote a book in 1969 about his passion for teddy bears called Bear With Me.

On seeing an accompanying TV plug, Miss Ladd, who was closing down her shop, sent Bull her faithful teddy.

Aloysius, though, is really just a stage name.

For the ten years he was with Bull he was known as Delicatessen - after Miss Euphemia's profession.

But the role of Aloysius so defined him that the name stuck.

It was through his association with Bull that he was offered his careerdefining part.

The director Derek Granger was looking for "a large and rumpled bear".

He knew of Bull's collection and contacted him. The rest is televisual history.

Granger was more than pleased with his choice. He said: "Aloysius was marvellous. He was never late on set, he never bumped into other actors and was never drunk.

"Actually he continued to work when he was quite ill.

"At one stage during the 21 months of filming he bled a little straw and had to be rushed to hospital.

"Not the first time an actor has come apart at the seams."

Aloysius required still more repairs while promoting the film and, to cover his many patches, Anthony Andrews's wife Georgina, a Daks Simpson heiress, gave him one of her company's scarves, which he still wears.

After Bull's death in 1984 and a spell treading the boards of the Stratford Teddy Bear Museum, Aloysius was bought by wealthy American collectors and recrossed the Atlantic.

However, with Hollywood proving difficult to crack, his new owners - Rosemary and Paul Volpp -realised that his true home was among the dreamy spires of Oxford.

They decided to repatriate him and agreed to a $50,000 (£25,000) private sale to his present owner, Ian Pout.

Pout, a former stockbroker, whose teddy bear shop and museum was the first in the country, said: "It was a lot of money but I was very fortunate.

"Had he been sold at auction, I probably couldn't have afforded him. He is probably the best known real teddy bear in the world.

"I do love him because he is pretty battered and bruised.

"A bit of love gives bears extra character. It has with him. He looks a bit sad now but he has so much character."

However, Pout feels that the casting director of the new Brideshead should find a younger actor to play the role.

"Aloysius just wouldn't fill the part any more," he said.

"He's too fragile and I fear he wouldn't have the strength. He's an old man now."


07 October 2009

Beyond the Village

"Once beyond the village, where the cottages ceased abruptly, on either side of the road they could smell through the darkness the friendly fields again and they braced themselves for the last long stretch, the home stretch, the stretch that we know is bound to end, some time, in the rattle of the door latch, the sudden firelight, and the sight of familiar things greeting us as long-absent travelers from far overseas."

The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

Be A Man Among Men: The Art of Manliness

I have long noticed that modern men do not seem very masculine. Certainly I find contemporary chaps are too meek, afraid to voice a potentially robust opinion or disagreement with current intellectual trends. Western men, in particular, appear to have suffered a wholesale loss of confidence, of identity.

Further sartorial evidence, for me, includes the preponderance of billowy shirts, baggy jeans, indiscriminate bling, the intense grooming regimens. Some American guys, especially, look like giant infants in their loose clothing and huge white sneakers. Personal comfort at all costs seems to be the supreme value.

Maybe notions of metrosexuality have permeated too deep. Or maybe various modern ideologies, such as egalitarianism, feminism, and consumerism, have worked their dark magic only all too well on a gullible, mass media-drugged populace. Perhaps modern men have been trained like obedient hounds to follow the latest fashions, however silly these fads may be, and to eschew an attention to classic, unchanging style as suspect, or square. Who knows?

All can agree, I think, that the ideas of masculinity, and of Man himself, have been under assault for decades. This book, therefore, by the husband and wife blogging team of Brett and Kate McKay, is a timely wake-up call.

Stand up and suit up, men of the West! Claim what is rightfully yours! Be a man among men. For tomorrow belongs to you.

05 October 2009

Im Abendrot (Richard Strauss)

At Sunset

We have gone through sorrow and joy
hand in hand;
Now we can rest from our wandering
above the quiet land.

Around us, the valleys bow;
the air is growing darker.
Just two skylarks soar upwards
dreamily into the fragrant air.

Come close to me, and let them flutter.
Soon it will be time for sleep.
Let us not lose our way
in this solitude.

O vast, tranquil peace,
so deep at sunset!
How weary we are of wandering---
Is this perhaps death?

- Joseph von Eichendorff

03 October 2009

World Weary (Noël Coward)

02 October 2009

Hackett Style

Hackett. As I wrote here last year, I have been wearing Hackett since the 1980s. I support the brand. Why? Let me explain. To begin with, I simply like the clothing. It's classic and well-made. For a RTW brand, you could do a lot worse.

Plus, it represents a link to my youth, a reminder of Saturday afternoons sauntering down the King's Road in moleskin trousers, chelsea boots, Barbour jacket, Hackett shirt, and a pair of colourful Hackett socks. Ah, the socks! I am certain the selections of bright and cheery hosiery are placed near the inside entrance of Hackett stores to draw in passersby. If you walk by a Hackett store, you will know what I mean.

Finally, there is Jeremy Hackett. I have written elsewhere of my admiration. (This is not a man-crush, so please do not be alarmed). Mr. Hackett, I will argue, embodies a particularly confident English style. There is no need here to be loud and brash, to draw unwanted attention to oneself. Quietly comfortable in his own moleskin, he knows who and what he is and what he has accomplished. He possesses a degree of self-assurance, I think, that is exceedingly rare. If I were to choose a living sartorial inspiration, it would be Mr. Hackett.

To Hackett, I raise another glass of champagne.