Saturday, 30 March 2013
A Passion for Angling - The Greatest Story Ever Told...About Fishing
A Passion for Angling is indisputably the greatest television programme ever made, after Brideshead Revisited. A series of six 50-minute films on fishing that was first broadcast in 1993. From the outset, the British public were totally entranced by its exposition on the technique and philosophy of fishing. Sales of waders and fly rods - although I haven't checked this - must have gone through the roof straight after the first episode was transmitted.
Genuinely Something for Everyone
Even for non-anglers there is something magical in the production. It has a whispered, mug-of-cocoa-in-hand narration from Bernard Cribbins. The benign British landscape is a wonderfully lit backdrop to the fishing, which is seen as a meditation in the spirit of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler [Amazon].Walton's book was first published in 1653 and continues to delight lovers of country pursuits. I remember visiting his humble little house in Shallowford, Staffordshire, which he bequeathed to the village.
A Passion for Angling is quiet and unhurried, and dressed in proper fishing attire. Twenty years later it retains all of its original charms - a British classic.
Tweedy's Thought: I don't know what year the volume was turned up, but everyone on TV nowadays seems to be shouting for attention or in a state of near hysteria. This is not a welcome development. By comparison, today's fishing programmes need to be about 'extreme' fishing and fronted by a celebrity. For shame.
A Passion for Angling begins with an episode called Childhood Dreams, where Bob James and Chris Yates demonstrate how to get into the right mind-set to enjoy fishing. Subsequent episodes tackle (pun intended) different fish and fishing techniques. A delightful series that you would gladly welcome into your home. As our old friends The Kings of Convenience might say, let quiet be the new loud.
Here's a sample of the first episode below. You can buy the series on a double DVD set direct from here. I suggest you do.
Thursday, 28 March 2013
Refreshments for the Ride
Cycling in tweed is thirsty, tiring business, make no mistake. If you're taking part in this year's The Tweed Run in London, a sound and stylish option for the necessary pit-stops is the Coffee and Cognac Decanter from Marlborough World.
The case you see here is in chestnut leather, but it's available in other colours. Great quality from Marlborough's workshops in Walsall, England. The case holds two glass decanters and a steel flask. The shoulders of the decanters are finished in chrome-plated solid brass. I foresee many years of pleasurable use.
I'll prime the decanter and sling it over my shoulders when I next take out my Pashley for a Tweedy's Run. But the decanter won't just be for pleasant bike rides through Cotswold villages and sun-dappled lanes. Oh, no. I'm seeing it playing an important role at picnics - thinking Iford Opera or Glyndbourne. We'll cover it in more detail later, with some artfully staged picnic shots perhaps. Next to a scotch egg. That kind of thing.
Tuesday, 26 March 2013
Spring Means The Tweed Run
I'm hearing the common cuckoo's melancholy two-note refrain as I type. This either means I've gone mad or spring is on the way. Assuming I still have my faculties, this will also mean that The Tweed Run in London is almost upon us - April the 13th to be precise. Good luck to all entrants.
Cordings' One-Stop Tweed Run Outfit
If you're looking for a one-stop-shop solution for your Tweed Run outfit, the Dapper Chaps collection (above) suggested by sponsors Cordings well and truly provides it. Lovely kit.
Macclesfield Print Silk Scarf
I'm particularly taken with Cordings' Hunting Paisley Silk Scarf, actually. The blue version. What a rich blue it is. The scarf is hand-printed in Macclesfield, England with an equestrian pattern discovered in the printer's archives. An absolute classic.
Monday, 25 March 2013
Chester Jefferies English Glovemakers since 1936
Chester Jefferies has been in the glove game since 1936. Much of the Dorset-based company's product range is still made in England.
Through their web site, Chester Jefferies is now able to provide a made-to-measure glove making service direct to your home. They offer two measurement options: the circumference of the hand or a 'bespoke' from a full trace of the hand. Once Chester Jefferies has your trace, it's kept on file so that future orders of gloves can be made to your hand measurement.
Tweedy's Thought: I don't think hands gain weight, do they? I think you'd probably be in trouble if you need to have your gloves let out.
For the ordering process you choose a glove style, a type of leather and colour and a lining - silk, cashmere, fur. You can include points on the back of the glove too.
Chester Jefferies gloves are made with sixteen individual sections for durability.
I know the style that catches your eye. The Oxford? I thought so. There's something about that timeless 19th century shape and the button at the wrist, isn't there? And I think you would have it in green dearskin with a beige silk lining. Right again? I know you so well.
Saturday, 23 March 2013
Morricone, Barry...Budd? Ennio Morricone and John Barry get a lot of credit for their work on scoring the music for film soundtracks - and we very much enjoy their work here at Tweed Towers - but what about Roy Budd? If you're saying, "Roy who?" then we're getting to the nub of the matter. Roy Budd, the British jazz musician and composer who died far too young aged 43 in 1993, is not accorded anything like the credit he deserves for the wonderful music he's composed for films. Why's that? Is it the films? Well, they're typically our kind of films, espionage and crime thrillers, such as The Marseille Contract, Black Windmill and Get Carter. All these star Michael Caine, incidentally. Maybe they're not as well known as Morricone's spaghetti westerns or Barry's Bond films outside the UK?
Music to Cosh a Hitman By
Budd's 'crime jazz' soundtracks packed in atmospheric orchestration with elements of lounge, pop, American funk or just out-and-out jazz, if the film scene needed it. Budd's music is redolent of tough-guy loners waiting for person or persons unknown at a down-at-heal coffee shop, then gritting their teeth and doing what they've got to do.
A good introduction to Budd's music is Vigilante! Roy Budd Cult Film Soundtracks 1971 - 1977 [Amazon]on the Castle imprint of Sanctuary Records, which contains tracks from all the Caine films mentioned above.
Take a look at Budd supplying the music to Get Carter in this promotional trailer for the film from 1971. That unmistakable harpsichord sound is so evocative for anyone who has seen the film.
Thursday, 21 March 2013
Apologies to UK readers if you're more than familiar with this story, but we had to show our loyal readership in Japan, Italy and elsewhere some pictures of Prince Charles from his recent TV appearance as guest editor on the BBC's Countryfile. He was on to talk about country issues and conservation on the Duchy estate.
Is it a Wax? Is it a Wool?
Who wasn't thrilled by the sight of that patchwork field coat (below)? I could make out tweed, waxed cotton, a bit of leather, Melton cloth. Was it a wax coat to begin with or a woollen field coat? Was it originally like the one above? Hard to tell. Magnificent though. What an ambassador for British style and heritage he is, constantly selling the soft culture of these islands just by the clothes that he wears. Or am I reading far too much into a patched-up old coat? I could imagine Ralph Lauren brining out a tidied-up version, knowing them.
I have a dream that one day we might be able to push protocol aside and have Prince Charles talking about his clothes. Or just providing a few nice pictures would be enough, I suppose.
Tuesday, 19 March 2013
N. Peal is one of those companies that quietly go about their business waiting to be discovered. If you are seeking out the finest cashmere knitwear you will eventually discover them, after which the products will sell themselves to you in an elegant and unfussy manner, like an experienced butler. Quality is the key. N. Peal use the finest Mongolian cashmere.
N. Peal Almost Died
In the UK you will find N. Peal's shop in London's famous Burlington Arcade. The business began in 1936 by the mysterious Nat Peal, but faced extinction at the beginning of the current financial crisis when the American owners at that time decided to close the business. Boo. Hiss. Disaster loomed. The clock was ticking. Drama. But there are heroes in this tale. Adam Holdsworth and Nick Falkingham of Pure Cashmere Collection womenswear stepped in at the last minute to save the brand and return it to English ownership. They set about resuscitating its image. [You can see Adam talking about the shop restoration in Burlington Arcade here.]
Resuscitation and the Bond Sweater
N. Peal menswear goes from strength-to-strength. Did you spot their sweater in the latest Bond film, Skyfall [Amazon]?The Blue Wave roundneck cashmere sweater (above) is a refined and discreet sweater matching the refined and discreet part of Bond's character. Bond has many parts, he's a complicated man, but this part enjoys a nice sweater.
Might we suggest he wear the Milano waistcoat (below) in the next film. Lovely. The popular Milano is Peal's signature cashmere sweater for men. Look out for the hidden suede trim, like something Q Division would have dreamed up. Bond could use the pockets at the front to stow a handkerchief and some mints for those long surveillance operations he goes on. A Walther PPK? No that would just misshape the sweater.
Monday, 18 March 2013
Smelling Like a Fruit
Do you like smelling like a fruit? I'm normally a 'lime man' on my summer holidays, but I'll indulge in all the classic cologne scents - lemon, mandarin, bergamot, neroli.
If you're of a citrussy persuasion, you can include grapefruit in your fruit bowl of grooming products with the new shaving cream from Taylor of Old Bond Street. Made in England, Grapefruit Shaving Cream has the energising scent of grapefruit and orange.
Taylor's of Old Bond Street was established in 1854 and their shop is located on one of our favourite London streets: Jermyn Street, St James's.
Don't Smell Like a Banana
In terms of scent, you're on pretty safe ground with the citrus fruits. But some fruits are clearly beyond the pale. Would you want to smell like a banana?
Saturday, 16 March 2013
Keep Goons at Bay the Sherlock Way
If you're living in a 'lively' neighbourhood, you may be looking for ways to see a footpad, chugger or cut-purse on their way. Leave the Oriental martial arts to children and health fanatics. Bartitsu is the gentleman's self-defence and can incorporate walking sticks and overcoats to great effect.
Bartitsu was developed by Englishman Edward Barton-Wright in 1898 as a composite of numerous fighting styles. That's right, a Victorian Brit developed the first truly mixed martial art. Sherlock Holmes is described as using a similar technique when doing battle with Moriarty in one of Arthur Conan-Doyle's stories.
Fight like a Victorian - Bartitsu's Back
There's been a revival of interest in Bartitsu in recent years. The Bartitsu Society is active in its promotion and study of Bartitsu, hoping to keep Barton-Wright's name alive.
There's also a book describing Barton-Wright's Bartitsu available from Ivy Press called (big breath) The Sherlock Holmes School of Self-Defence: The Manly Art of Bartitsu as used against Professor Moriarty [Amazon].Learn how to fight with an umbrella or a bicycle (yes, bicycle), just about anything you have to hand really. (Sounds like a home game at Stoke City.)
The book includes lots of nice reproductions of gents in combat positions and some pretty useful tips. Most entertaining.
Thursday, 14 March 2013
Draw a typical male from the US and you're likely to put him in a blue Oxford cloth button-down shirt, or an OCBD as some call them. He'll probably be smiling and looking earnest too. Let's place him in a diner. Appropriated from the British, button-down shirts have become the staple shirt style over there - almost a national dress.
Draw a typical Briton on the other hand and what shirt might he be wearing? Yes, that's what I'm thinking - country checks - a tattersall. You might want to put a world-weary frown on his face and place him in a pub nursing a pint of bitter.
Call me an internationalist, but I sometimes wear both styles of shirt. My inner-mod likes to wear the odd OCBD, but not very often with ties, I'll leave that to the Americans. My outer-Englishman, on the other hand, does like a nice tattersall such as the one above. It's the classic cotton/wool flannel mix for colder seasons. That one's a bit loose in terms of fit, but this is easily resolved by chucking it under a sweater. The collar's the thing.
What about you? American or Brit? Or both?
Cordings - Navy Overcheck Tattersall Shirt (Made in the UK)
Pakeman Catto & Carter - Flannel Shirt Pink/Grape Tattersall (Made in the UK)
Oliver Brown - Red & Blue Tattersall (Made in the UK)
Oxford Cloth Button-Down Gallery
Brooks Brothers - Egyptian Cotton Extra-Slim Fit Solid Pinpoint Luxury Dress Shirt (Made in the USA)
J Press - Pinpoint Oxford Blue (Made in the USA)
Paul Stuart - Blue Pinpoint Dress Shirt
Tuesday, 12 March 2013
Curse my optician. I pop in to have my William Morris specs adjusted and I come out with an order for Sheldrake glasses by Oliver Peoples.
"Try them on", he said, handing me the well-constructed acetate frames with a cunning smile on his face. "How do they feel?" he added, rubbing his hands and opening his till (rather presumptuously). Fatal. Immediately, I see a similarity to the ones Matt Damon wore in The Talented Mr Ripley. Is there something about spectacles that make you feel like you're playing a character when you put them on? Or is that just me? I hand over my pounds.
A week later, with the lenses fitted and the glasses collected, I have to say I'm very pleased. The frames are made in Japan and have a quality feel to them. The branding is tucked inside discreetly, not plastered on the outside of the arms. That's good. I understand that Oliver Peoples make frames in limited quantities. Also good, but I'm not sure how limited. Mine are a dark tortoiseshell frame, but some of the other Sheldrake colours look nice too, like the lighter ones below.
(Why Brideshead Revisited in the photo? A classic novel, but it really would have made more sense to use something by Patricia Highsmith. I didn't have one to hand.)
Oliver Peoples is based in Los Angeles, USA. The company was started in 1986 by brothers Larry and Dennis Leight. Somewhat inevitably, the company is now part of the Luxottica group.
Who's your favourite film Ripley? Delon maybe? Damon or Malkovich perhaps? We'll take a look at Patricia Highsmith's complicated character sometime, probably starting with the Delon film version. I recall a nice leather bag in that film, and a pair of loafers too.
Monday, 11 March 2013
Johan Ekelund - Sharp & Dapper
I've been reading about King Canute. We may think we have a special relationship with the former colonies, but we have a considerably older one with Scandinavia going back to the 10th century. Canute was King of Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden and is buried in Winchester Cathedral, the one-time capital of England. Well I say special relationship. It was all a bit bloody.
And the special relationship continues (less bloodily). Our latest Tweed Pig Pin-up, Johan Eklund, is a Swede based in dizzy London and is Director of Sharp and Dapper the shirt stays people. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about the photo Johan.
About the Photo
"I work part-time in a bar called Happiness Forgets located in Hoxton Square, London, as well as running Sharp & Dapper. We design and make shirts stays and design other clothing accessories for men. I was talked into doing the No Trouser Tube Ride in my shirt stays last year and repeated the experience again in January this year.
"I confess that I get a lot of laughs when people see the shirts stays, but when I keep my trousers on people are generally very impressed with how smart my shirt looks. I haven’t needed to tuck my shirt in for several years and I am looking forward to not needing to do so in the future.
"I am learning how to make my own tie-yourself bow ties. The one I’m wearing in the picture I made the day before the event. Tying a bow tie is a skill every man should have in his repertoire."
The Shirt Companion
How did Johan discover shirt stays and start Sharp & Dapper? Read on:
"I have been working in hospitality since I was 14 years old and started bartending when I was 18. Coming to London from Sweden in 2007, I managed to get a job in one of the better bars in town where I learned about drink making and everything that involves.
"Working in several bars where appearance is important I started to take a bit more interest in the way that I dressed and all the accessories that come with that. One day browsing the internet for braces, I came across an odd looking set of elastic straps that was said to prevent the wearer's shirt from riding up out of the trousers. The shirt would always look nicely tucked in as well the socks remain pulled up.
"Being a fan of weird ideas I bought a set and once it arrived about 4 years ago I haven’t gone a day without them. (When I wear a shirt that is). At the time I didn’t think anymore of it, but went on making drinks for a few years.
"One Sunday I was walking around in my room cleaning up and picked up the shirt stays that I had worn for the last 2 years wondering why no one in the UK knows about them, not to mention makes them. I sat down and did some research and found out that they are made in the US as well as Asia.
"The only market were they are still used is in America where shirt stays are worn by the military as well as some police forces.
"The day after at work I told a colleague about my idea to start making shirt stays and he was very quick to ask if I wanted a business partner. Not having any ideas about how to start a business, I said yes, which proved very useful.
"Knowing how useful they are for bartenders I got on Ebay and ordered the components needed to make a few on my own. I also went to Argos and bought their second cheapest sewing machine and I started making a few rough samples for some friends to try out.
"The feedback was incredible! People loved them and this gave us the motivation needed to continue developing the product, sourcing great elastics as well as higher quality fasteners and adjusters.
"Since the start in 2011 we have sold over 4000 sets all over the world and have received some incredible reviews from people who've never seen them before. Fantastic Man magazine called them 'a minor life-changing experience'.
"We are very proud of our product and learning new things regarding style and in November 2012 we updated our website to add more products to our range, including braces, clip-on buttons and socks.
"Men need to have these kinds of accessories in their wardrobes. Maybe you wouldn't want to wear the shirt stays every day, but they're perfect for when you want to look your absolute best - even if it’s only once a year for an important meeting or, even more importantly, a wedding."
Saturday, 9 March 2013
Not Gods - Englishmen
"To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilisation", wrote Bertrand Russell. I'm sure he was thinking about putting his feet up with a cup of tea and watching a good film.
The Man Who Could Be King was directed by John Huston and released in 1975. And it is a very good film. It came out too late for Bertrand, but I'm sure he would have enjoyed it.
It's based on a Rudyard Kipling short story. Two ex-soldiers and chancers in British India, Daniel Dravot and Peachey Carnehan, are looking for shortcuts to fortune. They undertake a journey of plunder in neighbouring Kafirstan, thinking they can rule the place and build their own empire. Things take an unexpected turn when Daniel is struck by an arrow in a battle. The locals they've trained to help them with their looting think he's a God. After which Daniel becomes, in his own words, "bleeding high and so bloody mighty". Hubris and greed are their undoing, which climaxes in an unforgettable ending.
Have Michael Caine and Sean Connery ever bettered their roles as likeable hooligans Daniel and Peachy? No. They inhabit the characters and breathe the humorous script -
"You'll be able to slaughter your enemies like civilised men."
"Not Gods - Englishmen. The next best thing."
Caine and Connery effortlessly capture the strengths and failings within each character and that particular camaraderie you only find between soldiers. And the language they use feels right for time and place. Perfect casting.
The film uses terrific cinematography and location shooting. You feel the sense of heat and chaos of the Indian subcontinent. Wonderful complementary soundtrack from Maurice Jarre too.
If you haven't seen the film, John Huston will try and convince you to in the trailer below.
Thursday, 7 March 2013
The Tweed Exterior
Beaneth the grizzled tweed-clad exterior there's a softer side to old Tweedy. Before you get the wrong impression and picture me in a heart-shaped apron with crochet trim, size medium, baking a cake, I'm actually referring to my liking for cashmere. Love the stuff. Well, who doesn't?
Brora - with headquarters in Hertfordshire, England - always has nice cashmere pieces for men. Whenever I'm in a Brora shop I have to resist the urge to press their delightfully soft cashmere clothes against my cheeks. This is exactly the kind of reaction required from quality cashmere products. (And don't tell me I'm alone here.)
And cashmere works so well with tweed. With the right jacket and sweater you can achieve a robust tweed exterior and a gentle cashmere interior. This combination is scientifically proven to send out all the right kinds of signals.
Brora, celebrating its 20th birthday this year, also does the tweed bit as well as the cashmere. Above and below we have Brora's Harris Tweed jacket, principally in blue flecks.
Inside the Tweed Beats a Cashmere Heart
Now for the soft interior. Brora's Two-tone Textured Jumper in two-ply Scottish cashmere would look rather splendid underneath the tweed jacket.
Brora's "sustainable fashion" design ethos and commitment to quality means the pieces won't date and can be worn year after year.
Tuesday, 5 March 2013
Jacket for Cheltenham Festival
Holland Cooper recommend their Morrisson jacket for the Cheltenham Festival next week. Cheltenham's Festival is one of the 'big two' UK National Hunt horse race meetings, the other being the Grand National at Aintree, Liverpool in April. Cheltenham's extremely popular with Irish racegoers - the dates coincide with St Patrick's Day. Ár ádh mór ort to our Irish friends.
The jacket seems more than up for the job of serious race attendance. Made in the UK from Scottish tweed. Nice touch with the suede collar lining. Just add binoculars and a fine felt brown trilby and you're away.
If you attend the festival, be sure to look in on Holland Copper who will be exhibiting there.
Your Favourite for The Gold Cup?
Victor Chandler is offering 12/1 on First Lieutenant for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, which looks like a good each-way bet. If you have any tips for the Gold Cup, feel free to pop them below.
Monday, 4 March 2013
Buy Once, Buy Well
The art of buying well almost never means buying cheap. Buy cheap and you buy twice, thrice...
This was the message our chums at Reuters were putting across when they ran our kind of news item recently. The gist of the piece was that sales at the quality end of the men's classic clothing market - in and around Savile Row - were doing very well indeed. The figures don't lie; people are seeking out lasting quality in increasing numbers.
Why don't our politicians bang the drum for this growing trend? They could start by shedding themselves of those awful shiny plain navy suits they all wear like a Politburo of clones. At the next G20 meeting I'd like to see the British Prime Minister appearing in a bespoke three-piece dark-grey chalk stripe suit with watch chain, handmade shirt and shoes, topped off with a bowler hat. Perhaps sporting an Inverness overcoat too. If I'm feeling the political pulse of the country correctly, it will go down a storm.
The Reuters piece featured Anderson & Sheppard and Budd Shirtmakers, with a very special guest appearance from the actor Edward Fox - appearing as 'Budd customer'. Witness the suavity in the video below. Have we ever seen him less than immaculate? Is he the male equivalent of Joan Crawford in that regard? I feel a clothumentary coming on.