Friday, 29 April 2011

Royal Wedding II

My contemporaneous account:

It all starts at 6 am here and I am up in time to hear the fatuous and vicariously nervous whittering of various commentators. The clothes are all uniforms or straight down the line quiet morning dress and all seems in order. If the British still do anything better than everyone else it is ceremonial. The most striking thing so far is how much more graceful is the RR Phantom that Kate is in compared with Her Maj's modern Bentley but how nice that these vehicles do not have registration plates... I guess horses and carriages were ruled out for security reasons, even though they would have brought out the Cinderella-like quality of the events unfolding.

And I now wish that I'd put money on the conferring of the titles Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

It is difficult not to be moved by events like this just because they are so well accomplished; I always say that, amongst the British armed and civil services, the College of Arms and the courtiers, there is at least one world class expert on every subject under the sun, from nuclear fission to a lion couchant.

A British congregation (whatever they believe) can still give voice for a ripping hymn such as 'Bread of Heaven'.

Service well accomplished and first lesson very well read by Kate's brother.

Followed by some rather dull, modern anthem sung by the choir.

The Bishop of London (another bearded priest) gives a lumbering, trite, dumbed-down address. The Church of England might be able to swell its congregations again, if they only abolished sermons and priestly addresses. Having said that, London was mercifully short. This is followed by an other dirge from the choir. They ought to ban those too. What a din.


For all the media build-up, it is all very quick and simple.

Just noticed that plonker David Beckham with his decoration (OBE?) stuck on his right lapel(!) What a divot. His 'fragrant' wife is also there in platform soles, scowling as usual but the Blairs are not; presumably, our Cherry put 'er foot down and said that wild 'orses wouldn't drag 'er family anywhere near the place. Garden Broom has also been left in the garden shed. I suppose that, if you happen to make a massive mess of the economy, you can expect to be ignored as the least punishment on offer.

'Jerusalem', predictably. But why not?

Lots of flag waving outside.

More prayers from the Dean of the Abbey. Keep it short, son. Ah it's all but over. Now for a fanfare and the National Anthem and signing the register (another dirge) and then the bells; the bells. Didn't notice any bells. Very odd.

A shot of Kenneth Clarke and I wonder whether he found a pair of black suede shoes for the occasion.

RAF fanfare and then 'Crown Imperial' by Walton.

There is an open carriage and four, after all, setting off in the midst of legion security men.

As I have already said today, for all that I said on this blog a few days ago, it would be impossible not to admire the way in which Kate has carried it off: with confidence but also with restraint, in every respect and, maybe this will give the monarchy a second wind for the twenty first century. If so, we'll be saved from the mortification of having a bumbling prol as head of state and remain, in this respect, the envy of the world.

Back to the Palace for the balcony scene? Into the Mall and safely back into the Palace.

Far too much commentators' whittering throughout and then that obnoxious Piers Morgan; didn't he resign as Mirror editor under a cloud? Who wants to listen to him?

Prince Philip is incredibly spry for a ninety year old. Masses of people all around the Palace, of course.

A bunch of New Zealanders seem very excited.

The only slight blight has been seeing fatuous twits such as the Beckhams and Elton John - I mean, what the hell are they doing there? Beckham, as well as wearing his decoration on the wrong side and in the wrong place, is carrying some kind of Toy Town topper and wearing a wing collar!!

A long wait for the 'balcony scene'. Too many fashionistas and fashionistos in evidence and showing off in the meantime. Still far too much whittering just to fill the time.

They have wheeled out Angela Rippon to commentate. She never seems to age.

They are now out on the balcony and there is speculation about length of the kiss!! In fact, it was a shy, blushing, little peck, repeated once. The commentators called this 'sweet'.

RAF fly past.

All over.

Very well done indeed.

Three cheers.

Royal Wedding

I always think that it is the mark of a second rate mind never to admit being wrong and so it is, for several reasons really, that I can say that I was wrong about the latest royal wedding. In the event, I thought that it was superbly accomplished and the bride and her family took it all in their stride. Good luck to TRHH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (the conferring of that title would certainly have been worth a bet). Despite the fact that I accept that my earlier scepticism was wrong, I shall let the posts stand as a part of the record of this blog.

If the British can still do something better than everyone else, it is ceremonial.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Macmillan Touch

Here is another way in which to wear your black evening tie (or even a day bow tie, come to that). Harold Macmillan (1894-1986)- 'Supermac' was known to adopt this style. Here the shirt and tie are by Budd.

As promised in my reply to Frog in Suit's comment: A J Balfour (1910)in a day bow tie, worn in this fashion (I did say, above, that it was 'adopted' by Supermac and I did not mean to imply that he originated it):

Toad Hall

Fowey Hall in Fowey, Cornwall (shown above), built for the Hanson family, about a hundred years ago, as a kind of statement (with those big cupolas), that they were 'The Folks Who Live On the Hill', is supposed to be the inspiration for the overblown Toad Hall in Kenneth Grahame's Wind in The Willows. It is now an hotel but, frankly, I prefer the haunted room of The Ship, or The Fowey Hotel on the Esplanade. The ghost in The Ship (a window in the haunted, panelled room, dating from 1570 is shown below), is supposed to be that of Alice Rashleigh, wife of John (of Menabilly, the coastal house nearby, which was later the setting for Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca). John built the house that is now The Ship as their 'town' house, to facilitate his mercantile activities in the port.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Andrew Carnegie's Maxim

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was an American businessman and philanthropist who said "The man who dies rich dies disgraced." Looking at the Last Wills' pages in newspapers seems to suggest that few take Carnegie's words to heart (very ordinary estates are often now well over a million pounds) and people even seem to gloat over how much they are going to leave behind. I suppose they feel that it is the next best thing to taking it with them: to know that a newspaper will publish how much they were 'worth' in £$,the moment before they fell off the perch, rather than what they achieved or whom they helped along the way. It seems sad to me and the increasing secularization of western society seems to make little difference to people's attitudes.

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Bernard Matthews of The Sleepy Hollow and of Computers

I have decided to look into bird-farming: quail; pheasant; duck, the possibilitites are endless and I could easily end my days running around the fields which, I have to say, is a lot healthier than sitting in the shade staring at a computer screen for far too much of the time. Twenty years ago, I was thirty one years old and I had no idea how a computer worked and the internet was for me (as for most people then) a complete mystery. I don't actually recall feeling at the time that my life was missing something, but now take my computer away or send the internet down for a day and I will be running around like well - like a headless chicken - looking for an internet shop to check my e-mails when, in fact, breeding and beheading chickens would be far more useful and profitable.

The picture is a Chinese painted quail.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Captain Lisa Head 1981-2011

There are reports that Captain Lisa Head died as a result of bomb disposal duties in Afghanistan. Let us hope that she is decorated posthumously with a fully appropriate honour.

While British troops deployed in any place deserve full acknowledgement and support, one does wonder why over three hundred brave, young Britons have been sent to early deaths in this wild place and why nothing is being done (even after a change in government), to end this tragic campaign.

Book II Cover

I do not know why but, during a recent restocking of my Book II, some suppliers are displaying an early (and discarded) cover design and this is most bizarre.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

St George's Day

I have corrected the error over St George's day. I actually thought that it was 23rd April on 20th April. So much for time...and subsequently I learn by a comment on the earlier post that, as the Feast Day would have fallen on Holy Saturday, it has been moved!


I always think that Eastertide is a time for reflection and review of the way that our lives are going and, curiously enough, Rio mid-Autumn brings weather which is remarkably similar to the English Spring that you are (thankfully) enjoying there at the moment and I send you all; here there and everywhere else too:

Easter Greetings.

The church in the picture is that of Holy Trinity, St Austell, Cornwall.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Middleton Coat of Arms

The British public has been favoured with the interpretation of Michael Middleton's arms for Catherine:
but what arms were granted to him and in what degree? Will the helm be for a gentleman or for something else; will there be a coronet underneath the helm? Aren't we allowed to know yet? After all, if Catherine is to be made (as rumoured), a Princess of the United Kingdom in her own right and (DV) produce a presumptive heir to the throne, is her father to remain Mr Michael Middleton? Time will tell.

St Geoorge's Day England and Rio de Janeiro

Remember that it is the feast of St George in England and of São Jorge in Rio de Janeiro on 23rd April. He is supposed to be buried in two different places and neither of them anywhere near England or Rio. However, he seems to be universally represented as portrayed in Benedetto Pistrucci's famous engraving.

Middleton Armiger

So now the Middletons are armigerous; having reached, according to the main criterion for the granting of fresh arms, eminence and presumably that eminence is in the way of having become eminent purveyors of party poppers, whistles and paper hats and having a daughter who has been shacked up with a Prince, on and off, for ten years.

Between royalty and the rest of us there used to be a gulf and, across the board from Japan to Abbysinia, monarchs were there by divine right and, in some cases, were held to be divine.

The principle became seriously eroded: Charles I lost his head over it - but it remained intact enough to stop Edward VIII marrying his Wally and remaining King and to stop Princess Margaret Rose marrying the divorced Peter Townsend. I also think that many people would still say that some extra spark of divine choosing attaches to a proper Princess born and that she should be brought, untainted and, preferably, from across the seas, swathed in white, to her Prince, at a young age, and that they should commit to their union for the good of the people whose figureheads they are to be. The last real Princess who became Queen of the United Kingdom was Princess May of Teck.

I don't take to this attitude (tolerated by the senior members of The Firm and its advisers) in Wills 'n' Kate of 'try before you buy' - and shop around too in the search for personal happiness - and "make sure you don't just find a people's Princess but a Princess from the people", in a sad and transparent attempt:

To curry favour with the masses,
And save your sorry 'asses'.

But it doesn't even end there because there are reports that Wills is refusing a royal dukedom and wishes Kate to be accelerated to the degree of Princess in her own right as though she had been born to that degree: now this is getting out of hand and these lippy and half-chippy youngsters should have been whipped into line long before now!

Out of deference to the Middletons, who have been settled in Berkshire for all of 30 years, I think that Wills 'n' Kate should be created the TRHH Duke and Duchess of Slough.

Unbleached White Duck

If you are having summer trousers made, make sure that you insist on unbleached white duck canvass (as in the picture) or off-white flannel. If you go for sheer white, you will end up looking as though you have gone AWOL from abbatoir or laundry employment.

Add a sporting blazer or a double-breasted navy reefer plus a pair of co-respondent shoes (spectators) or white nubuck oxfords (ties and hats as your whimsy takes you) - and you're away!

Summer Chinos are for the RTW and MTM class of Ivy Leaguers (and all the many IL wannabees) - and white jeans are for kids.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Michael Jackson's Last Recordings

This post is intentionally blank.

An experiment

As an experiment, let's just see how many hits the next post gets.

Blank Book

An 'entrepreneur', or at least what passes for it in our age has published a 'book' with a catchy title; 'What Every Man Thinks About Apart From Sex'. He hired a PR firm to promote his 'book'and they got it up to number 44 in the amazon ratings; apparently, at one point it was selling faster than Harry Potter. Congratulations! one might say, except that the book is completely blank and is described as blank in the sales' literature; it has 200 blank pages so, even as a blank book, it is light on paper. Publishers all over the world are begging for 'translation rights' and the author describes all his customers as 'bonkers'.

He might have a point. But it all goes to show how sheep-like, nay, lemming-like people seem to be; moreover it gives a very modern twist to Dr Johnson's dictum "No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money". As for those of us who struggle to write something that we hope is worthy to be published, well imagine how we feel!

It is, actually, quite distressing to reflect that a 'normal' conscious state these days is one of totally mindless trend-following.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Anniversary of Brummell's Death

It has been mentioned to me that I missed to mark here the anniversary of Beau Brummell's death on 30th March 1840. I now do so.

Hats off and three cheers for Brumm.

Hip hip!

Hip hip hip!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

As Stately As Two Galleons We Sail Across The Floor

I recall having dancing lessons, thirty years ago, at a school under a church in Blandford Street, just off Baker Street, in the perforce leading grip of a diminutive dance mistress of a certain age, whose name I have ungratefully forgotten. The two step and the slow waltz were easy enough but moving onto the rumba and the bossa nova was more trying and the foxtrot proved a bridge too far and, in attempting it with the first Mrs S, the air was suddenly rent by the crack of hand on face as I stumbled around in imitation of Monsieur Hulot; the dance mistress and our friends jerked their heads around with (I can see their faces now), a look of surprise, which nearly matched my own, as I grizzled back at them and stumbled on. Mind you, the foxtrot, difficult though it is, has nothing on the ballroom samba with its swaying motion and the pelvic tic. The ballroom samba, deriving from the maxixe, is the dance which must most justify George Bernard Shaw's description of dancing as the vertical expression of a horizontal desire. Mind you, GBS could not have been reading Sir Richard Burton's translations of the Kama Sutra or The Perfumed Garden or he would have realized that, for those prepared to run the risk of having to call the fire brigade to disentangle naked limbs, the desire of which he spoke is indeed capable of convoluted expression apart from at the horizontal.

Friday, 15 April 2011


On this day in 1942, King George VI sent notification to the Governor of Malta, Lieutenant-General Sir William Dobbie, that the island of Malta had been awarded the George Cross "to bear witness to the heroism and devotion of its people", during its great siege in WWII.

A Little Bit Of A Mystery

Blog Review

I restarted this blog, aiming much, much wider than mere dress (which I regard as just appropriate background, even if important appropriate background, to the real business of living), in July 2010 and wondered whether it would ever take off; although I gave it a good kick start, by blogging for my life for a couple of months. An established men's wear writer is on record as saying that he, as a writer, generally expects to be paid for writing and I suppose that Dr Johnson is right behind him on that one: "Only a blockhead ever wrote but for money". But, frankly, writing on men's interests from clothes to cigars and guns seldom pays much anyway; unless you happen to be in the inner media circle, and so, being repelled by the prospect of endless, forced schmoozing with total strangers at receptions, it suits me very well, instead, to take pleasure in the way that the blog has grown.

In under a year, between forty and fifty per cent. of visitors are real visitors (and repeat visitors at that) and do not just hit the blog by mistake and leave within five seconds; although there are many in that category (as there are bound to be on any blog).

Maybe my proudest boast is that I have a regular visitor from central Mongolia, but they come as well from places such as: Singapore; Hong Kong; Bonita Springs, Florida; Kettering; Sydney; Bucharest; London; Eire; most English counties; Hanoi; Minnessota; Balochistan; Islamabad; Kuwait; Mecca; Kuwait; Tel Aviv; Ontario; the Punjab; Hawaii; Cambridge; Berlin; Colombia; Athens; Kiev; Paris; Rome; New York; Washington (both of them); Mexico; New Zealand; Argentina; Slovakia; the Czech Republic; Finland; Sweden; Croatia; Serbia; Egypt; Philipines; India; Japan, and Truro.

The Africans, the Scotch, the Welsh and the Chinese seem generally unimpressed (or maybe they have yet to find the blog) but, overall, I am quite pleased with progress.

Maybe it is a pity that book sales nowhere seem to meet viewing figures but, who knows, maybe they will improve in time; especially as the effort that I used to put into contributing to other people's sites has now been largely diverted to this blog; meaning, I hope that content will, in pari passu with the extra time available, improve.

This, then, is a moment to thank you all for dropping by and please continue to do so.

Today's picture is of Fowey Harbour in Cornwall; one of my favourite places on earth (right click to enlarge).

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Style Icon XXVIII: Zachary Scott

Zachary Scott (1914-1965) was a son of Texas, where his father was a surgeon and his mother an oil heiress. Taken up for films by Jack Warner, in 1944 for The Mark of Dimitrios; his most remembered film role was probably as Joan Crawford's fickle love interest, Monte Beragon, in the cake-baking Mildred Pierce (1945).

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Royal Wedding Protocol

It seems that, for the wedding of Prince William of Wales to The People's Princess (Mark II), the guests are such a Skid Row bunch (well they do include Elton John and the Beckhams), that they need a twenty two page handout on such basic etiquette as holding a teacup and a champagne glass. Presumably, all this flows from the fact that we are going to have a future Queen with friends and family who need this kind of coaching. I have, until this moment, been a monarchist, not least because it has always seemed so much better than the alternative: elections for the likes of the Blairs or the Browns as Presidents and First Ladies. However, now, we are having yet another commoner thrust upon us as Consort to our future Head of State, without even a vote and this does seem to me to be beyond the limit; just as it is beyond the limit that members of the 'House of Lords' are now not born to it, or elected, but just appointed as generous cronies of the government of the day, in a country which goes around the Arab world teaching the merits of 'great western democracy'. What a joke!

It's getting to The Time For a Change, in my view.

The picture is Rab C Nesbitt, who is, no doubt, going to have a bath before he dresses for the reception.

Chamois Gloves at Pickett

Several years ago (in fact decades ago!) the then manager of Lord's in The Burlington Arcade told me that very few people even then knew about chamois gloves. Amazingly, though, they have survived readymade at Pickett. Now I am told that when their current stock has gone, they will stock them no longer. However, Chester Jefferies will still make them bespoke. Thank goodness for that.

More Tin-Hitlerism

My parents know a couple in their late eighties and quite frail; they were pre-eminent leaders of the community in their prime. They now need sleeping tablets to sleep but their doctor will prescribe them only in tiny quantities; presumably out of some patronizing sense that they might decide to put themselves out for good. There is no other explanation for it; especially since they have to hack in several miles for repeat prescriptions. The same doctor prescribes larger quantities for younger patients. So now Tin-Hitlerism is in the doctor's surgery. It is an utter disgrace. But people seem to tolerate it. I was feeling a little homesick yesterday but things like this keep me away.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Anti-Style Icon I

Actually, I suppose that it should be 'II' but I deleted that picture of Shane MacGowan. Here is anti-style icon I Andy Warhol; about whom Gore Vidal said "He's the only genius with an IQ of 60 that I ever met". Still, now some bright spark has given Mr Moron a chromium-plated statue in Union Square. All he ever did was to drive artistic perception of civilization down a notch or two. This is the man; dead-eyed from drugs and filthy dirty in his torn clothes, being commemorated and celebrated (tins of Campbell's chicken soup indeed!):
Of course, it is being commended by The New York Times and one or two who trudge the streets of internet suburbia (Shredder's phrase but not linked to this subject matter).

Saturday, 9 April 2011

How naked is the naked ape on an normal day?

Someone did ask me this question and the answer is that the naked ape is seldom, on a normal day, much more naked than in this picture:

Friday, 8 April 2011

BMJ Alcohol and Cancer Report

I see that the British Medical Journal has just brought out a report now suggesting that ingesting any amount of alcohol increases the risk of various cancers and, of course, smoking as well makes it even more likely; moreover, as usual we are told that "these deaths could be avoided" - and again we are led to believe that the scientists have found us the elixir for life-everlasting on planet earth. Apart from the obvious scare-mongering in all this, medics that I have known in my life (from University onwards and into maturity) are the worst drunks of the lot; moreover, despite all the stuff that we are fed, I know many medical doctors who still drink like fishes and smoke like engines: I suppose that it is to relieve the stress that they feel in trying to exert all that influence and control over the rest of us. Here are two senior editors of the BMJ, celebrating publication of their report:

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Monstrous Kraft Foods

Kraft Foods bought up and seem to have closed down the best part of the great toffee and butterscotch maker Callard & Bowser, now they seem to be doing the same to dear old Cadbury's . May such monsters be cursed by Mary MacNamarra over the hills of Downderry until Satan himself welcomes them into the ante-chambers of hades. Seriously though, what is the matter with these people? Moreover, who would want to be employed by such a company?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

First Anson and Deeley Patent Westley Richards' Boxlock 12 bore shotgun

I have just discovered that this is the first Westley Richards' boxlock ('hammerless') 12 bore shotgun ever made (for John Deeley),under Patent No 1756 of 1875, granted to William Anson and John Deeley, of Westley Richards; and gun number 5056 is engraved on the underside to commemorate that fact. It was sold at Bonhams in December 2010 for £7,800 which, for such an important part of gunmaking history, seems very little: let's hope that the new owner is a damned fine shot; has it serviced and takes it out, in due course, downing a couple of woodcock with a right and left and earns his Woodcock Club Tie, 137 years on.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Moron Red-Neck Terry Jones

Does the USA not have laws against incitement to racial and religious hatred? I see that the Reverend (??) Terry Jones is about to inflame Muslims a little more with a further protest on top of his Koran-burning spree. Can this moron not see that, apart from the illiberalism of his behaviour, it adds fuel to the fire that burns in the minds of the psychopaths (in his own likeness and regardless of real religious belief), who will use any excuse to commit murder. Wake Up Uncle Sam!! - and put Moron Red-Neck Terry Jones in the mental asylum where he belongs.

Moreover,stupid fat people have a hard enough time as it is without Terry Jones queering their pitch even more.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Speaking My Mind

One person has objected to my recent speaking out against certain modern trends and those who push them for £££$$$. I am fifty one years old and this is a space that I fill. Until I was a certain age, I was told to sit up and shut up (maybe I didn't always do just that - but that was the expectation of my generation from their elders and if we wanted to kick over the traces then we had to justify ourselves). These days youngsters are very fond of sounding off with various ill-considered views on the world and I object to having to listen to it and read about it quite so much. Moreover, when it all becomes too much, I simply leave. There we are, if you don't like my attitudes and points of view, which are reactionary to much in the modern world (and minority attitudes and points of view), then don't come back, and don't buy my books; then you will be free of me because you won't find me around other people's blogs much anymore. But please don't instruct me in what I may think or say. There is far too much representation of minority interest groups in the world today, at the plain expense of the majority, except when it comes to expression of reaction to the way in which the modern world is being dragged by 'reformers'; then we are told not to make a noise, a fuss and not to cause offence by defending our points of view from the avalanching onslaught from the mass market and the knuckle-brains who buy in. What makes this attempt at silencing all the more obnoxious is the fact that it derives from the defence of exploitation and manipulation of a mass market.

Style Icon XXVII: Jack Lord

Jack Lord (1920-1998) was most widely famed for the part of Steve Mc Garrett in the TV series Hawaii Five-0 between 1968-1980 (ending most episodes with the catch-phrase: "Book 'em Danno!") and he also played CIA agent Felix Leiter in the first (regular) James Bond film Dr No (the still is from that film). The modern attempts to recreate Hawaii Five-0 are nothing short of pathetic.

Style Icon XXVI: Lord Snooty of The Beano

I recall a brilliant fellow 'CS', that I worked with for a short time. He has even had a mention in a piece by Michael Bywater in The Independent newspaper in which Bywater castigated the pussy-footing modern age as the age of Soho-Lite; Bywater recalled introducing CS to Guinness and CS's immediate reaction was "Ah! lunch in a bottle!". He was a German (actually he always claimed that he was Prussian) and he had read Chinese at Leeds University; needless to say, his English was better than most natives of Albion. Once, when he was the barrister pupil of 'Mungo' X, a senior member of Chambers came into the room and saw CS reading The Beano comic (which is the vehicle for inter alios Lord Snooty and The Bash Street Kids), and said "Can't your pupil find something better to read than that, Mungo?". CS put down The Beano and picked up his copy of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire and Mungo said to the senior member of chambers: "I don't suppose that you read that either, do you?"

Anyway, today's style icon is Lord Snooty, of The Beano.