26 September 2010

Magic (Olivia Newton-John)


They say being a charming, attractive, successful, single chap in modern America is as good as it gets, but I have my doubts. Life in this country today is what I imagine a sentence in a mental institution is like. Unreality abounds. And there is no escaping it.

For the observant outsider, it is a spectacle. That social discourse has been cheapened and confused is most evident in the content on the interwebs, which becomes more meaningless by the hour. In the constant squabbles, the neverending brand marketing, self-promotion, and one-upmanship, modern people resemble nothing less than prison inmates screaming at the concrete walls and hurling handfuls of piss and shit at one another through the bars, cackling and groaning down the cold, half-lit hallways. Anyone can see they are not happy. They are just waiting to be put out of their misery.

Like ripples from a pond-dropped stone, the repurcussions from events of the last year have subsided as the months proceed. It takes time. It is an ongoing process. The key is to press on and stay involved. As you may have heard, my calendar has been marked by a series of obligations professional and social. Yachting activities have occupied an increasing portion of my time this season, not least because sailing takes the mind off other things.

Be assured, I know who I am and where I have been, and therefore, if the moment presents itself, I will love you and respect you and accept you for who you are. It is only those who lack a sense of identity and heritage, who are bereft of self-knowledge, who are the most unforgiving of the other and seek its eradication everywhere.

Abroad beckons. In preparation for the days ahead I have cropped my hair according to the traditional Prussian configuration--#1.5 on the back and sides and #3 on top--and encouraged a beard which even now at this early stage is showing flecks of blonde and red. My face is tanned from yachting days and my blue Nordic eyes, like deep clean sapphires. As always, I am ready for blood.

Arcadia Of My Youth

"I want to return to Arcadia...Heiligenstadt, my home, whose forests and lakes are compared to that ancient Greek paradise...the place where my youth will forever run through green fields...the homeland of the Germanic pirate-knight Harlock clan. At the end of a journey, all my kinsmen think of their homeland. We hear the voice of Arcadia's pirate-knight spirit calling..."

Phantom F. Harlock II, Arcadia Of My Youth (1982)

Sailing Antigua

25 September 2010

Futuro-archaïque !

Forward to the past !

Gucci Pro Banker: Wall Street Style

Rolex Submariner: For Cockpit or Cocktail Bar

24 September 2010

Brideshead Revisited: Taking the Sun

Wall Street By Design

23 September 2010

Ogilvy Style

After leaving Oxford without taking a degree, David Ogilvy (1911-1999) worked as (in his own words) "a cook, a salesman, a diplomatist and a farmer" before going into the advertising business at age 38.

At the time, he said, he knew "nothing about marketing and had never written any copy." And yet he later managed to build the company he founded, Ogilvy & Mather, into one of the world's most successful advertising firms.

He was a master copywriter and his campaigns for Hathaway Shirts ("The man in the Hathaway shirt") and Schweppes ("Schweppervescence") are classics. His books on advertising are still studied today.

Ogilvy represents the true advertising tradition, not the Hollywood version portrayed in the current American televisual programme Mad Men, a silly fictionalised account written by the very Noo Yawk hipsters whose fathers and grandfathers displaced the Madison Avenue elite in the first place.

In the photograph (above), lifted from the cover of his autobiography Blood, Brains, & Beer, Ogilvy is pictured wearing a Brooks Brothers khaki suit with a 3/2 roll and a repp tie. He holds a pair of tortoiseshell spectacles. In other photographs from the period he is depicted wearing a tweed jacket and smoking a pipe.

Pay attention to his haircut: his hair does not creep forward in sideburn form, nor does it cover his ears. Study the photographs and note the way he parts his hair on the right, widely recognised as a mark of creative genius.

22 September 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Official Trailer)

J.Simons: Traditional American Clothes

If you can picture Covent Garden, London in the mid-1980s, you can easily imagine a group of young floppy-haired Barboured Sloanes, perhaps the worse for wear for drink, entering the J.Simons shop for a first look round.

The preppy window display along Russell Street was enticing enough, but the interior of the store was filled from bow to stern with a magnificent collection of tweed jackets, loafers, OCBDs, grey flannels, and multi-coloured jumpers. The two or three crop-haired, vaguely foreign-looking employee-chaps milling about inside the store were approachable and helpful. If the Jazz-pose and Negrophilia for which the shop was famous were on display, we certainly did not notice.

Much of the merchandise looked second-hand, and I'm sure some of it was. One impression that remains with me even today is that many of the clothing items, especially the jackets and trousers, seem to have been designed for men short of stature and small of limb.

Over the years J.Simons became our source for Sebago loafers, Sperry Topsiders, and the odd jumper. And that's about it. The rest of our kit we acquired elsewhere, from Blazer, Thomas Pink, Hackett, Boden, Gieves & Hawkes, Barbour, Façonnable, Polo, or second-hand musty shite picked up at Camden and Kensington Markets. Sam Walker in Covent Garden offered for a time a large selection of authentic clothing items, including retro leather jackets, blazers, and cravats in glass cases in the cellar.

The J.Simons boutique, one soon realised, was in a particularly odd position, but one that made a bit of sense. Representing Ivy Style in the UK, it was an English interpretation of American collegiate style which in turn itself was derived directly from English sartorial traditions. All roads lead back to England. There's no getting past it. And rightly so.

21 September 2010

Berle Madras Bermudas

The Touch Of A Hand

"We can ask and ask but we can't have again what once seemed ours for ever--the way things looked, that church alone in the fields, a bed on a belfry floor, a remembered voice, the touch of a hand, a loved face. They've gone and you can only wait for the pain to pass."

A Month in the Country, J.L. Carr (1980)

20 September 2010

Against Popular Music

19 September 2010

فيروز - يا طير

18 September 2010

Brooks English Brogues

Hackett Interview

16 September 2010

Belgian Shoes New York

Merci à notre correspondant à New York

The Plumed Serpent (D.H. Lawrence)

"And sometimes [Kate] wondered whether America really was the great death-continent, the great No! to the European and Asiatic, and even African Yes! Was it really the great melting-pot, where men from the creative continents were smelted back again, not to a new creation, but down into the homogeneity of death? Was it the great continent of the undoing, and all its peoples the agents of the mystic destruction! Plucking, plucking at the created soul in a man, till at last it plucked out the growing germ, and left him a creature of mechanism and automatic reaction, with only one inspiration, the desire to pluck the quick out of every living spontaneous creature.

Was that the clue to America? she sometimes wondered. Was it the great death-continent, the continent that destroyed again what the other continents had built up? The continent whose spirit of place fought purely to pick the eyes out of the face of God? Was that America?

And all the people who went there, Europeans, Negroes, Japanese, Chinese, all the colours and the races, were they the spent people, in whom the God impulse had collapsed, so they crossed to the great continent of the negation, where the human will declares itself ‘free’, to pull down the soul of the world? Was it so? And did this account for the great drift to the New World, the drift of spent souls passing over to the side of Godless democracy, energetic negation? The negation which is the life-breath of materialism. And would the great negative pull of the Americans at last break the heart of the world?"

The Plumed Serpent, D.H. Lawrence (1926)

15 September 2010

Oxxford for F.R. Tripler & Co.

Herringbone or codbone, the pattern in this grey wool suit is appropriate for all but the stuffiest situations. This is an Oxxford number I picked up about twenty years ago from F.R. Tripler & Co., a well-known men's store in Manhattan now extinct. For many years it was one of my workhorse suits, especially in the colder months, during the university work placement, or 'internship,' circuit, and for holiday season cocktail receptions. The jacket sports a darted two-button front, while the cuffless trousers are pleated and feature an adjustable waistband mechanism. Can you feel it? I certainly can. Oxxford goes beyond the typical items at Ivy League shops and represents the American take on classic Anglo-style.

14 September 2010

Deep Water (Official Trailer)

quand on est seul (Henri Vincenot)

"Quand on est seul, on est en libre d’imaginer tout ce qu’on veut, on rêve à sa guise, on se sent bien, sans doute parce que la pensée n’est pas polluée par celle des autres, car la pollution commence là."

La Billebaude, Henri Vincenot (1979)

13 September 2010

Guards Officers Off Duty

The Guards, being older than most, are more idiosyncratic than most. An American major, serving temporarily with the Blues and Royals in Detmold in West Germany, was amazed at the number of times the officers appeared to change their uniforms throughout the day. "Officers sometimes spend hours discussing what they are going to wear next day," a Grenadier confirmed in Berlin.

What Guards officers wore off duty used to be considered almost as important as what they wore on the barrack square. Pinstriped, conservatively cut suits, bowler hats, and rolled umbrellas--never to be unfurled, come rain or shine--used to be obligatory. But now the rules are more relaxed, as they are with other things, such as officers beling allowed to use London's public transport system and to carry parcels under their arms.

The officers of the Queen's Guard at St. James's Palace can swim or play squash at one of the Pall Mall clubs around the corner during their tour of duty. But in spite of more relaxed rules they must still walk there in full ceremonial uniform. And military decorum still insists that an officer thus attired may not carry anything else. So, at a discreet distance behind him, the officer's orderly will follow, bearing squash racket, shoes, shorts, jockstrap, swimming trunks, and anything else the officer may need.

The Guards, John de St. Jorre and Anthony Edgeworth (1981)

révolte contre le monde moderne

12 September 2010

Wine & Africana

11 September 2010

Trout-Stalking England

10 September 2010

Elephant Polo Wallah

Fly Fishing Normandy

St. Elmo's Fire (Brian Eno)

09 September 2010


The cold winds are coming down hard from Alaska and the Yukon. If I have not answered your recent query as quickly as you would have hoped it is because I have been rather busy the last several days compiling a list of autumn reads. These are books for the coming season.

I look forward to it. Like you I have a specific routine for the chilly weather. After a long day at the orifice I light a fire, settle in to a leather chair, pull up a Pendleton tartan wool blanket, open a bottle of whisky, and rip into a book. I typically acquire a pile of titles only to have them sit on the antique Peruvian blackwood tea table in the middle of the room for months on end until I get around to finishing them.

For the coming months I have already identified a few key choices. As usual I consult reviews before purchase to determine suitability; I am an inveterate reader of book reviews. I see one of my favourite authors, V.S. Naipaul, is under intense fire from the usual establishment apologists in the UK media for his study on African belief systems, Masque of Africa. But the gem for me this season is the Bruce Chatwin book, Under The Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin. More on this in a moment. I suspect both books will be ignored or trashed by the provincial Noo Yawk literary establishment in this country. I hope I am wrong. But never mind.

Something about the Chatwin book immediately struck me as unique. And then I understood. How many major authors in recent years wrote actual letters using pen, ink, and paper? Chatwin was probably the last one. As Chatwin's biographer, Nicholas Shakespeare, says: "These constitute possibly the last letters by a contemporary author, from seven years old to shortly before his death, that are written on card and paper and not on Microsoft Word."

And Christian House writes in The Independent: "In her preface to this fascinating volume, [Chatwin's] widow Elizabeth asks whether, by dying at the dry-nib end of the time when writing letters was an everyday act, Chatwin represents the last great writer for whom such a collection will exist."

Good question. I do not know about you, but I used to write letters every week. Hidden away amongst several parcels recently sent to me by my uncle in Connecticut that had been in storage for 15+ years was a small collection of personal correspondence. In the photograph (at left) is a biscuit tin full of letters received by me more than 20 years ago, mainly from girlfriends but also from chums, family, and various school and university officials from England. I was a much greater presence in these peoples' lives then, but over the course of decades they have dropped away and we have become isolated from one another. Not that I mind. A cache of personal love-letters is a reminder that you were once loved. You were loved once, in other words, before you turned into a monster. And that is enough.

Times have changed. Today the bitter-sweet track-record of recent relationships and love affairs can be obliterated simply by pushing a button. And it often is. But can it be removed from one's memory? Not very easily. Unless one consumes consistently vast amounts of wine and codeine. And even then, I can report, it is not so effective. God knows I am trying. With the actual matter in front of you it is harder to get rid of the evidence, at least for a homesick cretin like me. So the love-letters sit in a side drawer or in the back of a changing room closet.

One of the advantages of the anonymity afforded by the electronic newspaper column format is the freedom to be candid. In person, if I were to discuss it, I would probably turn scarlet and mumble something and turn away. So with that in mind I will reveal to you, in an Admiral Cod exclusive, that in one of the piles of letters here is a small lavender envelope containing the last letter written to me by my first love and a lock of her light auburn hair from England in the late 1980s. Silly? Not to a 17-year old. But at my age? I dare not look. In fact I do not plan to read any of these letters ever again. Once or twice is enough, I think.

In a recent review of his friend's book of letters, the French author Paul Theroux said: "But with each passing year I am more convinced that [Chatwin] was the real thing, an original in all his work, and Rimbaudesque in acting on his belief that life is elsewhere."

Yes, indeed, both life and love, Theroux might have added, are elsewhere. It is a belief to which I have adhered for years. The future is provisional.

08 September 2010

07 September 2010

St. Tropez Beach

la vie militaire aux colonies

Reds Don't Surf !

06 September 2010

Monsignor Darcy

Monsignor Darcy's house was an ancient, rambling structure set on a hill overlooking the river, and there lived its owner, between his trips to all parts of the Roman-Catholic world, rather like an exiled Stuart king waiting to be called to the rule of his land. Monsignor was forty-four then, and bustling—a trifle too stout for symmetry, with hair the color of spun gold, and a brilliant, enveloping personality. When he came into a room clad in his full purple regalia from thatch to toe, he resembled a Turner sunset, and attracted both admiration and attention. He had written two novels: one of them violently anti-Catholic, just before his conversion, and five years later another, in which he had attempted to turn all his clever jibes against Catholics into even cleverer innuendoes against Episcopalians. He was intensely ritualistic, startlingly dramatic, loved the idea of God enough to be a celibate, and rather liked his neighbor.

Children adored him because he was like a child; youth revelled in his company because he was still a youth, and couldn't be shocked. In the proper land and century he might have been a Richelieu—at present he was a very moral, very religious (if not particularly pious) clergyman, making a great mystery about pulling rusty wires, and appreciating life to the fullest, if not entirely enjoying it.

He and Amory took to each other at first sight—the jovial, impressive prelate who could dazzle an embassy ball, and the green-eyed, intent youth, in his first long trousers, accepted in their own minds a relation of father and son within a half-hour's conversation.

"My dear boy, I've been waiting to see you for years. Take a big chair and we'll have a chat."

"I've just come from school—St. Regis's, you know."

"So your mother says—a remarkable woman; have a cigarette—I'm sure you smoke. Well, if you're like me, you loathe all science and mathematics—"

Amory nodded vehemently.

"Hate 'em all. Like English and history."

"Of course. You'll hate school for a while, too, but I'm glad you're going to St. Regis's."


"Because it's a gentleman's school, and democracy won't hit you so early. You'll find plenty of that in college."

"I want to go to Princeton," said Amory. "I don't know why, but I think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be, and all Yale men as wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes."

Monsignor chuckled.

"I'm one, you know."

"Oh, you're different—I think of Princeton as being lazy and good-looking and aristocratic—you know, like a spring day. Harvard seems sort of indoors—"

"And Yale is November, crisp and energetic," finished Monsignor.

"That's it."

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.

"I was for Bonnie Prince Charlie," announced Amory.

"Of course you were—and for Hannibal—"

"Yes, and for the Southern Confederacy." He was rather sceptical about being an Irish patriot—he suspected that being Irish was being somewhat common—but Monsignor assured him that Ireland was a romantic lost cause and Irish people quite charming, and that it should, by all means, be one of his principal biasses.

After a crowded hour which included several more cigarettes, and during which Monsignor learned, to his surprise but not to his horror, that Amory had not been brought up a Catholic, he announced that he had another guest. This turned out to be the Honorable Thornton Hancock, of Boston, ex-minister to The Hague, author of an erudite history of the Middle Ages and the last of a distinguished, patriotic, and brilliant family.

"He comes here for a rest," said Monsignor confidentially, treating Amory as a contemporary. "I act as an escape from the weariness of agnosticism, and I think I'm the only man who knows how his staid old mind is really at sea and longs for a sturdy spar like the Church to cling to."

This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald (1920)

04 September 2010

J.R.R. Tolkien: In His Own Words (BBC Archives)

British Novelists: In Their Own Words (BBC Archives)

"Great writers have always fascinated their readers. We want to know how they create the characters we love or hate, the evocative settings, and the plots that have us reading late into the night, desperate to know what happens next. Throughout its history, the BBC has aimed to help audiences delve into the imagination of writers. This collection of interviews with some of the 20th Century's most read authors reveals something of those imaginations and the personalities which lie behind some of the greatest modern novels."

03 September 2010

Waugh First Edition

02 September 2010

Waugh Flower 1960

01 September 2010

Morris Quilted Jacket