Fashion Architecture Travel Ideas Sport Design
ÂŁFree Issue Three March 2011 www.umbrellamagazine.co.uk
Umbrella Manifesto t’s now just over a year since we began work on Umbrella. We realised that the mainstream men’s magazine market didn’t cater for us or the smart, savvy blokes we knew. We were neither fey fashion victims or unthinking ‘lads’, yet there was nothing out there that we could relate to in any way. What the success of Umbrella has proved is that there are thousands of men who love technology, design, food, transport, travel and history in equal measure. The blogosphere proves this, yet, as far as we can see we’re the only magazine that’s taken its lessons on board. That suits us. So, over the next year, we’ll be expanding what we do, taking Umbrella into new realms and hopefully launching one or two new projects to keep things fresh. Our goal is to entertain, educate and inspire our readers. We make no apology for this. We’re grown-ups. And Umbrella is a grown-up magazine. Enjoy it. Anthony Teasdale and Matt Reynolds, London, March 2011
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Issue three contents 9 Editions
10 Graphic designs Copenhagen’s BIG architects go comic strip 12 News Internet riot manuals in the Middle East, Venice Biennale report, The Hague’s new quarter, how to buy cheap – but good – art 16 Noisy parkas London’s Bar Italia Scooter Club 18 Why the internet shows us the worst of human behaviour by Anthony Teasdale 19 An opinion on opinion by Alex Hawley 20 Q&A: The Last Samurai 21 The simple pleasures of… lamb cutlets 22 How to cook the perfect zarzuela 24 Cocktails 26 Our favourite things The Technics SL1200
29 Field trip
30 City of death, city of myth The truth about Rome’s catacombs 35 Somewhere for the weekend Why we’re going to Gothenburg 36 A tale of two towers London’s Gherkin has a twin in Barcelona 38 City Report: Dubai 40 Cycling: the road to somewhere Along the Great Ocean Road in Australia 42 Cycling: rolling news 44 Showed them the way to go home A 1924 London guidebook
48 No country for old men How reggae lost out to ragga 50 Left behind A fascinating look at abandoned buildings 56 Red for life? A Cockney Red gets very annoyed at his fellow Man United fans
62 Umbrella loves Henri Lloyd smok 64 A shop for the very modem man 66 Check shirts 68 Jackets 73 Footwear and bags 78 Vintage
80 Obsessions watches
Issue three’s contributors Whether it’s a look at reggae’s internal struggles or an examination of Dubai’s infrastructure, Umbrella’s writers have it all mapped out
Nikki is a freelance journalist that likes to travel and ride a bike – preferably at the same time. In this issue he writes about his journey along Australia’s Great Ocean Road, where he discovers that it truly is better by bike. Sheer refusal to be pigeonholed in his writing career recently led him to contribute to an Olympic world records book, and as a result, he now knows a lot about synchronised swimming.
Currently residing in south London, fresh-faced Mancunian Elliott has already contributed words (and countless cups of tea) to various publications from Maxim to Mixmag, and now works for a publishing agency based in Trafalgar Square. We’re pleased to introduce him as Umbrella’s new Staff Writer. Milk, no sugar, please, Elliott.
This issue, Umbrella travels to Jamaica for author and broadcaster Colin Grant’s piece on how the more aggressive strain of reggae known as ‘dancehall’ conquered the old school as personified by Bunny Wailer. The feature is an excerpt from Colin’s brilliant – and very timely – new book, The Natural Mystics which charts the life and musical careers of reggae dons Wailer, Peter Tosh and Bob Marley.
Darren Russell is a photographer who started taking photos as a teenager of the 1980s mod scene. A snapper for the likes of Men’s Health, Zoo and Loaded, in this issue of Umbrella he looks at the riders of the Bar Italia Scooter Club, cementing his links with the mod scene that first inspired him. Fitting for a man whose work’s been exhibited at London’s legendary 100 Club.
The author of this issue’s article on the less celebrated side of Dubai, Yorkshireman Mike has resided in London for almost eight years, where, when he’s not previewing upcoming TV shows for his day job, he splits his time obsessing over the fortunes of his beloved Hull City and listening to thoroughly miserable American music. He’s long suspected the two are not mutually exclusive.
Umbrella is published by Wool Media Ltd, © 2011 Editor Anthony Teasdale (firstname.lastname@example.org) Creative Director Matt Reynolds (email@example.com) Staff Writer Elliott Lewis-George (firstname.lastname@example.org) Technological Development Mitch Crease (email@example.com) Advertising Manager Jon Clements (firstname.lastname@example.org) Fashion Editor Natalie Cornish Other contributors Pete Cashmore, Don G Cornelius, Terry Daley, Marc Gadien, Alex Hawley, Bradley Hotson, John Johnston
Having cut his teeth in nightclub promotion and music journalism, expat Mancunian Phil Morse now teaches DJing via his blog, DigitalDJTips. He manages to do this from a fishing village in southern Spain, with the help of a MacBook Pro and a fast ADSL line. Who better then to write our homage to the Technics SL1200 turntable, which is being phased out in the face of new technology.
UMB011 Contact us email@example.com
Editions Photography, ideas, technology, food, amusement
10: Copenhagen’s coolest architects go comic strip 16: Soho’s new scooter crowd 20: The truth about samurais 22: Cook the ultimate fish stew
Spinning The Technics SL1200 turntable has been a fixture in nightclubs for nearly 40 years. As the Japanese brand ceases production of the old workhorse in the face of new technology, we pay tribute to the record player that became a symbol for the 20th Century’s last great youth culture: dance music. Read more on page 26.
How architecture met the comic strip
t’s not often – alright, it’s unheard of – that the worlds of comic art and architecture collide. Yet a beautiful new book shows how these two disciplines can be merged to create something really special. That something special is Yes Is More, a graphic manifesto by the Bjarke Ingels Group (AKA BIG), an architectural practice based in Copenhagen. Their work, both fantastic and practical, is perfectly suited to the comic book form. Forget unadventurous traditional structures and pie-inthe-sky experiments fit only for Shoreditch-based aliens, BIG’s work satisfies both head and heart alike. They say: “Historically, architecture has been dominated by two opposing extremes: an avant-garde full of crazy ideas, originating from philosophy or mysticism; and the well organized corporate consultants that build predictable and boring boxes of high standard. Architecture seems entrenched: naively utopian or petrifyingly pragmatic. “We believe there is a third way between these diametric opposites: a pragmatic utopian architecture that creates socially, economically and environmentally perfect places as a practical objective. At BIG we are devoted to investing in the overlap between radical and reality. In all our actions we try to move the focus from the little details to the BIG picture.” The book is beautifully illustrated with both photography and graphical representations, alongside humourous-but-heartfelt philosophising from the group. Works like the People’s Building in Shanghai and Copenhagen’s VM Houses demonstrate a playfulness entrenched in the practicalities of the real world and human desire. Truly, it is amazing to behold. All we need now is a ‘mate’s rate’ from Mr Ingels for the yet-as-unbuilt Umbrella HQ.
Covered: Architecture, graphic art
Details This is a large planned application for Slussen in central Stockholm. The area is a traffic and rail hub for the city, but transport has completely taken over the area, making it dirty and unfriendly to those on foot. This plan puts cyclists and pedestrians at the centre of redevelopment and directs the traffic under the people. That’s what BIG’s about.
Yes is More is published by Taschen, priced £17.99. www.taschen.com
News & information A selection of the things that make the season worth living U-feed What Umbrella likes this issue… Delicious, traditional – and now safeguarded by the EU, the Cornish pasty has been given Protected Geographical Status. That means only pasties made in England’s most westerly county can get the prefix ‘Cornish’… Lovers of book design and indeed, books, should head to Dan Mogford’s blog. Here’s a man who spends his life literally judging books by their covers… Thanks to the Slow Travel Berlin blog we found the work of Berlin photographer Maren Winkler. The city’s never looked so good, though we’re still not convinced by its inhabitants’ habit of tagging absolutely everything. Just because you have a spraycan doesn’t mean you’re a painter… Travel photography gets the mystical treatment with the work of artist Corinne Vionnet, who layers hundreds of photos of the world’s main tourist spots, creating a blurred, ghostly recreation of these iconic sites… There weren’t too many cinemas in the 15th Century, but that didn’t stop Venetian engineer and future subscriber to Sight and Sound Giovanni Fontana inventing a “castle of shadows” – basically a room made of translucent illustrated parchments, lit from behind to create an illusion of movement…
Everyone’s gone to the Moon
How space is becoming a playground for the rich and well-connected
Babylon’s turning As NASA retires its fleet of Space Shuttles, the future of lunar exploration, for now at least, seems to be in the hand of private investors and companies. Most prominent of all is the Lunar X competition, which offers $20m to the first group of people who can land a robot on the Moon by 2015, with 29 organisations putting their hat in the ring. Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, said, “What I find amazing is that when we first announced this competition, we thought there might be a dozen groups talented and bold enough to compete. Instead, we have nearly 30 teams of heroic innovators showing us a new way to the Moon.” The purpose of the prize is to encourage innovation, and NASA have made it known that it will be offering multi-million dollar contracts to those groups which can provide “mission relevant data”. Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic’s plans for consumer space travel are moving forward with the construction of the company’s Spaceport in New Mexico, USA. The building, designed by Foster & Partners, “will provide a wonderful location for fledgling astronauts.” As yet, there is no confirmed date for the initial launch, but “several hundred” people have signed up for the $200,000 tickets. The Virgin passenger-astronauts, sitting in the SpaceShipTwo craft will be taken to 16km on the White Knight carrier, before the two separate and the former goes up 100km, the start of ‘real space’. Passengers will experience six minutes of weightlessness on their flight. www.xprize.org/www.virgingalactic.com
The capital of the Netherlands, The Hague, doesn’t have a great reputation thanks to a lot of soulless architecture, not enough decent places to eat and rather too many civil servants. At least one of those problems is being addressed with the rejuvenation of Babylon, a 1970s complex that defined the word ‘brutalist’. Dutch architects Meyer and Van Schooten are working on a ‘new city in a city’ around the ‘New Babylon’, with the project completed in 2012. Situated by the largest park in The Hague, New Babylon will stretch further than just a building. It will bring together state-of-the-art living, working and shopping, all under one roof. And with the Royal Library, National Archives and Department of Foreign Affairs as neighbours, those civil servants will be queuing up to live there. That’s if they’ve got any taste. www.newbabylon.nl
Covered: Architecture, space, art
Frame and fortune Occupy sell art we’re really drawn to
The Umbrella office wall isn’t short of limited edition artwork, but we’re always happy to update our collection, which is why we’re so keen on Occupy, an arts projects that’s been showcasing the work of photographers and painters since 2003. It’s just launched a new selection of limited edition prints from the likes of Mario Hugo, Greg Eason, Jonathan Zawada and Trevor Jackson that range from photographic portraiture to parent-bothering street art – plus lots of other stuff Umbrella isn’t quite clever enough to classify. With prices starting around the £50 mark, there’s no longer an excuse to make your poor old wall wear the same Ikea/Habitat print as all your friends. www.weoccupy.co.uk
News & information ARAB SPRING
Intelligent upstarts In keeping with the huge influence of online media on the recent Middle Eastern uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the internet has provided would-be revolutionaries with plenty of information on how to conduct the overthrow of a hated regime successfully. In Egypt, some canny protesters went the extra mile by producing a 26-page pamphlet called How to Protest Intelligently, stuffed full of tips on what to wear to protect yourself from the police, slogan-writing tips for banners and even instructions on how to stop a riot van with a towel (clue: stick it in the exhaust). Distributed online, then printed out and given to crowds in places like Tahir Square, it shows a maturity and clear thinking on the part of modern day activists. With a summer of strikes looking increasingly likely in the UK, thereâ€™s no doubt a British version of this already in the hands of domestic protesters. How the forces of law and order will deal with thousands of angry people fully versed in battle strategy should make interesting viewing.
Covered: Riots, politics, architecture
Bi curious Every two years, the world’s best architects show off their most groundbreaking creations at the Venice Biennale. This year, Umbrella contributor Matthew Wang joined them
Exhibits at the Biennale ranged from practical architectural models to abstract artistic concepts
Even for a person with little or no interest in the all-star lineup of architects exhibiting, the opportunity to wander around the basin surrounded by 16th Century boat houses and naval architecture is hard to resist. This year’s event boasted architects such as Studio
Words and photos: Matthew Wang
Nearly 1000 years ago in 1104, construction began on Europe’s largest industrial complex. A state-owned grouping of armouries and shipyards, the Venice Arsenal gave birth to a navy that made the city a superpower. By 1290, the Italian island was Europe’s wealthiest city, comparable to modern-day Dubai or Abu Dhabi. During the 18th Century however, the Arsenal became largely redundant as Venice’s naval power waned and La Serenissima redirected its efforts towards its inland and territorial possessions and activities. Consequently, the city began its gradual transformation into a cultural hub (and rich kids’ party town). In keeping with this transformation, in 1895 the then mayor of Venice founded the Esposizione Biennale Artistica Nazionale, now known as the Venice Biennale. Originally a festival of art, it’s since been expanded to include music, film, theatre and eventually architecture. Hence Umbrella’s visit. For the last 10 years, the architectural exhibits have inhabited not only Venice’s leafy Giardini, but also the more robust surroundings of the Arsenal, currently occupied by the Italian military, which only makes way for the public at Biennale time.
Mumbai, Caruso St John, Atelier Bow Wow, Toyo Ito, OMA, Tony Fretton and the creator of London’s Shard, Renzo Piano. Studio Mumbai’s exhibit in the Arsenal’s ropewalk was a showcase of craft and materiality. Full-size mockup models of bits of building were placed side by side with 1:1 technical drawings in an effort to show the methodology of design the practice employs. Meanwhile, Japan-based Transsolar + Tesuo Kondo Architects’ installation Cloudscapes inserted a spiralling steel ramp that wove its way around the buildings columns and up into an artificially created cloud. Atelier Bow Wow’s extensive display of models showcased their expertise in designing intelligent and intimate spatial arrangements. Outside, by the water’s edge, was an uneven slab of ‘translucent’ concrete which sounded promising but the sign next to it reading
“Please do not attempt to stand on the installation” ruined the moment a little. The Pavilions at the Giardini were equally diverse, and ranged from the very simple Serbian Seesaw Play-grow exhibit to the stereoscopic 3D visuals of Australia’s NOW and WHEN. Canada’s display Hylozoic Ground was perhaps the most experimental of the high tech displays; an artificial forest which reacted to human presence and touch by the use of microprocessors. The gradual brightening of its coloured light increasing with the application of pressure from the visitors’ hands was subtly mesmerizing. The festival continues to go from strength to strength with expansion being discussed for 2013. Interestingly, the 170,000 visitors it attracted exceeds the number that visit the Venice Carnivale. And you don’t have to wear a mask to get in. Matthew Wang is an architectural assistant at Barr Gazetas, specialists in architecture and urban design. Find out more at www.barrgazetas.com
Noisy parkas Going for a ride with London’s Bar Italia Scooter Club is a truly stylish experience n the late 1950s, a new youth movement started to coalesce around Soho, the grid of narrow of streets in London’s West End where artists and writers rubbed shoulders (and often a lot more besides) alongside women of the night and gentlemen with a taste for other gentlemen. While rock ’n’ roll ate up the pop charts, young men and women danced to the sounds of contemporary jazz, drinking coffee at late-night caffs and wearing the sharpest threads. They were, of course, the modernists – who became, via the appropriation of looks from the USA, Italy and Jamaica, the mods. Today, mods can still be found in Soho, most notably on Sunday nights at one of London’s coolest scooter clubs, to meet up, talk rides and do what mods have always done – show off. Bar Italia Scooter Club president Nicky Bubbles tells Umbrella:
“It was a natural progression through the years for those of us with a shared a taste for coffee and scooters to meet up at the bar, and in 2002, a group of sussed individuals decided to officially launch London’s only dedicated geared scooter club. We traditionally meet at Bar Italia (also known as the ‘clubhouse’) on Sunday evenings where consumption of coffee and light-hearted conversation take place, before riding out to a variety of London locations.” With shining scooters, tailored suits and more button-down collars than an Ivy League dining club, it’s just the sort of stylish gathering that we at Umbrella approve of, even if the nearest we get to owning a Vespa is lusting over Sting’s many-mirrored GS model in Quadrophenia. Visit the Facebook group: Bar Italia Scooter Club London
Covered: Mods, scooters, London
Photos: Darren Russell
The first Vespa, manufactured by Piaggio, appeared in 1946. It was designed as a cheap motorbike for Italian workers.
Why the internet mob shows the worst aspects of human behaviour opinions
By Anthony Teasdale espite the glowing, rectangular devices we spend our days staring at and the ethically farmed food we eat in gastropubs, underneath, we humans are essentially the same pitchfork-wielding rustics we were a thousand years ago. And nowhere is this more apparent than on internet forums and chat rooms. Indeed, such is the anonymity that these supposedly 21st Century places provide, they become fertile breeding grounds for one-eyed medieval gobshitery of the worst kind. From rabble-rousing toerags to I’ll-sayanything-to-be-popular no-marks whose only goal is to fit in with a load of people they’ve never met, the cyber-mob displays all the characteristics of the actual mob, though with little chance of physical retribution to temper it, its behaviour is actually worse. The success of the mob – and by that I mean the realisation of the will of a cohesive group – depends on the actions of certain individuals. Through looking at various football forums and the comments section of The Guardian – because, let’s face it, they’re all but burning people at the stake over there – these people are easily identifiable. How and when they act sets the agenda in both cyberspace and increasingly – and worryingly – the real world.
Mr Popular Through regular posting and the use of persuasive and cohesive ideas, Mr Popular is the forum’s most respected poster. Cloaking his (often extreme) views in reasonable language, he plays with the emotions of individual posters like some creepy puppetmaster from a 1970s horror flick. With his endorsement, the internet mob has legitimacy. The Agent-Provocateur Possessing the sort of thick skin that would make a rhino grab for the moisturiser, AP spends his cyber-time putting up preposterous untruths and hate-fuelled allegations, usually roundly ignored and ridiculed by The Soldiers (see later in the article). With no friends in the real world and still smarting from the time his soiled underpants were found on a school trip
‘Nothing will satisfy them bar the ruination of the individual they’ve targetted’ to the baths, AP dreams about just one of his pointless causes being taken up. When, for once, Mr Popular goes along with what he’s saying and acts as a catalyst to the mob, AP’s enemy suddenly becomes everyone else’s. Oh happy day! The Wind Vane The sort of boring, unobtrusive nonentity that makes up the majority of the population, Wind Vane is an irregular poster, happier to observe and follow those with more wit than he. Never willing to truly commit himself on any subject, WV’s occasional posts are never, ever replied to. On one hand, this makes him feel sad and irrelevant, on the other the idea that he might just write something other people don’t like
fills him with dread. When the mob is whipped up, WV observes from the sidelines, getting a vicarious thrill from both someone else’s suffering, and the fact that it’s not him who’s getting tarred and feathered. The Soldiers From Wat Tyler bringing cartloads of yokels to London to get slaughtered by Richard II to hordes of hygienically-challenged Parisians sticking Louis XVI on Madame Guillotine’s bloody chopping board, the mob is only realised when the masses join it. Once Mr Popular has endorsed Agent-Provocateur’s statement/observation, The Soldiers jump in like load of hoodies on a Lancashire housing estate who’ve just found out that the awkward bloke at the end of the road used to manage a kids’ football team. Nothing will satisfy them bar the ruination of the individual they have targetted. Or, failing that, a nice picture of Lucy Pinder’s ample breasts. The Dissenter While the mob relentlessly kick lumps out of their target, one person steps into the breach to point out the stupidity and sheer futility of everyone else’s behaviour – think Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men. He is always completely and utterly ignored.
Covered: Opinion, the internet
head of broccoli will help ward off a charging goose.” “Really? I’d heard it was beetroot in your pockets. Well, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.” This was more or less the conversation between two of my fellow Tesco customers last Tuesday evening. Being a prickly pedantic customer, especially when at Tesco, this annoyed me – and not just because everyone knows the correct answer is sliced carrot. Anyhow, my objection wasn’t about the correct crudités to deploy when facing water fowl. Rather, it was the last two sentences, the ridiculous claims which both parties seemed happy to finish the argument with. Last things first, agreeing to disagree is merely an inelegant way of calling a halt to an argument before things turn nasty or, heaven forbid, logical. In the interests of brevity, sanity or, more often than not, pride, too many people take the Tesco option and retreat, calling it a draw so that both parties can save face. There is something to be admired in this approach. It implies a mutual respect. The parties have seen that they disagree, made some attempt to change one another’s minds, acknowledged that this isn’t likely and allowed each other to carry on holding their respective views, despite at least one of them being wrong… and this is my objection. For some reason, misplaced pride seems to hold precedence over truth. It isn’t difficult to find instances where truth should carry the day over hubris: religious zealots keeping their children from visiting hospitals in the belief that God will cure them; persuading a friend that, despite his liquor-holding prowess, he really shouldn’t drive home or the continued belief that Bette Midler is, or ever was, talented. Thanks to pride and the belief that we should just agree to disagree, these people aren’t allowed the truth and in the above instances with possibly fatal repercussions. In sanctifying this right to be wrong, we’re denying them the chance to ever be right. Why is there a right to continue believing falsehoods? If someone still believes that
leeches cure everything from earache to the ebola virus, is it important that they retain this belief? Surely, if there’s been any point to the last few millennia, it’s been at least in part a quest for truth, not a reverence for nonsense. This settles the end of the argument: when it comes to agreeing to disagree, I disagree. Thankfully with most arguments concerning matters of fact, Monsieur Google and his wayward sidekick Wikipedia are usually close at hand to settle the matter anyway. Arguments concerning more subjective topics are another matter. According to the veggie aisle accord, we’re all entitled to an opinion. We all know this; it’s freedom of speech isn’t it? Well perhaps, but is this really as noble an ideal as we’re told? One word which should always closely accompany any discussion about opinions is ‘formed’. Was this opinion formed, or is it
‘There’s no lower form of life than the people who leave comments on YouTube’ merely held? Most people don’t really form opinions of their own; they just repeat whole something they’ve heard. At the very least we should be asked why we think what we think. To grab just one of the many claims doing the rounds at the moment, if the education system really is ‘dumbing down’ exams, do you have a comparison of examinations for the period concerned? Have you followed this up with a double blind test or are you just relying on gut instinct and something you read over someone’s shoulder on the bus? The French writer Voltaire was famously (though falsely) accredited with saying, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
Perhaps when this phrase was coined, he had a rather more rigorous debate than the aforementioned skirmish at Tesco. It would be all too easy to dismiss this ideal by belittling the subject matter in question or the fact that the debate was frequently interrupted by calls for Judy to return to checkout or Brendan to clean up the child spew in aisle five. For once, however, I won’t take the cheap shot on offer. As I’ve claimed above (but don’t have time to prove) most opinions aren’t our own anyway. Most people don’t actually have opinions of their own, but merely allow their feelings and natural prejudices to act as irresponsible babysitters for the ideas and prejudices of others. Most of us just play hot potato with other people’s thoughts: reading or hearing something, then quickly passing it on before having the chance to absorb or question it. What the right to an opinion amounts to then is the right to repeat the ideas of others. Another problem with the Voltaire maxim is that it assumes a level playing field. The right to free speech is massively overwhelmed by the ability to have that speech heard. If you have a show on Fox News your xenophobic ranting will be heard by millions, while if you own a cab you’ll be lucky to bother 20 people a day… even if the opinions are the same. We all have the right to voice an opinion, but precious few of us have the right to be heard. If only this weren’t the case. If only there were a place where everyone is allowed equal voice. Sadly such a dystopia exists – on the internet blogosphere (formerly pronounced ‘talk radio’). These people seem to believe the cyber-world is one huge franchised Cheers Bar, where everybody cares what they think. If there’s a lower form of life than the people who leave comments under YouTube clips it’s not been discovered yet. Of course they all cancel one another out anyway. One person’s argument, however strong, soon drifts off the bottom of the page, replaced with another 1,200 comments from those with enough time to comment. This is our sacred right to voice an opinion: the right to repeat someone else’s ideas to a virtual audience of virtually no one… … but that’s just my opinion.
I’m starting to get very tired of people’s opinions opinions
By Alex Hawley www.umbrellamagazine.co.uk
john man In his new book, Samurai: The Last Warrior, author John Man charts the story of Saigo Takamori, a man whose death in 1877 brought about the collapse of the Samurai legacy at the end of the 19th Century. But who really were these enigmatic warriors? And why have they had such a big influence on popular culture, from movies to comic books to video games? Umbrella finds out
0: Could anyone become a samurai? JM: No. You were born a samurai into a family that inherited samurai status and ideals. This was nothing to do with wealth: samurai might be rich and powerful or so poor they were hardly above the most poverty-stricken farm workers, but they still carried a gravitas that allowed them to lord it over the peasants. All samurais had a right to an allowance of rice that kept them from starvation. Many were officials, wedded to their office and fiercely loyal to their lords. Above all, they all had the right to carry two swords, the main symbol of their samurai status. U: It sounds like the samurai were more than just a bunch of bloodthirsty warriors. JM: Once, in the middle ages, when Japan was a mass of warring provinces, they were hardly more than thugs. After Japan unified around 1600, peace deprived them of their purpose, and they found another way to preserve their status: service to a lord, fierce pride, sensitivity to insult, and also a love of scholarship. The best of them adopted the image of warrior-scholars. Samurais led their lives according to the ethic code of bushido – strongly Confucian in principle U: What is it about the samurai that makes them such an inspiration? For example in your book, you site them as influencing Darth Vader from Star Wars. JM: Their wonderful armour, warrior ethos, incredible bravery and willingness to die for
a cause – all of this made the samurai so inspiring. Then there were their swords, the finest made in any culture, their blades diamond-hard, backed by softer steel that made them flexible. Star Wars’ Jedi Knights are transplanted samurai, but so are many movie cowboys like those in The Magnificent Seven.
JM: There was no swearing. It was an inherited code of loyalty to their own ideals, to their local lord, to the shogun (the military dictator) and to the semi-divine emperor, to whom everyone, including the shogun, was supposedly loyal. For centuries, this worked pretty well, but when the modern world intruded and Japan began to develop, it landed the samurai in impossible situations. What happened to your loyalty if your lord opposed the shogun, or the shogun opposed the emperor? The paradoxes were often so extreme that there was no escape except other than through ritual suicide.
U: How has the samurai spirit surfaced since their demise? JM: Their warrior ethos, so long suppressed and distorted by peace, came through in World War II. The kamikaze pilots were samurai in all but name, seeking death for the love of the emperor.
U: If they never really fought that much, just how many people did the samurai actually kill? JM: No-one actually knows, since they were involved in countless battles when Japanese lords were fighting each other in the centuries leading up to the country’s unification in 1600. After that, very few, though you would never guess it from the books about them. Samurais loved to speak of death, of cutting down their enemies, of dying on the battlefield, but really there were no opponents. Weirdly, they were almost just as responsible for killing themselves as others.
U: What is the biggest misconception surrounding the samurai? JM: That they took great care of themselves: that they were still great warriors at heart, although there was no-one to fight, except the occasional criminal, uppity peasant, or in a couple of notorious instances, a westerner.
U: Now you have finished Samurai, have you got any more projects in the pipeline? J: Ninja! The flip side of the samurai. The ninja – yes, they were real – were spies and assassins, operating in secret and determined to survive, exactly the opposite of the samurai. A brilliant subject!
U: Your book describes the samurai code of honour. What was this and whom did they swear allegiance to?
Samurai: The Last Warrior by John Man is published by Random House, priced £20 www.rbooks.co.uk
Interview: Elliott Lewis-George
Umbrella: Who actually were the samurai? John Man: They were a uniquely Japanese phenomenon. No other culture had that quality of death-defying bravado. And no other culture had such a readiness to undertake ritual suicide [known as seppuku] by cutting open their stomachs!
Covered: Lamb, Samurai
The simple pleasures of…
Lamb cutlets amb is the meat chefs always turn to when they’re stuck for inspiration. Beef is dismissed as too dry, chicken too dull and pork too fatty – though find us a chef who doesn’t like crackling and we’ll call you a liar. So, it’s lamb. Moist, deep in flavour and heavenly when roasted, stewed or fried, it is the meat for all seasons – not just spring. While Umbrella loves an Italian-style roasted leg of lamb, peppered with slivers of garlic, rosemary and anchovy, or a bowl of scouse, the chunks of cheap neck-end happily swimming in a thick, dark, gravy – nothing surpasses the simplicity of a lamb cutlet, roasted or grilled to perfection, dripping with meat juices. Like good pork, the balance between fat and protein is the key here. Each cutlet has a ribbon of fat down one side, a bright, white casing for the scarlet flesh within. If it’s good lamb – and happily, sheep can’t be battery-farmed so by default it’s free-range – the fat, when cooked, will add moisture and a deep savoury flavour to the gamey, sweet meat. Richard Turner, Head Chef at London’s best steak restaurant, Hawksmoor, where cutlets are served as an upmarket bar snack, explains more about their appeal. “A cutlet is a chop made up of rib and loin meat. A good one should have some fat, but not too much, and a lean eye of meat. It should be free range and come from a good breed. We cook ours on a charcoal grill until pink, rest for ten minutes and then serve with either a mint or caper sauce, or simply with a wedge of lemon.” Cutlets are great for men with little time on their hands – or more truthfully – with no inclination to dig out the Jamie Oliver and spend the next two hours producing something. Like bacon, another food that falls into the lazy-male grub camp, you don’t have to do anything to lamb cutlets. They simply go under the grill with a bit of salt and pepper, gradually spitting more and more juices as the cooking time goes by until they’re done. Make no mistake, this is not food for sharing. It is an indulgent meaty treat that cannot be dipped into or spooned onto another diner’s plate. You simply do not give away a lamb cutlet or swap it for a piece of whatever unappetising/ healthy dish your partner is now regretting they’ve chosen. No, this is food for people who know what they want. A dish to indulge in. A dish to forget your troubles with. Or, as Richard Turner says, a food “that tastes like the lambiest day in Lambsville. Times ten.” www.thehawksmoor.com
Pirzola Nowhere is the lamb cutlet more prized than Turkey, where pirzola are marinated in lemon juice and cumin before cooking.
Cook a zarzuela Pete Cashmore pays tribute to the ultimate Spanish fish stew t is perhaps the great dish in Catalan cuisine. At its finest, like all great meals, it turns the simple act of eating it into a sensual, borderline-erotic experience, and, should you be in Barcelona, even if only for a day, you should hunt it down on every menu. By now, you’re probably nodding sagely and thinking, “Ah yes. Paella.” And so you’re wrong. But if you’re one of the few people who may have thought, “Is he talking about zarzuela?” then congratulations – you’re not just correct, you’re part of what feels nowadays like a small, elite secret society. Somebody somewhere needs to offer to make a better job of zarzuela’s PR – this meal ought to be one of the world’s foremost indigenous dishes and yet it remains so unknown that you can actually enquire about it in some of the UK’s better tapas bars and be informed that they’ve never even heard of it. There are places that serve zarzuela in Britain but they’re few and far between, and only one in London, San Miguel’s on Edgware Road, nudges the transcendental, both in taste and, less fortunately, price. Of course, all of London’s Spanish restaurants serve paella, without exception… Out of the capital, Murillo’s in upmarket Marple, near Manchester delivers a near-perfect zarzuela. The restaurant’s second-generation Spanish chef Simon Soleto says, “Undoubtedly, this is one of my favourite dishes. It’s a bit similar to the French fish stew bouillabaisse, but it’s less creamy and healthier. I use eight or nine different types of seafood – things like cod and seabass go in along mussels and prawn. Then you add garlic, saffron, parsley and tomatoes. I love cooking it almost as much as I love eating it.” Zarzuela shares its name with a style of exuberant, flamboyant Spanish musical theatre some 400 years old, and like its theatrical namesake, it is a joyous, colourful celebration, a party on a plate – the literal translation is ‘variety show’ and you’ll see just how apposite this is when your bowl arrives. Go into a restaurant in Barcelona and order a pan of paella and one of zarzuela, then compare and contrast. Look how glum the paella looks, with its pernickety even distribution of ingredients, pizza-like, about the dish, and those tasteless, pointless peas. And then look at the zarzuela, with all that seafood – monkfish, huge mussels, langoustines, tuna, king prawns, squid, razor clams, crab, crayfish, cod, they’re all options – and if you’re very lucky you may get the lot, dumped haphazardly into a thick puddle of simmering tomato-tinged gravy. Which one would you rather eat? Taste them both and you’ll find out. Because, just like you’ll very rarely taste a truly great fish’n’chips or Sunday roast in Britain, these dishes being aggregated by the innate complacency of the national gastronomical institution, so you’ll struggle to find a truly magnificent paella in Barcelona – perhaps the restaurants know that they are preaching to the ignorant and that they don’t have to try too hard. Zarzuela, on the other hand, doesn’t have any laurels of reputation to rest upon, which is
why restaurants pull out all the bells and whistles to make theirs memorable – you may find your zarzuela perked up with a dash of anise, given the seal of the Catalan with finely diced Serrano ham, or lent a nutty tinge with crushed hazelnuts and almonds. The greatest zarzuela in Barcelona (in my opinion, mind) can be found at Umbrella favourite Can Culleretes, Barcelona’s oldest – and certainly most reknowned – restaurant (Carrer De La Quintana 5, between Ferran and Boqueria) where, for around €20, you’ll be presented with a huge wok-like pan overflowing with thick, rich red-brown gravy, vast langoustines, crab claws and chip-thick razor clams. The only thing to do is to make sure the staff keep the bread coming, because while there is gravy there to be dipping into, you will surely dip. Can Culleretes also serves an even more extravagant three-course seafood overload, their ‘ordeal by fish’ for €33 – resist it, please. The zarzuela is king. For the moment, though, this Catalan culinary king remains in exile. Which is why we must all spread the word, and why, if you are in Barcelona this year, you must try to suppress that paella impulse. For the record, it’s pronounced thar-thway-la, but it’s not the pronunciation of the order; it’s the order itself. Murillo’s, 48 Stockport Road, Marple Tel: 0161 427 1200 www.murillos.com
Covered: Seafood, Spain, restaurants
MURILLO’S Zarzuela de Mariscos by Simon Soleto, serves 4 1 x Bay leaf (fresh or dry) ½ Small cup of olive oil 1 x Large onion finely diced 4 x Garlic cloves finely diced 1 x Medium-sized red pepper 2oz Chopped Serrano ham 2 x Large ripe tomatoes (Skinned and de-seeded) or ¾ of a tin of chopped tomatoes ½ Teaspoon of saffron strands or 1/8 of Saffron powder 2 x Teaspoons of salt (or to taste) ½ Teaspoon of black pepper (or to taste) ½ small cup of flour 150ml Dry white wine 400ml Fish stock or water Juice of ½ Lemon 12 x Large clams (well scrubbed and rinsed) 12 x Large mussels (Again well scrubbed and rinsed, also remove all beards that are attached) 4 x Jumbo prawns (With or without shell, this is optional) 1lb Cleaned scallops 1 ½lb Squid cleaned and cut into rings 400g Cod cut into 4 large chunks 400g Halibut, coley or haddock cut into 4 large chunks. In a large cast iron pan or a flame-proof casserole dish, add olive oil. Once hot, sweat off the onions, peppers and garlic, stirring continuously for 1-3 minutes, until wilted. Then add the chopped tomatoes and a couple of drops of water and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the oil rises to the top. Remove from heat (this is now a sofrito for the base of the sauce). In a frying pan add a tablespoon of olive oil and brown the Serrano ham lightly on a medium-to-high heat. Once golden brown, remove from pan and keep to one side until later. Lightly dust the cod and other white fish with flour and lightly season with salt and pepper, then seal (in the same frying pan used for the ham) on a low-to-medium heat and cook until golden brown all over, then remove from pan. Now bring the sofrito back onto the stove. Once heated, add the fish stock or water (this is a choice of taste, water is sufficient as the fish added will bring the flavour, however for those who prefer a stronger taste, fish stock is recommended). Also at this point add the bay leaf, saffron and Serrano ham. Bring the stock to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce slightly, then add the wine and juice of a lemon, and simmer for 10 minutes. Now add the cod and white fish of choice, simmer for a further 2 minutes and add the mussels, squid and clams, and place a lid on the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Remove lid and discard any mussels and clams that haven’t opened. Now add the 4 jumbo prawns and cook until pink, then season with salt and pepper. Finally, add the scallops and place the lid back on, simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve in large bowls, garnished with lemon.
Covered: Cocktails, central Asian cooking
the umbrella bar
Hip restaurant meets Hipstamatic
Samarqand’s cocktails are enough to get anyone longing for the steppes
Samarqand, 18 Thayer Street, London, W1U 3JY 020 7935 9393 www.samarqand-restaurant.com
Moscowpolitan Samarqand says: “This is our twist on the famous Cosmopolitan, where we use blueberry-infused Snow Queen vodka, apricot marmalade, cranberry juice and fresh lime. It’s shaken with ice and served straight up.” Ingredients: 50ml Blueberry vodka 2bsp Apricot marmalade 25ml Cranberry juice 25ml Lime juice
Trans Siberian Express Samarqand says: “This is our best winter-warmer cocktail, a mixture of Sea-Buckthorn jam, Snow Queen vodka, ginger and fresh orange and lemon juices. As a garnish, we use stick of rosemary and orange chip. It can be served either over crushed ice or warm (we use a coffee machine to get it hot) in a traditional Soviet railway cup.” Ingredients: 2x Teaspoons Sea-Buckthorn berry Jam 50ml Vodka/cognac 1x Fresh branch of rosemary 75ml Fresh orange juice 10ml Lemon juice
CCR Samarqand says: “This is a warm combination of fresh chillies and raspberries, crushed together with a dash of Cacao and raspberry liqueur, plus a large shot of Snow Queen vodka. We then garnish with flakes of chilli chocolate and quarter of a red chilli.”
(L-R) Moscowpolitan, Trans Siberian Express, CCR
Ingredients: 45ml Raspberry-infused vodka ¼ Fresh chili 6 Raspberries 5ml Lime juice 10ml Sugar syrup 15ml Cacao 15ml Chambord
photography by matt reynolds, anthony teaSdale AND rachel taylor
t’s an awful long way from the refined environs of London’s Marylebone to the steppes of central Asia, but Britain has always welcomed visitors, especially those who come armed with exotic recipes for food and drink. That’s why new restaurant and bar Samarqand, in the heart of this most beguiling of central London quarters, is such a welcome addition to the capital’s dining scene. Inisde, minimalist design is combined with traditional Central Asian artifacts and motifs, while the bustling open kitchen allows diners to watch chefs prepare hand-made noodles and cook naans in the enormous clay tandoors. As well as specialising in authentic Central Asian cooking (much of it influenced by Chinese, Mongolia and Russian cuisine), Samarqand, owned by Tajikistani brothers Bek and Iska Narzi, has put together an enviable cocktail menu with an array of exotic beverages for thirsty diners to sample. Umbrella was so impressed with the restaurant’s selection that we asked Bek, a highly respected mixologist in his own right, to come up with a few favourites for Umbrella. The results, as you can see, are a sensual delight.
At Umbrella we believe the proliferation of photo apps for the iPhone means that we can put a new visual spin on some of our features. Over the next few issues we’ll adding extra pictures generated with apps like Hipstamatic.
Our favourite things…
The Technics SL-1200 turntable ertain emblematic items seem to defy the rules of supply and demand, even of class. Were a rich man to buy one, he’d buy the same as everyone else – and for the same price. I first identified this phenomenon back when the iPhone was launched. I was in a managers’ meeting with the charismatic, loud and very rich boss of a company where I worked. I’ll admit to feeling thrilled that when Mr Boss Man received an SMS, he whipped out the same attainable piece of technology that the rest of us had in our pockets (or at least, were going to have as soon as we’d been paid). I still use my first-gen iPhone daily, and despite newer models with flashier features, I think I’ll have it for the foreseeable future. It still does everything I love it for, it’s still a joy to use, and it would feel wrong to get rid of it somehow. Apparently, they’re now somewhat of a collectors’ item. But compared to the Technics turntable – the backbreakingly heavy, gun-metal record player that by lucky accident found itself at the heart of every dance scene from disco to drum ’n’ bass - even the iPhone has a long way to go. The Technics – recently discontinued by its Japanese manufacturer – was in constant production for over 30 years, and many of the millions in circulation will probably continue to be used for another 30. The ‘lucky accident’ was that three of its features – a quartz lock to ensure absolutely constant tempo, an extremely fine speed adjustment slider, and a strong, direct drive motor – made a pair of these
By Phil Morse of Digitaldjtips. com
perfect for DJs to beat-match and scratch music with. ( Just as well, because as a hi-fi turntable – the purpose for which it was intended – the Technics bombed. I wonder how long until the factory bosses realised all the orders were divisible by two?) In early UK house DJ culture, you saved for your Technics because you knew once you had them, you’d be using the same kit that you’d find in any DJ booth you ever performed in. Meanwhile, you practised on cheap, pale copies of the real thing that possessed none of the three secret ingredients. We convinced each other: “Well, if we can learn to DJ on this crap, we can learn on anything.” I finally got mine in 1994, the same year I started making a full-time living from DJing. Of course, digital DJing did for all that. On one USB drive, DJs now can carry more music than I kept in a whole room back them. With laptops, they can compose, loop, sample, transform and re-edit music on the fly. The boundaries between making and playing tunes has gone. All of this is painful indeed for DJs who learned the slow way on a pair of solid, dependable Technics SL-1210s. Technics weren’t a consumer version of something better, and at £350 each in 1990, they took time to save for. Even using them for DJing was actually one great hack, meaning they took time to master too. Incredibly, their price has actually risen substantially since then: they always seemed to be in short supply, and you knew you’d get back what you paid for yours (not that you’d ever sell them). But a few years ago, sell mine I did. Emigrating, getting married, boredom with the dance scene – all led me to that day when I fitted mine with two new dust covers (the only things that gave them away as not being brand new), before selling them at full price to an earnest young DJ friend. Nothing told me that DJing was now in my past more than watching him drive away with my Technics on his back seat. Little did I guess, then, that five years on I’d be DJing once more, this time, ahem, using a MacBook and a USB drive. I even write a blog extolling the virtues of digital DJing. But nonetheless, I very much doubt that the manufactured cool of my Apple products will ever surpass that which the Technics turntable achieved by happy accident. So RIP, Technics – surely the coolest ‘wheels of steel’ we’re ever likely to know.
Covered: DJing, turntablism
As mixing became common in the 1970s, DJs needed a pitch control they could rely on. The SL-1200 had one.
Red light spells ‘raver’
The famous red light is a strobe that, with the engraved dots on the platter, shows how fast the record’s going.
words: phil morse photos: anthony teasdale
Field trip Architecture, travel and transport
Field trip 29
30: The deathly truth about Rome’s catacombs 35: Gothenburg – style city 38: Dubai – back on track 44: London’s 1924 Tube map
picture: nigel young, foster & partners
The ‘Gherkin’ at St Mary Axe in the City of London has a twin in the shape of Barcelona’s Torre Agbar. Explore both on p36.
30 Field trip
Cities of death, cities of myth Romeâ€™s catacombs have been a subject of fascination for archaeologists, explorers and pilgrims for hundreds of years, but what is the real truth behind these subterranean cemeteries? Were they really places for persecuted Christians to bury their dead â€“ or is the truth more prosaic? In this exclusive piece, Rome-based journalist Terry Daley delves deep into the history of these deathly passages and comes up with some surprising conclusions
Covered: Rome, archaeology, religion f you open up any guide book for Italy or Rome, and flick over towards the section on catacombs, the chances are that you’ll come across the phrase ‘persecuted Christian community’ in some form or another (Umbrella’s copy of Lonely Planet Italy from 2008 and 2003’s Time Out Rome both do this). That the place where the world’s earliest adherents to the Christian faith went to bury their dead was also the place where they went to hide from vicious Roman persecution, is one of the world’s enduring myths. However, what the history of the catacombs shows us isn’t that Christians constructed burial places underground in order to hide themselves, but to participate in the same burial ritual that their pagan neighbours were already practising. In short, they were as Roman as everyone else. Despite the fact that this has been known in academic circles for the best part of four decades, the myth persists: a fact made obvious if you go on a trip to the catacombs and see the puzzled looks on the faces of Christians who have just had a central pillar of their understanding of their faith kicked out from under them. To fully understand how this myth developed, we must take a look at the rediscovery of the catacombs in the late 16th Century, as the arrival of Protestantism and its clash with the Church of Rome shaped how the sites’ first archaeologists analysed and used their findings. In Subterranean Rome, LV Rutgers details how Protestant philosophers published studies that they claimed showed that the Catholic church had adopted practices – like religious art, for instance – that had nothing to with the original Christian communities. These Protestant thinkers believed that such deviations from the original practices of Christians had corrupted the practice of their faith, and the blame for that laid squarely at the feet of Catholic doctrine. The rediscovery of the catacombs was a key weapon in Rome’s arsenal during the counterreformation, as they allowed Catholic scholars to argue – for example – that art had always been a part of the faith, and that, among other things, so had the veneration of the Virgin Mary. These scholars, and especially Antonio Bosio (1575-1629), the founding father of catacomb archaeology, looked at the evidence they found underground from a particular angle, in order to win arguments pertinent to the theological debates of the 16th Century. That angle was that you could trace the Church of Rome to the very origins of Christianity – quite a weapon to have. “The atmosphere that was characteristic of Rome in the time of the counter-reformation determined the kind of evidence scholars were willing to consider, the kind of questions they were willing to ask, and the kind of methodologies they were willing to apply,” says Rutgers. In other words, these archaeologists were interested only in looking for evidence pertaining to their branch of Christianity. Bosio’s first trip to the Domitilla catacomb in 1593 was an eventful one. Encouraged to visit by his friends, the party ran out of candles and found themselves stranded underground, surrounded by graves and without any idea of how to find their way out. Upon (miraculously) finding the entrance they came in from, Bosio promised himself that he would never take the same underground tour without the right equipment, and went on to systematically search the entire city for underground cemeteries. The results of his exhaustive research – Roma Sotterranea, which wasn’t published until 1632 after Bosio had died – became the touchstone for subsequent scholarly work surrounding the catacombs. Even today it’s useful, as Bosio rendered within it works of Christian art that have long since disappeared, and it contains full descriptions of all the catacombs discovered within his lifetime. However, it was he who, by exploring the cult of martyrs in the systematic fashion he did, laid the foundations
for the myth of the hiding place for the persecuted Christian, sheltering from Roman pagans. Going through the catacombs today a visitor can get a startling look at the way Christianity developed in its early stages. In the Fourth Century, Christians developed the idea of the martyr as a someone through which you could get a direct line to God, and crucially the best way into heaven. This is partly because of a passage in the Revelation of John that said martyrs rested “under the altar”, which was interpreted as meaning that they were with God, and therefore best placed to put in a good word for their soul. This was important because people believed that they didn’t go straight to heaven like martyrs did but rather had to wait until their bodies were cleansed and souls purified, meaning that the closer you were to a martyr, the closer you were to Paradise. As such, visitors today can identify the presence of a martyr in the vicinity in quite a simple fashion: as soon as you encounter a high density of graves there’s sure a martyr nearby, and you can be equally sure that the high number of wealthy families will be near to the retro sanctus (behind the holy ones’) graves. If the people responsible for creating the ‘persecuted Christians’ myth could be blamed for burying their heads in a theological dispute, those trying to debunk it could hardly be accused of dispassionate logic. One key scholar to cast doubt on the myth, Jacques Basnage (1653-1723), was a French Huguenot who wrote History of The Jews from Jesus Christ to The Present (1706). Ostensibly a study of the suffering of the Jewish people, Basnage was actually interested in attacking the Catholic Church, which he did with gusto, blaming it entirely for the trials and tribulations of the Jews. He did this because he thought it a handy metaphor
32 Field trip during any of the persecutions, and in fact no overt evidence of persecutions can be inferred from the catacombs.” So, what exactly is a catacomb? The word derives from Greek, and was originally used to mean ‘near the hollows’ (ad catacumbas); the hollows being the The catacombs of Rome may result of quarrying on the Via Appia Antica, near have an air of secrecy about where the catacomb of Sebastian is now. At the them, but they were never beginning of the Second Century the quarry fell out hiding places for early of use, local used them as spots to bury their dead, Christians. and as more people brought bodies here, so the former quarries were turned into underground cemeteries. Thanks to recent archaeological research, we now know that the catacombs weren’t built in the First Century, as there are no archaeological materials from this period. The earliest one dates to the late Second Century. This means that the early Christians must have buried their dead somewhere else other than the catacombs before they were constructed, as Christians would have already been in Rome for at least 100 years. And because the very earliest Christians initially used the same classical art on their graves as their pagan contemporaries it is extremely difficult to find out exactly where they were. However, as we now know that two thirds of the catacomb network was constructed after the persecutions in the west were over (from the Fourth Century onwards), we can be fairly sure that they were the work of a skilled, confident community, which was as culturally Roman as it was spiritually Christian. “Christians in Rome were mostly Romans – that means they shared cultural and societal norms and values with their non-Christian peers before and after the legalisation of cult/religious beliefs,” says Salvadori. “They were also a community with resources and well organized – the catacombs themselves is evidence of this. The fact that large burial sites were gradually excavated or revamped from preexisting subterranean complexes or pre-existing areas could never have been a clandestine operation.” for the suffering of the Protestant Huguenots at the hands of the dastardly Church of Rome. It appears that the catacombs fell out of use, as the quarries did Despite this rabid anti-Church hostility, Basange came to before them, in the Fifth and Sixth Centuries. Around this time, conclusions that are similar to that of many modern scholars, Rome’s population fell from 800,000 to 100,000, the Empire’s and he came to them by questioning the Catholics’ theories capital shifted to Constantinople and the city was subject to a with logical reasoning. First, he cast doubt on the idea that the number of sieges, during which graves were broken into and catacombs were a Christian invention, reasoning that up until at robbed from. Finally, the trend simply changed from underground least the Fourth Century there simply weren’t enough Christians burial in the countryside to open air cemeteries in the city. around to justify large-scale underground cemeteries and that the Pilgrimages to see the martyrs continued, but once the Church evidence actually pointed to the adaptation of an already-existing unearthed their bones to put them inside Rome’s churches in the practice. He used the same thought process to debunk the idea during the Ninth Century, they were slowly forgotten. It wasn’t that the catacombs were secret refuges, as their location along the until 600 years later that they would be rediscovered. major highways that led out from Rome to the rest of the Empire would have made anyone sneaking off to bury their dead, or hide Seeing is (dis)believing – visiting the catacombs from marauding anti-Christian thugs pretty conspicuous. Rome is spotted with catacombs, most of which are in the areas “Anyone with a bit of common sense would realise that it of countryside that were swallowed up by the expansion of the would have been basically impossible for Roman authorities to city’s suburbs, started by Mussolini in the 1920s. In fact, it is right near one of his most famous projects – the once rough but now not be aware of the use of real estate in Roman suburbs for the staunchly middle class area of Garbatella – that you’ll find the inhumation of several thousand people,” says Sandra Salvadori, a catacombs expert from John Cabot University in Rome. “It’s most interesting underground action. Umbrella spent an afternoon hanging around the Domitilla and Callisto catacombs in the Parco not exactly a very good hiding place. The authorities could have simply blocked the access stairs if they’d wanted to.” Appia Antica, which bisects the south side of Rome (and is well Salvadori goes further, suggesting that the idea of a persecuted worth a visit even if you have no interest in the catacombs), so we Christian community has been much exaggerated. “Christians have a few tips for any prospective visitors. in Rome attested persecution as far back as the time of Nero First of all, and this is true of Rome generally, it’s best to visit out (Emperor from 54-68 AD) and the catacombs themselves were of season, and never on a weekend: the catacombs attract tourists built mostly from the middle of the Third, throughout the Fourth from all over the world and in the summer the place is heaving and even into the early Fifth Century. Plus, there’s the fact that with religious pilgrims. We went on a Monday afternoon in early the sources on any persecutions that survive were written by December, and were able to have a tour alone with a guide, which Christians authors who exploited persecutions and their martyrs meant that we were able to have a proper conversation and get for ideological ends. And the ‘propaganda’ certainly worked! a better feel for the place as a result. Needless to say, those of a There is also no evidence that burials stopped in the catacombs claustrophobic disposition would be advised to stay away.
WORDS: terry daley For more information on the location of catacombs open to the public, go to www.catacombe.roma.it
35 Field trip
Covered: Sweden, hotels, tourism
The Avalon recommends that you… Go shopping at NK. A Swedish institution (there’s one in Stockholm too), the great department store is located just two minutes from the hotel. It’s where you go for everything, from the latest fashion to traditional Swedish crystal, and a cup of gourmet coffee in between. Grab a bite to eat at Saluhallen, the covered market at Kungstorget next to the Avalon. It’s always a pleasure to stroll among the stalls and check out their latest offerings – though with an unrivalled selection of tasty goodies of every persuasion, you may need a brisk walk to burn the calories off when you come back outside.
First Hotel Avalon, Gothenburg, Sweden t’s easy for an Umbrella reader to fall in love with Gothenburg. The biggest port in Scandinavia, its position on both the western coast of Sweden and at the mouth of the river Göta has made it an ideal stopping-off point for both cargo and people. Like other northern ports such as Hamburg, Liverpool, Gdansk and Antwerp, the proximity to the sea lends the locals a familiarity with the wider world, leading to their reputation in Sweden for good humour and cheeriness. Göteborg exists because of water, and the while the sea and the river gave the place its reason to be, the city’s canal network – built by the Dutch on what was once a marsh – is what makes it unique. Like its Russian equivalent St Petersburg, the central area of the town is laid out in orderly avenues – the expansion plan of 1864 lending it some serious neoclassical charm. And, while many tourists can’t resist the Liseberg amusement park, you’re more likely to find Umbrella enjoying the delights of the city’s 150km tram network instead. This is a city serious about its public transport. As you’d expect for a city so tastefully put together, hotels are as much about style as they are about sleeping. We’re especially charmed by the 101-room Avalon, which, with its distinctive rooftop pool, is an oasis of tasteful calm in the buzzy city centre. Though with so much to do – and eat/drink – you probably won’t be spending too much time there. A true northern light.
Spend far too much money at United Fashion, the city’s hippest department store. Take a pick from a huge selection of Scandinavian brands such as Sand and Stenströms. Visitors can forget overcrowded stores and poor service, too – the store exclusively opens for Avalon guests, who are treated to a glass of champagne upon arrival. After that, a personal shopper will guide guests through the store and give you advice on the right clothes to wear. Not that you’ll be needing any help in that department. Stay out late at Push, the club located on Avenyn. They say, “Push celebrates when darkness meets light, when pulse meets calm, and nothing compares to the roof terrace on a summer night.” Avalon Hotel, Kungstorget 9. 411 17 Göteborg. www.avalonhotel.se. For more information about visiting the city and its environs, go to www.gothenburg.com and www.westsweden.com
Somewhere for the weekend
Get cultural at the Röhsska Museum of Fashion, Design and Decorative Arts – the only museum in Sweden dedicated entirely to design and handcrafts. Your partner will undoubtedly love it – you can just buy some tasteful bits and bobs for your mum in the shop.
36 Field trip
Straight up Despite its shape, the Gherkin has only one piece of curved glass – the tiny ‘dome’ at the top. The rest of the panels are flat.
A tale of two towers Why did Barcelona follow London and build a ‘Gherkin’ all of its own? Elliott Lewis-George looks up and finds out
or those with even the slightest penchant for the urban landscape, you’ll know that a city’s true beauty can often be found beyond the crowds and closer to the clouds. Like most things, its splendour is best admired when you take a step back. It is often through this panoramic perspective that
you realise what makes a city truly unique. With this in mind, and despite playing host to different climates, cultures and calibres of football teams, it’s quite peculiar that both London and Barcelona accommodate two gherkin-shaped structures that look like they’ve been plucked from the same jar.
London’s East End is a place of contradiction and misplaced identity. As suited execs unwillingly sip from cans of Red Stripe in the bars along Old Street, the native trendsetters seek solace in Brick Lane’s 24-hour bakeries; carelessly tossing aside the gherkins from their salt beef bagels in a show of defiance and independence. However, an intimidating reminder of the capital’s financial dominance constantly belittles this shallow act of liberation in the form of the ‘Gherkin’ – an everpresent behemoth of a building that, at a height that exceeds Niagara Falls three times over, refuses to cohabit with others. Opened in May 2004 and designed by Norman Foster with his then business partner Ken Shuttleworth, 30 St Mary Axe (its real name) stands on the former site of the Baltic Exchange building, which was bombed by the Provisional IRA in 1992.
Constructed with 744 glass panels and over 35km of steel, the Gherkin cuts a defiant silhouette across London’s skyline without detracting from the other famous landmarks, such as St Paul’s Cathedral, that litter themselves around the feet of the tower. Regardless of its awe-inspiring exterior, the Gherkin is not merely eye-candy for architects and global urbanites. The tower’s 40 floors play host to a plethora of big businesses since the global reinsurance company Swiss Re sold it for a tasty £630m in 2007 – making this gargantuan greenhouse the UK’s most expensive office building. Whilst The Gherkin might carry a hefty price tag, its energy-saving ingenuity reduces criticism as well as wasted emissions. A ventilated double skin exterior minimises the necessity for alternative heating and cooling methods while light level and movement sensors, coupled with the building’s reliance on natural light, cuts down electricity bills. With it’s futuristic façade, the Gherkin could be cited as being the catalyst in advancing the architectural developments of cutting-edge cities. The French architect Jean Nouvel and his colleague Fermín Vázquez obviously thought so when constructing the Gherkin’s carbon-copy-counterpart: the Torre Agbar. Residing in Barcelona, this 142m tower is often compared to el supositori (no need to send translations on a postcard) by locals, despite Nouvel’s claims that he drew inspiration from the rocky hills of Montserrat. Many critics of the tower believe that it isn’t in keeping with the older structures dotted around the Catalan capital. As is the case with the 30 St Mary Axe, the Torre Agbar is owned and occupied by big business (Agbar is in fact the company name of the tower’s owners) but big business with a caring side – as the company is all too proud to prove its energy saving attributes. Especially its exterior temperature sensors that control the building’s window blinds. However, the fact that the tower is fitted with 4,500 LED devices may have eco warriors tossing in their hammocks. Despite the fact that these two towers look like they have been pickled in the same brine, there is no denying that the Torre Agbar is one eye-catching chunk of constructed beauty – those 4,500 windows and 250,000kg certainly give it presence. Nouvel’s ‘stick out like a sore thumb’ design ethic delivers a breath of new life – and some much needed experimentation – into the former Olympic city. The tower proves that height doesn’t necessarily boost a buildings status, as it’s only the third tallest-structure in Barcelona. In fact, it is the Torre Agbar’s dramatic shape, not size, that has meant it’s often the location of choice for protestors to voice their demands. Even Alain Robert, that hairy spider-bloke who uses buildings as climbing frames, has scaled the Agbar’s exterior twice. Completed nearly a year after the Gherkin, Nouvel describes the Torre Agbar as neither a skyscraper nor a tower (contradictory somewhat considering that torre translates to ‘tower’ in English). Instead, Nouvel sees the Torre Agbar as “a geyser under a permanent calculated pressure” or “a unique growth”. Perhaps he’s yet to take a stroll around the East End with a beef and gherkin bagel.
Photos: foster & partners, nigel young, istockphoto.com
Covered: London, Barcelona, architecture
38 Field trip
Dubai: more culture less cash
It may have been hit by recession but the UAE’s biggest city has enough in reserve to weather the storm, as Mike Hall discovers estled on the upper toe of the bootshaped Arabian Peninsula, the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai exists as an ever-evolving monument to man-made feats of construction in a corner of the world known more for its humble, devoutly religious surroundings than shopping malls and impossibly tall buildings. But, if Dubai stands as an ornament for oilrich businessmen and handsomely paid expats in a desert of austerity, so behind the world’s biggests, bests and firsts scattered around the city are occasional reminders of what was, what could have been and what still is. For Dubai is a city in a state of continuous flux, embracing the future, not willing – or able – to completely discard its past. The name of Dubai conjures an image in everyone, perhaps of Tiger Woods gleefully pinging golf balls from the helipad of the world’s tallest hotel, the Burj Al Arab, or of the tallest of any building there is, the weirdly syringe-like Burj Khalifa. Others may consider the vast, spotlessly clean beaches of the Jumeirah district or its extraordinary Palm Islands archipelago, while the high-end stores of the Dubai Mall and the Mall of The Emirates provide a consumer paradise to leave those afforded the advantage of deep wallets trembling in their shopping shoes in anticipation of a visit. Strolling through these gargantuan, moneyspending meccas, one could be forgiven for drawing similarities to the vast palaces of consumerism competing along the Las Vegas strip, were it not for the smattering of locals in traditional clothing mingling among the armies of stampeding (well, almost) luxury-hunting westerners, or, more tellingly, the hugely evocative Islamic calls to prayer that boom across the concourses several times a day. But these are not the only hints of a more staid culture lurking round the corner. Struggling against the incredible symbols of extravagance springing up all over the place, the Dubai of the past lies ready to captivate the senses, if only you’d let it. Such is the sheer scale of Dubai that getting around the city is best done either by using the excellent (although still under construction) Metro system, or by hailing a cab. Both are cheap, but only the taxi option offers the mad
unpredictability to cater to Umbrella’s more adventurous side. Many taxi drivers will have been in the city little longer than either you or some of the destinations they’re asked to find. Add to that the baffling lack of street names, and you’ve at least an even chance of taking a wrong turn – or
several – before arriving at your desired location. In spite of this, we recommend using a cab to head along the city’s main thoroughfare, Sheikh Zayed Road, away from the obvious tourist traps, and towards the historic Bur Dubai district. Make no mistake, this area, located on the western shore of the Dubai Creek, is worth putting up with the odd confused-looking taxi driver for.
That’s because it’s here that the traces of the fishing village Dubai once was still exist, where locals haggle over the price of clothing, textiles and jewellery in the bustling bazaars, and where the traditional wooden boats of the UAE – abras – bob on the creek, waiting to ferry passengers from one side to the other. It’s where you’ll find the wonderful Dubai Museum offering glimpses of artefacts dating to 3000BC, and models depicting life in Dubai before the discovery of oil, all housed inside the magnificent 18th Century Al Fahidi Fort. It’s where you’ll find the roots of this outrageous, bewildering city. Thankfully for the more travel-weary tourist, Bur Dubai offers one of the few areas where getting around on foot is not only possible, but preferable, and as the scorching sun gives way to evening, it also offers some of the city’s most satisfying dining experiences. Bur Dubai, as with other areas of the city, boasts an embarrassment of international cuisine options, from Indian (Umbrella recommends Gazebo) to Italian, Japanese to Lebanese, but for a taste of the local traditional, a visit to the Bait Al Wakeel is a must. Offering sumptuous seafood and Arabic excellence, and overlooking the creek, this is one of the best places to eat in Dubai. Wherever in the city you may plan on seeking out a post-meal watering hole, it’s actually not as tricky to do as you may have heard. Various cocktail bars, nightclubs and – yes – pubs are dotted around Dubai, except rather than announcing their location with a tell-tale crowd of Union Jack-clad ‘characters’ spilling out onto the streets, these places are usually tucked respectfully away within the corridors of highquality hotels, such as the impressive (if pricey) Belgian Beer Café at the Crowne Plaza. But, before flagging down a cab and heading back to the more celebrated areas of the city (most likely via Yemen, if your taxi driver’s not familiar with a sat nav), make sure to spend a few minutes taking in the creek by night, those abras moving in the moonlight, so close yet a world from the incredible monsters of manufacture that draw tourists and traders the world over. For it’s here that you’ll find the perfect opportunity to reflect on a city whose modernity, affluence and growth offer a sensual thrill only outdone by the reminders of the past that move quietly in their own corner, willing you to look over, waiting to tell their story.
Covered: Dubai, transport
High times The Sheikh Zayed Road is home to the city’s main skyscrapers, including the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
01 Dubai Sports City Grounds for optimism Where sport’s concerned, in the near future Dubai should be as well served facilities-wise as almost anywhere. Currently under construction, Dubai Sports City will eventually house a 60,000 capacity multipurpose stadium, a 10,000 seat indoor arena, a 5,000 capacity field hockey stadium as well as commercial and residential properties. Already opened is an 18-hole golf course and a 25,000 capacity cricket ground, which, late last year, hosted a series of Test matches and one-day internationals between Pakistan and South Africa.
02 Dubai Metro The Dubai Metro is the first urban train network on the Arabian Peninsula. Partly opened in September 2009, the completion of the fully automated system is dependent on the economic recovery and private investment. When it’s eventually completed, the Metro will boast 43 miles of lines and 47 stations. The target is to have 30 per cent of the Dubai population using the Metro by 2020, and after just 15 months of operation, the system was carrying 4m passengers per month. In the grander scheme of things, plans to join Dubai with Abu Dhabi via a high-speed rail link were revealed last March, while a company – Union Railway – was formed in 2009 to lead plans for a railway network across the country.
Words: mike hall Photos: istockphoto.com
The start of something big
40 Field trip
Covered: Cycling, Australia
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” - Ernest Hemingway
t started with a question. Did I miss something? The Great Ocean Road in Australia is widely recognised as one of the world’s most scenic drives, following the rugged coastline of Victoria’s south-west. Stretching from Torquay, just to the south of Melbourne, to the township of Warrnambool, the road winds along cliff tops, coasting across scenic headlands and down onto sandy surf beaches, crossing estuaries and lush rainforests along the way. On paper, it ticks all the boxes for a scenic drive. So did I miss something? I’d followed the famous route in a rental car; a tank-like 4x4. I’d been upgraded to the gasguzzler on account that it was all they had left. When I looked back at my journey along the Great Ocean Road, the memories were plagued by the funky smell that the air-con produced, gas stations (or lack of ), and the first kangaroo I ever saw – a baby (or, a joey) lying dead in a heap on the side of the road. But mostly, I’d remember back to the blur of scenery that flew past my bug-splattered window, allowing only brief flashes of the wonders I’d come to see. I didn’t even recognise the places on my souvenir postcards.
Warrnambool station – the furthest point on the road – with a simple plan to cycle back to where I’d just come from, sleeping in hostels along the way. The maths that a three-hour train journey would take four days to backtrack still doesn’t seem to add up. I knew that I’d had it easy on day one. I’d grinned with utter joy through 75km of flat farmland, waving to farmers in their tractors and racing past cheese factories to escape the formidable smell that filled the air. The nose is just one of the senses that switches on when you travel by bike, and it can be a handy tool that can steer you from one way to the next, or in this case, make you go faster. “Blessed are the cheese makers!” I yelled out loud – a stolen line from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. An ironic sort of cabin fever sets in when you’re cycling for hours alone. You’ll talk to yourself and think of weird things that would otherwise never cross ones mind. Albert Einstein even proclaimed that he came up with the theory of relatively whilst on his bike. Whilst I’ve never came up with a thought that changed mankind on the saddle of my cycle, I have solved some of my life’s biggest puzzles. “Life is like riding a bicycle” old Albert once said, “in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” And how right he was. After two hours in the saddle and 50km of sun-kissed freedom, the dramas of the previous 48 hours were a distant memory (I’d missed my connecting flight in Bangkok two days before, hence, missing a wedding, the entire reason I was in Australia in the first place) and my world was back on track. When you’re riding a bicycle, the only real way to go is forward. After gazing upon the marvel of the sandstone rock stacks that make up the Twelve Apostles (of
an unprovoked attack, forcing you to swerve off the road and fall into a bog. On a bike, you don’t just pass through a place – you become part of it. But no change hits you more than when the landscape forces you to crank down to the lowest gear and rise up out of the saddle to keep the bike moving. That’s what happened on the toughest stretch of the Great Ocean Road – a stretch which I had zero memory of from my initial encounter. The start of Lavers Hill was like crashing into a wall. The road that was once flat and smooth suddenly became steep, slow and heavy, zigzagging up to ear-popping heights. At cruising speed through the farmlands and past the deserted beaches of Port Campbell, I’d averaged 25km per hour. But now, with sections peaking at 15 degrees in gradient, I was dragging myself along at around just 6km per hour. I was moving in slow motion, through thick cloud and heavy rain. Motivation can change with each turn of a wheel. Joy and adrenaline (along with a pinch of gravity) will drive you down a long, fast descent; pure content and perspective (which is often found on long bike journeys) can glide you happily for miles and miles along a flat ocean highway; but now, it was fear that was forcing my legs to turn – fear that I wasn’t ever going to get off this mountain. It was getting dark and I hadn’t seen a car or a person for too long. Only the koalas in the trees were witness to my battle. I was very lonely. After four hours of cycling, soaked and on the verge of physically breaking down, with only half the mileage I needed to make that day behind me, at 1500ft above sea level, my battle was won. The bike began to pull away without the need of its engine. I leaned forward; my hands hovering over both brakes, letting the bike and Lavers Hill’s friendly face take over. I coasted for over 20km and was finally greeted once again by the sea. A group of surfers in wetsuits nodded as they put their boards on the roof of a blue van, as if to say, “Nice work, man, you made it.” Even the sun decided to join the party. In five hours, I’d travelled just over 50km; the previous day, I’d eaten 75km for breakfast. Although I’d actually never left it, I was back on the ‘Great’ Ocean Road, whistling the theme tune to the Antiques Roadshow. Of course, 40 minutes later I was out of the saddle and heading back into the clouds wanting to cry. But that’s the wonderful thing about cycling across a new frontier – the unexpected. Things can – and will – change in an instant, but as long as you keep your legs moving, you’ll discover something amazing. I had set off on a journey that I had thought I had done before, but it turned out I’d discovered somewhere completely new. Had I missed something the first time round? Oh yes. I’d missed everything.
The road to somewhere At the end of it all, the Great Ocean Road, didn’t seem that ‘great’ after all. But the nagging doubt was there: had I missed something? So when I found myself back on Australian soil two years later, I decided to go back and find out. Trading four wheels for two, I rented a bicycle and borrowed a helmet that didn’t fit. Indeed, I only had four days to make the trip of 400km of winding coastal road, but at 100km (62 miles) per day I’d be back in Melbourne to return the bike with time to spare. After the three-hour train journey from Melbourne city centre, I found myself outside
which I only counted six – the ocean continues to mould and reshape this coastline everyday), the Great Ocean Road decides to abandon the ‘ocean’ part of its name and moves away from the coast and into the rainforest that works its way across the Otway Ranges. When you’re travelling by bike, you become very aware of everything that surrounds you, including all the things that would go unnoticed behind the wheel of a car or in the seat of a train. Like when the wind decides to change direction and push you back from whence you came, or when a hissing snake pounces from the grass in
photos: nikki wicks
Cyclist Nikki Wicks finds that Australia’s Great Ocean Road stretches his mind as much as his body on a grueling, life-affirming ride
42 Field trip
Rolling news Umbrella’s take on the world of cycling
LookMumNoHands A London café where super coffee and expert cycle repairs are both on the menu Imagine as a cyclist, a place where you are not unusual, where no-one thinks anything of your lycra or your sweaty cycling cap, where everyone locks up their bike and carries a strong durable courier bag full of stuff! A haven for good strong coffee, home-made pies and cakes, free wi-fi and a drop-in workshop to fix the annoying clicking that’s been coming from your bottom bracket for the last week. Well imagine no more, because for the last eight months LookMumNoHands on London’s Old St, has been combining stylish café ambience with a bike workshop and in so doing has become a home, focal point and general favourite hang-out space for all members of the capital’s cycling mafia. Which is just as well, as London embraces cycling like it hasn’t done since the halcyon pre-World War II days of pedal-powered transportation. It is indeed a fine place. LookMum… is at the forefront of the transformation of London into a metropolis where cycling to a destination is as viable a decision as getting there by public transport, or heaven forbid, car. Independent and eclectic, LookMum…, alongside the Lock7 Cycle Café, further east by Broadway Market, is fostering the burgeoning pedalling aesthetic. Pop in for the coffee, stay for the bikes. www.lookmumnohands.com
Covered: Cycling cycle opinion
n+1: The number of the bike Too much of a good thing can make your life saddle-sore, says Umbrella’s Don G Cornelius
More DZR, less SPD Say goodbye to the clitter-clatter of cycling footwear
Other great cycling cafes: Zappi’s Café Jericho, Oxford Woodbine Café Hope Village, Peak District Eureka Cyclists & Cafe Sport Woodbank, Chester Box Hill Café Tadworth, Surrey
Wearing cycling shoes is tantamount in everyday circles to holding a big sign over your head saying, “I’m special, I cycle.” Good on the bike, awful off, something needed to be done. And DZR have done it. DZR are a new footwear company out of the States that have created their own range of hi- and lo-top footwear for the cycling man and woman. Producing what may be the holy cycling footwear grail, they’ve made a shoe that rides like an SPD, walks like a trainer and looks a lot more stylish than a pair of the ubiquitous tattered Vans. Now those weekend jaunts to market, pub, club, won’t require a second set of shoes and people will only be staring at your bike. Prices from $80-$130 www.dzrshoes.com
Words: Don G Cornelius Photos: matt reynolds
How many bikes should a cyclist own? According to the old joke, the answer is: n+1. Where n is the number of bikes he currently owns. He can always use one more. Now this desire to own more isn’t just confined to cyclists. Look at any vinyl junkie’s record collection or woman’s shoe closet. But with bikes it’s more difficult to hide, and house, new acquisitions. And even when you’ve added to the collection when do you get to ride it? Which bike does it replace? Your commuting bike? The pub bike? The Sunday best? The off-road 29er? Or does it sit alongside a slightly different variant of a well-worn theme? The joy of owning more than one bike cannot be readily explained. Different bikes for different types of riding, and for different seasons, keep every cyclist refreshed. But how much is too much? For n+1 leads to an external manifestation of gluttony, an internal need given physical form in the stockpiling of bikes which gather dust and lean forlornly in spare rooms, and under beds. So I propose ‘the rule of five’ – once you get to five bikes, it’s one in, one out. For me that means: the titanium fixed commuter; the track bike, tubs, big gearing and all; the summer fixed keirin brakeless business; the road bike, gears and drops; and the old reliving-my-youth BMX. So really it’s four and a half in my house. Well, six and a half as I’d need to get rid of the old mountain bike, plus the travelling bike first...
44 Field trip
Nice view The cover of the book shows an ilustration of Trafalgar Square looking down Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament.
Covered: London, maps
Showed them the way to go home A guidebook from the 1920s demonstrates the capital’s unflinching geography in the face of constant change
it’s interesting to note where the different Underground stations actually are – you’ll also see why Londoners are so mystified when tourists get the Tube between Leicester Square and Covent Garden. The second map, it too folded up beautifully in the guidebook’s cover wallet, details all the great metropolis’s bus routes – few of which have changed in the intervening years. The sun may have set on the Empire that the London of the 1920s ruled over, but the number 19 will terminate at Finsbury Park until the end of the world. Realistically, this guide isn’t something you could really use in any practical sense today, but make no mistake, this beautiful piece of cartography will still be here long after the your iPhone’s Wallpaper Guide app is a digital footnote in urban history.
photos: anthony teasdale
ondon is a city that’s defined by its maps. Since the days of Elizabeth I, visitors and residents alike have tried to make sense of this gigantic metropolis through them. Though, here at Umbrella, we’re suckers for an ornate 18th Century print, we’d be pushed to find anything quite so beautiful, so obviously useful as this gem, a guidebook with maps by London Transport from 1924. It’s not just the cover artwork that makes the book so resonant of a London before the Clean Air Act, but the fact that by flicking through its pages and unfolding its maps, it perfectly shows how London has changed entirely and yet, in terms of its geographical layout and the character of its different quarters, is almost exactly the same. The first map is a pre-Harry Beck diagram of the Tube. If you’re not familiar with London,
Stories Journalism from the front line of the modern world
48: Reggaeâ€™s great divide: how dancehall triumphed over roots 56: The moment one Man Utd fan realised it really was all over
the end of the world
photo: Henik van Rensbergen
When the people leave, what happens to our buildings? One man finds out on page 50
No country for old men In the 1970s, Jamaican reggae music conquered the pop music world thanks to the combined creative genius of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. But as time moved on, a new abrasive form of reggae – dancehall – started to usurp the older, mellower sound. And, as author Colin Grant recalls, when old met new, the consequences left one of the island’s great musicians abused and humiliated by the very people he’d come to entertain
Covered: Reggae, Jamaica
wenty-five thousand boisterous music lovers made their way to Jamaica’s National Stadium in Kingston on Boxing Day, December 1990 for the Sting Festival, an event which the promoters described modestly as ‘The Greatest One-Night Reggae Show on Earth’. More than 40 bands were booked to appear. The first was due to take to the stage at 6.15pm, but many in the crowd lingered on the outskirts hoping to catch a glimpse of the musical motorcade, especially the top acts billed as the ‘Devastating Dozen’, a mix of gold-toothed dancehall DJs and dreadlocked Rasta reggae stars – including Bunny Wailer, the last surviving member of the original Wailers. The duo Ghost and Culture sparked guffaws, some taunts and goodnatured banter when they rolled up to the stadium gates and emerged, chalk-faced, from a funeral casket on board a hearse. But even this stunt was outshone by the main attraction: the ragamuffin DJ Shabba Ranks. Fresh from negotiations for a million-dollar contract with CBS, ‘Mr X-rated’ himself arrived in a white presidential limousine, accompanied by four police outriders. To his many fans, some of whom had brought along pistols to be fired in a gun-salute, Shabba’s grand entrance was not only befitting, but expected. In a few hours, armed with a microphone, he would thrust himself on stage and begin trading insults in a lyrical clash with Ninja Man, his rival for the title ‘King of Jamaican Music’. Such a spectacle could not have been envisaged ten years previously at the time of Bob Marley’s death from cancer. Together with Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh, Marley had formed the most influential reggae group of all time. Bunny Wailer struggled to come to terms with Marley’s passing and, on at least one occasion, he’d had a vision that Bob Marley was still alive. He’d rushed to tell Peter Tosh the good news – that he’d seen Marley bathed in light on stage, surrounded by an adoring crowd. Tosh placed a hand on Wailer’s shoulder and whispered, ‘But Bob’s dead. The Wailers are dead!’ Following the murder of Tosh in 1987, Bunny Wailer baulked at efforts to promote him as the new ‘poet laureate for the oppressed’. Now he stood to the side and watched in dismay the elevation of dancehall stars who didn’t “sing in keys… know chords or changes”. But more than this perceived lowering of musical standards, it was the DJs’ embracing of the culture of ‘slackness’ – lewd and vulgar sexualised lyrics with a focus on ‘punany’ – that distressed Wailer. “What they are bringing to the music can’t work,” he told journalists. “What the DJs are doing is destructive to themselves.” Bunny Wailer could do little to arrest the march of Jamaican culture towards a utopia of slackness but he was not, and would never be, a ‘punany’ lyricist. The musical marathon rolled on through the night. But though the musicians kept the beat, they couldn’t always keep to their allotted time. It wasn’t until 5am that Bunny Wailer and his band, the Solomonics, were summoned from the green room. In front of the huge crowd, Wailer paused for the ritual he had assigned to himself over the last few years: lowering his gaze, he tried to conjure his dead compadres, Tosh and Marley, onto the stage with him. And then slowly, with a gentle quietness that was almost imperceptible at first, Bunny Wailer started to sing. He was due to perform 21 songs. He started with a series of ‘specials’ which had not yet become reggae standards, and which, of course, bore little resemblance to the highly energised booming blast of dancehall. Later, the promoters would chide him for not being “more sensitive to the needs of the audience, though not in a vulgar way”. Elements in the auditorium were growing impatient over the tardiness of the advertised clash between the ghetto-fabulous, simulated sexual gymnastics of Shabba Ranks and the kamikazeheadscarfed Ninja Man, whose parody of gangster violence shone in the tiny Kalashnikov embellishment on his gold-capped tooth.
‘a salvo of missiles followed, the air thick with bottles, cans and rocks’
I & I, The Natural Mystics: Marley, Tosh and Wailer by Colin Grant, is out now, published by Jonathan Cape, priced £20. The book is not only a profile of these giants of reggae, but an in-depth analysis of post-war Jamaica and the growth in importance of the island’s music as its main cultural force
illustration: bradley hotson www.hotsonstudio.com
It took a little while for the first rumblings of discontent to reach the stage. Above the buzz and hubbub of the crowd, the occasional vaporous effusions of semi-drunken, spliffed-up wags; above the cries of coldsupper vendors, jerk-chicken men, grapenut and peanut hucksters and youths lugging crates of warm beer for sale, Bunny Wailer could discern an uglier sound. Not even to the most determined wishful thinker could belligerence be mistaken for ardour or veneration. But still there might be some small element of doubt and difficulty in divining the intent behind the growing cacophony. After all, Jamaican crowds were past-masters of interaction and audience participation, both welcome and unwelcome. By Bunny Wailer’s fourth song any lingering self-deception was no longer possible. The boorish elements, popping up randomly like explosive geysers, were increasingly rancorous and abusive. A medallion of the Lion of Judah adorned the fine and noble forehead of Bunny Wailer as a third eye; lovingly tended dreadlocks swept down his shoulders and back; and with his arms raised before him and hands cupped almost in prayer, he more closely resembled a mendicant than an international music star. He had begun the set in sublime communion with his fallen brothers, but his temper was disturbed by the discordant braying of a small section of the audience. The diminutive, 5ft 3in star stopped singing. He began flapping his arms, gesturing to his band to put down their instruments. The jeering continued. Bunny Wailer came to the edge of the stage, his face ablaze with fury and rage. Did they not know his pedigree? Did they not feel privileged by his attendance? Shouldn’t the elders of reggae (he was 43) be revered? Had he not helped put Jamaica on the map? Hadn’t he toiled for years without recognition, made huge sacrifices? Had he not fashioned music to soothe the soul and raise the spirits? Well no more: “I and I…” His litany of disbelief was interrupted. The first bottle pierced the night air, whistled past his head and landed a few feet behind him. It acted as a release and a salvo of missiles followed, the air was thick with beer bottles, cans, rocks and stones. The dancers and band members ran for cover. For a while, Bunny Wailer was immobilised. Then roadies rushed to shield him from the onslaught of yet more bottles and bricks, and ushered him from the stage. The post-mortem began in earnest the following morning. ‘Wailer Feels The Sting’ screamed the Gleaner headline. Jamaica was “faced with a calamity” following a night which was a “gross production in shame”. In a country where the concept of respect was central to its culture, the feeling of dishonour and embarrassment was enormous. Tributes were paid to Bunny Wailer which read like obituaries. But the shock and trauma was so great that few articulated what was undeniably the case, that the bottling off stage of one of the giants of reggae marked a violent changing of the guard. Just beneath the surface of the angry and frightened letter-writers to the Gleaner was the unspoken question: if reggae music had delighted and enthralled so many around the world, transformed a tiny island into a musical superpower, and given a platform to the Wailers, a trio of extraordinarily poetic and powerful natural mystics, then how could it, in the space of 30 years, rise and fall so spectacularly and end so brutally? A cultural coup had taken place, and in decades to come the lament that “the singers must come back” haunted the land. In the 1980s, the passing of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh had left a vacuum, and on 26 December 1990, the last remaining Wailer, the Caribbean’s finest voice, had been rendered mute.
Left behind One man’s obsession for rediscovering the places society leaves behind gives us an indication of just how tenuous a grip humanity has on the planet it inhabits xploration is one of the defining characteristics of the human being. To explore, to discover new places and new experiences – not because of necessity, but because we just want to – is one of the characteristics that separates us from other animals. There was no need for Captain Scott to lead his doomed expedition to the Antarctic or for astronauts Aldrin, Collins and Armstrong to venture to the Moon, but that is exactly what they did. For what? For the chance to see something that no-one had ever witnessed before, to push the boundary out again. Airline pilot Henik van Rensbergen is motivated by this same urge to discover, though it is the world’s abandoned buildings that fascinate him, rather than new territories or planets. Since the 1990s, he’s spent his spare time finding his way into old factories, mental hospitals, prisons, houses and power stations, long since left to nature, graffiti artists, tramps and those who can make money from metal, tiles and wood – and all the other hardware that gets left behind. Sometimes overgrown to the point of returning to the wild, at other times, looking like the last person has just left, these buildings have been captured for posterity with a series of beautiful photographs by Van Rensbergen – the best of which have been collated in his second book Abandoned Places 2. Here, he tells Umbrella what it is about the places humans used to live and labour in that so fascinates him.
Umbrella: When did you start exploring abandoned places? What made you do it? Henik Van Rensbergen: I’ve always explored since I was a kid, and frankly, don’t we all remember that feeling when we were children of exploring a cellar or attic? It’s that feeling of discovering something forgotten or forbidden, of rediscovering an abandoned place and reliving what must have happened there. U: What sort of buildings fascinate you most? Have you got any particular favourites? HVR: I have no absolute favourite type – they all speak to me, but some say more than others or tell different stories. I remember this factory that I ‘discovered’ years ago in a small town called Tertre, in Belgium. It was huge and untouched – everything was still there: the paperwork in the offices, the tools in the hangars, the clothes, boots, machines, calendars on the walls. This factory was the size of a small city. I spent a long time exploring every corner until I felt the building had revealed all its secrets to me, told me all its stories. That was a great discovery, as if I had met an interesting person. U: How do you find about these places? HVR: In the early days when I was still the only one doing this (at least that is what it felt like), I just drove around, looking for places. When my website came online in the early ’90s, I quickly established contact with other explorers (the phrase ‘urban explorer’ didn’t exist yet at that time) and people started mailing tips and places to me. Now, the community of urban explorers is so large that it isn’t all that hard to find places. The new places, however, are kept secret by those who find them. If you have something to trade, you get something in return.
U: How easy is it to get in to these places? HVR: Some places are easy because they’re just forgotten about – there’s no security and no-one cares if you go there. When places are guarded you have to make a tough decision: urban exploring really isn’t about breaking the law and nosing about stuff that isn’t yours. When an owner wants to protect his property, than we don’t have any business there. Urban explorers should never force their way in, or harm anyone’s privacy. That being said, it can happen that you ‘meet’ security guards. I’m always polite, apologise for any inconvenience and usually get away with it. U: You’ve said you never take things away as souvenirs. Why? HVR: There’s two reasons: first, we’re not thieves, just visitors. We don’t take stuff that doesn’t belong to us. If you get caught with a backpack full of souvenirs than you can’t claim to be just photographing. Secondly, if everyone takes stuff, than these beautiful abandoned places full of history very quickly become empty rooms without a story. I once read this sentence in a book: “I have a large seashell collection which I keep scattered all over the beaches of the world... maybe you’ve seen it?” U: Can you feel the presence of people who were there before? HVR: I let my imagination work. I don’t believe in ghosts (at least, I’ve never seen or felt any), but with imagination you can go a long way – before I start exploring a new building, I sit down and listen to the silence, smell the odours, and look around, trying to imagine how this place used to be, who used to live or work here, who fell in love, who died… U: What’s the creepiest place you’ve visited? You’ve been to a nearuntouched house where a woman murdered a child, haven’t you? HVR: True, that was a creepy place, especially when I heard a baby cry and a woman talk softly to her – the voice was really close to me, I could almost hear the breathing. This house was only partly abandoned: in the other half lived a young family with a baby. The wall separating me (in the abandoned part) and the mother and child must have been really thin. It felt like intruding in their family life, I left without making a sound. U: Anywhere else? HVR: Walking by myself in an abandoned crypt was also quite creepy, maybe at that point I was closest to feeling something of a presence (if there are ghosts, than they must be there!) that was trying to stop me and… tell me something. But I didn’t get the message. U: Have you come close to injuring yourself on your explorations? HVR: No, not really. I love the adventure and adrenaline, but I avoid risk. This being said, the risk is there, constantly – most of these places are in very bad shape. Every year, urban explorers die in accidents. U: Where are you going next? HVR: I’m not telling you. Abandoned Places 2 is published by Lannoo, priced £30. www.abandoned-places.com
Covered: Urban exploration
Dental surgery, Detroit, USA
Hotel lobby, Detroit, USA
Theatre, Newark, USA
Covered: Urban exploration
‘risk is there constantly – Every year, some urban explorers die’
Racing track, Groenendaal, Belgium
Covered: Urban exploration
Hospital, Brandenburg, Germany
United for life?
Cockney Red Marc Gadien discovers great love and utter despair one Autumn day on Sir Matt Busby Wayâ€Ś
Covered: Manchester United, football
t’s my birthday weekend. I’m currently sitting on a train on my way to Manchester Piccadilly station. I have a huge grin on my face. As a surprise, my wife, bless her little cotton socks, has only gone and spent a small fortune on two tickets to see United play Liverpool at Old Trafford! I love United. I love my wife. In that order. I’ve never previously been to a United-Liverpool game. Partly because I’m not a season ticket holder – up until this year, the waiting list has always been years long and, therefore, I had no chance of getting one; partly because I can’t afford one – sadly, this journalist’s salary cannot afford such a luxury, but mainly because I don’t actually live in Manchester and 300+ miles is a long way to commute every weekend. Yep, that’s right. I’m a Manchester United fan. And for the purposes of this tale, I need to say that straight from the outset I’m a Manchester United fan who lives in London. A true Cockney Red. Hated down south for being a glory hunter; my accent is treated with equal disdain in the north west. My love affair with the greatest club in the world has – and continues to have – more than its fair share of downs as well as ups. Of course, it’s been like this my whole life – from the moment I had my faux-leather MUFC bag slashed with a penknife on the first day of school – I’ve always known what it’s like to be an outsider and I was the only United fan in my year. I have, however, no qualms about this. I firmly believe this is how it should be. In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I’ve learned to find my place/niche in this somewhat unenviable position. Much like a Clayton Blackmore, as it was in my day, or perhaps a more contemporary reference – a John O’Shea. A bit-part player, so often played out of position but just thrilled to bits to be involved. And that’s how it felt to be a United fan. So why put myself through all this grief? Why suffer in this position of having to constantly justify myself to other fans that do support their local teams? “A United fan? In London! What do I know about football?” That’s one I get a lot. Mainly from well-groomed, smartly attired men, usually estate agents in north London. Or a personal favourite when being introduced to someone at a social gathering: “[Insert name here], meet Marc. He’s a Man U fan.” I try to smile politely, of course. As if to say I haven’t heard it a million times before. I have even to this day managed not to mention my two-year stint on the sports desk at The Guardian newspaper. I was only a downtable sub editor, but he’s a north London estate agent. He won’t know, so what’s the harm? It’s simple. I love United and have done from the first time I can ever remember. Always have done, always will do. United for life, that’s me. Truth is, I never had any choice in the matter. United were given to me by my dad who, for the record, is Manchester born and bred. Anyone who claims to be a football fan will know that once you have your team, you have your team and that’s it through thick and thin. In fact, I consider myself somewhat of a rare breed among United fans, in that I’m one who isn’t used to the immediate success that many younger Red Devils supporters have so readily become accustomed to. Born in 1971, I was too late for the 1968 European Cup success achieved with Best, Charlton and, although he missed the final with injury, Law. And I was too young to remember that summer’s day in May at Wembley in 1977 when Lou Macari netted, via Jimmy Greenhoff ’s chest past Ray Clemence, to deprive Liverpool of what would have then been an unprecedented treble. I do vividly remember watching the FA Cup Final in 1979 with my dad at home on TV, but Alan Sunderland – curly perm and all – broke my heart
that day and despite cup final successes in 1983 and 1985, I waited 21 of Untied 26 years for a league triumph. Being a Red, Cockney or otherwise, and being born in 1971 means I got used to Liverpool winning. A lot. Their five European Cup wins, their 18 league titles, all their FA and League Cup triumphs… it still leaves a sour taste in the mouth, which leads me nicely that typically rainy lunchtime in Stretford back in September. As I mentioned at the very start of this piece, this was my birthday weekend. I turned 39 that month, on the 16th to be precise and in that particular year just three days short of the biggest fixture in the league calendar. For me, as it is for most Red Devils, there simply isn’t a clash to match our fixture against Liverpool. It is the big one. The day that all United fans look forward to, even more so than games against City and, although not for a while, Leeds [Apologies, Leeds fans]. And a ticket to a United/Liverpool clash is akin to finding the Holy Grail. As I mentioned earlier, fans/ supporters like me never get a chance to go to a game like this. My wife would later tell me it was either a long weekend in Venice or this game, such was price she paid. Still, there was only ever going to be one winner. And what a game! With Wayne Rooney seemingly out of touch and out of form, Dimitar Berbatov reminded United fans why Sir Alex Ferguson paid £30m for his services and consigned his name to annuls of United history with a gloriously stunning hat-trick. One goal, his second, being an audacious over-head bicycle kick. How we cheered. How we got up from our seats and screamed. Up and down, like human yo-yos. In these breathless moments, I was a Mancunian, surrounded by my brethren from Stretford, Prestwich, Swinton and the like. It was my right to hurl abuse at the few thousand Liverpool fans huddled together slightly below and to my left. “You Scouse bastards!” we pointed! “Chelsea rent boy!” “Chelsea rent boy!” we screamed at Steven Gerrard, erstwhile Liverpool captain and protaganist-in-chief from the wrong end of the East Lancs Road. The final result was 3-2. What a birthday I’d had! Undoubtedly my greatest one yet! As we milled out of the stadium along Sir Matt Busby Way, our eyes sparkling and our cheeks still glowing, I noticed a small crowd where some fans had gathered. I noticed someone being asked for their autograph. As we got closer I realised who it was. I permitted myself a rue smile. Calum Best. An immaculately dressed and groomed Calum Best. Privately, I scoffed and at the same time chastised myself for realising who it was. I mean, what does it say about me that I recognise this no-mark, a man famous for being famous, who has made a living of the back of his famous dad. I mentioned to my wife who it was. And explained as to why he was probably here and his ‘connection’ to the club. Immediately, and much to my chagrin, she got very excited and went in for a closer inspection. Calum Best? Jesus f**kin’ Christ! What’s he doing here? How dare he take a ticket from a genuine United fan who, like me, would gladly give their right arm to watch 11 heroes in red? And why, I huffed, is my wife so excited by his presence? A small throng of fans had also noticed the clamour surrounding the reality TV ‘star’. One of them, of an origin nowhere near M16 seemingly as bemused as myself as to all the fuss, asked my wife as to whom the young man was. Again, I could feel that familiar wry smile spread across my face. “It’s Calum Best,” replied my wife knowingly. All too proud of herself and her apparent newly acquired knowledge.
‘I’m hated both down south and up north for being a glory hunter’
“Who’s Calum Best?” came the reply, without even the slightest hint of sarcasm. “George’s Best’s son,” answered my wife. The statue of Old Trafford’s Holy Trinity not 100 yards away and somehow shining even more brightly on this day of days. “Who’s George Best?” My world stopped. Dead. Here I am outside Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams, after witnessing a fantastic, dramatic victory over our most-hated rivals. And a man dressed in full United regalia – hat, shirt, scarf et al who had somehow garnered himself a ticket – no doubt a fully paid-up member of the prawn sandwich brigade that ex-United skipper Roy Keane complained about years ago – had no idea about one of its greatest sons. I’m in shock and it quickly turns to despair… I’m a Cockney Red. Despised, hated even. To many, I’ve no business being here – me and my southern roots and my Cockney accent. And yet now it is I who is outraged. This was an anger far greater than the one I had for anyone in a Scouse accent present this day. What the hell is going on with my club? My club that I seemingly get abuse over every day of my life for supporting? What right did this fan have to be here? Get out of my club! I paused. But, then again, on reflection, what right did I have to be this angry? Are my feelings for this imposter not the same my brethren from Stretford, Salford, Prestwich and Swinton would have about me? The same brethren who couldn’t get a ticket to watch their team even though they do live in Manchester? Are these not the real fans?
To them, am I not just another glory-hunter on a day trip up the M6? Another victim of United’s global success and a marketing team that nowadays reaches most corners of the world. This is the reality of supporting modern-day Manchester United. Why shouldn’t fans from as far flung as the Far East or Outer Mongolia for that matter follow my club? Is my anger just as misplaced as the London fans who berate me for my ‘northern’ ties? I guess it’s just another consequence of what the business of football has become. Today the usual rules do not apply. There has been a power shift. Player power. Premiership footballers are the stars who command astronomic wages which need to be paid. And many a club has gone to the wall trying to do just this. United themselves – thanks to the now infamous Glazer family buyout – are hundreds of millions of punds in debt. I guess I’m just an idealist and a jealous, possessive one at that. This will always be my club. And hey, I do at least know who George Best actually is! So, sadly, while my never-ending search for acceptance and understanding of my plight continues, I am consoled in the knowledge that I get all the love I need from my wife. She loves me. My newly-born child loves me too. And, despite all their prawn sandwich-eating Cockney Reds – with or without oriental accents – United still come first, if only now though for 90 minutes or so every weekend from August to May.
Words: Marc Gadien
‘to many, i have no reason to be here, yet now it’s i who’s outraged’
Fashion Spring’s here, but we’re not ready for shorts just yet
62: Piece of the month: Henri Lloyd smok 66: Five of the best check shirts 68: Killer coats from the likes of Garbstore, Fjällräven, Penfield
WORDS: ANTHONY teasdale fashion photography by matt Reynolds and anthony teasdale
Is Sweden’s Très Bien the perfect example of how to run an online and bricks ’n’ mortar store? Find out on page 64.
Henri Lloyd Viking Smok jacket From Oi Polloi of Manchester, priced £150 buy
From the sea to the shore
The Viking Smok is steeped in seafaring and street heritage – from its maiden voyage around the world with explorer Sir Francis Chicester in 1966 to ’80s Milan as a favourite of the paninaro set and then on to the terraces in the ’90s – it’s the ultimate highspec jacket with more than a dash of cool.
Infatuated by the design and bold colours, Manchester’s Oi Polloi persuaded Henri Lloyd’s sons to let them scour the archives for the Viking Smok and Consort Round The World sailing jackets. It’s a collaboration that’s paying real dividends.
Material matters The fabric may have had a 21st Century update with Bri-Nylon – and the shape tailored for a more modern fit – but the waterproof finish, elasticated cuffs, taped seams and chunky zip of the ’60s original remain.
Prime mover Not a fan of orange? The Viking’s also available in yellow, white and royal blue.
UP CLOSE It’s the details that matter What really sets this jacket apart are the details – something that Henri Lloyd is well known for. We’re especially taken with subtle label on the bib, which lends an air of 1960s yachting chic.
Covered: Henri Lloyd, Oi Polloi, sailingwear
A shop for the very modem man Sweden’s Très Bien provides a model of how to run a brilliant online fashion store, as John Johnston discovers hen two small clothes shops in Lund and Helsingborg, southern Sweden, weren’t making the impact their owners wished, they decided to switch their operations online. Targetting fashion-savvy men from around the world, Très Bien opened its virtual doors in 2005 from a warehouse in Malmö, where a physical store now also lives. “There are a lot of stores that have a web shop alongside their retail operation. But we do it the other way around,” explains Jakob Törnberg, co-founder of the business. Très Bien is a web shop that also runs two physical stores and with this ethos, the Swedish outfit has become a firm favourite of the increasingly influential fashion blogosphere and men who read it. With one of the best stock lists for an independent boutique we’ve seen – the likes of APC, Band of Outsiders, Kitsuné and Commes des Garcons are on the rack – Très Bien’s strongest point has to be the eclectic
mix it hosts. “Très Bien is all about the mix of brands and designers,” Jakob enthuses. “It’s not just that we love brand X and really want to carry it; it’s more like brand X and Y makes this combination that we’re after. We don’t compromise that much; we buy what we think is the best out there for us and not what we think will sell the most.” In many respects, the world of men’s fashion is still quite conservative, with every label having their place and knowing which stores and locations fit that. “What makes it more personal and not like the other 500 stores that carry a brand,” Jakob surmises, “is the way you present them, and this is where our mix is crucial.” Très Bien hasn’t been afraid to play with the brands it hosts, whether it be on the website or in its Malmö and Stockholm stores – and that’s what sets it apart. It is, as the name suggests, very good. www.tresbienshop.net
photos: tres bien
Covered: Menâ€™s fashion, online retailing
Check mates Take a bit of mod, add a pinch of preppy and sprinkle over some workwear magic. The result? The season’s best check shirts button-down check shirt is the sort of staple that straddles trends for years on end. While Madras checks have been hugely popular with devotees of the Take Ivy look recently, we at Umbrella have always loved these shirts, pairing them with chinos in the summer and under round-neck jumpers in the colder months. The selection we’ve picked here all have button-down collars to keep them looking tidy and are made from light cotton so they don’t get too stuffy when the weather starts to warm up a bit. Smart and casual. Just how we like it.
Navy blue check shirt by Garbstore, £112.50 buy
Red gingham check shirt by Carhartt, £45 buy
Covered: Check shirts
Danford shirt by Carhartt, £50 buy
Blue gingham shirt by Burberry Brit, £115 buy
Red check shirt by Garbstore, £112.50 buy
Garbstore SF parka, £287 very man needs – yes, that’s right, needs – a parka. A jacket that straddles the line between smart and scruffy, that’s as at home at some post-work drinks in a swish bar as it is in the beer garden of your local. Not too thick, but warm enough to keep out the March and April winds, this beautiful Garbstore parka is an all-year round essential. Though you might want to give it a rest in summer. www.thegarbstore.com buy
Covered: Garbstore, Fjällräven, jackets
Fjäll guys Fjällraven were formed 50 years by Åke Nordin, a 14-year-old Swede, who started by designing a woodframed bag.
Fjällräven Greenland, £199 ong before the days of workwear fashion blogs, Fjälläraven were making heavy duty clothes for outdoor pursuits. Ideal for both winter and chilly spring days, the Greenland’s snug hood, pressstud fastening and woolen lining will happily keep out both wind and rain. Perfect with some quality jeans and a pair of Finn Comfort shoes, it’s got that authentic ’70s look that we just love. www.oipolloi.com buy
Penfield Lakeville jacket, £185 enfield has gone from a niche brand to one of the staples of the male fashion blogosphere. Combining US workwear hardiness with more modern tailoring styles, waxed cotton jackets like this symbolise everything that’s right about the current men’s fashion scene. We’re big fans of this coat because of its leather shoulder patches, impressive hood and conveniently placed top pockets. Top notch. www.penfieldusa.com buy
’Field work Penfield was formed in 1975 in Massachusetts, USA, building a reputation for innovation without bowing to trends.
Covered: Penfield, 80s Casuals, jackets
80s Casuals Seamaster, £85 rom a manufacturer of cult T-shirts to a respected brand in its own right, 80s Casuals is delving more deeply into the more ‘serious’ end of the menswear market – notably with this fetching waterproof jacket. The Seamaster is made from waxed cotton and comes with handy press-stud pockets, a fantastic hood and a Barbour-like buckle collar. Ideal with some slim-fit jeans and a pair of smart trainers. www.80scasuals.co.uk buy
Henri Lloyd Consort RWR, £225 ike our Item of The Month, the Viking Smok, this heavyduty sailing coat is a result of a collaboration between Henri Lloyd and Oi Polloi. Made from bri-nylon, it comes with a diamond quilted liner, corduroy collar detachable hood, raglan sleeve, underarm grommets, adjustable cuffs and two big pockets at the front. We love the colour and the ‘Round The World’ patch on the arm. www.oipolloi.com Buy
Covered: Henri Lloyd, Eastpak
Eastpak Sugarbush, £52 here are many imitators, but to our eyes you’d be hard pressed to find a better backpack than the Sugarbush by Eastpak. Available in a myriad of colours, the bag comes with a deep interior compartment, a generous back pocket, reinforced, padded straps, leather zip pulls and a suede bottom to keep everything dry. And with a 30-year guarantee, it’ll probably last longer than you. www.chemicaluk.com Buy
PF Flyers Rambler, ÂŁ30 riginally released in 1943, the Rambler is the sort of lo-tech sports shoe that chaps of old would wear on their rare days away from the stuffy office. These days, a classic model likes this fits in with men who want to lend their casual outfits an air of understated class. The American brand has been making shoes since 1937, showing that classic design is demonstrated best by its permanence. www.pfflyers.com Buy
Covered: PF Flyers, Pointer
Pointer Conor boot, ÂŁ129
ointer has, over the last few years, made the allimportant centre ground of British footwear its own. With models influenced by moccasins and workwear alike, it shoes are absolutely made to be coupled with quality denim. These Conor boots, here shown in grey suede, perfectly demonstrate how a mix of thoughtful design and quality materials pays generous dividends. www.pointerfootwear.com Buy
The Conor is Pointerâ€™s take on the historic American hunting boot. Its cushioned EVA sole offers stabilty and comfort.
Grenson Hampstead, ÂŁ250 renson are one of the great British bootmakers, delivering the sort of well made shoes we love so much at Umbrella. This Hampstead boot is a result of their collaboration with the numbersixlondon website, and is, to put it mildly, as rare as hensâ€™ teeth. Still, with a burnished Scotch leather upper and lightweight vibram sole, a pair really is worth searching the internet for. www.numbersixlondon.com Buy
Covered: Grenson, Diemme, footwear
Diemme Roccia boots, £220 orget all these flyby-night trends that mainstream fashion magazines tell us we must follow. The one look that’s never going out is Umbrella’s very own ‘Himalayan scally’ – a defiantly British take on continental mountainwear. These super Diemme boots will underpin such a style, boasting, as they do, padded ankles, subtly brushed leather uppers and a light vibram begonia sole. Lovely. www.oipolloi.com Buy
Armani Jeans raincoat, 2004 he heyday of Girogio Armaniâ€™s forays into streetwear was the late 1980s, when the paninari would hang about the streets of Milan and Turin in the great manâ€™s clobber. This piece, from 2004, recalls those days with its 1987-style beige, white and blue colour scheme and square-cut shape. Fully waterproof, the jacket comes with zip-off arms should one feel the need to show off the results of that winter gymnasium regime.
Covered: Armani, Peter Storm, rainwear
Pete’s sake Peter Storm was founded in 1954 by ex-Marine Noel Bibby, producing the first nylon waterproof coats with welded seams.
Peter Storm kagool, late-1970s f any brand is associated with the early days of the casual scene, Peter Storm is it. One day, it was just an ordinary maker of kagools, the next, every scally in Merseyside was after its wares – preferably in green. This item was picked up recently in a charity shop, a fine example of how minimal styling and thoughtfulness of design will go a long way to ensure a brand’s longevity. Ideal for a British spring.
80 And finally...
Covered: Washing machines, engineering
don’t like most washing machines. It’s form before function with a lot of them. But I have a fascination with Miele. When you get to see the engineering behind them, it’s fantastic. A few years ago we sold a new washing machine to this old lady, her daughter thought she should have a new one. She had a Miele, which she’d bought in 1983 for £1200 – it was still perfect. I took it home, and had it for five years before I ended up giving it my dad when my wife and I split up. It’ll last for ten more years – Miele machines last for 30-plus years. The old models had a motor in them that looked like a big bomb. There’s no mistaking them, the sound is like a deep rumble, it reminds me of the days when a motor sounded like a motor. My dad likes to sit with the kitchen door open and listen to it working, he says it’s like a Swiss clock. And it’s 30 years old. People change stuff too easily, they’ll want one with a digital screen because it looks flash. Miele have a different way of looking how washing machines work – they were the pioneers of the ‘honeycomb drum’ which doesn’t pull your clothing about as much. It’s only Samsung who do them out of the new manufacturers. Because of emission laws in Germany, Miele are now made in Turkey so they come in different colours but in the old days you just got them in stove enamel. My dad’s one weight 94 kilos, twice as much as an average washing machine. It’s got stainless steel covering it and that motor weighs a ton. You can buy an everyday washing machine for £200, but you’ll need a new one in a couple of years’ time. As they say: buy cheap, buy twice. I’d buy Miele.”
words: andy parsons (as told to ANTHOny teasdale) photos: anthony teasdale *andy is a washing machine engineer, working at angel appliances, LONDON, N1. TEL: 020 7278 4344
Miele washing machines
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