Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Great Secret: The Big Con. And Some More of Krystyna

Reading more and more about Krystyna Skarbeka - Christine Granville - has brought it thoroughly home to the Naked Ape that, if you really have style, dash and courage, you might as well be dressed in brown paper. Most of the sites out there (with a few certain, self-evident exceptions),as well as the fashionistos and fashionistas, aimed at innovative dressing-up are a Big Con; suggesting to the hundreds of thousands of gullible fellows, with more money than sense, that "You Too Can Buy-In To The Club" and, very often, on the say-so of some kids who have just got out of their shorts and M&S (and equivalent) suits.

They all present a readily acceptable blandishment - to knuckleheads - but hollow and vapid for all that, to anyone of reasonable sense and understanding. You cannot 'buy-in': with this silly shirt 'n' tie combo; with this or that pair of (often execrable) shoes; these (bounder's) socks; that cut, or this; draped, drooped or too-snug-to-breathe.

Forget it.

Nice clothes do say something about us but they do not create us and, for my part, I intend to spend some more time - much, much more time -fishing on the lagoon and enjoying the sun and fresh air.

Are you reading me, World?

Time for many people to wake up and live their lives.


I got into blogging (here and on other people's sites) mainly because my agent said that it was a good idea. At first I quite enjoyed it. But looking at the consequential sales of books, it is very, very far from worth the effort. That's the bad news.

The good news is that I have decided to free myself from most other people's blogs, because they generally tend to have their own agendas; their (nearly) imperceptible motives; whether it be pushing a point of view or just sales - and, sometimes, they perpetuate pathetic grudges; whereas, this is my space. Therefore, any time, from now on, that I blog, it will be here - and just about only here.

Now I just have to work out how to banish bloody amazon impertinently advertizing their groundling pulp in my space...

To any outfit wanting to spam or advertize here (especially through comments): I say it once and only once:

"On your bikes!"

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Book IV

I have been off here because I have been researching Krystyna Skarbek-Granville's wartime career; first with the Secret Intelligence Service and then with the Special Operations Executive and rivetting stuff it is too. I know that I have put her picture up before but here it is again:
I am planning on a continuing event to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of her death in London in 1952. But it is under wraps at the moment.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

amazon.com Book Links

Here, at last, are amazon.com links to both my current books: the other amazon sites are navigable from these sites. However, please note that bookdepository.com offers free shipping.

It has taken me since July 2010 to get these links so it is just as well that I am not trying to sell anything else on here!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Deep crimson carnations

This is a deep, deep crimson carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) called 'King of The Blacks' (as it is tinged with black), which is absolutely ideal as a buttonhole with a dinner jacket-Tuxedo or a dark city suit. It strangely combines auras of: formality and dissolution; the feast and the wake; the marriage bed and the grave:

Book IV

I now must proceed more swiftly with Book IV, which I need to deliver towards the end of the year, about the same time that Book III is published, and I suppose that to deliver a script for publication just as a preceding book is published might be a nice pattern to slip into. It will take more concentration of effort; although I shall make, more or less, a daily entry in this Blog. I am now considering the subject matter for Book V. I have a few ideas but any suggestions are very welcome.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Freebies Galore!

Some hope! I should, though, add to my my list this 1957 Bentley SI Continental Fastback, by H J Mulliner, succeeding and improving upon the R Types:

More: Tibetan

More Traditional Dress

Here is another example of tradition in action. Mohammed Ali Jinnah again (with his sister Fatima) in 1947:

Security in Identity

Recently, I have noticed, in a certain member on a website to which I have contributed for a couple of years, a tendency to annoy, with bluntly repeated assertions that rules (he has now taken up my suggestion of 'norms'), of masculine dress are fading and, for some strange reason, he celebrates the fact that the face of civilization is changing; even crumbling. I suspect that he is part of the designer-fashionista brigade (swinging manbags in colours complementary to their zany outfits),and that he has a commercial interest in confusing people into believing that they should be buying more and more of his mad tat. Of course, by necessary implication, he refers to 'western civilization' and that is plainly crumbling. However, it does occur to me that there are many societies across the world, apart from those in Europe and North America, in which norms of masculine dress have remained constant for hundreds of years and continue to remain constant. This evidences: confidence; security; stability, and contentment and is a better cause for celebration than is the economic and moral disintegration, which is plainly evident, all around, in the 'great western democracies'.

Reading the rambling of the fellow in question reminds me of a sentiment of George IV's only legitimate child, Princess Charlotte Augusta, that "The more that I see of the world, the less I like it."

The photograph is by Bernard Domenech, of Sheikh Hadji Attayak, who died in 2001, aged at least ninety and, possibly, over a hundred. He took part in the attack on Aqaba, with T E Lawrence and Prince Faisal in WWI. I cannot imagine him seeking variation in his traditional dress: he found better ways, during his long life, in which to spend his time.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Style Icon XXV: Gary Cooper

Especially because one of the Sky channels is screening High Noon today, let us include Gary Cooper (1901-1961). Celebrated in the 1929 song, by Irving Berlin, Puttin' On The Ritz with the line:

"Tryin' hard to look like Gary Cooper (super-duper)",

Cooper was the son of English parents and even spent a few years at school in England but Montana was the family home. He started acting in 1925 and won two Oscars for best actor in Sergeant York (1942) and High Noon (1952)and was famed for his laconic delivery: "Yep"; "Nope".

Here he is in High Noon with Grace Kelly.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Someone on a website to which I contribute and who looks in here from time to time suggested that I should invite the provision of freebies in return for write-ups, in what is becoming the established and accepted manner.

As a matter of fact, I always have been open to freebies (who isn't?); anything from colognes to cars (I'd much like a Mulliner Park Ward Bentley SIII, four door Continental (Flying Spur) in British racing green) ; wines and spirits (cases of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne 1996 and Cheval Blanc 1947 are especially welcome); cigars (especially boxes of Cohiba Lanceros and Romeo y Julieta Churchill cigars); pipes and pipe tobacco (especially well-kept vintage tins of Murray's); bespoke and readymade clothing and shoes and hats; accommodation in hotels and apartments around the world and first or club class travel tickets to get there; cruises; meals in restaurants; accessories, such as top of the range watches and antique Fabergé cigarette cases, cufflinks and evening studs, as well as full strength Turkish and Balkan cigarettes and silver cigarette boxes. I would even consider livestock, such as Arabian horses, and Borzoi hounds. Guns would be subject to procedures for their licensed importation, which would be irksome but, overall, worth the effort and I should undertake the paperwork.

It must be understood that the above are just examples and the categories are never closed. I should never be so narrow-minded as to turn anyone away with a genuine and legitimate product or service for 'test-driving'.

In return, I would make a careful assessment of the product or service provided and publish the results here. I do not guarantee an advertorial service as such and, if goods or services rendered were below par, I should say so. However, there we are: open house to you all. Shipping costs must be borne by the supplier and my shipping details would vary according to the nature of the goods to be furnished, as prohibitions and taxes make import into Brazil of certain items impracticable but I should never turn anything away for that reason alone and alternative arrangements would be made.

So! There we are. Let's see what happens.

Shane MacGowan II

I have removed the picture of Shane MacGowan as it gave me a nightmare. Not joking.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Shane MacGowan

A commentator said that he prefers the style of Shane MacGowan. I understand your point ... he is typical of a 'modern British' gent ... but you might benefit from asking your doctor to increase the dose.

Clueless in Gaza

The coming generation of the USA in the 1960s abolished racial segregation. There were different 'liberating' events in the UK, such as the abolition of the death penalty but few people now would accept that the generation that achieved these reforms also, in certain respects, threw out the baby with the bath water when it lost the sense of form and decorum: manners. History forgets that the old standards did survive for a few more years because history remembers the winners but the old standards faded eventually.

Then, as they were increasingly jostled in doorways, or pushed on the pavement, or smoked over by inconsiderate smokers, people gradually came to realize that the world has lost something and that it is the poorer for it but they are uncertain as to what exactly the world has lost.

That is why there is so much legislation to regulate purely personal conduct and why there are so many blogs and websites (and even books and magazines) on Style and why people are rushing about with their own personal revelations, seen through a glass darkly. In one hand they hold Apparel Arts and Esquire illustrations from the 1930s and, in the other, a butterfly net, casting at shadows; and people gather around the butterfly rooms to admire the collections and we are told that the brightest, captured phantoms of butterflies are those that have lost form but retained beauty. I don't see it. In fact, I don't see the butterflies.

We are told that style has cycles (it certainly seems to have bicycles) and the twenty to thirty year olds reinvent style every year, according to the Parisian system for women's fashion, and the designers have taken to reinterpreting the meaning of 'bespoke'; ridicule and revile those who guard and pass on its real secrets, even convince some of them to come onboard the brash, bright, noisey Ford-Lauren-Armani-Abercrombie & Fitch bandwaggon and they do: Kilgour, French & Stansbury becomes the trendier sounding 'Kilgour' and E Tautz gets so excited that he even jumps out of the grave and puts off his shroud; and they all join together and devise events at which skinny, epicene models swagger up and down catwalks in skimped, tight, trendy, vaguely weird ready-to-wear clothes that no one in his right mind would wear in real life, and they clink champagne flutes and explode in self-congratulation at having redeemed, by re-invention, the world of bespoke, while those who regard their trade as one for the expression of high skill to provide a decent living and customer satisfaction, are increasingly side-lined because they won't or can't get their old legs up high enough to jump on the bandwaggon and schmoze with the rest of them, for a bigger dollar.

And we are bludgeoned with the blunt instrument of commercial interest to believe that rules or norms and, by necessary implication, the need for form and decorum, have been 'eroded' and we are also told what a good thing that is too and some even convince themselves that they have seen the Piper at The Gates of Dawn at the trendy tailoring event The Golden Shears and write up an account of it as an 'advertorial'. Maybe you have but it is the trippy Piper of Pink Floyd's 1967 cover rather than the more charming Piper of Kenneth Grahame's 1908 classic The Wind in The Willows and I know which I prefer.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Style Icon XXIV: Patrick McGowan

Patrick McGowan (1929-2009) was a talented actor who starred in various roles, ranging from the cult series The Prisoner (warning of the Big Brother phenomenon); Danger Man (Secret Agent in the USA);Braveheart; Ice Station Zebra and even an episode of Colombo:

For the sake of body and soul

I have decided to avoid alcohol and tobacco for the rest of Lent (a decision made and kept yesterday); for the sake of body and soul - a detoxification; since, hardly a day has passed since I was eighteen on which I have not indulged in these substances and, as I head up to fifty two years of age, it is time for a change of pace. Therefore, after Lent, I shall move to an aperitif, two glasses of wine and a digestif with meals and move off cigarettes altogether and onto my pipes and snuff. I have no intention of becoming an abstainer but a change of pace seems like a good idea. By announcing this here, I shall have to keep to this, or I should feel a fool.
Hogarth's Gin Lane.

Friday, 11 March 2011


This afternoon, Sky TV is treating us to a showing of Camille (1936), starring Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor. Guess who will be tuning in...

Proposed ban on the display of tobacco products

This is a letter that I sent to various newspapers that have published my letters before. I am not sure that they will have the stomach for this though:

In reaction to the continuing pressure from tub-thumping Tin-Hitlers, such as those who run ASH, the government has announced plans to ban the display of tobacco products in shops. Tobacco is not yet a proscribed substance and, used moderately and sensibly, good tobacco can bring much pleasure and ease the strain of living. This has been recognized for hundreds of years and the potential harm of over-indulgence was first noted by The Lancet in 1857. The presumptuousness of certain self-appointed guardians of the public morals, in arrogating to themselves the right to regulate, restrict and, eventually, to rob us of our choices and, coincidentally, to wreck perfectly legitimate businesses (as they demonstrably did with the smoking ban in pubs), fills me with incandescent fury. Why don’t the British people stand up to all the Tin-Hitlers as their forebears stood up to Adolf?
Morover, it is ironic, to my mind, that contraceptives, which were once bought and sold with a blush from a drawer in the chemist’s shop (or with a wink, as “something for the weekend” in the barber’s), are, these days, on sale in supermarkets; sometimes next to the sweets. Now smoking is going to become, for those who need to censure pleasure, The Great Modern Taboo and treated with the same degree of shame and horror which the Victorians reserved for sex. Maybe it is significant that, considerately and properly performed, they are both pleasurable activities.
Yours faithfully,
Nicholas Storey.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Style Icon XXII: Roger Moore

Star of many films, including a stint as James Bond and, of course, the cult TV series The Saint. Here he is with author and creator of The Saint, Leslie Charteris:

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Style Icon XXI: Charles Boyer

I have mentioned him before but not yet in this discrete Pantheon. In the first picture he is with Hedy Lamarr:

Monday, 7 March 2011

Style Icon XX: Clive Brook

I have dealt with Clive Brook before but he has to have a place here too. In the still, he is with Mary Carlisle, in Love in Exile (1936). He was, amongst other things, the first screen Sherlock Holmes of the talkie era and was, along with Cedric Hardwicke, James Mason, Ronald Colman and Herbert Marshall an early and senior member of the 'British Raj' in California.

He is less remembered than they because he returned to England with his family towards the end of the 1930s and so does not appear in Hollywood films after that time:


The time to say "Farewell Meat!" is upon us and it is celebrated everywhere here and not, as the world thinks, just in Rio de Janeiro. Indeed, many a Carioca escapes from Rio at Carnaval (leaving it to the tourists to watch the Samba Princesses shakin' it) and ends up in one of Brazil's Sleepy Hollows.

Last night there was a parade along the seafront here and I was approached by a fellow in head-to-foot body paint (who looked like the witch doctor out of Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines) and he wanted one of the bottles of beer that I was carrying home. I refused and went on but he persisted and then, above all the noise (and do Brazilians do noise!), he said "You don't recognize me?" and I confirmed this. He then explained that he was the horseman who cleared away some dead coconut and banana leaves for me last week - in fact someone that I have known for nearly five years. He seemed tickled pink at my Gringo confusion and consternation and, needless to say, he got his beer.

The picture today is of the church of Our Lady of Nazareth at the end of the road.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Brazil and A Lesson in Life II

The electrician/plumber returned to ascend the ladder and found that, even at 24 feet, it was several feet too short to reach the second roof. So he removed some pantiles from the kitchen verandah on the ground floor and tried that but it was still too short. He then found a flat piece of hardwood and put this on a beam in the roof of the kitchen verandah and pushed the extended ladder up to rest on the wood. He ascended the ladder and removed the edge tiles from the top roof and went over the top. I had to turn the water pumps on so that he could identify the leak. This done, he came back down and went off to buy a new piece of pipe. When he returned he went back up and fixed the problem. He also made it clear that several of the pantiles on this secton of roof were broken. Fortunately, there were more than enough spares and he fixed that problem too. Just watching him made me feel anxious: no ropes, let alone safety harnesses and scaffolding, helmet and all the rest of it. My parents had a Sky dish fitted to the chimney of their house and the workman told them that he should really fix scaffolding to the building with bolts because using just a ladder was a breach of health and safety legislation!

Ultimately, I persuaded electrician/plumber to get the ladder taken away by car.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Bogart's Sabrina

Shredder introduced me to this image, which is of Bogart's Sabrina:

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Brazil and A Lesson in Life

There are many websites and blogs concerned with the question "What is Style" and how can we define it, perceive it, assess it and even acquire it. Some people even seem to go so far as to suggest that they are able to can it and sell it.

But what is this Style, without grit; pluck, and courage? It is vapid; effete, and risible. Today I had a shock and, with the shock, a serious lesson in life. A Brazilian plumber/electrician (he is incredibly efficient in both activities), arrived to mend a leak in a roof void that can be entered only through the roof tiles on a second-floor roof. This man is about fifty five years old; five feet seven in height; not especially muscular, and normally wears shorts and a pair of flip-flop sandals; he is scarred, on one side, from his face, down across a shoulder on both front and back and, taken with a protruding shoulder bone, it all declares that he must, on some occasion in his life, have been nearly sliced in half.

He assessed the leak a few days ago, and decided that a 24 foot ladder was the only solution but he had to borrow one. Here there are two types of ladder: there are light, aluminium ladders and there are ladders made of Brazilian hardwood, of a similar density and weight to mahogany. He told me on the telephone that he had managed to borrow a hardwood ladder.

When he arrived this afternoon, I saw him and his bicycle outside and my heart sank because, plainly, there could be no ladder today.

Imagine my case when I tell you that there was a ladder and that he had carried it, over a mile, along a road that is largely cobbled, with various (and hazardous), 'sleeping-policemen' speed bumps, on his bicycle. I can lift the ladder and I could walk a few yards with it but ride on a bicycle with it for over a mile? I could not possibly even contemplate it but I am unconvinced that I am better off for not having to do so.

Now I am left with the task of trying to find a way, tomorrow, to suggest that I could have the ladder returned to its owner, without injuring his pride. But it not an understatement to say that this fellow's grit in overcoming obstacles in his life and his job leave me in far more awe than admiring mere clothes.

I salute you, Brazil, and long may you remain untainted by the slovenly habits and half-hearted lifestyles that so many people in the so-called 'developed world' embrace.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Book II

History of Men's Acccessories: A Short Guide for Men About Town has now been published and is available from all the usual sources: amazon; the publisher (Pen & Sword); book depository and so on.