31 March 2010

Cleverley Cameo

The word on the street is that I shall be visiting Beverly Hills, CA in late April to meet with the kind chaps at G.J. Cleverley & Co. Ltd.. I have my deep sapphire blue eye on a black calf semi-brogue with chiselled toe and wanton curve. Perhaps I will do, if I can rearrange my schedule and if fellow members allow me to shirk for just a few hours the responsibilities incumbent upon me as co-founder and chief cocktail inspector of the Exiles Dining Society (TEDS). Needless to say I am rather excited about the prospect of a day-trip, as I am currently revamping my entire business shoe collection, and plus, I have not visited Northern California in absolute ages. (Do they still speak English up there? We shall soon find out). Say a prayer for me and keep your jewel-bedecked fingers crossed that my antiquated motor car (the 'S' in S-Class stands for shite) does not suffer a smash-up on the way.

30 March 2010

Book Lovers Never Go to Bed Alone

Terrier Man

28 March 2010

The Last Leopard

Conducting a spring inventory of my library, clad in robe and skull-and-crossbone slippers, I recently discovered two copies of the book, The Last Leopard: A Life of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, acquired sometime in the early 1990s. It must have affected me significantly in some way. So I am submitting this post in the hope that you, too, will find the subject, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1896-1957), author of The Leopard and The Professor and the Siren, of some interest. Here is a published description:

At age 47 Giuseppe Tomasi, prince of Lampedusa, still slept in the bedrom where he had been born. The abnormally taciturn recluse, who mined the history of his Sicilian aristocratic family in its ruinous decline for his classic novel The Leopard, had a "vexatious, disappointing and often pathetic life." His arrogant, sharp-tongued father, fueled by a ridiculous sense of pride, spent much of his life quarreling with relatives over money. Lampedusa's domineering mother nearly wrecked her son's marriage to psychoanalyst Beatrice Mastrogiovanni, a largely epistolary relationship for years at a stretch. In this elegant, sprightly biography, Gilmour draws an incisive portrait of a curious modernist outsider deeply skeptical of all human motives. Lampedusa's fictional counterpart, Don Fabrizio, The Leopard's protagonist, likewise seems a contemporary figure swinging from hedonistic pursuits to the contemplation of eternity without a personal God.

27 March 2010


And yet there are signs of hope. Even as he wrote, he was aware of a striving for a new frontier in human existence. In its ignorance and self-satisfaction, in its pleasure-numbed idleness, the modern mind is ripe for colonisation. The modern mind is tabula rasa. Virgin territory. The soul has its own irrepressible yearnings that will never be extinguished by the consumer goods and mental distractions of the modern age. A remnant exists, nurtured by its own nobility and discontent. And make no mistake: discontent has its own dynamics. If we accept that, then I suspect we are not at the end of history, we are at the beginning. The revolution is at hand.

25 March 2010

Squash: A Different Perspective

23 March 2010

The Bolter (Frances Osborne)

White Mischief (1987)

Tartan Tuesday

22 March 2010

Avec Julien Green

So Many Cocktails, So Little Time

21 March 2010

la prière des parachutistes français en Algérie

Give me, my God, that which you have
left over. Give me that for which you
are never asked
I do not ask for wealth
Nor for success, nor even for health
You are asked so often, my God, for
all that
That you must not have any left
Give me, my God, that which you have
left over
Give me that which people refuse to take
from you
I want insecurity and restlessness
I want torment and brawling
And that you should give them to me,
my God,
Once and for all
Let me be sure to have them always
For I will not always have the courage
To ask you for them.


20 March 2010

Cavalry Style: Guards Officers

'I never realised', said a Guards general, 'quite how different regiments were until I became a brigade commander. I don't just mean the difference between an infantry regiment and a cavalry regiment, but the difference between two cavalry regiments.'

The contrasts are still noticeable, even if they are a lot less pronounced than in the past, when an officer with a good eye could often spot the regiment of a stranger out of uniform. Some regiments even seemed to produce a physical stereotype--willowy cavalry officers with flopping hair, slim Green Jackets with saturnine good looks, and large, fair-haired and ruddy-faced officers in the Scots Guards--but the exceptions almost certainly outnumbered such a thumbnail rule.

Clothes were a better guide. A waisted, full-skirted hacking jacket 'cut in the cavalry style with ticket pocket' was hard to miss, but to specify the regiment required a mass of minor clues, ranging from the jacket's state of repair to the visibility of a polka-dot handkerchief; while a Coldstreamer who had the cuff buttons of his grey suit arranged in two pairs, like those on his uniform, presented no challenge, and if a gunner could not be spotted by his dapper pinstripe his Labrador would give the game away.

Excerpt from Inside the British Army, by Antony Beevor (1990)

Colonial Clubs: Muthaiga Country Club

The Muthaiga Country Club is a club in Nairobi, Kenya, in East Africa. It is located in the affluent suburb of Muthaiga, about 15 minutes drive from the city center. The Muthaiga Country Club opened on New Year's Eve in 1913, and became a gathering place for the elite society of British East Africa, which later became the colony of Kenya in 1920.

"The Nairobi Club had a bar and a large billiard room, the walls festooned with the usual array of horns and dented with the imprint of errant balls. It was ramshackle enough, and in what one of his business partners called ‘an unusual outburst of respectability’, Berkeley Cole, a prominent farmer, announced that he was sick of being treated like a pig and yearned for a club of a refined nature where you rang a bell and a drink was brought to you on a ‘spotless tray’. A backer came forward, a site was identified three miles from town and architects, surveyors and builders were imported. The result was a low, unobtrusive edifice with modest Doric columns at the entrance and a pinkish pebbledash finish, the interior designed around parquet floors, a peristyle that was initially not roofed, and a fleet of sofas with loose chintz covers. The Muthaiga Club was generally considered ahead of its time as well as too far out of Nairobi, and initially membership was low, but a coterie of aristocrats including Berkeley, Delamere and Denys remained enthusiastic. Although only fourteen of them sat down to the inaugural New Year’s Eve Dinner at the close of 1913, the event was staged comme il faut, with multiple courses prepared by a top chef shipped in from the Bombay Yacht Club and music played by the band of the King’s African Rifles. Muthaiga had the best cellar in Africa, with a range of clarets from Châteaux Pauillac, Lafite and Latour downwards, a shop selling Charbonnel and Walker chocolates and freshly baked croissants. Delamere was the first president, and over the years he and his cronies nurtured that peculiar sense of deliberate enclavity that marked out the colonial club from Bombay to Calgary. Muthaiga was Denys’s home from home in East Africa for two decades. Lounging in his characteristic slouchy pose on the terrace with its modern blue screens, surveying the tennis courts and trailing bougainvillea, he found the companionship he needed after the solitary life of the bush."

Excerpt from Too Close to the Sun: The Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton, by Sara Wheeler (2006)

19 March 2010

Brideshead Revisited (Documentary)






18 March 2010

Jagd-Symphonie: I. Allegro (L. Mozart)

Serious Pleasures

17 March 2010

Wall Street Shirt

Around the office, it has just been brought to my attention, I am known for wearing what has been dubbed a 'Gordon Gekko shirt,' named after a character in the movie Wall Street (1987). A light blue shirt with contrasting white spread collar, it looks like the Ben Silver shirt in the photograph. Mine, however, is a Land's End Custom experiment from two years ago. The cuffs, it should be noted, match the rest of the body. This is crucial. I avoid dress shirts with both contrasting white collar and cuffs, as I find the look too formal and pretentious; in fact I believe that such shirts, like cufflinks in general, should not be worn by men under the age of 50. I wear the 'Gordon Gekko shirt' with stand-out, brightly-coloured foulard and repp ties from Brooks Brothers and the overall effect combined with my bearing evidently remind young observers of a chap from Wall Street. Which, I suppose, is better than being mistaken for an Army officer, cop, or Russian gangster, which happens to me outside of the office rather more often than you would think. Speaking of Wall Street the movie, the upcoming sequel is all the buzz on trading floors and offices from New York to Los Angeles:

Photograph © Ben Silver

14 March 2010

Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club

Ladies, when your tall, blue-eyed boy friend leaves your bed at 8:30 on a Saturday morning and informs you he is "going bowling," do not assume he is headed for the bowling alley in the strip mall on the other side of town. It is just as likely his attendance is required that morning at the local lawn bowling club.

Bowls is an ancient sport traceable to 13th century England. It is related to the Italian sport of bocce. Today it is played in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United States, Canada, Argentina, and parts of Asia. In Britain it has been featured on television.

I first encountered lawn bowling as a young man in England, but it held little appeal at the time. It was only when I was older and living in Greenwich, Connecticut, that I decided to try it out. Would it sound frivolous if I told you the crisp white uniforms and floppy white hats were a point in the sport's favour? So be it.

Lawn bowlers are notoriously friendly and well-mannered. They are also quite tolerant. When I first stepped on to the green in Greenwich with my Brazilian girlfriend at the time and mingled with the oldsters engaging in friendly chat, no one batted an eyelid as my lovely companion bent over in her snug white shorts and tight Lacoste polo shirt to deliver a well-aimed forehand draw.

Lawn bowlers, it must be said, are also rather old. Which brings me to my next point. There is no reason that bowls should not be taken up by young people. Golf is a particularly dull old man's sport, in my opinion, but today it is popular at all age levels.

Lawn bowling has several advantages over golf. It requires a smaller playing area. Players adhere to a dress code and etiquette. It is a social sport conducive to conversation, networking, and drinking tea. Lawn bowlers rarely get brutalised by their jealous wives and sent to special clinics for sex addiction and other psychological disorders. Most importantly, lawn bowling is English--not Scottish--and for that reason alone I support it.

And yet, I have to admit, my visits to the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club have been few and far between. But for once I have a reasonable excuse. Gazing over the cliffs at the boiling surf below and watching the regular sets rolling in, I can not help but say to myself: "I should be surfing!"

Mountains of the Moon (Official Trailer)

10 March 2010

Jeremy Hackett - The Mr Classic Blog

09 March 2010

Montherlant on the Supreme Good

"Intelligence, heroism, ambition, art and work, all these things certainly have some value. But for me they are of secondary importance--definitely secondary--compared to what I have always called, and always shall call, the Supreme Good, which is loving someone."

Henry de Montherlant, Explicit Mysterium

The Brokers With Hands On Their Faces Blog

Tartan Tuesday

04 March 2010

Kick yer teeth in! (Noël Coward)

The great Mr. Bridger (Noël Coward) displaying punk attitude.

02 March 2010



01 March 2010

March Madras