Sunday, 30 January 2011

Secret Affair - Looking Good's the Answer

This Secret Affair video is interesting as a little bit of social-documentary about the mod revival of the late 70s-early 80s in the UK. The chap on the Lambretta looks impeccable in navy sweater and grey slacks. Certainly, the girls seem to be impressed with the combination at 1' 55'', if not a little intimidated-looking. Interesting to note that polo shirts are being worn tucked inside the trousers in the gig scenes. As they say in the song, 'Looking good's the answer.' To almost any question, I'd add, chums. (What on earth was that earring on the guitarist about though?) Ignore Feargal Sharkey and his sweater at the start.


Saturday, 29 January 2011

An Easy London Weekend - Sunday PM: Shoreditch

After filling up on a full English, its sensible to walk it off. A circuitous walk around Shoreditch takes me through the market, into a couple of pubs, and over towards Hoxton Square, and then back towards the City - concluding old Tweedy's easy London weekend. Shops of note include Albam and the rather wonderful Labour and Wait.

Friday, 28 January 2011

An Easy London Weekend - Sunday AM: Breakfast at Canteen

Ah, Sunday in the City. I take an early-morning walk from the Gherkin and head into Shoreditch. The market is very busy and buzzy on a Sunday. Lots of second-hand tweed on sale. I take breakfast in Canteen and have the 'full English' and a pot of tea. I really like the ethos of the place. Lots of unpretentious British cooking on the menu. You can even get spotted dick and custard. Warmly recommended. Coincidentally, as I'm tucking into my bacon and eggs, I read in one of the Sunday magazines available a story on famous murders in the East End of London in Victorian times. Spooky.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

An Easy London Weekend - Saturday PM: Savile Row

Saturday PM: Peckish again, I call in at Fortnum and Mason for Welsh rarebit and a slice of Victoria sponge cake, washed down with a nice cup of tea.

Then it's up through Burlington Arcade and a trot round Savile Row. Just to be nosy, to see if anything's changed since Tweedy's last visit. Thankfully, very little has changed. Ede and Ravenscroft - check. Henry Poole - check, Huntsman - check, Norton and Sons - check. And the others. Everyone present and correct.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

An Easy London Weekend - Saturday AM: Jermyn Street

Beau  Brummell

Late January is a good time to take a trip to London. Fewer tourists and the people that madly chase sales have normally spent all their money by then.

Saturday AM: Breakfast at The Wolseley. A stroll round Jermyn Street. If Tweedy sees something in the shops great, if he doesn't that's fine. Past Swaine Adeney Brigg and Davidoff of London, calling in for little treats.

Over to D. R. Harris, smelling things, touching things, generally loading up on goods.

On my favourite side of Jermyn Street, we have Tricker's, Crockett and Jones, Church's, John Lobb, Turnbull and Asser, Bates Hatters, Harvie and Hudson, Floris, Trumpers (now on Duke of York Street), Hilditch and Key. I share the love, share the loyalty. I had an interesting conversation with an employee in Crocket and Jones, actually, discussing calfskin. German is better than French calfskin, apparently. Not sure we established what was the very best, but I was convinced that they know about shoes and there were some lovely wholecuts on display.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Haggis Cures Hangovers

Burns Night is the best excuse to eat haggis. I love the stuff. I like to spread it on good crusty bread or with roast potatoes, sometimes I'll have it with the traditional 'neeps and tatties'. I first ate it attending a  wedding in Scotland - authenticity. It was piped in and served as a late supper and, as well as tasting delicious, it was amazingly good at soaking up the alcohol I had consumed. I had never felt better the next day. Try some after a night out, it works wonders as a pre-emptive hangover cure.

There's not really much choice out there, so I normally go for a McSween, who've been making the wee beasties for 50 years. Happy Burns Night and all hail the great chieftain of the pudding race.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Paninaro, Paninaro-o-o-o

The paninari scene in Italy had a few things in common with the casuals scene in the UK. Both sub-cultures began at a similar time, concentrated in the early 80s, and adopted fashion labels to make them their own. Both paninari and casuals liked to wear Burlington Argyle socks.

Socks aside, things start to diverge. Paninari wore a more American look, big buckled belts, puffa jackets, Timberland boots. Definitely not the casual way. The early casual look from my memory was maybe a Lacoste polo shirt or polo neck, Pringle sweater, a Burberry golfing jacket, white jeans, Addidas or Puma trainers or boat shoes. I certainly wore that combination. I remember watching the Two Ronnies just to see the Pringle sweaters Ronnie Corbett was wearing. Liverpool casuals pushed the boat out and I recall them wearing a lot of tweed, deer stalkers even, which is rarely mentioned nowadays. We'll return to casuals, possibly.

While they weren't zipping between fast food outlets on their scooters and buying clothes, I like to think the paninari were listening to some of the better Italo tunes of the day. It's interesting how Italo disco has become such a collectable genre. The rarity of some of the tracks gives it something of the appeal that old northern soul records have to mods. This is a track from the poppy end of the genre, but I never tire of hearing it. I know little of Jo Squillo, but I don't think any other tracks she recorded have gained much traction with Italo collectors and DJs.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Cole & Son - Off the Wall

Showing their colours - wallpaper based on an old military flag

Cole & Son offer a range of hand-printed wallpapers as wide as ice-cream flavours in an Italian gelateria. Since 1875, this English company, based in North London, continues to be loyal to the traditional processes pioneered by its founder, John Perry, and with an extraordinary archive of designs and original drawings and wallpapers from the 18th, 19th and early 20th century, there's plenty to draw inspiration from and come up with novel designs. 

For those with a more adventurous bent, there are some quite wild designs produced in collaboration with designers such as Vivienne Westwood. This design speaks to young Mrs Tweed, for some reason.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Trethowan’s Dairy - Blessed are the Gorwydd Caerphilly Makers

Nothing young Mrs Tweed and I like better than watching an old film with a platter of cheese and a nice glass of something before us. We were on the hunt for some new cheese highs recently and found a stand for Threthowan's Dairy selling their Gorwydd Caerphilly. You don't need phonetic classes to learn to pronounce its name, finger pointing is acceptable. And delicious stuff it is too. It's unpasteurised, matured for two months and is wonderfully creamy. Young Mrs Tweed plated-up with some grapes, home-made savoury biscuits and a decent Chardonnay. Went down a treat as we watched Pepe le Moko ruling the roost in La Casbah of Algiers.

Pepe wonders where to buy some cheese

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Bowler Hat vs Baseball Cap

60s bowler

70s bowler

80s bowler

What with 50s/60s Mad Men-style everywhere, and Pete Doherty's penchant for a trilby, men's hats have made something of a comeback. But could the bowler (or coke) hat ever return in numbers?

Like many things in British culture, the bowler hat was originally popular amongst the working classes. It then became an iconic part of an establishment wardrobe, worn by bankers and bureaucrats right the way up to the 80s. You will no longer see bankers wearing them in the City, but you'll still see them worn at horse events by stewards and by veterans on remembrance marches. Incidentally, Orangemen seem to have dropped them. But can the hat be revived as everyday wear again? Stanley Baker is looking good in a bowler in the film Perfect Friday (or is it Morrissey?). Better than a baseball cap, surely?  And of course, the head droog Alex showed how they could be reinvented for the 'near-future' of the 70s. Then in the 80s, the bass player Mick Anker out of The Blow Monkeys gave it a jazz groove. Who's going to be brave and step forward to show how it should be worn now?

Amazingly, you can still buy a bowler hat from the hatters that sold the originals, Lock and Co. Locke and Co were founded in 1676 and still sell a great selection of hats. Let's see a little bit of Stanley Baker's hat in action to tempt you.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

In a Lather over Lavenham

As you may remember, chums, I was looking for a replacement quilted jacket. I've plumped for a Lavenham in the end. I was impressed by the cut, quite fitted, and liked the wool outer, which makes it a bit different. The charcoal colour is fine for town as well as country. Very pleased with it. If I look a little overstuffed in the photo above, it's because I'm wearing several sweaters underneath — clearly too many.

This is my first Lavenham purchase, so I was also glad I could support a UK company that is clearly focusing on quality and workmanship. I'm due to make a trip to Madrid, so I'll put it through its paces and see how it gets on.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Brace Yourself - Albert Thurston

I bought these braces from Albert Thurston, who have been making men's accessories since 1820. They were bought to go with the suit lining, racy but both of which would hardly ever be seen, my little secret. Sadly, the suit is no longer with us.

Trousers hang better and feel more comfortable with braces rather than belt. It's a pity I have very few trousers that can accommodate a proper pair. Must do something about that.

Thurston supplied the braces worn by Daniel Craig, appearing as James Bond in Casino Royale. Part of their evening wear collection, they are produced in moire ribbon and white leather.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Street Music - English Folk

The name of the instrument is a melodeon. The one he is playing is French-made, but tuned to an English style which uses the D and G keys. His name is Will Searby and he's from Bath. He has been playing since April 2009 and started because of his love of English folk. Looking good in tweeds and bow-tie too.

The Tweed Pig, being partial to the mellifluous sounds of the melodeon, wishes him well. Whilst we're waiting for a recording from young Will, we can sample the works of Tim van Eyken and John Spiers, part of the new guard of English folk. I'm waiting to see Tim van Eyken live, he'd been working on the play War Horse in London for quite a while, but I've seen John Spiers with John Boden a couple of times. It is surprising what a big sound can be made by accoustic instruments - folk music definitely needs to be heard live and with a decent pint of ale.


Saturday, 15 January 2011

The Future is Another Country

You know from looking at their well-finished pieces of furniture that your cashmere sweater won't get caught in them. This is the innocent-fruit-smoothie version of furnishings and good-looking enough to steal a place even in the most Baroque home. These unpretentious pieces are hand-made by the English company Another Country in Dorset.

Friday, 14 January 2011

The Twinings' Ladies

The Fightback Against Beakers of Coffee

Above all, I'm a tea pig. Not for me a pint of coffee out of a cardboard beaker.

I like to drink strong tea in mugs in the morning, as hot as I can bear, and with a dash of milk and no sugar. Session tea, if you will.

I'll go a bit fancier in the afternoon. Maybe using some loose-leaf  white tea or oolong in an infuser. Loose tea is usually superior to tea bags, as the size of the leaf is much bigger to the dusty 'fannings' that are used in most tea bags. However, I'm quite taken with a couple of Twinings' limited edition floral black teas at the moment and the handsome boxes that they come in. Most attractive ladies. Blossom Earl Grey will refresh after a heavy meal, and Rose Garden is nice with a couple of slices of Madeira cake and Blossom Dearie playing in the background.
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