30 November 2009


Harmony in My Head (Buzzcocks)

28 November 2009

Striped Tie Solid Shirt

There is something about the traditional regimental or club tie that precludes it from office wear. It does not appear sufficiently formal. In my position, I would not dream of wearing a regimental or club tie to the office. And yet, I do not want to give up the stripes. After all, there are only so many foulard and solid ties a man can include in his neckwear collection. With that in mind, I am quite taken with the look portrayed in the photos (above): clean, mature, professional, sharp, elegant. I have a few understated narrow-striped ties, mostly, I think, from Brooks Brothers, and I pair them with spread-collared shirts in solid white, blue, and pink. What kind of striped ties do you prefer?


25 November 2009

Tintin: One of Us

Marinetti Style

24 November 2009

Broken Nose Confession

I have a thrice-broken nose. The first time I broke it was playing rugby at school at age sixteen. A few years later, in a pub next to Hammersmith Bridge, I insulted a long-haired Irishman and was set upon by his chums, who inflicted heavy damage to my face.

In 1993, walking home along Sloane Street after a night drinking in Chelsea with an ex-girlfriend and her extremely attractive uni friends, I decided to carry one of the girls home, piggy-back style, and when she climbed upon me it pitched me face-forward on to the pavement. The impact of face on concrete was quite audible. Blood stained my Boden shirt.

Soon after I consulted a plastic surgeon who explained that in order to straighten my crooked nose, he would have to use a large hammer to knock it back into place. I declined.

I learned to live with it. In fact, in some ways it has proved to be an asset. True, I can not breathe out of the right side and my sense of smell is imperfect. But it gives my face a 'hard,' craggy look. It adds a flaw, a bit of character, to an otherwise typically masculine visage. It is a conversation piece and presents an opportunity to tell a story. Finally, women seem to like it. On more than one occasion, when I am out drinking or having dinner with pals, women have used it as an excuse to start a conversation. One drunk blonde stroked it with tears in her eyes, telling me it reminded her of her father, an ex-boxer.

If we meet, you will notice my broken nose. Long and narrow, it is aquiline in a Roman way; you might even call it aggressive. It stands out in its imperfections. But, it fits my face and my large physique. Long ago I made my peace with it.

23 November 2009


20 November 2009

Gieves & Hawkes On Moustaches

In homage to Movember
By Gieves & Hawkes
3 November, 2009

Gieves & Hawkes are proud to support Movember – prostate cancer awareness month, in which gentlemen are encouraged to cultivate a fine moustache all November long. In homage to this special cause, we are delighted to bring you a brief history of moustaches though the ages.

Moustaches have been sported throughout the ages in a myriad of different styles. Early records show Egyptians did not grow facial hair, considering it unclean, while in Greece they grew beards but not moustaches. Elaborately curled and anointed with costly essences, the beard denoted gravitas and rank.

Under the kingship of Alexander the Great, the hirsute Macedonians went to war with the Persians. During these skirmishes, the Macedonians were grabbed by their beards and many killed. Alexander decreed that henceforth they should all be clean-shaven to avoid disaster in this way.The Romans perfected the art of men’s grooming and the barbershop became one of the places to meet, exchange gossip and be pampered in the process. These early spas provided hair-cutting, shaving, manicure and massage services to keep the man about Rome looking fabulous.

Then came the Roman emperor Hadrian, who allegedly grew facial hair to conceal imperfections. This started a fashion and suddenly all the Roman nobility followed suit.

As men start to grow facial hair after the onset of puberty, throughout the ages it has been regarded as a sign of virility and manhood. In the British army young men were encouraged to foster the growth of facial hair, culminating in the luxuriant moustaches seen in engravings and sepia pictures of dashing majors and crusty brigadiers. One of the most famous examples being the conscription posters around the time of the First World War, with Lord Kitchener exhorting that “your country needs you”.

Moustaches in some areas of military life were obligatory. The European Hussars traditionally wore long moustaches but not beards. These gentlemen were the apogee of the swash-buckling male — a dashing, conceited amorous figure of whom it was said that men fled from and woman ran towards.

Text ©2009 Gieves and Hawkes

18 November 2009

A Boy Ten Feet Tall / Sammy Going South (1963)

I first watched this film in the mid-1980s at the South Kensington Squash Club off the Fulham Road. Following a squash match or two, my chums and I would repair to the upper level above the courts, eat packets of salt 'n vinegar crisps, watch television, and drink pints of bitter. Some of us played the casino machines, others made fun of the kids from the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle still playing below. The attractive girl behind the bar, we convinced ourselves, was featured in the latest porno magazines.

A young boy living in Port Said, Egypt, narrowly escapes a bomb blast that destroys the apartment block where he lives. After discovering that both his parents were killed in the explosion, he decides to travel (on foot) to Durban, South Africa, to be with his only living relative, an aunt. During his 4500 mile journey across africa he has many adventures including a first hand experience with the slave trade and living for a time with a band of poachers and criminals. After several months of travel he finally arrives at his destination.

I'm Not Sayin' (Nico)

Zulu (1964)

16 November 2009

La Mort du Loup (Alfred de Vigny)

Hélas! ai-je pensé, malgré ce grand nom d'Hommes,
Que j'ai honte de nous, débiles que nous sommes!
Comment on doit quitter la vie et tous ses maux,
C'est vous qui le savez sublimes animaux.
A voir ce que l'on fut sur terre et ce qu'on laisse,
Seul le silence est grand; tout le reste est faiblesse.
--Ah! je t'ai bien compris, sauvage voyageur,
Et ton dernier regard m'est allé jusqu'au coeur.
Il disait: "Si tu peux, fais que ton âme arrive,
A force de rester studieuse et pensive,
Jusqu'à ce haut degré de stoïque fierté
Où, naissant dans les bois, j'ai tout d'abord monté.
Gémir, pleurer prier est également lâche.
Fais énergiquement ta longue et lourde tâche
Dans la voie où le sort a voulu t'appeler,
Puis, après, comme moi, souffre et meurs sans parler

La Mort du Loup, Alfred de Vigny (1843)

If... (1968)

C'mere (Interpol)

Reds Don't Surf !

Hergé: The Man Who Created Tintin (Pierre Assouline, 2009)

15 November 2009

Oxford University 1950

The photograph, above, shows the enthusiastic members of the Oxford University Mead Appreciation Society (OUMAS), a forerunner, it is claimed, of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) founded in 1971. Observe the sensibly short haircuts, short sideburns, tweed jackets, and light flannel trousers. One of the men on the left has his starboard arm in a silk jacquard repp sling in club colours, the unfortunate result no doubt of a drinking accident; note the painful awkwardness with which he uses his non-drinking arm to lift his antique sterling silver tankard of mead.

14 November 2009

When Boris Met Dave (2009)

Eton College 1875

Stonyhurst College 1934

The Defiant Dandy: D'Annunzio Style

The Randy Dandy
New York Times
Man's Fashion Fall 2009
13 September, 2009
by Grazia D'Annunzio

Gabriele D’Annunzio was no ordinary fop. The father of Italian decadence was also a man of action — and quite a stud.

He was a patriot and a poet, a dandy and a war hero. In turn-of-the-century Italy, no one embodied the cult of beauty and the love of action like Gabriele d’Annunzio. He was the incarnation of the Nietzschean Übermensch: narcissistic, powerful and seemingly invincible. Soldiers applauded his epic adventures; literati exalted his vast output; women couldn’t resist his voracious sexual appetite.
But let’s admit it: d’Annunzio was not a handsome man. He was quite short, prematurely bald and pale as a vampire, and had a face punctuated by a goatee and upturned mustache. But he had a wild elegance and a perverse sex appeal. Rumors regarding his personal extravagances were rampant — including the infamous (and untrue) one that he had a rib removed in order to pleasure himself orally. It’s easy to see why people’s imaginations went wild: after all, he did wear shoes shaped like phalluses; had a robe outfitted with a hole for his penis; enjoyed nude horseback riding; and photographed himself naked, assuming poses reminiscent of Baron von Gloeden.
With the onset of World War I, d’Annunzio set aside his velvet robes and handmade shoes for an Italian uniform. "Il Comandante" inflamed the nation with ebullient speeches, favoring Italy’s entry to the war alongside the Allies. He distinguished himself in risky plane raids, lost an eye during an aerial accident and took the city of Fiume (now Rijeka in Croatia). When Mussolini marched into Rome in 1922, he used d’Annunzio’s popularity and political ideas to further his own goals, going so far as to make him a prince; but the so-called "poet-soldier" lay low during the fascist years and later opposed Italy’s alliance with Hitler. He lived a secluded life in the Vittoriale degli Italiani, the extravagant villa on Lake Garda that later became a museum, surrounded by Turkish carpets, Persian tiles, the airplane he used to pilot and Grecian statues that he dressed up with lapis necklaces and other jewelry.


© 2009 The New York Times Company

05 November 2009

Grammar Matters