Issuu on Google+

January / February 2017 | £4.35




Style & Substance

Tom Hardy is not like other movie stars* By Miranda Collinge Photographs by Greg Williams

By Tom Parker Bowles


Plus AA Gill and David Thomson on Trump

*He’s better

Sturdy boots, cool coats, tough jeans, strong drinks, hot curries, slick suits and 8 pages of killer gadgets for the man who doesn’t yet have everything

January / February 2017


Hard nut — P102 Tom Hardy wears olive green cotton military jacket, his own. Black denim jeans, £480, by Gucci


SUBSCRIBE Tom Hardy Photographs Greg Williams Tom Hardy wears Newsstand edition: black mohair-wool coat; off-white cotton T-shirt; blue denim jeans, all by Gucci Limited edition: black wool hat; black denim jeans, both by Gucci. Necklace, trunks, watch, all his own Subscriber edition: olive green cotton military jacket, necklace, both his own


If you want a limited-edition version of Esquire with a unique cover delivered to your door, call +44 844 322 1762 and quote reference 1EQ11164 @ukesquire

January / February 2017

Contents REGULARS AA GILL P26 Esquire’s therapy tyrant takes a letter from Washington DC

WILL SELF P33 The body scrutineer says the eyes most certainly have it

STYLE P39 Winter sports special; Russell Norman; Tag Heuer Autavia; Jeremy Langmead; chunky boots; Dominic West; new hot curries; LV pop-up; Joe Allen’s cocktails; the 2017 denim guide; holidays for your head

CULTURE P81 Moonlight’s tale of Miami vice; Bryan Cranston speaks; loving Bobby Moore; Flaming Lips’ Oczy Mlody; La La Land director Q&A; photo reportage — when Kuwait’s oil burned

FASHION INTO THE NIGHT P148 South London’s grime star Stormzy demonstrates how you should be dressing for the coming party season


WHAT I’VE LEARNED P120 Sir Antony Gormley talks art, India and his fashion uniform


P156 Actor, rapper, activist, clothes horse — Riz Ahmed bundles up in the best winter coats

P170 The Concept MC Wood Turntable from Clearaudio 72


CONTRIBUTORS Tom Parker Bowles

Richard Benson

Will Hersey

“Forget Paris,” says Esquire’s food editor. “Marseille is France’s greatest city. It cares little what the rest of the world thinks of it, and gets on with the business of living well. Incredible food, huge charm and gloriously rough-edged. Ignore the naysayers, Marseille is simply magnificent.” Parker Bowles is restaurant critic for The Mail on Sunday, and his new book, The Fortnum’s Cookbook (Fourth Estate) is out now.

“Techies get very excited about driverless cars,” says the Esquire contributing editor, having met a number of them on assignment this month. “And yes, at first it was quite exciting to be driven around by a computer on wheels. But it doesn’t take long to start missing that feeling of being in control. I suspect that driverless vehicles’ biggest achievement will be to remind us of just how great proper driving can feel.”

In October, Esquire hosted its first Townhouse in association with Dior, four days bringing the magazine to life in Westminster’s grand British Academy. Content director Hersey oversaw it all: “It was like being a festival organiser, club host, journalist, doorman and playlist curator. The week before, I couldn’t wait for it to end. But once it started, I didn’t want it to stop. It was exhausting but great fun.” See inside on page 91.


Frederike Helwig | Dan McAlister | Caroline Leeming | Johanna Nyholm


January / February 2017

Contents FEATURES ESQUIRE TOWNHOUSE P91 Style, arts, sport, films, music from our four-day exposition

TOM HARDY P102 Explosive, unpredictable and brilliant, the actor goes off-script in London

MARSEILLE P112 Tom Parker Bowles falls for the vibrant cuisine of the gritty port (no surprise there!)

THE GADGET GUIDE P122 Headphones, tablets, cameras, laptops, TVs, watches — all the best tech for Christmas 91

‘BELIEVE ME’ P130 David Thomson on Donald Trump

DRIVERLESS CARS M Scott Brauer | Dan McAlister

P134 Are “autonomous vehicles” what we really want to be seen in?

THE LONELY HEDONIST P140 Inside Snctm, the Hollywood private sex club where money will buy whatever you desire 126


CONTRIBUTORS Greg Williams “He’s never particularly enjoyed being photographed as himself,” the photographer comments on cover star Tom Hardy. “For this shoot we created a few characters in which he absolutely shone, as he does on the screen. We ended with Tom made up as a monstrous character from his new TV show Taboo and drove around London. Hundreds looked on, but none had the slightest chance of recognising him.”

Will Self

Teo van den Broeke

The editor-at-large informs us he is currently imprisoned in a dungeon wearing pull-up pants lined with a mixture of broken glass and glue. “Or at least it feels that way as I work on my latest novel, Phone, to be published by Penguin in June. As soon as that’s done, I’ll go and get my eyes tested — which is why I’m fixated on the male eye (rather than the male gaze) for this month’s Self Examination column.”

“The world has gone casual,” our style director declares. And he should know. “Hooded tops are being worn on the runways and Frank Ocean wore checkerboard, slip-on Vans to dinner at the White House. The best thing about this move toward the slovenly? Jeans are back, and they’re back in a big way. See this month’s Style section starting on page 39 for the best ways to wear yours, and more.”


Subscribe to Alex Bilmes editor-in-chief

Six months for


deputy editor

creative director

fashion director

Johnny Davis

Nick Millington

Catherine Hayward

entertainment director/ associate editor

photo director/ managing editor

style director

Tom Macklin

Henny Manley

Teo van den Broeke

features editor

Miranda Collinge content director

deputy style editor

Will Hersey

Charlie Teasdale

chief copy editor

copy editor

Brendan Fitzgerald

Josh Bolton

art director

senior designer


Peter Ainsworth

Anup Parmar

Lauren Jones

assistant commissioning editor / assistant to the editor-in-chief

fashion assistant

Rachel Fellows

Emie James-Crook editors-at-large

Giles Coren

Will Self

Andrew O’Hagan

food editor

music editor

us correspondent

Tom Parker Bowles

Alexis Petridis

Sanjiv Bhattacharya

special contributing editor (agony)

AA Gill digital editor

deputy digital editor

Sam Parker

Nick Pope

digital writer

junior digital writer

Olivia Ovenden

Finlay Renwick

contributing editors tim adams / ben anderson / tom barber / richard benson / kevin braddock mick brown / colin crummy / dan davies / martin deeson / geoff dyer mark ellen / ekow eshun / andrew harrison / mark hix / michael holden harry jameson / richard t kelly / john lanchester / jeremy langmead tim lewis / kevin maher / ben mitchell / philip norman russell norman / max olesker / michael smith / stephen smith will storr / robin swithinbank / david thomson / paul wilson

+ RECEIVE The Big Watch Book, worth £6 To subscribe, visit:

contributing photographers gregoire alexandre / andy barter / michael bodiam / tomo brejc chris brooks / dan burn-forti / alan clarke / tom craig / carlos de spinola matthew donaldson / simon emmett / chris floyd / neil gavin jon gorrigan / rick guest / matt irwin / nadav kander / luke kirwan jason lowe / dan mcalister / benedict morgan / josh olins / terry o’neill martin parr / terry richardson / martin schoeller / philip sinden peggy sirota / david slijper / david titlow / yu tsai / benni valsson tom van schelven / ellen von unwerth / greg williams contributing fashion editors olie arnold / allan kennedy / gareth scourfield or call 0844 322 1762 and quote offer code 1EQ11177 Terms and conditions: Offer valid for UK subscriptions by Direct Debit only. *After the first six months, your subscription will continue at £14.95 every six months by Direct Debit. Free gift is limited to the first 100 orders. If this gift becomes unavailable you will be offered an alternative gift of a similar value. All orders will be acknowledged and you will be advised of commencement issue within 14 days. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other subscription offer and closes 6 February 2017. The minimum subscription term is six months. Esquire is published 10 times a year and the normal cost of annual subscription in print is £43.50 based on a basic cover price of £4.35. For UK subscription enquiries, please telephone +44 844 848 5203. For overseas subscription prices and enquiries, please telephone +44  1858 438 838, or visit For our data policy, please visit Lines are open weekdays 8am–9:30pm, Saturdays 8am–4pm. BT landline calls to 0844 numbers will cost no more than 5p per minute. Calls made from mobiles usually cost more.

esquire international editions Editors: Hristo Zapryanov Bulgaria Liang Zhaohui China Francisco J Escobar Salazar Colombia Jiri Roth Czech Republic Kosta N Tsitsas Greece Kwong Lung Kit Hong Kong Dwi Sutarjantono Indonesia Ildar Khaibullin Kazakhstan Heesik Min Korea Ernesto Calderon Escobedo Latin America Simon Burgess Malaysia Jeremy Lawrence Middle East Arno Kantelberg Netherlands Kristine Fonacier Philippines Filip Niedenthal Poland Andrei Theodor Iovu Romania Igor Sadreev Russia Milan Nikolic Serbia Zul Andra Singapore Andrés Rodriguez Spain Albert Lee Taiwan Jatuwat Srichan Thailand Togan Noyan Turkey Alex Bilmes United Kingdom Jay Fielden United States Nguyen Thanh Nhan Vietnam Simon Horne Senior vice-president/CFO/General manager; Jeannette Chang Senior vice-president/International publishing director; Kim St Clair Bodden Senior vice-president/Editorial director; Kristen Ingersoll Fashion and entertainment director; Luis Veronese Senior international editions editor

Subscribe to Jacqui Cave group publishing director

pa to the group publishing director

Rosie Cave


Six months for


brand director

fashion director/brand director

Jonny Berry

Sindy Walker client sales director

Sam O’Shaughnessy partnerships director

partnerships manager

Rashad Braimah

Kate Clout

partnerships manager

partnerships manager

James Hilsdon

Jane Kelly

creative solutions art director

creative solutions associate art director

Tanja Rusi

Leo Goddard

creative solutions art editor

Alex Mertekis

project manager

project manager

Camilla Weston

Romy van den Broeke

group customer marketing manager

senior customer marketing executive

head of marketing promotions

Natasha Chamberlin

Tilly Michell

Charlotte Cunliffe

head of newstrade marketing

Jennifer Smith head of digital marketing

head of consumer sales & marketing

Seema Kumari

Matthew Blaize-Smith

production director

production manager

John Hughes

Joanne Keogh

advertisement production controller

pr manager

Paul Taylor

Ben Bolton

italian & swiss agent (+39 02 62 69 44 41)

Robert Schoenmaker regional business development manager

Danielle Sewell

Anna Jones chief executive officer

+ RECEIVE The Big Watch Book, worth £6 To subscribe, visit: or call 0844 322 1762 and quote offer code 1EQ11190

Terms and conditions: Offer valid for UK subscriptions by Direct Debit only. *After the first six months, your bundle subscription will continue at the rate of £19.95 every six months by Direct Debit. Free gift is limited to the first 100 orders. If this gift becomes unavailable you will be offered an alternative gift of a similar value. All orders will be acknowledged and you will be advised of commencement issue within 14 days. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other subscription offer and closes 6 February 2017. The minimum subscription term is six months. Esquire is published 10 times a year. For UK subscription enquiries, please telephone +44 844 848 5203. For overseas subscription prices and enquiries, please telephone +44 1858 438 838, or visit For our data policy, please visit Lines are open weekdays 8am–9:30pm, Saturdays 8am–4pm. BT landline calls to 0844 numbers will cost no more than 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge. Calls made from mobiles usually cost more.

managing director, brands chief financial officer chief revenue officer circulation & brand marketing director chief digital officer director hearst magazines direct communications director hr director

Michael Rowley Claire Blunt Duncan Chater Reid Holland Darren Goldsby Cameron Dunn Lisa Quinn Surinder Simmons

hearst magazines international senior vice-president, cfo and general manager

Simon Horne hearst magazines uk, 72 broadwick street, london w1f 9ep editorial +44 20 3535 9150 / advertising +44 20 7439 5995. visit Access Hearst Magazines UK website at © A publication of Hearst Magazines UK. Issue: January / February 2017 | Published: 6 December 2016 | ESQUIRE, ISSN 0960-5150 is published 10 times per year by Hearst Magazines UK. By permission of Hearst Communication Inc. c/o USACAN Media Corp at 123A Distribution Way, Building H-1, Suite 104, Plattsburgh, NY 12901. Periodicals postage paid at Plattsburgh, NY. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Esquire c/o Express Mag, PO box 2769, Plattsburgh, NY 12901-0239. Magazine printed by Wyndham Roche, Victoria Business Park, Roche, St Austell, PL26 8LX. Cover printed by The Westdale Press Limited, 70 Portmanmoor Industrial Estate, East Moors, Cardiff CF24 5HB. Conditions of sale and supply: ESQUIRE shall not, without the written consent of the publishers first given, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise disposed of by way of trade except at the full retail price of £4.35 and shall not be lent, hired out, or otherwise disposed of in a mutilated condition or in any unauthorised cover, by way of trade, or affixed to or as part of any publication or advertising, literary or pictorial matter whatsoever. MSS and illustrations are accepted on the understanding that no liability is incurred for safe custody, but ESQUIRE cannot consider unsolicited material for publication. All characters in any fictional story are purely imaginary and no reference or allusion is intended to apply to any living person or persons. ESQUIRE is fully protected by copyright and nothing may be printed wholly or in part without permission. ESQUIRE is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation. We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think we have not met those standards and wish to make a complaint please contact or visit If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO at ipso. Subscriptions and back issues: the standard subscription price (BAR) for 10 issues of ESQUIRE is £43.50, based on the basic cover price of £4.35. For new and renewal orders, ring 0844 322 1762* or visit Lines are open weekdays 8am–9.30pm; Saturdays, 8am–4pm | For existing subscription enquiries, change of address and back-issue orders for ESQUIRE ring 0844 848 5203*, email or write to ESQUIRE, Hearst Magazines UK, Tower House, Sovereign Park, Lathkill Street, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 9EF. Please quote your subscription number in all correspondence | We regret that free gifts, supplements, books and other items included with the magazine when it is sold in the UK are not available with copies of the magazine purchased outside the UK | *BT landline calls to 0844 numbers will cost no more than 7p per minute; calls from mobiles and other networks usually cost more.

January / February 2017

I can’t say for sure, obviously, but my hunch is it wouldn’t be the same, at all. Because driving on the open road is fun, especially if you’re in a Mercedes S500 Coupé. And being driven long distances is enervating. It is disempowering. And it is infantilising: Are we nearly there yet? I don’t think of myself as a petrolhead. I like fast cars but I’m not Clarksonian about it. I don’t want to talk about them or even think about them. And I have no interest in how they work. I couldn’t fix your faulty big end if my life depended on it. I don’t know torque or horsepower or transmission types from a hole in the highway. I’m afraid I think all that stuff is a bit infra dig. It’s what mechanics — and shouty TV presenters — are for. And yet… The other day I was loaned an Aston Martin for a weekend jaunt to the country. (Told you I was spoilt.) It was a brand new DB11, a magnificent thing that is all but indefensible: it’s too powerful, too fast, too wasteful, too vulgar, too harmful to the environment. But my God, what a thrill! What a rush! As Richard Benson points out in his piece on page 134, the autonomous vehicle evangelists and overcaffeinated transport futurologists have failed to factor a crucial element into their calculations. There’s something obvious missing from driverless cars: the driver. Tom Hardy owns a pretty fancy set of wheels. His car is a banana yellow Audi R8 Spyder. He took Greg Williams, our photographer, for a spin in it, as you can see from the photo on page 108. I can’t see Tom swapping his R8 for an autonomous Audi any time soon. He doesn’t seem the type. I’m intrigued by Hardy. As the coverline on this issue suggests, he seems… different from other movie stars. Charismatic, mercurial, explosive, he plays hard men, violent men, men on the edge, and he can be terrifying on screen, but there’s also something sensual about him — he’s quite beautiful, for a start — and something delicate, that draws you to him when you’d think a presence so brooding might push you away. For once, the Brando comparisons that burden so many actors who are able to summon a wounded masculinity on screen, do not seem entirely unearned. As Greg’s photos and Miranda Collinge’s interview demonstrate, the thing with Hardy is that you never know what he’ll do next. This is our second cover with him in 18 months. I for one am enjoying the association. I’d be fascinated to hear what that nonpareil writer on movies and movie stars, David Thomson, makes of Tom Hardy. When he gets to the next edition of his unassailable New Biographical Dictionary of Film, perhaps David will find space for Tom. While we wait for that, a late entry to this issue, filed, I sensed, in a fever — and all the better for that — is David’s take on Donald Trump, and the state we’re in — there, here and elsewhere. What a state it is. On which note: I wish you a peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

EDITOR’S LETTER This time last year I found myself at a loose end in Los Ange-

les. (As you do.) I was there on Esquire business and a yawning four-day chasm opened up in my diary — the scheduling equivalent of the Grand Canyon — between completing the assignment I was working on, and beginning a round of meetings for future projects. I could have flown home and back again, I suppose, but where’s the fun in that? We were, at that time, putting together an issue of Esquire’s brother magazine, The Big Black Book, devoted to American style. For some months, I’d been kicking the tyres of an idea for a story about the significance of the road in American art and culture — road movies, road novels, the photography and iconography of the road, the singular position the road occupies in the American psyche — and now seemed the perfect opportunity to get my motor running. The article was to be about the myth of the road, which is to some extent the central myth of America: manifest destiny, all that caper. I wanted to know if that was a myth you can still enter into — or try to — even if you’re a middle-aged English journalist with a satnav and a smartphone, rather than a boxcar jumping beatnik hobo, or a bank robber on the lam. Because I’m spoilt rotten and I don’t care who knows it, rather than hire an underpowered saloon from one of the airport rental places, I asked Mercedes-Benz if I could borrow one of their cars for my trip. (Again, as you do.) And so I found myself speeding through the Mojave Desert in an Arctic white S500 Coupé — brrrm! — with no particular destination in mind. The experience of being on the road in America was, as it always is, discombobulating, reality chasing hope around the next bend, and somehow always failing to catch up. My trip was sometimes exciting, sometimes dull. At some moments I felt enlightened, at others confused. Some scenes were spectacular, others drab. I both loved it, and wanted it to end. The question we ask in this issue — in a roundabout way (forgive me) — is: would my race across the Southwest of the US have been the same if I hadn’t been driving? If, instead, I’d been driven? Not by someone else but by the car itself. Would the sense of freedom, of agency, of endless possibility — even if that sense is The editor’s (only very briefly) driverless Mercedeschimerical — have been so powerful? Benz, on the road in Arizona, December 2015

Alex Bilmes, Editor-in-Chief

There’s something obvious missing from driverless cars: the driver



AA Gill is Esquire’s


Mr Dysfunctional, Oh boy! Ohhhhhhh boy. Are we great. Are we great. We put the “grrrr” in great. The grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. And the “eat”. We put the  “eat” in great: breakfast with syrup and butter and hash browns on the side. Liberals don’t do that — they don’t have butter dripping off their chins at the bar, listening to Tammy and crying into their first Jack at 8.30 in the morning. They have kale juice and Valium on the side. Grrrrrrr give yourself a big hug — a manly, A-frame, “no downstairs touching” hug. Oooo yeah, you’ve earned that. Unless, of course, it’s a little intern beside you. Then you can give her the loin lunge because you’ve earned that, too. You are president. Oh yes. You are “this isn’t about me, this is all us — all us.” You are president. Who put the “dent” in president? You did. No, I did. We all did. We all loin-lunged the “dent” in president. But only the guys — only the guys with a functioning, low-hanging, unfeasibly juicy pair are president. Sorry ladies, no president for you. You’re squashed  on the glass ceiling like a damselfly on the windscreen of life. Oh my God, who writes this stuff? But the pussy-grab you can feel, ladies, that’s exciting. A fistful of man digit — it belongs to a president. Sweet. Heat. Suck it up. When I say “it doesn’t mean just me, of course,” I am the President of Presidents. I am The Trumpster, the Grand Wizard of Trump. OK. Grrrrrrrrrr. Incredible. Incredible! I would just like to mention the Secret Service here today: if there’s someone beside you who you can’t see, a big, all-American man-mountain, he’s in the service — of the secrets. They’re not presidents, they’re better than that — they look after presidents who are better than all the other presidents. The man who saves the president’s life on a daily, hourly, minutely,

‘So, the question is this: me and my buddies have got to be president for at least four years. Really. I’ve had marriages that haven’t lasted that long’

secondly basis, that’s who. I’ve met some of the most powerful, attractive, fanciable, fecund men ever in the Secret Service. They’re incredible. Who put the “in” in incredible? Whenever we have a shower in the morning, and we’re all under the power together, I can feel the man-power, and smell the most real men, with the most real jobs in the real world. Four-square, hands on hips, clench-it-and-take-it-like-a-man jobs. I have a question. It’s not that I don’t know the answer, it’s what liberals call rhetorical. Yes, they do say “rhetorical” because they can’t say “rest your tonsils on that, bitch”. It’s a question where I already know the happy ending. Pay attention, Dysfunctional. Who put the “dys” in dysfunctional? Don’t tell me, I already know. So, the question is this: me and my buddies here have got to be president for at least four years. Really. I’ve had marriages that haven’t lasted that long. So my question is, Dysfunctional, I’ve got to deal with a shedload of other countries. None of them are America. And just why is this? At this juncture of our history, why aren’t there more Americas?



Illustrations by Joe McKendry

This month, our statesman-like agony aide receives a transatlantic missive from a bloke with a new job who needs briefing on a level he can comprehend


Dear Mr President-elect Trump, Your letter came as something of a surprise. I didn’t have you down as someone who asked for advice, though I did imagine that you would write letters as though you were addressing a Nuremberg rally of drunk, antique gun enthusiasts. Your enquiry raises an interesting question: are countries like women? Can you anthropomorphise them? The fact that most people do see their nation as a person is interesting, and that most of us tend to see her as a woman, usually a mother. I  mention this because of your observation about glass ceilings: you may not have a woman president but you already live in a female country. It is a woman, it is a mother, it is the motherland. You have never lived in a male country. America is personified by a woman: Liberty. She stands at the end of your hometown, adorned with a poem by another woman asking for the  world to  send her refugees. Liberty was given to America by the French, and she bears some familiar resemblance to their national figure, Marianne, the revolutionary feminist with her breasts out, storming the barricades. In Britain, we  have Britannia, a seafaring goddess who harks back to  classical Rome. The Romans had any number of representative women, as did the Greeks. And the Egyptians. So if you want to remember nations by their female familiars, there’s Marianne, Britannia, Athena, Liberty, and you might like the she-wolf of Rome for America.

I didn’t have you down as someone who asked for advice, though I did imagine that you would write letters as though you were addressing a Nuremberg rally

Mr Dysfunctional, Oh, for Jesus Christ’s sake. What is this liberal, intellectual crap? All I want to know is, who put the “cunt” in country? You’re fired. Bet you’ve never seen the inside of a pussy. Even your mother probably had a caesarean.

I mean, why aren’t we franchising America? Buying up useless countries, asset-stripping them down and rebranding them as America? This is the problem with Washington — no one has a business mind. No one thinks outside of the diplomatic box. So, this is what we’re doing: we’re going to franchise America until we have the biggest damn takeaway country in  the  world. And then we’re going to start building American worlds in space. Oh yes. USA! USA! USA! The question is, I need to meet all these other, un-American countries and, like, smack them, or pussy-grab them, but I’m damned if I can tell them apart. So, can you give me a handy guide to telling countries apart? For instance, if they were say, like, Miss World contestants, which, obviously they all are, but didn’t have the sash because I’d already used it to blindfold them so  the Secret Service guys could get their balls buffed without having to be seen. If countries were pussy, what sort of pussy would they be? This is your assignment. Who put the “ass” in assignment? You know it, baby. Go work it.

Email questions for AA Gill to


For more AA Gill, go to

Will Self


Joe McKendry

Each month, the award-winning writer evaluates a significant part of our anatomy. In this instalment, he offers his reflections on eyes

have to wait for Google to get their glasses shit together before that happens. It’s a shame, really, my unwillingness to buy into the ocular fantasy, because my own eyes are quite possibly my greatest asset, and when others look into them they no doubt see there great slopping reserves of every conceivable emotion. But while aspects of our appearance may be forced on us throughout the average day, as we glimpse our flailing limbs and storm-tossed hair, we always look straight through our eyes, and so shun them. A little maquillage can go a long way in the eye region — mascara, eyeliner, drops of various kinds: a fully made-up eye is a wonderful and warlike thing, fit to be painted on the prow of a Grecian galley, but for the most part men eschew such fripperies. Then there’s various sorts of eye-wear: who amongst us cannot admit we feel as well as see sharper when we’re sporting a pair of expensive ogle-fakes? I began having to wear reading glasses about five years ago and, for a while, favoured cheap folding readers I could slip in the change pocket of my Levi’s, ever ready for use. But as my eyesight has deteriorated further,

Our focus this month — if you’ll forgive the feeble pun — is the eye. (Or eyes: they usually come in pairs.) Yes, the eyes, the peepers, those inedible oysters that lie on the halfshells of your face. Not just in our culture and era but in every time and place the human eye has been valorised as the window to the soul. Really? I have to say, I’m never entirely convinced; with my novelist’s specs on, I often find myself thinking of sentences such as this; “Looking deep into Hermione’s eyes, Justin saw there something like love — not love itself, but a paler version of that crimson passion…” only to dismiss them on the grounds that when I look into most people’s eye, I see very little there besides… eyes. True, the pupils may contract or dilate — the irises may darken or lighten, and the whites can go decidedly off — but the great depths of emotion the poets see there rather elude shallow old me. As for the widespread superstition that the human retina is like a photographic plate, retaining the last image it captured even after death (and so allowing, in cases of homicide, for the identification of the murderer), well, really! We’ll



Will Self

to argue it was impossible to have such a mechanism without a cosmic designer. Richard “Knitwear” Dawkins offers a refutation of Paley in his 1986 counterblast, The Blind Watchmaker, with a laborious account of how random mutation  and environmental adaptation, might result, after vast tracts of time, in the particular phenomenon which has just enabled you to read this sentence.) People such as women (although by no means they exclusively), buy sunglasses costing staggering sums for all the usual reasons people spunk-off on luxury branded goods, but their function is merely to stop them screwing up their eyes. It’s an entire industry, sunglasses, founded on a fear of wrinkly eyes and those wrinkles growing deeper, becoming the seams from which bags depend. Personally, I love a wellbagged older male eye, and deep tears welled from my own (only to collect in their fleshy guttering) when I heard about General Sir Mike Jackson’s cosmetic surgery to remove his prodigious ocular Samsonite. Could we have any better indication of Britain’s precipitate fall from greatness than this: the surgical excision of the very evidence of his martial experience? All those endless, burning hot days out there in the desert standing well in advance of his men, his eyes screwed up as tightly as anuses about to be bleached, desperately scanning the dunes ahead for the advancing horsemen of the Caliphate. Jackson earned those bags, damn it, as a knight of old would win his spurs — and he put vanity before centuries of  valour! No wonder the world now regards us as its bitch. Which leads me to the homiletic and unashamedly homosexual end of this month’s column: when my friend John had a little work to deal with an incipient touch of the Jacksons, so pleased was he with the results, he spent the next month or so sashaying around saying to people — channelling Matt Lucas’s komic kreation, the charmless stage hypnotist Kenny Craig: “Look around my eyes, look around my eyes! Don’t look into my eyes — look around them!” And really, while an altogether eyeless face — its sockets filmed over by fleshy teguments — is an horrific lack-of-a-prospect, so long as we’ve been equipped with reasonably functioning eyes through which we can look around at this ooh-baby-it’s-a-wide-world, it would seem churlish to quibble too much about size or colour. This being noted, a teeny-tiny, piggy-dolly little eye is a disturbing thing — I always take my doll’s eyes out when I go out. Why? So it can’t read when I’m not there.

I’ve been driven into the arms of Armani, whose frames cost 300 shitters. Which takes me back in turn to my Ray-Ban years, when I was incapable of leaving the house without my hair slicked back and my Wayfarers on. Not, I fear, because I was a boy of summer, but because my eyes being on the sky side of blue it was always dead obvious which drugs I’d been taking, unless my pupils were properly concealed. Clean-living and bright-eyed Esquire readers will no doubt be unaware of this, but sedatives and opiates contract the pupils, while stimulants and hallucinogens hugely expand them; in junky argot, someone who’s egregiously stoned is termed “pinned”, an allusion to their pinprick pupils. I must’ve worn sunglasses — day and night, summer and winter — for over a decade, and when the requirement for them finally quit the stage of my face, I gloried in the liberation: in truth, sunglasses are no necessity for anyone much — did not The Divine Watchmaker calibrate us all to cope with sunlight? (And while we’re on the subject, it was specifically the wonderful intricacy of the human eye, and its fitness for purpose, that inspired William Paley, an early 19th-century clergyman,

A little maquillage can go a long way in the eye region: a fully made-up eye is a wonderful and warlike thing, fit to be painted on the prow of a Grecian galley, but for the most part men eschew such fripperies


Watch Survey 2016

Win £5,000 to spend on a watch of your choice from The Watch Gallery



Style / Travel

King of the mountain: French Olympic ski champion Jean-Claude Killy on the set of the film Snow Job (1972)

ON THE PISTE Getty / Alain Dejean

Welcome to Esquire’s seven-page winter sports extravaganza. Don’t leave your chalet without it


Bored with Europe? Head east to the Kiroro ski resort. With an average snowfall of 21m, it really is a powder mecca and the tree runs are out of this world. Plus, no one will judge you for that après-ski karaoke, either.


Style / Travel

Ï If Carlsberg did ski resorts, its creation might look a lot like Zermatt.



The picture-perfect Swiss resort is almost stupidly idyllic, from its car-free (except for the odd electric cab and bus) cobbled streets lined with charming old chalets to the outstanding high-altitude skiing across 220 miles of marked runs as well as excellent off-piste, all benefiting from near guaranteed snow from November to April (oh, and its glacier means skiing throughout spring and summer). There are 100-plus restaurants — from Michelin-starred marvels to the poshest-ever Maccie Ds — all in the shadow of the Matterhorn (4,478m), the most iconic mountain in the Alps. Tom Barber is a founder of the award-winning travel company

The 1818 Eat & Drink, adjacent to the Hotel Monte Rosa, blends the traditional and modern so expect exceptional sushi and tagliata bavette steak grilled over charcoal. 1818zermatt. ch;

Harry’s Ski Bar is the most buzzing bar in town. Lederhosen-clad staff and skiers straight off the ski bus come as standard. If it’s packed inside, sit outside and order from the patio bar. Great fun.

STAY Perched on a rock platform overlooking the town, guests at The Omnia arrive via a shuttle along a tunnel and then by lift. Once inside, appreciate the modernist take on traditional Swiss ski chalets with huge glass windows, open fires, indoor/ outdoor pool, a cosy Cavern bar and an excellent restaurant.

LUNCH Chez Vrony is the famous mountain restaurant, but close-by Findlerhof is a real gem. The views are nearly as excellent as the food and service from owners Franz and Heidi (yep). Try braised lamb with whatever wine Franz recommends.;


Zermatt Slope off to the Swiss winter resort for skiing, drinking and dancing beneath the Matterhorn

Frozen assets Save hair, hands and skin from dry winter weather — here’s what to take away Fun as it may be, a week on the slopes takes its toll. Intense sun and wind leaves skin scorched, while the moisture-barren air plays havoc with hands and hair. Our advice? Invest in an arsenal of cold weather combatants. That way you can focus on the task in hand: getting to the bar before they run out of glühwein.


DRY HANDS Eight Hour Cream Intensive Moisturising Hand Treatment by Elizabeth Arden Apply this fast-absorbing cream twice a day to keep rough, weather-exposed hands soft and smooth. £26/75ml,

DEHYDRATED HAIR Nourishing Living Enzyme Infusion by Davines Snowfall means less moisture in the air, and less moisture means dry hair. This antioxidant-rich enzyme infusion will bring life to locks. £17/100ml,

CHAPPED LIPS Nourishing Lip Balm by Diptyque Dry, centrally-heated hotels and gusty mountain tops are sure to give you chapped lips. Yet with a non-greasy finish, this balm will both moisturise and protect your kisser. £16/15ml,

Style / Travel

Get there: BA, Swiss and easyJet fly to Geneva; and then go by train or taxi for about three hours.





Warm up with a “Swiss Mojito” in the Papa Caesar lounge bar before heading down to the vaulted brick cellar of Broken Bar for dancing on huge winebarrel tables to Eighties Europop.

Gear up at Bayard Sports & Fashion on the main drag, Bahnhofstrasse. It stocks the latest hi-tech clobber from dozens of mountain sports specialist brands, so you’re sure to look the part.

The Matterhorn Museum — Zermatlantis for a history of the town and attempts to conquer the mountain. Nearby, the mountaineers’ cemetery is the final resting place of some 50 climbers.

Arrive in Zermatt the hard core way via The Haute Route. Starting in the shadow of the Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France, the 200km trek takes a week, staying in mountain huts and refuges each night.

WHEN IN…. Appreciate the panoramic views. Zermatt is bounded by 38 4,000m-plus peaks with countless viewing points. The best is from the top of Europe’s highest cable car to the summit of the Theodul Glacier. From it, see the highest peaks in Italy (Gran Paradiso), France (Mont Blanc) and Switzerland (Monte Rosa).

WHY NOW? Conditions in Zermatt are generally more reliable than most so you can go early in the season, though some ski areas don’t open until late January. April sees the Zermatt Unplugged music festival with acoustic sets from artists in town and on mountain stages.

llustration by Janne Ivonnen | Getty | Hearst Studios


SUNBURN Piz Buin Glacier Cream Specially-designed for high altitude sun exposure, this SPF 30 cream is the perfect thing to keep those goggle marks at bay, and better yet, its water-free formula creates a wind and cold barrier on your skin. £11/40ml,

ACHING LIMBS In Transit Muscle Therapy by This Works Soothe those limbs with This Works’ rollerball muscle reliever. Its mix of pain-banishing ingredients (clove, marjoram and black pepper) will help tight muscles relax and recover. £18/50ml,

PALLID SKIN Face Finishing Moisturiser Tint by Perricone MD This deeply-hydrating, antioxidant rich moisturiser steadily reveals a warm tint that will adjust to your skin tone. £60/59ml,

Once you’ve packed up your cold weather gear — the countless layers, those extra boots for après, the skis themselves — the trundle to the airport is the last thing you want to do. So why not upgrade to first class? Avoid the queues (and poking anyone’s eye out with your skis), and take advantage of the new First Wing at Heathrow Terminal 5. From April 2017, first class passengers, along with Gold Executive Club customers and Oneworld Emerald members, will have a designated check-in zone leading to two exclusive new security lanes to save time and hassle. From there, the haven of the Galleries First Lounge

and the Concorde Room await, so you can arrive at your destination feeling as fresh as the mountain air itself. And if you’re not one of the chosen few, this new slipstream means that the rest of the terminal will be free of all those first class passengers, cluttering everything up. Win-win. Further info at; bookings 0844 493 0787


Style / Fitness


Ski’s the limit

Perform each of the following dynamic stretches for 60secs

Lying Russian twists

Harry Jameson makes ‘it’s all downhill from here’ into a good thing

This one is great for mobilising the obliques and lower back. Lying flat on your back with arms stretched out, lift your legs up and rotate your feet from side to side, keeping your shoulders flat on the floor. If this proves too tough, bend your knees.

Ï When it comes to ski holidays, there are two groups of people: the keenos and the layabouts. Those in the former camp are first-lift-devotees that rise at 6am every day and ski until the sun sets, caring little for rest or relaxation. The layabouts, on the other hand, like to take their time, hitting the slopes just before lunch and cruising a couple of blue runs before retreating to a raclette lodge until the après bars open. Regardless of leaning, however, snow sports can take a serious toll on your body, which is why you need to ready it accordingly. Here, Esquire PT Harry Jameson offers his guide to pre- and post-ski exercises that will make that familiar day two pain a thing of the past.

Adductor mobility

The pigeon

Get the lower body flexible by positioning your feet wider than shoulder width apart. Then slowly shift your weight from side to side, bending one knee and making sure the opposing leg remains straight.

This yoga move will loosen the hip flexors and glutes. While sitting down on the floor, curl your right knee out in front of you before folding the foot under your body. Then stretch your left leg back as far as you can reach and hold it there, before repeating on the other side.

Hip flexor stretch and ab crunch Shoulder mobility Lying on your back with both legs out straight, do a sit-up while pulling your right knee into your chest. Then repeat this action with the left knee and continue alternating sides for the full minute.

The simplest move is often the most effective. A minute of circling outstretched arms in each direction will get the blood pumping and upper-body muscles loose.


Stretches are probably the last thing you want to do when you hang up your skis for the day, so perform the cool-down before you’ve even finished skiing. On your last run, take it slow and incorporate as many turns as possible. The aim is to reduce your heart rate while keeping the muscles mobile — much like a jog around the pitch following a football match. Stopping immediately will only cause cramp.

Illustrations by Janne Iivonen


APRÈS SKI Yes, we know that Africa isn’t known for its skiing, but just hear us out. Located 45 miles south of Marrakech, Oukaïmeden is the highest-located ski resort in Africa — with its chairlift rising to a height of 3,258m. And if that doesn’t peak your interest, then surely the whole weirdness of skiing in Africa will.

The mountain range Winter sports kit worth packing as recommended by the pros who know snow best


SKIING Clockwise from above: Ski boots: Lange XT 130 Freetour “An easy-to-use hike mode, generous cuff articulation and grippy soles mean it hikes like a dream, while the stiff 130 flex means it powers through the gnarliest terrain.” Nicolas Iseard, editor of Fall-Line Magazine; £500, Helmet: Salomon Ranger 2 C Air “It uses Salomon’s custom air fit system, which pumps air into the liner, resulting in a comfortable and secure fit. The super-strong shell is combined with a new skin liner that manages moisture and is removable and washable.” Nicola Iseard; £100, Gloves: Nevica Vail “I like a lightweight glove, such as this, that I can use when I’m skiing down a course with a camera.” Graham Bell, five-time Olympian and presenter of Ski Sunday; £65, Skis: Atomic Vantage 90 CTi “The best all-round skis on the market that perform equally well in powder and icy pistes.” Graham Bell; £475 (without bindings),

Base layer: Arc’teryx AR Satoro Zip Neck “Blends the natural temperature-controlling, odourpreventing properties of merino wool with nylon for extra durability, and the sleeves are gusseted for greater freedom of movement.” Nicola Iseard; £100, Goggles: SunGod Revolts “A classy, frameless goggle with double padding to protect and fit the face as well as possible. It has fantastic peripheral vision without the ‘whole face take-over’ or ‘bug eyes’ look!” James Woods, Team GB freestyle skier; £95, Ski pants: Planks Yeti Hunter “Tailored for backcountry missions and powder laps with good storage, adjustability and durability tech that will keep even the most discerning rider happy.” Tobias Andersson, snow sports buyer at Surfdome; £190, Jacket: Moncler Grenoble High Performance A better looking jacket is hard to find, but this piece backs up its looks with serious performance. It has heat-welded 120g down lining, windproof waist and wrist gaiters and even a Recco avalanche rescue transmitter in the sleeve should you ever find yourself stranded on the slopes. £1,360,

Style / Equipment

SNOWBOARDING Clockwise from above: Base layer: Peak Performance thermal T-shirt “The perfect blend of merino wool, elastane and thermocool to keep you at the optimum temperature all day while wicking away any sweat when the ride gets demanding.” Tobias Andersson; £47, Goggles: Electric EG2 “Comfortable and offers a good field of vision.” Billy Morgan, Team GB freestyle snowboarder; £140, Boots: Salomon Launch “The best boots that fit, with the right level of softness and stiffness combined, and the lace-up system is very good.” Billy Morgan; £180, Jacket: Volcom TD2 “It’s important my gear will perform in all types of weather. I need it to be waterproof yet breathable, lightweight and have stretch — allowing free flowing movement. The TD2 jacket does all these things.” Bryan Iguchi, freestyle snowboarder; £430,

Photographs by Jody Todd

Pants: Patagonia Reconnaissance In lightweight, waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex, you’ll be hard pressed to find a tougher pair of pants on the mountain (or anywhere else). £260, Board: Ride Burnout 155 “It has the right stiffness for my style of riding. Holds its edge well and has great pop.” Billy Morgan; £420, Helmet: Oakley Mod 5 “A highly technical helmet with hybrid shell construction and modular brim system for the highest level of performance and perfect goggle fit.” Tobias Andersson; £160, Gloves: Transform Mittens “Will keep your hands brilliantly warm…” Billy Morgan; £66,


Style / Cars

All-weather friend Navigate those perilous mountain passes in a bulked-up, go-anywhere, Swedish off-road wagon Ï There are few better road trips than the one that takes you from the office to the Alps for a weekend of drinking, eating and, occasionally, skiing. That is until you remember the last time you did it was in your mate’s 10-year-old hatchback and

you had a pair of ski boots as a pillow. If now is the time to upgrade that big international drive, then Volvo’s latest V90 D5 Cross Country is a strong contender for this winter’s wheels of choice. Part estate car for maximum kit storage, part long-distance

cruiser for eating up those endless French motorways, and it’s a genuine off-roader, too, with 60mm of adjustable extra ride height for when things turn rocky, muddy or most likely, snowy. And if anyone knows snow, it’s probably the Swedes, right?

VOLVO V90 D5 CROSS COUNTRY Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder PowerPulse Diesel 0–62mph 7.5 secs

Top speed 149mph

Power 235bhp

Economy 53mpg (combined)

Price From £43,585


All skied out? Try these three different snow activities

Ice climbing Alpe d’Huez, France

Snowboxx Festival Avoriaz, France

Ski jumping Wörgl, Austria

If black runs have lost their lustre, test yourself anew by scaling one of the ice waterfalls at Oz en Oisans, Alpe d’Huez. It’s seriously tough and fairly dangerous, but isn’t that the point?

When the boozy thrills of après ski fade, hit Avoriaz for late season skiing and late night partying. The electroheavy lineup includes Basement Jaxx, High Contrast and Bicep. 18–25 March,

If you have Winter Olympics envy, see just how brave you are at Kitzbüheler Alpen resort. In Wörgl, hurtle down a series of ski jumps — the highest topping out at 37m. Happy landings...


The real benefit of skiing at Montana’s Big Sky is its quiet, deserted slopes. This is thanks to the resort boasting enough space for up to two acres per skier.


Style / Food


Lucky New Year Start 2017 sunny side up with an Italian festive favourite, says Russell Norman. Auguri di buon anno!

Ï Every year, the coming of Christmas is heralded earlier and earlier. In 2016, the window display at Selfridges on Oxford Street, for example, was unveiled just over a week before Halloween, making it the earliest festive window dressing in the world. Likewise, the chorus of whingers complaining about it gets earlier each year, too. Personally, I love them. (The displays, that is, not the whingers.)


Winter is such a tough season to get through. The nights are long, the days are short and the weather sucks. I normally succumb to full-blown Seasonal Adjustment Disorder meltdown by mid-November, so anything to lift the spirits and bring cheer is welcome in my book. Christmas definitely fits the bill. And as someone preoccupied with food, the pinnacle of the season is the roast served on 25 December.

Panning out well: Russell Norman carefully transfers soft-fried egg onto lentils and sourdough bread

But in the UK, that’s pretty much all we’ve got. We don’t do feasts and festivals like the Italians or Spanish. There’s an excuse for a piss-up and a belt-busting bunfight at every turn in the Mediterranean. In Italy, there are more than 20 saints’ feast days, as well as Epiphany, Carnevale, Women’s Day, La Sensa (aka Venice’s marriage to the sea), May Day, Rome’s birthday, the Wedding of the Trees and Assumption Day. There’s even a feast

Photographs by Chris Leah

Style / Food

Brits are more likely to don a hair shirt and eat Twiglets than a funny hat and roast a pig to celebrate a frog race — the palio della rana. In Britain, we have Christmas dinner. And Pancake Day. That’s it. One of the reasons we are so rubbish at feasts is that, traditionally, we’re miserable Protestants. We don’t possess the Latin exuberance that goes hand-in-hand with Catholicism, communion, carousing and merrymaking. We Brits are much more likely to put on a hair shirt and eat Twiglets than put on a funny hat and roast a pig. In fact, apart from the turkey thing in December and the batter thing in February, we don’t really do feasts. Even at Easter, when most of Europe and South America celebrates big time, we eat chocolate eggs and hot cross buns. (Incidentally, it has always struck me as somewhat odd that we commemorate the rebirth of Jesus Christ with a toasted bun depicting a Roman method of torture and execution. Curious.) The notable exception is the liquid feast that occurs on 31 December. Yes, New Year’s Eve, a celebration with the principal culinary constituents of four Harvey Wallbangers, three pints of lager, a flagon of wine, two large brandies and a bottle of Champagne around midnight. Each. I stopped trying to keep up on Hogmanay years ago and now tend to hit the sack before Big Ben bongs, but I do enjoy a little celebration on New Year’s Day. The best thing for this, I find, is a glass of fizz and the traditional Italian preparation of lentils. They are supposed to bring good luck and money for the 12 months ahead. So, this year, my advice is to take it easy the night before, and reinstate 1 January (the feast of Capodanno in Italy) as the day we partaaay. With lentils. On toast. And an egg. Happy New Year! Russell Norman is the founder of Polpo and Spuntino; Instagram: russell_norman;

Lentil and leek bruschetta with softfried egg Serves 4 • 50g butter • 2 large leeks, trimmed, washed and very thinly sliced • 200ml red wine • 300g dried lentils • 500ml hot water • Red wine vinegar • Extra virgin olive oil • 4 very large, freerange eggs • 4 good, thick slices of sourdough bread • Flaky sea salt • Ground black pepper

On 1 January in Italy, eating lentils is a tradition to bring luck and prosperity as they resemble tiny coins

Method 1 In a large frying pan, melt the butter over a medium heat and sauté the leeks until soft and translucent (about 4mins). Add a few pinches of salt. Increase the heat a little, add the wine and simmer for about 8mins until most of it has bubbled away.

2 Add the lentils to the pan and coat them thoroughly with the leeks and reduced wine. Pour in the hot water, cover, reduce the heat to low/ medium, and allow to simmer for about 15–20mins until the water is absorbed. Take off the heat, add a splash of vinegar, a good glug of olive oil, stir lightly, cover again and set aside.

3 Heat a couple of glugs of olive oil in separate large, clean, non-stick frying pans over a medium heat. Carefully crack the eggs into the pans and fry until the whites are firm but the yolks are still shiny and runny. You may need to do this in batches.

4 Toast the four slices of sourdough before placing on four separate plates. Divide the lentil mix equally onto each slice, and gently transfer the eggs from the pan to sit on top of the mounds of lentils. Finish with a pinch of salt and a twist of black pepper.


Style / Watches

ESQUIRE APPROVES Stainless steel Autavia Mark 3 ‘Rindt’ chronograph on black leather strap, £4,000, by Tag Heuer


First on the podium A public vote resurrects the revered Autavia motor racing watch after 50 years

Set design: Sarah McNabb

Ï Tag Heuer’s latest all-consuming

marketing push has seen it claim Cara Delevingne, David Guetta, the Premier League and many other next-generation favourites besides as willing vessels for the brand. In the spirit of inclusiveness, it wants the general public to come along for the ride, too. Earlier this year, the Swiss watch giant launched the Autavia Cup, an online public vote to decide which of the brand’s archive Autavia watches should become the inspiration for a (long-overdue) revival model. The format was simple — a series of knockout rounds in which two historic

Photograph by Caroline Leeming

Autavia designs were put head-to-head until only one remained. The winner? The 1966 Ref 2446 Mk3, known as the “Rindt” Autavia, after Austrian Formula 1 driver Jochen Rindt, who was killed in practice before the 1970 Italian Grand Prix. He’s still the only man to win the F1 world championship posthumously. It’s not beyond the public to get such things horribly wrong, but the 50,000 voters played their hand well. The Rindt has many virtues of classic Sixties steel sports watches: the so-called “Panda dial”, the three-six-nine chronograph subdial layout, baton hour markers,

a slimline black bezel with Arabic numerals, and the tapered, almost sharp lugs completing a functional, retro look. With the re-edition, Tag’s designers have been pretty faithful to the original. Tweaks include a case enlarged to 42mm, a slightly wider bezel, adding a date at six o’clock, and a significantly upgraded chronograph movement — one of its new in-house calibres. Officially, this Autavia isn’t due out until spring’s Baselworld watch show, but it’s fair to say Tag Heuer has gone early with what already looks like one of the best watches of 2017.


Style / Fashion

London to Sydney when I stopped over in Singapore for an hour. As I hurried past the duty-free stores in search of a pharmacy — I needed Nurofen, but unhelpfully, all that seemed to be on offer were ostrich leather wallets and giant Toblerones — I caught my reflection. It wasn’t pretty. My face and hair appeared vaguely human (then again I wasn’t wearing my glasses), but it was my outfit that caught my eye. I was dressed like a chav: baggy navy track pants with white stripes across one leg, white T-shirt, grey marl sweatshirt and sneakers. The fact each item carried a big-brand label — Thom Browne, Orlebar Brown, Alexander Wang, Tom Ford (I know, but I get a clothes allowance for my job) — obviously didn’t make a jot of difference. The outfit may have been expensive, but I looked as if I’d be more at home in a branch of Gregg’s rather than a BA business lounge. Then there was my suitcase. I have an exquisite navy Globe-Trotter, with a chic blue palm print lining by House of Hackney, but here I was pushing a Bugaboo Boxer. Yes, the pushchair manufacturer has turned its hand to luggage. The Boxer is a set of cases that clip together, with an integrated trolley and sliding handle, so you push rather than pull your baggage — as with a pushchair. It’s efficient, easy and clearly much better for your back. It’s also relatively new and I got stopped a few times en route and asked about it. “Where’s it from?” asked guys in the customs queue. “It’s, er, by, er… Bugaboo,” I replied in my best deep voice. But Bugaboo is not a manly name; the word Bugaboo, even with Boxer attached, rather undermined my chav look. I’m telling you about this because over the last few years, I’ve belatedly come to realise that long-haul travel is not about being chic, it’s solely about being comfortable. I’m sure you’ve been told loads of times by people such as myself you only need to wear a lightweight navy blazer, Japanese denim, a sea-island cotton crew neck, driving shoes, with a crisp white shirt wrapped in tissue in your hand luggage, to see you from check-in, via transit lounge, to business meeting. Bollocks. You need something with a drawstring waist, in a dark colour to hide food spills, a top that will allow you to stretch, sweat and slide in and



Jeremy Langmead Take these travel tips on board for a more relaxed approach

out without elbowing the person in the adjoining seat, and thick knitted socks as your feet will always feel cold as they peep out of the tiny night-time blanket. And as cool as those ribbed aluminium suitcases you frequently spot on the carousel look, they weigh a ton; you’ve hit excess baggage after only packing a toothbrush and a pair of socks. My travelling companion on this trip, Ashlyn, was also head-to-toe in sweats even though she’s smaller, much younger and more elegant than me. She, too, had realised that in order to survive the 44 hours of flights (London–Sydney–Hong Kong–London) we’d be taking over five days, we needed uninhibited

Come fly with me: air travel fashion has loosened up since Frank’s day

comfort. I had drawn the line at diapers, to save climbing over the next seat to reach the bathroom during the night, but only just. We looked a little like the titular characters from Kevin & Perry Go Large. Nice. The American designers are the best for long-haul style; after all, they had a head start with sportswear, and have a wider customer base for elasticated waists (although that seems to be changing). European designers are traditionally better at more structured clothing: we like to put things away, the Americans like to let things hang out; just look at the Kardashians. The aforementioned T by Alexander Wang, Thom Browne, as well as John Elliott, are three of my favourite labels for flight gear, as is the Swedish brand Acne and an Australian label called Jac+ Jack. I must, as an adjunct, mention the strange design of BA’s Club World seats. I know I was lucky to have sat in one, but the two seats near the windows were angled so you were sat opposite each other. When meals were served, it was like a bad date with the two of us facing one another and eating in silence. There was a divider that slid up and down, but ours didn’t work… I kept pulling it up, but it kept falling back down again; it looked as if I was playing peek-a-boo with the poor lady as her face continuously disappeared for a second and then quickly re-appeared again. Peek-aboos, Bugaboos, kangaroos, it was all about the oos for me on this trip.


Ï I was recently on a flight from

Style / Fashion

Marching orders

Brown suede-leather Westmore boots, £145, by Timberland

Give flimsy footwear the cold shoulder — it’s time to get these boots on the ground

Brown antique leather brogue ankle boots, £550, by Tod’s

Brown oiled calfskin leather “rubber touch” mountain boots, £710, by JM Weston


Style / Fashion

Black grained leather Bayswater ankle boots, £495, by Belstaff

Brown/green/grey leather-suedenylon boots, £395, by Moncler

Black grained leather 1460 eight-eye boots, £225, by Dr Martens

Ï There’s nothing more satisfying than

pulling on a pair of super-comfortable, ankle-encasing boots when the freezing temperatures take hold. This winter, opt for a pair of hefty stompers with thick commando soles, plenty of support around the ankle as well as padding to keep toes warm and feet dry. Wear the boots with cropped jeans (may we suggest Louis Vuitton) or slim tapered wool trousers for a slightly smarter look. Don’t forget some cashmere socks and you’re ready for action.

Photograph by Regan/Grey


Style / List


Dominic West The star of The Wire and The Affair on Fifties kitchen gear, Seventies cars and the importance of taking a decent drink to the South Pole Food and drink Wine: Now you’re talking. Meursault in the summer; Pauillac from Bordeaux in the winter, ideally a 2010. Spirit: I took Sipsmith’s amazing damson vodka and gin to the South Pole, which kept us going. Beer: Bath Ales. Dish: Iced berries and hot white chocolate. Restaurant: Fish & Game, Hudson, New York. Bar: O’Shaughnessy’s pub, Glin, County Limerick, Ireland. Club: The Park Club, East Acton, London — it has an outdoor pool.

People Style icon: Edward VIII. Artist: Ivon Hitchens. Musicians: Tom Waits and Willie Nelson. Writers: David Simon and Roger Deakin.

Technology Phone: iPhone. Camera: Hasselblad. Car: I love a Rover P6, the Ford Capri, and anything by British Leyland. Motorcycle: Triumph Bonneville.





Hometown: Sheffield. Destination: New Orleans. Hotel: Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Midleton, County Cork, Ireland. Shop: Robert Dyas or Heywood Hill bookshop, Mayfair, London.

Jeans: Gap. Shoes: Trickers, of course. Trainers: Don’t wear them. Suit: Burberry, naturally. The same goes for scarves and tuxedos. Shirts: Charvet. Fragrance: West Indian Extract of Limes cologne by Geo F Trumper.

Dominic West stars in Burberry’s Christmas campaign, The Tale of Thomas Burberry


Watch: Tiffany & Co chronograph. Pen: Sheaffer fountain pen. Knife: Anything from Sheffield. Luggage: I’ve got a really nice old Gucci suitcase from the Seventies. App: Night Sky. Website: Wikipedia. Gadget: My wife’s granny had a Fifties lemon juicer, but it’s broken and I can’t get a replacement.

Drinks Survey 2016

Build your wine collection



worth of wine from Berry Bros & Rudd ENTER THE SURVEY AT


Style / Food

Hot hot heat No more tasteless tikkas or boring bhunas — the capital’s hippest South Asian restaurants are taking spice in new directions. We’ve chosen six of the best and the dish to order from each

1 | Tandoor Chop House

Tandoor Chop House photograph: Kate Berry

Amritsari lamb chops, £13 Marinated with Kashmiri chillies, tomato, garlic, cinnamon and ginger (and more), the chops are charred to perfection in the tandoor and are as good as you’ll find  on the subcontinent. 8 Adelaide St, Covent Garden, London WC2N;

2 | Hoppers

3 | Kricket

4 | Gunpowder

5 | Calcutta Street

6 | Gymkhana

Black pork kari, £6 The best of the six karis (curries) on the menu here , “black” refers to the spice combination used, rather than the breed of pork. 49 Frith St, London W1D;

Bhel puri, £4.50 Besides the incredible sausage roll, the bhel puri — a kind of posh bombay mix — might just be the best thing on the menu. 49 Brixton Station Rd, London SW9;

Aloo chat, £5.50 With its moreish mix of fried potatoes, onions and chickpeas with garam masala, yoghurt and tamarind, there’s no better way to start a meal. 11 White's Row, London E1;

Laal saag, £6.50 A red spinach dish to please those who prefer their Indian food lighter and a little more unorthodox than the average chicken tikka masala. 29 Tottenham St, London W1T;

Lasooni wild tiger prawns, red pepper chutney, £18 Fired in the tandoor and slathered in a piquant house chutney, they’re the best prawns you’ll eat in London, Indian or otherwise. 42 Albemarle St, London W1S;


Style / Fashion

Animal attraction Beasts of the Serengeti meet the Chapman brothers at LV

Top: Kim Jones. Right: Damier Ebène Savane canvas-leather Amazone accessories: lion pouch, £450; rhinoceros bag, £1,340; zebra bag, £1,160

The Amazone bags Kim Jones: “Associating the African wild animals of the Chapman brothers with the iconic Damier Ebène canvas was completely obvious. It injects such a cool adventure spirit into this classic Louis Vuitton signature.”

Louis Vuitton, is famous for his richly referenced collections and his spring/ summer 2017 offering makes no exception. Featuring Masai-inspired patterns, jumpers influenced by the colourings on springboks, and accessories crafted from crocodile


and ostrich skins, the new collection is inspired by his childhood in Africa. To celebrate, Louis Vuitton this month opens a pop-up store in Selfridges showcasing an exclusive preview of the new collection, including many pieces produced in collaboration with Brit artists Jake and Dinos Chapman.

The Savane ‘Big Five’ charms necklace

The Chapman brothers shirts

“I wear charms and medals every day, each of them reminding me of travel, or just a nice souvenir.”

“How cool are these short-sleeved shirts revisited by my friends, the great Chapman brothers!”

Brass-palladium elephant necklace with gold and bronze finish, £320

Navy cotton giraffe print T-shirt with collar, £580; blue elephant print, £580

For denim-heads, the store within a store will host a unique denim bar where two exclusive styles of jeans, each with a limited run, will be available alongside the brand’s entire new denim line. Below, Jones exclusively picks his favourite pieces on sale in the new shop.

The plaid shirt

The peacoat

The Chapman stole

“Probably my favourite piece, I have been wearing the prototype of this great bleached plaid cotton shirt for months.”

“Classic, timeless and chic, the peacoat is definitely a staple in any wardrobe. You can never go wrong with a well-cut example.”

“The Louis Vuitton stoles are perfectly sized, very light and the cashmere blend brings softness and keeps you warm.”

Bleached plaid cotton shirt, £560

Navy wool knit panelled peacoat, £2,230

Navy cashmere-silk stole, £530

Hearst Studios | Brett Lloyd

Ï Kim Jones, creative director at

Style / Drinks

American classics To toast its 40-year reign over London’s Theatreland, legendary US restaurant Joe Allen shares the recipes to its three most popular cocktails

Margarita Ingredients • 37.5ml Jose Cuervo silver tequila • 25ml Triple Sec • 25ml fresh lime juice • Generous dash of egg white

Manhattan Ingredients • 12.5ml Martini Rosso • 12.5ml Martini Dry • 50ml Canadian Club whisky • Three dashes Angostura bitters

Method Salt the rim of a coupe glass. Pour the ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake well. Doublestrain into the coupe and garnish with a slice of lime.

Method Put all the ingredients into a shaker, add ice and stir. Garnish with a twist of lemon and a cherry.

Old Fashioned Ingredients • 50ml Buffalo Trace bourbon • 2 dashes Angostura bitters • 12.5ml brown sugar syrup Method Add the sugar syrup and bitters to an Old Fashioned (rocks) glass, stirring continuously, then add the bourbon bit by bit. Gradually top with ice cubes and garnish with a slice of orange and a cherry.

Ï A bijoux slice of Americana in London’s Covent Garden, Joe Allen has been a haunt


Words by Rachel Fellows

of theatregoers and stage stars (plus a fair number of Esquire staffers) over the five decades since its opening. Remaining essentially unchanged since 1977 as a sister site to the off-Times Square original, the subterranean brasserie is the capital’s go-to destination for proper American fare — simple, quality and delicious. And how else to preface those famous spicy ribs, the “secret” burgers or the best Caesar salad in town than with an all-American cocktail: no frills, no messing. Above, head barman Stewart Moss reveals the secrets to mixing its top three boozy belters. 13 Exeter Street, London WC2E;

Photograph by Kate Berry

Style / Health


Mind your head Our health guru suggests four ways to clear your mind and benefit your body

Ï Come the new year, many of us will feel compelled to make quick-fix self-improvement resolutions: dry January, a juice cleanse or punishing gym work. One of the most invigorating and rewarding permanent lifestyle changes you can make is to focus on self care. If you work, play and


Illustrations by Jan Buchczik

Canyon Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

THE TREATMENT 111Cryo at Harvey Nichols, London

train hard then you are probably running on empty, which can affect work performance, gym results and achieving life goals. If you want a productive 2017, take time to reflect, switch off and recalibrate your mind. Here are some excellent ways to be calmer and healthier.

Need to recharge and recalibrate? Then this is the retreat for you. Founded in 1979 by Mel Zuckerman, the formerly overweight, stressed businessman was inspired to open Canyon Ranch after experiencing a lifestyle epiphany while on a Californian health break. Set in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona, you can complete hikes, bike rides and runs set against the backdrop of the Santa Catalina Mountains. The retreat caters for all with an optional daily programme of meditative classes, yoga, pilates and lectures plus a high-spec gym, PT sessions, HIIT classes and health assessments. There is also a medical and life coaching centre, nutritionists and four swimming pools. A week here and you’ll feel like a new man. Better still, Canyon Ranch has opened a resort in Kaplankaya on Turkey’s Aegean coast for something a little closer to home.

Whole Body Cryotherapy Treatment (WBCT) exposes the body to temperatures between –80 and –90°C using Nasa technology. A recent study by the Wroclaw Medical University in Poland found WBCT significantly alleviated symptoms of depression and anxiety, and positively influenced frame of mind. £95 per session;

THE PODCAST Zestology by Tony Wrighton

Sky Sports presenter Tony Wrighton’s sideline in informative podcasts offers energy and motivation hacks easily applied to everyday life. Infused with wit and not overtly preachy, he features interviews with authorities in literature, sport, health and science; its appeal has made it a staple in the iTunes self-help chart. Free,

Hiking in the hills near Canyon Ranch. Above: one of the resort’s four swimming pools

THE CLASS Yin yoga at TriYoga/ Third Space

An alternative experience to the more widely-known hatha, vinyasa flow and ashtanga disciplines, yin yoga stretches are held for four minutes to promote mindfulness, deep stretching of muscles, connective tissues and joints. Practice weekly to relieve tension in mind and body, lower stress levels and reduce blood pressure.;


Style / Fashion

01 Distressed denim The AW ’16 catwalks were awash with raggedy, shredded jeans — a la The Ramones — and denim jackets. Team yours with sparkling white trainers and soft knitwear for a faultless off-duty look.

A guide to the new (old) denim This season there are six (six!) ways to wear your jeans. Don’t try them all at once

Blue distressed denim jacket, £45; pale pink cotton hooded top, £25; blue distressed denim jeans, £40; white leather-suede trainers, £65, all by Topman


Ï On the catwalks in London,

Milan, Paris and New York, casual is, all of a sudden, king. Where once hoodies, trackies and oversized jeans looked slovenly and silly, now brands such as Hood By Air, Off-White and Vetements have made dressing down in denim a thing again. To help you buy the right pair (or six), we’ve distilled the best jeans out there right now from distressed and selvedge, to black and bleached, with tips on how best to wear them.

Black distressed denim jeans, £205, by Frame

Photographs by Johanna Nyholm Fashion by Catherine Hayward

Pale blue distressed denim jeans, £225, by AG Jeans

Blue distressed selvedge denim jeans, £250, by The Workers Club



Style / Fashion

02 Selvedge denim Self-finished so the cloth edges don’t unravel, selvedge jeans will be the hardest working item in your wardrobe. Like Sean Connery, turn up the hems and wear with trainers or boots, weather depending.


Grey marled bomber jacket, £100, by M&S Autograph. Navy wool jumper, £40; indigo selvedge denim jeans, £60; white leather trainers, £40, all by M&S Collection

Indigo selvedge denim jeans, £125, by J Crew

Blue washed selvedge denim jeans, £165, by Hawksmill Denim Co

Indigo selvedge denim jeans, £245, by Richard James



Style / Fashion

03 Dress up a denim shirt Most menswear brands offer a denim or chambray shirt. Don’t be put off by the hokey cowboy stigma; wear under a slick suit in a complementary shade — with maybe a knitted tie if you’re feeling preppy — and you’ll soon be channelling Robert Redford.


Blue denim grandad-collar shirt, £45, by Wåven

Indigo denim shirt, £85, by Whistles

Grey checked wool suit, £90; indigo denim shacket, £50; black leather brogue boots, £65, all by Next

Light blue chambray shirt, £155, by Drake’s



Style / Fashion

04 White jeans in winter Contrary to popular belief, white denim works just as well in winter as summer, witness street style don Alessandro Squarzi, above: in fact, the opportunity to layer up makes it even easier. Match with chunky boots, a simple top layer and a contrasting coat.


Brown leather boots, £430, by Crockett & Jones

Cream cashmere roll-neck jumper, £1,395, by Ralph Lauren Purple Label

Camel wool double-breasted coat, £1,495, by Gieves & Hawkes


Khaki cotton shacket, £135; indigo denim shirt, £70; white denim jeans, £70; brown suede boots, £145, all by Timberland

Style / Fashion

Indigo denim jacket, £625; navy polypropylene ribbed sweater, £315; blue denim jersey cuffed trousers, £280; black leather trainers, £215, all by Stone Island


Black washed denim jacket, £350, by PS by Paul Smith

05 Double denim Keep the top and bottom entirely matching — just like Mr McQueen — or ever so slightly mismatching. Too much contrast will look like you don’t know what you’re doing. If in doubt, opt for indigo, which always looks chic.

Pale blue washed denim jacket, £55, by Gap 1969

Pale blue denim shearling-collared jacket, £100, by Levi’s



Subscribe to

Six issues for just

£9.99* ONLY £1.67 AN ISSUE

+ RECEIVE The Big Watch Book, worth £6 To subscribe, visit: or call 0844 322 1762 and quote offer code 1EQ11164 Terms and conditions: Offer valid for UK subscriptions by Direct Debit only. *After the first six months, your subscription will continue at £14.95 every six months by Direct Debit. Free gift is limited to the first 100 orders. If this gift becomes unavailable you will be offered an alternative gift of a similar value. All orders will be acknowledged and you will be advised of commencement issue within 14 days. This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other subscription offer and closes 6 February 2017. The minimum subscription term is six months. Esquire is published 10 times a year and the normal cost of annual subscription in print is £43.50 based on a basic cover price of £4.35. For UK subscription enquiries, please telephone +44 844 848 5203. For overseas subscription prices and enquiries, please telephone +44 1858 438 838, or visit For our data policy, please visit Lines are open weekdays 8am–9:30pm, Saturdays 8am–4pm. BT landline calls to 0844 numbers will cost no more than 5p per minute. Calls made from mobiles usually cost more.

Style / Fashion


Black polyester coat, £70; navy modacrylic jacket, £60; white cotton T-shirt, £15; black denim jeans, £30; black canvas sneakers, £30, all by H&M

Black denim A pair of black jeans is a wardrobe essential. Go for a slim cut with some stretch in the denim and team with plenty more black for sleek Gallic chic, as shown here by Kanye. Pops of white from a sneaker sole or T-shirt make the layers of black look even stronger.

Photographer’s assistant: Johanna Lundqvist | Fashion assistant: Emie James-Crook | Grooming: Verity Cumming using Sisley makeup | Model: Montell Martin @ Select Model Management


Black leather Chuck II high-top trainers, £95, by Converse

Black leather Newbridge shoes, £325, by Church’s

Black leather Chelsea boots, £520, by Tod’s


Esquire / Promotion

Keep in Touch Manage and maintain your active lifestyle with the Touch fitness tracker from TomTom Sports

On the go “Much of my work takes place in five-star hotels and I’m lucky to have some high-calibre clients, but this also means that I travel a lot. Despite this, I maintain a clean, high protein, low carb diet, while drinking at least three litres of water a day.” — Log how far you’ve travelled and how many steps you’ve taken with the MySports app


Clothes and bag by J Crew. Boots by Crockett & Jones

There are normal personal trainers, and then there’s Harry Jameson. Esquire’s PT in-residence is part of the entrepreneurial vanguard elevating the fitness, nutrition and wellbeing industry to impressive new heights. Alongside his client work, Harry runs a series of luxury fitness retreats around the world, is a consultant to some of London’s leading restaurants on their menus and works as an ambassador for several brands. Needless to say, he’s a busy man, which is why he uses the TomTom Touch fitness tracker. A packed schedule makes it harder to keep track of calories burned, steps taken, sleep quality and body composition, but the Touch worries about all of that, so Harry can just get on with his day. By wearing the sleek and understated Touch on his wrist — and paying attention to the MySports app — Harry can monitor all his fitness information. With the TomTom Touch so can you, because you’re a busy man, too, right?

Esquire / Promotion

Starting the day right “I’m up at 7am most days (or earlier if I have a client), so my ideal sleeping pattern is 11pm–7am. I also strive to complete some solid cardio at least three times a week — making an early start key.” — Keep on top of your sleeping pattern with the sleeptracking function on the TomTom Touch

Mixing things up “I run a global health and fitness business, with three retreats taking place at the One&Only Maldives resort in 2017, so in addition to my work with Esquire, my schedule is always varied.” — Stay in the loop with your call and message notifications sent straight to your wrist

Getting down to business

Clockwise from top left: clothes and trainers by Adidas | Jumper by Reiss | Jacket by Reiss. Polo shirt by John Smedley. Trousers by YMC | Jumper by Reiss. Jeans by Levi’s. Shoes by Axel Arigato

“I love working with clients one-to-one, but now I’m responsible for employing people and developing two businesses, the demands on my time have changed. I’ve had to adopt new strategies to ensure that my workload, personal life and training is well balanced.” — When times get tough, the Touch keeps track of all your stats so you don’t have to

Finally, some downtime “I’m a massive foodie, and wine is definitely my guilty pleasure, but these luxuries have to be part of a wider balanced diet plan, while training needs to combat this indulgence.” — If you’ve overdone it, monitor your body fat and muscle percentage over time to ensure you stay on track

Photographs by Neil Bedford


Style / News

Your month in menswear Tanning Russian leather, style from the Scottish isles, Chopard’s timely salute and homegrown quality cashmere

CP Company Shetland SL Collection An island fling for winter

/ CP Company has long been known for its dedication to finding new performance materials for its famous outerwear. The two coats in the Shetland SL capsule collection (a parka and an overcoat) are cut from a yarndyed wool bonded to a heavy duty Lycra, and the resulting cloth is tough and protective but soft. For the first time, CP Company has used bouclé wool yarn, giving the AW ’16 editions great texture and wintry heft.

Grey wool-Lycra parka, £625; overcoat, £675, both by CP Company

William & Son knits

Hearst Studios

Completely cashmere capsule

18k rose gold LUC GMT One watch on brown leather strap, £15,060, by Chopard

Harrods menswear SUN rises at department store

— William & Son recently bought the Scott & Charters knitwear factory in Hawick, Scotland, where the brand’s new cashmere pieces are made. Our favourites are the shawl-collar cardigans and crew-neck knits, but visit William & Son’s new Bruton Street W1 store and judge for yourself.

— Harrods’ new men’s “SUN” (socks, underwear and nightwear) department on the famous London store’s lower ground floor is the well dressed man’s one-stop shop for pants, pyjamas and more. Labels include Sunspel (Sea Island cotton boxers), Derek Rose (snappy silk pyjamas) and Falke (unassailable socks).

Beige cashmere shawl-collar cardigan, £400; blue, £580; grey crew-neck cashmere jumper, £335, all by William & Son

Pink; pink/white Sea Island cotton boxer shorts, £32 each, both by Sunspel. Navy silk pyjamas, £190, by Derek Rose. Yellow; blue; navy cotton socks, £20 each, all by Falke

Crockett & Jones leather

Chopard LUC GMT One

Russian Grain hide reappears

Marking time for 20 years



Prior to 1917, Russian leather was renowned for its strength and durability. But after the revolution, production stopped. The process was thought lost but 40 years ago a cargo of Russian leather was found in a shipwreck in the Atlantic. With the help of an archivist, English tanners were able to copy the leather and so Russian Grain was reborn. Crockett & Jones bought exclusive rights to this leather and now use it in two designs; the Radnor boot and the Peebles derby. We’re plumping for the shoe — just the thing for a Russian winter, even in Blighty.

The watchmaking industry respects its elders like no other. No surprise then that Chopard’s LUC collection — a range of chronometercertified watches made in-house — has been designed to celebrate the Chopard watches of old. The LUC movement was unveiled in 1996, so the GMT One, Chopard’s latest, marks the 20th anniversary. The first LUC watch to feature a dual time function, the GMT One is available in stainless steel and 18k rose gold.

Brown Russian Grain Peebles derby shoes, £560, by Crockett & Jones


Dan McAlister





Sea change: Alex R Hibbert in a scene from Moonlight, which shatters clichés about black masculinity

“The moment we ‘discover’ a favourite writer is like our experience of a cataclysmic event,” Francine Prose wrote about Roberto Bolaño. “We can remember precisely where we were and what we were doing when it occurred.” I predict that moviegoers will likewise recall where and how they first came upon Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight. From its opening seconds, when Boris Gardiner’s blaxploitation-era gem “Every Nigger is a Star” electrifies the bright

Florida sunlight, until the screen goes dark, the feeling is like that of first cracking the spine of Invisible Man or pressing play on A Love Supreme: a shocking, sustained encounter with the sublime. Moonlight is the story of one contemporary black life told in three parts. It follows a darkskinned boy named Chiron from his early childhood and adolescence in Miami to his early adulthood in Atlanta. His father is


absent, his mother’s life is rapidly dissolving into a cloud of crack smoke, and his own burgeoning homosexuality is sensed by the other kids in the neighborhood like blood in the water. While seeking refuge from a group of bullies in a deserted “trap house,” young Chiron is discovered by a drug dealer named Juan, who becomes concerned for his welfare. The relationship that develops between them shatters preconceptions of black



Miami vice: Mahershala Ali as drug dealer Juan with Alex R Hibbert (below) as Chiron in Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight

masculinity. Yet this is no glorification of the street. When he realises Chiron’s mother has just bought a vial of crack from one of his foot soldiers, Juan attempts to chide her, but she silences him with one of the many lines in this film that cut through the clichéd discourse about crime in the black community: “Don’t give me that ‘You gotta get it from somewhere’ shit, nigga,” she screams in his face, basking in her own degradation. “I’m getting it from you!” We are dealing with eternal philosophical questions of agency now, and this movie is nothing if not a meditation on the choices human beings in difficult situations will make, the ways we persevere and cope, or don’t. By the time we catch up with a grown, transformed Chiron, he has become a drug lord himself, a hulking presence like 50 Cent in Get Rich or Die Tryin’, with a mouth full of gold — a hardened menace to society whose

inner life we have, almost without realising it, become invested in, on a deeply human level and at the highest reaches of dramatic art. Whereas so much of the recent important and acclaimed serious black art — from 12 Years a Slave to Selma to Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad to Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation — is backwardlooking, Moonlight is feverishly alive to the here and now. Almost every frame could hang in a contemporary-art gallery. The soundtrack and the score are infused with Houston-style “chopping and screwing,” an effortless juxtaposition of high and low. Jenkins is a wizard with constraints. Despite a practically nonexistent budget of $13,000, his first film, Medicine for Melancholy (2008), got attention from the likes of Steven Soderbergh and Plan B Entertainment, which co-produced Moonlight (burnishing Brad Pitt’s reputation

Moonlight is feverishly alive to the here and now. Almost every frame could hang in a contemporary-art gallery


as the “wokest” white man in Hollywood). “From a production standpoint, [Moonlight] is not a big-budget film, so we thought, ‘Shit, we can’t go too deep into the past!’” Jenkins said, laughing, in a recent conversation via Skype. “The really important thing is where [the story] ends up.” Adapted from Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, the film came about serendipitously. A mutual friend passed McCraney’s story on to Jenkins, who wrote the script in a 10-day “fever dream”. “There is something happening in the world right now,” he told me, that “contributes to black men just creating these exteriors, building these walls, fortifying themselves in anticipation of the world just bringing all this shit on them. I wanted to build a character that retracts. We assume someone with a mouth full of gold fronts has no vulnerability. But in his eyes — windows to the soul — we see just raging vulnerability.” The reason Moonlight manages to feel so organic, Jenkins ventured, is that it was wrought from real life. “The whole story originates in Tarell’s relationship with a drug dealer like the one [Mahershala] Ali plays, a guy who took him under his wing and took care of him. Tarell and I grew up, like, three blocks from each other in the same neighbourhood, Liberty City, which I would describe as the Compton of Miami. We went to the same elementary school, same middle school, but didn’t know each other. We were born a year apart, and both of our mothers struggled with crack cocaine. There’s no scene with the mom that didn’t happen to either me or Tarell.” McCraney is gay, while Jenkins is straight. Their mutual achievement is making the subject of homosexuality, like that of race, feel true on a granular level and almost entirely beside the point. In this era of identity politics and #oscarssowhite, Moonlight is neither a black film nor a gay film. “We’re not reaching for this great statement about [race or] sexuality,” Jenkins said. “What we’re reaching for is a portrait of people who are just trying to get through life.” — Moonlight is out in UK cinemas on 24 February


Wise words: in his latest book, author Michael Lewis (left) investigates the complex world of behavioural economics

Money balls-up

Moonlight words by Thomas Chatterton Williams

IN HIS NEW BOOK, MICHAEL LEWIS RECOUNTS THE BOND BETWEEN TWO PSYCHOLOGISTS WHO EXPOSED THE FATAL FLAWS IN ECONOMIC THEORY When Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky met in Israel in the Sixties, they were two academics with very different outlooks: Kahneman was a pessimistic, self-doubting descendant of Holocaust survivors; Tversky was a sociable and forthright native Israeli. And yet they shared two things: first, their genius, as anyone who entered their orbits attests; second, a sneaking suspicion that many of the theories and neat formulae that had been used for centuries to unpick and predict the behaviour of human beings had overlooked one thing — human beings. Kahneman and Tversky are considered two of the most important figures in the field of behavioural economics, which studies the effects of emotion and psychology on decision-making and judgement, and it is the unusual, intense friendship of these two brilliant minds that is the subject of The Undoing Project, a new non-fiction book from American author Michael Lewis. Lewis is no dummy himself, as evidenced by the topics of his previous blockbusting books including Moneyball (2003), about the game-changing introduction of data analysis to baseball, and Liar’s Poker (1989), about the bond salesmen who radically overhauled the workings of Wall Street. Lewis has an uncanny knack of exploring and explaining complex worlds from which non-partisans are usually excluded, either because the technical aspects and jargon are too intrinsically complicated, or because those on the inside want it to seem so. The field in which Kahneman and Tversky were operating was littered with off-putting terminology and defensive egomaniacs, but they were radical enough in their questioning to demonstrate that human beings are not

Human beings are not inherently rational, reasonable or even consistent inherently rational, reasonable or even consistent. To give just one of the examples they used as proof, if you were given the choice of a lottery ticket that offered a 50 per cent chance of winning £1,000, or a gift of £500, chances are you’d take the gift. If it was framed the other way round, and you were offered a lottery ticket with a 50 per cent chance of losing £1,000, or a definite loss of £500, which would you go for? The gamble, right? The sum is the same, the impulse is radically different. The implications are huge.


Kahneman and Tversky’s many insights have had an enormous impact on the way organisations do business; from the Israeli army learning how better to spot future tank commanders to doctors identifying cancer to NBA recruiters getting smarter with their draft picks, all of which are afflicted by a dependence on so-called expertise and intuition. Even though some of the academic discussions stray close to journal-ese, Lewis makes sure that The Undoing Project is full of juicy examples and attention-grabbing details (one chapter is called “Man Boobs”), framed by the fascinating character studies of these two very different men. When Lewis quotes one of Tversky’s favourite sayings, that “interesting things happened to people who could weave them into interesting stories,” he might well have been describing himself. — The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed the World by Michael Lewis is out now (Allen Lane)

Breaking dad: Bryan Cranston plays a father pitted against his daughter’s tech mogul boyfriend, James Franco (below, from left)

Q&A: Bryan Cranston ON BREAKING BAD FOLLOW-UPS AND BRILLIANTLY BAD MOVIES, WHICH HIS NEW ONE, WHY HIM?, HE ASSURES US, IS NOT ESQUIRE: Tell us about Why Him? BRYAN CRANSTON: It’s a story that is not unfamiliar to me. I have a daughter the same age and it’s what every father fears. You raise them from a baby: changing their diapers, taking them for their first bike ride, their first athletics event, you go through all these things and at the end you have to let her go, and you hope she settles with someone suitable. That’s what being a father involves. And there’s every chance you won’t approve of her choices. That’s when you get two men fighting for the affections of a female. I mean: would you want your daughter settling down with James Franco? ESQ: It’s a change of tone from your recent work: like Trumbo and The Infiltrator. BC: I have done a lot of serious things. And I want to be a well-rounded actor, so it was part of the thinking. I wanted to have fun.

And I just laughed so much making it. I don’t think I’ve had as much fun on set since Malcolm in the Middle. It’s an extremely funny movie. But it wouldn’t have been a “yes” if it hadn’t been for the pathos in the story. ESQ: It opens on Boxing Day in America (a few days later in the UK). Is going to the cinema then a big tradition in the States? BC: It’s a big day to go and see movies. But listen, our movie isn’t It’s a Wonderful Life. It isn’t Miracle on 34th Street. But if you want something to enjoy and have a lot of laughs then I recommend it. ESQ: How many times today have you been asked about Breaking Bad? BC: I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t talk about it. But I’m OK with it. It was a huge part of my life. So it’s not like I want to push it away. I want to embrace it.



ESQ: Are there still as many rabid fans? Or have they moved on to Game of Thrones? BC: It’s perpetual! It’s continual — I still get approached by an awful lot of people who are out of their minds about it. About what it meant to them. I have exchanges with fans on a daily basis: about which episode is their favourite, about “Do you think Walter White is really dead?” ESQ: Walter White is really dead, isn’t he? BC: This is my own fault. I once teased in an interview with CNN, “We didn’t see him put into a body bag. He could be alive.” I don’t know. You tell me. I think he’s dead. ESQ: If you were offered untold riches for a sixth season but on the preposterous premise he’d been resurrected, would you do it? BC: The litmus test for that: it’s not money. It’s [creator/ writer/ director] Vince Gilligan. If Gilligan came to me and said, “I have an idea. We could do one more season…” Then why not? Never say never. ESQ: It feels like there’s too much great TV on. Finding time to watch it all is impossible. Is it Breaking Bad’s fault? BC: Breaking Bad broke down some barriers. It showed you that characters didn’t have to stay the same — that they could develop over a long time and audiences would come with you. We broke that down and showed that you could take that risk. And now other shows are doing the same thing. That’s what good writing and storytelling is. Storytelling shouldn’t be constrained. ESQ: We’ll next see you and James Franco together in The Masterpiece, the true story of “the worst movie ever made”, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. Had you seen it? BC: Yes, I had seen it and I was astonished it ever got made. It’s so bad. Then you look at it again and think, “This isn’t just bad. This is brilliantly bad.” ESQ: Are actors always aware when something’s heading for disaster? BC: You are. You’re aware of it. And then you live in denial that it’s going sideways. But when you’re as “experienced” as I am, you learn that you cannot predict success even when everyone involved in a project is great. You have to hope and trust. — Why Him? is out on December 30

Interview by Johnny Davis | Allstar




Mismatch of the day: Lorne MacFadyen and Michelle Keegan (below) as England’s 1966 football hero Bobby Moore and first wife Tina (pictured right)

They know it’s all over... BOBBY MOORE’S LOVE LIFE GETS KICKED ABOUT IN A NEW ITV DRAMA Though he was infallible when it came to winning the 1966 World Cup and looking dashing in a pair of snow-white knee socks, West Ham and England icon Bobby Moore didn’t master the art of marriage with quite such assurance. That’s the thesis anyway of Tina and Bobby, a new three-part ITV drama based on the memoir of Moore’s first wife, Tina (the inclusion of “first” in there is a clue to how things turned out). Coronation Street actress Michelle Keegan plays proto-Wag Tina, while Grantchester alumnus Lorne MacFadyen — with not a hair out of place — takes on duties as Bobby. It shows another facet of a man so famed for perfection, who also overcame testicular cancer just two years before lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy. As Tina herself declared, “My God, what a man.” — Tina and Bobby is on ITV in January

Poles apart THERE’S NOTHING AS DELIGHTFUL AND DEMENTED AS A FLAMING LIPS ALBUM — AND HERE’S ANOTHER! The title of the new Flaming Lips album, Oczy Mlody, comes from a line in the Polish edition of American novelist Erskine Caldwell’s 1962 book Close to Home, about the relationship between a southern white man and his black maid mistress. Which is not why Lips’ frontman Wayne Coyne chose it — he just


liked the cover when he spotted it in a secondhand bookshop — and thought the words, which mean “eyes of the young”, sounded like a made-up “party drug”. And though you might have to make a few leaps of imagination to find much social commentary in the Oklahoma band’s blaringly bold, experimental and fun new record,


you can find plenty of existential questioning about love, death and mankind’s place in the universe — alongside unicorns, fairies and demon-eyed frogs. (Did we mention it was a Flaming Lips record?) — Oczy Mlody is out on 13 January (Bella Union)

‘Do you know chopsticks?’: director Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling, (below, from left) during the filming of La La Land

Resistance is futile!



EMBRACE THE GENRE In the six years it took to get La La Land made, I really got to see how much of a dirty word “musical” was in some circles. Especially among men. Perhaps we’re too literal-minded, hear the word “musical” and automatically think that everything’s going to be glitter and turned up to 11. Traditionally in a musical, everything is heightened, even the acting, but we knew there could be a space where the pop and sugar of the musical experience could coexist with a dramatic, powerful acting style. It was a way to make this universe seem new and relevant.

REALLY EMBRACE IT The musical is a genre that’s willing to risk distancing an audience — I mean, characters will literally stop what they’re doing and burst into song. That’s just how it is, don’t apologise for it or put quotation marks around it. This is the world we are painting, a world where if someone’s emotional enough, if they fall in love enough or even if they’re just having a good day, they’re going to sing. Deal with it.

for lunch. It was only through the movies we felt close to those stars and for me it made the movies more special. It made them more sacred. That was your time to spend with them, your shared private moment between you and them. Now your favourite star might get into an argument with you on Twitter. That’s not magical.

DON’T LIMIT YOUR INSPIRATIONS AND TOUCHSTONES Beyond the musicals from cinema’s golden age, I was fascinated by depictions of LA on screen and watched a spate of more recent LA movies like Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights, Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction… There was this stretch where there were all these anamorphic cinemascope-type movies being shot on the streets of Los Angeles that made the city feel just epic. There’s also a great documentary called Los Angeles Plays Itself that really inspired

AND RIP OFF THE BAND-AID RIGHT AWAY So the audience can then start healing! Literally the first scene of La La Land is a big musical number, in fact the biggest and most musical number in the entire film; the Los Angeles freeway bursts into song and dance! There’s no point hiding the fact there will be singing and dancing in a musical, so be upfront from the outset: audience, this is what you’re in for.

CHERRYPICK YOUR FAVOURITE BITS A movie isn’t a museum exhibit with a frame around it. You’re not bound to the rules of what has been before. Make something new out of the parts you like best. The thing I wanted to play with was the importance of dance, the idea of two people falling in love by dancing together, it’s such a Fred and Ginger idea that you just don’t see anymore.

Interview by Hynam Kendall | Getty

CAST ACTORS WITH CHEMISTRY It was important to have a couple the audience already rooted for, because we wanted to hark back to the old Hollywood-ness of an iconic screen coupling: Fred and Ginger, Bogart and Bacall, Myrna Loy and William Powell. But they also had to have that otherworldliness about them that they had in the golden age of cinema. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are the closest that we have to that today. They have that shimmer, you know? Especially together. They’re contemporary, can act incredibly, but they also have that old school charm.

AND WHO AREN’T SOCIAL MEDIA OBSESSIVES I loved that people weren’t completely aware of what Greta Garbo, Spencer Tracy or Ingrid Bergman had


me throughout the process. The movie actually became a love letter to LA.

USE AN ORIGINAL SCORE The benefits are you wind up at a point where the music and the film are inextricable from each other. The music has no baggage from before the film, the film doesn’t have baggage outside of the music.

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW Always. My first few films have been pretty personal verging on autobiographical, but you can write what you know even if you’re writing about a spaceship 30,000 years from now. Just don’t write about the spaceship, write about the feelings of the people inside. — La La Land is out on 13 January




Scorching sand: a new photography book captures the dramatic moment Saddam set the desert alight


In 1991, when the Americanled Coalition forces closed in on Iraqi troops forcing them to withdraw from Kuwait, Saddam Hussein’s men set fire to the Greater Burgan oil fields as they retreated, leaving nearly 600 wells aflame. The task of putting out these momentous fires — one of the greatest environmental disasters of modern history — was left to a group of professional oil fire fighters, who battled seven days a week to extinguish the flames and cap the wells. Alongside them was a 47-year-old French-Brazilian

photographer, Sebastião Salgado, whose images of these men at work were almost as staggering as the blazing 40ft geysers they had been sent to tackle. The photographs were published in The New York Times over a quarter of a century ago, but now they have been collected for the first time in a monograph, Kuwait: A Desert on Fire, which is being published by Taschen. Salgado, now 72, has spent a lifetime photographing the natural world and the humans and animals that interact with it,

though his Kuwait series is among the most shocking representations of men attempting to wrestle nature into submission; as Salgado himself described them, “covered head to foot in oil, they moved like phantoms through the gloom”. In the present day, Islamic State terrorists have reportedly set fire to oil fields in Iraq and Syria as they flee; the phantoms will need to walk again. — Kuwait: A Desert on Fire by Sebastião Salgado (Taschen) is out now


Hairbrained scheme MATTHEW E WHITE AND FLO MORRISSEY ARE AS LIKE-MINDED AS THEY ARE LIKE-BARNETED On the surface, Matthew E White and Flo Morrissey don’t look like they’d share much, except perhaps a long-toothed comb. He is a 34-year-old musician and producer from Virginia, USA, who makes acclaimed cosmic gospel jams; she is a hotly tipped 21-year-old Brit School graduate from Notting Hill who makes mooning alt-pop. And yet with Gentlewoman, Ruby Man, their new album of covers of songs by artists including Frank Ocean, James Blake and The Velvet Underground, they’ve found sweet harmony in the oddest places. A Seventies-vibing version of Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” or a hazy meditation on Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne”, sure; but a percussive assault on George Harrison’s “Govindam”, or a blissed-out reworking of The Bee Gee’s theme from Grease? It’s weird, but it works. — Gentlewoman, Ruby Man by Flo Morrissey and Matthew E White is out on 13 January (Glassnote)



John Short


Esquire Townhouse with Dior

What we learned at the

Esquire Townhouse For four days (and nights) in October, we commandeered a grand London mansion for a series of talks, interviews, screenings, performances, masterclasses, drinks, dinners and debates on topics from fashion and fitness to food and film, sport and style to books and cars, adventure and technology. Why, it was almost as if the pages of the magazine had come to life...

Edited by Will Hersey Esquire Townhouse curated by Will Hersey and Tom Macklin

Men’s style panel

Style summit: four experts discuss men dressing well The state of men’s style has never been in better health. In 2017, we’re dressing better than ever before, but we can all still learn a thing or two. That’s why we brought in four of the biggest and smartest names in British menswear: designer Oliver Spencer, Mr Porter’s Brand and Content Director Jeremy Langmead, contemporary tailor and label owner Charlie Casely-Hayford, and Jason Basmajian, Creative Director of Cerruti 1881, in a panel hosted by Esquire Editor-in-Chief Alex Bilmes.


Esquire Townhouse with Dior

Men’s style panel continued…

Oliver Spencer:

Jeremy Langmead:

Charlie Casely-Hayford:

Jason Basmajian:

“I don’t think the suit is dying at all.

“People were told you should dress

“I like the idea of a uniform, the

“I enjoy wearing a tie for pleasure,

I think we’re just wearing them

to be comfortable. Not true. You

permanence of knowing I can wear

not as an obligation. It’s a way to

differently. More men wear

should dress to make other people

the same thing every day. In the

pull in a colour or a texture. I look

deconstructed suits, with T-shirts

comfortable. It’s underrated as a

morning, I know my wardrobe is

at it as any other accessory. It’s the

or pumps, but they’re still in a suit.

virtue. You have to reflect the lives

very simple: 100 pairs of red socks;

joy and fun of a tie because you

The code of work uniform has

of the people you interact with. The

six pairs of military boots; black

happen to like it, but it isn’t vital

changed. I see more men wearing

man in the street is better dressed

T-shirts and navy tailoring. That’s it.

like it used to be. When people ask

suits at night now, when they go

than he was, more adventurous. But

Instagram has homogenised street

me what to buy, I say first spend

out for dinner. I think you should

I still get depressed on trains. Every

style. You see the same looks in

some time and money getting your

dress up for a night out or for a

morning on the commute I wither.

Milan, Paris, New York. There

clothes to properly fit. It’s a great

social event, it’s a sign of respect.”

All these ugly shoes still permeate.”

is an ‘international look’ now.”

start. Men got lost in the details.”

Barista’s masterclass

How to make better coffee at home


Trainspotting: Coffee snobs will have their own favourite method, but we asked Ross Cummings of Starbucks Reserve, who ran our in-house coffee bar using single origin beans, for some tips on improving your next homemade cup

How do you match up beans to different flavours? “In terms of the different choices of beans, it’s all about matching the coffee with the flavours you usually like. If you normally drink coffee in the morning, then you will probably want to go for a much smoother coffee, while a lot of people tend to go for a darker coffee towards the end of the day.”

What actually is single origin coffee? “With single origin coffee, the flavours are almost too good to blend. It’s really nice to show the flavours of coffees from individual areas around the world, as they’re all different, and the stories from each place are interesting to discover.”

Which method do you recommend at home? “Usually we’d recommend people brewing at home to do it in a cafetière, because it’s the easiest way to do it yourself. It’s the way all of us brew our own coffee at home and it has been since we started off in 1971. You’d be best looking at an eight-cup cafetière and using 52g of coffee. It’s also really important to use a course ground, otherwise you risk the grinds actually coming through into your cup of coffee.”

What brewing method is best for using it? “One of the great ways to taste single origin coffee is through the pour-over method which we use in some of our Reserve stores because it enables you to properly taste the different layers of the coffee. You also get a really clear, crisp cup of coffee. For example, when you taste a properly brewed coffee from Guatemala you’d initially notice the cherry notes, and then find that it’s rounded off with much more of a chocolatey after-taste. The pour-over method allows us to actually discover all the different elements to that flavour.”

What’s the next big trend in coffee? “At events like London Coffee Festival, there has been a much higher presence of iced coffee while research consultancy Allegra Strategies reported that cold coffee is an area really continuing to show popularity in the market. We are beginning to want to properly explore the many different ways you can sample coffee, not just when it’s served hot.”


a snapshot of our culture For an event celebrating 25 years of Esquire in the UK, it was only appropriate to arrange a special screening of our favourite British film from our founding decade, Trainspotting, which felt as fresh on the big screen now as it did in 1996. Producer Andrew MacDonald and costume designer Rachael Fleming discussed everything from its incredible soundtrack to next year’s upcoming sequel. And the importance of that original poster: “We were all quite shocked when we saw the posters, we were all young back then and there was no television advertising, just these huge billboards and we knew it was something special,” said MacDonald. “I think one of the reasons the posters were so successful was the styling of the characters. I think it was the styling of mainly the costumes, but also the way the actors look and the fact the shots were taken by a fashion photographer. In terms of youth culture, Britain is still a market leader in music and fashion but that doesn’t always bleed into films and television as much as you would expect.” — T2: Trainspotting is out on 27 January

Esquire Townhouse with Dior

Chef’s masterclass

One of London’s great Italian chefs Francesco Mazzei (chef patron at Sartoria) served a memorable five-course dinner at the Townhouse. Who better to ask how to cook one Italian dish to make your guests cry? (In a good way.) “It has to be pasta. Everyone can make and have fun with it from mixing eggs and flour, to choosing the shape. My top tip is keep it simple and let the flavour of the pasta shine through with a dish

The Italian dish every man should make… Fettuccine pomodoro

like fettuccine pomodoro. There’s no secret to a great Italian tomato sauce; you need tomatoes at peak ripeness and cook them right down, adding as little liquid as possible at the start so your sauce is thick and rich. This gives a concentrated tomato flavour and you can thin the sauce to the consistency you want. Add a little starchy pasta cooking water to do this — it loosens the sauce and gives wonderful body and creaminess.”

Jeremy Renner photographed at Esquire Townhouse, October 2016

The American actor and star of The Hurt Locker, The Town and The Bourne Legacy (to name but a few) joined us in a packed-out room at the Townhouse to discuss his life and career, as well as his most recent film Arrival

What I’ve Learned

Jeremy Renner

I didn’t want to be an actor to start with. At college I picked up lacrosse and an acting class and a bunch of other things — acting just stuck. There was just something about that drama class that was so foreign and freeing — it became a very therapeutic thing for me to go on stage and hide in a character and to express myself and a lot of emotions I probably didn’t know I was having.

Actor, 45

Shot on a Huawei P9


Coming from a small town it was a private thing to be expressive and have your own feelings of rage or sadness, so I was able to express them safely and comfortably through these characters.

Huawei has teamed up with Leica to create a sophisticated and feature-packed dual-lens camera in its P9 smartphone. It delivers the kind of clarity and depth which made it perfect for us to use as our in-house camera thoughout the event.

Dior created a special pop-up fragrance room within the house


I was a make-up artist. That was the job I came down to Los Angeles with. It was a city I’d never been to before but it was nice to know that I had a job. It was something that I loved doing, and I had my own kind of look and angle on beauty for women. I tried to make a woman feel beautiful because I recognised who she was inside and I wanted to express that in her face.


Esquire Townhouse with Dior

Renner made a big impact in The Hurt Locker (2008)

Jeremy Renner continued… I went to Los Angeles with three goals, and I gave myself 11 years to achieve them. The first was to be in a movie, the second to be in a movie big enough to play in my small hometown. The last was to play a significant enough part that I wouldn’t have to tell my parents “I’m the guy jumping up and down in the red shirt.” On my first job, I’d satisfied all those goals. That was a year-and-a-half in. I think struggling helps you cope with success. It’s certainly true for me, but I don’t know if it’s the same for everybody. Odds are that as a man, you’re a little bit more realised in your thirties and have a bit more of a grasp on yourself. For me, I had a greater understanding of what I wanted and didn’t want and who I was. It wasn’t normal to be Oscarnominated in my first lead role for The Hurt Locker, but what’s normal? A lot of my friends who are struggling say, ‘Hey, but look at Renner, he’s older and he made it’ and that’s something I highly recommend — waiting until you’re older to figure it out.

The Tao of

Heston Blumenthal When one of the world’s greatest chefs calls in for a live interview, you expect him to talk a bit about food. But as we know, Heston Blumenthal likes to do things a little differently and his interview covered everything from science to philosophy — as well as some big life lessons he’s picked up along the way

You can’t please everyone “I’ve realised that being a people-pleaser is just about the most destructive thing you can do to yourself. You tell white lies to make people happy, but really you’re just being dishonest to yourself and to people around you.” Take responsibility for your emotions “Responsibility for your feelings is 100 per cent yours. Nobody else makes you feel anything. Believing otherwise means that you’ll always think mistakes or

problems are someone else’s fault. If you get stuck on judgement and blame and excuses, then you imprison yourself.” It’s necessary to forgive “Forgiveness is not primarily beneficial for the person you’re forgiving — that’s the important thing here. It’s actually most important for you. If you don’t forgive, then you end up living in the past and locking yourself in negativity. The only reason to ever look at the

Sommelier’s masterclass

Shot on a Huawei P9

Three ways to up your wine game Master sommelier Christopher Bothwell and his team from Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester came in for a tasting session aimed at taking your wine know-how to the next level. The aim? To drink better wine more of the time

Starbucks Reserve came in to run our in-house coffee bar


Esquire Townhouse with Dior

Trained by experts

Fitness workshop Saturday morning at the Townhouse saw tight vests and running shoes swarm in for pop-up classes and tutorials from PT guru Matt Roberts, the Secret Yoga Club, Barry’s Bootcamp, Roger Frampton, Third Space and more


From the steps of Esquire Townhouse, a special edition of the Adidas Running Club left to run around St James’s Park. Between breaths, we asked coach James Heptonstall for three tips on your next run:

that failure results in fear and lack of confidence.”

Perfection is the enemy of creativity “From a psychological point of view, you either have a perfection ethos or a discovery ethos. Perfection means having everything just as it should be, and we need that. It’s important for things like manufacturing, but it’s the enemy of creativity. In schools, we have a perfectionist ethos with either success or failure, and the problem with that is

Embrace failure “If you embrace failure as an opportunity to learn, the world changes. In Japan, if something goes wrong on a factory line, the line closes down and a siren goes off above the station of the person who made the mistake. Instead of being horrible, everyone downs tools, goes over to the person and cheers and claps. They get really excited because they have something to learn from. I think that’s great.”

3. Pick a target “Set goals. Maybe a certain race or time you want to achieve. Also, running in a group creates a really good atmosphere for improving skills and mileage.”

Townhouse Champagne was in good supply courtesy of Laurent Perrier

Shot on a Huawei P9

past is to enjoy nostalgic moments.”

1. Think quality over quantity “Strive for a high-quality workout. Try intervals, hills or fartlek sessions to mix up your routine. A simple interval session would be four 1km runs with a sprint, jog and rest in each.”

2. Engage your core stability “This could be done in the gym or use a 4kg medicine ball to exercise in the park. A strong core is a great base for good running technique, which will in turn help you achieve good running posture.”

Avoid saying ‘dry’

Learn to speak ‘sommelier’

Let your mouth do the talking

It’s tempting to ask the sommelier for a “dry white wine” but it’s not actually that helpful. After all, 90 per cent of the wine list is “dry” so it really doesn’t narrow things down. Try talking about body instead — light, medium or full bodied. From this a sommelier knows where to go. Light-bodied wines include Sancerre, Chablis, Pinot Noir. For mediumbodied, think Chardonnay and Syrah. Fullbodied could include American Chardonnay, Bordeaux and Grenache.

As a rule of thumb, sommeliers have a handful of phrases when describing wine. Knowing them and, even better, understanding them is always going to come in handy. “Complex” is a wine that unfolds many different flavours as you drink. “Crisp” describes a fresh and often acidic wine on the palate. “Dense” means it is concentrated in flavour and aroma. “Elegant” means light and well-balanced. “Flamboyant” means fruity, while “opulent” means rich and bold.

Next time you sip a wine, these simple mouth checks will help you work out the elements on show. Sticking your tongue out as you sip will tell you if it’s dry or sweet. A wine’s acidity is determined by how much it makes you salivate — a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is a classic example of wine with high acidity. Tannins, found in red wine, affect the side of your tongue and will make your gums go dry. Understand these basics and you’re a long way to knowing what you like and why. And that’s half the battle.



Esquire Townhouse with Dior

The most memorable sporting moment of the last 25 years? Sky Sports pundits David Gower, Will Greenwood and Alan Smith, with presenter Simon Thomas, went heavy on the Champagne for a lively panel discussion on 25 Years of Great Sporting Moments (Esquire and Sky Sports both started in 1991). Here’s what they argued over the most:

Sergio Aguero’s goal to win the league title, 2012

Europe win the Ryder Cup in Medinah, Illinois, 2012

Jemima Jones and Lucy Carr-Ellison from Tart London with Ginger Pig butcher Jon Toy

Butcher’s masterclass

Five cuts of beef you need to know about Meat masters The Ginger Pig kicked off the Esquire Townhouse with a special lunch and expert butchery demonstration from Jon Toy. As well as taking guests through the classic cuts of beef, Toy let us in on some of the more unusual cuts to ask your butcher for. (And yes, the Townhouse floor needed a good wipe once he’d finished) The more unusual cuts are often those which require low and slow cooking. It’s worth the time, as the following cuts offer a flavour, texture and experience quick cooking cuts can’t. One weekend this winter, try your hand at one of these:

Beef shin: from the leg, so buy on the bone to get the marrow which melts into the sauce when braised to make an unctuous ragù. Pull the meat when it’s falling off the bone to make a rich beef shin pie with a suet pastry crust.

Centre chuck steak: taken from the hard-working shoulder of the animal, close to where the ribeye starts. Sear quickly, then braise in stock/red wine/ water in a medium-to-low oven. For two steaks, braise for up to two hours until the meat can be easily pulled apart. This way the beef will melt in the mouth.

Beef cheeks: becoming more popular for good reason; the flavour is very rich (like oxtail) and the texture once braised is stringy like pulled pork. They are one of the hardest working muscles on the cow as they are constantly being used to chew. They are very tough so will need a very long braising time.

Feather blade/flat iron: having become popular recently, this is an economical cut which lies flat against the big blade bone in the animal’s shoulder. It’s tender, richly flavoured and well marbled. You can either quickly sear in a hot pan, or cook slowly with moisture. Anything in between won’t work. Round blade/Jew’s fillet: this small, tasty fillet-shaped cut is taken from the top rib, with gristle attached running through its centre that will melt with slow cooking. And it’s a great value cut.

My favourite watch Johnny Wilkinson’s drop goal to win England the Rugby World Cup, 2003

For extra Townhouse content, and to make sure you come to next year’s event, go to: townhouse

Our panel discussion How to Start a Watch Collection assembled some of the most respected and knowledgeable names on the watch scene for a forum that covered everything from fail-safe investment advice to current trends, as well as the panel’s own personal favourites from their own collections


Alex Stonely

Danny Pizzigoni

Head of Retail at Watchfinder Patek Philippe Calatrava

Founder of The Watch Club Rolex Milgauss 1019

“‘What’s your favourite watch?’ is a question I get asked a lot. The Calatrava is a classic dress watch, its charm is down to its simplicity. And the exquisite materials and execution mean it never goes out of style.”

“I’d been intrigued since reading of Rolex’s collaboration with CERN to develop a watch unaffected by magnetic forces. I love the 1019’s purity: the broad smooth bezel, fat aluminium hands and splashes of red.”

Esquire Townhouse with Dior

Director Ron Howard attended Esquire Townhouse in the company of actress Felicity Jones

Ron Howard: Why I went behind the camera

On the first night of Esquire Townhouse, our screening room saw legendary director Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Cinderella Man, Frost/ Nixon, Rush) and actress Felicity Jones join us for a screening of their latest film Inferno. This was followed by a live interview with Esquire’s Editor-in-Chief Alex Bilmes. As usual, Howard was on stellar storytelling form, particularly when recalling Happy Days and how he ultimately became a film director: “Those were my good old days, those guys [from Happy Days] are still all my friends. It was a coming of age for me, but it taught me about the business. I went through a transition where I was the bona fide star of that show.


“Henry [Winkler] was so brilliant and so popular in what he created in Fonzie’s character, and it exploded. At one point, they even came to me and said they wanted to change the name to Fonzie’s Happy Days. They were going to do it in front of an audience and be bigger and broader and brighter.

Philip van Dedem

Andrew Hildreth

Founder of The Collectors’ Index Patek Philippe 5960

Watch writer and collector Rolex Explorer II Ref 1655 Series 2 ‘Frog’s Foot Coronet’

“My latest acquisition is a 5960 in rose gold. The watch was discontinued after a relatively short run. Aesthetically, it’s beautiful with its unusual calendar display and condensed chronograph indication in the sub-dial. I like the balance of value potential and design.”

“The watch I always wanted. After years of failing to find the right one, I asked a contact to find me one and they did, and a beauty at that. The luminosity of the tritium may have faded over time, but the watch is still a joy to own and wear.”


Shot on a Huawei P9

“I had a moment when I was probably 20 and I said, ‘I love Henry and I love what’s going on with the show

Townhouse guests could be sketched using Montblanc’s new Augmented Paper technology


Esquire Townhouse with Dior Ron Howard continued… but I didn’t sign on to be in someone else’s show.’ I said, ‘I would go back to film school if we did that.’ And they said then we aren’t going to change it. They were very respectful of that.

Ron Howard, centre, in Happy Days with Anson Williams and Don Most

“I went through a period where everyone on the show treated me so well, but I learned the way the media and the industry deals with those kind of shifts and I found it very unsettling. It fuelled my desire, I redoubled my focus on my dream and realised I wanted to be a storyteller.

“I wanted to create my own stories and preserve my own employment. At that point, I purchased a Moviola 16mm and put it in the living room of my apartment. I wanted it as a symbol, every time I walked in the door I’d have my Happy Days script in my hand, but I’d also see that there was no film on that Moviola that I’m cutting — which means that I’m not chasing my dream. So, I started making shorts again and within a few years I’d directed my first movie.”



Nick Hornby: the two pieces of art that changed my life

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Anne Tyler (1982) Few writers have written more powerfully about what it is to be a man over the last 25 years than Nick Hornby and few authors have such an encyclopaedic knowledge of popular culture, either. So, when he picked his two biggest cultural influences in a fascinating interview, we considered it a good idea to take note:

Nashville (1975)

“I’d read a lot of fiction before I started writing, but none was the kind I wanted to write. I read Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and within a few pages I got it. I knew the type of writer I wanted to, and could, become. I met Anne years later and told her how much her book had influenced me. She said she didn’t see the link at all. That’s the great thing about inspiration — if done well, the end product is completely different, but if done badly, it’s just a poor imitation.”

“Me and my sister only went to see this film because one of the characters in it was supposed to be based on my stepmother. Three hours later, I thought I did not know how film could be like that. With the [Robert] Altman overlapping dialogue, the multiple narratives, [it’s] a film about popular culture that turned out to be a film about something else. A film that didn’t patronise its audience… in fact, asked a lot of its audience. When I came out I was a film fan in a way that I hadn’t been before.”

Townhouse tech gallery It wouldn’t be an Esquire Townhouse if we hadn’t artfully dotted some of the very latest gadgets (and some of our favourite things) throughout the venue

TechDas Air Force III vinyl turntable £19,000 With serious vinyl collectors in mind, this crazily high-end turntable produces ultra-stable, friction-free rotation.

Dan D’Agostino Momentum integrated amplifier £48,500

Leica M-P (Typ 240)

D’Agostino’s trademark use of copper in the chassis means this amp delivers a prodigious 200W per channel into 8ohms.

Don’t be fooled by the classic appearance, this unassuming camera has next-gen tech all its own.


£7,730 (camera body only, £5,330)

MartinLogan Expression ESL 13A hybrid speakers £15,000 Put simply, fewer moving parts means less resistance and a clean, clear sound. The no-nonsense king of speakers.

Esquire Townhouse with Dior




A life in photographs

Terry O’Neill Despite it being a Friday morning when we should have been in the office, there wasn’t a spare seat for our chat with legendary photographer Terry O’Neill who looked back on some of his famous photographs with a lot of humour, a bit of pathos and incredible anecdotes. A real ‘glad you were there’ moment 1. South of France, 1966 “Audrey Hepburn was an incredible woman. And she understood photography. She could see the picture and how it needed to be framed.”

I have ever encountered. When they were in a room you could tell immediately. There’s no one like them around anymore.”

4. Arizona, 1972 2. London, 1974 “It was heartbreaking listening to Bowie’s last album. It was like it was his own obituary.”

“Ava Gardner was the greatest looking woman that I ever photographed. She was also Sinatra’s Achilles heel.”

5. London, 1966 3. Miami Beach, 1968 5.

“Sinatra and Kennedy were the two strongest presences

“Michael Caine: ‘The Boy’. He hasn’t changed one bit since the day I met him.”

Pinarello Dogma F8 road bike The eighth iteration of its range-topping Dogma frame and three-times Tour de France champ, this supercycle is ergonomically designed.

Barbour x Triumph Thruxton R This collaboration built by British custom bike builders Down & Out Café Racers sits somewhere between classic style and post-apocalyptic Mad Max.


Shot on a Huawei P9

Our lounge bar, supplied by Fuller’s, was a popular place to congregate. Funny that


Esquire Townhouse with Dior


How to design a supercar An address like 10–11 Carlton House Terrace SW1 needs the right car outside and we were delighted to have the McLaren 570GT as our ride, with a works driver to take our guests for a spin (traffic permitting). We spoke to McLaren’s chief designer Robert Melville Is being chief designer for McLaren as good a job as it sounds? “In a word, yes. As a kid I had pictures of Lamborghinis and Ferraris on the wall and later thought the McLaren F1 was the ultimate car. To get the call from McLaren to design supercars was a dream. I’m doing my hobby as a job.” What’s the biggest challenge? “You need to understand everything from the engineering to marketing

side to company strategy and then translate all that into the design. The finished car should communicate everything we’re trying to do.” What are you most proud of so far? “As a young company, how do you create an identity? With engineering and design working together. I think we’ve done that.” How did you approach the 570GT? “It’s a more emotional design that goes

back to the classic Italian GTs of the Sixties. We wanted something classic but still and fresh and modern.” What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career so far? “Perfect proportions. Without that, it will never work. And good people.” How is McLaren’s future looking? “We’ve built a really solid foundation and need to capitalise. We want to accelerate and push for the future.” 6.


Why I walked the Amazon: On the surface, explorer Ed Stafford was just an ordinary bloke when he decided to try to become the first person to walk the entire length of the world’s longest river. But ordinary is a very ordinary word

“I always wanted to do something massive. I wanted to be able to look back as a grey-haired old man having done that. Before that there was nothing. I’d been in the army but I just wanted to do something big. I’ve not made anything much of the fact I was a little bit insecure. I don’t think it’s blowing up too many illusions to admit a lot of explorers need the attention of other people. They need


to do things publicly, really tough things, and then achieve them to get the praise of people they’re doing it in front of. There was definitely an element of that, and now I seem to have grown out of that, thank God. As a young man trying to make my way in the world, I really wanted to achieve something so big that people would give me credit for it. So, on a psychological level, it was for myself.”

Shot on a Huawei P9

in conversation with Ed Stafford

Esquire Townhouse with Dior 1.

12 October 2016

Opening night The launch party saw celebrities, guests and Esquire staffers thronging the Townhouse for a long night of revelry powered by Laurent Perrier Champagne, William Grant & Son cocktails and Errázuriz wine — with Mark Ronson on the decks 3.



1. Esquire two-time cover star Mark Ronson was the perfect man to provide the music from our pop-up DJ booth in the main party lounge, above. Guests stopping by Carlton House Terrace as the evening got into full swing included: 2. Reggie Yates and Zara Martin 3. Aaron Taylor-Johnson 4. Oswald Boateng and Noor Bin Laden 5. Mollie King and Victoria Pendleton 6. Tom Daley and Jack Laugher 7. Jeremy Renner with Alex Bilmes 8. Sam Smith


Dave Benett


The whisky cocktail to mix at home Perhaps inevitably, the most popular room in the Townhouse was our lounge bar, where generous whisky cocktails were de rigueur. Bartender Rik Patel offers up one of his favourites

Last word

Blood and Sand Named after Rudolph Valentino’s 1922 bullfighter movie, this drink requires a bit of bar kit but it’s well worth it. 25ml Scotch; Monkey Shoulder works really well 25ml sweet vermouth 25ml Cherry Herring liqueur 25ml freshly squeezed blood orange or orange juice Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fine strain into a chilled martini glass. Add a pinch of orange zest for flavour.


We couldn’t write about Esquire’s first live event without also saying a few big thank-yous. First, to our title sponsor Dior, and partners Huawei, Starbucks Reserve and McLaren for their support. To suppliers Fuller’s, William Grant & Sons, LaurentPerrier and Montblanc. To Hearst Live for making it happen. And to our contributors Tim Lewis, Paul Wilson, Stephen Smith, Robin Swithinbank and Jonathan Thompson. Here’s to the next one. Sign up for information on Townhouse 2017 at



Credits | Credit








Big smoke: Tom Hardy photographed exclusively for Esquire in central London, November 2016


At some point in the not too distant future, Tom Hardy needs to book himself in for a new tattoo. The 39-year-old British actor has already got quite a few, as the markings protruding from his T-shirt — and the many topless shots that exist of him on  the internet — attest. He’s had the London skyline, a Chinese dragon, his wife’s name (and his ex-wife’s initials), a Madonna and child and a Buddha with an AK47. This latest one though, he’s dragging his heels about. “I haven’t got it yet,” he says cheerily, taking a deep lungful from his electronic cigarette, “because it sucks.” Hardy had a wager with Leonardo DiCaprio, with whom he starred in last year’s The Revenant, a story of betrayal and vengeance among 19th-century fur trappers. DiCaprio predicted that Hardy would get an Oscar nomination for his supporting role as a feral frontiersman who leaves DiCaprio’s character for dead after the latter is mauled by a grizzly bear. Hardy bet a tattoo of the winner’s choosing that he wouldn’t. Hardy lost. Hardy recreates DiCaprio’s design on a Post-it note for me. “He wrote, in this really shitty handwriting: ‘Leo knows everything.’ Ha! I was like, ‘OK, I’ll get it done, but you have to write it properly.’” And he probably will. Hardy’s body art is very much a statement of his commitment: to his lovers, to his family, to himself. Also, to his agent. He has her name, Lindy King, tattooed on the inside of his arm, which he said he would do if she ever got him into Hollywood. Thanks to gigs like The Revenant, in which Hardy brought a magnetic savagery to every scene; or 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which saw him knock the stuffing back into the moth-eaten action movie franchise; or playing Bane in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises and thereby creating an instantly iconic super-villain who was as terrifying as he was kinky — she most certainly did. But Hardy is both in Hollywood and not in Hollywood. He’s matinee-idol handsome, with plump lips, smouldering eyes and those much-papped pecs, but he resists playing the pretty, heroic roles his physiognomy was made for. He prefers to play gangsters, villains and psychopaths. And he’s very, very good at it. He has an innate, undeniable charisma on screen that puts him at the top of every director’s wish list — all right, as we’ll get on to, perhaps not all of them — but often forgoes behemoth movies in favour of smaller, weirder films in which he can experiment, cut loose. He is steadfastly tightlipped about his personal life, but refreshingly candid about his profession. His friendship is something to be treasured; his enmity is something to be feared. Also, have you seen the pictures that go with this article? They were Hardy’s idea. All

of them, from the makeup to the location, to the outfits, to the gun and fruit props. Amazing, right? But also, WTF? Tom Hardy is not your average actor, not your average movie star. In fact, he’s not your average man.

He started out averagely enough but quickly demonstrated a reluctance to stay so. Tom Hardy was born on 15 September 1977, the only child of Edward (aka “Chips”), an advertising executive and sometime comedy writer, and Anne, an artist. He was raised in East Sheen, a pleasant suburb of west London. He went to nice private schools, where, he told me when we met once before, he “wasn’t the best student”. Drama was a passing interest, though it was encouraged by Chips and Anne because, as he said, “from a very privileged position I was underachieving and my desperate parents were like, ‘Fucking hell, we’ve got to find something for Tom to do.’” Then things got worse. Underachieving turned into serious misbehaving — including getting caught with a friend in a stolen Mercedes-Benz with a firearm — which eventually spiralled into a debilitating drink and drug addiction. “Inside I wanted it to stop,” he told me when I interviewed him last time for the cover of the May 2015 issue of Esquire, “but if you get caught out you keep putting your hand in the fire because you’re a bad dog and that’s what’s expected of you. And it’s just a waste. Such a waste. I know plenty of people who were born with a nice silver spoon or whatever — very dead. And died painfully, and unnecessarily.” He did find his way to the Drama Centre in London and got his first professional gigs in Steven Spielberg’s WWII drama Band of Brothers and Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down, both of which came out in 2001. But even with such a high-calibre start, he was in serious danger of losing it. He once admitted, “I would have sold my mother for a rock of crack,” and has described the moment he woke up lying in a pool of blood and vomit on London’s Old Compton Street with a crack pipe in his hand. He’s also told a story of the time he was supposed to meet director John Woo in Hollywood but instead found himself passed out in a bed in downtown LA alongside a naked man he didn’t know with a gun and cat (whom he didn’t know either). Eventually, he says, reality bit. “There were systematically, constantly, things that were put across my path where it was, ‘Tom, you need to wake up because there are more important things to do. And you keep on doing stuff that’s nonsense, and you of all people have been born with opportunities.’ So I had words with myself about the reality of wanking about when there’s such a lot


to be getting on with.” He’s been sober since 2003, though the impulses are still there. In Canada, he told me about “Arthur”, the orangutan who is the metaphorical manifestation of his destructive urges, which he likens to Winston Churchill’s “black dog” of depression. Always present, never to be ignored. There’s an idea that actors should come to roles as blank slates, so that your knowledge of their real lives doesn’t detract from the role they’re playing, but with Hardy it feels that his experiences add another layer to his performances. It’s why he was so captivating as a homeless drug addict in the 2007 BBC adaptation of Stuart: A Life Backwards, so terrifying as Britain’s most notorious prisoner Charles Bronson in 2008’s surreal biopic Bronson, so convincing as both Ronnie and Reggie Kray in Brian Helgeland’s Legend, the 2015 film about east London’s most feared mobsters (though they did love their mum). He doesn’t have to channel the time his pet goldfish died in order to play characters who have been brutalised or broken; he can play men who stare into the existential abyss because he has stared into it himself. He’s got a unique perspective. Or as he told a fellow addiction survivor in a  video for The Prince’s Trust charity, “I’m an addict and an alcoholic so I have my ups and downs. My head is a bit wonky.” It’s early November when we meet in a  postproduction house in Soho, central London, and Hardy has a deadline. He needs to finalise the edit on the third episode of Taboo, an eight-part BBC drama which he created with his father, and which he both stars in and is executively producing. Taboo is set in 1814, and Hardy plays James Delaney, an adventurer who returns home from 10 years in the Congo to discover that his recently dead father has bequeathed him an unusual inheritance, which is of interest to both the British and American governments and the East India Company. But, of course, given that it’s come from the brain of Hardy, Taboo is not your average costume drama. However, on that front you’re going to have to take my word for it. Before we sit down in an edit suite to watch the episode, I have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. “You can write what you think,” says Hardy, “just not why you think it.” So we sit there side by side on a black leather sofa as an editor called Serkan plays back the episode on a large screen, Hardy scribbling continuously on an A4 pad and working his way through a stack of four (yes, four) pizzas and a bottle of Diet Coke; me making notes in my own notebook, mostly about the pizzas. What I can tell you is that Taboo is seedy, gritty, knotty and complex. There are twists and subversions — even perversions — of character tropes that make most period






dramas look like an episode of Peppa Pig. It was conceived in some ways, says Hardy, to be an “anti-Downton”, and despite having lush production values that make London, where it is mostly set, look dank and grubby and decadent and sumptuous all at the same time, and boasting a cast of period drama stalwarts including Jonathan Pryce and Tom Hollander, Taboo goes to places that other shows of that genre don’t. Let’s just say, the title of the show is no accident. When it finishes, we move to the kitchen area of the production house, which is off a windowless corridor of closed doors, next to each of which is a sign identifying the programme being edited inside: Poldark, Endeavour, Fortitude. Our conversation is occasionally interrupted by vitamin-Dstarved TV types popping in to make cups of coffee, as well as some loud male and female groans repeating over and over from an edit suite across the hall (fighting or schtupping? “Sounds like a bit of both,” says Hardy). Hardy seems fairly relaxed, given that he’s under a reasonable amount of pressure. His production company, Hardy Son and Baker, which he runs with a producing partner, Dean Baker, has to send the finished series to the BBC and the American broadcaster, FX, by Christmas so that it can air in January. “And I’ve just handed in 14 pages of

notes on episode three,” he points out, without much evident contrition. I ask him how he feels watching the episode back. “I know every line, and I know where everything is in every scene, and I know where most candles are,” he says. “So yeah, I’m never happy.” Hardy had the idea for the show when he was playing Bill Sikes in a 2007 BBC adaptation of Oliver Twist, and conceived the character originally as “a Sherlock Holmes-type detective, a bit more physical as well as smart, but who has that hyper-vigilance; a spiritual, hybrid shaman-cum-cannibal-serial-killer-type thing”. He spent the next nine years going through many different iterations of the idea trying to get it made; and now he has. As Dean Baker puts it, who lets me into the edit suite before Hardy arrives: “It’s very much Tom’s baby.” To make matters more complicated, Hardy also had an actual baby at the end of October, with his wife, the actress Charlotte Riley, whom he met on a 2009 ITV adaptation of Wuthering Heights. (He also has an eight-year-old son, Louis, with his ex-girlfriend Rachael Speed.) Three weeks later, he started shooting Taboo, and during those months of production he says he was getting between four and six hours of sleep a night, waking up between 12 and two with “the little one” (he lets slip the baby’s gender,


though he asks me not to print it; he never tells me “its” name) and then getting up for work again at 4.30 or 5.30. The sleep deprivation, he says, was a killer: “If anyone else did that to you you’d have them up at the Hague for war crimes.” Now he’s nearly finished on Taboo, he plans to book some time off as he’s officially “pantsed”. To be fair, he doesn’t look too shabby. In dark jeans and trainers and a The Wolf of Wall Street T-shirt, with a neat-butnot-too-neat beard and short back and sides, he is handsome and looks positively fresh. Which is not exactly how I remembered him.

When I interviewed Hardy before, it was in Calgary, where he was already several months into shooting The Revenant, which was being filmed in the foothills of the Rockies. (The production would later relocate to Argentina in search of snow.) He was living in a rented house with some friends who were also in the film, apparently whiling away his downtime playing computer games and boxing. He looked hunched, smaller than his 5ft 9in, with a  wiry beard and sensible, outdoorsy clothing. He could almost have passed for a local. We were supposed to go to a shooting range; we ended up going to a  paint-your-own-pottery shop


in a retail park on the outskirts of town. His suggestion. It was only upon seeing what he did in The Revenant — his character John Fitzgerald is wild, amoral and animalistic and yet somehow still sympathetic and human, a  balance that Hardy is a master at striking — and then meeting him again in London that I understand quite how much the role must have been absorbing him (and why dabbing glaze on a mug might have made a pleasant change from the day job). Though he resists the pompous terms that surround the craft of acting, calling it “just face-pulling at the end of the day”, you can’t help but feel there’s a bit of Method in his madness, whether it’s intentional or not. In Calgary, he was having a little contretemps with the director, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu over “some sexy stuff” Iñárritu wanted his character Fitzgerald to do, which Hardy was resisting. “It’s just fucking nauseating having to listen to it every day. Going, ‘Yeah yeah yeah; love it, love it, love it; but no.’” A little later, when he was calmer, he added, “He’s a scallywag, and I’ll end up doing it to please him, and there’ll be no Oscar at the end of it for me…. Ha ha ha! There might be for him.” (He was, on both counts, correct.) Later, photos will emerge of Hardy wearing a T-shirt of his own design

featuring a picture of Fitzgerald putting Iñárritu in a choke-hold. In London, he admits he’s only just recovering. “Because it’s a good two years away it feels… There are still echoes of exhaustion from it, but I think it’s a beautiful film,” he says. “I want to watch it again now because I have got a really healthy distance. It’s always the way, when people say, ‘It was a  really tough time in my life when I was in it,’ in hindsight it’s a very fond memory. At the time it was aarararaghgh” — he makes a noise like a fatally wounded buffalo — “never ending! The Forevernant. It went on forever and it was confusing. The Forever-and-evernant! It was never-ending, confusion, chaos, none of us were in any form of control, we were being controlled, you know? And that was frustrating and stressful.” It’s worth noting how unusual that statement is. Not least because it gives you a  glimpse into how he speaks — how his synapses fire off at a mile a minute and you have to grab on to the subject and object of the sentence, if you can find them, and then just hang on for the ride — but because it’s so frank. Though he will add, “I love Alejandro”, it was very clear that there were large periods during the making of that film that he did not. Unlike so many — maybe all — actors at his level, there’s none of that

The many faces of Tom Hardy: during Esquire’s photoshoot, our cover star took on a number of personas. On this spread and overleaf you’ll meet Hardy himself (or versions of him) as well as his take on Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, and a terrifying character from his new TV show, Taboo, among others


game-faced, media-trained blandness from Hardy. And thank God for that. It’s why stories seep out from productions he’s been involved with of spats between him and directors or fellow cast members. About how he told a journalist he was “ready to punch” Nicholas Winding Refn, his director in Bronson. Or the reports, from both sides, that he’d had a fist-fight with Shia LaBeouf, his co-star in the bootlegging drama Lawless (Hardy said LaBeouf, somewhat implausibly, “knocked me out sparko”). Or how he had run-ins with both his co-star Charlize Theron and director George Miller on the set of 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road; he publicly apologised to the latter at the film’s Cannes Film Festival press conference. But you don’t hire Tom Hardy if you don’t want Tom Hardy, and for the most part, he’ll make it worth your while. It’s the friction that creates the spark. “If I come in as an actor,” he says on the sofa outside the edit suite in London, “I check the fragilities and the breaking points for the whole piece and the team, because that’s what I get paid to do. So if I don’t do that, then I’m not doing you a service or me a service, because that’s what we came to do. If someone says, ‘No Tom, I don’t want you to do that, I just want you to come down the middle in a bat suit,’ — not the Batman suit, I mean literally, in a bat





Creature of the night: an incognito Tom Hardy spooks passersby in central London, November 2016


suit — then you know what? I probably won’t do that film.” Hardy obviously inspires loyalty in those directors who know how to handle him. On the subject of Batman suits, Christopher Nolan is clearly one such employer, having cast Hardy first in 2010’s Inception, as louche dream-cracker Eames, and then in the career-rocketing role of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, whose costume included a restrictive respirator that proved Hardy could eye-act with the best of them. He has recently finished shooting a few days in an unspecified role in Nolan’s Dunkirk, a drama based around the 1940 evacuation of Allied troops from the coast of northern France, which is due to come out in summer 2017 and which, like all Nolan productions, is largely shrouded in secrecy until then (though pictures that leak online appear to show Hardy in the guise of a Spitfire pilot). Nolan is a director whose approach stands up to Hardy’s scrutiny. “He’s a great on-set leader,” he says, “as well as a fucking brilliant film-maker and a visionary. I do have thoughts, but the thing about him is that he can contain them — they don’t shock him. And he doesn’t want to miss a trick, so if you’ve got something he’ll want to use it. He’ll soon tell you, ‘That’s enough now, thanks,’ which is great. Because then you know your boundaries.” (Another director who seems more than happy to see Tom Hardy is Daniel Espinosa, the Swedish director of Child 44, a 2015 crime thriller in which Hardy starred as a Soviet soldier on the trail of an infanticidal maniac. Espinosa is in the postproduction house editing something of his own and during our interview he bounds in to say hi, sporting what must be a newly grown ponytail, as Hardy’s first reaction upon seeing him is to cry out, “Yo! You look like a girl!” before hugging him warmly.) It’s not surprising to hear Hardy describing the usefulness of boundaries. He is a person for whom structure is clearly essential — not surprisingly then, he shows a keen interest in the military and has lots of soldier friends — as he seems to possess an internal drive towards flux, maybe even chaos. His mood, as some reporters have discovered, can change with the wrong question, and you won’t necessarily be able to predict which one it will be and why. Interviewing him, you feel like you could ask him anything, but you also have to be prepared for any response: it’s a definite don’t-give-it-ifyou-can’t-take-it deal. My experiences with him have only been good ones — he’s friendly, entertaining and funny — but you still feel you have to be on your toes. At one point I bring up his accent, which often meanders from well-spoken

London public school boy (which he is), to London rude boy (which he isn’t, though like many London public school boys he probably learned the art of camouflage). At our second meeting, unlike our first, he seems to have acquired a northern twang, saying things like “loovely” and “fuhn”. I ask him, innocently enough, if he’s rehearsing something set in the north of England. He replies, with a flicker of annoyance, that his wife is from Middlesbrough and his mum is from Yorkshire and it’s probably that. Right you are, Tom. I beat a hasty retreat.

On the face of it, it might look like Hardy is starting to toe the Hollywood line. With the release of Mad Max: Fury Road he became a bona fide box office star — as well as garnering critical acclaim, it grossed close to $400m worldwide — and with The Revenant he got his first Academy Award nomination. When DiCaprio won the Oscar for best actor, the first person he thanked in his acceptance speech was Hardy, whom he called “my brother in this endeavour”. Hardy was in the audience, too, with Charlotte, to watch Mark Rylance beat him to the award for best supporting actor. On the TV coverage, Rylance appeared to say something to Hardy as he walked up to  the stage; I ask Hardy if he remembers what it was. “I think he said, ‘Fucking amateur.’ Hur hur! Or, ‘This is how it’s done.’ Hur! I can’t remember. But it was just amazing to be there.” The year before, he had watched the ceremony on TV in Calgary with his friends while, for reasons best known to themselves, prancing about in ladies’ clothing. Then suddenly he was there in his dickie bow, being praised by DiCaprio and applauded by the establishment. “I don’t think I ever expected to be welcomed to one of those events,” he says. “I always felt like a bit of a naughty boy, and I always thought part of me would be like, ‘Nah’. And then actually I was like, ‘Oh yeah! I’ll have a sniff of that.’” The whole Oscars experience was made even more surreal by the fact it was the Hardys’ first trip away from their new baby. “Obviously there’s that pull and we were both jetlagged and nervous, but fuck me, if you’re going to leave home and do anything we really ought to do this,” he says. “I’ve got a photo of us in our outfits underneath the 88th Academy Awards logo, and that’s a piece of history, isn’t it? That’s mum and dad in their heyday. They were there. Wicked.” [When a reporter approached Hardy while he waited outside the Dolby Theater, he explained, with perfect Enlightened Dad poise, that he was waiting for Charlotte to finish breast-pumping in the bathroom.]


Whether he likes it or not, Tom Hardy is now a major movie star. So what should his next career move be? A romantic comedy? A superhero flick? Somehow you can’t quite see him in tights and a cape (unless the Elton John biopic he’s been signed onto for ages finally gets off the ground — and wouldn’t that be something?). With his artistic singularity and his mercurial temper and his mutating accent and his scattergun syntax and his monstrous pizza consumption, he’s just too wonderfully, blessedly odd. Even if he does have a nice jawline, sticking him in the Batsuit would be a wasted opportunity. And sure enough, one of the projects that is looming at the start of next year is Fonzo, from director Josh Trank, in which Hardy will play — wait for it — an ageing and syphilitic Al Capone. Yes, it’s another baddie, and another gangster for that matter, but that hasn’t escaped his notice, either. There’s clearly something in his psyche that is lured to the darker side of the human experience, perhaps because he’s been there himself. “There’s a part of me that wants to do different stuff,” he says, “but there’s a part of me that goes: do you know what? I want to carry on playing gangsters because every time you go a little bit deeper in that study. Why switch it up and be rice-paper thin? ‘Oh, he’s good because he’s doing a musical now!’ You know what I mean? It’s like, ‘Look at me! I’m trying to please people!’” Or as he put it to me more bluntly in Calgary, “I enjoy the nuttery in my work. So that’s probably why when somebody goes, ‘Do you want to play another loony?’ I go, ‘Yeah, I would actually, yeah.’” There’s also supposed to be another Mad Max film, though he’s hazy on the timings, plus McCullin, a feature film about the war photographer Don McCullin that Hardy Son and Baker will produce and he will star in. The experience of working on his own stuff should, says Hardy, give him a certain catharsis when returning to his bread-andbutter work as an actor for hire. “That energy that I had is just misdirected on other people’s shows,” he says. “As long as I’ve got an outlet elsewhere then I’m happy to go and fit bathrooms. If someone’s built their own house and they want me to come and fit a bathroom, just tell me what you want and I’ll come and do it.” Maybe. But part of you hopes he won’t. Part of you hopes he’ll reimagine your bathroom so it’s not at all what you were expecting. Or maybe he’ll take a sledgehammer to your bathroom and build you a kitchen instead. Or a jungle gym. Or a fucking submarine. Because you don’t hire Tom Hardy if you don’t want Tom Hardy. And who wouldn’t? Taboo is on BBC1 from 7 January

Photographer’s assistants: Steve Nelson, Chris Dodds | Grooming/body painting: Audrey Doyle @ The Milton Agency




Food and Travel


rm a n fishe ay: a d arket e h he m h of t es ul at t Catc a h a u id his  the Q sells P or t ily on ld a O d eille held M ar s es in Belg


Food and Travel

To live and dine in Marseille By Tom Parker Bowles Photographs by AmÊlie Blondiaux


France's gloriously gritty second city is the Mediterranean port that gives zero f***s what you think of it. It's also a cultural, architectural and gastronomic destination to put hairs on the chest of even the worldliest Brit, as Esquire's globetrotting gourmet discovered

Food and Travel

“The dregs of the world are here, unsifted. It is Port Said, Shanghai, Barcelona and Sydney combined. Now that San Francisco has reformed, Marseille is the world’s wickedest port.” Basil Woon, author of the assuredly straight 1929 opus, A Guide to The Gay World of France, was obviously less than enamoured by this great southern city. “Thieves, cutthroats, and other undesirables throng the narrow alleys,” he gasps, “and sisters of scarlet sit in the doorways of their places of business, catching you by the sleeve as you pass by.” Definitely sounds like my sort of place. Half a century later and things don’t seem any more salubrious. “Skag city,” growls Gene Hackman’s Popeye Doyle, in The French Connection II (1975), as he shoots his way past crumbling facades, festering alleys and streets greasy with grime and despair. Because Marseille is one of those cities that bears the brunt, albeit uncomplainingly, of eternal international infamy. MFK Fisher, one of America’s finest scribblers on food, visited often, and lived there for a while in the Seventies, too. Yet friends worried for her safety. A Scottish couple told her that people “had jokingly said before they left England, when they admitted they were going to Marseille, ‘How mad! Nobody goes to Marseille! But be sure to bring us a pocketful of Big H, if the bullets miss you! … some top quality fixes old boy!’” Très droll. Marseille, though, is ruggedly tenacious, an ancient and ever-prosperous port, and France’s second biggest city, founded around 600BC, when Protis the Phocean leader first spotted a marshy cove, protected by two rocky outcrops, and thought it looked like a splendid place to set up camp. It survived countless invasions, from Greeks and Romans to Visigoths, Arogonese and Germans — the last of whom destroyed the Vieux Port in 1943 — plus endless sieges, attacks and plagues. Yet Fisher bemoans the indelible, seemingly eternal stereotype. “One of the most tantalising things about Marseille,” she writes in A Considerable Town, “is that most people who describe it… write the same things… the familiar line that Marseille is doing its best to live up to a legendary reputation as world capital for ‘dope, whores and street violence’. Apparently, people like to glance one more time at the same old words: evil, filth, dangerous.” Just after noon, on the most brilliant blue of late autumnal afternoons, the evil seems far removed, whisked away on a brisk, crisp sea breeze. And the filth is more wear and tear than downright squalor while the only danger is the contemplation of that third glass of pastis. I’m sitting with my

friend, chef and food writer Rowley Leigh, a man not given to praise, faint or otherwise. “But I love this place,” he admits. “It feels real, proper, vital and alive. It doesn’t pander to tourists, or give the slightest fuck what anyone thinks about it, either. Very much the Marseille way.” We retreat back into comfortable silence, perched above the city on the terrace of the former 16th-century Hôtel-Dieu hospital, now a rather comfortable InterContinental hotel. Ahead of us looms the basilica of Notre-Dame de La Garde, where a gleaming and gilded Mary and Child gaze benevolently upon a city wedged between Mediterranean and Provençal hills. Below, the Vieux-Port, with its overpriced bouillabaisse and faded hotels, soap shops and neat rows of tiny boats. The port may have changed since the days of Dickens, but the faces of every hue, the “Hindoos, Russians, Chinese, Spaniards, Portuguese, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Genoese, Neapolitans, Venetians, Greeks, Turks, descendants from all the builders of Babel” he describes at the start of Little Dorrit, still loom large. As a gateway to the south, Marseille always attracted folk: Greeks, Italians, Armenians, Vietnamese, Corsicans and North Africans — Saharan Africans, pieds-noirs from Algeria and Maghrebis, too. A merry old mix, to say the least. It also means a decent lunch. We leave the hotel, and puff up the narrow streets, looking back and out to sea, over Dumas’ “gloomy fortress”, the Château d’If, “which seemed to Edmond Dantès [aka The Count of Monte Cristo], ‘like a scaffold to a malefactor’”. We wander up the hill past loitering youths, north African and Caucasian alike. Their tracksuits, pristine white trainers and sullen stares are easily interchangeable, but they’re bored rather than bullish. The city has edge, sure, but that’s rather different from outright hostility. In dark corners, the occasional prone body stirs under stained blankets, and drawn faces are briefly illuminated by the flare of a lighter; and sometimes, the stench of old piss assails the nostrils. These people, the usual underclass of any large city, though, are too enmeshed in their own lives to care much about the swaying gait of two greedy tourists. Anyway, “the actuality of Marseille and its reputation are chasmically apart,” according to brilliant polymath iconoclast Jonathan Meades, who has lived here, in the Le Corbusier-designed Unité d’Habitation — which the architect called

“La Cité Radieuse” — for some years. “The crime is mostly gang warfare between competing drug gangs whose grasp of economics is imperfect: if everyone is a dealer where is the demand going to come from?” That said, it’s not the sort of place that suits a swagger. If you went looking for trouble, you wouldn’t have to venture far. Nor is it a city in thrall to the tourist buck. “We moved here because we found an enormous flat,” Meades continues. “The city, slow to reveal itself, is kind of lovable. Forget the wild side, the area where we live is about as edgy as St John’s Wood.” Pizzaria Chez Etienne, with its woodburning oven, faded pictures of Syracuse and photos of stars unknown, may seem Italian, but it’s Marseillaise, no doubt about that. We  briefly consider pieds et paquets, that classic dish of Marseilles involving stuffed sheep’s tripe and trotters. I expect Rowley to leap upon it, as some chefs tend to do when faced with stinky offal. But no. “Way too shitty for me,” he says. A happy escape. We order pizza; pizza that would make a  Neapolitan weep tears of anger. The first has a crisp, thin crust slathered with a good inch of sweating anonymous cheese. Plus olives. It’s joyously greasy, magnificently salty and honking of raw garlic. “A Frenchman’s view of Italian food,” Rowley says between bites. “Or rather, Marseille-style pizza. And that raw garlic — it’s a very Marseille thing.” The other pizza is covered with an intense tomato sauce and studded with anchovies. Again, the flavours sit between the bold and the downright pushy. Salad comes drenched in a thick, muscular dressing, while just-chewy supions (baby squid), cooked with a learned hand, wear more garlic still. In Marseille, flavours are as bold as those scarlet-clad brasses. Meades is a fan. “Their pizza is superior to the ‘authentic’ Neapolitan things. And the Marseille version veers towards a tarte fine. Excellence beats authenticity hands down. That pizza, plus supions, pieds et paquets, panisse (fried rounds of chickpea batter) are the great dishes of Marseille. And fish

The city has edge, but that's rather different from outright hostility. In dark corners, the occasional prone body stirs under blankets, and drawn faces are briefly illuminated by the flare of a lighter



Food and Travel


at ey r s l er e , a p h nd nt izza p ic a eve arl ain ispy g r h m w i t T h e ire d c ) -f ui d n n e . od sq by z Etie is wo a b , ( e n s a C h ough pio ri th Su izza P

‘ Dee

p Se seco as’ fish in sa n ille A d cours f fr o n e bais b ou i se’ s on Gér ald P llon, th et m e assé en u at L e Pe dat’s tit N ice



‘ B ou

Food and Travel

soup, the simple stuff.” Certainly not bouillabaisse; most definitely not. But bouillabaisse, I hear you cry, is surely the great dish of Marseilles, its defining delight. One can barely move an inch without being peddled the “authentic” or “best in town”. In fact, this is the one tourist trade that is embraced with genuine gusto. “Bouillabaisse,” they whisper and cajole as you walk through the port. “You like soup, very good price.” It’s certainly not cheap, with prices starting at €30 per person. A rather regal price for a one-pot dish made by fishermen at the end of the day to use up all the random bits and pieces they couldn’t sell. “The true one comes from Marseille,” writes Austin de Croze in Les Plats Régionaux de France. “For is it not in the waters of the beautiful bay of Marseille that all of the requisite varieties of brilliant-hued rock fish, which go to make up the excellence of a bouillabaisse, are to be found.” Everyone seems to agree that rascasse (red scorpionfish), a coarse, ugly, vicious-looking little beast, is an essential ingredient. Along with as many kinds of Mediterranean fish as the cook can get his paws upon. Plus olive oil and saffron and bread. The dish must be rapidly boiled (the name comes from a compound meaning to simmer), to emulsify the stock and oil. The fish is served first, usually, then the broth over bread. It is not “intended to be a soup,” stresses Elizabeth David in French Provincial Cooking. “There should merely be enough of the broth to produce a generous amount of moistening for the slices of bread.” That said, she wasn’t overly enamoured: “I would not myself think it a great deprivation if I were told that I could never again eat a bouillabaisse….” Richard Olney, writing in The French Menu Cookbook, describes it as “more a philosophy than a culinary preparation.” And there’s certainly enough hot air spouted about the damned dish to float a whole barrage of balloons. Purists will argue every aspect. They always do. Whether the bread should be toasted, or rubbed with garlic. And about the addition, or not, of tomatoes, potatoes, white wine or mussels; heresy to some, gospel to others. As to the langouste, that ethereally sweet local crustacean thug, there are two schools of thought, says Waverley Root in The Food of France. “One is, a man who would put lobsters in bouillabaisse would poison wells. The other is, a man who would leave it out would starve his children.”

It is, admits Olney, “terrifyingly soporific.” Indeed, one of the many vivid tales as to its inception involves Venus, Vulcan and Mars. Venus created it to send Vulcan to sleep, so she could bugger off for a little ooh la la with Mars. Meades, though, has little time for the stuff. “Bouillabaisse is an old Provençal or maybe Occitan word which translates as, ‘we saw you coming, mush.’ It is certainly a massive disappointment, preposterously expensive and consumed almost exclusively by tourists. There is a thing called ‘the bouillabaisse charter’ — think gothic script on leatherette. This is essentially a price-fixing agreement among a number of allegedly gastronomic restaurants.” Still, as tourists, this supposedly blessed broth should at least cross our lips. But rather than keeping ourselves to street level, we aim for the stars, three Michelin to be precise, at Le Petit Nice. It’s a little out of town, past the Plages des Catalans, the beach where Doyle, porkpie hat on head, leered over the local ladies. It’s dark now, the sea below us is as black as olives. In the glare of the floodlights, fishermen cast from the honeyed rocks. I have little time for the usual flour-

Marseille sprawls, with no particular rhyme or rhythm. It does as it pleases. Rather like its inhabitants. A city apart, and alone ishes and excesses of the three-star firmament, but the cooking here is exceptional. “Bouille-Abaisse” is the famous set menu, a “deconstructed” (yuk!) version of the dish. The descriptions may be trite, (‘Shallow Waters”, “Deep Seas”, ‘The Abyss”), but the skill and flavours are anything but. The sweetest slivers of shellfish in a concentrated, but blissfully clean, saline juice that


tastes of mermaids’ sighs. And a  tomato consommé of startlingly sublime intensity. Gérald Passedat, the chef proprietor, is a local and sure knows how to coax out flavour. Even Leigh is impressed. We end with a simple bowl of dirty, rust-coloured broth. It has a sonorous, full fathom five profundity, with the merest smirk of depravity, plus a whisper of chilli, nudge of bitter orange peel

Food and Travel

r- ille. ie us a r s e b or M ted  C th c Le sou stru e b th in o t a n g un e a c e i ld i e s n S ra d er n bu rovi nea t p ti o p rr a o t p e a it of to dit r o a b o of e l a d’ H e r d M un m nité l, th y an m U o o o cit e c ed a p he Th sign l as th t l de we f bo o A s ws v ie


and the slow moan of saffron. If the preceding courses were about dainty mermaids, then this is Poseidon’s punch. “Well, there we go,” says Leigh. “You won’t find better than that.” He’s right. Call it what you will, it’s a pretty decent fish soup. Why is food so good here? wonders MFK Fisher. “I think it’s because of the

peculiar liveliness of what grows behind it on the ancient soil, and especially what swims and creeps and slithers at its watery gates.” Exactly. The next morning, we wander through the market in the port; well, more a  scrappy collection of tables selling a scrappy collection of fish. Mainly rascasse, rouget (red mullet), sardines, sole and dorade (gilt-head bream). Polystyrene boxes seethe


with tiny swimmer crabs (another staple of soup) while conger eel leer and grey mullet gasp their last. There’s no hard sell here, no flashing of wares, save the occasional half-hearted cry. It’s an age-old scene, but one that takes place in the shadow of Norman Foster’s L’Ombrière, a brilliant modern structure, which sits a large rectangular mirror, as thin as a razor’s edge, upon eight


Food and Travel

From its


terrace overloo and Notr king the e-Dame Old Port brings M de la Ga rde, Le S oroccan o uk speciali ties to M arseille

er y. ri t t f w h ci o c e t un Fren d th a h le ) ite n the mp tew r ou e i s sa sh s v a i a f er tim owle e (f id as B h l w ing ker ourr e r r b ch du Pa ed r Mi ez she Tom own Ch K Fi ere, ren MF ile h nt’s a W h t a ur s re



In the little fishing have n Vallon de the Michelin s Auffes, -starred L’E puisette fe slow-brais atures ed squid rib bons and langoustin es in pasta on its menu


Food and Travel

pillars. It gleams proudly, glinting with sun and sea, adding a 21st century shine to an otherwise ancient port. A quick pastis, then a typically grumpy taxi ride, down the great La Canebière, (“a  street,” according to Alexander Dumas in The Count of Monte Cristo, “of which the

household jackets, knives, cocottes and gadgets that slice the ends off eggs. We stock up on essentials we don’t need, then wander back through a working market, where old men sit and gossip, sipping cups of mint tea, while stout ladies elbow their way through the crowds. The usual smoking youths loiter with intent, watching everything and nothing. Leigh is in heaven, at its spread of fish (over 10 kinds of white fish alone), and the relative value. “No tourist tat, just a working market for people who actually bloody cook each day.” Indeed, the haggling is fierce. “This is how France should be,” he declares with a regal sweep of his arm. We stop by a tired bar and order a beer. A cadaverous man, shaking, ancient and limping shuffles in. The barman, while hardly acknowledging him, unthinkingly pours a measure of cheap whisky into a smudged glass, and tops it up from a plastic bottle of Coke. The old man gulps it in one, leaves a clatter of coins on the bar, and hobbles out. We wander home, the light pouring away, to the sounds of bells, seagulls and the distant tinkle of trams.

Proud but not arrogant, cultured without pretension, a city happy in its own skin. Plus it has food to make the taste buds stand to attention and belt out ‘La Marseillaise’ modern Phoceans are so proud that they say with all the gravity in the world… ‘If Paris had La Canebière, Paris would be a  second Marseille’”). And on to the Modernist masterpiece Unite d’Habitation, started in 1947, and perhaps the great proto-Brutalist work. With stained glass windows by Picasso, it has charm, and curves, and visions of a future that never was. The view from the top takes in everything — yellowing concrete tower blocks, terracotta-tiled villas, the starkly white lines of the velodrome, the trams, buses and far off hills. Marseille sprawls, with no particular rhyme or rhythm. It does as it pleases. Rather like its inhabitants. A city apart, and alone. We take the bus back, down wide avenues, lined with stalls selling nylon knickers and mismatched shoes. And across town, close to the sea, past the Catalan beach once more, and down a set of steps to L’Epuisette, a one-star Michelin place with a corrugated iron roof. There’s the usual faffing about napkin folding and pointless pomp. Some Michelin places just can’t help themselves. The food is modern but assured, the flavours as fine as the technique: plump langoustines in silken pasta; burnished sweetbreads with small cubes of apple jelly. A sensational piece of John Dory, gleefully fresh, and the chef’s take on pieds and paquets, pretty “paquets” of rouget, and slow-braised ribbons of squid. We pick at stinky cheese and drain the remains of a Clos Ste Hune Riesling. A kip beckons, but before that, a stop at Maison Empereur: “Maison de qualité reconnue dans les univers Quincaillerie, Droguerie, Coutellerie, Arts Culinaires depuis 1827.” It’s an emporium of rare charm and depth, selling everything from brass madeleine moulds to meat grinders, terrines, copper pans, cleaning products, wire wool,

Toinou is a stripped-back seafood temple, with the atmosphere of a canteen (you queue and pay before eating), but the firm-fleshed shellfish of piscine legend. The stall outside sells 20 varieties of French oyster, along with clams (four kinds), prawns (five types) and two sizes of sea urchin. We dip crusty bread into anchoiade, bracingly robust, and slurp sweet Belon oysters and sea urchins by the dozen. I ask if they have Tabasco. The waitress stops, stares at me. “Non!” she spits, as if I’ve just besmirched her father’s good name. Leigh just grins. Night has fallen and the air is thick with the clink of glass, the fizz of gossip and clatter of metal on plate. We walk back to the port, to Le Souk. Moroccan food rarely fills me with delight, yet once again, the quality is remarkable. Fluffy couscous, fierce homemade harissa, well-spiced merguez, lashings of soupy chickpeas and a small leg of lamb, spoon soft. All sloshed down with a bottle of Moroccan Guerrouane red. Out to sea, the lights of the fishing boats wink. We totter home, to sleep the sleep of Dumas’ dead. Chez Michel is thoroughly old school, no tasting menus here, or foams or cheffy fantasies. Nope, this is an upmarket bistro much loved by Fisher. From the outside it doesn’t promise much. Inside, though, with its polished marble floor, pristine linen tablecloths, lovingly buffed mirrors and proud display of gleaming fish, it instils hungry confidence.


We order boiled prawns, then bourride (a fish stew with aioli). “One of the great dishes of Provence,” according to Elizabeth David, although from Sette, down the coast. It’s that, or the bouillabaisse. “No mucking about here,” says Leigh with glee. First, we’re presented with the fish, dressed up like hopeful Thai brides. Weever, sea bass and conger. They’re whisked away to be cooked. They arrive back 20 minutes later, firm and just translucent, with a  pile of steamed potatoes. Then the broth, fish stock thickened with aioli, thick as double cream and with an identical hue. The garlic flavour is strong, but not overwhelming, the soft sweetness of fish never far behind. If bouillabaisse is the fiery harlot, then this is the voluptuous courtesan, clad in fur coat and silk knickers. It smothers and seduces, a fish soup that leads, inevitably, to one’s bed. Magnificent but tiring all the same. It’s our last lunch and we discuss Fisher. She talked about Marseille and its “insolite” nature, strictly translated as “contrary to what is usual and normal.” But she argued that’s not quite right. It’s a word that’s “mysterious, unknowable and, in plain fact, indefinable. As indefinable as Marseille itself.” A cross, perhaps between Gallic shrug and really couldn’t give a fuck. And like Fisher, even the fleeting visitor to this great city cannot fail to fall for her “phoenix-like vitality, its implacably realistic beauty and brutality.” Marseille is proud but not arrogant, cultured without pretension, a city happy in its own skin. Plus it has food to make the taste buds stand to attention and belt out, well, the revolutionary words of “La Marseillaise”: “Aux armes, citoyens…” But not before a decent lunch. “It’s a most congenial place to inhabit,” Meades says with affection. Why else would he live here? “Friendly in a way that Paris has never been and laid back in a way that London has never been. It’s also rather bolshie. It is to France what Liverpool is to England.” But it’s a survivor, too. Of diseases and invaders, of “every kind of weapon known to  European warfare, from the axe and arrow to sophisticated derivatives of old Chinese gunpowder” as Fisher put it. And plagues, both natural and narcotic. “It is hard not to surmise,” she wrote, “that if a nuclear blast finally levelled the place, some short, dark-browed men and women might eventually emerge from a few deep places, to breed in the salt marshes that would have gradually revivified the dead waters around the old port.” Marseille doesn’t demand your love. It doesn’t want it. But believe me, after even a few hours, you’ll be pledging your eternal troth. Forget heroin. Once Marseille’s in your system, you’re hooked for life.


What I’ve Learned

Sir Antony Gormley Sculptor, 66

Interview by

Portrait by

Paul Wilson

Carol Sachs 120


‘Art is a conversation… an inanimate thing that can change the way people see the world or change people’s minds. That is the alchemy. That’s the potential’ On the whole, we all depend on women

as our mothers, but they’re more balanced and have less obsessive-compulsive tendencies — which is probably my default setting. I think I’m a bit manic and the women in my life manage to make me less so. My life is entirely run by women. Emily and Kerry are the registrars, Tamara is the studio manager, Alice is my PA and Briony is my projects coordinator. They keep the structure and do a bloody good job, I have to say. I was brought up Catholic, in a very dis-

ciplined family, and when I lost my faith at university, I suppose there was this thing: “What is true and where can I look for it?” I guess I’m still on that journey, if that isn’t a cliché beyond all clichés. I went to India first in 1969 and returned

in 1972. Second time, I stayed a couple of years, a lot of it in Buddhist studies, practising meditation. The answer to where can you find truth, is you have to find it, as it were, in yourself. You need time, silence, a degree of stillness. The last expedition I made was to Sri Lanka and I stayed in a monastery with a silent begging order. We’d start the day at 4.30am with walking meditation, sit for six hours before having something to eat and going out with the begging bowls. I decided I had to answer the vocation of a maker and take whatever insights I might have had back home and try to make something worthwhile.

we’ve got a bit of land. There’s something lovely about that sense of continuity and connection. “When we are no longer children we are already dead,” as Brâncuși said. I can’t imagine being married to anybody else but another artist [Vicken Parsons], because who would understand what being an artist is? Everything for us is a studio, with the potential to generate new forms. You have babies and you are also making other things that haven’t been in the world before, just like the babies. They all become part of the same project. Vicken did all the early moulding [of

Gormley’s body, to make sculptural figures]. That is a real relationship of trust. To be entirely encased in plaster from head to toe and maintain a position and trust that you are going to be let out. It’s a form of imprisonment that is absolute. No eyeholes, just a hole for the mouth. I never bothered with that business of straws up the nose. You’ve got your eyes closed, you’re wrapped up in cling film and you’re then covered in hot, wet plaster and scrim. You have to stay there for an hour, an hour-and-a-half. I couldn’t have done it with anybody else. I think for me that’s the proof of our relationship, really. She was not only the mother of my children but also the midwife of my work. I believe what Joseph Beuys said — we

once or twice a week give me an exercise routine. Now I do it for myself. I’ve had to have both feet reconstructed because they were flat. What was great was the physiotherapy guy from the hospital taught me how to do press-ups on one leg. It’s really simple; you hook the bad foot on top of the ankle of the good foot and carry on as normal. Last October, Vicken and I did a ceramics course. It was absolutely great. I was

extremely bad. Vicken came out with 12 plates we still use. I came out with two egg cups that were pretty wobbly but I’ve got better since. I think it was 12 Mondays, 6.30 until 9.30pm. Our classmates were very discreet and polite. It was just lovely. Typical evening class thing, where you start with 18 eager people; midway through the course you’re down to about 10. I’m not very good on clothes. Vicken says,

“Look, you’re an artist. It matters the way you look. You enjoy looking at other people when they’re dressed well,” which is absolutely true. I just cannot be bothered with the time it takes. Basically, I wear a white T-shirt and chinos. Both from Gap. It all has to be cotton and it might as well be white because then you can tell if it’s clean or dirty. Practical. I always wear boots. Because of the flat foot business and the operations, I need the support. Scarpa mountaineering boots, which are light and strong. I’ve worn them for years.

are all artists. We are all keen to talk to each If you get a low-melt glue gun and satay

sticks, you can, pretty quick, build nearly anything. Have a go. When a person stumbles across one of my iron body forms, they say, “What is this thing

doing here?” Then I hope the question is returned to the person: “What are you doing here?” It’s an encounter with mortality, I suppose. And that’s what it is for me as well. I’m making these things that are an acknowledgement of the fact I will be here less long than these objects. They are going to have a relationship with people I will never know.

other, and what do we talk about mostly? Our experiences. We make stories out of what’s happened to us and offer them to each other as a way of making the world bigger and more interesting. Art isn’t any different. Art is a conversation and it’s very peculiar not to recognise that’s what it is. Art is an inanimate thing that can change the way people see the world or change people’s minds. That is the alchemy. That’s the potential.

I do have a suit. Vicken’s present on my

65th birthday was my first tailor-made suit. In a strong Worsted wool, blue. It does feel special when I put that on. Mine is Richard James. Putting it on is like getting on a really nice bike: I feel I can go places I wouldn’t be able to without it. I do have a really nice bike. Beautiful, classic, a Merlin. Lovely, lightweight, beautiful thing. I’d love to think I’ve gained wisdom, but

The extraordinary thing about being

I’m not sure. I’m looking forward to that.

an artist is that you decide, from moment

to moment, how to use the most precious resource you have, which is time.

Sir Antony Gormley OBE, photographed in his studio, King’s Cross, London, September 2016

On my last birthday, we had lots of old

friends over from university, 22 adults and 10 children. We were camping for the weekend;

I’m relatively tall [6ft 4in] and backs are always a problem. I used to have a trainer


Read more in our series of What I’ve Learned interviews at

Gadget Guide 2017












1. LG G5 If you thought all phones are basically the same now, you’d be right. LG has turned some new tricks though by making its G5 modular. Pull out the battery-pack base and replace it with add-on “modules” that boost functionality: a Hi-Fi DAC audio player, a Bluetooth headset or a 360° camera (with more to follow). Another USP is its dual-camera for wide-angle shots. From £530,


2. Google Pixel XL Thanks to several excellent launches, 2016 is the year Google got it right. With officially the best camera on any smartphone, its super-fast Pixel is great for one-handed use, has a fantastic display and supports the new Daydream VR headset. Available in 5in 1080p or 5.5in Quad HD AMOLED display versions. It’s not cheap, mind.


From £720,

3. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge A cool trick here is the display, which lets you see notifications, plus date and time without waking the phone up. Elsewhere, it edges it over Apple rivals in just about every other category: a beautiful screen, a great feel and a terrific camera. The best phone on the market right now is an Android. From £510,

E T 2 0 1 7




Gadget Guide 2017






H E A D P H O N E S 1. Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature

2. Pryma O1

Constructed from Saffiano leather and forged aluminium, these have more in common with high-end luggage. Formed 50 years ago in Worthing when John Bowers began hand-assembling speaker systems in Roy Wilkins’ electrical shop, the company’s latest is their flagship headphone. Each cup has its own acoustic sound cabinet. Best suited for home or a long-haul flight.

Known back home for its loudspeakers, Pryma has sashayed into the audio accessories market with typical Italian style. The leather used is literally the same Bottega Veneta uses in its bags, while the interchangeable headbands with distinctive belt-style buckles make these a customisable accessory as well as a precision piece of kit. Beyoncé wore them in her Lemonade videos, should such things sway you.



3. Audeze Sine The first on-ear planar magnetic headphones — using an electrical pulse to transmit sound, so there’s no typical cone-type speakers, hence no sound loss through vibration — to offer Lightning connectivity to Apple products. Designed by BMW subsidiary Designworks, they’re lightweight, fold flat and have drivers three times bigger than many rivals. £400,


Gadget Guide 2017













1. Hasselblad H6D-100c Hasselblad has been making iconic handmade cameras for 75 years: Bert Stern, Ansel Adams and Buzz Aldrin were all fans, the latter on the Apollo missions. This beauty, though, is fully loaded for the 21st century: 4K video, a swishy 3in high-definition touchscreen for live view and quick menu settings, shutter speed ranging from one hour to 1/2000th of a second, Wi-Fi, HDMI and two storage options. £23,400 (50c model is £18,500),

2. Leica Sofort Leica has been branching into interesting new directions recently, not least this budget (for them) instant model. The company’s first take on instant photography, it combines the quick gratification of Polaroid-style prints with its signature tank-like build. Available in numerous pop colours, it has a range of built-in modes (sports and action, party and people) while you can take manual control of the focus. £230,

3. Olympus Pen-F The 1963 Pen-F was a cult classic: its unusual half-frame photo format giving up to 72 shots from one roll of film. The 2016 version maintains the classic body with magnesium top and front covers and aluminium dials, then overhauls the insides. There’s a 2.36m-dot OLED viewfinder, Wi-Fi, a swivel LCD display and manual rangefinder controls. It’s covetable for its looks alone, though. £1,000 (body only),


Gadget Guide 2017







1. Naim Mu-so Qb Wireless Fancy-pants British audiophile Naim took their time to get into wireless. When they did, 2014’s Mu-so piled up awards as quickly as it rang tills at John Lewis and Apple, despite costing the same as two Sonos. Their smaller, tidier follow-up somehow still manages a mighty 300W of power, while the new Qb (“cube’’, get it?) design looks good anywhere. £595,

2. Wharfedale Diamond Active A1 “Britain’s best-known loudspeaker brand” — well, someone has to be — has put its know-how into developing a pair of wireless “active” stereo speakers, no speaker cables or additional amp required, meaning they can be placed anywhere in the room. Solidly built, with nicely rounded edges, they handle bass particularly effectively. At the price, a bargain. £600,

3. Geneva AeroSphère Large Large by name, large by nature. This huggable 8kg, 40cm x 40cm beast comprises a 1in tweeter, two 4in woofers and an up-firing 6in subwoofer, set in three acoustic chambers. It’s loud. It works on or off a floor-stand, uses an aluminium-housed remote and sets up Wi-Fi, AirPlay or Bluetooth at the touch of a button. £650,


Gadget Guide 2017



1. Apple Watch 2

2. Breitling Exospace B55 Connected

The original Apple Watch tried to be all things to all customers. While you can still squint at your Instagram on its 38mm screen, the Apple Watch 2 concentrates on health and fitness. It’s got built-in GPS (to properly track your runs), water resistance up to 50m (you can swim with it), a display two-times brighter (to be seen in difficult light) and a powerful new processor. It no longer pretends to be a smartphone replacement, it’s now a rather handsome sports accessory.

Perhaps the smartest luxury smartwatch around, Breitling’s Exospace B55 Connected is also the only one that, pilot’s licence permitting, will let you land a plane. Commercial flyers can use it to record necessary data such as flight time from taxiing to landing, while the rest of us can admire its analogue and dual LCD screens, SuperQuartz movement and titanium case. £6,970,

From £370,

3. Nixon The Mission Aimed at surfers, snowboarders and skiers, with an app linking to services like Surfline and SnoCountry, the Android Wear-powered Mission is built to be bashed about. With its AMOLED display, rugged polycarbonate chassis and Gorilla Glass crystal, it’s waterproof to 100m, has a sealed microphone and full GPS navigation. Mission accomplished, dare we say. From £340,






Gadget Guide 2017













1. Apple iPad Pro

2. Google Pixel C

Against no small competition, not least Apple’s own, this is the best tablet you can buy today. Basically a portable PC, it’s almost certainly faster than your work computer and is compatible with an add-on keyboard and pencil. Sensors match the display to available light, it’s loud — thanks to four speakers (it’ll fill a room without Bluetooth speakers) — and it’s got a colour palette equivalent to a digital cinema. Movies on this look (and sound) amazing.

Google’s pitch for this is Pixel C’s 64-bit quad-core processor, to drive high-performance graphics for gamers. The screen brightness is great, it’s solidly built and charges up in a flash, while Android fans will love the split-screen and the fact it operates like any (non-Apple) phone. For the very pleasing price, it’s win-win. From £400,

From £550,

3. Amazon Kindle Oasis Obviously a Kindle is a tablet that only does one thing, but it does that one thing extremely well. Their Oasis is 20 per cent lighter and 30 per cent thinner than its predecessors, and places what weight there is where your hand sits, mimicking reading a paperback. Its got the highest resolution of any e-reader, while the charging cover gives you months of battery life. £270,


Gadget Guide 2017













1. Dell XPS 13 Dell’s refreshed XPS 13 aims to take on Apple’s MacBook Air with its handsome “InfinityEdge” display that (almost) eliminates the bezel, its Quad-HD screen and its pupil-dilating 3200 x 1800 resolution. It’s compact and lightweight, with a battery that offers some stellar power management. In machined aluminium with a silver anodised finish, it’s got looks not always associated with Dell. From £1,000,


2. Apple MacBook Pro

3. HP Spectre 13

Friend of the creative industries, it’s been years since the MacBook Pro has had a refresh. But it’s been worth the wait. With 130 per cent faster graphics, almost 70 per cent brighter display and 17 per cent thinner, with a double-size Force Touch trackpad, its main USP is its multi-touch enabled glass strip in the keyboard for fast access to most-used tools. Touch ID from iPhones, is new too, enabling faster purchases and transactions.

An Intel Core i5 processor, Bang & Olufsen speakers, 1080p screen, 8Gb of Ram, three USB Type C-ports and nearly 10 hours of battery life, it’s difficult to imagine what else HP could have crammed into this — particularly considering that at 10.3mm thick it’s the world’s thinnest laptop. Excellent at multitasking, it can crunch through Photoshop image editing, Word documents and Excel spreadsheets without any lag.

From £1,450,

From £1,150,








1. Bose SoundTouch 300 Wi-Fi soundbar As TVs have got thinner, so’s the sound — there’s no room left to fit any decent speakers. So you need a soundbar. This one’s easy to set up, place it anywhere (wall, shelf, under TV) and stream music via an app, while controlling TV and films via a universal remote. It also connects to other Bose speakers around the house. £600,

2. Loewe Bild 7 OLED UHD TV “The finest TV in the world” is some boast and maybe Loewe is justified in making it, at this price. Its Bild 7 (“bild” means “picture”) comes in 55in and 65in, is OLED, less than 7mm thick and incorporates a motorised stand and a 1TB hard disk (expandable to 2TB). Watch one programme, follow a second with picture-in-picture mode and record a third. Why? Because you can. £4,490 (55in),

3. PlayStation VR and PS4 Pro Virtual reality entered the market at every price point in 2016. With 40m users, PlayStation has something of a headstart in the game, despite its much-delayed VR goggles only having hoved into view this winter. They’re not as knockout as HTC Vive, but teamed with the new PS Pro they’re about as much fun as you can have legally. £350 each;



‘Believe me’ A letter from America

On the US presidential campaign trail, Donald Trump talks to reporters at the Red Arrow Diner, Manchester, New Hampshire, January 2016

Credits | Credit

By David Thomson

Credits | Credit




I forget his name but I remember some of the things he said. He claimed he could go out on the streets in broad daylight and shoot someone, and get away with it, and now that he is elected you do have to wonder if he knew something as he came to his repeated call, “Believe me.” He said he was going to build a wall and Mexico would pay for it. He said he had told the Mexican president this certain plan, and it had been agreed, “Believe me.” He said you could always reach out for a woman and take hold of her by her pussy, “Believe me,” and then he said he had only said that in the way locker-room guys will blue-sky, “Believe me.” He was going to round up every Muslim, every Mexican thug, drug dealer and rapist — millions of them, “Believe me” — and ship them out and away from the greatest country. Just to keep it clean and pure. He said he had wondered where Barack Obama had been born just because others had started that worry, “Believe me.” Because he was not the kind of man who liked to have to worry, “Believe me.” And he told us that global warming — that stuff — was just a hoax so that there was no need to believe it, or worry over it, “Believe me.” Most of the time, most of the people no longer believed in a thing, “Believe me.” He advised us that his tax returns would have to wait because the audit was so complicated, “Believe me,” and then he added that wouldn’t he have to be an idiot anyway to pay taxes, and wasn’t he too smart for that, “Believe me”? He said that no one had more respect for women than he had, “Believe me,” especially if they were stacked 10s, with pussy hanging from their hips like a loaded holster. It went on for a year and a day, and every time he asked for belief his little mouth pursed and formed an “O”, like an anus clenching, about to unload, “Believe me.” He told us he was going to win, “Believe me,” and that dread promise came true, and then nothing like belief was left alive in the land. He was surprised; he may have been dismayed. Had we been taking this seriously, “Believe me”? He had not really been running to be president, to give up his golden Tower for the White House, to have to be awake at all hours of the day (even when locker-room mouths might be out on the streets with guns, making absurd promises, or hunting pussy). Why would anyone grow old grappling with problems that cannot be solved? His only wish, his lifelong dream, was to be on television, live, without a script or teleprompters, just being his explosive self, “Believe me”. Wasn’t he a modern American, wasn’t he, whatever his name is — I have forgotten — like everyone else, just wanting to be on television, “Believe me”? How was he to know that anyone might take him at his word, “Believe me”? How could he be blamed or held liable when he had known for so long that nothing needed to be believed, not in an America that would be great again, “Believe me”? Didn’t we know that “reality” was no more

reliable than Candid Camera? So don’t worry about reality. Wasn’t it sufficient to give any insane hope or fear utterance, as easily and naturally as the way a locker-room guy needs to vent his bowels and every other bodily fluid so many times a day, “Believe him”?

It comes down to language. If you are home today with loved ones, with children, you may say something like, “At seven, we are going over to grandma’s for dinner, so be ready then, please. Brush your hair and your teeth, and don’t be late, because you know that upsets grandma.” It’s not that this occasion is any more special than the other four or five times a year you go to grandma’s for dinner, and it’s not that her dinner will be exciting or even food the children might want to eat. But there are words in your mind, like “grandma” or “home” or “please” that mean something. When you get the kids to write grandma a thank-you note, you’ll hope those words are spelled properly, though you know the kids are going to sigh and groan and roll their eyes if you say the letter has to be done with a pen and paper. Do you have any envelopes still? Such a process may seem archaic, and you do remember how times have changed. You recollect in 1953 how you biked over to Hackbridge in the rain to see your first television show, because your grandma had bought a television set for the coronation of the Queen, Elizabeth II. You stared into the rough black and white picture and you recall the thrill at “Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet”, as neighbours came in to watch and grandma made hard-boiled egg sandwiches and tea for everyone, with bottled beer and sausage rolls later in the day. Grandma went long ago — what year was that? — but the Queen is still here. She was on television then, and here she is again in The Crown, another show about family. Perhaps she watches The Crown herself, frowns when they get something wrong, then smiles as she considers whether the show is wrong, or could it be her? It was like that, more or less, that day, 2 June 1953, believe me. Not exactly or only that, perhaps, but like that, and I am as attached to the task of remembering as to forming sentences to describe it. I am on the edge of nostalgia or romance here, but I am trying to be accurate. You know that attempt. So, when you rally your kids for a visit to another grandma, and when you talk about “seven”, you hope for a shared sense of what that means and where the hands are on every clock and watch. You expect “seven” to be trusted. So, you are not going to sneak out of the house at half-past-six leaving the kids to wonder if the world is ending. Because they have heard that possibility being talked about, even if some say it is a hoax and a horror story meant to scare naughty children. “What’s a hoax?” a child asks, and you try to define it, wondering where that odd word came from. There are facts, believe them.

His only wish was to be on TV, live, without a script or teleprompters, just being his explosive self 132


Photographs by M Scott Brauer

Trump holds a press conference before an election rally at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, New Hampshire, August 2016

our lifetime now, and which amounts to a constitution of falsehoods, a bill of lies. Now, you may say, that’s an old and forlorn song you’re singing, that advertising on television was “a bad thing” — juice that can never be put back in the bottle. But perhaps we trust that homily too much. We are supposed to be a people who can overcome our problems, and in the coming crisis we can expect many spirits to be rammed back into some kind of bottle, all in the name of survival. Meanwhile, we deserve to notice what we have done to our own estimates of attention, facts and meaning. We have allowed even the news to be subject to the virus of absurd claims for ghostly products. We have assumed the economy depends on this, though in so many ways the economy is a  wreck organised by the privileged Crusoes on their cosy islands. We have permitted this basic discourse to be interrupted by little movies that have contempt for attention or common reality, and the contempt has poisoned us as much as we might be disconcerted if our lover, approaching climax, took a 30-second break to speak of shampoo and insurance, before coming right back. This condition in what used to be merely television, this introduction of lies into the supply of information and entertainment, has gone mad on the internet, where people spend a large part of their time watching and being washed over by a flow of stuff they do not trust or believe in. Elections in the United Kingdom and the United States have startled expert opinions and the polling that dominate alleged news programmes. In America, hardly any spin coverage noted that across the nation, yards and gardens had signs proclaiming him, while his opponent had never visited Wisconsin. The spin of opinions on TV, the talking heads, is as fraudulent as the advertising if it is presented as a record of the nation. I suspect that in both countries, and maybe in others to come, spreading across partisan boundaries, the election results express a vague but profound disquiet at the larger ramifications of the internet, and the way it extends the impersonality in which it becomes ever harder to talk to a human being if your plumbing is askew, if your passwords have been hacked, or if your children are missing. We have a bad record at controlling the technologies that have sprung up on our watch, and we have always been too late in seeing how the pulse of the technologies overrides the messages we think we are sending. The internet resists accurate language and print on paper. The cynical urgings that we should “Believe me” will be the more dangerous if we lose those antique objects, newspapers. But that could be completed in 10 years. Meanwhile, let me note that The New York Times (one of the avowed guardians of fact) has its own failings. In yesterday’s paper, believe me, 14 November, there was a full-page advertisement inviting customers for “Around the World by Private Jet: Cultures in Transformation”. This tour seeks 50 travellers to visit nine destinations in 26 days — New York, Havana, Bogota, Easter Island, Iran, all the way to Marrakech and Reykjavik — with four Times writers as your spin guides, all in a privately chartered Boeing 757. And only $135,000 per head, believe me. Be warned: cultures are being transformed.

He is hideous, and he has forgotten that he is lying. We may not recover from this unhindered fantasist, but he was elected, which means that in the odd American way of counting votes for the electoral college, he won. So, he has his chance to “make America great again”, but as soon as that voodoo phrase appears we have to recognise the extent to which our discourse had been corrupted long before he chose to run, or ask for belief. There are countries all over the world that would be embarrassed to think of themselves as great. They try to organise things so that some of the time some of their people feel happy, or calm, or themselves. That’s enough. What could “great” mean except preeminence, more gold medals and nuclear warheads than anyone else, more guns and gold bars, more flavours of ice cream? That’s a self-defeating pursuit. The more telling word in the magic phrase is “again”, for that’s as heavy with nostalgia as my account of the coronation. “Again” assumes a loss has occurred, a falling-off in resolve as well as resources. It speaks to the dream of regaining a country that was white, where women did as they were told and waited to have their pussies processed, a nation that was victorious, fully armed, prosperous and all-powerful. And as paranoid as any human group that enjoys all the maddening self-esteem I have just outlined. More or less, that’s the post-war USA. You could place it at 14 June 1946, which is the day he was born. I forget his name but in the eventual desert, names will be grains of sand. All I remember is that his name is a verb — a very American condition. To make America great again is a phrase and a project from the advertisement, the television motif, that has gone on all of



Buying used cars

Sell a car







(and never will be)

According to the tech companies, the futurologists and the carmakers themselves, a motoring revolution is just around the next bend (in the fast lane). But as the switch to driverless cars shifts gear and picks up speed, Esquire asks if the race to get ‘autonomous vehicles’ on the road isn’t missing a crucial component of what made cars popular in the first place, and continues to provide their allure: the simple, complicated pleasure of driving them?



Sign in

The Mercedes-Benz F 015 ‘Luxury in Motion’ driverless research car


By Richard Benson

You might think someone who felt he had seen the future of British motoring, and was genuinely excited to share his vision, would choose an exciting location for the big reveal. You could hire one of the great race tracks such as Silverstone, perhaps. Or a historic testing track like Millbrook in Bedfordshire, or at least somewhere with good scenic driving, like the Lake District or Scottish Highlands. But no. The British government agency that coordinates developers of the so-called driverless future has, in fact, chosen to showcase its

best efforts at a pedestrian precinct in Milton Keynes. The town’s council is very accommodating to people who want to trial alternative visions of the future, apparently (they would be, wouldn’t they?), which is why, on a damp, overcast winter day, I clamber into the passenger seat of a small, purple-and-white electric buggy-like vehicle, and ride slowly around the precinct watching the steering wheel turn and twitch of its own accord. In the actual driver’s seat sits a bloke from the University of Oxford (the car is part of


the Lutz Pathfinder project, a collaboration between the university and various UK tech companies) who talks me through it all. Basically, he programmes the route into a satnav, and the car can then detect unexpected objects and people, and will slow down or stop for them. Although we only go about eight miles an hour tops it’s quite impressive, and the steering wheel makes me feel like I’m in a crap horror film, which is quite entertaining. But the best thing is the pedestrians, who take no notice of the car whatsoever.

Read more…


Why do they keep walking in front of us? I ask the bloke from Oxford, as the car stops for yet another bovine couple in tracksuits. “We’ve done trials here before, so they’re used to us now.” Did they stop and look when you started? “Yes,” he says. “A bit.” It starts to drizzle and the windscreen wipers turn themselves on. We trundle past a group of people looking at their phones. When TV news reporters cover the new driverless technology that’s going to revolutionise our lives and cities, I think, the reporters get really excited, but here, no one moves. The future of motoring may have arrived but in north Buckinghamshire, no one’s arsed. The government has not said when it thinks driverless cars — “fully autonomous vehicles”, or “AVs” to use the industry term — will be on our roads in mass numbers, although Tesla Motors says it’ll be the first to offer a proper AV in 2018 (UK regulations are in place to allow it; the insurance burden is on the driver). Other car makers and tech companies say they’re aiming to get theirs on the road in between five and 20 years, and General Motors is now working to a plan to have all of its cars fully self-driving by 2025. Some carmakers have AV tech on the open road now. The Tesla Model S (starting price £57,900) already has an autopilot function; self-driving Uber taxis are being trialled in Singapore and America, and Germany has experimented with self-driving lorries on autobahns. All these examples require a driver behind the wheel ready to take charge but they’ve created a sense of over-excitement in the car industry that explains why most major manufacturers have shown ridiculous concept AVs at motor shows this year: Renault’s Kwid has an autonomous drone that flew ahead, beaming back traffic information to the AV, while Bentley unveiled a prototype with the “amusing” touch of a hologram butler who would look after passengers while the car drove itself. AVs with reconnaissance drones probably aren’t going to happen, but it’s a fact that a lot of car companies accept a report from the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, an independent Canadian transport research organisation, predicting autonomous car models will be widely available from 2025, commanding an average extra cost of $10,000. By 2045, the report says, AVs will be the most common kind of car, and by 2060 they may even be mandatory. The benefits of all this are touted by a  mini-industry of pundits and consultants. With 90 per cent of road accidents caused by human error, millions of lives could be saved. Old and infirm people unable to drive would become mobile and drink driving would become an unpleasant thing of the past, like

More new cars coming soon

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, says his firm has already built cars capable of being fully self-driving

‘Around 1m people are killed on roads every year. We have

smallpox or something. We could summon cars via phone from local pools, thus removing the need to own vehicles, in turn reducing congestion and pollution. Cities will be liberated into wonderful, green open spaces, and drivers will become free to, er, do all the exciting things they do to fill up train journeys. Meanwhile, millions of delivery and manufacturing jobs will disappear, though no one talks too much about downsides like that, because the default mode of people involved is almost religious. Professor Paul Newman is the BP Professor of Information Engineering at the University of Oxford, the head of its Mobile Robotics Group and one of the people in charge of the Lutz Pathfinder project. When I ask him what the point of the purple and white buggy is, really, he falls into a sort of rapturous incantation, which to be fair, sounds entirely sincere. “There’s a really strong societal need for this. It’s not OK to be breaking our backs mining, this technology can help with that. It’s not OK to be doing inefficient farming. It’s not OK to maim and waste lives because of pollution and driving, and it’s really not OK for a driver to be distracted by a child in the back seat, and then as a result of that, hit another child and kill them. That’s just not OK!” Alex Lawrence-Berkeley, 38, is an enthusiastic British champion of driverless tech who, as well as running meet-ups for AV developers, is the marketing manager of a sensor company called AutoSens, and the co-founder of Self-Driving Track Days, an organisation running open trials on car tracks and bringing a bit of the old car world’s excitement and glamour to AVs. “Driverless is the invisible revolution,” he says. “You have to keep remembering that around 1m people are killed on the world’s roads every year, and we have the potential to reduce that figure to


zero in 20 years. That’s how important this is. It’ll change the entire world; yes, some people might dispute that, but they’re just Luddites.” Are they, though? In reality, there are plenty of reasons to question whether driverless cars will ever go further than Tesla’s glorified cruise control, and shuttling people about in car parks and holiday resorts. For a start, the ability to detect other traffic is still extremely limited. What allows AVs to work is Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging), a radar system that uses light instead of sound. The Lidar camera sits atop the car, and pings laser beams in bursts of a million per second at a surrounding area within a 200m radius. The light bounces back to a computer and turned into a 3D map, which is compared with a pre-existing “empty” map to see what’s there, whether pedestrians, traffic or animals. There are cameras and ultrasonic sensors on the windscreen to see close-range objects, on bumpers to track traffic ahead and behind, and on wheels to help with objects to the side. An aerial sucks down GPS data, and a range of altimeters, gyroscopes and tachymeters process positioning information to control movements to — manufacturers generally claim — one millimetre of accuracy. Unfortunately, there are conditions in which Lidar doesn’t work well — like rain, snow, fog and bright sunlight. The incident in which a man, Joshua Brown, 40, was killed in his Autopilot Tesla last May was due to his car not seeing a white truck against bright white light (apologists point out that Tesla say drivers should keep their hands on the wheel, which would be a lot more convincing argument if they weren’t promising fully-working driverless cars in just over 12 months time). Eric Peters, an outspoken but influential American car blogger and critic, thinks there has been a failure among journalists


Nissan revealed its IDS concept car with ‘Piloted Drive’ in 2015

This futuristic BMW design features ‘Alive Geometry’ allowing the car to ‘speak’ to passengers


the potential to reduce that figure to zero in 20 years’ — Alex Lawrence-Berkeley, AV advocate

to question the auto industry’s PR spin. It’s partly due, he believes, to the way the current generation grew up with modern cars with sealed engine units. They didn’t work on cars themselves, and so became used to taking car companies at their word. “Crucially in this case,” he says, “journalists don’t appreciate that what works under ideal conditions in a test environment may not perform as well in the real world, particularly over time. Cars are subjected to heat and cold, moisture and vibration. Components, including electrical, degrade over time. So it’s OK talking about accidents and human error, but what about computer error? “When a human is in control of the car, something like the failure of the brake system’s hydraulics can be dealt with by other means, such as manually engaging the hand brake. But what happens when there is no mechanical brake? And when the ‘driver’ has been taken entirely out of the equation?” There are other concerns about software. Driverless cars will, like Teslas now, have operating systems that you update, and will feed your driving data to the manufacturer and whoever may be their collaborators. Obviously insurance companies will want access to it, but what happens if the system is hacked? What if it simply crashes? It’s one thing for it happen on a phone, quite another when relying on an operating system to guide you at 70mph on the M4. These issues tend to be the ones most commonly picked up by critics, but there’s also a basic hardware issue as well. Pro-driverless arguments always involve car pooling, but do you really want to share a car with thousands of strangers? It’s pretty obvious these pools will run out at the times you need them, and as anyone who’s used a car club knows, you’ll have to deal with scratches, dirt and other

people’s crap left in vehicles. And yes, lots of research shows we’re supposedly becoming less attached to/more willing to share objects like cars but those surveys actually show it’s only just over half of us who feel that way. As it happens, there’s still a good one-in-three of us — a figure that’s going to be higher among men — for whom a nice motor is one of life’s great pleasures, thank you very much. This is the real reason driverless cars will never completely replace the driveable. It has become unfashionable to say things like this, but driving a car isn’t just something you like doing, like collecting football stickers or playing a sport. Nothing, other than perhaps sport and women, can do to men what cars do. They meet needs and desires deep and fundamental within us; the need to test yourself with extremes (speed in this case), and the desire to be mobile. You might ask how we met these needs and desires before cars: the basic answer is horses and bikes, but it’s more important to understand that in many ways, we were always waiting. You understand it better if you grew up outside a city, with that nagging sense the real action was somewhere else at the end of a  road or a railway line. I grew up in a run-ofthe-mill village in Yorkshire, where the entertainment was limited to a single pub. Most of us started driving lessons the week of our 17th birthdays, and passing your test was easily the second most significant teen event after losing your virginity. Indeed, unless you were happy with a narrow gene pool, the latter could depend on having an older mate who had accomplished the former. The Friday night after I passed my test, I borrowed my mum’s Fiesta and picked up my mate Jim at his house. We discussed where to go, and he said, “he thing is, we can go fucking anywhere, can’t we?” It felt amazing. We


decided to just drive and see what happened; to the M62, and then onto the M1, pushing up to 80 (it was only a 1.1), New Order on the stereo, talking about how long it would take to London. Fucking London! “How does it feel?” sang Barney Sumner. Like being in the film version of our lives, I thought. As it happened we stopped at Woodall Services outside Sheffield, an hour from home. We drove on and had a drink in Sheffield, and then drove home again. It is still possibly the best journey of my life, or at least alongside driving back from the hospital with my wife and daughters after they were born, and the reason I mention it is that a) it was about being in control, and if we had been able to look away from the road and the signposts and the other cars to check our fucking phones, what would the point have been? And b) there is no way you could ever, ever have programmed that journey into a driverless car. It wasn’t about Woodhall Services, was it? It was about the journey, and about freedom; being vaguely lost at times was the whole point. The fact the debate about future driving is being led by people who think life should be about using safety and data and “tasks” to eliminate all risk is not only depressing, it’s indicative of All That is Wrong with Modern Life. What hope is there for the man who appreciates nice cars if the driverless future happens? If cars are going to drive themselves, what will happen to car companies who have sold to us their wares on the basis of driver pleasure? In other words, what are we supposed to do in there? The interiors of concept cars tend to look like a blend of business-class plane cabin and minimal boutique hotel rooms, all moveable seats and sophisticated entertainment systems. Family cars will probably allow the two



More new cars coming soon

One of the 58 test vehicles in Google’s current Self-Driving Car Project

Renault’s striking Trezor can switch from driver to autonomous capability

Ferrari’s Sergio Marchionne holds aloft the torch for defiant drivers. Asked if the firm would

front seats to swivel around to allow passengers to face each other, maybe across a table. In their book Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead, Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman speculate that non-family models might use the space left by gearboxes, dashboards and steering wheels to accommodate beds. They talk about the “bed bus model… with shaded windows for privacy”, which sounds like a 21st-century version of a van with a mattress in the back. The possibilities become less salubrious with the suggestion that self-driving cars “could offer a comfortable new viewing environment for fans of pornography to immerse themselves in.” Even more depressing, they foresee us getting so lonely and bored in our pods we’d use online services to meet and chat to people like ourselves. Over in Mercedes-Benz’s sleek Stuttgart offices there are no such tacky options under consideration. Bernhard Weidemann, one of the firm’s AV specialists, does say that where Mercs might once have been about speed, comfort, safety and efficiency, they are “rethinking the brand”, with the key areas being connectivity, autonomy, electricity and shared mobility. Luxury, speed and smooth rides suddenly seem very 20th-century. “But,” he says, “we believe we can keep on offering luxurious goods in the future, as we believe time and space will become more luxurious goods in themselves. In a comfortable, self-driving car you would have your own private space and the time to do what you want. We think the car will become the ‘third space’ where you spend most time next to your home and office. So your wellbeing within the vehicle is of increasing importance to us.” A Mercedes-branded living room on wheels, then, which delivers a feeling of relaxation and luxury rather than an active, physical activity. It seems safe to assume similar

thinking underlies the shift in BMW’s marketing from driving to “experience”. It’s all very well, but somehow “the time to do what you want” feels a lot less exciting than “driving”. AV advocates will ask what pleasure there is in sitting in a traffic jam, although research shows we tend to like driving even on slow, mundane trips: despite the UK having the longest commute times in Europe, a 2003 RAC survey concluded 25 per cent of us enjoyed driving to work (in a BMW report 10 years later the figure had risen to more than half). It’s the great silent problem with technology; its inventors get excited about liberating us from stuff, but then we end up realising we’re just filling the time by looking at Facebook. And then we miss the old stuff, so spend more time fantasising about doing something worthwhile. You know what we’ll end up doing in driverless cars, between drinking, consuming porn and sleeping? Watching YouTube videos of exciting car journeys. Rolls-Royce tried to get ahead on this with its Vision Next 100 AV concept, “a dynamic vision of the future of luxury mobility” that “rejects the notion of anonymous, utilitarian and bland future modes of mobility.” Other brands have floated different versions of future motoring luxury. Bentley’s head of design, Stefan Sielaff, suggested their drivers might get access to faster, less congested lanes of traffic; the Renault Trezor has matching, custom-designed luggage that fits exactly into the storage space; the Tesla Model S comes with a range of battery powers, and a “Ludicrous” mode which gives a Batmobile-like acceleration of 0–62mph in 2.5secs. Meanwhile, only Ferrari’s combative Sergio Marchionne holds aloft the torch for the world’s defiant drivers. When a journalist asked him recently if the company would ever make an AV, he replied, “You’ll have to shoot


me first.” The question of how roads might combine refusenik Ferraris and other manual cars with driverless ones is, by the way, an interesting one. The utopian future visions of cars moving at high, uniform speeds at regulated distances from each other, really require 100 per cent driverless vehicles. The AV lobby is dismissive of sceptics who ask, for example, if the much-mentioned traffic light dream scenario (all cars moving off at the same time) wouldn’t be entirely scuppered by one slow driver who still liked driving a car. When I asked Lauren Isaac, manager of transportation sustainability at engineering company Parsons Brinckerhoff and a wellknown pro-AV speaker, about this, she said, “Well, whenever I spoke anywhere, there was always one older, white guy who got angry about giving up his car.” She would always point out to him that “in most countries, it was still legal to ride a horse on a road if you wanted to.” This is true, but then again you might ask what would happen if a few equestrians decided to go for a canter down the M1. There are plenty of reasons to question the appeal of driverless cars, though that hasn’t put off the would-be manufacturers. Google, whose 58 test cars (modified Toyotas and cutesy, self-driving models known as “Koalas”) have already driven 2m miles, and clock another 20,000 each week, has the done the best PR so far, and been sneering about the mainstream automotive industry’s attempts to match its boldness. The Silicon Valley disruptor wants its first publicly available car to be fully automated, with no steering wheel or accelerator. Mainstream car makers, however, tend to favour a gradualist approach, refining driver assistance features like cruise control and self-parking. Ford, Nissan, BMW, Volvo, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land


The Rolls-Royce self-driving Vision Next 100 concept plans to do away with the trusty human chauffeur

ever make an AV, he replied, ‘You’ll have to shoot me first’

Rover and others are all working on AVs, and there are also smaller companies such as France’s Easymile and the UK’s RDM Group, specialising in “first and last mile” pods like those that take you from a car park to Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. And then there are tech companies, who don’t have the factories but have greater software capability: China’s Baidu, Alibaba, Google, Apple and taxi firms like Uber and Lyft, for whom self-drive will be make or break. There is one very good reason why these big players are in the market: money. Google is one of the world’s most valuable companies, with a market value of about $500bn. It relies for income on internet advertising, from which total revenues for the whole world market are $175bn per year. In the booming tech sector, these have seemed like big, exciting figures until now, but compared with the old-fashioned, real-world transport they suddenly seem like roadkill. The world’s taxi market alone is worth hundreds of billions (hence Uber being valued at $70bn). Road haulage is worth about $4 trillion (hence Uber’s $600m acquisition of Otto, an AV lorry company, in August with which it says it will make 20 per cent of its profits), and personal mobility is worth $10trillion. But that’s not all; once people are in the cars being driven, they are a  captive market for in-car entertainment and media services, another major channel for internet advertising; little wonder Google has been among AVs’ biggest fans. Perhaps that also explains why Tesla’s latest software update included free access to Spotify. And what’s in it for the people? Well, Deutsche Bank has predicted that AVs — which we will most likely share — will cost 77p per mile, compared with the £2.30 it currently costs an average driver to travel one mile in a private car. A saving of two-thirds is likely to

be quite a, er, driver, which means the market is highly likely to actually materialise. In other words, the companies involved are chasing what looks like a sure-fire market potentially worth 80 times more than the one currently sustaining the world’s most valuable companies. Driverless may well be about safety and reshaping the world, but it may also be about creating one of, if not the, most valuable companies the world has ever known. Elon Musk is sometimes called the Henry Ford of Silicon Valley, and not without reason. Tesla plans to build 500,000 cars annually from 2018; and on completion in 2020, its $5bn Gigafactory battery production plant in Nevada will occupy 3,200 acres. Eric Peters believes financial rewards more than any benefit to mankind are driving the upbeat, preachy messaging. “The hardware and software necessary to facilitate a truly self-driving car will not cost nothing,” he says. “If the cost of current partial self-driving technology is a barometer, it will cost a great deal indeed. Both ‘up front’ — when you buy the car — and ‘down the road’ — repairs and maintenance. I do not think it is coincidence major car companies are investing heavily in ride-sharing technology. They are not dumb. They understand that more and more people are going to be priced out of the new car market, hence the need to rent them a car.” The boring truth is that even if driverless cars do change our roads and cities, it probably won’t happen by 2025, but in the meantime there will be lots of unspectacular uses for them, and lots of people making a perfectly good living out of it by realising AVs and manuals can work together. The genuine, immediate future is probably best represented by a company like the automotive engineering business RDM Group, based 50 miles north


of Milton Keynes in Coventry, on the old car factory site of Humber Limited in the heartlands of the British auto industry. Miles Garner is its sales and marketing director, with 28 years of experience in the automotive electronics industry. He grew up in London in the Seventies and Eighties. His first car as a teenager, which made him “the proudest man in the world” was a £100 secondhand Ford Cortina MK1 (“painted to look like the Lotus Cortina but it was just a Ford”). Cars and music were his twin obsessions: he thought he’d be happy if he could get a job working with one or the other, and ended up in the in-car entertainment divisions of Sony, then Philips; four years ago he came to RDM Group, then a 20-year-old automotive engineering business. British success stories in the AV industry tend to be about software and expertise. There’s a crossover from our successful computer games and special effects industries, perhaps most impressively seen in the Blackbird, a car built by London company The Mill, which is essentially a pared-back, drivable car chassis mounted with a sophisticated camera. Once they’ve filmed it driving, video makers can skin it in the footage with the designs of any car body they like, allowing advertisers to make ads without needing an actual car to shoot. We’re quite good at all this: RDM Group already makes 200 of its pods a year, and if current sales prospects materialise, it’ll be looking for more factory space. “I see our involvement in leading the UK’s driverless pod trials and Jaguar Land Rover’s success as a phoenix rising from the ashes for this region,” he tells me one afternoon in his office. “We have a close network of parts suppliers and we can source everything we need within a 10-mile radius of the factory.” Outside the RDM offices, some pods stand in a car park, awaiting their next excursion to Milton Keynes. Opposite, there’s another space full of classic British cars, among them a red Jaguar Mark 2, a Morgan 4/4, a Triumph Stag and TR7, and a green Mini Cooper S. They belong to Revival Cars, RDM Group’s sister company — a rental company dedicated to “keeping British classics alive.” I ask Garner if he thinks it has a future, given the coming Invisible Revolution, and he looks slightly askance. “Of course,” he says, as if I’ve just asked if he thinks there’s still a future for, say, air or water. “Enthusiasts will still want to drive cars, and hark back to the good old days of driving.” He points across to the engineering centre. “When people come to visit us, they love seeing the old and new side by side. They’re beautiful, aren’t they?” Alex Lawrence-Berkeley’s next self-driving track event is 10–11 May at Longcross Studios, Surrey. For information on this event and others visit




The lonely hedonist Once a month, in a secluded Beverly Hills mansion, one of America’s most exclusive sex clubs welcomes its membership of well-known celebrities, billionaires and adventurous midwestern housewives to a night of masked debauchery inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. Its founder has everything he ever wanted. So why is he unhappy?


Photographs by

Mike Sager

Jeff Minton



In a leafy enclave near Beverly Hills, behind an aging Tudor mansion, Snctm is hosting a pool party. The sun is radiant overhead, the sky is cloudless and blue; the therapeutic aroma from the eucalyptus trees mixes in the air with the scents of expensive perfume and hydroponic weed. Couples lie here and there on chaises longues or large blankets on the grass. A trio of topless young women, members of Snctm’s erotic theatre troupe, known as Devotees, float languorously on giant blow-up swans, sipping drinks through bent straws. Two more Devotees bounce on a trampoline. In a little while, the brunette will be tied up, the blonde will employ a suede flogger and other toys, dispensing pain and pleasure. A waitress circulates, delivering food prepared by the French chef — a choice today of sirloin sliders or fish tacos, with a side of crisp steak fries. Sitting poolside in a wicker chair, presiding over all, is Damon Lawner. A handsome man of 45 with a lean and chiselled physique, he wears gauzy, low-slung pants and a necklace of fragrant mala beads he picked up during a sojourn in Bali. With his longish tousled hair and high cheekbones, his inner glow and sober mien, he looks like a hunky Hollywood guru. But the truth is Lawner never set out to save any souls besides his own. Four years ago, he was a cash-strapped real estate agent with a beautiful wife and two young daughters, struggling with monogamy, facing with dread the prospects of his fifth decade. As many men do when they reach his age, he began to ask himself, “Is this all there is?” Tattooed on Lawner’s right shoulder is Snctm’s official symbol, a teardrop shape containing a cross and an all-seeing eye that Lawner calls “the Oculus Dei”. He drew it in a fit of inspired desperation one night in the living room of his small apartment after his family had gone to bed. The cross stands for faith. The eye stands for the Hindu chakra that leads to inner realms and higher consciousness. The tear was meant to stand for the earth’s life-giving elements. As Snctm has become more successful, as Lawner’s life has been transformed, the tear has become instead a bittersweet reminder. In the quest to make your fantasies come true, he has discovered, you can sometimes lose as much as you gain. One week from today, Snctm will hold its regular Masquerade, an exclusive, monthly event with the guest list limited to 99 people. As the name suggests, masks are required. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the erotic party scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, Lawner’s initial inspiration. Among those already confirmed for next Saturday’s soirée are a man who owns hotels in New York, a billionaire from Moscow, several

wealthy couples who have each been married for more than 20 years, the producer of a number of well-known television shows, an actress with a respectable IMDb page, the 21-year-old son of a movie producer, a number of international models, and a couple who are opening a big new store near Rodeo Drive. When Lawner founded Snctm, he envisioned something more intimate than previous incarnations of swingers’ clubs. From Plato’s Retreat, the disco-era den of iniquity in New York, to Paris’s thriving and swanky Les Chandelles, the more notable spots over the years have been known for unfettered debauchery. A child of hippies who spent his earliest years in a commune in upstate New York, Lawner has tried to create “a spiritual and erotic utopia” where people of like minds and desires can have as much sex and romance as humanly possible, in as many different ways as the imagination can invent, with the most beautiful and engaging people they can find. And no strings attached. At the moment, Lawner is using a custom phone app to screen applications for the Masquerade. There are still a few more slots open for women, who can apply to attend for free. Sitting beside him, in a matching wicker chair, a dark beauty sips Champagne. Call her Caroline. Tall and impossibly thin, with huge brown eyes, she has recently earned a  degree from a college in Texas. She’s visiting Lawner for a couple of weeks, seeing agencies, hoping to get into modelling. Joining the couple is one of Lawner’s most trusted collaborators, Phuong Tran, known to Snctm members as Bunnyman. By day he’s a manager at a Fortune 500 company in Los Angeles. At Masquerades he wears a martial-arts outfit and the black leather rabbit mask that earned him his nickname; he’s highly regarded for his expertise in the ancient Japanese rope-tying art of shibari. “Check this one out,” Lawner says, showing his phone to the others. “She works as a research chemist.” “She’s that lovely librarian type,” Tran says appreciatively. Today he’s wearing print pants rolled above the ankles and a shortbrimmed straw chapeau. Lawner reads aloud from the application: “I’m a hyperpolyglot and enjoy dirty talk so hopefully during a sexual escapade, other members will learn some kinky words.“ “Hyperpolyglot,” Tran repeats, sounding intrigued. “I believe that means somebody who has the ability to learn multiple languages really quickly.“ “So,” Lawner says, “she’s totally hot, probably knows eight languages, likes to talk dirty — ”


“And likes to get fucked really hard,” Caroline interrupts. She’s been reading over Lawner’s shoulder. “Do you think we should invite her?” Lawner asks. Damon Emanuel Lawner never set out to be the founder of a sex club. His paternal grandfather was a wealthy sporting goods manufacturer from Long Island. His father was a talented violinist who chucked it all in the early Seventies to join a commune upstate. Damon was given his name by the commune’s leader, as was his sister, Hadria. Lawner’s parents split when he was three. Both moved across the country to the burgeoning hippy community of Fairfax, in Marin County, near San Francisco. Lawner’s father, Loren, lived modestly off the proceeds of a trust. He once rented his house to Owsley Stanley, the famous LSD chef, and on a number of occasions he jammed with Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart, both members of The Grateful Dead. “There were latenight parties, lots of cocaine and acid, lots of booze,” Lawner says. His mother, Melissa Rome Lawner, took up with a Jim Morrison look-alike who made leather clothes; to make ends meet, she received food stamps. “We went back and forth between these two crazy households,” Lawner recalls. “My sister and I were kind of ignored. We were like ghosts floating around. When we wanted breakfast, we’d go across to the neighbours’. They always had cereal and toast.” Every summer, Lawner says, he and his sister were packed off to the grandparents back east. “I’d go from food stamps and drug addicts and, like, dirty fucking clothes, wearing the same T-shirt every day to school, to this big house with a pool and 10 bedrooms. It was paradise. Bagels and lox and French toast in the morning, bowling and movies and everything you could want. I don’t know how that affected me. But I always knew that if I did what my grandpa did, I could have anything I wanted. And I knew if I lived like my parents lived, that’s the life I’d have. Over the course of my lifetime, I guess, I’ve always gone back and forth.” When Lawner was 19, he says, he was skateboarding with some friends when he was approached by a scout for the photographer Bruce Weber. Soon he was signed by the Look Model Agency in San Francisco. He was featured in a Versace campaign, and in a Calvin Klein jeans-and-coats campaign with supermodel Christy Turlington and the actor and heir Balthazar Getty. After a brief stint at a junior college, Lawner supported himself through a combination of modelling jobs, photography, family money and real estate investing. At 25,


Lawner has tried to create a ‘spiritual and erotic utopia’ for people of like desires to have sex with no strings he met and fell in love with Melissa Bernheim, an 18-year-old model and the daughter of a Stanford economics professor. In 2001, when Melissa was 21, she was featured dancing with abandon in a popular commercial for the Gap. The ad drew the attention of David Letterman, who invited the lithe brown-haired beauty to re-create her happy dance on his show. Following her appearance — during which she proudly mentioned her engagement to a guy named Damon — Melissa signed with the powerful United Talent Agency and began going out for small acting jobs. That year, after a half decade of dating, the couple eloped to Las Vegas. To benefit Melissa’s career, they moved to LA, to a fixer-upper house just above the ritzy Chateau Marmont hotel in West Hollywood. Cameron Diaz, David LaChapelle, Sandra Bullock and Lionsgate honcho Michael Burns, with whom the couple frequently partied, all lived nearby in the same neighbourhood. Lawner says he became particularly friendly with Jared Leto, the actor/rocker/tech investor, who was dating Diaz at the time. Through some of his connected friends, Lawner was offered a chance to invest in a Japanese restaurant called Koi. The place took off, became a chain. Meanwhile, Melissa modelled and found small acting parts on television shows like CSI: Miami. She was featured in a number of national commercials, including a Coors Light spot directed by Michael Bay that featured Kid Rock. The couple were flush. “We’d stay up all night and party and have people over, or we’d walk down to the Chateau and meet people; they would always end up back at our house,” Lawner says. “There was a lot of drugs and alcohol. A lot of fun, really. We were like this beautiful charismatic couple. It was always an adventure.” “Anyone who saw us together knew we are soul mates,” Melissa Lawner says. “We were very, very connected and energetic with each other. We were inseparable. We were that couple; you called us DamonandMelissa.”

When Lawner was 35, Melissa announced she was pregnant. At first, he says, he felt “incredible joy.” Then the band he’d been playing with, called Fader, won a contest at the historic Whisky a Go Go nightclub on the Sunset Strip. A tour was discussed. Melissa made her feelings clear. “She was like, ‘I’m going to be a mom now. All this crazy shit is over,’” Lawner says. Lawner quit the band, sold the house in the hills, and moved his family to the flats of Hancock Park. With the profits from the sale, he concentrated on business, determined to feather his nest. He started a company that sold a high-end energy drink called Marquis Platinum and invested in another restaurant called Bridge. In short order, he and Melissa had a second daughter. When the economy tanked in 2008, the Lawners lost everything. “By the time I saw what was coming,” he says, “I was fucked. It was like I knew the cars were going to be repossessed, I knew the house was being foreclosed on. We were $900,000 in debt.” Penniless and humiliated, Lawner packed up his family and flew to join his father in Bali, where he was living with  his Balinese wife and two young sons. In Bali, Lawner reinvented himself as a party impresario, using his nightlife experience to bring a little sizzle to the tourists visiting the Island of the Gods. With Melissa by his side, he put on functions four nights a week at high-end hotels and nightspots. By 2011, Prestige Indonesia magazine was calling the Lawners the “It couple behind Bali’s most exclusive parties.” Though the Lawners were living comfortably — with an income of about $30,000 a year, they could afford a big house and servants — their lifestyle started to take a toll. There was a lot of drinking and partying, along with predictable marital discord. Lawner was the man on Bali; everything was available. “I was out every night. Things began to spiral a little bit. My breakfast of choice was a beer and a cigarette by the pool,” he recalls.


After he was briefly kidnapped by local nightlife competitors and forced to pay a  ransom, Lawner says Melissa put her foot down. “Our girls were growing up on an island in the middle of nowhere, without knowing any of my family,” she says. In 2012, the Lawners returned to Los Angeles. They moved into a room off the kitchen in Melissa’s mom’s house, near University of California. “We needed to go home,” Melissa says. “I kind of forced him. He did not want to leave.” Bankrupt, with no car and no assets, Lawner began looking for a job. “I was applying all over the place. Waiter, cashier, valet parking. Anything. Whatever I applied for, there were 20 people in front of me who had more experience. They’d ask me, ‘What have you done?’ and I was like, ‘Um, I owned the hottest restaurant in LA?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’” Eventually, Lawner became a realtor. He went to work at Sotheby’s in Beverly Hills and moved the family into a small apartment nearby to take advantage of the school district. He rotated two suits, rode a bicycle to work, told prospective clients his vehicle was in the shop. While he had some success, selling a few properties (and splitting the commissions with the agent who was training him), he was miserable. “The whole thing was ridiculous. I fucking hated it, I did not want to do it, it was not me on any level. I  was at the point where I wasn’t sure anymore what the fuck I was living for.” Around this time, Lawner rented Eyes Wide Shut. In the film, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman play a long-established couple facing middle age and disillusionment; both are secretly questioning their commitment to monogamy. When Cruise finds himself in a mysterious mansion, at a gathering of a members-only sex society, his life and the couple’s relationship are inalterably changed. The movie struck a chord. Lawner was 42. He’d been with Melissa for more than 15





Before each Masquerade, some Snctm members enjoy dinner — complete with eye-popping and unique table service

years — a third of his life. He still loved her deeply, still wanted her every single day, but things hadn’t been good in their relationship for some time. The moves and the financial upheaval had worn on them. And even though he fell asleep every night beside a gorgeous wife, he and Melissa had all but stopped having sex. Every time he saw a happy couple in the street, he wondered how long it had been since they’d last slept together; he’d lost count himself. That he lived and worked in Beverly Hills — frequented by some of the planet’s most beautiful women — only made him feel worse. In time, an idea took hold. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were an answer for guys like him — for couples like them? Some kind of club, like in Kubrick’s movie, that was secret and exclusive, where a couple like DamonandMelissa could go? A place where the fire could be rekindled. As the days and weeks wore on, Lawner kept revisiting the notion — in fact, he could think of little else. Finally, one afternoon he went to a Paper Source store and bought an expensive notebook bound with silver cloth, and a fancy black pen. That night, after Melissa and the kids went to bed, he sat down at a makeshift office in the corner of his living room. The first thing he did was sketch the Oculus Dei. Then he wrote this: “The grand object of Snctm is the eroticism of the human race.” Lawner got the club rolling with a Facebook page and $40 worth of promotional boosts. To his surprise, dozens of people started friending him. A ticket to the first Masquerade — held in a rented nightclub in Beverly Hills in March 2013 — cost $50. Lifetime membership, which included admission to every Snctm event and discounts on dinners and table service, was $1,500. For the first two years, the Masquerade was a movable party, held in a different mansion every month. Eventually, to cut down on problems with neighbours and the law, Lawner rented the Tudor. Today, a table with liquor service at a Masquerade costs $2,500 (around £2,000) a couple; lounge chairs at the pool parties are $950 (£780) a pair. An annual membership, which includes entry to all Snctm events and other perks, costs $10,000 (£8,200). Dominus membership lasts for a lifetime and costs up to $75,000 (£61,300). About 100 people have signed up for membership, Lawner says, and “10 or so” have joined at the Dominus level. One of Snctm’s big draws is the promise




‘I’ve had nights t when I can’t ’ believe what’s happening. n Activities that have been an incredible r turn-on’ - ’ of anonymity. A number of Hollywood celebrities, among them two Hall of Fame rockers and a talk-show host, have attended, and some have paid full price for a membership. An interview with Lawner ran on Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, Goop, and her boyfriend, Brad Falchuk, the co-creator of the television shows Glee and American Horror Story, is producing a fictional series based on Lawner’s life. By late Saturday night, the Snctm Masquerade is reaching a crescendo. Hundreds of white candles flicker throughout the 5,500sq ft mansion; trance music issues from hidden speakers; red uplights lend a chthonian vibe. The men wear tuxedos, the women lingerie. Identities are hidden behind elaborate masks of lace, rhinestones, and feathers. In the foyer, two topless Amazons, wearing pasties in the shape of the Oculus Dei, stand watch like queen’s guards. Beneath a  crystal chandelier, Tran is dressed now as his alter ego, Bunnyman, with his leather bunny mask, black Japanese keikogi top, and black hakama bottoms. His attention is directed toward a woman in a lace teddy. She is blindfolded and bound to a  crushed-velvet chair with the traditional coils of jute rope used in shibari. On a low table nearby, displayed on a silver tray, is a collection of toys — a flogger, a Lelo wand, a two-headed marital aid, and a retasked antique medical tool called a Wartenberg pinwheel, with radiating sharp pins. A circle of guests gathers around. In the living room, a cocktail-party atmosphere prevails. People laugh and drink and flirt. Young Devotees from the erotic theatre troupe circulate through the crowd. One wears a pig mask and a sign around her neck: “Touch me”. By day she’s a digital research analyst. Snctm is her new hobby. Not even her boyfriend knows. The first time she worked a Masquerade, she spent two hours on her hands and knees serving as a human end table. This time she is being led through the proceedings on a golden chain by two of her fellows, one wearing a leather

police hat, the other in an eye cage, garters and stockings. The latter carries a crop. Like servers passing hors d’oeuvres, the trio encourage members and guests to pet or whip the Devotee as they see fit. Later, she will say she loved the way the guests looked at her with a mixture of shyness and desire, men and women alike. Downstairs is an old wine cellar, empty of bottles. Two women and two men occupy a queen-sized bed. One man is an airline pilot, the other is a banker. They’ve both brought dates. They don’t yet know each other’s names — later they’ll share a couple of beers at the bar. Close at hand is a considerable crowd, standing room only, unblinking. They keep a respectful distance, each person or couple occupying their own psychic space. It’s as if they’re watching a porno in unison at home on the big screen, only this one is in 3D and surround sound and Smell-O-Vision, and here comes one of the spectators, breaking the fourth wall, moving forward to join the proceedings, unzipping his fly. No one is fully undressed; shirts hang unbuttoned, bow ties and bras litter the floor, panties are pushed to the side, trousers sag around ankles. Sweat flows. Intimate noises. The new man has a small paunch. The woman who has been busy with the banker works for a casting agency. She takes the new man into her mouth. The woman with the pilot works for a television show. She reaches over with a free hand to help out with the new man. The red soles of her Louboutins rock back and forth like twin metronomes, keeping time. Upstairs, a passageway leads to the attic playroom, one of the perks of membership. Two beds, a number of folding chairs for spectators. Diaphanous swaths of cloth hang from the rafters. One bed is occupied by a foursome of women. On the other are Alan and Janine. (The names of the guests, along with some identifying details, have been changed.) They live in Brentwood and have young children. They’re both involved in


entertainment. Alan is a little heavy but looks good in his tux. Janine looks like an active member of the PTA, which she is. Instead of lingerie, she wears a short frock. Before they found Snctm, they spiced up their marriage by going to high-end strip clubs. Tonight, for the sake of modesty, they keep their clothes on while they have sex. People sense their need for privacy and look away. Kay and George are in the shadows in the corner, making out like teenagers. They have several kids, aged 10 to 20. He owns an ad agency; they fly in from the Midwest to attend. Some time ago, George says, “We started to think that it’s not necessarily normal to be with one person your entire life.” The first time they tried a swingers’ club in Las Vegas, Kay was overwhelmed. She remembers “strangers walking up with their penis in their hand.” At Snctm’s price, George says, “people have a lot in common. It’s very sophisticated and private; you know there won’t be any weirdos.” Sophia and Fernando are in the fashion business. The swaths of cloth hanging from the rafters were their idea. Something of a May–July couple, they don’t come to Snctm to play, but they love to dress up in antique designer clothes and masks and watch others. Tonight they’ve both taken small hits of MDA. “It’s incredibly sexy — the women are so beautiful,” gushes Sophia. “You just can’t believe the stuff you see,” Fernando says. After a Masquerade, they suggest, things usually get pretty hot in their hotel room. Harrison is 21. He has a mop of silky hair and big brown eyes with long lashes. “You’d be surprised how many older women have a  thing for young guys,” he will say later, smiling like the Cheshire Cat. Earlier this week, his dad wrote a check for $50,000 (£40,100) to make him the youngest Dominus member of Snctm. At the moment he is sitting on a chair, watching the girl-on-girl action, a look of contented exhaustion on his face. A cute young Belgian woman is sitting on his knee. They bring to mind a couple

Illustrations: Stuart Patience


resting between dances at the prom, except she is wearing only a bra and panties and has her hand down his pants. At the back of the room, near the door, Damon Lawner surveys the scene in his  Tom Ford tux. The top three buttons of  his white shirt are open to reveal his tanned and well-muscled chest. For the first two years of Snctm, as the club began to grow and flourish, as the money started flowing in, DamonandMelissa worked side by side to organise and run the parties. Once again, they were the It couple, though they never participated in the swinging. “Yes, it was frustrating,” Lawner recalls. “I like to drink and have fun as much as the next girl,” Melissa says. “But some of the sexual things that would go on in the club just turned me off. Damon really wanted to try all these things out. He wanted me to participate. And I was like, ‘No. I’m not into it.’” At some point, Melissa says, “the parties just crossed the line for me.” She quit attending. As time passed, she experimented with giving Lawner permission to experience non-sexual activities like flogging or bondage. But she could not envision a scenario where she’d be OK with him sleeping with other women, whether at a sex club or elsewhere. “I tried to go along, but it became a place of discomfort for me,” Melissa says. “We would have fights and I would cry and we would talk about it. It wasn’t really working out for either of us.” In the fall of 2015, Melissa discovered that Lawner had spent time in a hotel with Caroline, the young woman from Texas. In the aftermath, Lawner confessed to a series of indiscretions. Furious and hurt, Melissa issued an ultimatum. Lawner could continue with Snctm, or he could act like a proper husband and father to Melissa and the girls. “I don’t really blame Snctm for our relationship ending, but it was a catalyst,” Melissa says. “I had a certain vision of what our future looked like, and it was more domesticated and normal, kind of how I was raised, and he was raised very differently. But in a way I’m grateful for it, too. What I experienced in the Masquerade parties was positive for me, it opened me up to being more passionate, more exploratory — maybe not with pain or being tied up — but with other things. “Damon’s grown a lot from this, too,” she adds. “He’s gotten sober. But he still has those young girls over there and he’s still a kind of playboy, tooling around in his new sports car, driving way too fast in residential areas. And you know what? That’s how he is, that’s just Damon. He’s living his truth.”

Meanwhile, in the attic, Lawner spots Caroline behind one of the diaphanous swaths, making out with a wealthy businessman. Caroline is wearing a fishnet cover-up over a bra-and-panty set and a pair of fiveinch Manolo heels. Her mask is gone; she appears to be unsteady on her feet. At Lawner’s insistence, she has agreed to an open relationship, but it doesn’t take a genius to see what’s happening. Throughout the night she has consumed a large quantity of alcohol and has flirted with multiple men. Lawner has kept an eye on her. You can tell he’s torn. He’s said as much: “I have feelings for her, sure. But I’ve come too far to tie myself down.” The businessman is a handsome guy known among club members as an experienced swinger. Like Harrison, George, and Fernando, he paid Lawner a minimum of $40,000 to join Snctm. He reaches down and begins to touch Caroline vigorously between her legs. In obvious distress, she does a half pivot and manages to slither free from his grasp. She lurches across the attic and out the door, her face smudged with mascara and humiliation. Lawner follows. Late Sunday afternoon, post-Masquerade, the sun shines down on the Snctm mansion, exposing some of the cracks and flaws in the mid-century house. Lawner is in the living room, shirtless in the same gauzy cotton pants, strumming a rare 1963 Gibson Hummingbird guitar that Keith Richards, he was told, once played, a gift from a music producer as a thank-you for arranging to make one of his secret fantasies come true. In the afterglow of last night’s shindig, Lawner has grown reflective. From the tone of the text messages he’s received, the Masquerade was a resounding success. The future looks bright. Masquerades have been planned for every month through the rest of the year. In September, in New York, during Fashion Week, he held a Masquerade on a  100ft yacht. The following month, in Miami, during Art Basel, Lawner held a Masquerade at a private house. Falchuk’s show is in development, and Lawner has been pitching a reality show, too. He’s hired a camera crew to follow him around. Everything is going his way. And yet he’s feeling melancholy. As the idea was originally hatched, Lawner was supposed to move into the Tudor with Melissa and the girls. Down the hall is the room where his daughters stay when they visit for occasional sleepovers. The girls are now eight and 11. Melissa is dating a  wealthy realtor, the kind of guy Lawner tried his best to become. In a few days she’ll be leaving with her beau for a jaunt in the Mediterranean. Lawner will follow her posts on Facebook.


Since starting Snctm, Lawner has gotten everything he’s ever wanted. There’s a brand-new red-and-white Aston Martin Vantage GT in the garage; beside it is an identically painted Ducati motorcycle. A  parade of beautiful young women share his four-poster bed. More and more people are hitting him up to join Snctm — it seems like he’s found a nerve. “I’ve had nights when I’m looking around the mansion and I can’t believe what’s really happening,” Lawner says. “It’s overwhelming. I’ve seen activities between guests that have been an incredible turn-on. I’ve sat down on the carpet in my room and listened to rock stars play my guitar. I’ve watched the most gorgeous women, everywhere you looked, just eating each other’s pussies and fucking and I mean, God, on those nights I find myself really participating. I’m being pulled into stuff and I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ No man should get to experience this. It’s almost unfair.” And then there are the other times, Lawner says. The hollow feeling. The loneliness. He misses his daughters. He misses his wife. He misses having a place within the little family he created. Outside the box, it seems, you are completely on your own. Freedom can be daunting. “If I had stayed in real estate, if I had put on the suit and tie, I would be coming home to this beautiful wife who loved me incredibly deeply and these two beautiful little daughters,” he says. “I probably could have built a nice life. I  could’ve done the picket fence. It probably would have been deeply fulfilling. I don’t know. Instead I chose to absolutely follow my dreams. I knew I was going to lose my family. I made a conscious decision. I gave up the only thing I love and care about in this world.“ He strums the rare and beautiful guitar. “The truth is, I’m heartbroken,” he says. As if on cue, Caroline floats out of the master bedroom, into the living room. Freshly showered, dressed in short-shorts and a simple T-shirt, she looks natural and gorgeous and smells of herbal shampoo. She straddles Lawner’s lap, facing him. “Remember last night in the members’ lounge?” Lawner asks. “When that guy was kinda kissing you and touching you? Would you have wanted me to step in and stop that? Or was that something you wanted?” She studies him for a moment — the square jaw and earnest blue eyes, the slight crinkles at the corners, the strands of grey sneaking out of the hedgerow of his centre parting, his Hindu mala beads, from which rise the scent of sandalwood. She kisses him deeply. His eyes are wide open.

January / February

Emporio Armani Black wool tuxedo jacket, £1,150; black silk bow tie, £85; white cotton shirt, £190; black wool tuxedo trousers, £350; black silk cummerbund, £370, all by Emporio Armani

The darkest hour is just before the dawn And the smartest eveningwear looks just as good in the light. Allow Stormzy to demonstrate

January / February


Photographs by

Frederike Helwig Fashion by

Mark McMahon

Dolce & Gabbana Black cotton-piqué double-breasted blazer, £1,200; navy cashmere roll-neck, £500, both by Dolce & Gabbana


January / February


Jaeger Black velvet dinner jacket, £275; white cotton shirt, £75; black wool-mohair trousers, £135, all by Jaeger. Maroon velvet bow tie, £65, by Turnbull & Asser


January / February

Private White VC Navy wool coat, £1,200; navy merino wool long-sleeved T-shirt, £90; navy moleskin trousers, £350, all by Private White VC. Black suede desert boots, £165, by Russell & Bromley


January / February

“Usually I just fling a tracksuit on,” admits Stormzy, real name Michael Omari, wrestling his long arms from a velvet dinner jacket, to better roll a cigarette. “But it’s good to step out of my comfort zone.” In fairness, the 23-year-old’s “comfort zone” seems a wise place to lay base right now. Despite pressure to release his long-awaited, oft-delayed debut album and sign to a label, the UK’s most talked-about rapper is determined to do things on his own terms, in his own time — and the results speak for themselves. With “Shut Up”, Stormzy is the only unsigned UK artist to ever score a top 10 hit. The video (watched over 41m times on YouTube ), was shot on the fly in a park next to his childhood home in south London. In 2015, he was the Mobos best male artist and recently Manchester United celebrated its record-breaking £89.3m signing of Paul Pogba by enlisting Stormzy to rap and dance alongside the French midfielder in a  music video. Omari is considered the country’s next legitimate transatlantic hope: good looking — all 6ft 5in of him — charismatic and, above all, credible. “That’s the beauty of my story: the fact that it’s backwards,” Stormzy says. “I’m the total opposite of where I should be. I’m releasing my debut album after touring the world! Everyone around my pedestal is at least two albums and 10 years deep. I’m a prominent member of my scene.” The scene he refers to is grime, a genre that’s long simmered under the mainstream since emerging from east London housing estates in the early Noughties. In the past three years, it’s become the most exciting British music phenomenon in a generation. At a time when most of our creative achievers are white and privately educated, grime has muscled young, disadvantaged minority voices to the forefront of the cultural conversation. “I feel like the whole country has noticed they’ve missed something,” Stormzy grins. “They’re thinking: ‘How could this have been going on all this time?’ It’ll never be ignored again.” But the genre has suffered false dawns before. Half a decade ago, in an impatient bid for mainstream success, grime artists (such as Tinchy Stryder and Chipmunk) began to collaborate with chart-topping pop stars. The scene appeared in danger of losing its cool, and Stormzy is determined not to let that mentality take over again. “Back then, record companies said: ‘Do this, otherwise you can’t have a career.’ But radio and record labels don’t have that power no more. I freestyle and put it on iTunes, it goes top 10 and the radio has to play it. People hold the power now. I’m just going to keep on doing what I was doing before anyone knew my name.” Can grime’s very Britishness translate overseas? US rappers have transformed tales of their beleaguered inner cities into global anthems chanted in the far muddy fields of Glastonbury, but will Stormzy really be able to make his hometown of Croydon matter to a rap fan in Chicago? “I will die before I change my sound to suit an American audience. You won’t ever hear Kanye West or Kendrick Lamar change their beats to appeal to the British,” says Stormzy, fixing a firm, unwavering gaze. “It’s all about telling the world: ‘This is it. Listen to it and get used to it, because we’re not changing.’ One day, hopefully, my voice, my accent and my decorum will be universal. Because if I’m not me, then who the fuck am I?” That’s true whether he’s wearing a tracksuit or a tux.

Paul Smith Black/navy wool bomber jacket, £650; light grey merino-silk sweater, £230; black textured wool-cotton trousers, £175, all by Paul Smith

Nick Pope Stormzy’s debut album will be released early next year


January / February



January / February


Armani Pal Zileri Brown suede bomber jacket, £1,475; white Black wool-twill-silk cotton long-sleeved evening coat, £1,330; Henley shirt, £110; white piqué cotton blue denim jeans, £100, shirt, £180; charcoal all by Ralph Lauren wool twill trousers, £255, all by Pal Zileri. Black satin bow tie, £95; black satin cummerbund, £115, both by Drake’s

January / February


Richard James Black wool-mohair evening suit, £945; navy cashmere crew-neck sweater, £425; white silk pocket square, £55, all by Richard James. Black leather derbys, £280, by Tod’s

Photographer’s assistants: Annemarie Wadlow, Olivia Estebanez Fashion assistant: Emie James-Crook Grooming: Anna Chapman using Mac Cosmetics and L’Oréal Professionnel


January / February 2017


Coach Dark/light brown leather bomber jacket, £1,195; red/ black checked henley collar polo shirt, £195; black wool trousers, £POA, all by Coach


January / February 2017


Photographs by

Fashion by

Pelle Crépin

Chris Benns

Storm trouper Seen next on screen as a pilot in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, here Riz Ahmed navigates this winter’s weather-beating jackets and coats

Dior Homme Black striped wool jacket, £1,450; red/black checked wool T-shirt, £430; black wool suit trousers, £650, all by Dior Homme. Black leather trainers, £215, by Russell & Bromley


January / February 2017


Gucci Red/black/blue tartan double-felted wool coat, £1,930; light blue cotton shirt, £285; multicoloured checked jersey trousers, £355; multicoloured jacquard trainers, £410, all by Gucci


January / February 2017


Louis Vuitton Charcoal lambskin-shearling coat, £POA; brown metallic silk bomber jacket, £1,560, both by Louis Vuitton


January / February 2017


Belstaff Dark brown suede-leather-shearling jacket, £2,995, by Belstaff


January / February 2017

At the time of writing, confirmation

comes that Donald Trump is to be the 45th President of the United States of America. In profiles of actors, current affairs rarely figure but Riz Ahmed is a big-screen star who isn’t afraid to say what he thinks. Born in northwest London in 1982 to Muslim Pakistani parents, Ahmed grew up in a difficult, regularly hostile environment. Acting wasn’t so much an ambition as a necessity. He was, he says, “kind of acting every day just to survive and get by socially”. The prejudice shaped his future. A scholarship to Merchant Taylors’ school in north London led to reading PPE at Christ Church, University of Oxford, and then on to the  Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, which he left early to appear in Michael Winterbottom’s 2006 film The Road to Guantánamo. “You never learn as much as you do on the first job,” Ahmed says, “and working on an improvised docudrama was going in at the deep end.” Ahmed’s subsequent work

has often subverted racial stereotypes, in films such as Four Lions (2010) and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012). There is also a music career: as outspoken rapper Riz MC he’s played Glastonbury, had tracks banned from UK airplay, and is currently in politicised rap collective Swet Shop Boys. He’s a writer, too, and to best understand his view on the industry, read his eloquent contribution to The Good Immigrant, a  collection of essays about race and immigration published earlier this year. The actor evidently puts his journalistic mind to his work. “I guess because I played a real person in my first film, I always take that approach. I write up notes and try to build up [the character’s] life story through interviews. The research side of it, that journalistic element, I’ve always held on to it,” he says. This studious preparation proved useful for Ahmed’s recent turn as Nasir Khan, the protagonist in HBO’s mini-series The Night Of, a reimagining of the 2008 BBC series Criminal Justice. It’s the story of a  Pakistani-American student who, after an illjudged night out, finds himself on trial for a grisly murder he thinks he didn’t commit

J Crew Light grey wool coat, £525; grey/ white/brown wool chunky roll-neck jumper, £100; dark green corduroy trousers, £75, all by J Crew. White leather sneakers, £215, by Russell & Bromley. Dark green merino wool socks, £14, by Pantherella

(but can’t be certain). The story is gripping,  but it has a tangible critique of racial profiling in the US justice system at its heart. “It was the most challenging job I’ve ever had,” Ahmed says. “I felt a sense of weight and responsibility, which I relished, so I visited criminal defence attorneys, volunteered at youth centres in Queens and spent time at a Bronx high school.” Starring in an acclaimed “bingeworthy” HBO series might be enough for some, but 2016 was the year of Riz. He’s been everywhere, working alongside Matt Damon in the latest episode of the Bourne franchise, and very soon we’ll see him in a new sci-fi  film which, chances are, will prove rather popular. “The sets were gigantic,” he says of Star Wars spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, “and most of it wasn’t CGI. They created this world and you were really plunged into it.” As he points out, you can’t interview an ex-Imperial pilot before filming starts, but preparation (and love for the franchise) began many years ago when he saw the original movies as a child. “The Empire Strikes Back blew my mind,” he remembers. When Rogue One director Gareth Edwards suggested he put an audition on tape, Ahmed replied with 12 in three days. He was attracted by the potential independent feel that would come from the direction of Edwards’, whose 2010 indie Monsters got him noticed. And, of course, if Ahmed was going to be in a blockbuster, it would be one that promised to be darker, meaner and more nuanced than its predecessors. Shortly after Trump’s win had been certified, @rizmc tweeted to his followers: “Can’t sleep? Nor can I. It’s OK. Wake up. And wake up everyone around you. We can’t afford to sleepwalk any further into disaster.” In light of his newly assumed seat at Hollywood’s top table, one might think Ahmed’s vocal activism will soften, but with America signed up for at least four years of Trump, it’s hard to see that happening. All the better: outspoken entertainers tend to do quite well in America. Charlie Teasdale Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is out on 15 December

January / February 2017

Moncler Grey wool padded jacket, £745, by Moncler. Orange cashmere wool roll-neck jumper, £350, by Gieves & Hawkes


Photographer’s assistant: Nick Martin | Fashion assistant: Emie James-Crook | Digital operator: Mike Merkenschlager | Grooming: Mira H at using Bobbi Brown | See Stockists page for details

January / February 2017



Dark olive hooded wool coat, £895; grey marl wool suit, £1,295; white cotton shirt, £220, all by Mackintosh



Directory Master this season’s shearling trend in just two takes — both will deliver the same stylish, weather-proof result Edited by Emie James-Crook

Look 1 Dark tan suede-shearling coat, £700, by Jaeger Navy wool-silk blazer, £595, by Daks

Navy patterned cropped wool trousers, £195, by Daks White leather trainers, £215, by Russell & Bromley Oxblood leather backpack, £195, by Dr Martens Stainless steel Meister Agenda watch on black alligator strap, £7,370, by Junghans


Hearst Studios | See Stockists page for details

Cream wool roll-neck jumper, £205, by Paul & Shark


Look 2 Black leather-shearling jacket, £2,795, by Belstaff Beige cashmere crew-neck sweater, £335, by William & Son White linen collarless shirt, £165, by Private White VC Blue distressed denim jeans, £45, by Topman Black leather brogue derby boots, £475, by Crockett & Jones Green cotton umbrella, £145, by London Undercover Stainless steel GG2570 watch on green-red striped nylon strap, £570, by Gucci


Advertisement / Feature

Lifestyle Essentials

The Frenchie Co The Frenchie Co Carbon Wallet is a slim, luxurious and carefully handcrafted wallet made of the best materials available, and recently launched on a hugely successful Indiegogo campaign. This sophisticated wallet was created by the Frenchie Co, a Colombian company founded by Camilo and Daniel Mejia in their search for the world’s best wallet.

Philippe Banks Combining the finest Italian leather, sapphire crystal and Swiss-made movement, the Philippe Banks Signature Timepiece Collection is elegantly designed to complement the art of tailoring with a rich sense of the modern fashion industry. The company is driven by the mission to offer the finest quality of timepieces at an affordable price.

To see all products and find out

Receive 15 per cent off your first order with

more visit


Rope and suede belt – £63 Gandhum Sustainable fabric innovation and modern silhouettes see Gandhum push the boundaries of classic menswear in an exiting way. The perfect choice for the discerning gentleman, it’s ready-towear and made-to-measure selections offer unique statement pieces that encapsulate London’s rich heritage with structured, yet gently adroit elegance.

Chassis for men Chassis is revolutionising man care for down there. Featuring its best-selling Premium Powder, innovative Five-inOne Shower Primer and soothing Extreme Cream, Chassis helps gents stay cool, dry and friction-free with products incorporating quality ingredients such as hops, oatmeal and pumpkin seed extract.

40 Colori offers gentlemen colourful and bold accessories ranging from bow ties and braces to socks and wallets. Their products are handcrafted in their family-owned factory in Como, Italy using solely locally sourced materials from top suppliers. They have devoted themselves to providing the modern gentlemen with accessories of only the highest quality and in a multitude of colours to ensure every gentleman can find his next statement piece.

Now available throughout Europe at

Visit their London location or


Advertisement / Feature

Lifestyle Essentials

Treat someone dear to you to this handengraved flat bangle (£29) The piece will be engraved by hand in London with the names, dates or message of your choice. The team at Merci Maman will handcraft your bracelet within a couple of days and they will gift-wrap it in their signature box. Available in sterling silver, goldplated and rose gold-plated.

Marc Darcy suits As seen on Robbie Williams, Emmerdale’s Danny Miller, Jake Quickenden, Towie’s Tommy Mallett, Jon Clark, Chris Clark, ex-Manchester United player David May, jockey AP McCoy and many more. 15 per cent off at checkout with code ESQ15 Tweed three piece suits from £134.99. Tweed blazers from £49.99. Stock house of over 20,000 pieces. Mix and match available. Facebook: Marc Darcy Suits Instagram: @marcdarcysuits Twitter: @marcdarcylondon

British by design, benevolent by nature

Designed in Australia, Obviously offers the ultimate in comfortable underwear, combining a unique anatomical pouch design and premium fabrics. Get ready for the underwear experience you didn’t know you were waiting for.

Independent British watch company, Burlingham London’s first range of quality watches put a modern face on British heritage. All watches are 39mm, have scratch resistant glass, a two-part case and intricate detailing on the dial, marrying precision timekeeping with a sleek appearance. We also love that every watch sold helps to save 200m2 of the rainforest. Stunning value at less than £200.

Visit for more

Obviously apparel: comfort and style


January / February 2017

STOCKISTS A AG Jeans B Belstaff +44 20 7495 5897

Prada +44 20 7235 0008



Private White VC

Timberland +44 800 023 2478

N Next +44 333 777 8000 C Church’s

+44 20 7535 4600

P Pal Zileri available at

Turnbull & Asser available at


Russell & Bromley

Paul & Shark available at

+44 20 7499 2621

Paul Smith +44 80 0023 4006

Dior Homme +44 20 7172 0172

Topman +44 344 984 0265

Richard James +44 20 7434 0605

Crockett & Jones

D Daks

The Workers Club

Tod’s +44 20 7493 2237

R Ralph Lauren Purple Label

Coach Converse


W Wåven Whistles William & Son

S Stone Island

Dolce & Gabbana +44 20 7495 9250

Tats ’n’ hats: Tom Hardy wears black wool hat, £145; black denim jeans, £480, both by Gucci. Necklace, trunks, watch, his own

Dr Martens Drake’s

E Emporio Armani F

Frame available at

G Gap 1969 Gieves & Hawkes +44 20 7432 6403 Gucci +44 20 7235 6707

H H&M +44 344 736 9000 Hawksmill Denim Co


J Crew +44 808 234 3686 Jaeger +44 845 051 0063 JM Weston +44 20 7629 9494 Junghans


Levi’s +44 20 7292 2500 London Undercover Louis Vuitton +44 20 7399 4050

M M&S Autograph +44 20 8090 9564 M&S Collection +44 20 8090 9564

Photograph by Greg Williams


Object of Desire


£1,595 A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (Sony Music), £16.50,

If you’re looking to get back to vinyl or just feel you’ve earned yourself an upgrade, allow Esquire to point you in the direction of Clearaudio Concept. With its sharp design and substantial finish, its flagship deck has three speeds, 33.3, 45 and 78 (yes, 78!), controlled by a meaty rotary dial. The combination of materials — wood fibre, aluminium surround — apparently reduces vibrations to give a cleaner sound, but we’re swayed by a) its wood birch finish, and b) its simplicity — both in design and set-up. While some turntables require a steady hand and an MA in physics, this one really does just plug in and play, as all the adjustments are done prior to leaving Clearaudio HQ in Erlangen, Germany.


Photograph by Dan McAlister

Words by Johnny Davis


Clearaudio Concept MC Wood Turntable

Esquire uk january 2017