31 August 2010

End of Summer Kit

I am shocked. Can you believe the autumn season is almost here? Summer has slipped away from me faster than a sober 24-year old blonde at a late-night cocktail party. There were loads of things I wanted to show you here. But inevitably I was side-tracked by a series of work-related events where, you might be rather jealous to learn, I had the opportunity to showcase my fogey endowments in the flesh so to speak rather than in this column. The fact of the matter is I wear a suit most of the time and my collection is quite dull, I can tell you. A solid line-up of greys and charcoals in diverse configurations. Summer is a great opportunity to add some flash and step out in prep style. In the photograph (above) are two summer acquisitions: a pair of flat-front Vineyard Vines trousers and a sky-blue Brooks Brothers linen shirt. Do you know what would go well with this ensemble? A pair of white bucks, that's what. But genuine delight is to be found in what is not revealed, so I suppose we will have to wait until next summer. The cycle continues.

Eton Cricket Spectator

30 August 2010

Old San Francisco

I am requesting a favour. Don’t worry, this won’t hurt. Just put yourself in my Gucci loafers for a brief moment. Indulge me. That’s all I ask.

And now imagine you are attending an investor conference at a posh resort overlooking the ocean just south of Laguna Beach. Inside the enormous banquet halls there are thousands of people milling about, many of whom, you notice, are awkward-looking Asian businessmen in ill-fitting Armani, Boss, and Prada.

At the bar topless female bartenders serve unlimited cocktails. Mingling with the guests are groups of beautiful dancing girls in tight blouses and womb-gripping miniskirts. After careful analysis and some field research, you conclude that most of these young women are escorts, an observation that shocks your colleagues when you communicate it to them. But it shouldn’t. It is a well known fact that you can spot hired totty from a thousand paces. Experience has its benefits.

In one corner of the conference room sits a bored-looking tiger inside a small black iron cage. His presence at the conference, you realise, is meant to impress the Asiatic contingent. Small primitive-looking men gather around the enclosure to point and stare and snap photographs. You just hope they don’t eat him.

On the other side of the room the English pop star Billy Idol is on stage singing his greatest hits. You quietly lament the fact he ever left Generation X. Later that night after his set is long finished you have a quick bloke-to-bloke chat with him at the bar and compliment him on the early punk material. You give him your card.

Bored with the chit-chat you activate your personal GPS tracking device and target a tall older forty-something woman talking to a group of colleagues near the verandah. You notice she’s wearing a pair of classic black Christian Louboutins. She smiles at you. She’s a slim, fit, 6-ft. vision of pure candy-goodness with long blonde hair, an explosive smile, and shiny blue eyes. You learn a bit about her. She comes from an old San Francisco family, went to Stanford University, and works in investor relations in New York. Never married and no children. You establish rapport almost immediately.

Past midnight she accompanies you to her room. You nail her to the bed, sofa, wall, and expensively-tiled bathroom sink. But one thing bothers you. You notice that even during the height of the erotic shenanigans you can’t stop thinking about that bored tiger in his cage surrounded by grunting humanoids. The next morning, after tea and pastries on the balcony, while you get dressed to leave, she kisses you. You promise to stay in touch if only for networking purposes. Because, as they say, you’re a playa and that’s how you roll.

Reverse rewind to today. It is only several months later, in talking with a family friend, a Swiss real estate investor, that you learn a few additional details about your lady-friend. According to your old chum, not only does this young lady own investment properties in the area and makes several trips here every year, but she also once worked for your late father on Wall Street in the 1980s-1990s. Finally, and what is worse, she knows your WASP mother and her circle, and, in fact, inhabits the inner ring.

Strictly English: The Correct Way to Write...and Why it Matters (Simon Heffer)

"Be in no doubt: the beer was drunk but the man drank the beer." "We must avoid vulgarities like 'front up'. If someone is 'fronting up' a television show, then he is presenting it." Simon Heffer's incisive and amusingly despairing emails to colleagues at the The Daily Telegraph about grammatical mistakes and stylistic slips have found their way on to the internet and have attracted a growing band of ardent fans over recent years. Now, in his new book Strictly English, he makes an impassioned case for an end to the sloppiness that has become such a hallmark of everyday speech and writing, and shows how accuracy and clarity are within the grasp of anyone who is prepared to take the time to master a few simple rules. If you wince when you see "different than" in print, or are offended by people who think that "infer" and "imply" mean the same thing, then this book will provide reassurance that you are not alone. If you have a suspicion that it is wrong to say "the car collided with the tree" but are not quite sure why, then it will set you straight. And if you believe that precise and elegant English really does matter, then it will prove required reading.

28 August 2010


"I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me. I work with very few elements—with one voice, two voices. I build with primitive materials—with the triad, with one specific tonality. The three notes of a triad are like bells and that is why I call it tintinnabulation."

- Arvo Pärt

27 August 2010

Païenne Hermès

Morris of Stockholm

25 August 2010

Gaziano & Girling TG73

The 15th (Wire)

Black Sails

Passala nave mia con vele nere,
Con vele nere pe'l selvaggio mare.
Ho in petto una ferita di dolore,
Tu ti diverti a farla sanguinare.

There goes my ship with black sails,
With black sails over the wild seas.
My heart is wounded with a wound of pain,
And you love to make it bleed.

24 August 2010

Young Fogey: Jacob Rees-Mogg

California Poolside

23 August 2010

Young Fogey À La Mode

Polo World Cup 1969

22 August 2010

21 August 2010

The Road to Oxiana (Robert Byron)

"Hawk-eyed and eagle-beaked, the swarthy loose-knit men swing through the dark bazaar with a devil-may-care self-confidence. They carry rifles to go shopping as Londoners carry umbrellas. Such ferocity is partly histrionic. The rifles may not go off. The physique is not so impressive in the close-fitting uniform of the soldiers. Even the glare of the eyes is often due to make-up. But it is tradition; in a country where the law runs uncertainly, the mere appearance of force is half the battle of ordinary business. It may be an inconvenient tradition, from the point of view of government. But at least it has preserved the people's poise and their belief in themselves. They expect the European to conform to their standards, instead of themselves to his, a fact which came home to me this morning when I tried to buy some arak; there is not a drop of alcohol to be had in the whole town."

The Road to Oxiana, Robert Byron (1937)

Boot Magna Hall

20 August 2010

White Bucks Cricket

Alternative Candidate (Bowie)

19 August 2010

Charlie Don't Surf !

18 August 2010

Abd el Hai: Henri de Monfreid

Books Do Furnish A Bachelor Pad

I collect rare books. Or should I say: I did once, but no longer. It is a solitary pastime, I have long suspected but only recently reluctantly concluded, that renders one unfit for common human company, especially of the long-term female sort, an inference which by the way only confirms those qualities once publicly deduced by the individuals in closest physical proximity to me in my early youth. So be it. Fuck them. And damn them. And God's speed to them if I should ever meet them in a dark mews somewhere. For few modern people here I have discovered over the decades actually read proper books. It is a serious flaw, a widespread civilisational deficiency. Am I the only one here taking notes? Must I kick arse as well?

As a schoolboy at Templer College in the late 1980s I developed a strong interest in the Brideshead Generation, as a portrait by Humphrey Carpenter once succinctly put it, thanks in part to the scholarly Jesuit priests in whom my people placed my adolescent intellectual development and soule for safe-keeping. (God bless the Jesuit fathers for without their influence I would be more of a violent beaste than I am already). I therefore distributed inquiries to rare book agents in London and New York for first editions of works by Waugh, Powell, Green, Byron, et. al., and collected a fair number as a result. Two surviving members are pictured here in this column (above).

My interest naturally followed me to university, where I studied political philosophy and economics, when I was not playing rugby, rowing, drinking, fucking, and fighting. I spent most evenings in the cathedral library cellars, however, reading and re-reading the Brideshead curriculum, amongst other things, before heading out betweeded to the castle ale-hall. In those days of floppy side-parted hair, bitter-stained cords, and thick chestnut brogues, it did not help that one of my favourite drinking chums was a dead-ringer for the actor Jeremy Irons of televisual Brideshead Revisited renown. My imagination was on over-load.

And now on to Anthony Powell. In recent weeks his books have infiltrated my absinthe and codeine-saturated consciousness. I must say, it is a good thing to be able to settle down to a Powell novel in the 'A Dance To the Music of Time' series after a long day doing battle with the Kenneth Widmerpools of the world. The character Widmerpool is a stinking abomination, a modern Grendel in three-piece suit begging for slaughter. Grossly fat, ambitious, corrupt, deviant, pig-like, sharply aware of his core inferiority, leaking rank blood-streaked puss from his very centre, Widmerpool is a slave to fad and youthful rebellion and a socialist traitor to his country wherever he goes. He is modern Western man personified.

As I have discovered, Widmerpools are far more numerous than Powell has led us to believe, I can report, and their suppression requires bigger guns than mere English novelists can muster. It also requires more accurate artillery. Widmerpools over-populate the main centres of influence; indeed you can smell their ancient filth from here. Do you know a Widmerpool? If so, would you be able to point him out in the street to me and my droogs? Do let us know. It is very important.

Anthony Powell's observant yet detached attitude toward his times and contemporaries is entirely appropriate for an artist of his generation. But today, I think, we can ill afford to be so complacent. You have been warned. It is important to be a man of thought and deed, to have the courage to walk right into the sun and to go out like a supernova. We must take action, for the last hours are drawing nigh.

contre le monde moderne

16 August 2010

14 August 2010

Thesiger's Tribe

"Since Thesiger lived much of his life among foreign tribes, it is apposite to examine the nature of the tribe into which he himself was born in 1910. First of all, it was a tribe. The British aristocracy was socially exclusive, highly interbred, and despite being imbued with the ideals of duty, loyalty and service, owed allegiance to itself rather than to an abstract idea of 'Britain'. It might be said that for them, 'Britain' was the aristocracy, irrespective of the fact that they represented only 2 per cent of its population. In 1910 they were still distinguishable physically from the other classes: they were taller, more robust, and possessed a distinctive similarity of physical cast--jutting chins, oriental cheekbones, kedge-like noses, deep-set eyes. They were set apart, too, by the elegance of their attire, for in a world without dry-cleaning only the toff could afford to have his suit unstitched and the parts washed piecemeal."

Thesiger, Michael Asher (1994)

The Duke of Windsor (Video Newsreel Film Link)

12 August 2010

Farm Street Church Mayfair

11 August 2010

Cruising the Creed Bar

Just last week, you may have heard, I had occasion to visit Neiman Marcus in Newport Beach to procure more Creed fragrance, of which I am a devotee. There are only two reasons to visit NM: Creed and Kiton. To reach the Creed desk one must first pass through the ladies' perfume department. Normally such a detour is not particularly exciting, but it is an entirely different kind of trip when one realises one has dated almost half of the women under 40 working there. Still I soldier on and the accompanying photo (above) shows the rewards of my brief adventure. I purchased the ol' regulars Green Irish Tweed and Royal English Leather. I tried Aventus, the terrific new scent designed by Edwin Creed himself. I strongly recommend it. I have a feeling it will be added to the line-up. I typically do not wear scent to the orifice, where it would have a distracting effect on the female staff, but I do wear Creed at weekend rendezvous. Men's scent, I suspect, is often deployed to camouflage the smell of fear, shame, or dishevelment; in my case I use it to mask lust and contempt. Do you have a favourite fragrance, and if so, which one?

Flag Of My Fathers

10 August 2010

Lovecraft: Against the World

“But success and happiness were not to be. Garish daylight showed only squalor and alienage and the noxious elephantiasis of climbing, spreading stone where the moon had hinted of loveliness and elder magic; and the throngs of people that seethed through the flumelike streets were squat, swarthy strangers with hardened faces and narrow eyes, shrewd strangers without dreams and without kinship to the scenes about them, who could never mean aught to a blue-eyed man of the old folk, with the love of fair green lanes and white New England village steeples in his heart.”

He, H.P. Lovecraft (1926)

Barker Black New York

06 August 2010

l'idéologie hédoniste

Tweed Solo

05 August 2010

Summer Kit

As a columnist I often receive e-mailed requests to post pictures of my summer kit. I tend to hesitate due to privacy concerns, as you can understand, but an occasional glimpse behind the madras curtain should cause no harm. The photograph (at left) represents a typical outfit. The shirt is Lacoste and the boat shoes Sperry Topsiders. The shoes, a gift from a now-departed lady friend, like me, have a dark sole. The shorts, in lobster seersucker, are a special acquisition from J.Crew. In the era of t-shirts, denyme trousers, and flop-flips, summer kit is a provocative uniform, I realise, but I am well-prepared to defend the gesture. Try me. Should you spot me at a local beach margarita shop holding court with my chums, come over and say hello. I will buy you a cocktail, compliment you on your smashing tan, and inquire after your family. I promise not to talk about the stock market. Can you feel the magic? Do not be anxious if at the end of the evening we find ourselves growing closer. The lobsters don't bite, usually.

Might is Right !