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Vic Reeves “If I were forced to have a musical accompaniment while I walked around town, I’d definitely have a tuba”


The actor and Vic Reeves rev up their motorcycles in Brighthelmstone


The dandyism that turned Norma Jean Baker into a 20th century icon


The Dexys frontman reveals the inner workings of his wardrobe 02>

9 771749 966087











TELEPHONE: 01270 611707/611808










Editor: Gustav Temple





Art Director: Rachel Barker

Picture Editor: Theo Salter Circulation Manager: Susan Brennan

Sub-Editor: Romilly Clark Subscriptions Manager: Jen Rainnie

Contributing Editors: Chris Sullivan, Liam Jefferies, Alexander Larman







Olly Smith is an awardwinning wine writer and broadcaster. He has been International Wine and Spirits Communicator of the Year, and Drinks Writer of the Year at the 2017 & 2016 Great British Food Awards. He is a regular on Saturday Kitchen and BBC Radio 2. Olly hosts his own drinks podcast

Liam Jefferies is The Chap’s Sartorial Editor, in charge of exploring new brands, trends and rediscoveries of forgotten gentlemanly fashions. Liam’s expert knowledge covers the dark heart of Savile Row to the preppy eccentricities of Ivy Leaguers. You can follow him on Instagram @sartorialchap.

Chris Sullivan is The Chap’s Contributing Editor. He founded and ran Soho’s Wag Club for two decades and is a former GQ style editor who has written for Italian Vogue, The Times, Independent and The FT. He is now Associate Lecturer at Central St Martins School of Art on ‘youth’ style cults and embroidery.

Matt Deckard is a Los Angeles-based flâneur and sartorial investigator. He previously worked for Stetson Hats and is the organizer of the annual LA Tweed Pub Crawl. He is also a menswear designer and writer and has written previously about action-back suits, felt hats, shoes and Disneyland’s Dapper Day.

Alexander Larman is The Chap’s Literary Editor. When neither poncing nor pandering for a living, he amuses himself by writing books: biographies of great men (Blazing Star) and examinations of greater women (Byron’s Women). He is currently working on The Crown in Crisis, a book about Edward VIII’s abdication.



Sunday Swift is The Chap’s Doctor of Dandyism. She writes on Dandyism, gender, popular culture and the gothic. Her writing has appeared in academic journals such as Gothic Studies and in popular books on cult television. She is currently working on a book about Dandies in television and film.

David Evans is a former lawyer and teacher who founded popular sartorial blog Grey Fox Blog seven years ago. The blog has become very widely read by chaps all over the world, who seek advice on dressing properly and retaining an eye for style when entering the autumn of their lives.


Office address The Chap Ltd 69 Winterbourne Close Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1JZ

Sophia (pronounced to rhyme with ‘a fire’) is a writer and cigar expert from Devon who likes shooting guns, smoking cigars and nature. Sophia spends her autumns and winters hunting with a sparrow hawk and her springs and summers fly fishing on the Devon rivers.

Advertising Paul Williams +353(0)83 1956 999 07031 878565

GOSBEE & MINNS Peter Gosbee is a jeweller, antiques purveyor and keen disciple of the sartorial arts, often to be found at markets, briar in hand and suitcase brimming with treasures. John Minns was brought up in what is commonly known as the rag trade. He cut his sartorial teeth working with ‘the King of Carnaby Street’ John Stephens.

Subscriptions Webscribe Ltd, Unit 4, College Road Business Park, College Road North, Aston Clinton, HP22 5EZ 01442 820 581

NICK OSTLER Nick Ostler is an Emmywinning and BAFTA-nominated screenwriter of family-friendly entertainment such as Danger Mouse, Shaun the Sheep and the upcoming adaptation of Tove Jansson’s classic Moomin novels, Moominvalley. He is also co-author, with Mark Huckerby, of the British fantasy adventure trilogy Defender of the Realm, published by Scholastic.

E W Twitter @TheChapMag Instagram @TheChapMag FB/TheChapMagazine

Printing: Micropress, Fountain Way, Reydon Business Park, Reydon, Suffolk, IP18 6SZ T: 01502 725800 Distribution: Warners Group Publications, West Street, Bourne, Lincolnshire, PE10 9PH T: 01778 391194


THE CHAP MANIFESTO 1 THOU SHALT ALWAYS WEAR TWEED. No other fabric says so defiantly: I am a man of panache, savoir-faire and devil-may-care, and I will not be served Continental lager beer under any circumstances. 2 THOU SHALT NEVER NOT SMOKE. Health and Safety “executives” and jobsworth medical practitioners keep trying to convince us that smoking is bad for the lungs/heart/skin/eyebrows, but we all know that smoking a bent apple billiard full of rich Cavendish tobacco raises one’s general sense of well-being to levels unimaginable by the aforementioned spoilsports. 3 THOU SHALT ALWAYS BE COURTEOUS TO THE LADIES. A gentleman is never truly seated on an omnibus or railway carriage: he is merely keeping the seat warm for when a lady might need it. Those who take offence at being offered a seat are not really Ladies.


4 THOU SHALT NEVER, EVER, WEAR PANTALOONS DE NIMES. When you have progressed beyond fondling girls in the back seats of cinemas, you can stop wearing jeans. 5 THOU SHALT ALWAYS DOFF ONE’S HAT. Alright, so you own a couple of trilbies. Good for you - but it’s hardly going to change the world. Once you start actually lifting them off your head when greeting passers-by, then the revolution will really begin. 6 THOU SHALT NEVER FASTEN THE LOWEST BUTTON ON THY WAISTCOAT. Look, we don’t make the rules, we simply try to keep them going. This one dates back to Edward VII, sufficient reason in itself to observe it. 7 THOU SHALT ALWAYS SPEAK PROPERLY. It’s really quite simple: instead of saying “Yo, wassup?”, say “How do you do?” 8 THOU SHALT NEVER WEAR PLIMSOLLS WHEN NOT DOING SPORT. Nor even when doing sport. Which you shouldn’t be doing anyway. Except cricket. 9 THOU SHALT ALWAYS WORSHIP AT THE TROUSER PRESS. At the end of each day, your trousers should be placed in one of Mr. Corby’s magical contraptions, and by the next morning your creases will be so sharp that they will start a riot on the high street. 10 THOU SHALT CULTIVATE INTERESTING FACIAL HAIR. By interesting we mean moustaches, or beards with a moustache attached.




We select the best and worst dressed guests at this year’s Goodwood Revival


The splendid new 300-page tome celebrating 20 years of anarcho-dandyism


A visit to Captain Fawcett’s Marvellous Barbershop Museum


Chris Sullivan on the celebrated German photographer


 ony Pitts and Vic Reeves discuss pressing matters of the day, T such as mallards, beehives and Blakeys



Kevin Rowland allows Eliza Hill into his home to photograph a tiny selection of his vast wardrobe


The Dexys singer discusses the sartorial and musical ups and downs of his entire career with Chris Sullivan


Gustav Temple pays a visit to John Lennon’s old house to find that Bond suits and Mr. Fish shirts have replaced the sunken bath


Liam Jefferies meets the dapper gent who started a handmade tie brand


Gustav Temple on the officer who made such an impression on David Niven that he named a character after him in all his subsequent films


The menswear brand that made jumpers for the Duke of Windsor and cardigans for rebellious female tennis players


David Evans dons his heaviest overcoat in protest at threats of global warming making coats superfluous


Matt Deckard attends the first anniversary shindig of this Los Angeles curiosity shop


Sunday Swift on Norma Jean Baker’s creation of the persona of Marilyn Monroe


Olly Smith finds sherry an inspiration to pen a birthday letter of advice to Toby the dog

104 T  RAVEL

Chris Sullivan delves into the extraordinary history of Malta via its bars, Caravaggios and restaurants


Nick Ostler on the late Victorian scandal of ‘The Hastings Rarities’ and how the term ‘stringers’ was coined


The singular delights of Puerto Vallarta and its connection with Ava Gardner and Richard Burton


Alexander Larman meets prolific and youthful historian Daisy Dunn


Books about booksellers and National Theatre luvvies


An encounter with the bonkers drummer from the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band


At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set


The debonair actor’s life via his unreliable memoirs and a slightly more reliable source


Sophia Coningsby samples the new blood taking on the mighty Cubans

154 RESTAURANT REVIEW The Bingham, Richmond


Advice on purchasing military antiques


Cover photo: © Soulstealer Photography


As a slight change to Am I Chap? we offer some photographic reflections on The Chap’s weekend at this year’s Goodwood Revival The dress code at Goodwood Revival, based on the motor circuit’s original heyday of 1944-1966, is not a million miles from The Chap dress code; in fact the distance is approximately 2.3 miles. This does not mean that everyone is well dressed, of course; the outfits range from the sensationally Chappist to the disappointingly Chumpist. Here are a few of our favourites.

Womenswear at Goodwood Revival ranges from sharp 1940s twin sets to polyester horrors from the 1960s. This trio of ladies kept their stockinged feet firmly in the early 1940s and cut quite the dash wherever they went. We later found out their peculiarly punctuated ‘names’ to be (L-R) @Kitkat_Katiex, @Amysvintage and @Homemade. Hannah. No other women captured the mood of late summer/early autumn with quite so much aplomb.

The choice of Norfolk Jacket, plus fours and deerstalker in searing Indian Summer temperatures was a brave choice for this unnamed fellow, who stood out from many other lesser attempts at country attire.

This chap’s subtle assemblage of estate tweeds was offset by a rather eccentric smoking apparatus. We were only slightly concerned about the choice of a Windsor Knot, as it seemed to have curled his shirt collar, though that may have been the heat.

This chap’s lower half seemed to have spent so long in the sun that his trousers had faded to a different shade to his jacket. He was offered an ‘oily rag’ by the ladies, expecting a cigarette, but was handed an actual oily rag, which he somehow managed not to stain his suit with.

What Katie Did doyenne Katie Thomas with The Chap’s very own Olivia Bullock, taking some much-needed shade next to some vintage undergarments in the What Katie Did stand. In the mirror can be seen the ghostly apparition of Susan Coolidge.

When the Rev Oliver Harrison was handed a copy of What Katie Did’s journal, he asked to be taken straight to the nearest confessional booth. Father and son duo Richard and Sam Moore initially raised sartorial concerns, when they attempted Umbrella Jousting dressed in a mish-mashed Peaky Blinders ensemble, which in their minds simply meant mixing up browns, pinstripes and grey wool.

However, the Moores acquitted themselves the following day, by appearing at our stand, no doubt to prove a point, dressed far more appropriately in tropical wear. Moore Snr was one of the few chaps at Goodwood wearing a fez, and he wore it so well that we were able to overlook his lack of braces.

BELFAST BOW COMPANY Handmade Bow Ties & Accessories Bow Ties | Ties | Pocket Squares | Cufflinks | Irish Linen | Liberty of London | Harris Tweed Handmade in Northern Ireland by husband and wife team David & Karen

Frank Annable is a regular contributor to Am I Chap, but we had no idea that Mrs. Annable was the true holder of the sartorial crown in their household. They paid us a delightful visit every day of the Revival, each in a completely different and stunning outfit.

Lori was snapped on the first morning of the first day at Goodwood, and we assumed that her splendid outfit would be matched, or even superceded by others during the subsequent three days. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t. This Jamaican fellow omitted to give his name, but he did give us a splendidly rakish ensemble to admire. He also turned out to have been an associate of the late soccer star Laurie Cunningham, featured in issue 100 of this journal.

Renowned ukulelist and ‘no more f**ks to giver’ Tom Wild coincidentally wore his new Walker Slater tweed suit to Goodwood, purely so he could pose next to the Walker Slater suit on our mannequin. Luckily he left his own antlers at home.

Those Goodwood attendees professionally involved in motorsport didn’t have time to think about their outfits, as Bernie Ecclestone proved by wearing clothes discarded by his grandmother and his teenage nephew.

Russ Nash stepped into adjudicate when Helen Chapman and Sara Sewandsew tried to turn Umbrella Jousting into Handbag Wrestling.



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est of The Chap is a 300-page collection of the best articles, interviews and photoshoots from the last 20 years of The Chap. This hardback tome includes features from the earliest editions, when The Chap was a slim pamphlet taken by a discreet handful of dissolute dandies, such as The Semiotics of Smoking, Gentlemanly Ailments and Trouser Semaphore. Later editions are represented with features such as a guide for the student, the budding actor and Kipper & Grape’s World of Sport. Stephen Fry appears twice, in interviews about being awarded Pipe Smoker of the Year and a later one about sartorial matters. Subjects are as diverse as gastronomy (Keith Floyd), cricket (Stalag Fixtures), military manoevres, millinery, vintage events, beatniks, birdwatching, science and boozing. Where else could you read about how to build a mediumsized Hadron Collider in your garden shed?


Also included are encounters with icons of the publication, such as Barry Humphries, Richard E Grant, Chris Eubank, Adam Ant, Sir Roger Moore, John Waters and a man who crossed the Alps on a Space Hopper. If you’re new to The Chap and want to catch up on what you’ve missed for the last 20 E&5 4 years, or if you’ve read the occasional issue and D& 3 C &the wished you’d read more, Best of The Chap tells &2 B whole story. 1 A& For 20 years, satirical gentlemen’s quarterly The Chap has been providing chaps all over the DI world with crucial advice on sartorial rectitude and I&9 8 anarcho-dandyist etiquette. Best of The Chap brings H& & 7 the Gfrom together in one volume all the features 6 F& last 100 issues that have defined the publication’s manifesto. n 14



BEST OF THE CHAP is available from all good bookshops and from


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Photograph: Ian Ward. Suit: Joshua Kane


CAPTAIN FAWCETT‘S MARVELLOUS BARBERSHOP MUSEUM The Chap paid a visit to Richie Finney, museum creator and doyen of Captain Fawcett's Grooming Emporium. Photos by Ian Ward


“The oldest item dates back to 1650; it’s a cutthroat razor with poetry inscribed on the blade. It was found concealed behind a drawer in an antique cupboard, along with some hair and other hidden long-lost keepsakes”

here is no need to ask why create a museum of male grooming accoutrements in the first place (for it is an absolutely capital idea), but is yours the very first in the world? I wouldn’t claim Captain Fawcett’s Marvellous Barbershop Museum to necessarily be the first in the world, as many barbershops have traditionally collected items of interest. However, when one considers the size of the collection, I do believe this to be the largest.


Do you recall the very first grooming accoutrement you ever acquired, and if so, where? It was in the city of Bath Spa that I first came cross a really beautiful men’s grooming set in a leather case housing glass and silver bottles; it was and is simply stunning. If I recall correctly, I paid about £200 for it. What was particularly interesting was the discovery of a quaint mentholated spirits burner that completely folded out and had a rest made for tongs. Unfortunately, it was missing the tongs but some years later, in a small antique shop in Holt, Norfolk, I spied a glass cabinet in which was a small leather case that traditionally would hold a motherof-pearl fruit knife or some such. Something drew me to it and, lo and behold! Inside were some exquisite ivory-handled moustache curling tongs that folded in half and, unbelievably, perfectly fitted the burner.

Which item do you have the most examples of ? Razors, I have an absolutely ginormous collection of razors dating back to the year dot. I have some very early examples of cutthroat razors in papiermâché boxes with some simply splendid examples of the 7-day cutthroat razor sets, including one crocodile skin box that originated from the Royal Automobile Club. Moving through history, I have many variations of the safety razor, a development arguably invented by King Camp Gillette, which made his fortune. It is fascinating that gentlemen began shaving with cutthroat razors, then adopted the safety razor en masse, yet now men’s grooming has gone full circle and returned to the desire for very beautifully crafted cutthroat blades for one’s personal use. Along with their reintroduction into barbershops, where the skill required to wield such an implement has always been highly prized, not least by the nervous customer!


When did man first begin to pluck the unruly hairs from his chin? Well, I think that probably dates back to the first Neanderthal’s mate making complaints about his beard being a little too prickly. Seriously, there are examples of men trying to smooth their face with sharpened flint and all sorts of peculiar items – although, as we know, facial hair was extremely popular in some cultures. Alexander the Great was an advocate of men removing all facial hair, yet in other societies it was considered somewhat effeminate not to have any facial hair. Even today, in countries like Afghanistan, it’s considered unmanly to be clean shaven. And these observations are not merely fashionable, it matters hugely when encouraging either trust or authority. Indeed, at certain times, British troops have grown beards in a bid to be taken seriously by the indigenous population and there are endless examples of such considerations throughout history and differing cultures. Is there much of a distinction between gentlemen’s grooming accoutrements and those aimed at lesser-moneyed folk – or are all men equal under the blade? That’s a most interesting question and really how my collection came about. At some time, every man and boy has most definitely had a haircut and, as he matures, will have had a shave. Now the barber in attendance might have been a most humble shave-wallah sitting cross-legged on the streets of Mumbai, with nothing more than a broken mirror and an old blade, or the retained barber of an Al Capone type chap, whose personal tonsorial artist would come to his hotel every day to attend to his hair, nails and so forth. The quality and expense of the tools used will change but all are employed for the same purpose, so


my collection traces the cheapest disposable plastic razor to, for example, an Art Deco silver and ivory handled shaving brush, beautifully engineered for precision shaving. The bottom line in gentlemen’s grooming is that there is something for everyone, and my collection represents that. For example, the 7-day razor sets might be worth £600-700; however the ivory sets are priceless. It’s fantastic that these items have survived and not been lost or destroyed. Do you have any items in your collection that didn’t catch on during the early invention of grooming devices? Well, there are all kinds of razor sharpening devices, beautiful but over-engineered and some of those really failed to catch on. The Rolls razor from the1950s is something that people bought as a present and everyone had one, but it really wasn’t used. There have always been fad items guaranteeing to keep your razor blades sharp or reduce the actual costs of razors. Dating back, a regular client on visiting his barber would have had his own shaving mug and his personal razor. You will quite often find examples of cutthroat razors in cardboard boxes with customer’s names written on them. A chap would walk into his barbershop and the barber would get down his mug with his blade. That practice, along with so many others, has long gone. A barber nowadays will use a disposable cutthroat blade, which is replaced after every shave. Your collection spans the entire globe. From which country do the oddest devices originate? The collection hosts items originating from Great Britain, America, Germany, Spain and Holland and in truth are but variations on a theme. The German bleeding bowl, dating from 1866 (below), takes some beating, but I will leave it to the visitor to decide as to which is the oddest! n

Photo by Iain Crockart

What is the oldest item you have? The oldest item dates back to 1650; it’s a cutthroat razor with poetry inscribed on the blade. Even the esteemed and well-known razor authority and dedicated collector Renzo Jardella, who’s written a number of books on this subject, hasn’t come across an example of such astonishing quality. Which makes this in fact the best-known surviving example; it was found concealed behind a drawer in an antique cupboard, along with some hair and other hidden long-lost keepsakes. At nigh on 400 years old, it’s priceless.

Horst P Horst – Photographer of Style (p22) Vic Reeves and Tony 21 Pitts in conversation (p28)

Photograph: ŠSoulstealer Photography




HORST P HORST Chris Sullivan on the remarkable career of the German who started out as a part-time nudist and furniture designer and went on to become one of the fashion world’s most celebrated photographers


“Horst incorporated Huene’s overtly camp neoclassical slant with his plain geometric backgrounds and artificial lights that stressed chiaroscuro, and dexterously added a pinch of Bauhaus, a soupcon of baroque and a generous cup of Dada, to create his unique style”

or over sixty years, if Horst P. Horst agreed to take your portrait then you most certainly had arrived. A name that was synonymous with glamour, grace and refinement, high society along with the stars of stage, screen, art and music fell over themselves to get in front of his 10x8 Hasselblad and find themselves immortalized on one of his fine Silver gelatine or Platinum prints. Sitters included Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford and Steve McQueen, designers Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli and Yves St Laurent, artists Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol and singers Maria Callas and Debbie Harry. Former Vogue editor Anna Wintour described Horst as the Mario Testino of his day – but that is selling the man short.


Horst defined an era of elegance between the wars on both sides of the pond and created a majestic, almost neoclassical style of photography, which is timeless. Horst, along with Edward Steichen, George Hoyningen-Huene and Cecil Beaton, was one of the true ‘old masters’ of fashion and portrait photography. Born Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann on August 14th 1906 to the prosperous owner of a hardware store Max and his wife Klara, he was a wan and wistful young chap who spent most his time day dreaming. In 1922, while holidaying in Weimar, he met Eva Weidermann, a young student of dance and drama at the Bauhaus who, ten years his senior, introduced him to the artwork of Paul Klee, Kandinsky and Lionel Feininger and the thoughts of Nietzsche, Yung and Kant. A breath of fresh air for this young and, shall we say poetic, young man, she took him to along to radical dance performances by bisexual American communist Isadora Duncan, who bared her breasts and shocked the world. The inherent beauty of the human body was joyfully celebrated by the cult of Nacktcultur, whose adherents advocated nudism for both sexes and spent as much time as possible frolicking starkers and exercising in the countryside, while its leaders were careful to de-eroticise the naked body. This was all all the rage in the twenties and the young Horst was all over it like herpes. Consequently, Horst’s stern German dad packed his errant son off to Frankfurt to sort himself out, learn Chinese and get a proper job in an import/export company in Hamburg. Fortunately, the office was a hop skip and a jump away from the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Art) so the handsome young aesthete asked his folks if he could go there to learn architecture. His exasperated dad, who sold spanners for a living, agreed to let his wispy son nip off to trip the light fantastic. At first, Horst made do with designing chairs and tables, which brought him into contact with Bauhaus legends Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. When a journalist friend berated him for his laziness, Horst cheekily wrote to Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris – AKA Le Corbusier – in Paris and asked for a job. Amazingly, the esteemed designer, architect and polymath agreed, and the 24-year-old arrived in Paris at the height of its mad bad-assed jazzed-up hedonistic sexually liberated metro-sexually charged craziness in June 1930. He couldn’t believe his luck. One evening, the striking young German was asked to join a table of strangers, one of whom was the eccentric aristocratic smudger, ‘Baltic Baron’

George Hoyningen-Huene, who took Horst under his wing and gave him a job as both assistant and model, enacting the gracefully stylized semi naked Olympian poses that were essential to his aesthetic. Huene, the top photographer at French Vogue, introduced Horst to the thriving International café society gay scene. Another leg up came from Vogue art director Mehemed Agha, who urged Horst to try his hand at photography. To determine what makes a great composition, Horst studied paintings in the Louvre. He incorporated Huene’s overtly camp neoclassical slant with his plain geometric backgrounds and artificial lights that stressed chiaroscuro, and dexterously added a pinch of Bauhaus, a soupcon of baroque and a generous cup of Dada, to create his unique style. At the right pace at the right time, Horst’s ascent coincided with the rise of the magazine. In 1909, publisher Mr Condé Nast had purchased the New York society magazine Vogue and hired leading photographic artists such as Baron Adolph de Meyer and Edward Steichen to push his envelope that soon included Vanity Fair. He then launched British and French editions of Vogue in 1916 and 1920 respectively. “Nast was as important to photography as Diaghilev was to Ballet,” said Horst. Nast also insisted that photographers work only with the onerous 10x8 inch plate camera that for the most part confined the photographer to the studio. The first Horst credit appeared in French Vogue in December 1931, but his big breakthrough came through a shoot featuring society women for British Vogue. In 1932 Horst held his first public exhibition in Paris and began taking portraits of celebrities and the rich and titled, which he sent to Dr Agha for consideration for use in American Vogue and Vanity Fair. In 1932 he was invited by Condé Nast to work on American Vogue on a sixmonth contract, but found New Yorkers not only outrageously demanding but also brusque and un co-operative. After just three months, Condé Nast accused Horst of arrogance, criticised every shot he’d taken and told him to leave after his contract was up. In June that year he returned to Paris, was immediately employed by French Vogue and re-commenced snapping the rich and famous, culminating in his landmark portrait of the esteemed Parisian music hall singer Mistinguett, dressed in a Molyneux silver/white sheath gown and ostrich feather hat. In 1934 Horst nipped over to London and was further indulged by the English stately homos, including Noël Coward, who allowed him to photo-


Illustration by Olivia Bullock

Š Will OLiver/EPA/Shutterstock

Carmen Dell’Orefice beside her own photo at Horst: Photographer of Style at the V&A in 2014

graph the cast of his play Conversation Piece, and doors opened. Horst lunched with the Mitford sisters, dined with American heir and surrealist patron Edward James and photographed debutantes, Lords and Ladies and the idle rich. A trip to Hollywood spawned shots of Katherine Hepburn and director George Cukor. Back in Paris, he tapped into the outrageously lavish, decadent and hedonistic costume ball scene, where the outrageously rich spent outrageous amounts of dosh entertaining outrageously influential creatives such as Schiaparelli, Chanel and Cocteau. One event in 1935, hosted by the Comte and Comtesse de Beaumont, required guests to stage tableaux vivants in historical styles. The handsome German was brought in to photograph what a chronicler later described as ‘a carnival of luxury played out by Parisian high society’ in the 1930s. Your man was on a roll. Before Horst, many of those who modelled clothes were society women who just didn’t have the necessary looks or charisma to carry off the task (sounds a bit like today) but Horst discovered ‘real’ models such as Lisa Fonssagrives, Helen Bennett Muriel Maxwell and Carmen Dell’Orefice. His greatest find was ‘Lud’, whom he persuaded to model for him after she turned up at French Vogue as a bicycle messenger. Born Ludmillla Fedoseyeva, she was a tall icy Blonde with broad Slavic cheekbones and wide set almost Oriental eyes, who refused to wear jewellery, married a lion tamer, went off on a world tour with him and returned only to spark a bitter dispute between Schiaparelli and Chanel, who both wanted her as their house model. The last shot that Horst took in Paris in the thirties was his iconic Mainboker Corset, a monochrome shot of model Madame Bernon’s back clad only in an unravelling corset. “I shot that at four in the morning and then the next day boarded the last boat to New York”, he recalled. The shot of a tightly corseted and restricted beauty could well have been a photographic metaphor for the future of Paris. Less than a year later the Germans were goosestepping down The Champs-Élysées. The horrors of World War II pushed people in search of escapism into darkened cinemas and subsequently to find distraction by following the lives of these new Hollywood stars. Thus, in New York, Horst created iconic shots of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford; the former featuring Miss Davis in a 20-foot high rocking chair, the latter a dark brooding almost neoclassical noir portrait, while other shots of Ethel Waters and Ellyn Williams echo the paintings of Egon Schiele. By merging fine art with photogra-


phy Horst created a canon of work that still stands up today. There is a shot of the costumes Salvador Dali designed for Leonid Massine’s ballet Bacchanale that doesn’t even resemble a photograph. It’s more like a monochrome tone painting that illustrates just what one can do with the medium of light. Firmly ensconced in New York with the man with whom he would share the rest of his life, British diplomat Valentine Lawford, Horst truly flowered as his shots of Marlene Dietrich, Merle Oberon, Veronica Lake and Salvador Dali amply prove but, after The Third Reich declared war on the US, German-born Horst could not work outside the Vogue studio, due to his status as an enemy alien. However, in 1943 Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann received American citizenship and, with his new name Horst. P. Horst, was drafted and served as a photographer for the US Army. After the War, Horst, with more Vogue covers than you could shake a stick at, was regarded as one of the world’s finest photographers and was invited to shoot President Harry Truman. Such approval blew the bloody doors off. US Vogue’s art director Alexander Liberman offered Horst a new contract, and he photographed Rita Hayworth and Tallulah Bankhead. He was sent to Paris to capture the couturier fashion shows, but “Then I got bored photographing fashion,” he said. “And my old friend Diana Vreeland came on as editor of Vogue and asked me to shoot houses, which I’d never done before.” For the next decade, Horst shot households and household names such as Truman Capote, Calvin Klein, Gilbert and George and Roy Lichtenstein and in 1984 published a book, Horst: His Work and His World, written by Valentine Lawford, with new portraits of the likes of Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Dorothy Lamour. Meanwhile the fashion world rediscovered Horst, resulting in a series of shoots for Vogue in the style that made him famous. In 1990 Madonna recreated many of Horst’s classic shots such as the corset in her video for the song Vogue. “Horst’s intellect and aesthetic sense were so integrated, his lifetime’s appreciation of all art forms and nature clearly reflected in all his photography,” explains Horst model Carmen Dell’Orefice in the book Horst, Photographer of Style. “Horst knew his craft, he knew when black and white suited the drama of what he wanted to create. You see, he was an artist.” n Horst, Photographer of Style, by Anna Wintour and Susannah Brown is published by the V&A



IN CONVERSATION WITH TONY PITTS Models: Vic Reeves, Tony Pitts, Nancy Sorrell Photographs: Soulstealer Photography Clothes styled by Donna Grimaldi. Hair by Simon Webster


“In the seventies I took a picture of Elvis Costello into the barbers and said, ‘Can you do it like that?’ He said, ‘No way, I’m not doing it like that, punk!’ I came out looking like one of the Bee Gees”

ONY PITTS: Hello Jim – can I call you Jim? I’ve got some questions that will reveal how you perceive the cultural landscape. The first question is in two parts; we’ll call the first part Part A: Do you ever become overwhelmed by a complete sense of despair and loss of hope, when faced with the spiralling, churning futility of it all?


Barbershop: Scoundrels Barber, Hove

Vic Reeves: Is that the question? TP: Yes, but Part B of that question is, who is your favourite African child? VR: My own African child. I’m quite like Paul Theroux in that respect. I’ve sired a lot of African children. But to answer Part A, the power of the sea throws me into despair and overwhelms me quite often. Shall I ask you one now? When you were young and you went to the hairdressers, did you get a square neck or a round neck? You know, at the back: the barber would say to you, square or round, sir? TP: I was taken to the hairdresser, an Italian bloke, who, when I was seven, always used to say, ‘You’re 27.’ And I’d say, ‘No, I’m seven.’

“I must admit I’m much happier with the traditional flat beak of a Redshank or a Mallard”

stop the flow of traffic. Just to stop men taking over.

When I was eight, he said I was 28. Then I went to Alfredos in Sheffield and I had an Alfredo’s special, which was a scissorcut Budgie haircut. VR: You’re talking about later when the cuts were longer. I meant when you had it short. When I was ten or eleven, in about 1969, the hairdresser would always say, ‘Would you like it round, or would you like it Roger Moore?’ A lot of blokes then had a round cut on the neck, but Roger Moore, who was a trendsetter, had it square. So I said I wanted a Roger Moore, because I was a fan of the Saint.

TP: Yes, the patriarchy of milk delivery. You can ask me a question now. VR: On a general day-to-day basis, do you like your food piled up or flat? TP: I prefer it flat, but such is my greed that it’s inevitably piled up. VR: So what if you had a ham salad; lettuce and ham, which are innately flat when sliced? TP: I’d keep stacking it up until it formed a pile. Next question: which of the garden birds do you think is the most easily discouraged? VR: Do you know the commonest bird in Britain?

“I’m always trying to raise awareness for things I know nothing about. So I say, instead of releasing a charity single, we should go on a potatopicking holiday on our motorcycles”

TP: No. VR: Katie Price. She’s not easily discouraged. Once you get her into your garden it’s hard to get rid of her. But in all seriousness, the formation flight of starlings is second to none. Other than the Red Arrows.

TP: I went to a barber in Sheffield and said ‘I want my hair cut like Tony Curtis’. Then he shaved it all off. I said, ‘Tony Curtis doesn’t have his hair like that.’ The barber said, ‘He would if he came in here.’ VR: I went to the barbers in Darlington once, in the 1970s. I took a picture of Elvis Costello in and said, ‘Can you do it like that?’ He said, ‘No way, I’m not doing it like that, punk!’ I came out looking like one of the Bee Gees. I had to get on the bus and make sure none of my friends saw me. It was worse than a Bee Gee, it was like Noel Edmonds, with a high centre parting.

TP: Whereas the sparrow is disappearing. VR: Overtaken by buzzards. TP: What’s the collective noun for buzzards? Is it a Leighton? Anyway, it’s your turn for a question, Jim. I tell you what you don’t see here, but you do in the north – a curlew. VR: [does a perfect impression of a curlew’s whistle]. I love a curlew. Tony – is it alright if I call you Tony? – Do you prefer a bird with a downwardly curved beak, like a curlew, or an upwardly curved beak? TP: I must admit I’m much happier with the traditional flat beak. A Redshank or a Mallard. VR: That’s more of a bill. I prefer the long slender Redshank’s bill. Last week I got some Blakeys, or segs to put on my boots. You can only get them on to leather soles. I’ve noticed that with the amount of rubber soles these days, it’s very difficult to get Blakeys on them.

TP: Sounds like he was trying to hold back the tide of punk. I’m going to ask you another question now, Jim – if I can call you Jim? – Broadly speaking, did you support the Suffragette Movement? VR: Yes. I’ve often tried to recreate Emily Pankhurst’s running in front of a horse, in busy town centres by leaping in front of milk floats, to


When I was at school, you’d put Blakeys on your shoes and when you got on your bike you’d cause sparks on the pedals

“When they invented fluorescent paint in 1971, I would paint my brogues fluorescent orange and put segs on them, so they were luminous. You could see them in the dark” TP: Apparently the whole segs industry is on its knees. VR: When I was at school, you’d put Blakeys on your shoes and when you got on your bike you’d cause sparks on the pedals. TP: There was also a brief period in Sheffield, around 1974, when they released a kind of winklepicker with a brass fitment on the front, like a cowboy boot. VR: That might be good with motorcycling. The other thing I used to do, when they invented fluorescent paint in 1971, was paint my brogues fluorescent orange, and put segs on them, so they were luminous. You could see them in the dark. TP: Next question: seeing as we are literally yards away from the birthplace of the Rizzle Kicks, can you remember where you were when you first heard Down With the Trumpets? And it’s almost to the day, eight years ago, when they released their debut album. VR: I must admit I’m not that confident I can remember where I was, but I do remember that one of the Rizzle Kicks had an extraordinarily high hairdo. It reminds me of a time in the past when ladies used to have very high hairdos… TP: Beehives? VR: Yes, and they used to put on very high rain hats, with extra long straps to reach their chins. TP: Given the current concerns around climate change, biodiversity loss, social and ecological collapse, would you consider

“Do you know why they’re called Pikeys? Because they’d park up at the turnpikes and stop there for a bit. Then move on to the next turnpike” getting a few friends together and releasing a charity single? VR: Well, I’m always trying to raise awareness for

things I know nothing about. So I say, instead of releasing a charity single, we should go on a potatopicking holiday on our motorcycles. TP: I’d like to ask you Jim, what do you think is my ideal weight? VR: 16 stone. But mainly the top half. I’d say about 14 stone for the top half and then two stone for the legs. TP: Good, I’ve got something to aim for now. VR: You’re quite like a light bulb, aren’t you? With a couple of strings at the bottom.

my next question: If you had to have a musical accompaniment while you walked around town, what instrument would you choose? I’d definitely have a tuba.

TP: Do you regret the current political climate of hatred that we have descended into? VR: I enjoy descending into most things, particularly the centre of the earth. Can I ask you a question about what’s on our plates? There’s a debate about what you call a turnip or a swede. We’re both from the north; I think we’d both call that a turnip. Turnips are big purple things; it reverses somewhere around Leicester.

TP: I’d like a glockenspiel. VR: Like Patrick Moore. TP: I’d like to be accompanied by Patrick Moore. VR: Do we need to mention motorcycling? We’re basically cool guys who ride around causing trouble, aren’t we?

TP: I must admit, I didn’t know the turnip/ swede debate was raging. I’m more well versed in the pikelet/crumpet debate. VR: Are you allowed to call them pikelets now? Do you know why they’re called Pikeys? Because they’d park up at the turnpikes and stop there for a bit. Then move on to the next turnpike. Here’s

TP: We’ve been to quite a few seaside resorts and been surly in cafes, haven’t we? VR: Hanging around outside vacuum cleaner shops, looking very surly. n


Kevin Rowland Photoshoot (p44) Interview with Kevin Rowland (p54) • Mason & Sons (p66) • Shaun Gordon (p72) • Diehl Marcus & Co (p76) • House of Paine (p82) • Grey Fox Column (p86) • Trubshawe (p90)

Photograph: Eliza Hill














KEVIN ROWLAND Chris Sullivan meets the Dexys Midnight Runners singer who has created more trends than Bryan Ferry and has the followers and lookalikes to prove it


orn in Wolverhampton to Irish parents from Crossmolina area in County Mayo – his father a builder from farming stock and his mother a townie whose family were well versed in the arts – Kevin Rowland lived in Ireland aged one to four, spent his primary school years in Wolverhampton then moved to Harrow aged 11. A troublesome adolescent, he left school at 15, worked for a while in Moss Bros, had about 20 jobs (from apprentice printer to working in the building trade with his dad) and then trained as a hairdresser. It was only when he joined his brother Pete’s pop combo that he saw the light.

A few bands followed, such as the Roxy Music influenced Lucy and The Lovers, then punk act Killjoys, and then came Dexys Midnight Runners. Initially managed by Clash man Bernie Rhodes, they supported The Specials on tour, but with their distinctive New York longshoreman look and unique soul reggae inspired sound, Dexys soon created their own inimitable niche. After sacking Rhodes, they signed to EMI and released the landmark LP Searching For The Young Soul Rebels in 1980, from which the single Geno went to number one in the charts. Suddenly Dexys was the name on everyone’s lips, and further hits and radical changes in


© Andre Csillag/Shutterstock

appearance followed. Come on Eileen, from the album Too-Rye-Ay, was number one in eight countries including the USA, and after selling 2.5 million copies was the best selling single in the UK of the eighties. The band adopted a hillbilly façade, replete with neckerchiefs and dungarees, which perfectly complimented the strings behind Kevin’s Celtic Soul sound. Don’t Stand me Down was the next album that saw the band revert back to Rowland’s roots as an Ivy League skinhead wearing Brooks Brothers buttondowns and business suits. The band split up in 1987 and Kevin recorded a solo album The Wanderer, which failed commercially and prompted his down-

ward spiral into cocaine addiction. He relocated to Brighton, sorted himself out, moved to Brick Lane in the 90s and began writing songs for the new Dexys Midnight Runners reformed in 2003. In 2012 he re-launched Dexys Midnight Runners as simply ‘Dexys’, with the album One Day I’m Going To Soar followed by a sell-out UK tour. In 2016 Dexys released Let the Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul, which reached number 10 in the UK album charts. I met Kevin, a man of both undoubted style and substance, in his rather nice flat overlooking a canal in London’s East End, to chew the fat over his career and sartorial obsessions.


“To say I was a drama queen in those days would be an understatement. We grabbed the tapes at the end of the recording and drove to Harrow. I said, ‘Mum. Stick these under the bed, will ya?’”

some sort of message whatever you wear, so far better that it be something that actually represents you on that day. For me, it changes all the time. I don’t have a favourite outfit. Sometimes I might feel positive and strong and will wear, for example, a pink suit. But if I have even a subtle feeling of anxiety – for whatever reason – on that day, wearing that suit I would feel overdressed for where I’m at, and it would give out an awkward, confused message. My outfit for any day or event needs to be congruent with how I feel. To be honest, I tend to trust whatever jumps out at as I look through my wardrobe. My intuition is usually right.

What’s the essence of style and how important is it for you? I wouldn’t know how to explain it but I spend a hell of a lot of time thinking about it. It’s completely intuitive for me.

When was the first time you took note and were impressed by another person’s style, whether in real life, TV, history or film? Elvis, Billy Fury, Cliff Richard. But mainly Elvis. I loved him. He seemed like a lovely older brother.

How important is the message that one’s outfit declares? It’s massively important! You are going to convey


“Clothes and music were by far the most important things in life. They made life worth living”

teenagers. The boys wore quiffs or Elvis haircuts, leather jackets, drainpipes and winklepickers. The girls had beehive hairstyles and wore dresses that were tight at the top but flared out from the waist, with kitten heels or stilettos. Beautiful. I couldn’t wait to be a teenager.

This would have been maybe 1961. I was eight. I can remember standing outside the ABC in Wolverhampton watching the crowds going in to see Elvis in Blue Hawaii. I even loved watching the queues of

To what extent did this matter to you when you were growing up? It probably mattered even more to me when I was


growing up than ever. I would literally obsess about getting certain items of clothing from the youngest age. Whether it was a pair of long trousers when I was in primary school, or a buttondown collar shirt that I would see the local Mods in Harrow wearing. When I became a teenager, and had a little more control over what I wore, my obsessiveness went into full flight. Clothes and music were by far the most important things in life. They made life worth living. Then at 15 I left school and found myself in the middle of a youth cult, short haired boys and girls that later came to be known by the media as ‘skinhead’. Prior to that, the only name I had heard used to describe them was ‘Peanuts’. During that summer of ’69, hair had got very short, almost bald, but it wasn’t some kind of brutal ugly statement (which is how the media portrayed it); it was a G.I.’s haircut. The whole ‘skinhead’ look was based on the clothes of conservative America and the Ivy League. My first introduction to it was when the coolest kid in the school took me, in October 1968, to the Squire Shop in Brewer Street. He said, “I’ll take you to a shop where the smartest dressers go”. I was expecting to see some dainty looking clothes, but instead I saw heavy, cumbersome looking shoes, Wing tips and GI’s/ Plain Caps, Harrington Jackets – which were basically American windcheaters (the height of uncool at the time), button-down shirts and sober, straight trousers. I recognised immediately that, against the backdrop of swinging London, this was subversive. The irony of it made me laugh out loud and I couldn’t wait to get a pair of wing tips. The first mention of the word skinhead was at the end of August 1969 in the Daily Mirror. Prior to that, all through that spring and summer of ’69, there was an explosion of Ivy League clothes and great Reggae records, and I was aware that I was part of something new and that it was a youth cult, just like the Teds in the 50s and the Mods in the early 60s had been. I had the feeling that this was our time. I was 16 and, in those days, that was the age. Even at 17/18 you were expected to be growing up, and by 19 most working class boys were engaged and settled down by 22. Thinking about that look would literally keep me awake at night. Style

and music were everything. You had to have a suit and it had to be right. Always made to measure. We used to joke to whoever turned up with a new suit: ‘I like your suit!’ ‘Thank you.’ ‘Was it made to measure?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Who for?’ But joking aside, if you didn’t have the right clothes, you weren’t taken seriously and girls wouldn’t be interested. What was your first proper job? I left school at 15 (as that was the school leaving age in those days). In January 1969 and started my first job s at Dunn & Co – conservative men’s outfitters and hatters. They had made their name through hats, but by the late 60s had branched out into suits, jackets and trousers. I absolutely loved that job and, as luck would have it, conservative clothes were in fashion at the time. I got my first real suit there – a


grey windowpane check three-piece, with sloping flapped jacket pockets, and a 12" vent. The trousers were 16" bottoms with small turn-ups. Each staff member was entitled to two hats per year. I duly used up my allowance with high bodied, tapered, narrow brimmed American looking numbers like Frank Sinatra wore at the time. I was the envy of many of the Harrow Boys – of which I was now a member – as these hats were all the go and looked great, often worn on the back of the head, with a straight, single breasted Burberry style mac, or a Crombie type coat. The only places that sold them were old fashioned men’s shops, like Dunn & Co.

much better with them, visually. But I had a couple of intense, disturbing trips in the summer of 73 and that was the end of my LSD period. How did you dress in 74? I went into the year still wearing A-line trousers and with longish hair. But by the spring, I’d had my hair cut short, Robert Mitchum/James Dean style, and was wearing bowling shirts and baggy pegged trousers, with a very narrow belt. I had to get the trousers made – you couldn’t buy them in any shops. I got a lot of stares. I was living in Birmingham by this time but my parents still lived in Harrow, so I was down there regularly and would go to clubs like Crackers, The Sundown and the like.

“I found singing effortless and I saw my life going that way and involving great clothes. I thought, this is easy, when I grow up, I’ll be a pop star”

When did you first realise that you weren’t like everyone else and something had to give? Certainly in primary school, if the teacher would ask for anyone to get up and sing a song, I’d be up like a shot. I found it effortless and I could see that people enjoyed it. I thought, this is great. It’s going to be so easy. But as time went on, things got a bit more complicated and I got very sidetracked. Plus I was getting into a lot of trouble both in and out of school, and it was only a couple of years after I’d left home that I started to get a shape of where my life could go. I’d joined my brother Pete’s weekend band on guitar – I wasn’t great – but Pete was patient and forgiving. I’d also trained to be a hairdresser. I felt at last that I was on the right track.

Were you ever tempted by hippy? Well, I came close. In 1972 and 73 I went through a period where I was taking LSD. At that time I was wearing things like wide lapelled velvet jackets, A-line trousers, Topper shoes, with feathercut hair. I remember tripping one night and thinking, ‘These clothes aren’t right for LSD’. I saw how scoop necked, flared sleeved T-shirts with stars printed on them, worn with loon pants, were far more complimentary to the effects of acid and seemed to go


It was a stevedore look – New York Dockers. I’d long since liked that look and when we decided to do the support slot on the Specials tour, I knew that it would be just about acceptable to their audience but would set us a little apart.

Did you always know you’d succeed outside of the prescribed box? I found singing effortless and I saw my life going that way and involving great clothes. I thought, this is easy, when I grow up I’ll be a pop star. But by my mid to late teens, I couldn’t see how I was going to get out of the rut that I didn’t even know I was in, because it had become reality. I had seriously lowered my ambitions and expectations. I hadn’t felt that I had fitted in anywhere and was trying to conform, with painful consequences. Learning an instrument and how to cut and style hair were big moves that made me feel like I was finally going in the right direction. It was only when I saw the band Deaf School, who were around my age, that I thought, ‘Maybe I could do something like that.’ Obviously I’d loved Roxy previously, but what Deaf School did seemed somehow much more accessible yet unattainable.

And an inspired name – can you explain for the uninformed? Ha-ha! Well, we had the name Midnight Runners for ages but knew we needed something to precede it. Geoff Blythe suggested ‘Mandy’s’ Midnight Runners. To this day, I have no idea if he meant the girl’s name or the commonly used abbreviation for Mandrax – a sleeping pill, popular in the early 70s. I took him to mean the latter, and being more of an uptown than downtown kind of guy, I said, ‘We can’t name the band after a downer’, so we started thinking of names of uppers. ‘Dexys’ sounded good, but soon we decided we didn’t need the apostrophe, so it became, Dexys.

Tell me about the Killjoys? A crap punk band that had started off as an interesting art band inspired by Deaf School and Roxy Music, originally called Lucy and The Lovers. I would sit on a chair for much of the set, wearing a PVC raincoat, eye make up, and greased back hair. Punk was happening just as we started doing gigs and the punks hated us, so we axed the girl singers and the sax player left and we became a punk band. Bad idea. In the Killjoys, I mostly learned how not to do things.

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels – a landmark album – tell me about the cover and the content. The cover was a 1971 press photo of Catholics being evicted from their homes by mobs in Belfast. I wasn’t impressed the last time I listened to it, especially with my singing. Didn’t you kidnap the finished tapes and take them on the underground? Yes, under the guise of wanting a better deal from EMI. The deal was shockingly poor, but in truth, it wasn’t about that. I was bored and to say I was a

What was the inspiration behind the Dexys woolen hat look?


drama queen in those days would be an understatement. So we grabbed the tapes at the end of the recording and drove to Harrow. I said, ‘Mum, stick these under the bed, will ya?’ And that was that. EMI improved the deal but of course the relationship was destroyed.

stage please?” I didn’t think he’d go for it, but worth a try. He said, “But people will think we’ve made a mistake!” I said, “Only those stupid enough not to get the joke.” He agreed and did it. I loved it. When one of the rock music papers phoned me up and asked me about it, I told them it was deliberate and a joke. They printed, ‘Kevin Rowland claims it was deliberate’. I think because we had a reputation for being serious, they couldn’t get their heads around us having a sense of humour. I thought it was hilarious. But the idea that it was a mistake by TOTP is ridiculous – as if not one of the 10 band members that were on that stage wouldn’t notice a sixfoot picture of a fat, Scottish darts player next to us!

Celtic Soul – where did that come from? I can’t remember. I think I’d heard Van [Morrison] say it. And with the political climate being what it was and the general anti-Irish feeling that was around, it felt subversive and also righteous. A big change in look for Too-Rye-Ay. What prompted or inspired this one? It’s hard to remember now, but it was about standing out. But also something that was in the air anyway, as the Hard Times thing came out around the same time.

“I have one regret about the whole My Beauty thing. I should have worn suspenders, not hold-ups on the album cover. Hold-ups haven’t dated well”

Tell me what happened on Top of The Pops when you performed in front of a big photo of darts player Jocky Wilson instead of the great rhythm ‘n’ blues soul singer Jackie Wilson, who the song Jackie Wilson Said was about? Do you see a funny side now? I only ever saw the funny side! We arranged it. We had nicknames for all of our songs during rehearsals, and that one was of course Jocky Wilson. By the time of its release we were on a gruelling and frankly boring promotion schedule, and I was getting sick of it. I was constantly looking for ways to amuse myself. When we got to Top Of the Pops, I said to the producer, “Can we have picture of Jocky Wilson on the

Don’t Stand me Down look was a great move. Tell me what that look was about and how was it manifest in the music? Seems the record company threw in the towel? It was tough, but to be honest, I had been a right fucker to them. I kind of saw them as the enemy and I was over confident that the album would be a success. A lot had happened in the two years since we had released anything – between 1983 and 1985,


Painting of Dexys Midnight Runners by Chris Sullivan

I reached the stage, maybe just after The Wanderer, where I thought, fuck it. Where’s the drugs? During the Dexys years, I had been a workaholic. But now I was burnt out and looking for something else. It wasn’t long before I got heavily addicted to cocaine and it became by far the most important thing in my life. Looking back, it’s the best thing that happened to me. I see now that even before that, I’d always struggled with living and was kind of lost. I got some help with the cocaine issue, which turned

things had changed a lot; Band-Aid and Live Aid had just happened and we seemed out of step with everything. I was heartbroken because I had put my heart and soul into that record and I know it was the best thing we had done, by far. But that’s life. The late 80s/early 90s was a difficult time for both of us – I think we went through virtually the same thing – how did you get through it and how do you view that time now?


into a program for life, which I’m still following to this day – so many years later. It still really helps me a lot. I’ve probably got more peace of mind now than I’ve ever had. And that doesn’t mean I have anything like peace of mind all the time. But I know peace now; I didn’t even comprehend it previously.

I genuinely feel at a place now where I am reinterpreting retro styles in a new way. I’m constantly getting things made – I very rarely buy any vintage pieces – and especially with my blouson jackets I feel I’m treading new ground. What’s your favourite combination of suit, shoes, shirt and hat? I haven’t really got one. I’m really into berets at the moment. I have one in almost every colour. I used to plan outfits ages in advance, but now I don’t, because you can plan a great outfit in advance, but if on the day you aren’t feeling comfortable with it, it will look stupid. When I go away now for a onenight DJ gig, I usually bring at least three outfits. I will get them out, hang them up and take a look and see what is speaking to me on that day. One thing for sure is that I really love clothes.

Your wearing a dress and lingerie on stage and on the cover of My Beauty raised a few eyebrows. A brave move, but can you tell me why you chose that route and how do you view it now? I also had a man’s haircut and sideburns, so it wasn’t about being a transvestite. I was saying, I’m a man and I want to wear soft sexy things. It was as simple as that, really. And it was all intuitive. I had seen a Thai man wearing a Sarong in the summer of ’95; I loved it and immediately got one. I wore Roman looking sandals with it and started painting my toenails. It just progressed from there. I was expecting it to ruffle a few feathers, but I was shocked at how much vitriol I got from the rock press; some of what was said would be illegal now and viewed as hate crime. I have one regret about the whole thing. I should have worn suspenders, not hold-ups on the album cover. Hold-ups haven’t dated well. The rest of it? Great! It’s being reissued next year. It will be interesting to see the response it gets. The music was completely overlooked at the time.

Would you say you are obsessive about clothes and music? Just a little bit. Its been the bane of my life. I’m working on tempering it now. I know a lot of people think it’s a good thing, but they don’t have to live in my head. Being obsessed with music has burned me out on a couple of occasions. Hopefully it won’t happen again. Tell us about the unique DJ shows you have started doing. I started DJ-ing about ten years ago and pretty soon started singing over the tracks. Now I have some custom-built backing tracks, which means that, as well as playing some good tunes, I can do five or six full vocal performances in each set. So it’s not really a DJ set; we call it The Kevin Rowland DJ Show.

You reformed Dexys and you have toured extensively and thrilled a nation. How was it for you? I’m really happy with the two albums that we did. I have no doubt that One Day I’m Going To Soar is the best of all the Dexys albums. And those shows are by far the best we’ve ever done. That said, we found it very hard to break through to a new audience and obviously I’m not interested in just trying to do the past. Ultimately, given the size of the undertaking – the two years spent on each album, the ten-piece band and the ambition of the live shows, without breaking through to a bigger and newer audience it just isn’t financially viable.

What title would you give to your autobiography? The Act, The Fight, and Truth. But I will probably never write it. I don’t really feel a drive to do it. If you could use one sentence to describe your life so far what would it be? A right fucking mess. But getting better. n The new album by Dexys will be released in the New Year

How would you describe your own personal style today?



MASON & SONS Gustav Temple treads in the footsteps of John Lennon, James Bond’s tailor and shirtmaker and Jimi Hendrix, on a visit to Montague Square in Marylebone, London


his was my second visit to a London townhouse once occupied by John Lennon – the previous occasion was when the Chap protested against Abercrombie & Fitch opening a store on Savile Row, in the old Apple building where the Beatles had played their final concert on the rooftop. There were fewer police constables this time, and Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer wasn’t playing his ukulele, but there was a blue plaque: John Lennon, 1940-1980 Musician and Songwriter lived here in 1968.

“They got access to an original Sean Connery suit from You Only Live Twice, sold for $100,000 in Japan. Richard couldn’t remember if he’d cut it himself, but was able to recreate the pattern without taking it apart”


David Mason with the Dr. No dinner suit and Goldfinger glen check suit recreated by Mason & Sons

I was greeted by a long-haired, elegant young chap named Elliot Mason (pictured left), currently living and working in the house with his mother and father, owner of Mason & Sons. The room has been tastefully styled, with red 1960s chairs and G-Plan sofas, in keeping with the flat’s history. All of the Beatles except George lived here at some point in the 1960s. Ringo owned it; Paul composed Eleanor Rigby here; John and Yoko retreated here after being kicked out by Cynthia from their house in Surrey. They stayed in bed most of the time, in what is now the kitchen, on a diet of caviar, champagne and heroin. The nude cover of Two Virgins was photographed here. Mason & Sons, the current leaseholders, run their gentlemen’s tailoring business from this iconic piece of Beatles history. The former living room is now the client’s showroom and fitting room, where the nostalgic and wealthy can have an exact replica of Sean Connery’s suit from Dr. No recreated for them. Mason & Sons relaunched the Anthony Sinclair brand in 2012, after it had been in sartorial


limbo for some years, as Elliot told me: “Anthony Sinclair had a stroke in the late 1980s and passed the keys to his apprentice Richard Paine. When Anthony died, Richard continued making suits in the Anthony Sinclair shop on Conduit Street for a few years. But back then, nobody knew who Anthony Sinclair was. It wasn’t until the birth of the blog, and all the James Bond sartorial blogs in the early 2000s, that his name came to light again among the fans. “Meanwhile, Richard had circulated, as many tailors do, around various houses on Savile Row. My father met him around 2005 and they became friends. One day in the pub, someone told my dad that Richard Paine owned the Anthony Sinclair brand. Richard just wanted to retire, but it was 2012, the year of the release of Skyfall. My father said it was the perfect time to bring his legacy back. They started by getting access to an original Sean Connery suit from You Only Live Twice, sold for $100,000 in Japan. Richard couldn’t remember if he’d cut it himself back in the day, but was able to

recreate the pattern without taking it apart.” Today, all the bespoke suits made by Mason & Sons under the Anthony Sinclair brand are cut by in-house tailor Henry Rose, himself a Savile Row veteran who worked for Tommy Nutter and Douglas Hayward. Mason & Sons also own several other heritage British menswear brands, among them Mr. Fish. Michael Fish (above) was a bespoke shirtmaker who started at Turnbull & Asser, where he made the shirts for Sean Connery to go with the Anthony Sinclair Bond suits. In 1966 Fish opened his own boutique store on Clifford Street, Mr. Fish, backed by Barry Sainsbury. Gone were the Bond shirts, replaced by floral, huge-collared creations to serve the Peacock revolution. Everybody who was anybody wore Mr. Fish shirts – Peter sellers, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Terence Stamp. Mr. Fish also invented the kipper tie, one of which Elliot happened to be wearing that day, with his rather natty blue velvet suit in a 60s cut. “I’ve got half a dozen original Mr. Fish kipper ties, but they’re really difficult to source, if not to everyone’s taste,” says Elliot. “Mr. Fish was pretty out there – he also made dresses for men – Bowie’s dress on the cover of The Man Who Sold the World, and the dress Mick Jagger wore for the Stones Hyde Park concert. In Zaire, Mohammed Ali wore a Mr. Fish silk robe into the ring.”


Mason & Sons’ range goes far beyond iconic 1960s tailors, however. Chaps will be well aware of the high cost and rarity of original ‘Teddy Bear’ coats from the early 20th century. These coats were made from Alpaca, a fluffy mountain goat from the Andean mountain ranges of South America. The fleece consists of hollow fibres with excellent thermal properties – light and cool in the summer, insulating and warm in winter. It is softer than wool and stronger than cashmere. British brand Motoluxe introduced Alpaca to motorists in the early 1900s. The trend for warm fur coats for motoring was mirrored across the Atlantic, where Ivy Leaguers donned enormous raccoon coats, soon wearing them out of the car, paired with straw boaters. Meanwhile, in Germany, a business named Schulte began manufacturing a woven fur fabric in 1901, and soon

fellow German company Steiff used the material to produce the world’s first stuffed toy bear, which of course came to be known as the Teddy Bear. Today you can buy an alpaca Teddy Bear Coat from Mason & Sons. You can also buy a made-to-order suit, based on one of the templates designed by Henry Rose. “We don’t simply adjust an existing suit, as with made-to-measure,” says Elliot. “You try on our existing suits and then we create a suit from scratch to that design. In terms of fit, it’s pretty close to bespoke; it just isn’t a pattern cut from scratch by a tailor. There are a few options within certain parameters, such as four different notch lapel widths, for example. “In our bespoke range we offer a Conduit Cut Suit: roped sleeve head, drape in the chest, hourglass silhouette, slanted pockets and a slanted ticket pocket. This is basically the cut of the original James Bond suit. But you could also opt for the other end of the spectrum and have a widelapelled Mr. Fish double-breasted suit. “Mr. Fish also made all the shirts and ties for Michael Caine in The Italian Job. This year is the 50th anniversary of the film and we’re


celebrating that with a commemorative range. We also own the eyewear brand Curry & Paxton, who made the sunglasses worn by Michael Caine in The Italian Job and The Ipcress File.” It seems as though, after a visit to Mason & Sons, one could emerge looking like someone who had stepped off the set of a classic 1960s British movie, made by some of the very people who created those looks in the first place. You would also be treading in the footsteps of the Beatles, and also Jimi Hendrix, who managed to write The Wind Cries Mary here, before being evicted for redecorating the flat while he was hallucinating. n


SHAUN GORDON, TIEMAKER Liam Jefferies meets the man determined to keep men wearing ties, and particularly the delightful ones he makes himself


haun Gordon is most definitely a chap of style. Graduating from London College of Fashion in 2004, Shaun cut his teeth in design, pattern cutting and tailoring before going on to hone his skills for various well-known brands, including Turnbull & Asser and Henri Lloyd, while consulting for Knightsbridge tailor Edward Sexton. A spark came to Shaun when trying to purchase a tie for an important occasion. Fruitless being his labours, Shaun took to creating his own, deconstructing some of his expansive vintage tie collection and, drawing upon his own stylistic preferences and fascination with turning twodimensional formats into 3D form processes, created a modern pattern for his own use. Two years of polishing and perfecting the craft later,

“I am inspired to make ties to enhance the wearer’s inner feelings and complement their individual style. I believe that when you look and feel good, it boosts your confidence, which has a very positive impact on the way you live your daily life”


Shaun was finally satisfied enough to begin wearing his creations himself. Ensuing adoration persuaded Gordon to go into business with his ties. Shaun launched his first range of ties in February 2013, inspired by and as a tribute to his late Grandfather, Alvin Gordon. “My earliest memory of my Grandfather was him dressed impeccably sharp,” says Shaun. “He was very charming and, most importantly, happy. His timeless style was a mystery to me back then, until I wore my first tie, which I then continued to wear to formal and social events. I felt confident and a sense of purpose every time I wore a tie.” “I make ties to enhance the wearer’s inner feelings and complement their individual style. I believe that when you look and feel good, it boosts your confidence, which has a very positive impact on the way you live your daily life.” With many designs of a limited edition, with a woven label stating the production number, Gordon


even offers the opportunity to select a preferential number of the stock, though I imagine most #007s to be snapped up first. A surefire Chap favourite is the Mr. London tie in a burgundy silk, which creates a handsome four-in-hand, adorned with Victorian London landmarks, a self-fabric keeper, hand-slip stitched back seams and bar tacks. For a further air of individuality, Shaun Gordon offers a made-to-order and bespoke service, wherein one can select fabric and details such as blade width, loops, tipping and thread colour. Shaun is always on hand to talk through prospective designs. Having met Shaun at an event in Dashing Tweeds, Marylebone, I can assure you, dear reader, he is every bit as erudite and discerning as one would imagine from his style. Gordon exudes a manner of gentlemanly elegance and modest confidence, and if such a feeling can be purloined through the purchase of his wares, it is indeed a small price to pay.





F I L M S , D E B AT E S – & – DANCES




D E L I C I O U S T E A S S E R V E D A L L D AY S P L E N D I D E N T E RTA I N M E N T S E RV E D A L L N I G H T 1 3 9 Va u x h a l l Wa l k , L o n d o n S E 1 1 5 H L Te l : 0 2 0 7 2 0 7 4 5 8 5 i n f o @ t e a h o u s e t h e a t r e . c o . u k • w w w. t e a h o u s e t h e a t r e . c o . u k

As Shaun himself puts it: “When we take pride to look good, we feel great and that plays an important part in how we interact throughout our day, whether we are at work or leisure. The art of dressing well is all within the details, giving the wearer a point of difference and confidence.” Shaun was kind enough to answer a few more specific questions about his craft. How do you first get into the tie game? I got into making ties because I could not find a tie I wanted to wear. Therefore, having studied at London College of Fashion, I decided to make my own. Friends and family became aware of this and began purchasing my ties and the brand grew from there. Today, I hand craft limited edition ties in London for the man who wishes to express his individuality in the midst of conformity. What is your favourite knot? The Victoria knot. Do you produce ties in materials other than silk? Yes, I do offer wool in my collections. However, most alternative fabrics ordered comes through our made-to-order and bespoke clients who make these requests. These include linen and sometimes cotton. Where do you source your materials? Everywhere around the UK. The more limited or vintage the stock, the better. Which is your favourite from the current collection? I don’t really like to say I have a favourite; however, I am wearing the Ivan stripe tie the most. How wide a tie is too wide? Is there a tie too wide? I guess most men tend to go for 8 or 9cm, which I think is moderate. What does the future hold for Shaun Gordon? We’ve just released our new collection ‘Reframing Timeless’ and have introduced pocket squares to the range. n and in the Dashing Tweeds shop at 47 Dorset Street, London W1U 7ND




TRUBSHAWE! Gustav Temple on the moustachioed eccentric who drifted in and out of David Niven’s life, from his early days in the army stationed on Malta


“In Malta, where he was often confined to barracks for unseemly behaviour, he kept a grand piano in his room, upon which he played 16th-century folk music”

ichael Trubshawe’s entrance into the life of David Niven was as sensational as any of Niven’s stage or film entrances. Niven was stationed in Malta with the Highland Light Infantry between 1929 and 1931 as a very young officer. His reception by the other officers had been rather frosty – one refusing to speak to him all the way to Malta from Tilbury Docks. Once he’d acquitted himself on the cricket ground, things got slightly better, until one day: “Suddenly, an ear-splitting belch rent the air. I spun around and perceived a truly amazing sight. Trubshawe was

approaching. Six feet six, with legs that seemed to start at the navel, encased in drainpipe tight white flannels. He sported a blue blazer with so many brass buttons on it that he shone


like a gypsy caravan on Derby Day; on his head a Panama hat with MCC ribbon; on his face the biggest moustache I had ever seen: a really huge growth which one could see from the back on a clear day. Part of it was trained to branch off and join the hair above his ears. It was in fact not so much a moustache as an almost total hirsute immersion.” Niven immediately became close friends with this eccentric apparition, who went on to be his best man at both his weddings, and also accidentally introduce him to the craft of acting, as well as eventually becoming an actor himself. Born Arthur Michael Temple Trubshawe on 7th December 1905 in Chichester, West Sussex, little is known about his early life. His exposure was entirely via Niven, once they’d become friends in Malta, and the interweaving of their subsequent lives is evidenced by the frequency with which Trubshawe enters Niven’s 1971 autobiography The Moon’s A Balloon. ‘This, old man,’ said Trubshawe, tapping a briefcase he was carrying, ‘is an invention of mine. It’s called “the dipsomaniac’s delight”.’ He flicked the lock and inside, set in


green baize slots, I perceived a bottle of whisky, a soda water syphon and two glasses. ‘Come, let us drink to your most timely arrival with a glass of Scottish wine.’ Niven met many eccentrics throughout his career in the army and at Hollywood, but Trubshawe was always reserved for the top spot. In Malta, where he was often confined to barracks for unseemly behaviour, Trubshawe kept a grand piano in his room, upon which he played 16th-century folk music. He’d entered the officer corps not in the usual manner via Sandhurst, but via Cambridge University, already marking him out from his fellow officers. He compounded this distance on one occasion by fashioning a papier-mache helmet, to substitute for the heavy metal standard-issue helmet, unbearable to wear in the Mediterranean heat. “Can’t possibly wear the bloody thing, old man, it’s too heavy and red hot to boot, so I’ve had this little number run up for the occasion.” The occasion was a parade in front of a new sergeant major so fearsome that Niven only refers to him as ‘the Weasel’. At the end of the parade it

Luxury capmakers and handweavers

Distinctive tweed and linen caps for discerning Chaps and Chapesses.

THE THURSDAY CLUB The only clue, surfaced quite recently and splashed about the red-tops, that Trubshawe was just as well connected as Niven is a photograph taken at Prince Philip’s stag do in November 1947 at the Belfry Club in Belgravia, a week before Philip’s wedding to Elizabeth. Philip had been a member of the Thursday Club, a men’s eating and drinking group dedicated to ‘Absolute Inconsequence’ who gathered at Wheeler’s fish restaurant in Soho. Trubshawe’s moustache can clearly be seen looming above his well-heeled chums’ heads in the middle of the photograph.

began pouring with rain, and Trubshawe’s ersatz helmet simply dissolved on his head and wrapped itself around his ears. He was confined to barracks again, but Trubshawe got his own back by hiring a string quartet to play nightly in his room, which happened to be directly above the Weasel’s room. Trubshawe had a private income, like many other officers (excluding Niven, who subsisted on meagre subaltern’s pay, though he reports Trubshawe being very generous with his spare cash). There was a shift in Trubshawe’s eccentricities when Niven returned to Malta after his first two month’s leave. The man had only gone and fallen in love, with a beautiful blonde named Margie Macdougall. Her Christian Scientist beliefs had put the kybosh on Trubshawe’s drinking habits. “Sinister cracks were appearing in the Trubshavian façade,” as Niven put it, quoting Turbshawe: “We should give up blood sports, old man. No more the chase, be it fox, stag or field mouse. Amateur theatricals – that’s something for us.” And so David Niven entered the thespian world in an amateur troupe called The Hornets. Niven’s glittering acting career began in a series of sketches at the Colorado Canteen in the dockyards of Valetta.


In 1940 Niven married Primula Rollo at Huish, Wiltshire, with Trubshawe as his best man. Trubshawe himself opined about ‘Primmie’: “She was an absolute darling, the perfect English rose. I didn’t think he’d ever really met anyone like her. She was kind, she was fun. She wasn’t at all like an actress, she was just the best sort of English girl of that period and one of the last of them; after the war women stopped being like that. Primmie was England in the 1930s: country cottages and small children and all that gentle, lost world of the upper classes at home.” At the end of the War Niven and Trubshawe parted company, Niven to make his entrée into Hollywood and Trubshawe to open a pub, The Lamb in Hove, East Sussex. Niven looked up his old army chum when he was married for the second time (after Primmie’s untimely death) to Swedish model Hjördis Genberg in 1948. And when Trubshawe wasn’t there in person, Niven remembered him by attempting to insert his friend’s name into every film he made. He had Robert Coote’s character in A Matter of Life and Death renamed Bob Trubshawe. During filming of Wuthering Heights in 1939, director William Wyler was having none of it and refused to allow Niven to drop Trubshawe’s name into any of the dialogue. Niven got around this by having a prop man add Trubshawe’s name to a tombstone. Michael Trubshawe himself went on to become an actor, when his marketing plan for his hostelry in Hove was unsuccessful – he placed signs on the roads in Brighton simply saying ‘TRUBSHAWE HAS A LITTLE LAMB – 12 miles’. He got bit parts in Ealing comedies such as The Lavender Hill Mob and Private’s Progress, eventually landing a part as Weaver in the Guns of Navarone – which also starred his old chum David Niven. However, according to Hjördis Niven, the friendship by then was not as it had been during their army days. Trubshawe did an interview in the 1950s with Sheridan Morley, in which he expressed his disappointment at the cooling of his friendship with Niven since the 1940s. “David never really wanted me to be an actor, and he had never gone out of his way to help me,” Trubshawe told Morley. “But now that we were together, purely by chance, he seemed almost embarrassed.” Niven recounted their meeting on the set of The Guns of Navarone rather differently: “He swiftly made a name for himself in television and one of his earliest screen appearances was in The Guns of Navarone, a lovely bonus for me.” n




London & Los Angeles


HOUSE OF PAINE Liam Jefferies on the heritage British brand worn by everyone from royalty to rebellious tennis players


“Mallory was identified by the label on the clothing frozen to his body, which, aside from his name, bore a label stating W F Paine, 72 High Street, Godalming”

ith the last bouts of that most unfortunate warm weather well and truly over, tweed and knitwear are in the crosshairs of the chap once again. Consider then, a century-old institution crafting country-wear for town and field, Alan Paine. William Paine was born in 1907, a year that would see Paines of Godalming founded by his father, William Sr. Struggling to establish a tailoring shop, Paine discovered hand knitting machines in the old warehouse of the family’s Elizabethan home. A self-taught knitter, William established Paines of Godalming, and within a few years this became the focus of the business. Creating one of the first examples of the cable-knit sweater, Paine found success first at the local Charterhouse school, selling club-coloured trim sweaters, and soon visiting other British schools, alongside army regiments, golf,

tennis, rowing and cricket clubs, to offer bespoke knitwear featuring club colours. This begat much success for the company, and by the 1920s the business had grown to meet the demand. Cable knits were en vogue at the time, no small part due to Paine’s most famous unofficial patron, the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, who


would sport a personalised sweater from Paines, finished in his regimental colours, to play golf. Ten years later another famous sporting celebrity would make headlines in Paine knitwear. Joan Lycett courted controversy in the 1930s by becoming the first woman to play at Wimbledon without stockings, but with a Paines of Godalming cardigan. By the outbreak of the Second World War, Paines had gained such an unrivalled

reputation for the quality of its wares that the company was commissioned to make woollen sweaters for the British Navy and armed forces. This saw the company expand to hire its 600th member of staff, 200 in a Welsh factory and 400 in the company’s hometown of Godalming. Post-war, the company flourished further, and sought overseas markets. As Americans were having trouble pronouncing “Godalming”, the company name was changed to Alan Paine, named for William’s son, who took over the business in the 1950s. 1955 saw the entire Oxford rowing team wearing Alan Paine cable knit sweaters, and five years later the brand could be found at the major US department stores, including Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Brooks Brothers, having developed a reputation for high quality classic English sweaters constructed from cashmere, lambswool, Shetland and camelhair. Alan Paine’s reputation was established further in 1999, when an American team found the body of an Englishman on Everest. This man was the famed mountaineer George Mallory, who had last been seen in 1924 when he set out from base camp in an attempt to reach the summit of the mountain. Mallory was identified due to the label on the clothing frozen to his body, which, aside from his name, bore a label stating W F Paine, 72 High Street, Godalming. Today, the knit fabrics are sourced from Z. Hinchcliffe and Sons of Yorkshire, who also produce for Prada, Gucci, Burberry, etc., and business has continued to boom, culminating in the glorious return to their hometown and the opening of a store in Godalming. This is not the only location for the company, however; Alan Paine can be found stocked in all reputable outlets and even as far afield as a


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Mature Style

THE GREY FOX COLUMN Now that we’re plunged back into the gloom and chill of winter, David Evans of Grey Fox Blog turns his attention to winter garments


omeone expressed the opinion to me the other day that warm clothes are becoming redundant, as climate change grips our planet. While this is an interesting thought, I had to disagree. A degree or so warmer isn’t going to encourage me to wear linen shirts and shorts in January until the crisis has worsened considerably. In the meantime, I continue to wear tweed, flannel, chunky knitwear and thick moleskin to keep the chill at bay. The overcoat has become a rarity. In cities we dash from heated office to heated home wearing little over our indoor clothes, putting up with a few moments of cold as we emerge momentarily into the street. In the country we wear anoraks or layers of knitwear and gilets to keep warm. The woollen coat has seen its day and it’s not easy to find good examples. Like raincoats, the high street overcoat is usually a poor, mean affair, often made of thin cloth that’s not 100% wool and hardly reaching

“Visiting Cordings is like browsing through one of those wonderful Edwardian catalogues, the sort you’d use to equip your next Himalayan climbing expedition or plant-hunting trip to Africa” mid-thigh, offering inadequate protection against the weather. To me an overcoat should be oversize and certainly large enough for two – think of that wonderful photograph (above right) of a lucky Mel Ferrer with Audrey Hepburn engulfed in his tweed coat – that’s how generously cut they should be. Take your best friend along to the shop; if you both fit inside the coat, it’s the correct size.


With these thoughts in mind, I went in search of the Great British Overcoat. Gloverall offer the classic duffel of course, but those looking for a more traditional coat will like their Grayson Long Peacoat. I think of peacoats as short, nautical-style jackets so I’ve no idea why this is labelled as such, but it’s made of a gorgeous grey cloth a bit like boiled wool and, joy of joys, it comes to well below the knee. British-made, like most of Gloverall’s products, this is a coat for life. Buy a size up if you want it really big. Cordings of Piccadilly is always a good place to search for sartorial rarities for men and women. Whether it’s a traditional rubberised cotton riding mac or a Grenfell cloth shooting jacket, it’s all there. Visiting the shop is like browsing through one of those wonderful Edwardian catalogues – the sort you’d use to equip your next Himalayan climbing expedition or plant-hunting trip to Africa. Here I found several traditional overcoats, the stand-out selection for me being their Donegal tweed Follifoot coat, which is built generously to keep out the cold and again will last forever. Another option is to find a tailor to make

you a coat. The advantage here is that you can specify everything from the cloth and colour to the cut and the fit. This flexibility is worth the cost for something that will outlast you – sustainable clothes buying indeed. I’ve mentioned before the coat made for me by tailor Alice Burkitt from tweed from Edinburgh’s Araminta Campbell, who will design you your own estate tweed, should you need it. Estate tweeds were early forms of camouflage, worn on the hills where men hunted or tended their stock. What better than to have your own tweed that fits with the colours of your neighbourhood, whether a Scottish estate or a flat in London? Talking of tweed, it’s a cloth that has a distinctly British character. Whether woven in Scotland or in the mills of Yorkshire, its kaleidoscope of colour and texture adds character and practical durability and weather resistance to any garment. Much British-produced tweed is made from imported fibres and, while I certainly don’t complain about this, it’s a pleasure to come across cloths made from the wool of British sheep. The Herdwick is a sheep breed I particularly admire. Most of them are found within the confines


of The Lake District in North West England. They’re a hardy breed that live much of their lives on the Cumbrian fells where, in their first year, they learn to live out on the hillside, where they become familiar with every fold of the terrain and rock through a process called ‘hefting’. Their outdoor lifestyle makes their wool robust and harsh and fleeces are worth little, but proper processing can make a very usable cloth. Various businesses have made attempts to use the wool for carpeting, insulation and for tweed. Charlotte Chaplin runs a family

farm in South Cumbria, where the green of the valley runs up through oak and birch woods to the fell. Her sheep give birth to their lambs in the valley and many will later move up to the fell. Later in summer they are shorn and she has her wool processed, spun and woven into attractive tweeds, which retain the natural colours of the Herdwick fleece: from white through cream and brown to black (the lambs are born mainly black and become whiter as they age). In a wonderful collaboration with Guy Hills of Dashing Tweeds, Charlotte’s tweeds can be tailored into genuine British wool garments. I had my jacket made unlined, extending its seasonal life into the milder months of autumn and spring. There’s something special about wearing a garment from such a traditional English breed. I visited Charlotte’s farm at lambing time in late April. Herdwicks have their lambs later than lowland breeds, as the spring weather can be severe on the fell. They are feisty animals with great character and it was fascinating to see where the wool for my jacket originated. Talking of sheep and sheepskin reminds me to mention slippers. Slippers get a bad press, often seen as something for the very old or indolent, but actually we all need to slip off our day shoes and into something more comfortable at the end of the day (and to keep mud off the carpets). If there is such a thing as a cool pair of slippers, those from


Mulo fit the bill. Softly lined with shearling, they are warm, comfortable and most importantly, stylish – no dowdy slippers, these. Which brings me to monocles. I noticed on Instagram that there is now a business selling costume and reading monocles and I thought I should draw this to your attention. They didn’t respond to my request for more information in time for this issue, but I imagine that a fair number of Chaps of all genders will be peering through a monocle at this magazine, so take a look at Monoclemadness (link below) if you wish to find out more. From monocles to pocket watches isn’t too large a leap. Many of those readers perusing this article through a monocle will probably also have a pocket watch tucked into a waistcoat pocket. Pocket Watch UK sells remarkably good value watches. My Rotary double hunter was £119, which I felt wasn’t bad for a mechanical watch. It has a skeleton dial, through which the movement can be seen.

There’s no unnecessary decoration, as you’d expect at this price, but the watch is attractive and keeps good time. All I need now is a waistcoat to keep it in. Mechanical watches start at under £100 (link below). Finally, your humble columnist became a grandfather for the first time in the summer. Maybe I should review buggies, bouncy chairs and nappies in the next column? n Gloverall Cordings Alice Burkitt Tailor Araminta Campbell Dashing Tweeds Charlotte Chaplin Mulo Pocket Watch UK Monocles



DIEHL MARCUS & CO. The Los Angeles emporium celebrated its first anniversary with a splendid soiree. Matt Deckard was there until the very last cocktail


ost of the time in Los Angeles, we local chaps pause to toast the landmarks swallowed by history, or arson. The Brown Derby, The Ambassador Hotel, The Pan Pacific Auditorium; those and many more are our fallen allies, the lost gathering points in which we could seek sartorial and mental respite, as we’d measure the distance between stripes on cloth and ask one another “Where’d you get your hat”, or “Is he sleeping, or is he just thinking… his eyes are still open, but I thought he only got this way after his third absinthe”.

Enter: Diehl Marcus & Co. I am the kid that would pay to go to Disneyland at times, just to hang out around the jungle cruise ride and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, purely for the atmosphere of adventure and history rolled into one. Diehl Marcus & Co. has truly captured that romance and feel… and you can buy the stuff on the walls! If J. Peterman and the 1980s Banana Republic had a store, this would be the flagship. Christian Marcus and Erika Diehl-Marcus started something quite exquisite and unique in the LA community; an antique and curio shop that


is often common in corners of London; in squished versions of shops stumbled upon in Manhattan, appealing at first but disappointing when you see the price tags and lack of variety. Yet when laid out like the frame of an image from a history book, in a city where history often catches fire right as the locals want to fight for the preservation of long forgotten icons; DM & Co is a refreshing anomaly in LA and something that has become an icon in its own right. At DM & Co., in full view, are the rarest of rare items that you’ve seen in 1930s issues of National Geographic – I even picked up a vintage scarf from the famed brand J. Press on my last visit, as it reminded me of something a professor from a bygone era would wear, when he’s still representing his alma mater while watching a rowing competition. I’m quite in love. DM & Co. is finally and truly the place where I can dress like Sherlock Holmes while feeling perfectly in place. An establishment where one can have a sit down and talk with the proprietor and proprietress about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Herbert G. Wells, and invite good natured friends to discuss the happenings of the world and the oddities of it surrounding us. We often gather in LA to lament the latest loss


in the long line of establishments we’d loved, but one year ago, something amazing was brought to Los Angeles, and this time, we gathered to celebrate its first anniversary. An anniversary of what looks to be a genuine harbour for those searching the streets of Los Angeles for a tea specialist that serves a complimentary cup in fine china, hosts séances, presents magic and allows you to peruse their library to get answers on urban legends, a spot that presents burlesque shows and can offer you a replacement for that vintage scarf in your school colors that you lost in your youth, and has a hat rack where you can set your pith helmet next to your friend’s pith helmet for a proper game of ma jong, lessons included. With this anniversary comes an assortment of goods from afar that the shop has crafted as part of its own brand, derived with its specific clientele in mind, and they must be smelled, tasted and seen to be believed; for they not only build on the fantasy you walk into when entering the shop, but they also truly solidify DM & Co. as an iconic global destination every explorer should make note of in their travel diary. All your senses will be amazed. Boasting over 30 soaps with scents ranging from Chesterfield Leather, Arctic Expedition, Cream Scones, and Gin & Tonic, one can’t help but get whisked away on Diehl Marcus’ own adventure. Along with their assortment of vintage shaving accessories, one will find DM & Co. shave soaps in equally exotic aromas, including Absinthe. With so many items to take in, the weary wanderer might very well need to rest half way through their excavation with a cup of tea of their desiring… and luckily, the couple is happy to offer a sample cup of one of their two dozen exotic

loose-leaf teas. Ranging from Lapsang Souchong, Vintage Earl Grey, Orange Oolong, Black Vanilla Rose, to Egyptian Licorice, Chocolate Orange, and Gunpowder, you are bound to find several to add to your cupboard before waving goodbye. It’s not an antique shop. It’s not a novelty shop. It’s truly a fantasy and adventure stop, and in that… sometimes, a shop. n Diehl Marcus & Company 4707 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029


n tio Experience disused station tours and an immersive exhibition that delves deeper into a mysterious subterranean world.


Th Bo



u To Th e


Ex hi


Discover the secrets of the Underground


Hidden London

Marilyn Monroe (p96) • Olly Smith (p102) • Travel: Malta (p104) • Birding (p112) • Travel: Mexico (p116)

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Marilyn Monroe Sunday Swift on how Norma Jean Baker’s creation of the persona of Marilyn Monroe became so convincing that she even fooled herself

“Dandyism is, above all, the burning desire to create a personal form of originality, within the external limits of social conventions” Charles Baudelaire


dandyism. In Fashioning Gothic Bodies, Catherine Spooner argues that “Dandyism is not merely surface, but rather the managing of surface”. Norma Jean Baker certainly created an immaculate surface that the world knew as Marilyn Monroe, and she maintained that surface identity with complete dedication. Jack Lemmon, who worked with Monroe in Some Like It Hot, says that Monroe “developed a character – how much of that rubbed off on her, keeping that character so that it became ingrained when she was off-screen also, or how much of it truly was her that she just bent the part to, I don’t know. But they did become intertwined, you couldn’t tell where one left off and the other began.” “Often,” according to Catherine Spooner, “representations of the dandy seem to reproduce a Jekyll-and-Hyde dualism, whereby the public

ne of the biggest challenges in writing about someone like Marilyn Monroe is that people have been writing obsessively about her for almost a century. Books on her famous lovers, confirmed or rumoured, are generally the first thing one comes across. Another focus is her impact on fashion. There’s rather a lot on her reputation for being difficult on set, her tragic life and conspiracy theories about her death. The first problem with writing on such a complicated person is having to leave so much out – Marilyn’s work in the Civil Rights Movement; how she pressured one of Hollywood’s most famous venues, Mocambo, into changing their racist rules to allow Ella Fitzgerald to perform there. One could write an entire book on Monroe’s poetry, or talk about her library of over four hundred books. But here we’re interested in Monroe’s


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self and monstrous self are inextricably linked”. In Marilyn’s case, the ‘monstrous’ was not necessarily a diva like Joan Crawford, but more of a doomed Gothic heroine in an old 19th century penny dreadful – a prisoner lost in a world of mirror reflections until her death in August 1962. A mirror is a fitting metaphor for Marilyn’s prison – Baudelaire also argued that a Dandy “must live and sleep as if in front of a mirror”. As perhaps one of the most recognisable women in the twentieth century, Marilyn seemed to live every moment in front of a mirror – but what did she see when she looked into one? Monroe and Truman Capote were great friends, and he once found her staring at a mirror. When he asked what she was doing, Marilyn replied, “Looking at her.” Even she saw a duality in herself that she wasn’t sure what to do with – Marilyn, the sex bomb dumb blonde who had love affairs with powerful and famous people, and Norma, a brilliant, nervous, scared little girl who wrote poetry and was too timid to speak up in acting class. Norma Jeane (later spelled “Jean”) Mortenson was born on 1st June, 1926 in Los Angeles, California to Gladys Pearl Baker (née Monroe). Her mother Gladys struggled with paranoid schizophrenia, and as a result, Norma Jean spent a great deal of time in orphanages and foster homes. By all accounts, these were traumatic experiences for her. Co-star and friend Shelley Winters recalls a time after celebrity had hit them both, when they were both walking near a theatre. Monroe suddenly froze. Initially Winters suspected it was because she’d just seen Charlie Chaplin, but Marilyn was looking at a building. She told Winters, “That’s the orphan asylum they sent me back to when they didn’t want me anymore.”

In 1943, Norma Jean started working at a munitions factory, the Radioplane Company. In 1944 she met photographer David Conover, and she quit her factory job in order to start modelling for Conover, signing with the Blue Book Model Agency in 1945. She started using her mother’s maiden name in 1946, and the creation of Marilyn Monroe the blonde bombshell began to take shape (though she didn’t legally change her name until 1956). Her acting coaches at the Actors’ Laboratory Theatre thought she was a little too shy and insecure to make it as an actress, and because of this, she struggled to get a stable career until she signed with Columbia Studios in 1948. Her brunette hair was bleached to her trademark platinum blonde, and she began to hone her craft with the help of drama coach Natasha Lytess. After a little jaw and nose surgery, Marilyn Monroe splashed onto the Hollywood scene. Her big breakthrough didn’t happen until 1950, through bit parts for Joseph Mankiewics’s All About Eve (staring dandy Bette Davis) and John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle, resulting in a seven-year contract with Fox. By 1952, she was receiving top billing – and

“Marilyn – or rather Norma – seemed to make some inner adjustment, something ‘turned on’ inside her and suddenly, there she was: not the simple girl I’d been strolling with but Marilyn Monroe. Now heads turned and people crowded around us” 99

then a scandal broke out when nude pictures she’d taken in 1949 were published. Monroe admitted to posing for the photos and the public loved her for it, and this only added to her appeal as a sex symbol. Jane Fonda said, “I think one of the great things about Marilyn is that she was loved by men and women because we [women] sensed her vulnerability. The men sensed… something else. I remember a party at Lee Strasberg’s house and she walked in and the men would start to shake from desire.”

There was something so incredible about her. She was luminous, and as she came up to me and began to talk it was like a tiny little girl.” Maybe it takes a dandizette to understand another one – Fonda recognised the duality playing under the surface between Norma and Marilyn, saying, “On the one hand, she knew she was the most famous woman in the world and the sexiest and most sought after, and on the other hand she always thought ‘this is the day they’re gonna find out I’m a fraud.’ We had the same agent and he would tell me that sometimes she was two hours late for a press conference because she’d be literally getting sick.” Fonda wasn’t the only witness to this duality. There’s the famous story told by Susan Strasberg at the height of Monroe’s popularity. They had been walking through New York City and Susan was surprised that no one had seemed to notice that they were in the presence of Marilyn Monroe. When Susan commented on this, Marilyn asked her, “Do you want to see me be her?” “Marilyn – or, rather, Norma – seemed to make some inner adjustment, something ‘turned on’ inside her, and suddenly — there she was — not the simple girl I’d been strolling with, but ‘Marilyn Monroe’. Now heads turned. People crowded around us.” George Chakiris, director of There’s No Business Like Showbusiness, summed it up: “I know we have this sort of mythical thing about Marilyn, but… it’s kind of true.” Wilder went even further: “If we knew what made Monroe Monroe, we could sell that patent and manufacture it… Maybe it’s tough to make another Garbo, but duplicating Monroe should be easy – a blonde, small girl with a sweet face. God, there should be thousands of Monroes, they come from all over the world. But it doesn’t make them Marilyn.” Writer Napoleon Jeffries argues that “Beau Brummell, the original dandy, left no model to emulate, no handbook to follow, no anecdotes to relate”. The very same thing could be said of Monroe. Norma Jean played the character of Marilyn with just enough exaggeration so that anyone who tried to imitate her would fail. If someone played it with too much camp, it would look caricature-ish – and if they didn’t play it with enough, it would not look genuine. Marilyn Monroe was, as Sebastian Horsley would have said, always a “real fake”. n

“I had no problems with Monroe; Marilyn had problems with Monroe. Something was always biting her, eating her. Not that she was mean or anything like that. She required a slew of analysts to unravel what was happening within her” Another reputation Marilyn had was an image as a ‘difficult’ performer. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon starred with Monroe in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959), and later talked about the filming struggles with Marilyn – she came in late; she often took forty takes to say a single line. But they also all agreed that there was something magical about her. Wilder said, “I had no problems with Monroe, Marilyn had problems with Monroe. She was slightly discombobulated all the time, she had great difficulties to concentrate. Something was always biting her, eating her. Not that she was mean or anything like that; she required a slew of analysts to unravel what was happening within her.” Mitzi Gaynor starred with Monroe in There’s No Business Like Showbusiness (1955). Gaynor struggled to explain her first meeting with Monroe, saying, “How can I explain it to you? She kinda glowed in the dark.” Jane Fonda had a similar first encounter: “I watched her film Some Like It Hot (1959). That’s the first time I met her and she couldn’t get her lines. But I remember she walked off the set and, as she walked towards me, it’s actually like she was carrying the light inside her.


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Sherry? Sherry. Sherry! Olly Smith finds himself fumbling for his fountain pen on the first sip of an extraordinary Amontillado


s every fan of Montague Withnail concurs, Sherry is the most marvellous drink of all. Riding clouds on Pegasus is the only feeling that comes close to sipping a perfectly chilled glass of light bright Fino. This is one of those occasions when, alongside rare and jubilant choices such as Williams and Humbert ‘As you Like It’ Amontillado, thankfully the most ubiquitous brand is also consistently brilliant. Tio Pepe may conjure memories of mis-spent Saturdays averting your gaze from the Multi-Coloured Swap-Shop and into the portal of temptation. Yet today, pour yourself a glass of this magic from the fridge and reflect on your own splendour. Nibble a green olive or a slice of ham and your journey to the epicentre of good taste is nearing completion. Be warned, a side effect of sipping Sherry is letter writing. The two go hand in hand, as Torvill must with Dean, so a fountain pen flowers from the finesse of Fino. I know

“Step proudly across the threshold of any public house roaring ‘Have I missed the battle?’ before sitting on a centrally positioned bar stool and ostentatiously nodding steadily – with full eye contact – at every drinker in the establishment” this because the last time I opened a bottle of Tio Pepe I ended up writing to a Labrador called Toby. He belongs to my friends Mark and Anna and has eyes more soulful than waltzing with Elvis. On his birthday, these are the words that Sherry inspired.


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Valetta and Gozo, Malta Chris Sullivan visits the Mediterranean island influenced by British rule 1800-1964, but finds the local culture far more illuminating


ver since I started running Soho nightclubs in 1980 I’ve wanted to visit Malta. At that time, Soho was virtually controlled by larger-than-life Maltese characters such as Big Frank Mifsud, and they intrigued me. I wanted to see where these guys came from and it was surprisingly simple. I found an Easyjet flight for £100, packed a small carry-on and off I jolly well went to Southend Airport, which was an

“Beat Paoli was simply magnificent and I actually took pictures of the grub, until I came to my senses and slapped myself hard across the mush. But by crikey it was spiffing”


unparalleled joy compared to Stansted, Gatwick or Luton. It’s easier to get to, small and bijoux and entirely without halls and halls of duty free twits trying to offload some inferior perfume on you. Upon arrival in Valetta, being a lazy oaf I made the mistake of getting a £20 taxi into the city, whose driver refused to drop us at our hotel, proclaiming he was not allowed to enter the centre. A bus costing only two euros would have dropped us off in exactly the same place. What followed was a ridiculously taxing walk, dragging my wheeled suitcase up and down the cobbled and stepped hills of Valetta in search of the hotel. However, it wasn’t all bad as, completely lost, we followed what I thought was a recording of The Marriage of Figaro Duettino – Sull ’Aria. Used in The Shawshank Redemption, it was being played live by the full 40-piece Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and sung by world renowned soprano Nicole Said, right in St George Square and for free! I eventually found my B&B Princess Elena on St Paul Street, in a location I’d already walked down several times. Set within a former 16th century townhouse, replete with beautiful original features, it was the perfect place to start my adventure in this

city built by ‘gentlemen for gentlemen.’ We dined at La Pira Maltese Kitchen. I opted for octopus to start, up there with the finest I have ever had, and Spaghetti Vongole that was as tasty as I’ve had in Italy and better than in London, aided and abetted by a bottle or two of the rather palatable Maltese La Torra Shiraz Rose. Next day, after breakfast, proprietor Sicilian Walter Cannavo suggested that, rather than check out the beaches in Malta, we visit the Blue Lagoon and Gozo. An online glance at the likes of St Paul’s Bay, St Georges Bay, Bugiba, Xemixija Bay and Mellieha didn’t strike me as suitable for a gentleman or lady of discernment, so we ditched all plans and decided to go to the nearby island of Gozo, after we completed or Valetta itinerary. First on the agenda was a rather inspiring pair of Caravaggios, the dark and disturbing The Beheading of St John the Baptist and St Jerome Writing, at the oratory of the astounding St. John’s CoCathedral in Valletta. A marvel of Baroque art and architecture, the edifice was built as the conventional church for the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, to whom Milanese Michelangelo Merisi, AKA


PEAKY BLINDERS SOUNDTRACK UMC (Universal Music Catalogue) are releasing the first-ever official soundtrack to the series Peaky Blinders, in a two-CD set spanning all five series, which will also be available as a 3-record vinyl release. Since the opening credits of the first series, using Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand to set the sinister tone, music has been integral to the narrative and style of Peaky Blinders. The first ever official soundtrack features 49 songs and includes excerpts of dialogue from all five series. Peaky Blinders uses music in a highly original way. While the costume styling, though bypassing the dress code of the original gang that the series is based on, is rooted in sartorial accuracy for the period, immediately after the First World War, the music abandons all temptation to stay in that era. The songs, chosen purely for their

reflection of the dark, brooding menace of the storylines, come from all periods of rock ‘n’ roll history. Songs that previously had no connection to each other have been fused together into a collection that charts the rise and fall of the Shelby empire, as if PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Richard Hawley and David Bowie and all the other musicians were all secretly living in Small Heath in the 1920s. Both CD and vinyl versions come with sleevenotes by The Chap, with six pages of commentary on the sartorial style of the characters, and how the iconic Peaky style was achieved for all the actors.

Nick Cave • Arctic Monkeys • The White Stripes • Royal Blood • Joy Division • Queens of the Stone Age • Black Sabbath • David Bowie • Laura Marling • Foals • PJ Harvey • Richard Hawley

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Caravaggio, fled in July 1607 after killing Ranuccio Tomassoni in one of his frequent brawls in Rome. He was ordained a Knight of St John that year but, after a period of relative calm, the mercurial genius was arrested in August 1608 for badly wounding a high-ranking Knight of St John. Thus, imprisoned at Fort St Angelo, disgraced and disallowed to paint, he broke-out of the gaol in October 1608 and once again on the run, he was immediately expelled from the Order. Indeed, some historians have claimed that the Knights killed him. The Order’s influence is everywhere in Valetta. They built the island’s new capital in 1571, named after The Order’s Grand Master Jean de Valette. It was the first conurbation to be built on a grid plan and the Order’s rule lasted until 1798, when Malta capitulated to Napoleon. In 1800 the British (whom The Maltese had called on for help) in turn defeated the French and stayed until 1964, causing the Maltese to adopt the British system of public administration, education and legislation.

And as we walked through the streets of Valetta, the British influence was all too evident. One street boasts a Peacocks and Marks & Spencer, while the old red phone boxes are everywhere; but one can avoid all this. Café Jubilee Valetta is a lovely little gaff that served us a few delicious Maltese snacks; the Pastizzi, a pasty filed with ricotta or pea paste; Zalzett Malti, Maltese sausage cooked with aromatic coriander; a spinach and tuna pie and, as it was so very warm, a good half dozen pints of the local lager Cisk. Afterwards we moseyed on down to the

“After such a sumptuous dinner it was off to The Bridge Bar jazz sessions, entirely free in the open air, playing that late 50s Blue Note style that is my type of jazz”


harbour and did what the locals do, walking north along the coast to a bunch of hidden swimming holes and tunnels that connect St Elmo to the sea. I fell asleep on the stone and awoke two hours later, a little red and somewhat bleary. Sunshine has been known to make a chap rather fatigued, so I took to my bed for a few hours. Luckily the next restaurant, Beat Paoli, was next to the B&B. Simply magnificent, I actually took pictures of the grub until I came to my senses and slapped myself hard across the mush. But by crikey

“On the night we arrived, 8th September, ix-Xagħra was holding its biggest street party of the year. Festivities centre on the Basilica dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, locally known as Il-Bambina”



of jazz. To add a bottle of wine was €12 and a large vodka and tonic was €3, so we stayed quite a while and staggered back to our B&B, deciding to go to Gozo the next day. I was sad to leave Malta, as its history is fascinating. Malta was strategically essential, not only during the Crusades as a stop-off for marauding, raping and looting Crusaders, but also in WW2. As the Axis forces opened a new front in North Africa, British air and sea forces used the island as a base of attack against Axis ships, moving supplies from Europe to North Africa. Churchill described the island as an “unsinkable aircraft carrier”. As a result the Axis forces embarked on the famous siege of Malta, flying some 3,000 air raids and dropping 3,000 tones of explosives on the Grand Harbour alone. Allied convoys supplied and fortified Malta, while the RAF garrisoned its airspace at great cost. The siege ended in November 1942, prompting an allied air and sea offensive that caned the Hun. Without this Maltese triumph, allied victory in North Africa might well have not happened, and, on April 15th 1942, Malta was awarded the George Cross. One of the army officers who took part was David Niven (see page 90). The septuagenarian cab driver who picked us up at Gozo ferry terminal had lived in London for a while, and knew some of those Maltese chaps I had known. To get to Gozo, we’d travelled to the Maltese ferry port of Cirkewwaby by bus and jumped on the 30-minute ferry to Mgarr, Gozo. Our first port of call was to the B&B Angels Cove near the town of ix-Xagħra. On the night we arrived, 8th September, it was holding its biggest street party of the year. Festivities centre on the Basilica dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, locally known as ‘Il-Bambina.’ The party celebrates said virgin and also the victory of the Knights of Malta over the Turks in the Great Siege of 1565. And what a hoot it is too. All the aforementioned street food is available at stalls for 30p a pastry, a beer is a quid while the whole town centre is filled with bars; fireworks go on till 2am and the whole town goes bonkers to the strains of two rather exceptional 60-piece brass bands. I became almost ecstatic with joy when they played Nino Rota’s theme for Fellini’s 8½ towards midnight. The following day we moved to In-Nadur and

it was spiffing. We started with a rather incredible Maltese cheese called Gbejniet. I followed with the most amazing rabbit stew that, a classic Maltese dish, was the chef ’s great grandmother’s recipe, while my companion settled for sea bass with king prawns and samphire, declaring it the finest she had ever eaten! And there was little to complain about the few bottles of the Maltese Marsovin Marnisi 2007 either. After such a sumptuous dinner it was off to The Bridge Bar jazz sessions, entirely free in the open air, playing that late 50s Blue Note style that is my type



into a Gozo B&B that was only €45 a night for a triple en-suite room with breakfast. No taxis were available as the whole town was hungover, so we were given a lift by Angels Cove proprietor Gabor, who from then on kindly chaperoned us about the island. We went to the beach at San Blass; once a lovely little sandy cove, it is now a lovely little rocky cove, since a hurricane washed all the sand away. Here we met Frisky, owner of the beach bar, who served us the most amazing mussels I have ever tasted, drove us home and dined out with us at the fabulous Osteria Scottaditto. I went for the ceviche and the deep fried olives stuffed with beef, chicken and nutmeg followed by a fillet of the local Lambuki fish that was out of this world, all washed down by a few bottles of Maltese Meridian Estate Melqart 2016 Superior Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which was everything the name suggests, and a little bit more. The next day we managed to get a lift to the island of Comino and the Blue Lagoon from Frisky’s pal, who runs the water sports on this sister island. Arriving at 10am, a little the worse for wear, but on seeing that almost milky turquoise sea as clear as Perrier, all was kushti. The best option here is to go left of the marina underneath the cliffs into this natural cove and not to walk to Santa Maria Bay, which is forgettable. Nevertheless, Comino with its astonishing water was a rare treat to find at only a 3-hour flight away from the UK. In Nadur that night we ate at the not so recommended Fat Rabbit which was very good indeed. The fish broth and pumpkin soup were exquisite, the Frutti di Mare rosso incredible, brimming with totally fresh local mussels, octopus, calamari and prawn in a tomato and coriander sauce with fresh linguine, while the Antonin Noir Marsovin 2014 could give a fine Chianti Classico a run for its money but was half the price. The next night we ate in nearby Zebbug at the highly recommended Arzella, which was utterly appalling – the fish of the day more like Monday’s and now it was Thursday, while the roasted vegetables had been heated so many times they’d lost their will to live. But that apart, all was cracking on Gozo; the rocky Daħlet Qorrot Beach was empty, clean and just perfect; the pebble beach Wied Il-Għasri (a narrow gorge cutting through vertical cliffs on either side) was as spectacular as one might ever

find, while the Azure Window, also known as the Dwejra Window, a 30-metre-tall natural limestone arch which, used as a location for the Dothraki wedding scene in the first season of Game of Thrones, is the stuff of myth. Of course, we weren’t there for long enough. We didn’t have time to check the Cittadella or It-Telgħa tal-Belt – supposedly the acropolis of Glauconis Civitas that lords over the capital city of Victoria; and we missed the Gun Blast firing range near Nadur, where for €60 per person you can fire pistols and automatic rifles, such as M4, AR15, Glock and CZ75.

“With its crystal clear blue sea, beautiful beaches, amazing history and, last but not least, sincerely lovely people who go out of their way to help in every way, Malta or Gozo, or both, make so much sense” Undeniably, the good thing about missing out on a few must-sees is that one is forced to go back and, as Gabor advised, the best time to go is October or May-June (when temperatures are between 25 and 30 degrees). I will be back in 2020 for sure. So if you book flights way in advance at £70 return per person, stay at off peak B&Bs that cost just £350 for two for a week, a week in the sun is affordable, especially as the cost of three-course fine dining, including copious amounts of local wine, is about £35 a head, a pint of beer or a large glass of wine is a couple of quid, and buses are £2 to go anywhere! With its crystal clear blue sea, beautiful beaches, amazing history and, last but not least, sincerely lovely people who go out of their way to help in every way, Malta or Gozo, or both, make so much sense. n LAUREN BACALL STYLE To stay in Gozo and for crucial info contact Gabor – In Valetta



Honour Among Birders Nick Ostler on the late Victorian scandal of ‘The Hastings Rarities’ and how the term ‘stringers’ was coined


“Those admirable people the British bird-lovers have been taken for a ride… They have been the victims of a fraud which in museum circles is comparable to that of Piltdown Man”

wo weeks after moving house and my new ‘Garden List’ stands at 36 species. Along with the expected Robin, Blue tit, Blackbird, Wren and so on, it also includes some more infrequent visitors such as Treecreeper, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. I also allow myself to count ‘flyovers’, which so far means Raven, Buzzard, Grey Heron, Cormorant and even a Kingfisher zipping over the house. Finally there are the few birds I’ve only heard but not seen, which has allowed me to add Tawny Owl and Pheasant without even getting out of bed. I don’t take photos of birds, nor do I have any witnesses for most of my sightings. So you’ll just have to take my word for it. Birding has operated on the honour system ever since ornithologists stopped shooting their sightings and instead started taking copious field notes. Very unusual observations still need to pass muster by the esteemed Rarities Committee to make it into the official records, but by and large birders are simply expected to tell the truth about what they’ve seen. Now you might be thinking, why would they lie? What would they possibly have to gain from saying they saw a Siberian Rubythroat when it was in fact a Robin? The fact is ‘stringers’,

The Daily Record as they are known, may be few and far between but there have always been those who, for reasons they may not even understand themselves, lie about the birds they’ve seen, or rather haven’t seen. Perhaps the most extraordinary example of stringing on an epic scale was the infamous case of The Hastings Rarities. What sounds like a minor Ealing Comedy was summed up by The Daily Record: “Those admirable people, the British bird-lovers have been taken for a ride… They have been the victims of a fraud which in museum circles is comparable to that of Piltdown Man.” The scandalous deception began in the dying days


of the 19th Century, when a crop of birds never before seen in England started to be bagged with unprecedented regularity along a small strip of the south coast near Hastings. They were the stuff that twitchers’ dreams are made on – the Slenderbilled Curlew, Black Lark, Thick-billed Nutcracker, White-winged Snowfinch among them. This most purple of birding patches kept on delivering the rare goods until well into the 1930s, and for decades they shone out from the British list like Kohinoor diamonds, tantalisingly out of reach for every mortal birder. Then, in 1962, John Nedler published an article in British Birds that blew the whole affair wide open. In a statistical analysis of forensic thoroughness, he demonstrated beyond doubt that the sheer number of rare birds claimed for the Hastings area between 1892 and 1930 was simply impossible. There must be another explanation. That explanation came in the form of George Bristow, a taxidermist of St Leonards-On-Sea, who as it turns out was the man who claimed to have received most of the skins of the Hastings Rarities from various unnamed marksmen, before stuffing them and selling them to a host of respected ornithologists. The hoax had been made possible by the introduction of refrigeration for the commercial shipping of perishable goods. In this way nearly 600 foreign-shot birds were transported across the sea into the skillful hands of Mr. Bristow, to be passed off as genuine firsts for Britain, to the tune of an estimated £7,000, a small fortune at the time. Of course the ruse was also made possible by the gullibility of over-excited ornithologists, who wanted to believe that feathered superstars were appearing as if by magic in their own back yard. Indeed, even though 29 species were immediately scrubbed from the official British list, many refused to believe that they’d been duped, and the erroneous records still appeared in bird guides years later. Ironically, most of these species have now been readmitted to the British list due to genuine records from different parts of the country. As for the poor birds at the centre of the affair, many can still be seen with their faded plumage and glassy eyes inside the Hastings Museum. As is often the way with hoaxers who pulled of ‘victimless crimes’, George Bristow has become posthumously celebrated in his own small way. If you find yourself outside No.15 Silchester Road in St Leonards-OnSea, you can admire the blue plaque erected by Hastings Borough Council – “The shop of George

Bristow, Taxidermist 1863-1947. Central figure in the Hastings Rarities affair.” These days, stringers are more likely to be caught out by modern technology than by oldfashioned painstaking investigation. In 2014, when a photo of a Savannah Sparrow – an exceedingly rare American vagrant, purported to have taken at Lancing Ring - appeared online, UK twitchers were immediately suspicious. Could memories of George Bristow have been in the backs of their minds as they boggled at this latest extraordinary find, less than fifty miles west of Hastings? The sparrow’s photographer wasn’t known to the local birding fraternity – where reputation counts when it comes to mega rare finds. Their initial skepticism was soon proven well founded, however, when an observant birder pointed out that the brand of barbed wire the sparrow was sitting on in the photo was American and not used this side of the Atlantic. The rumbled stringer soon disappeared back into the anonymity of the web, their motives in trying to pass off such a pointless fib destined to remain a mystery.



By December, most birds have picked a place to tough out the short days of winter, each employing their own strategy to make it to the spring. But far from being a time to

sight in British gardens in the winter months. They’re busy birds, which can take a while to get a decent look at, but if you see a large, pale grey warbler with a solid cap (black means male, brown female) then that’s a Blackcap. Interestingly according to recent research, the ones we have here in winter are mainly from Germany, replacing our resident breeders, which have departed for Africa – strange, but true!

Not exactly a classic winter bird – and easy enough to see almost anywhere all year round in ones and twos - but I include it here as an example of one of the small birds that roosts in impressive numbers in winter. I used to see hundreds descend at dusk into a small tree right outside Wimbledon shopping Centre, largely ignored by the Christmas shoppers.

SNOW BUNTING Unless you happen to be climbing Ben Nevis in the summer, your best chance of connecting with this attractive sparrow-sized species is to find a small flock on a shingle beach somewhere on the east coast in the winter. Its black and white plumage with rust-brown smudges is distinctive and they’re so confiding you can get close enough to watch them without binoculars. But they are still unusual and you have to find them first. As ever, North Norfolk is hard to beat if you want to maximize your odds. BLACKCAP It might seem odd to include a member of the Warbler family in a winter round up but, like the Chiffchaff, the Blackcap has become a familiar

LONG-TAILED TIT With its almost absurd combination of pink, black and white plumage and tail longer than its body, this is surely one of our more ‘out there’ looking common British birds. Here all year round, they are especially obvious in winter when you’ll see large flocks passing through woods and gardens, often mixed up with other tit species and Goldcrests. I always seem to hear them before I see them due to their insistent, high-pitched ‘tsee-tse-tsee’ call. Position yourself between two trees on their roaming route and you can count them as they flit overheard one by one. GREAT GREY SHRIKE An unusual but regular Scandinavian vagrant which is so striking in appearance – with its bold black eye-mask, silvery grey and black plumage and hooked beak – that it is worth a special trip to see one of the sixty or so individuals at their traditional wintering site. Google to find out where your nearest one is, but Ashdown Forest (East Sussex), Thursley Common (Surrey), Stocks Reservoir (Lancashire) and Clocaenog Forest (Conwy) are all reliable.

put down your binoculars, this is when you can use a little inside knowledge to view species that might be harder to see at any other times of the year. Whether it’s birds of prey gathering

WAXWING If it’s a year when the berry crop in their native Scandinavia is inadequate for the population, then Britain will experience a winter ‘irruption’ of this most exotic looking rarity. It’s a plump, Starlingsized bird with reddish-brown plumage adorned with a prominent crest, an overdose of black eyeliner and exquisite white, yellow and red wing markings that look like they’ve been painted onto porcelain. They’ll turn up in large flocks anywhere they can gorge on rowanberries. I once saw a flock of over fifty in a supermarket car park in Nottingham. PINK-FOOTED GOOSE A rare birding success story in that their numbers have increased markedly over the last century, with 200,000 (85% of the world’s population) choosing to spend their winter feeding in stubble and crop fields along Britain’s coastline, half of them in North Norfolk. Pink beaks and, yes, legs and feet make them easy to I.D. BRENT GOOSE My favourite British goose, simply because with their small size and very dark plumage – their heads and necks are almost entirely black – they look so different to all the others and are easy to identify at range. Only ever seen on the coast, if you really want to impress your friends, you can

at their roosts, huge flocks of geese feeding in coastal fields, or unusual garden visitors tucking into a life-saving feast at your bird table, there are many winged winter wonders to be found. Here’s a small selection. learn to distinguish between the Pale-bellied (NE England and Ireland) and Dark-bellied (Southern and Eastern England) sub-species! HEN HARRIER There are several birds of prey which kindly make themselves easier to see in winter by gathering in large roosts – Merlin, Marsh Harrier and Longeared Owl all do this. But with our breeding population of Hen Harriers reduced almost to zero by, among other things, illegal persecution on grouse moors, winter is by far your best bet at seeing them. Sailing low over meadows and reedbeds on broad wings, the female is a streaky brown, the spectacular male “sky-dancer” a ghostly blue-grey with black wings tips. Search for local information on your nearest roost, but there are good sites in Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Sheppey and North Norfolk.

GOOSANDER Now’s the time to get to your local reservoir or lake and get to grips with the variety of ducks that overwinter in large numbers in the UK. From the common Tufted, Wigeon and Teal to the more unusual Goldeneye and Pintail, there’s a lot more than Mallards out there. The Goosander is a prehistoric-looking ‘sawbill’ that increases its presence in the UK in winter, spreading south from its upland breeding grounds. Pale, with smart hoods (brown in female, green in male) they ride low in the water almost like a snake, diving for long periods to fish.

Nobody knows how many millions of birds have been saved by the great British tradition of putting out food over the winter. But with habitats under more strain than ever, it’s never been more important. I order my peanuts, nyger seed, suet balls and feeders direct from the RSPB website. This winter I shall also be siting new nestboxes, ready for keen new house-hunters in the spring.

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PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO Gustav Temple attempts to nurture two teenagers and a fascination with Ava Gardner during a trip to the Pacific resort of Puerto Vallarta


rom the eleventh floor balcony of a hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the horizon flashing with lightning, brassy wisps of Mariachi music wafting up from somewhere through the heat of the night, was the sense that we were definitely in Mexico. It had taken nearly 20 hours to reach this moment of Mexican awareness, though our sense of time had been hurled out of the window on the journey; it was either tomorrow or yesterday in England, the confusion of jetlag and 6-hour time difference loosening the mind from the shackles of the clock. Puerto Vallarta is a sprawling series of resorts emanating from the old town centre, covering some 20 miles of the Pacific coast. It is overlooked

“It was like an amusing episode from the TV series Lost; but awaiting us on the beach was not a squabble for survival, but a leisurely saunter to another bar. Mexican tour operators’ favourite phrase is ‘open bar!’, the approach being that if you get the clients sozzled they’ll enjoy everything more” 117

by grand mountains that harbour entirely unpredictable weather. They might spend the night lashing the town with torrential rain, thunder and lightning (in August and September), then grace the following day with glorious tropical sunshine. The weather is as fickle as in the UK and as frequently discussed. One cabbie informed me that it can be pouring with rain in one resort and brilliant sunshine in another, a few miles along the coast.

“While we had been gazing at exotic fish and manta rays, the staff had been mixing up huge pitchers of margaritas. By the time we reached the next destination, we were all in the right mood for a slice of paradise – and that’s precisely what we got” The resorts are isolated, gated monoliths of luxury, heavily populated by mobs of Americans and wealthy Mexicans who never seem to leave the all-inclusive bars and many swimming pools. In our hotel, the grammatically confusing Now Amber, those who can’t even be bothered to leave the pool can keep ordering drinks from the poolside cocktail bar. They would stumble from the lifts clutching their beakers of Tequila Sunrise in perfect timing for this climactic moment. We looked down on them at first, but after a few days, ordering a White Russian in your trunks at 10.30 am seemed perfectly normal. The contrast between these hedonistic enclaves and the town of Puerto Vallarta itself couldn’t be greater. A scruffy little overgrown village with a Franciscan church at its centre and dozens of markets with stalls all selling exactly the same things: ponchos, hammocks, sombreros, Day of the Dead figures, wrestling masks. The ‘Zona Romantica’ reminded me of the seedier parts of Soho but with the heat turned up to just about bearable, as long as you walk really slowly. When with my children, we were constantly offered hair braiding, snorkeling tours and jewellery; as soon as I was alone the products switched to weed, women and Tequila.

A Fraternal Attraction - A Forbidden Love Between Brothers Set in Kentucky in the 1960s - an era of drugstore soda fountains and drive-in movie theatres - A Fraternal Attraction is the story of a burgeoning love affair between two brothers. Rob, fresh out of Senior High, finds himself falling in love with his older brother Luke, who has just returned from a two-year tour of duty in Vietnam. In desperation, he confides his secret passion to Loubelle, owner of a bakery and repository of the town secrets. She takes Rob under her wing, and together they embark on an ambitious campaign to seduce the tough ex-soldier. Things start to get out of hand as the brothers’ mutual fascination with each other snowballs into something more unmanageable and dangerous. Told from the perspective of both brothers, and intercut with flashbacks to Luke’s wartime experiences, this is an edgy, intense family drama set against a backdrop of small-town conformity where illicit desires and skeletons in the closet remain firmly hidden from sight.

Published by Titania Publishing the book is now available at


ECO ADVENTURE Out first excursion was branded an ‘eco adventure’ to a group of islands where rare birds and strange fish lurked. The three tours we took all had the same Mexican approach: you board some sea vessel early in the morning, with no itinerary or any idea what is going to happen from one minute to the next. For an hour or so our catamaran churned through the water, then as soon as land was ahoy we were suddenly handed masks and snorkels and practically hurled into the sea for an hour of snorkelling. The bar was open when we were hauled in again an hour later. While we had been gazing at exotic fish and manta rays, the staff had been mixing up huge pitchers of margaritas. By the time we reached the next destination, we were all in the right mood for a slice of paradise – and that’s precisely what we got. An isolated beach only accessible by boat, surrounded by dense jungle. The catamaran could only moor 100 yards from the beach, so we were invited to swim ashore; the pair of Japanese tourists among us holding their selfie sticks aloft like the family jewels. I stuck my cigarettes inside my hat and waded in. It was like an amusing episode from the TV series Lost; but awaiting us on the beach was not a squabble for survival, but a leisurely saunter to another bar. Mexican tour operators’ favourite phrase is ‘open bar!’, the approach being that if you get the clients sozzled they’ll enjoy everything more.

unexpected, unannounced show from the crew: a rock karaoke performance, complete with wigs, costumes and dancing to AC/DC and Aerosmith. The bar was well and truly open. We were to learn during all our excursions that the Mexicans simply cannot help themselves from dancing and singing, even on a so-called eco adventure. After making a sizeable dent in the bar supplies, sticky with salt water and sweat, it all seemed to make sense.

ERNESTO AND ANNA This isolated beach was where I met a duo that shattered a hitherto rather unappealing image of the rotund Mexicans and Americans we’d left behind to displace the pool water at the hotel. Ernesto was a 62-year-old Mexico City émigré travelling with his 18-year-old American daughter, she the result of a brief liaison with a weedaddicted Texan who’d left all the childcare to him. Since I was travelling alone with my 14 and 12-year-old children, it was a relief to encounter a similar set-up. Single-parent families were not a common sight in Puerto Vallarta. The pair passed a pack of Marlboro and several pitchers of beer between each other and were delightful company. Ernesto showed me his huge scars from his days as a light aircraft pilot; Anna spoke of her childhood sexual ambiguity and her therapist. They currently live in Seattle. The return trip to the port yielded an

PIRATES OF THE PACIFIC Second excursion: The Pirate Galleon. Again, we were bundled onto a vessel, this time an authentic 19th century galleon, with no idea what would happen next. “Breakfast time!” came the command from men in pirate costume, herding us into the galley (we had just had an enormous breakfast at the hotel).

“The sight of a middleaged American with a potbelly gargling ‘La Cucaracha’ with a mouthful of rum will forever be imprinted on my mind” 121

“Showtime!” came the next command when we were back on deck. Various staples from the pirate repertoire ensued, with much singing and dancing. But this troupe revealed professional skills, with impressive swordplay and acrobatics, concluding with a backflip into the sea by the captain. “Snorkelling!” was the next command, and we were lowered into a rowing boat and deposited into a cove in lifejackets and snorkels. Dignity had been sacrificed long ago but I was doing it for the kids. A moment of solace can always be found, and I found it in that cove. The pirates, divested of their costumes, swam with us like any ordinary coastdwelling Mexicans. The erstwhile Captain’s wench dove down and emerged to show us a sea urchin, without a single ‘Aharr!’ We were granted another pirate-free hour on another isolated beach (with an open bar, of course) before being rowed back to the galleon. The return element of the show involved audience participation. The sight of a middle-aged American with a potbelly gargling La Cucaracha with a mouthful of rum will forever be imprinted on my mind. Where the hell were Ernesto and Anna when we needed them?

NIGHT OF THE IGUANA A brief interlude in the Old Town gave me the opportunity to reclaim my non-parenting interests. In 1963, John Huston filmed the excellent The Night of the Iguana in Puerto Vallarta. Based on Tennessee Williams’ play, the film starred Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr. Burton plays a defrocked Irish priest with a drink problem reduced to giving tour guides to elderly American dowagers. He would have been a big fan of the open bar, that’s for sure. Huston already had a place in Puerto Vallarta, and Burton was so taken with the place that he bought a house there, acquiring another one across the street for Elizabeth Taylor. To save him the trouble of crossing the road, he built a bridge

“My favourite Guayabera was immediately crushed and I was required to relinquish my trusty Panama for a crash helmet”


connecting the two houses, which became known as the ‘bridge of reconciliation’ due to their fiery relationship. The house is now a rather swanky boutique hotel called Casa Kimberly, with a cheesy bronze sculpture of Taylor and Burton in the foyer, but the bridge is still intact, commanding fine views over the rooftops of the old town. The film set itself is still there, but ‘under construction’, which in Mexico could mean anything.

disappointingly didn’t have an open bar. However, I was glad of this when we reached the location for our extreme adventure and were shackled into our safety harnesses and given a safety briefing. My favourite Guayabera was immediately crushed and I was required to relinquish my trusty Panama for a crash helmet. Yes, it was the zip wire thing. Virtual paradise for a birthday boy and his sister who love highoctane thrills; quite the reverse for a 54-year-old man who isn’t particularly good with heights. These are the moments where parental sacrifice truly kicks in – when you are strapped horizontally into a complicated pulley, 50 metres above the treetops, and told not to stick your arms off so they don’t get snapped off by the branches you will zip by at 60mph. ‘Luckily no-one will ever see my terror-stricken face on the 1200 metre ride,’ I thought, before a mini-cam was strapped to my helmet. The final leg of our adventure was to enter a flight simulator; more undignified costumes, more

EXTREME ADVENTURE The words ‘extreme’ and ‘adventure’ do not appeal to me in the slightest, but since my son was turning 14 in Puerto Vallarta, all the stops had to be pulled out for our final excursion. This one was in the jungle, for a change, and we enjoyed an hour-long bus journey through the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta, passing shantytowns where cowboys herded cattle and the dentist was in a road shack next to a giant muddy puddle. This was High Plains Drifter on a minibus, which


safety briefings. I realised why I’d never applied for a job at NASA. The simulator is a huge glass vertical tube with two superhero-clad instructors inside, where the wind from below blows you into the air and you’re supposed to fly. But man cannot, should not, and will never fly, I wanted to point out, as each member of our group clambered into the simulator. Every one of them did the same thing; hoisted into the air by the instructors for a second before crashing to the mesh ground. It was more or less like watching seagulls trying to drive a car, and just as amusing. Parental duty fully furnished, I insisted on dragging my children around the old town again, trying to picture being on holiday in Puerto Vallarta with other adults. The food is incredible, even in the cheapest street joint. The beaches are spectacular and even during the rainy season, when we were there, the truculent weather wreaks its havoc at night, leaving every day basking in sunshine and puddles. Taking dinner in the

harbour and watching the storms work themselves into a frenzy makes for a thrilling evening. A lone iguana wandering around the hotel gardens completed the exotic picture. The only hazard, for those of a British temperament, is the constant and unannounced dancing and singing, but we don’t go on holiday to meet ourselves. n




Inspired by the great Dr Johnson, who was both very brilliant and very lazy, Tom Hodgkinson launched the Idler magazine back in 1993. He wanted to celebrate the art of doing nothing and to remind people of the importance of contemplation, creativity and loafing about. Both cheering and useful, the Idler is a magazine for the free spirits of the world. It appears six times a year and offers a bumper 156–180 pages of articles and interviews. You’ll find much to laugh at and much to help you in the search for the good life. Contributors include Michael Palin, Tim Lott, Virginia Ironside, Rowley Leigh and Murray Lachlan Young, and we feature pieces on idle travel, beer, books, beekeeping and astronomy, plus inspiring stories from people who have quit the nine-to-five to pursue what they really want to do. We’re offering a special deal for Chap readers. Join us now and we’ll send you the next six issues for just £27 when when you choose to pay by Direct Debit (UK): • Save 50% on cover price • Never miss an issue • FREE delivery To take advantage of this half price offer and join the growing and merry club of Idler readers 1. Go to and enter code CHAP03 2. Call 01442 820 580

“The thing I like about your idling philosophy is the cultivation of interest, the grappling with what life is for,” Jeremy Paxman

REVIEWS Author interview: Daisy Dunn (p128) • Book Reviews (p132) • Interview with 'Legs' Larry Smith (p134) • TV: At Last The 1948 Show (p140) • TV: Do Not Adjust Your Set (p142) • Errol Flynn (p144) • Cigars (p150) • Restaurant: The Bingham (p154) • Peacocks & Magpies: Antiques (p157)

Author Interview

DAISY DUNN Alexander Larman meets the prolific young writer who has managed to publish no less than three books on classical history this year


“I write about the classical world because I find it immensely fertile terrain and because it allows me to be creative as a writer, as I have to find ways to bridge the huge gaps in our knowledge without verging into fiction”

n the field of classical history, the traditional image is that of an aged, wizened figure, clad in a moth-eaten tweed jacket and wheezily quoting Herodotus at unimpressed students or fellow academics. How things have changed. Today, there is an entire mini-school of thrilling and innovative female classicists, pursuing their craft in either fictional or biographical form. These include the doyenne of them all, Mary Beard, but also the likes of Bettany Hughes, Madeleine Miller, Natalie Haynes and the brilliant Daisy Dunn, who was tipped by Dan Jones in our previous issue as one of the most exciting historians writing today. The indefatigable Dr Dunn has published no fewer than three books this year, including a muchacclaimed biographical study of both Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, In The Shadow of Vesuvius, a compendium of classical tales and even a Ladybird guide to Homer. We asked her about her prolific work rate, what she thinks about the world of classics in 2019, and, of course, her sartorial ensemble.

CHAP: Congratulations on publishing three books – but when on earth do you find the time to sleep?! Did you plan on being this prolific in 2019, or have publishing schedules just worked out that way? DAISY DUNN: Thank you! I’d been working on the three books for three different publishers at various points over the past four years – you may


CHAP: The first of your new books, In The Shadow of Vesuvius, explores the lives of both Pliny the Younger and Pliny the Elder. What were the particular challenges and rewards of your research into this book? DAISY DUNN: It was great to be able to spend so much time in Italy. Pliny the Elder lost his life near Pompeii in the catastrophic eruption of AD

as well do something productive in those gaps when you’re waiting for editorial feedback – and it just happened that they were scheduled for release within months of each other. This did mean I was frantically checking the proofs for one while in a taxi to the launch party of another, but knowing there was a glass of champagne waiting for me certainly helped.


CHAP: You translated many of the stories yourself. Did you feel that you were, as it were, standing on the shoulders of giants? DAISY DUNN: I did a bit. I’m not Walter Pater and I’m certainly not Ted Hughes. But actually, when I couldn’t find translations I was entirely happy with for certain ancient authors, I felt compelled to step in.

79. He left behind very little information about himself – not enough that you could write a biography of him alone – but his nephew, Pliny the Younger, survived the disaster and wrote hundreds of letters. The challenge was to combine those with Pliny the Elder’s sole surviving work – his amazingly wacky encyclopaedia of Natural History – and evocations of the places they both knew to produce a portrait of Italy in the first century. To pull all this together while travelling along the ancient streets of Rome, Como and the Bay of Naples was incredible.

CHAP: And your third, the Ladybird Expert guide to Homer, is presumably aimed at a younger audience. Did this present a particular difficulty – or was it liberating? DAISY DUNN: It’s for kids young and old. I mean, it operates on a couple of levels. It’s authoritative but playful. For those of us who grew up reading Ladybirds, the illustrations will be brilliantly nostalgic. But we’ve had fun with them, representing the sexy nymph who seduces Odysseus as Ursula Andress, for example. The hardest bit for me was conveying everything you need to know about Homer in just 6000 words.

CHAP: Your second 2019 book, Of Gods and Men, is an anthology of the best (and best-translated) stories of Ancient Greece and Rome. Did you find it was difficult to choose the particular tales you wanted to include? DAISY DUNN: It was because I wanted my collection to span antiquity from Homer to the fall of Rome. Where to start? There needed to be plenty of classics – the story of Odysseus and the Cyclops, for instance, and Ovid’s delectable Narcissus – but I also wanted to include a few surprises. Heard of the story of Breast Milk from Aulus Gellius’ commonplace book? Or of Queen Elizabeth I’s translation of a brilliant piece of ancient prison literature? Both made the cut.

CHAP: Your debut book, the brilliant Catullus’ Bedspread, also dealt with a similar period. What were the particular difficulties that you faced there? DAISY DUNN: Pretty much everything we know about Catullus comes from what he tells us himself in


his poems and there’s no way of saying how much of that is true. My solution was to write a life of Catullus in his own words – to tell the story the poems tell. It’s only by immersing yourself in his poetry that you can hope to get close to Catullus the man.

CHAP: Who do you think the outstanding classical historians of today are? DAISY DUNN: Professor Paul Cartledge, at Cambridge, is one of the greats. I’d also have to say all the ones who’ve taught me!

CHAP: You’ve had a great deal of success so far in your career, and have been credited with making the classics accessible to a wide and popular audience. Do you believe that this is true? DAISY DUNN: That’s incredibly kind. I hope so! There’s still plenty more I want to do – my mind is always buzzing about the next thing. The material itself is incredibly recalcitrant and often highly complicated, so I have to ensure I nail the approach so as to bring it alive for readers. If someone who wouldn’t normally contemplate reading about the classical world picks up one of my books and enjoys it, I consider that a victory. I’m always moved when I receive a nice note from someone who says I’ve changed their perspective on what classics is.

CHAP: Who have been your greatest influences? DAISY DUNN: Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Herodotus. CHAP: What do you think that the new trends in classical studies are? DAISY DUNN: A move away from Greece and Rome to the history and cultures of their provinces. CHAP: What are your plans for future books? DAISY DUNN: I’m very excited to have signed a two-book deal with Weidenfeld & Nicolson. I’m keeping schtum for now, as I worry about exhausting a book before I’ve started it.

CHAP: Do you think that a classicist needs to be ‘public-facing’ in order to attract an audience – and a readership? DAISY DUNN: I think it depends on what you want to do. I love writing. I write about the classical world because I find it immensely fertile terrain and because it allows me to be creative as a writer as I have to find ways to bridge the huge gaps in our knowledge without verging into fiction. If you look at academic books, on the other hand, I feel they can still attract a good readership without striving to be ‘accessible’ because the academic community of classicists is now thriving.

CHAP: What, to date, are you proudest of in your career? DAISY DUNN: Gosh. It’s moments such as when I get up on stage at a literary festival and see a hall full of people who have travelled some way because they share my curiosity about a topic I’ve written on. Being interviewed by The Sunday Times this year also made me beam. CHAP: As this is a Chap interview, it would be remiss not to touch on matters sartorial. What is your preferred ensemble? DAISY DUNN: A beautifully cut dress – I’ve one from Ralph Lauren that falls perfectly, and I admire Mary Katrantzou – with heels and a liberal spray of Marc Jacobs Daisy (naturally).

CHAP: You combine your work with prolific journalism. Do you think that this is a necessity for any writer today, both on a purely financial level and to raise exposure? DAISY DUNN: I do a fair bit of journalism because I love it, not because it pays well (it doesn’t). Sometimes it pulls me away from book-writing, but I’ve learned not to fear saying no. I say no to quite a lot. Sometimes it’s painful to turn down a commission, but I know that it can really set me back if I have to put the book to one side when I’m on a flow. When I reach a natural break in the book is when I savour the change of scene provided by journalistic commissions. Writing on an entirely different topic for a newspaper often gives me some much-needed space and I can return to the book fresh.

CHAP: And have you made any fashion faux pas in the past that you are especially ashamed of ? DAISY DUNN: I wore a Grecian cheesecloth dress a lot in my late teens. Fine in daylight but not under spotlight, as I discovered when I took to the stage for a student play. CHAP: How would you like to be remembered? DAISY DUNN: For my exceptional elegance and sense of fun – obviously! n


Book Reviews


The Diary of a Bookseller, was published in 2017. For my money both books, read together, are the best account of running an establishment and dealing with an ungrateful public since John Fothergill’s 1931 An Innkeeper’s Diary. Memorable characters abound, whether it’s Nicky the Jehovah’s Witness shop assistant who brings in inedible food salvaged from a skip on Fridays; ‘Granny’, an Italian in her mid-twenties incongruously fascinated by Wigtown and its bookshops; or his customers, such as the silent ‘Mole Man’, a figure who appears infrequently, gathers piles of books, and then darts off, armed with his spoils, without speaking a word. This book and its predecessor play fair and do not turn Blythell’s life into the stuff of cosy sitcommery. A recurring character is ‘Anna’, a pseudonym for the American author Jessica Fox, who had a relationship with Blythell but which ended largely because of his misanthropic ways; he writes affectingly but without self-pity as to the (presumably) lonely life that he has chosen, although he also conveys the enjoyable camaraderie of Wigtown life, where more often than not an evening ends with a pub session and then the diary note ‘Bed at 2am’. I had half-expected a romance to develop between Blythell and Granny, as it might in a film, but it does not – or at least, if it did, it is not described in this book. He amusingly keeps the reader informed of the financial comings and goings of the shop; he depicts, almost casually, how hard it is to make a living in a small Scottish bookshop in the cold months of the year, and how catering to what is ultimately a whim can be a frustrating and difficult business. Blythell is now a minor celebrity, thanks to the success of his earlier book. He continues to run The Bookshop – no doubt less parlously than before, thanks to the royalties from his own sales – and I will be intrigued to see if a further volume deals with his coming to terms with this low-level fame, and whether it has changed him in any way. For aficionados of second-hand bookshops, there are some nice observations on which authors and subjects are fashionable, and which have long since passed out of fashion – I remember when Patrick O’Brian books were impossibly collectable, and now they’re barely worth more than £20 each – and Blythell’s deadpan musings on the eccentricities

By Shaun Blythell (Profile, £16.99) Reviewed by Alexander Larman


started book dealing when I was around sixteen. I was living in rural Suffolk; it was either that or narcotics, and I wouldn’t have known where to start in the so-called ‘yokel coke’ trade. My father, a man for whom permanent employment had been a burden, instructed me in the ways of gathering first editions, signed copies, illustrated children’s books and the like, all of which could ideally be acquired from a charity shop, auction or village fete for a few pence, and then sold on to a bookshop for considerably more. I kept up my hobby-business while at university, then led it slide, but even today, I usually have a few second-hand books knocking about the house, waiting to be sold to a dealer. One of the many reasons why Shaun Blythell’s excellent Confessions of a Bookseller is such an engaging and enjoyable read is that it is entirely true to the world of second-hand book dealing. Not antiquarian bookselling; as Blythell points out, this is a description which is usually applied to books over a hundred years old, which usually means battered old family Bibles and unwanted and ancient copies of A Pilgrim’s Progress. Blythell himself, a self-confessed curmudgeon and misanthrope, is the owner and proprietor of The Bookshop, a large establishment in the Scottish ‘book town’ of Wigtown: an isolated spot unbothered by train connections. With a local population of only about a thousand, Blythell is dependent both on Internet trade and tourists to enable him to make a decent living. However, any bookseller must brave the eccentrics, oddballs and general absurdities who flock to these shops in their dozens. This is Blythell’s second account of his time as a bookseller; the first,


of his customers are frequently hilarious. I hope that, one day, I too can visit the Bookshop, browse the shelves for hours, and ask some foolish question, so I can be immortalised in print, although I can imagine what it will say: ‘May 1. Some idiot who claims to have reviewed my books for The Chap magazine (what on earth is that?) ponced around the shop, trying to be witty, and ended up buying a couple of Evelyn Waugh paperbacks. Obviously, he asked for a discount.’ Here’s hoping.

and architectural history of how the manor house evolved and changed over the centuries, from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century. Girouard’s book, originally published in the 70s, is itself a diverting and illuminating read, showing how the tension between society and money has sometimes benefited and sometimes hindered the role of the private house, but the reason why this belongs on every discerning gentleman or lady’s library is because it’s an astonishingly lovely book. It comes in a large format, with a binding designed by the architectural illustrator John Pumfrey, and then there is a generous selection of often rare or previously unknown illustrations of houses, plans and the era itself. It’s that rare book that manages to be both beautiful and illuminating, and the new introduction by Simon Jenkins places it perfectly within context. One of the country houses that features, Madresfield, was famously the inspiration for Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead, and so it is no surprise that another recent Folio Society publication, this time of Brideshead Revisited, is a similarly handsome volume. Harry Brockway’s woodcuts, with their vaguely Twenties feel, are the perfect match. By now, you’ll know what you think of Waugh’s magnum opus, which needs no further discussion, but AN Wilson’s characteristically thoughtful and incisive introduction makes a good case for the book’s often-maligned Catholicism, and this is almost certainly the most beautiful edition of Brideshead that one can own short of a dust jacketed first edition. Finally, if you’re in search of something snappy and witty, then the edition of The Best of Dorothy Parker is well worth acquiring. It’s terribly easy to think of Parker as a kind of American female Wilde, coming out with snappy one-liners at the Algonquin for all occasions, but this well-chosen compilation offers an insight into her intellectual verve and occasional poignancy as well as the witticisms. Which, of course, remain peerless; nobody possessed of a functioning sense of humour could not fail to find joy in such lines as ‘she was a large, fair woman of the type that incites some men when they use the word ‘blonde’ to click their tongues and wag their heads roguishly.’ Any library with this in it will instantly become more redolent of dry martinis and drier wit, and will be a better and finer place for it. n

THE FOLIO SOCIETY A round-up of recent publications by Alexander Larman


f your library (furnished, no doubt, in the richest of rich mahogany) groans underneath the weight of elegantly slipcased volumes that bear a Reynolds Stone-designed insignia at their base, then congratulations, you are a Folio Society aficionado – or a ‘devotee’, as the truly committed fans style themselves. Since the Folio Society was first founded by Charles Ede in 1947, it has produced thousands of beautiful books, ranging from fiction to poetry to non-fiction, many illustrated by the most eminent artists of the day, and with introductions by an endless range of erudite and interesting figures. At The Chap, we wholeheartedly commend their dedication to offering affordably priced and excellent volumes to members of the public. The Folio Society used to operate as a subscription-only club (with infamously generous joining offers), but has now broadened its church, as it were, to become open to anyone who fancies a peruse. New books are added to the collection several times a year, but you’re unlikely to find a more beautiful or Chap-ish volume than one of the most recent additions, a new edition of Mark Girouard’s Life in the English Country House, a social



I WAS AN URBAN SPACEMAN Robert Chilcott meets ‘Legs’ Larry Smith, who played drums for the legendary Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and also for Eric Clapton and Elton John


Carruthers. He was okay and we decided to part company, as you do when you have had enough of somebody. And we thought he went gracefully, but he didn’t. What he did was, I think, to spike and spite our brains, he rang up the Intellectual Property Office in Cardiff, where they register names, trademarks, etc. “Hello, I’d like to register the name the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band” and they said (affects Welsh accent) “How are you spelling

hat did you do today, Larry? Being a 1960s pop star, of course, today I was having a drink with my friend in Henley-on-Thames and the phone went and somebody said, “Larry, where are you? You’re supposed to be opening a bloody fete in Newham at 2pm”. So what on earth is a Bonzo? Bonzo the dog was created by a wonderful animal illustrator in the 1920s called George Studdy. Bonzo became the first bit of merchandising there ever was in this country – the first little naughty doggy to appear in a strip cartoon in the Daily Sketch. He was big in Europe and Eastern Bloc countries all loved Bonzo. He used to look up girls’ skirts on the promenade in Blackpool. A very naughty and anarchic little fellow, and we just figured that he’d be rather nice to adopt as a name.

“As soon as I worked with Elton John and Eric Clapton and experienced what it is like to be a rock ‘n’ roll star, travelling first-class, your own jets, your own underwear, it’s magically different, and Bonzo never really achieved that”

You’ve had your name hijacked in recent times? We had done a couple of successful tours with the promoter, who shall remain nameless…. Robert


that please B-O-N-Z-O... – lovely, you can have that for £8.86p…”. And without any kind of documentation or authorization, they accepted it. We are now entering three years of this ridiculous litigation, where we have to go through due process of law. I quite understand that when a train rams into another train and five or six people are killed, these enquiries take 6-7 years and cost £15 million, because the thing’s just dragged on. We’ve been unable to work – this guy did what he set out to do, which was to fuck us up for a couple of years, and now we have to attend the High Court. Joe Public has been wonderful – they crowd funded quite a bit of money to pay for the solicitors, but unfortunately in this process we each received a £50,000 writ from the High Court and I’m buggered if I know what I done wrong, but it was probably something wonderful and I’m proud to have been naughty. But we will be back, ladies and gentlemen, bigger and better than we were. I’m having my legs fitted, my nose reshaped, another wig made for me, and my skin is being completely peeled away and resurfaced with a creamy tangy orange colour.

Isn’t it ironic that the most film footage that survives of the Bonzos is from a children’s television show where you were the house band? We had to be as decent as we could, considering we’d been woken up at Paddington station at 7am from a sleeper train with a ghastly cup of British tea. We were driven to the studios in Teddington and we just about woke up by 4 o’clock in the afternoon, which was handy because that’s when we were filming. Do Not Adjust Your Trousers was a great little show and we did some good stuff on there, but it was a kid’s show watched by many adults. It was a very happy time, we would have just one rehearsal, one read through, with the pre-Pythons, but as I say we were generally pretty knackered because we were working so hard. Once those lights come on, the cameras start rolling, the exposure, yes: we started getting recognised, students touching our clothes and asking about my trousers and things like that. Frankie Vaughan, Mr Showbiz – we kept bumping into him everywhere we went, like at a little tiny airport or railway station; maybe he was stalking us. He’d say, Hi guys, I would say, Hi Frankie, and we never


met the bloke and I’m sure he didn’t know who the hell we were, but it was so funny – there’s Frankie Vaughan, what’s he doing here again?

we’re off, we’re working with the Beatles. And Paul produced Urban Spaceman after the Magical Mystery Tour. Paul was knocking around the scene, the strip scene at Raymond’s Revue bar, and I think he was with his brother Mike McCartney. The Bonzos had done some work with The Scaffold and we’d been involved in the Liverpool scene, and we were all chums and so Mike very kindly put our name forward, and that is how we got dear Paul to work his magic on Spaceman.

The Bonzos are part of the universe of the Beatles and Pythons... We were very much interlinked with chewing gum and Sellotape. My dear pal George Harrison issued a lovely quote saying what should’ve happened was that the Bonzos, the Beatles, the Rutles, the Pythons and I think there was another band as well, should have formed one together and had a mad life, a ridiculous band that toured the world being naughty. How we all met was we’d been doing cabaret up North and our roadie came running in one afternoon saying, you’re not gonna believe this, guys – the Beatles want you in their movie! And we didn’t believe it. And so we said, sorry folks,

“Five years, three managers and no holidays”, according to Neil Innes? It was a fabulous time to be around, everything was changing, the architecture, the hairstyles, the make-up, the clothes – yet every night Vivian and I would spend three hours getting dressed into these wonderful old three-piece suits and spats


and cuffs and collars and little silver matchboxes with cheroots – tender thin cigars, and I thought, how marvellous. Viv and I were going to see Elvis movies in the afternoon and at night we were getting into all this gear and picking up all these old instruments, blowing the dust off them, doing these wonderful 1930s songs. We were all at art school and we didn’t want to go further than that and do these nights in a London pub, just blowing out all the energy – there was a pub in Catford called the Tiger’s Head. We didn’t really give a fug about the audience, we just wanted to blow these instruments and play them as badly as we could, and that was pretty bad, believe you me. The manager looked in and said, “Hello boys, I can make you rich and famous...” and then the cabaret thing started in the North of England, working men’s clubs, and so that was another world and we thought this is quite fun, all this, and we just didn’t go home.

were a bit down, thinking, although the shows are great, audiences loved us and we blew most people offstage, and we were appearing quite extensively on the east coast but it wasn’t really happening. And Roger suddenly finds out through this ridiculous agent that his wife had a miscarriage three days earlier, and was so furious with the agency that he said, I don’t give a shit anymore. We had a nationwide TV show planned that some friend fixed up, really important to do this, and they all said, I’m going home, even Viv just slunk off home. It was the beginning of the end of the Bonzos. I refused to go home because Keith Moon was arriving the following week with The Who, so I stayed on and hung around with them. They were there doing Tommy, playing it fresh at the Fillmore East every night and it was mind blowing. So all the rest of the band went home and I didn’t.

You were also a drinking pal of Keith Moon? Keith Moon and I went to The Mousetrap, which is this beloved play that Agatha Christie wrote. The damn thing is still running. We managed to sit through the first act, which was appalling, and we fucked off out to the bar, large brandies please. We said, “Look we’ve had a message, we’ve got to go, we can’t see the rest of the play: who was the guilty person?” And the barmaid says, I can’t tell you that. And then we saw the manager and said, “Look we’ve been called away, it’s terrible, just tell us who it is”. Nobody would tell us. So we wandered around the auditorium and there was a friendly commissionaire, and Keith gave him a crinkly fiver, which in today’s money is £48 million, and the bloke said, you know the inspector... So they all took their seats, just about to enjoy the second act, and we turned to the audience and went, “It was the inspector”, which was the most awful thing to do to a group of theatregoers, but they pretended not to hear this of course. It inspired me to write a play called The Brown Affair, which is Keith’s title, and I wrote it in Brighton in about three months and it’s like The Mousetrap on acid.

“I was pretty drunk for most the 80s and 90s, just preferring to spend my time in bars, having a wonderful time, doing absolutely nothing except drinking” Viv went downhill pretty quickly. He was having a few problems then, addicted to Valium and alcohol, which is a pretty sickly mix. He turned up at a rehearsal once at the Lyceum and we knew the poor chap was ill – not just hungover but seriously deranged, and I think we agreed to do one show which I still have the poster for – somewhere romantic like Leicester. But it was a hell of show, amazing if I recall. But there was no point in going on. It’s the travelling that kills you, as everybody will say. The Bonzos were always a bit second division. As soon as I worked with Elton John and Eric Clapton and experienced what it is like to be a rock ‘n’ roll star, travelling first-class, your own jets, your own underwear, it’s magically different, and the Bonzos never really achieved that. I felt in America they couldn’t quite work us out, who the hell we were. And we didn’t even know who we were anyway.

How did it originally end with the Bonzos? We were all broken by the second tour of America because we’d be appearing in Chicago but there’d be a wonderful display in a record store in Detroit and there was no-one there, no agency backing at all, no cohesion between the tours, so all the guys


Photo © Lee Atherton

makes those cakes. We did quite a bit of influencing without getting any credit for it. Boris Johnson is a fan – I was doing some sort of celebrity nonsense in Henley town hall when he was the MP then, and I went over to introduce myself: “Hi, I am Legs Larry Smith” and he said “Ah yes, the intro and outro”. Maybe it wasn’t quite mad enough for him, or maybe interesting in all the wrong ways. n

Is Vivian Stanshall a national treasure? Yes, absolutely. He still owes me five cigarettes, the bastard. It’s difficult to look back on Viv because when you’re so close with someone you don’t necessarily know what’s happening – we roomed together for about a year, had some crazy times, but you don’t sort of think, my God, Vivian, you’re a genius. He might have thought I was a genius, perhaps, but the work he’s done is quite remarkable, the work he’s left, the lyrics, maybe not the melodies. But the lyrics are quite something.

Footage from this interview is available on

You also went on tour with Eric Clapton a few years later? I saw a documentary recently and he’s walking on stage with a glass of wine in his hand and he is obviously off his head, blowing bubbles, and I’ve just done my tap dance because I used to come out with a giant plastic guitar making out I was doing the guitar solo, but it was Eric. It was completely bizarre, Eric was in a bad way, and I was in a bad way. I used to nick Holiday Inn towels, those white towels with a green logo, and I brought them all back to England and got somebody to make up a Holiday Inn leisurewear outfit from them, with the Holiday Inn logo running down the side of the trouser seam. We were staying in Memphis and Patty and Eric had gone to visit Elvis in Graceland and not invited me, so I put this Holiday Inn suit on and I swished across the foyer of the Holiday Inn and nobody batted an eyelid. When you stop stealing things from hotels you know it’s all over. We are now celebrating 50 years of 1969, after several years of celebrating 50 years of the 60s. Are we going to run out of things to celebrate – at what point did the past cease to be interesting? I was pretty drunk for most the 80s and 90s, just preferring to spend my time in bars, having a wonderful time, doing absolutely nothing except drinking. There’s a lot I don’t remember about the 80s and 90s, like the music, but that was a bit of a monkey on my back for a while... What is the Bonzos’ legacy? I guess five years of nonsense; yes, it’s an incredible legacy. We worked hard for five years, we did six studio albums, which is quite a lot, we managed two tours of America which went down exceedingly well; they were wonderfully well received and we did a good amount of work. We’ve influenced everybody from Tarzan to Mary Berry, who I think





e knew that not everyone in Bradford would get it”, said John Cleese. Bored of the satire boom conventions that ran through 1962-66, in between the first and second series of The Frost Report, Cleese was offered his own show by Frost, claiming that it would be late night and experimental and that it wouldn’t harm his career if it didn’t work out. Recruiting Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graham Chapman, he rounded it out with Marty Feldman, who had been a script editor on The Frost Report and whom nobody knew was a performer. “What about the way he looks?” worried Frost. The title, a reference to the dithering decisionmaking at the BBC and also the dreariest year in post war history, the show’s fifth presenter was billed

‘The lovely Aimi Macdonald’, and had been recruited by Cleese and Taylor after a scouting visit to a Mayfair Cabaret, and who links each sketch “ bubble and squeak...”, and occasionally states, “And Now For Something Completely Different”. There are earlier versions of other familiar sketches: Chapman’s One Man Wrestling, The Secret Service Chief Interview, and Feldman as Mister Pest in The Bookshop sketch, a forerunner of the parrot sketch. And of course, the endlessly covered and quoted ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch begins here, with Barry Cryer as the wine waiter, each performer contributing to the building of their absurd nostalgia of nonsensical poverty and hardship. More surviving episodes have resurfaced since the last DVD release, and others have been partially


Te l e v i s i o n

Image Courtesy of BFI

reconstructed with audio and camera script scans. The extras are naturally packed with painstaking detail of the restorations that parallel Feldman’s Sydney Lotterby nasal whine. Tim Brooke-Taylor is cuddly, and Cleese is far less grumpy than his recent rants in the press about the general state of the UK. “I’m surprised at how good it is. I was expecting bits of it to be good, with longuers, but it’s much funnier that I remember it being”. Best of all is a crackly Bernard Braden interview with Feldman from the former’s aborted ‘Now And Then’ series, where Feldman talks about Lenny

Bruce, violence and assassination and race riots in America, and how Ronnie Scott’s jazz is taking itself too seriously – the sort of intelligent, socioanthropological interview that is no longer allowed here anymore, a lament that Cleese himself would probably agree with. Lasting for two series in 1967, Feldman and Tim Brooke-Taylor went to the BBC to do Marty, leaving Chapman and Cleese behind. While writing for Peter Sellers, Cleese would make sure that they would finish early on a Thursday afternoon to get home for the kids TV show Do Not Adjust Your Set. n




he completion of the Python origin story, Do Not Adjust Your Set was comprised of the other two thirds of the Pythons – Palin, Jones, Idle and, later, Gilliam. A children’s show far too good for children, it was rounded out by David Jason and Denise Coffey as the non-writer-performers. The baby Pythons all look neat and natty in their mod three-button jackets and pea-collars. It’s a ramshackle, anarchic mess, highlights including Jason’s Captain Fantastic film inserts, allowing him all manner of slapstick, gurning and pratfall, and silent movie homage. Gilliam’s animation has been cleaned up for the extras. Do Not Adjust Your Set remains of extra archival value as a visual document of the all too scant remaining performances of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, the in-house, dada-rock group fronted by Chappist national treasure Vivian Stanshall, who, when they arrived on time, would also appear in some of the sketches as extras. As they were tour-

ing the country exhaustively, the producers would ring them up on location and ask what props they needed for later that week. Legs Larry Smith would reply, “Oh, three cardboard boxes, a springboard and a petrol tanker”. Two days later the management would phone back and say, “We’ve got the cardboard boxes and the springboard, but we’re having trouble with the petrol tanker – would an oil drum do?” Performances of Urban Spaceman, Death Cab for Cutie, Beautiful Zelda and Monster Mash are all preserved on this rerelease from the BFI. Ending after two series, in May 1969, Palin, Idle and Jones had become frustrated with the limitations of children’s TV censoring the material. But by this time a seed had been planted in Cleese, and he assembled them all for a tandoori at the Light of Kashmir in Hampstead, and the rest is... awaiting another box-set release. Monty Python is 50. n


Te l e v i s i o n

Image Courtesy of BFI National Archive


ERROL FLYNN Chris Sullivan on the hellraising actor who started life as an opium smuggler in New Guinea


rrol Flynn was the most amazing man anyone might ever meet,” said his widow the late Pat Flynn over dinner with me in 2010 in Port Antonio, Jamaica, where she and Flynn lived for years. “He lived every day as his last, he was very intelligent. He thought that his job as an actor was the silliest job in the world. Sinatra, Orson, Bob Mitchum, Ava Gardner all loved Errol because he was just so much fun.” As Flynn himself once remarked, “The public has always expected me to be a playboy and a decent chap never lets his public down.” One of the 20th century’s great Devil-maycare hedonists, he lived life on the edge, flirted with disaster and had the world at his feet, then trampled all over it with hobnail boots. Errol Flynn was born in Hobarth, Tasmania on June 20th 1909. He was descended, on his mother’s side from Fletcher Christian and Edward Young, the infamous HMS Bounty mutineers, while another of his ancestors, Robert Young, was a slave trader who was eaten by cannibals. His father, Professor Theodore Flynn, came from poor Irish immigrant stock, one of whom was hanged for sheep stealing. The good professor was a biologist, an expert in the mating habits of whales, and a kindly forgetful soul. His wife, Lily Mary, was his polar opposite. She refused to breastfeed Errol so as not to ruin her breasts, thrashed him as regularly as she beat eggs and entertained a constant stream of gentlemen callers. Errol hated his mother so much that he became a kleptomaniac; deprived of

the usual clothing, birthday and Christmas gifts, he stole them. He was thus was expelled from three schools from the age of 11. He ended up in the esteemed private school Hutchens in Hobart, where he refused to wear the striped school tie and always affected a polka-dot bow tie. “Fuck ’em,” he said “I like this one!’’ After Flynn’s folks separated, Errol went to the Sydney Church England Grammar School, where he got a reputation as a formidable swimmer, boxer, footballer cricketer and masturbator. He was expelled for having sex with the school’s laundress in the coalbunker and embezzling the tennis team’s slush fund. Aged 17, six feet tall and built like a thoroughbred racehorse, he got a job as a Sydney longshoreman, basically humping bales of wool. He was promoted to an office job but, two weeks later, filched the petty cash, put it on a horse that lost and

“I played everything: old maids, old women, chauffeurs, butlers, detectives, burglars. For the sum of £3 a week … I played Othello and it was said I made the worst Othello in the history of the English stage” 144

was sacked. He started hanging out with a young racy fashionable crowd, boxed for the New South Wales Amateur Boxing Championship and ran riot, though at one point he was so poor he lived in a cave on the edge of Sydney and survived on stolen food. Flynn’s fortunes changed when he became an opium smuggler, earning him $1500 profit. He promptly spent the lot in bars and brothels. The year gold was struck in New Guinea, off he went to find his fortune. He was 19. A gravely inhospitable place, New Guinea is 100 degrees all year round with 90% humidity, plagues of blood sucking leeches, spiders as big as one’s hand, poisonous snakes and very angry crocodiles, head hunters waiting around every bush, looking for stray natives to relieve them of their heads to trade for razor blades, empty tobacco tins or a brightly hued tea towel to use as a loin cloth. For some odd reason, Errol loved New Guinea and, after first failing as a gold miner, made his money transporting native labour to and from the goldfields and somehow managed to buy some land. He devised the wheeze of bringing a few headhunters to Sydney as a sideshow, but a poisoned arrow through his hat made him think otherwise. So back he went to Oz, accompanied

only by a bag of gold, did his first modelling job for R.C. Hargom Ltd, sold his patch of land and, with the $4000 raised, bought a beaten up old yawl and named it Sirocco. Everyone agreed that here was something different about Errol. They thought he would become famous, perhaps as a sportsman, a writer or most probably a criminal, but he had other ideas. In 1932 he got wind that an Australian version of Mutiny On The Bounty was in the pipeline and that actor John Hampden was to take the role of Flynn’s ancestor Fletcher Christian. So when the thespian arrived at the railway station en route to sign his contract, Flynn arranged for his two pals, disguised as a chauffeur and a film exec, to pick him up, take him to the Universal offices where Flynn had bribed the janitor and set up office, posing as the Universal Chief Executive. Flynn offered Hampden a hotel room to rest after his long journey, and his friends escorted the unsuspecting actor to a hotel, disconnected the telephone and locked him in the room. Meanwhile Flynn, now posing as the actor, signed the contract, claiming that John Hampden was his stage name. Understandably, everyone apart from Flynn was entirely miffed and tried to pull the


Š Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

was pardoned in return for naming Nazi names. I’d hazard a guess that if Flynn had known of Koets’s activities, he’d hardly devote 60 pages of his book to his travels with the man who he says taught him to “take from this brief span the unimportance of being earnest; I leaned from him to laugh at the worst disasters.” “Errol – a Nazi sympathizer and a spy, who had affairs with men!” howls Pat Flynn. “That is nonsense conjured up by a man who wants to make money by besmirching a dead man’s name. If he was a fascist, why he did he settle in Jamaica and, much to my annoyance, spend almost all his time drinking rum with the locals?” Buster Wiles in My Days With Errol Flynn: The Autobiography of a Stuntman (1988) branded Higham’s assertions as falsehoods, an avowal verified by inspecting the FBI documents, which had been modified, rather than quoted verbatim, by Higham. It was after travelling the Far East with Koets that Flynn decided to become an actor. He arrived in London in 1934 and placed an ad in Variety offering his talents. He soon found a job with the Northampton Repertory company and, for the next 18 months, played “Everything: old maids, old women, chauffeurs, butlers, detectives, burglars. For the sum of £3 a week … I played Othello and it was said I made the worst Othello in the history of the English stage.” Nonetheless, he was spotted by Irving Asher, head of Warners in the UK, who offered him a six-month contract in Hollywood and $150 a week. On the boat over the Atlantic he met actress Lily Damita and, after bumping into her on set a few months later, started a tempestuous relationship which, after much throwing of bottles, threats of suicide and hysterics, transmogrified into marriage. In 1935 Warners gave Flynn the lead in Captain Blood, costarring Olivia de Havilland. Within days of Flynn bounding onto the screen in 1935, rapier glinting, long locks flowing, he seduced the planet. Every woman in the English-speaking world wanted to have sex with him and very man wanted to be him. Captain Blood director Michael Curtiz would direct Flynn for the next five years in a string of massive box office hits, culminating with They Died with Their Boots On (1941). Flynn performed his own stunts with such élan that studio head Jack Warner called him ‘the duelling Fred Astaire.’ This gentleman reprobate was Hollywood’s most debonair, irresponsible, ardent Don Juan, both off screen and on, his antics enjoyed by everyone. And all the time he was

deal but, as Flynn’s lawyers Campbell, Campbell and Campbell insisted, ‘a contract is a contract is a contract!’ The movie was a box office failure. Many of these tales appear in Flynn’s riveting autobiography, My Wicked Wicked Ways, published posthumously in 1960 and a bestseller. As Newsweek described it: “The confessions of a rake unsparing of himself or anyone else.” Undeniably, it’s not at all politically correct or in any way repentant. He talks in detail of the blags and the scams, the hunger, the awful jobs, the deception, the brawls, boozing, the drugs, the ex wives and the perilously young girls. How verifiable the book is up for discussion but it really doesn’t matter, because, as all of Flynn’s Hollywood friends have declared, he was the most wonderful raconteur whose tales, if not 100% faithful to the truth, could have and should have been authentic. His main accuser of porkies is his unofficial scurrilous biographer Charles Higham, who wrote in Errol Flynn – The Untold Story (1980) “But even Hollywood, inured to Errol’s wicked ways, would have ben shocked to hear of his Nazi spying activities.” He constructs this rather complex scenario that indicts Flynn purely because of his association with his opiate addicted travelling companion, Austrian Dr. Gerrit H. Koets. The Viennese authorities claimed he spied for the Germans and Stalin, stood trial for treason and

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married to Lilli Damita, who was so demanding and jealous that in 1937 Flynn took off to Spain in the middle of its Civil War. “I had a lot of sympathy with the Republican government, but I could have gone to either side just to get away.” He arrived with Koets in Madrid at the beginning of April 1937, right in the middle of the war. Flynn was knocked cold. ERROL FLYNN KILLED IN SPAIN cried headlines all over the globe. He survived, visited hospital, hung out with war correspondents, saw the decapitated, the disemboweled, the dying and the dead and returned to see his latest picture, The Adventures of Robin Hood, hit pay dirt. It was a sobering experience. Meanwhile, Damita moved out and David Niven moved in and then they both moved to a new house on 601 North Linden Drive which Niven quickly named ‘Cirrhosis-by-the-Sea’. In his memoir Bring On The Empty Horses, Niven bolstered the Flynn reputation by describing how Errol and John Huston would bare-knuckle box at dreary gatherings to pass the time. Their parties at their Mulholland Farm home were infamous and featured “live dance bands, nude divers, fencing exhibitions, and plenty of girls”. Guests included Dolores del Rio, Lupe Vélez, Ida Lupino, Dorothy Lamour and Hedy Lamarr, amidst tales of two-way mirrors and secretly filmed orgies. Hollywood biographies claim the only star Errol didn’t sleep with was Cheetah. Then, at the height of his worldwide fame in 1942, two 17-year-olds, Peggy Satterlee and Betty Hansen, accused Flynn of Statutory Rape, which convicts any man for having sex with a minor under 18, whether consensual or not. Flynn’s proclivities were renowned but, according to Kenneth Anger, there also were suggestions that charges had been brought because Warner Brothers were not handing the incredibly corrupt LAPD enough kickbacks. Whatever the case, the trial quickly became a media circus, its every sordid detail splashed across front pages all over the world. Flynn was arrested in October. On January 15th, 1943, cross-examination of Hansen demonstrated that her testimony was muddled, confused and that she was currently awaiting legal action on a possible felony charge with her boyfriend. Despite both girls taking to the dock in pigtails and bobby socks, Flynn was acquitted. Nevertheless, by the time the trial was over, the newspapers had done such a fine job of besmirching the Tasmanian Devil’s reputation the world over, that everyone was ready to believe almost anything. His career took an immediate dramatic nosedive.

“He was tarnished by that court case and neither he nor his career ever recovered,” proclaimed his widow. “He was cast out and knew he’d been set up and was, by his own doing, an easy target. But women adored him, so why would he rape anyone? He could have had a different woman every morning, afternoon, night and evening – he was hounded by them. He was such a hellraiser people believed him capable of almost anything.” Flynn, who once remarked that alcohol is “One of the slowest though most certain forms of suicide”, decided that the answer was to drink more vodka and develop an opiate and cocaine habit. As both destroyed his career and his looks, he slipped off the radar. Soon he was relegated to forgettable westerns, lacklustre costume dramas and unconvincing cheap noir. His last film of any worth at all is The Sun Also Rises, an adaptation of the Hemingway novel, which sees Flynn at fourth billing playing a drunken, cynical American expat lost in 1920s Spain. I don’t think he had to act too much. Shortly after he completed his memoir, Flynn, while in Vancouver on 14th October 1959, suddenly winced and complained of a sharp pain in his back, then promptly died of a heart attack – his fourth. He was 50. Reportedly his last words were “I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.” n



NEW WORLD CIGARS Sophia Coningsby meets the UK’s foremost importer of New World cigars, to find out how they compare to the tried and trusted Cuban cigar


“I have been smoking cigars for 20 years. I smoke every day and have smoked a great variety of cigars. Because I inhale and have a lot of experience I think I am a good judge of flavour and palatability”

nly a cad smokes a cigar with the band on,” said my grandma (or someone else who knew what was ‘right’ as well as she did). It is a glorious piece of inverted snobbery. You see, a gentleman shuns any sort of showiness or ostentation, whereas a cad loves the chance to show off and impress. There is a great deal of snobbery in the cigar world, but one of the greatest is that of always choosing a Cuban over a new world cigar, or even being in denial that nonCuban cigars are fit for consumption. So, what is a ‘new world cigar’? It is basically any non-Cuban cigar, whether that is Honduran, Nicaraguan, Dominican Republican or Mexican. We in the UK have always been the cigar-smoking giants, but that was Cuban cigars. Cigars fit into our history and culture rather like morris dancing and fox hunting (and all are subjects of contention). We produced the greatest cigar poster boy of all time, Winston Churchill! But we are still rather timid and suspicious of the non-Cubans. However, we shouldn’t be. That’s not to say that there aren’t some appalling new world cigars (flavour infused abominations, for example). But there are plenty of others that are truly splendid, and if I told you my top five favourite cigars, at least one would be non-Cuban. To talk over the topic of new world cigars,

I invited Scott Vines (the number one importer of new world cigars into Britain) to my Devon cottage. I asked Scott what he thought about the band/non band dilemma. “Well, they say that Cuban miners kept the bands on because it kept the cigars clean from their hands,” he says. That’s interesting of course but it doesn’t answer my gentleman/cad poser, because gentlemen don’t mine. The bands of new world cigars are sometimes a lot ‘jazzier’ than Cubans, which are often a lot more elegant. The cigars themselves can sometimes be quite outrageous looking and quite excitingly huge. So as a person of taste and elegance, you may be tempted to judge them as gewgaws or something not to be taken seriously,


world cigars over here in the last ten or so years. Before that time cigars used to be referred to as either ‘Cuban’ or ‘cheap’. Sophia: I remember buying my first new world cigar, it was an Alec Bradley ‘black market’. There’s not much difference in the price now, though, is there? Scott: New world cigars are about 70% the price of Cubans. Sophia: Do you notice a difference in your clientele compared to Cuban cigar smokers? Because they are seen as different beasts aren’t they? I’ve spoken to people who say they don’t like new world cigars, but they’ve never even tried one. Scott: We’re told by our suppliers that our audience is generally a younger one, 20s, 30s, 40s. Sophia: So that’s going to be an audience uneducated by a Cuban palate, who’ll maybe stumble across new world cigars first of all, I suppose. There are different types of cigar smokers too aren’t there? The ones who (like me smoke) every day... Scott: Yes, and the others who just smoke Fridays and Saturdays. The days of Britain being the biggest cigar-smoking nation in Europe have long gone. We’re about number seven or eight now. There are so few places that people can smoke indoors (although there are lots of hotels and shops investing in cigar lounges now) and Britain doesn’t have the climate for smoking big cigars outside. I’ve realised, doing this job, how cigars are weather dependent too. We sell a lot more cigars when the weather is hot and dry.

and indeed Scott thinks that those outlandish ones give new world cigars a bad name. I have been smoking cigars for 20 years. I smoke every day and have smoked a great variety of cigars. Because I inhale and have a lot of experience I think I am a good judge of flavour and palatability. And Scott knows what sells over here (and what doesn’t); he sees the audience he’s selling to, he gets all the feedback too, so I think you can safely take your tutorship (if you need it) from us.

I showed Scott a huge cigar (a ‘Lunatic’) that I bought in Texas (he was quite horrified). “That will take you about four hours to smoke, Sophia”. That cigar cost me $9 in Texas, “But,” says Scott, “that would retail at about £45-50 in the UK, because our cigars are costed on weight, which is why we don’t have the huge cigars over here that they do in the States”. We left my tiny cottage and moved on to Scott’s big, bonded, cigar warehouse. “This is like a sweetie shop for you, isn’t it Sophia?” he said as my

Scott: When I bought this cigar business (Tor Imports) the share of Cuban cigars compared to new world was 95% to 5%. Now it’s more like 65% to 35%. Sophia: Blimey, you’ve done well. Is that over the whole of the UK? Scott: Well, there are places like London which will still be predominantly Cuban, but then there’ll be other cities where we’ll do better. It’s a slow business; we’ve only been able properly to get new



eyes darted about excitedly and hungrily. Among the aisles upon aisles of cigars, Drew Estate takes up a lot of shelf space, being the giants of the New World cigar business. They have the second or third biggest cigar factory in the world, rolling about 160,000 cigars a day. (The legal UK market is just over 2,000,000 cigars a year, including Cuban and non-Cuban). Drew Estate produces too many brands of cigars to mention them all, but I expect you’ve heard of Acid, Undercrown, Liga Privada or Kentucky Fire Cured. Alec Bradley is another big one and a favourite of mine. But there’s also Padron, My Father, Oliva, Joya de Nicaragua, La Flor Dominicana, Charatan, Balmoral, Caldwell, Camacho… (incidentally, Charatan is Scott’s best selling cigar and it happens to be his own brand too).

being the oldest brand of cigar). Nicaragua has been making cigars since 1968 (Joya de Nicaragua being the oldest). Padron of course used to be Cuban. And there are cigar dynasties in the new world too; take Christian Luis Eiroa (of C.L.E cigars) of Cuban origin. His father started Camacho, then sold Camacho to Davidoff, but seeing as cigars was all he knew, he started all over again with C.L.E). Sophia: What should we look out for today, Scott? Scott: Casa Turrent, Mexican cigars. Sophia: What cigar would you recommend for a quick half-hour lunch break? Scott: There’s the Alec Bradley ‘Black Market’, it’s a 4x42; that’s about half an hour’s smoke. Sophia: What’s your favourite cigar? Scott: My all time favourite is Joya de Nicaragua ‘Cuatro Cinco 45’.

Sophia: My all time favourite new world cigar is Kentucky Fire Cured ‘Swamp Thing’, why don’t you have those, Scott? Scott: Because it doesn’t sell over here, it’s the green wrapper, it’s just not popular.

So, I would say, open your arms and your mouths and embrace new world cigars, because they’re not the new kids on the block anymore; they’ve been kicking around for a long time now (Oh, and do remember that smoking cigars is really bad for you). Next time I’ll tell you about my favourite Cubans! PS Some people say that gentlemen kept the bands on cigars because it stopped their white gloves getting marked by the tobacco. But I don’t believe that either: if your gloves get dirty, just throw them away. And remember: only a cad smokes a cigar with the band on. n

I find that very odd indeed, because it’s an absolutely glorious cigar. If you’re a city dweller it may not appeal to you, but if you’re a country person (like me) you’ll love it. Close your eyes and you’ll imagine you’re on top of stacked hay watching the cows coming in for the evening milking, or swishing out the parlour with FAM. Rustic, earthy, natural and sensuous. The rich taste of the ‘Swamp Thing’ comes from the green candela wrapper, made before the tobacco plant has fully matured. The leaves are harvested and dried quickly to lock in the plant’s natural chlorophyll content and fresh taste. The Americans first started making their own cigars when they could no longer get Cubans. At first that expertise was lacking, and most of their cigars were green and must have tasted considerably different to the Cubans (although Cuba was the first to make green cigars in the 1940s). Obviously, over the decades, a greater knowledge and understanding has been acquired and there is no difference in the way that the cigars are made, but the tobacco is different. And really, Cuba being a smallish island is never going to be able to produce enough tobacco for the world. New world cigars are new! But not as new as you might think. The Dominican Republic has been making cigars since 1903 and grows the second largest bank of cigar tobacco (La Aurora


The Chap Dines

THE BINGHAM, RICHMOND Reviewed by Gustav Temple and Alexander Larman


n Stephen Daldry’s so-so 2002 film The Hours, there is one cherishable unintentional laugh, courtesy of Nicole Kidman’s Virginia Woolf. Pressed by her husband Leonard (Stephen Dillane) to return to their well-appointed South-West London des-res, Woolf says, with icy hauteur, ‘If it’s a choice between Richmond and death, I choose death.’ This seems A Bit Rich, and thus it was that Gustav and Alexander, the two desperadoes, arrived in Richmond one evening in late September, in a state of near-exhaustion and ready for some hearty dining. We liked this particular borough a great deal more than Mrs. Woolf. Perhaps we should have stuck to the books. Our own attempt to soak up some high culture, at the theatre for the final run of The Night of the Iguana, had been aborted during the interval. The sight of Clive Owen and Anna Gunn lasciviously sinking coco-rum after coco-rum on stage had worked up quite a thirst. Our theatrically induced thirsts were ably quenched immediately upon arrival at the Bingham, a smart little restaurant overlooking the outer reaches

of the Thames. We were suddenly transported from the sweaty Mexican set of Iguana to the trickling barges and gently melting late-summer sun on the more salubrious riverside park, where Angelina Jolie used to parade her numerous children, according to Alex, ever the fount of celebrity gossip. We take our pews outside, and congratulate each other on our excellent taste. Gustav’s choice of cocktail, as a pick-me-up, was the Bingham’s take on a Bloody Mary, with just the right amount of spice and lemon to provide a suitably invigorating current into the bones. Alex chose a lavender-infused gin concoction, which, though a tad effeminate, nevertheless refreshed the palette, accompanied by some particularly agreeable salted, creamy butter with the bread. There is some light banter about whether we might be a pair of star-crossed bachelors, or a couple of well-heeled friends on a peculiarly sybaritic walking holiday We were attended to by a fleet of elegant staff, headed by the gloriously moustachioed Ricardo. Compliments were exchanged respectively on hair and head furniture, before Ricardo handed us over


“Virginia Woolf may have turned her considerable nose up at Richmond, but it remains a distinct possibility that, had she managed to visit the Bingham, she would have felt entirely differently about this particular idyllic corner”

to the genial and attentive Michaela, whose excellent knowledge of wine was modestly, though pointedly, provided. She selected, based on our rather fussy requirements (red meat, white meat, an intolerance to sulphates etc) a very fruity and gentle Beaujolais. And then we began on the menu proper. The Bingham has a sensible policy of offering two courses for £37, a very reasonable price for chef Andy Cole’s excellent cuisine. Starters of pork terrine (for Alex) and crab risotto (for Gustav) are dispatched very quickly, washed down with what we must now call ‘Michaela’s Beaujolais’. And then it’s time to move onto the main delight, the pièce de la resistance itself, the aged beef fillet and the guinea fowl. Separately, not together; fowl and flesh are often conjoined by men who don’t know what they are doing, but chef Cole has a firm hand on this particular tiller, and both of us make the appropriate noises of admiration and delight. The beef is particularly good; served with a smidgen of marrow, it has a richness and texture that is miles ahead of the usual indifferently presented lump of protein. Unfortunately, due to a subsequent engagement, we were unable to sample the Bingham’s tantalising-sounding puddings, including

lemon posset, gooseberry tart and banoffee cheesecake. However, the portions had been more than adequate and we left, not with a trace of hunger, but a desire to revisit one day and sample the delights of the dessert menu. As we bade a fond farewell, with Gustav doffing his hat to Ricardo and Michaela and Alex saluting, we thought that we had been privileged. Virginia Woolf may have turned her considerable nose up at Richmond, but it remains a distinct possibility that, had she managed to visit the Bingham, she would have felt entirely differently about this particular idyllic corner. n


Hor nets

Men’s Vintage Classic British & Designer CLOTHING SHOES ACCESSORIES HATS Three shops in the heart of Kensington near the Palace 2/4 Kensington Church Walk, London W8 4NB 0207 937 2627 hornetskensington

This edition, antique foragers Minns and Gosbee train their sights on militaria, that often confusing category of antiquities where there are as many pups to be sold as bargains to be had


ver the last decade or so, certain sections of the antique and collectors market have ceased to be as popular as they once were, having generally fallen out of fashion. For example, some types of ceramics and pottery, glass and silver-plate, and also heavy pieces of dark furniture which won’t fit into smaller, modern homes, are no longer in vogue. However, over the same period of decline, the market for militaria has risen exponentially, being accessible and mostly affordable to all. Depending on the depth of your pocket, one can purchase anything from a badge that once belonged on a WW11 forage cap for a few pence, to a fully functioning Spitfire that once flew in the Battle of Britain, priced in the millions. We paid a visit to Dee of Source Military in Brighton, to find out where one should start on the road to Tipperary that is collecting military antiques. Our first question, of course, was ‘F’

for Fake? In a flourishing market, when demand outweighs supply and where a vacuum has been created, there will always be unscrupulous people who will want to fill the void and sell you something purporting to be the real thing, when it is not. Anything made of metal can be treated so that it acquires the sort of patina it would have gained on a real battlefield. Simply burning a military helmet, then leaving it out in the rain for a few weeks, will quickly give it a genuine-looking patina of rust, and that’s before the unscrupulous dealer gets to work with his bottles of vinegar and bleach, both of which speed up the rusting process. Then, says Dee, there are the part-fakes – original items that have been tampered with to make them look convincing. He showed us a WWII German helmet (Fig 1, overleaf) that, though the protective headpiece itself was original, someone had resprayed it with camo colours and added brand-new (and therefore fake) insignia.

Dee showed us a genuine German helmet (Fig 2), dug out of the ground from the Russian front and showing the unmistakable signs that Fritz had ‘bought it’ from machine gun fire. To some collectors, the battle scars give this item an air of authenticity that the cleaned-up counterpart never can. The original dog tag, found alongside the rusty helmet, was further evidence that this was a genuine wartime artefact. Dee then gave us a few tips on discerning the difference between genuine and fake military antiques.

Fig. 1

1 S  tudy the subject matter before you buy anything;

do your research, so that you have a clear image of what you are looking for.

2 G  et to know and befriend a professional dealer or

collector to buy from. You may end up paying a bit more for your purchase initially, but in the long run, it will be worth it.

3 I f buying on the open market, be guided by the

price: the rusty helmet pictured, if in perfect condition, would be valued somewhere in the region of £8,000. The tampered-with version was priced at around £350.

Fig. 2

4 J  oin Militaria

collectors’ groups, where you will find a considerable wealth of shared knowledge and experience. Members of these groups can become your personal tutors and mentors.

FIREARMS Purchasing firearms is understandably wrapped up in complicated legal structures. Obviously one simply cannot purchase a live weapon of any kind in the UK, but even deactivated weaponry is subject to stringent restrictions. From 2nd May 2017, the Police and Crime Act 2017 prohibits the sale, loan or transfer of any firearm that has not been deactivated to the current Home Office Technical standard. Any weapon deactivated to prior standards can be kept, as long as you have the relevant certificate, but you cannot sell, swap or even bequeath pre-2016 deactivated firearms.

THREE MACHINE GUNS FROM THE WW2 CAMPAIGN THE THOMPSON SUB-MACHINE GUN 1922 MODEL Calibre: .45 Firing range: 164 yards Rate of fire: 600-725 rpm Weight: 10.8lb The iconic Thompson sub-machine gun, beloved of the American gangster and soldier alike, affectionately known as the ‘Chicago Typewriter’, ‘Trench Broom’, or ‘Tommy Gun ’, was designed by General. J. Thompson in 1918. This stunning and efficient weapon was manufactured by the prestigious Colt Firearms Company and was noted for its rugged reliability. However, it had one drawback; it was expensive to make and consequently this was reflected in its sale price, making the guns difficult to sell on. Fortunately for the company, though not for anyone else, WW2 started and the British Government ordered them in their thousands, at around $200 a piece, paying for them in hard currency; to be precise, in gold bullion. On 4th of June 1940 at Dunkirk, the BEF (British Expeditionary Force), which had decided to leave the party early, left all of its Thompsons behind as a ‘goodwill’ gesture to the Germans, which, on reflection, was a bit of a tactical error, as it left us in a bit of a pickle. However, help was at hand: see overleaf. General John T. Thompson poses with his submachine gun, May 1922

THE MK 2 STEN GUN Calibre: 9mm Firing range: 110 yards Rate of fire: 500-600 rpm Weight: 7.1lb The British desperately needed another machine gun that could be produced quickly and cheaply. Major V Shepard and Harold J Turpin came to the rescue and cobbled together the MK 2 Sten Gun, with a few ideas purloined from the German WW1 MP18 and the use of a few basic parts. This included using a spring obtained from a local bedstead manufacturer. It was made extremely quickly, taking just five and a half hours to make from start to finish, and costing a staggering fifteen times less than the Thompson. By August 1941, the Sten was in production and two and a half million of them were made by the end of the War. They were generally received well by the troops, being lightweight and easy to take apart and service, although, they did have a tendency to discharge if dropped. The name STEN is an acronym using the S from Shepard, the T from Terpin and the EN from Enfield.

MASCHINEN PISTOLE MP38 Calibre: 9mm Firing range218 yards Rate of fire 500rpm Weight 9.13lb This work of mechanical art was often known as the ‘Schmeisser ’, referring to Hugo Schmeisser who had worked on the earlier Maschinen pistole, MP 18, from WW1. Although he had nothing to do with the design and production of the MP 38, however, the name stuck. More time-consuming and complex to take apart than the Sten, it did have one notable advantage over the Sten in that it had an enclosed recoil spring, and was therefore less prone to getting dirt, dust and above all, sand inside, which prohibited firing. Overall it was a more reliable weapon for desert terrain; consequently, it was the choice of machine gun not only for Rommel’s Africa Corp, but also for our own SAS and long-range desert groups. Quite right and fitting that we should reclaim something back from the Germans, after the Thompsons we left behind at Dunkirk.


TRENCH ART Trench art is a collective term mostly used to describe objects made by soldiers on active service, predominantly during WW1. Made by wounded and recuperating troops, noncombatants and indigenous artisans, many of these objects were designed to be purely functional, but others were decorative and often hugely sentimental and poignant. Most were made from the by-products of war, using materials that were readily at hand, such as spent bullet casings, mortar and cannon shells, wood, leather, and animal bone, which was often carved and is referred to as ‘scrimshaw’.

This heavily rusted object found much use during WWII, but what precisely is it?

One lucky sender of the correct answer receives a pair of Fox Cufflinks made by Peter Gosbee.

Send your answers to

Special thanks to Dee at SOURCE MILITARY 29 Gloucester Rd, Brighton BN1 4AQ







By Xeno



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Solutions to crossword Issue 101 Chap Autumn 19 S T A T U E I S P F L A U T I T N C G A P E M N O F F I C I I T P R E P A Y S R S T R E S S W M T R A R I T Y V S E D E P E R S


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