31 December 2010

Happy New Year

Der Winter

New Year's Resolutions 2011 (Part 2)

(7) Attend the Royal Wedding in April ~ You saw your first in 1981, albeit on television. It's time to make a personal appearance. You're likely to be on the guest list. But just in case there's been a terrible mistake, tell Ruggles to book your plans immediately. This one might be difficult to satisfy, in light of work commitments.

(8) Be open to love ~ It is not sufficient just to hate. It is necessary also to love.

(9) Take a holiday or two ~ Vienna is calling. London and Munich burn holes in your memory. The surf off Lahaina whispers your name. The US is an insane asylum, as you keep reminding yourself, so escaping even for a few days can help restore one's mental health and perspective on reality. Doctor's orders.

(10) Let your hair grow ~ Let's face it. A weekly haircut is unnecessary, unless you actually enjoy being mistaken for a cop, US Marine, or Russian gangster. And don't fret: you're not going bald. You're not even close. But if and when you do, you'll have a perfectly valid excuse to adopt the skinhead look, badass fogey-style. Something to look forward to.

(11) Make an effort to smile more ~ Let your natural charm shine through. You've got loads of it, so why not flaunt it? While you know you're a complete and utter bastard with a totally unserious outlook on life, everyone else still thinks you're a perfect gentleman, a friendly chap-for-all-seasons, "the man who has everything," the last of a rare breed. Don't wreck their illusions. Keep playing the game. It will pay off eventually.

(12) Do not succumb to despair ~ Accept things as they are. Know your purpose and be resigned to your fate, but also know it demands a specific code of action according to the sub-Dionysian rites. There is no other way. Be patient. This is the end-game of the Kali Yuga. Stand tall in the Sun-Wind. Life will prevail again.

30 December 2010

New Year's Resolutions 2011 (Part 1)

As monsoon clouds continue to gather in the distance, it is time to think seriously about adopting a course of preparation and self-improvement. In the months and years ahead we will be tested not only physically and spiritually, but also sartorially. I am sharing the following list with you as a recommended set of guidelines. Read it carefully. Become a lean mean Tweed machine. The coming liberating crisis will require nothing less. Dandy up, gents!

(1) Work on your tan ~ A deep glow indicates good health, sporting prowess, and an outdoors lifestyle--or simply that you passed out at the pool after one too many cocktails. Don't worry: you'll never be mistaken for one of our sun-kissed friends/servants. But don't get too dark or they'll think you've gone native. Tan lines are sexy.

(2) Wear more Tweed ~ Almost goes without saying. The trick is to wear lightweight Tweeds, such as 'Hamish', the new Tweed for the younger man recently introduced by Harris Tweed, a more appropriate style for the Mediterranean climate of Southern California. Pair it with dress shirts in white or cream and sober ties in solid colours or subtle foulard.

(3) Drink more tea ~ The two or three gallons you already consume daily now are insufficient to maintain the level of vigour to which your chums, associates, and lady-friends have grown accustomed. Consider doubling daily intake in 2011. Avoid anything herbal or Chinese.

(4) Drink less alcohol - Be honest. The painful burning sensation in the lower right side of your torso is not the result of the 750 sit-ups you complete each week, but rather your liver telling you "Enough is enough!" Give a chap a break. The same goes for codeine. Unless you score a really good deal.

(5) Keep rocking Prep style ~ Prep is your sartorial home for casual wear--and don't you forget it. You were practically born in polo shirt, madras shorts, and boat shoes. Your patrician looks and diplomatic bearing make Prep a natural style for you, now more than ever, at a time when every pug-faced outsider and snub-nosed Johnny Foreigner seems to have adopted it as his own. Show the kids how it's done. Oh, and make an effort to stop using the hipster-ghetto verb "rock" as in "Check out Admiral Cod rocking it in his Vineyard Vines..." It's so 2008.

(6) Regain your Adonis-like physique ~ Summer's almost here. And that means more time hanging out at the beach and resort pool. The sight of your bare broad chest and muscular thighs in Billabong board shorts once made young women's jaw drop and cougars squirm uncomfortably in their chaise lounge. The events of the last eighteen months, however, placed gym work-outs low on your list of priorities. A renewed dedication is called for. See (4) above. Make it a top priority in 2011.

29 December 2010

Sword of Honour (Official Trailer)

25 December 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

24 December 2010

Christmas at Brideshead

23 December 2010

Christmas in the Old South

Christmas in the Early South

Many in the tidewater region of the Southern colonies enjoyed enough wealth and leisure to celebrate the ancient holiday of Christmas in grandest fashion. Largely English, French, and German, often aristocratic, and usually unencumbered by the stern moral earnestness that afflicted their Puritan cousins in the North, these first Southerners thoroughly enjoyed Christmas when they could.

For centuries their European ancestors had observed the 14-day-long season of Christmas-tide, which began on Christmas eve and continued through January 6th, the "Twelfth Day" after Christmas called Epiphany. The Christmas spirit sailed across the Atlantic with them and even during the harsh early years, they often managed to celebrate the Yuletide in the New World with traditional English merrymaking: visiting, music, fireworks, cannon shooting, bonfires, feasting, parties, hunts, games, dances and weddings all before an enormous glowing and blazing Yule log. It had been carefully selected and lighting it on Christmas eve signaled the beginning of holiday merriment. "Carefully selected" in this case meant that servants found the largest, most water-soaked log available since tradition held that the merry season of leisure would last as long as the Yule log burned. Another tradition was to save a small portion to kindle next year's Christmas log.

In New England, the Puritan fathers looked with grim disdain on Christmas. To them, this holiday was a notorious occasion for celebrations in Catholic Europe, and they thus strictly forbade its observance. Work continued on this day unless it fell on Sunday. "Anybody," so ran the enactment by the General Court of Massachusetts, "who is found observing by abstinence from labor, feasting, or any other way, any such day as Christmas day, shall pay for every such offence five shillings." Elders also found it necessary to "Forbid all traffic in plum puddings and the like." For some reason the plum pudding was viewed as a symbol of the whole evil affair. The settlers of the middle colonies held somewhat less dreary views and were not so much bothered by feelings of religious guilt. Many of them enjoyed Christmas with the merriment of their "old country" traditions.

The wealth of our Christmas customs, however, came from the Southern colonies. As the years went by and colonists there increased in wealth, so did their celebrations increase in elaborateness. By the last half of the 18th century Christmas time had become the social as well as religious season for Southerners. Many Southern settlers during early colonial days considered Christmas primarily a religious festival; and although the religious meaning of the season was never neglected the observances leading up to "Twelfth Night" or Epiphany, which commemorates the visit of the Three Wise Men to the Christ Child, were often the most popular and written-about times of the season, even outshining Christmas Day toward the end of that period all the traditional English merrymaking customs and revelry were widely and heartily observed.

The Christmas tree was soon borrowed from German Moravian and Lutheran colonists; but from the beginning Southerners gathered evergreens such as holly, smilax, pine, cedar, laurels, magnolia, and mistletoe to "deck the halls." Wreaths were woven and mantelpieces and pictures festooned. Tidewater Christmases were rarely white, but always green. Juniper or incense might have been burned to protect the household from harm. Another aroma of the season came from the kitchen where Christmas cakes and cookies were baked from long-standing "recipes" passed down from mother to daughter. Gifts were exchanged and carols sung; and specially made huge "Christmas candles" illuminated the whole house.

At the center of all the celebrating was "Father Christmas," from earliest times called "The Lord of Christmas." In tidewater Carolina, his flowing hair and beard were made of Spanish moss. In one hand he carried mistletoe, in the other a black wand or staff with a silver crook at its top, and with which he delivered his gifts to all. Southerners did not take readily to what they called "the dapper little Manhattan goblin called Santa Claus." Father Christmas was large and regal, with features bold and expressive, yet gentle. He was, all in all, the emblematic representative of the classic Jupiter, rather than the quick, merry, and elfish figure Santa Claus has come to be.

Christmas tippling was widespread. Servants' employment contracts stipulated a bonus for Christmas drinking. Slaves had leisure time for dancing and singing around holiday-long bonfires. Usually, new clothes and extra food were furnished them during this season. "Christmas gift" was a cry heard on every plantation as servants claimed their yearly tip. The old English "Boxing Day" custom of bringing "Christmas boxes" to the master to collect gifts had been transplanted to the South and it thrived even though gifts here were less often money than was usual in England.

The main event on Christmas day, of course, was Christmas dinner. It was a board as festive as could be managed, set before a roaring fire. On this much-anticipated, once-a-year occasion, Southern cooking reached the heights of early American quality and quantity. Traditions in Christmas fare varied from house to house, but a large colonial plantation Christmas feast that required days or weeks to assemble and prepare might include: eggnog, oysters on the half shell, scalloped oysters, clear soup, roast stuffed goose with sauce, baked country ham with mustard sauce, lamb, roast wild turkey with cornbread stuffing, venison, and several other wild game dishes, including, perhaps a grand "Christmas pie." The recipe for this special treat called for a turkey stuffed with goose and chicken and pigeon and seasonings, with rabbit and quail set around, all inside a heavy crust. There were brown and white breads, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, turnips and greens, baked sweet potatoes and apples, beans and peas, Mary Randolph's salad, fig and plum puddings, orange tarts, bourbon pecan cake, fresh fruit, walnuts and pecans, cider, Port wine, and syllabub.

Christmas was also celebrated with the Wassail bowl, another English tradition familiar to all of us because of the popular verses in the old carol "Here We Come A Wassailing." Wassail, or wes hal (be whole) in Anglo-Saxon, was a toast or greeting which is associated with celebrations of Christmas and New Years from the earliest days. According to tradition, the head of the household invited his family to gather around the bowl of hot spiced ale with roasted apples floating on it. After drinking to their health and prosperity in the coming year, the bowl was passed around to each member of the family who returned toasts to joy and happiness for all. Gradually, this ale became known as wassail; and the Wassail bowl, usually decorated with garlands of greenery, particularly holly, was a popular custom in America from the beginning. Eggnog was widely substituted for spiced ale in the colonies by the time of the Revolution. There was much drinking of these and other cheering and warming potions at the homes of friends and neighbors over the holidays.

Our observances of Christmas represent a rich mosaic of customs based on the winter festivals of many ancient cultures merged with Christian tradition. The lion's share of the credit for preserving and enhancing this universal holiday in America, like so many of the other good things in our unique cultural inheritance, belongs to the traditional Old South.

J.O. Bledsoe

Conrad Hasselbach

22 December 2010

Cleverley Bespoke Brogues

The winter monsoons this year have hit Southern California with a vengeance. The downpour has lasted at least a week with no respite. A small river has formed outside the high walls of Schloss von AC. I swear I saw an otter swim by, but it could have been the effects of the wine and codeine. All the same, it is most tiresome. If conditions persist I shall have to send for a rescue-yacht laden with champagne and foie gras. And if you decide to stop by for tea or cocktails, please do ring ahead so I can send a specially-modified Thames launch to meet you. My point is, this is not the climate in which to wear my new pair of bespoke brogues from G.J. Cleverley (above). Note the adelaide half-brogue style, cabernet virgin calf's blood colour, and finely chiseled toe. It took almost nine months from measuring and fitting to delivery. It was well worth the wait. A fine work of art to be sure, but also a most practical item of footwear just begging to be paired with Tweed and quilted Barbour and taken on a test run round the local cocktail party circuit. Just as soon as the rains stop.

Force & Honneur

Poisoned Ivy (Benjamin Hart)

"This is Michael Jones," said Anthony. "Some know him as Keeney Jones, or M.K. Jones, or M. Keenan Jones."

"What name are you going by this evening?" Greg asked.

"Keeney is fine, or just Mr. Jones. Whichever makes you more uncomfortable."

Jones was wearing a blue-and-white-striped seersucker jacket, white flannel trousers rolled up at the cuffs, loafers and white socks, a necktie with a picture of Uncle Sam saying "We Want You," and two buttons on his lapel, one of which read "Nixon in 1980," and the other with a picture of a B-52 bomber, under which was written "DROP IT." His cheeks were red, and he had an impish grin, as if he had just done something completely irresponsible. He was pulling behind him, on a leash, a baby blue foam-rubber shark. The shark's name, I learned, was Chesterton. Jones ordered a strawberry daiquiri, threw his Sherlock Holmes hat on a rack, exposing his blond curls, and sat down between Anthony and Greg.

"Hello, Ben," said Keeney. "I believe I saw you at Aquinas House the other day, watching TV, or was it the liberation theology Mass, with the electric guitars and the sermons against American support of the Shah?"

I knew immediately that he was talking about Father Joe, a trendy Jesuit who had recently come to Dartmouth from Boston, allegedly because he was attuned to our generation.

"It couldn't have been at that Mass," I said. "I prefer Monsignor Nolan. He still talks about God and the sacraments. Strange thing, though, his Masses are packed anyway."

Poisoned Ivy, Benjamin Hart (1984)

Barbour on Wooster Street

Merci à notre correspondant à New York

21 December 2010

20 December 2010

Barbour, Brooks Brothers, and Beer

Brooks Brothers Christmas

19 December 2010

Barbour on Wooster Street

Für Alina (Arvo Pärt)

18 December 2010

Dresscode UBS: Swiss Banker Style

• "A flawless appearance can bring inner peace and a sense of security."

• "Adopting impeccable behavior extends to impeccable presentation."

• "The garment is a critical form of non-verbal communication."

• "Jacket buttons should be closed. When seated, they must always be open."

• "Only when it is very hot, and after confirmation of your supervisor, can you wear the shirt without a jacket."

• "While blazers are equipped with pockets, they were not designed to contain a large number of personal effects or accessories. Leave these empty, so they do not deform."

• "The jacket should be closed when you stand or you're traveling."

• "The shoulders should have natural proportions: if the shoulders are too broad you will appear too big with a too-small head."

• "Conversely, too narrow shoulders could make your head look excessively large."

• "The jacket must completely cover your posterior."

• "Eyewear can only be in a subdued color range."

• "Ultra-trendy eyewear or too showy colored glasses are not tolerated. Ultra-hip glasses or lenses in gaudy colors are not allowed."

• "Make sure that your jewelry be matched to the metallic color of your frames."

• "Sunglasses cannot be worn on top of the head."

• "A scent should at first be perceptible at a distance - an arm's length - but should be discreet."

• "If you like wearing perfume or after-shave, remember, the scent of a perfume is more pleasant than being invaded by a fragrant cloud."

• "Try a new fragrance during your lunch break

• "Stop wearing bracelets and earrings."

• "Piercings, besides earrings, and tattoos are prohibited. Tattoos, piercings or anklets are outdated and do not look professional."

• "You can wear a watch to the extent it does not threaten safety."

• "Out of consideration for our foreign customers, avoid conspicuous religious symbols."

• "Factors that lead to the pollution of the skin are many. Since our skin is basically our 'first" garment, it requires care too."

• "We recommend protecting skin by applying a skin cream that consists of nourishing and soothing elements. Thus, your skin will appear beautiful and you will be radiant!"

• "If you wear a watch, it suggests reliability and that punctuality is of great concern to you."

• "An appropriate remedy to prolong the life of shoes is to replace heels early."

• "Always put on your shoes with the help of a shoehorn."

• "Completely unlace your shoes after use."

• "After having worn a pair of shoes, allow your shoes at least one day, so let the leather dry out and rest."

• "Each time you remove your suit, untie your tie and hang or wrap it."

• "Give your tie at least one rest day before reuse."

• "The tip of your tie should under no circumstances enter your pants." [I hate it when that happens - AC]

• "Underwear is among the most intimate parts of our clothing."

• "Your underwear must not be visible through your clothes, or stand out."

• "Your figure should not suffer from the way you wear your underwear."

• "Do not wash, nor ever iron your shirts yourself."

Sources: UBS and Business Insider

17 December 2010

Wall Street Journal on Tweed

The Wall Street Journal (Asia Edition)--that well-known authority on style and tradition--decided to weigh-in on the Tweed controversy in a unique Q&A session. Have a look:

How to Wear Tweed and Stay Cool
December 17, 2010, 6:45 AM HKT

Q: Ah, tweed, the fabric of aristocratic fox hunts and stuffy professors. And now, suddenly as fashionable in Asia’s urban jungles as it is on Europe’s country estates. But how can you incorporate the fabric into a modern male wardrobe?

A: Along with plaid, that other traditional outdoor fabric associated with cooler weather, tweed has made a strong appearence this season in both jackets and pants. Still, you’re cautious, even trepidatious, of wearing it out of fear of becoming, well, tweedy?

Nonsense. First of all, know that today’s tweed is not the dour fabric of years gone by. Slightly softer and thinner, the modern take on tweed isn’t the itchy fabric that our ancestors used to wear. Even the tweediest of tweed makers — Harris Tweed Scotland Ltd., one of the three mills whose Harris Tweed is certified by the U.K. government — launched a lightweight tweed in September. Within the first two weeks, the company’s run of 5,000 jackets in the new fabric were completely sold out.

The Scottish tweed maker is surprised that its staple is now the height of fashion. “We see now, walking down the high street, so many people in tweed,” said Lydia Walton, director of public relations at Harris Tweed Scotland. “It was snowballing for a couple of years, but this year, it’s been huge. I don’t really know why.”

The tip is to match the tweed to the occasion. If you’re going to the country or spending time outdoors, choose tweed in earthy tones, such as the Hamish design in green and brown checks. Dress it with a white shirt, jeans and a pair of brown brogues or boots. For urban settings, you are better off with darker colors, such as a black and white herringbone check. This style in a jacket goes well with grey flannel trousers and a dark-colored shirt.

Of course, these are merely guidlines. Tweed fashion, like all fashion, differs in various parts of the world. “In Italy, they’ll wear the Hamish design with pencil trousers and pointy shoes — not what we see here in the U.K.,” said Ms. Walton.

If there’s one rule to adhere to, it would be this: Never pair your tweed jacket with tweed pants, especially if they match. A tweed suit? Not even for the driest of academic conferences. “Once you wear a tweed suit, you look slightly mad,” she said. We tend to agree.


© Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Hackett Personal Architecture

16 December 2010

Pet Names

The firm where I work was originally founded by hard-drinking WASPs in New York City with predilection for squash racquets and Tweed. They also bestowed nick-names on one another; or rather, they used the names by which they were known at school. At least that is the story still circulating around the orifice.

At school I was given at least four nick-names; maybe there were more, but that is all I can recall right now. The first was Aloysius, initially used by my French instructor Mme. Delphine, whose feminine charms still occupy signficant areas of my recollections. I suspect she picked Aloysius because I seemed such a good little Roman Catholic boy: sweet, quiet, innocent, solitary yet affable (but far from saintly then as now!) and fully prepared of course to die for the Faith. Or maybe my cuddly nature and good scarf sense reminded her of the actor Aloysius (pictured above) who starred in Brideshead Revisited.

Later, in upper school, the names Codger and Codworth attached themselves to me, a reference, I think, to my fogey habits and Bohemian Tory views, as well as to my ancestral family name. Such terms were subsequently replaced with more assertive names by complete strangers of liberal and bolshevik persuasion who found contrary views quite shocking and grounds for verbal abuse and physical assault in the streets, much to their disadvantage. In London several girlfriends came up with Tweedy, due to my numerous Tweed jackets acquired in vintage stalls at Kensington Market, and typically paired with dress shirt, rugby shirt with popped collar, denim trousers, Gucci loafers, or brown brogues. I am smiling when I tell you that I even carried a hip flask of Tweed in which I kept the contents of a lovingly brewed pot of PG Tips.

Over the years of course I have received dozens of other nick-names and pet names, most of them loving and sweet, some of a private or sexual nature that I can not reveal here. There have been other names, however, that were not so sweet, such as: wanker, arsehole, bastard, complete and utter shit, etc.; I am sure my parents used other terms, but those are the ones I can still pluck from fading memory. Today, happily, it is another matter: I can report that I have been given several proper nick-names by chums and besuited colleagues in the orcface, but I will keep quiet on the topic for reasons of privacy.

Do remember to deck your loved ones with terms of affection.

Flashman (George MacDonald Fraser)

Stag Decor

15 December 2010

More Thugs, Fewer Gentlemen (2)

Whenever I hear the words holiday sales I reach not for my pistol, but for a stout walking stick with which to prod the up-to-no-gooder in the chest. There is more to this than buying and selling. Wouldn’t you agree?

The one Christmas scene guaranteed to upset my natural fogey rhythm is that of a domesticated male following the lady out shopping, arms likely as not carrying various bags and parcels, a beaten look on his face. Poor guy. He represents what is wrong with modern men. The wretchedness of it all is enough to drive one to action. I want to grab the pathetic sod by the medium lapels of his Tweed jacket, shake him about a bit, and yell: “Wake up and grow a large pair, man!”

It is claimed by betweeded psychonauts that Americans are a uniquely materialistic people. I think it is true, but only up to a point. Because surely there is more going on than mere appreciation of objects for themselves alone; no, there is a certain psychology at play. In this most competitive of markets acquisitiveness is a form of status-seeking and certain brands are clear status markers. In this context it is the process or spectacle that matters, not the concrete thing itself, which may partly explain why Americans produce little of permanent worth.

A kind of religion prevails to a degree absent, I think, in other developed Western countries, and even here I think it is the public act of going to church that is significant, not the doctrine itself, which in any case is rarely observed with anything resembling traditional piety. People function according to patterns created by outlandish myths and outright lies, particularly those surrounding their fellow human beings and the future. They live according to fantasies sustained by unremitting propaganda directly suggestive of Soviet media machine. It is a fantasy world. It is a great 'No-saying' to life, a denial or rejection of reality and of human nature.

Where are the world-renowned shoemakers as found in Britain and Europe? Where are the bespoke tailors for which places such as Jermyn Street and Savile Row are famous? Where are the things of value? They do not exist here and never have done. Which is why I remain sceptical about this specific critique.

Holiday shopping means open season on unwitting consumers. It is like shooting a row of ducks in a very small pond. The common peoples of Western countries have been reduced after decades of conditioning to deracinated, cultureless beings, atomised consumer units, giant digestive bags, spiritually and psychologically helpless before the onslaught of the capitalist predator. The holidays are the product of manipulation of the volk traditions of a subject captive population. Consumerism is a false faith. What we face is a crisis of the spirit. We are in a spiritual war. Choose your mindweapon.

I repeat: “Wake up and grow a large pair, man!” Be a thug--not a gentleman. The cult of the gentleman, a product of late-stage Christianity undergoing fatal process of de-Teutonification, was designed by little twerps to weaken and control stronger chaps. Today, in the darkening hour of the crisis of impending immolations, what we need are fewer tubby gents clutching Bibles and more virile Dandies wielding AK-47s, sturdy stylish thugs living the archaic values. And ready to do whatever it takes, as it were. For the serious case--the Ernstfall--soon will demand it.

Brooks Brothers Christmas

Dominos (The Big Pink)

14 December 2010

Expedition Kit

1000 Watts of Style

13 December 2010

David Saxby: The Ethos of a Chap

Animal (Neon Trees)

12 December 2010

Royal Engagement

British Bull Cushion

11 December 2010

The Scotsman on Cufflinks

"Given the superior comfort and convenience afforded by the humble button, the continued survival of the cufflink is hard to fathom, but perhaps the natural world can provide us with an explanation.

In some species of birds - the peacock, for example - males with larger, more ornate tailfeathers seem able to attract mates more successfully than their less spectacular rivals. Could cufflinks perform a similar function in the human world? If so, gents looking to mate are advised to purchase the biggest, flashiest, pair they can find."
The Scotsman, 28 November 2010

Hunting Kit

10 December 2010

The Chelsea

Gaziano & Girling Ltd.

Kelly Watch the Stars (Air)

California Girlz

09 December 2010

Weejun is the Reason for the Season

(i) Christmas parties. Holiday luncheons. Drunken cocktail receptions where one hits on the waitresses, upsets the potted palms, picks fights with burly petulant fellows, is detained by the city constabulary, and wrecks the silver Benz in a near-ball of fire on Pacific Coast Highway. These are some of the things my recent Christmas seasons are made of.

Crikey! So I must be awfully lucky still to receive invitations to such soirées, especially considering some of the antics I have carried out over the years. Of course I have attempted to modify my behaviour--with mixed results, I must tell you. But so far so good. This year.

(ii) In contrast to my demeanour, you might be curious to know, I tend to keep my Christmas kit somewhat low-key. The candid photographic image (above) depicts a pair of classic Weejun loafers, J.Crew socks in delicious peppermint or pistachio green colour, and Land's End flat-front khakis. On top: Brooks Brothers blue OCBD and Hickey Freeman sport coat in Tweed. The green socks, I like to think, provide a flashy touch.

(iii) Christmas luncheons. If I am not quite a social butterfly at these events, then at least I am a social hawk of sorts. I make the rounds thus:

"Hullo Gavin, so nice to see you old boy. We must meet for drinks one of these days..."

"Merry Christmas, my dear, you are an absolute vision in Pucci..."

"Now look here, Chadwick. You said you were going to get your Uncle Dunstan committed. I just caught him molesting one of the hounds in the back garden again..."

(iv) Do you have a natural smile that clings to your face like a crusted-over mole? I do not; I have a frown. Well, perhaps not so much a frown as a natural "I'm going to fucking kick your fucking arse from here to Calcutta right before I turn you in to the Schutzstaffel!" sort of look that often leads to unintended reactions in others. Can you blame them?

So when I am at these events it is somewhat of an effort initially to remember to smile. It is not so difficult, however, when I remind myself that I do feel genuine affection for the ladies and chaps with whom I spend the evening, because, as you well know, if I am about anything I am about love. And as usual, I manage magnificently.

In the Den of the Vespa

Hackett London

08 December 2010

The Noël Coward Reader

07 December 2010

Knut Hamsun Style

Now this is more like it. This is my favourite portrait of Knut Hamsun (1859-1952), the Norwegian writer, in the fine art collection at Schloss von AC. Some of his novels include Hunger, Mysteries, and Pan. In 1920 Hamsun won the Nobel Prize for Growth of the Soil. The American writer Ernest Hemingway claimed Hamsun as a major influence on his own writing. Hamsun's books until recently were suppressed for partisan reasons by repressive postwar governments. Only now are young people in Europe and North America beginning to seek out marginalised Western artists such as Hamsun. It is a healthy process of rediscovery and self-knowledge and one we should encourage. In the photo (at left) note Hamsun's pin-striped three-piece suit with peak lapels in a deep charcoal flannel, white shirt, black polka-dot neck tie, and white pocket square. See, too, his sensibly short haircut and moderate sideburns. Moustache optional. A classic ensemble for chaps young or old, philistine or literary. A clean, elegant look for civilised gents.

A Voice From Old New York (Louis Auchincloss)

05 December 2010

Adventskonzert des Kammerchores Coburg (2009)

Prussian Prototype

All manly peoples today have a bad name; the Prussians are the prototype. In the interregnum, however, it is not mothers but hermaphrodites who prevail.

Alle männlichen Völker sind heut in Verruf; die Preußen sind der Prototyp. Im Interregnum sind aber nicht die Mütter, sondern die Zwitter maßgebend.

Ernst Jünger, Ernst Jünger – Carl Schmitt: Briefe 1930-1983 (1999)

03 December 2010

Haslam on Cufflinks

"And I hate cufflinks. I think they're very ageing. And also, cufflinks were meant for when the cuffs of the shirt were stiff, and you couldn't do up the buttons; for evening wear. You should never wear cufflinks in the day time. It looks terrible."

Nicky Haslam, The Observer, Sunday 11 May 2008

02 December 2010

San Fernando Seville

More Thugs, Fewer Gentlemen (1)

I don’t do holidays. I mean, I despise and avoid them to the extent I can. Holidays are to moi as honesty is to politicians. Do you understand? Part of the reason is historical. My waking hours are still aggravated on seasonal basis by memories of Christmas social gatherings that even at this late hour I labour to suppress. If that is the case—and it is—bring on more whisky.

LBF:  Ah, here we go. We need more ice. Thank you, Ruggles.

Ruggles:  Not at all, sir.

Okay then. Shall we continue?

Christmas in Greenwich. It is cold and snowing. December evenings at large houses with circular driveways on North Street and Lake Avenue (convenient for squash at Field Club). Neo-Classical columns and Christmas wreaths. A shaggy-haired boy from Brunswick takes your keys and parks your Benz on the far lawn. Standing outside the front door is an off-duty Greenwich cop, a big shaven-headed Italian guy from Chickahominy, hired as security for the night.

Inside, lugubrious Wall Street dullards, Ivy League assholes, exuding puffiness in Tweed jacket, Shetland sweater, and khakis, discussing college football and the latest QB at Yale. Your reaction? Big fucking deal. Delicate Ben Silver tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles steamed from the heat. Furtive alcoholics in weekend tartan from Orvis. Latest gossip? Balding prep caught banging Asian chick against bathroom wall at One Chase Manhattan Plaza. Like so many American males they remain forever boyish; in behaviour and outlook as well as anatomical feature, stunted.

Now let’s turn our attention to the girls. All-American Bitches raised on Daddy’s money and birthday trips to Paris and Turks & Caicos. Bloated Greenwich princesses with jellyfish features slivering with glee over their latest boyfriend and the Christmas sales in New York. “We’re taking the train in tomorrow and hitting the sales!” Episcopalian from Greenwich Academy, devout but plain, rebellious slut with daddy issues, dating ugly black from Brooklyn. Thick, round-faced blonde in big sweater, capris, and Birkenstocks studying ecology at University of Montana after freshman year at Trinity.

But I’m getting carried away with myself. I haven’t even mentioned the young All-American Douchebags, of the kind only a blend of American pop culture and higher education can produce, muttering annoyingly boastful quarter-truths about academic performance and career prospects.

Nor have I discussed in detail the ageing preppy matriarchs, whose passions are channeled into dogs, crafts, and Christianity of the low church Protestant variety. Don’t even get me started on these fine ladies. Can I get an amen? Hallelujah, bitchez!

Radley Beagles

Merci à notre correspondant à New York

01 December 2010

Barbour Liddesdale

Can you ever consider yourself truly well kitted out without a Barbour quilted jacket in your collection? I reply in the negative, with a friendly smile and sparkle in my ocean-blue eyes of course. The last several days here in the coastal foothills of Southern California have been remarkably cold. The other morning I noticed frost on the local lawn-bowling pitches. And I swear I saw the resident neighbourhood hawks shivering atop their lightpole perches. Even the local surf hotties have taken to wearing ski jackets and scarves, which I consider a genuine sign of distress requiring immediate emergency action. So in order to ward off the Yukon cold, and to replace my ragged old number, I recently ordered a new Barbour Liddesdale coat in the traditional olive colour I call Bavarian Green Circa 1918. It is smart, sleek, and slim-fitting and yet roomy enough to allow for thick OCBD or sweater. The unique Barbour Liddesdale shoulder and arm mechanism, I can report, is calibrated just so that one experiences minimal fabric stress while reaching for the next whisky and soda, or the latest copy of The Spectator imported from England.