Friday, 30 September 2011

And Another Thing

I looked into the question of the prohibitions on bringing eau de cologne and snuff into Brazil. It seems that the Royal Mail are wrong in the advice that they purported to give me: there appears to be no prohibition on cologne and the nearest to a prohibition on snuff is 'cigarettes or similar' - which snuff isn't, so far as I can see.

Maybe the Royal Mail 'just can't be bothered'.

Perpetual Summer; No More Grouching; More Groucho

Even though we cannot herald the return of a summer that never leaves us (well, nearly, never leaves us), we can respond to the slightly lengthening days by grouching less about the decline and fall of the world from which we fled, arms waving and with a silent scream to "Save our souls alive!"

I have written quite a bit about my own nostalgia for the past and I don't mean the past that never was, some Golden Age of Ye Olde England; a Merchant Ivory set, with actors in dodgy costumes, filmed through fogged lenses. I always mean the past that I actually remember: the people, places, events; customs and ceremonies and local and national celebration of a reasonably cohesive society; all its sights, sounds, smells and tastes: from cattle markets (straw, dung and sugary tea) to the opera (scent, satin and marvellous sound). I mean the thousand small civilities of everyday: centred around - "Good morning"; "Good Afternoon"; "Good Evening", and "Good Night"; "I'm so sorry" - "Not at all!"; in place of "Who are you?" and "What do you want?" to "What's going on here then?"; "I'm sorry, we're closing"; "Mind your backs!" -  and "I can't be bothered".

The current burghers of my home town lost my sympathy when they demolished Oscar Deutsch's 1936 Odeon cinema - a dream palace of a place, built by a local firm, for several generations to enjoy (snuggled down with a bar of Cadbury's, in the red velvet and the dark), and replaced it with a building that will be replaced again in 25 years' time. In fact, so symbolic for me was that gleeful demolition (an ugly little gnome of a man, on a JCB digger, moronically grinning as he laid into its fabric), that the whole society lost my vote and so I left.

I know that this sounds extreme but, after all, there is no war as such; no "facing fearful odds"; no standing firm on a bridge as the barbarians rush forward; just several tens of millions of money-grubbing ignoramuses against a few tens of thousands of us; wearing away at all that we hold dear. That's the reality. They are bound to win in the end.

So today I made a resolution: what's done is done and if grouching there is to be, there will be far less of it. There should be far more Groucho and far less grouching; from now on.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The Film of The Lost City

OK, OK, there's Inés Sastre and Inés Sastre is always good - but it's a great film by the way. But, if you're in doubt - watch it for Inés Sastre anyway...Any time; any place; anywhere...

Creeping Stalinist Control; 1984 And All That

There is decent eau de cologne for sale in Rio de Janeiro - by Roger et Gallet and others too, but not by Floris. In any event, imported goods here cost a fortune in retail shops and you'd need a mortgage form for, say, an orange label bottle of The Widow. There is also snuff available here and, given that Brazil was one of the countries which originally gave the world snuff, it is well made and one is nicely scented with the oil of the Imburana tree. However, this week, I had a yearning for old familiar things and I wanted a bottle of Floris Special 127 cologne and tins of Fribourg & Treyer snuffs (specifically: Old Paris; Macouba and the recently revived Regency favourite - Bureau). So I set inquiries in train and the result has filled me with anger and mild despair.

Floris and Wilsons of Sharrow (who make Fribourg & Treyer snuffs) both tell me that they have given up fighting the tangle of regulation that restricts the export of things such as snuff and products containing alcohol outside the EU and the answer to me is "no can do". I am not even sure yet whether, if I can persuade family or friends to enter the fray, they will be able actually to get the goods to me, without confiscation, arrest, trial, fine or imprisonment or, if they were to succeed, that I would not be dragged off to gaol for some species of attempted smuggling.

As the world gets economically smaller (as well as falling into repeated economic doldrums) and the multi-national corporations gobble up all the small businesses in the world and snuff them out as competitors, and just as the world's 'civilized' populations increasingly become an ignorant, ragged, rabble,  I am told that our governments have so little to do that they need to follow their own scent for stalinist control and regulate such things as the individual's choices in scent and snuff, even in miniscule quantities.

The very grasp of ordinary Liberty and all notion of  appreciation of the maxim de minimis non curat lex seem to be drowned in some painfully articulated and unthinking scream to crush as much ordinary, simple freedom and harmless pleasure as possible at every opportunity.

Well, it makes me sick. It makes me sick that I am to be regulated by some badge-wearing, oikish twerp, wielding a clip board and a cheap biro and be finger-wagged and 'tut-tutted' and told "No, George, don't do that, George! George! don't do that!"

Well, come hell or high water, and by hook or by crook, I am going to get my cologne and I am going to get my snuff - even if 'Big Brother' is not just a fatuous 'telly' programme for all the couch-potato, thoughtless morons that the governments of this world are so busily encouraging to avoid being found out.

PS If anyone knows how to cut through this bureaucratic nonsense, please do tell!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Gertrude Lawrence

A good 1951 recording of Someone To Watch Over Me; written by George and Ira Gerschwin, for Gertrude Lawrence (1898-1952), in Oh, Kay! (1926), sung here, by Gertrude Lawrence, a year before she died of liver cancer:

Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments

A friend has directed my attention to this work by Adam Smith. It is available as a free download on the www and I am going to improve myself with it!

Swaine Adeney Brigg

I recently heard that Swaine Adeney Brigg, a combination of firms dating back a couple of hundred years, as case, whip and (later) umbrella makers; holders of royal warrants, and the makers in the book as well as in the film of James Bond's bag of tricks in From Russia With Love, has just been restructured in administration, and will continue as before. They will always have a place in my heart because one of their salesmen, over in their former (bigger) shop, in Piccadilly,  once sold me an umbrella with the straight delivery of the line:

"Rain sounds so much better on silk, sir."

Long may you continue to flourish, SAB and - your sister company Herbert Johnson too.

Monday, 26 September 2011

To Red-Heads Everywhere

One of my favourite YouTube clips - and a double whammy really: the lovely (auburn-headed) Irene Dunne, singing Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, as no one else could ever sing it, and Fred and Ginger at their very best, dancing to it too, and nearly eighty years ago:


Fifty two days to publication of Book III...

Yes, yes, I know: they all have inappropriate main titles but the sub-titles give the game away.


Fifty two days to publication of Book III...

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Douglas Fairbanks Junior's Wardrobe

Will, on a his site: suitable wardrobe (see sidebar), today referred to the fact that Douglas Fairbanks Junior's wardrobe was recently auctioned off and that it was the last, great, complete, formal, man's wardrobe ever formed. This is, almost certainly, true. Cary Grant's stuff was largely given away to friends, by his young widow and his daughter - and fair enough.

But that was some time ago, and the world might have benefitted from DGJ's wardrobe: extensive and complete, being given to, say, the Met. Museum, as a record - or, at least, representative pieces might have been given. I cannot believe that Fairbanks' heirs could really have needed the cash.

It's all a demned shockin' shame.

To reprise Terry-Thomas: "You're an absolute shower!"

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Q Anthology

The Anthology of some of the works of Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller- Couch ('Q'), compiled by R Brittain, is available to read on-line at the link below.  Q is chiefly remembered now for compiling The Oxford Book of English Verse, first published in 1900, and a perennial favourite as a gift at weddings and baptisms for many years; fondly remembered in John Mortimer's Rumpole books, it was even one of the few books that Lawrence of Arabia took into the desert with him, on his campaigns.

Q is also remembered as the second appointed King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge, where, despite the packed attendances, including female students, he famously began all his lectures with the address "Gentlemen", in fact in humorous protest at the exclusion of women from the taking of degrees at the time.

An educationalist inside his native county too, novelist, poet and critic, he enjoyed an active sporting life around his beloved Fowey, where now a great granite monolith commemorates him on Penleath Point.

A great hero of mine, I especially commend his Three Open Letters to The Bishop Of Exeter, in the Anthology, in which he exposed the evil policy and flaccid thinking behind the liberal government's plans to deal with the mentally infirm with extreme measures, including incarceration and castration. Nearly alone in his immediate opposition to the Bill, his incandescent rage and his humanity shine across the century to us in lucid, lambent prose. The Bill was subsequently dropped.

Amongst my most treasured possessions are a few poetry books from Q's own library, bearing his bookplate, in which there are passages lightly marked by him in pencil, for inclusion in The Oxford Book of English Verse, where they appear.

The top photograph is of Q as Commodore of the Royal Fowey Yacht Club and the original hangs in the club.

The bottom picture is of his memorial.

The link to the Anthology is:

Friday, 23 September 2011

The Shrine

She lay at my feet but I was the worshipper; she the shrine, I the humble supplicant. But I looked down on her sinuous length and proportionate breadth, comely, shapely; her form rising and falling as it should; I saw the orient-pearl-like lustre from within, gleaming in the early morning light; I felt her spirit move. Yet, how many times has she nearly died? Twice at least and in storms of fire; but she has survived, pulled through, arisen and recovered; the beauty of her face and form only increasing with the years and no one would dream of asking her "where are the snows of yesteryear", for she evidently has the gift of eternal youth, as well as an ancient lineage, and she stands facing the forward years and the challenges to come, rather than resting on her undoubted laurels. Her history is the foundation stone of her continuing evolution; always aiming higher, for better things, whatever the current state of things.

I should like to draw her stretched out there, with the light just so upon her but she is too complex and I am not artist enough to come close to the truth. Maybe, one day I shall get there but, until I do, I am sure that, on a clear day and regardless of the season or the weather, from Greenwich Park, none the world around, is the equal of our City.


Jeffrey Bernard is unwell, so to speak.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

And Now They Are Coming For The Burlington Arcade

This speaks for itself and anyone familiar with my views will understand my feelings, without more ado. I shall be contacting English Heritage to ask them what they intend to permit to be done to the arcade but that useless institution is likely to let the Noo Yoyk carpet-baggers get away with architectural murder and it will probably end up looking like a Slough shopping mall:

You might have to register (free) with the Financial Times to read the article.

The Man With The Two Left Feet

Who doesn't wish that he could say: "Eat your heart out - Valentino; George Raft; Gene Kelly; Fred Astaire, even Jack Buchanan!" and, ever since my very musical grandmother taught me the bunnyhug/foxtrot when I was about four (a very tall order indeed), it has been clear that I am not the man with the two left feet.

But only because I am the man with three. I have two that compete with each other for each of the steps and the third simultaneously tramples my partner's feet and is the only part of me that has any syncopating rhythm at all. If she is wearing shoes with closed toes, she will merely end up with crushed toe boxes but if she is wearing open-toed shoes, then she's in for a real battering and, instead of a number on the back of my coat, there should be a health warning, since I am far more perilous out there than any cigarette and one or two women have even taken up smoking again in the aftershock of the experience of having danced with me.

Fortunately, dancing is not all that important (unless you happen to make a living at it) and, anyway, er, real men don't dance, do they? If you need any reassurance on any of this, I highly recommend P G Wodehouse's short story "The Man With The Two Left Feet".

It is a heart-warming little tale and, for reasons that will now be obvious, one of my favourite short reads.

Today's picture is a still from the Band Wagon, of Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, "Dancing in The Dark".

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Fubsy British 'Entertainers'

Last night, thanks to a combination of Sky TV's schedule and my slowness of reaction, I saw a few minutes of a Hollywood film 'starring' (if that's the word) Ricky Gervais.  Now don't get me wrong: the British had an important, early impact on American film-making and, thanks to the clarity of the voices of the 'Hollywood Raj' of the mid-twenties, this peaked with the introduction of the talkies and, although the number of British in Hollywood has declined, the British influence has continued ever since: from the likes of Ronald Colman, James Mason, Clive Brook and Herbert Marshall; on to George Sanders, David Niven, Stewart Grainger, Olivier, Richardson, Gielgud, Guinness, Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Richards Harris and Burton, Peter O'Toole, Michael Caine - even  the Grants, Cary and Hugh. The list is long and strangely male. The British women who went to Hollywood (such as Vivien Leigh) either scarpered back home PDQ after some triumph or, like Greer Garson, stayed on forever - and never went home at all.

Some of these fellows could certainly act in the proper sense; some, such as  the Two Grants, can play only themselves but, at least, in doing so, they entertain us, with something at least hovering around professionalism and charisma. I'll even go so far as to admit that watching one episode of Gervais's 'The Office' is an entertaining 'take' on the empty nonsense of much office life; especially the time-wasting and the posturing and the back-stabbing - but its potential is limited and yet no one ever seems to notice that the material is exhausted.

Moreover, now the world is obsessed, it seems, with what Old Blighty has to offer in the way of totally charmless, flabby, jowly, thick-tongued-Cockney, no-neck- monsters; grinning and smirking their way through banal stage appearances, and pointless films, to huge pay cheques.

I really don't mind people receiving fat pay cheques if the basic economics support them; hell, I don't even mind a smattering of the said no-neck-monsters now and again but I do mind the fact that the world has grown so undiscriminating that it will allow the Ricky Gervaises,  the Jonathan Wosses, the Jimmy Carrs, the 'Booky Wooky' geek, to push to the head of the queue as properly and exclusively representatives of Britishness, even as they are insulting their audiences and their hosts.

What has happened to charm (to quote Raymond Chandler: "as Keats would understand the word"), and grace and warmth and the true talent to amuse? It seems to me that, in pari passu with the decline in the performers' possession of the true talent to amuse, has come a willingness in audiences to accept any-old-thing that is pushed out as 'entertainment' and it is high time we reclaimed our right to be mightily entertained.

The list of Court Fools should not include (or, at least, should not mainly comprise) British fubsies.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Le Moulin de la Tuilerie

Here's a shot of Le Moulin de la Tuilerie, at Gif-sur-Yvette, just outside Paris, formerly the country home of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, "a corner of a foreign field that is forever England" . The picture was by Frank Scherchel, for Life magazine. Right click and 'open link' to enlarge. The mill has been purchased by the splendid The Landmark Trust which is restoring it, after a period of neglect and, in accordance with their general practice, will be letting it out as holiday accommodation to fund further maintenance.

I must say that I miss garden roses. They just will not survive on the ocean front. Somehow they manage to grow, in a sickly way, in the back road but not up here and I have lost count of the number of bushes that we have hopefully planted up and, in a matter of days, watched burn away to a brown stick in the salt-laden wind. Still, the sound and motion of the sea would be difficult to live without now. The only answer is to grow a separate garden inland somewhere. The trouble with that is that a garden can become an endless life's work...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Dr Samuel Johnson and Greta Garbo and of Flash The Familiar

No, GG did not supplant Mrs Thrale in a parallel dimension. It's just that the good Doctor (1709) and GG (1905), share 18th September as a birthday. From what we know of them, it is difficult to think of people so very different from each other. However, Johnson was, according to the Chinese, born in the year of the ox and Garbo in the year of the snake (or so I am told). Apparently, the years in each twelve year cycle of the Chinese lunar calendar were named after the animals, by the Lord Buddha, in the order in which they came to bid him farewell when he left earth and of the animal which governs your birth year, the Chinese say: "This is the animal which hides in your heart." I am a pig.

If you too are a witch, you will also realize that Johnners and Grets were both born under the sign of Virgo.

Speaking of witchery reminds me to mention Flash, my familiar, whom I have mentioned here before. She has taken to leaping up onto a side window and, spread-eagled, clinging to the frames of the panes with her claws, like a Moth-Cat, and eye-balling me at my table until she is admitted. Ignoring her would probably lead to her refusing to stabilize the broomstick and this could have disastrous consequences; especially on one of our mid-Atlantic journeys, so she gets her way.


Saturday, 17 September 2011

"Because graded grains make finer flour"

It is an apophthegm which may serve as a metaphor for many things, and those of us of a certain age remember the line as an advertisement for Homepride Flour, spoken by John Le Mesurier (1912-1983), star of stage and screen, with memorable appearances in many great English film comedies, such as: Private's Progress; Brothers in Law; Carlton-Browne of the FO; I'm All Right Jack; The Pink Panther; Our Man in Marrakesh; The Italian Job; television and wireless appearances with Tony Hancock, as well as stage work. But it is as the vague Sergeant Arthur Wilson, in Jimmy Croft and David Perry's television comedy Dad's Army (1968-1977) that he will be most remembered.

Devoted to gin and tonic; strong cigarettes (to which former wife Hattie Jacques attributed the vagueness), and Ronnie Scott's, he memorably drafted his own death announcement for The Times, informing the world that he had "conked out".

As an aside: how can Ronnie Scott's still be Ronnie Scott's without the layers of smoke hanging there?

Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot

To whet the appetite, the opening titles and music of comedian John Le Mesurier's favourite film are here:

Friday, 16 September 2011

Douglas Fairbanks Sr and Jr

On 13th September Doyle of New York auctioned off the estate of Douglas Fairbanks Jr (1909-2000) and it fetched quite a bit more than the overall estimate. This is fairly surprising, given that his popularity peaked nearly half a century ago and that he was a far cry from the celebrities of our own age. Still, someone must have remembered that DF Sr (1883-1939), had been an early influence on Archie Leach as he started to invent Cary Grant because a gold mounted dressing set that had belonged to father and son went for many times its estimate at a touch under $50,000 and even a scarf that had belonged to John Barrymore and DF Jr went for over $800. I am not entirely sure why people want mementoes of total strangers; although I do sometimes wonder what happened to one particular snuff box, that Brummell left behind, to be sold amongst the 'Property of A Gentleman Gone to The Continent': it contained a note explaining that Brummell had commissioned it for the Prince Regent before their breach. That would be something to possess - because it speaks of the beginning of Brummell's tragic decline. Dressing sets and scarves, with no particular story attached to them don't speak.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Late, Great Comedy Star: Terry-Thomas

Here he is with the cast of the very funny 1960 film Make Mine Mink with, from the left, Elizabeth Duxbury, Athene Seyler, Hattie Jacques and Billie Whitelaw. Note the curious combo of bowler/coke/derby hat, sheepskin top coat, cavalry twill trews and tan suede shoes; somehow he makes it work as the 1960s' garb of a half-pay Major, living in digs in Kensington, under the protection of a benefactress.

"What an absolute shower!"

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Macouba Snuff - Some Detail

I have mentioned Fribourg & Treyer's Macouba snuff before; scented, inter alia, with attar of roses. I have since read that a comparison of this snuff made by Fribourg & Treyer (before Wilsons of Sharrow took over the receipts), with the modern version suggests that the modern mixture is faithful to the original receipt. The name 'Macouba' comes from the name of a canton of the French island of Martinique. Many different spellings have been used and Thackeray, in The History of Pendennis, spells it 'Mackabaw'; making it fairly likely that it was from the name of this snuff that Dickens derived the name 'Micawber' It was a certain consignment of Martinique snuff (newly arrived at Fribourg & Treyer), which Captain Jesse tells us, in his biography of Brummell, that Brummell condemned as unfit; resulting in mass cancellations of orders, which enabled Brummell to place an order for several jars for himself (he had openly condemned the snuff as he had omitted to place an order for himself in time). Once it became known that Brummell had changed his opinion of the snuff, the consignment then swiftly sold out. That's what I call influence.

Julian Fellowes and A N Wilson

I have just read a piece by A N Wilson in which he lays in to Julian Fellowes - sorry Baron Fellowes of West Stafford - because Wilson says, Fellowes is a snob, who repeatedly presents an England that never was for the delectation of the groundlings. But let's face it, A N, even Shakespeare was weaving phantasy into drama and comedy to please the crowd. I have read only parts of Fellowes' Past Imperfect and I found it very amusing. I was also relieved to read the work of a modern writer which echoes my own feelings about 'the way things are going' and 'the state of the nation'. I daresay that Fellowes is a snob - he even seems proud to be one - and I expect that the version of Ye Olde England that he presents in Gosford Park and Downton Abbey is far from a 'warts and all' account - but he is not, A N, a humourless, crashing bore.

Today's picture is of the po-faced A N Wilson.

Smoking Ban Petition

The only smoking ban petition that I can find is on the Forest site:

The aim is to seek modification of the ban to permit pubs and clubs to have some indoor smoking areas.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Hunters & Frankau Cigar Club

Hunters & Frankau are the sole importers and distributors of Havana cigars in the UK and they have a cigar club which has a link on their site in my site's sidebar. They are organizing resistance to further erosion of smokers' liberties and I urge my gentle readers (and that means both of you), to sign-up. It strikes me as ironic that, if the ban on advertizing tobacco gets the green light from Cameron and his muppets, the (openly tolerated) ganja street traders of Brixton will soon have greater freedom to go about their business than Dunhill, Davidoff, G Smith & Sons et al..

Monday, 12 September 2011

To Let

These are pictures of the hall and a sitting room of a house in which I spent many happy hours of childhood. How well I remember the galleried landing and the sun-filled, south-facing sitting room and a Siamese cat, called Tulah (which used to sit on the window seat) and an Afghan hound, called Shah (which sat next to her), and Dolph and Mary, who seemed incredibly ancient to me then, sitting companionably, on either side of that fireplace with teatrays on their knees, entertaining me for hours on end. The odd thing is that I don't remember the last time that I saw them. While I was at university they moved to a smaller house and they just weren't there anymore. Now it is "To Let" and I feel very nostalgic indeed...

Left click pictures to enlarge.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Good News

I heard a good one recently: 150ml of red wine avoids the adverse effects of every cigarette (provided that they are taken simultaneously). Accordingly, one should drink a bottle of red wine with every five cigarettes: that works out at four bottles of wine for every pack of twenty cigarettes and, if one happens to be a heavier smoker, with real health concerns, one should drink eight bottles of red wine with every two packs of twenty cigarettes. Presumably, by following this prescription, if one smokes, one never dies.  While we are about it, let's turn the champagne producers' lies on their heads and tell it like it is: the aptly named Bouzy Rouge is the red wine of choice for this practical exercise.
Sounds good to me.
The pity is that, if Ian Fleming had but had this scientific research at his fingertips, he could well have seen in the centenary of his birth, and the world would have got another thirty odd proper James Bond novels: alas! he did not know that he should have been matching his hundred cigarettes a day with twenty bottles of red wine!

Closures and Losses

Sometimes, it seems to me that someone must have come along and cut British men's balls off.

I heard, a few weeks ago that the tobacconist called Shervington's (formerly John Brumfitt) at Holborn Bars had closed.

Now I learn that another tobacconist, S Weingott & Son, at 3 Fleet Street (founded in 1859) has gone too and, presumably, all the wonderful old signage will go with it; just in time for the dictatorship's intended ban on tobacco advertizing. Yo!

Moreover, the former Wig and Pen Club with its cartoons in the window and air of mystery (originally founded to enable a mix of barristers and journalists to beat the afternoon licensing laws), has been turned into a Thai restaurant: how very inclusive - well for someone anyway, even if not inclusive of me.

Mercifully, G Smith & Sons is still (for the time being) at 74 Charring Cross Road but, presumably, when Cameron, the other little guy and their supporting plastic politicians have done their further dirty work (and banned all display of tobacco products), it will need to lose its identity in the road and be presented to the world anonymously, with frosted glass, as an old time Soho porn shop, and smokers will be seen shuffling in and out with their collars turned up and hats pulled down over their eyes (I suppose that the up-side is that the hat trade might benefit from a resurgence). This is happening in an age which tolerates all manner of sexual deviance and 'civil partnership' is sanctifying behaviour that, sixty years ago, would have resulted in imprisonment. Don't get me wrong: I'm all for people doing what they like in private (as long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses) but still it seems a queer state of affairs that men can now perfectly lawfully do some of the things that they do but they are prohibited from smoking together in a public house or in a club which was founded partly to enable them to do just that, and continued by private subscription.

The tobacconists are closing down because some self-righteous numbskulls have spoken and dictated that smoking (and smokers) shall be crushed; even those who enjoy an occasional cigarette, cigar or pipe. Jobs are consequently being lost at a time when boosting real employment in real private sector industry needs to be an aim of government (instead of having armies chasing around desert places in pursuit of the Osama bin Ladens and Colonel Gadaffis of this world). We have already seen that pubs have closed as a result of the 'smoking ban'. Whole businesses and the jobs that they sustained have been lost there too. Fox hunting seems to have survived and the professional huntsmen's jobs with it - and the hounds did not need to be slaughtered en masse after all. But it is no thanks to our Idiot Politicians (voted for by the Idiot People, who are the product of  a couple of a generations' neglect of the state education system). All the little sweet shops are closing down too but they are going, thanks to the Idiot People's preference for one-stop-shopping in the 'supermarkets'. The consequence of this is that towns are losing the character of individual businesses and the buildings that they were in, as the plastic shop fronts go up and the mobile 'phone and sports' gear plonkers move in.

No, I tell you, it is time for a benign dictatorship, along the lines of Plato's Guardians, to restore the liberties that the modern interpretation of 'great western democracy' (in the hands of Thatcher, Major, Blair, Broom and Cameron) has torn from our grasp. It is time for revolution.

But we will keep Her Majesty and Phil The Greek.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Fribourg & Treyer Bureau Snuff

Bureau, the complex, great Regency favourite snuff, made by Fribourg & Treyer (through Wilsons of Sharrow) has been put back into production and will join Macouba and Old Paris amongst my favourites. Interesting titbits about Macouba: as well as being one of Brummell's favourites, it features in W M Thackeray's Pendennis (undoubtedly inspired by Brummell), and is sometimes said also to have been the inspiration behind name of the character Mr Micawber in Charles Dickens' David Copperfield.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Brazilian Independence Day

Today is Brazilian Independence Day, celebrating D. Pedro I's declaration of independence from Portugal on 7th September 1822.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Brown Shoes

There seems to be a real buzz at the moment for wearing brown shoes with City suits. It seems to amount to utter devilishness; often of those who wouldn't say "Boo!" to a goose:

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Thought For The Day

Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

"While Fate tramples things of beauty, the human heart shall utter [them]."

Mistress of the Keyboard and Interactive Entertainer

Corny as it may sound, I have just been revisiting Mrs Gladys Mills, mistress of the piano and her recordings on youtube. OK, the US of A, you have your Liberace and we have our Russ Conway but, frankly, no one comes even close to Mrs Mills for such skill in whipping up the crowd, in the spirit of the old time music hall entertainers, as does our Glad. I haven't given any links but they are easily found on youtube. Moreover, if you are in the mood to lift the spirit with some simple fun, try out Russ Conway's arrangement of Rule Britannia! also easily found on good ol' youtube. Enjoy, folks! As they say, these days: Yo!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

And Another Thing...

The London County Council and then English Heritage have had responsibility for the erection of commemorative blue plaques on the houses of the famous. They refused to erect one to Jack Buchanan, international star of stage and screen, actor manager and singer on his former flat in Mount Street, London W1 (that pictured was created and mounted by private subscription), whereas they put one up to commemorate Jimi Hendrix's six week sojourn in London. Bloody outrageous. Left click to view JB's plaque.

Two Types of People

So far as travel and adventure are concerned, the world seems to be divided into two types of people: first, those who get out there and take a look around and those who hide in a quiet corner, hoping not to be noticed, in case something beyond the ordinary might be required of them.

Today's picture is of Robert Newton as Long John Silver, and Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins, in the 1950 Walt Disney adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure story.