Friday, 7 November 2014

Crazy moon, you shine like there's nothing wrong...

Well I've made it to Friday it seems, a hollow victory as it was always bound to happen as regular as tick follows tock but a victory none the less. How a million Londoners manage to sit at their desks and not blow their brains out deserves nothing less than a standing round of applause. Nobody has ever dreamed of one day reaching their dream of working in an office 9-5. It is simply a means to an end surely? The end is of course so you can pay your bills off and live quite comfortably in your old age and start enjoying your life when you're pushing 70 (slowly before you finally start pushing up the daises one would imagine). From the vantage point of my back walled desk I can see a hundred other blank faces, those who probably aimed at being everything from fireman to bank robbers and everything in-between but instead decided on the life of a I.T call centre 'cold caller', named possibly from the feeling that runs through your veins after you've made about 20 and you forget what 'happy' even felt like. Yes of course I'm over exaggerating this dear reader but you didn't expect your baldy hero to lead you down the primrose path without circumnavigating a few pointless obstacles on the way did you? Oh you did? Well there's no accounting for taste m'lad as my old history teacher used to say as he mumbled on that "bad egg Adolf" and his own "every increasingly refined golf swing" (the significance between the two being lost on me and the remainder of the class although some still obediently nodded and scratched notes down with an ever faithful 3 coloured pen as if this would be a possible starter for ten).

Lets get to the point of today's Rhubarb, which is the subject of 'Lifestyle', it's something that has interested me wonderfully over the last few years. It first appeared as a seed that sprouted as my wardrobe bloomed from Top Man t-shirts to Charles Tyrwhitt and Samuel Windsor sale based bargains. Now a true gent wouldn't applaud himself for managing to fish out the best of the bunch from the 20% off bin but as a wise man once said "buy cheap, buy twice" if you can get a good quality anything for a knockdown or even out the factory window price tag then get it! Especially shoes my friends. Shoes and Beds. If you're not in one you're in the other so don't scrimp. Style is really everything. Even if you're the kind of chap to glug a few cans of incredibly cheap flat lager before the theme tune to This Morning strikes up, at least do it in a suit or selection of needlepoint Corduroy and choice of brogues and not a pair of tracksuit bottoms and thousand washed Reebok classic permanently loose tied under the tongue, it does make a difference to the postman as he greats you with the latest pizza menu. What would the neighbours think after all? The difference between 'insanity' and 'eccentricity' has always been simply the inclusion of money and style. A skint fool wearing a pair of elasticated jeans and a "i'm with stupid" t-shirt on the bare bones of his arse will always be insane M'lud where as a well heeled gent that has decided to start eating bricks from his scullery will always be thought of kindly as a "bit of a character" by the locals.

For now I will leave my ramblings here as it is near lunchtime and I flatly refuse to do any 'serious work' when i'm not being paid for the pleasure.

For those of you that have even an inkling that you may want to dress well as you're preparing for your latest pub crawl I would say the best books on the subject are the following:

'How to Have a Life-Style'
http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Have-Life-Style-Quentin-Crisp/dp/155583406X


'THE PERFECTLY DRESSED GENTLEMAN'
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfectly-Dressed-Gentleman-Robert-OByrne/dp/1907563881/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415362647&sr=1-9&keywords=gentleman


'LOW LIFE'
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Low-Life-Autobiography-Jeffrey-Bernard-ebook/dp/B00KYQ3CAA/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415362684&sr=1-3&keywords=jeffrey+bernard


'DANDY IN THE UNDERWORLD'
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dandy-Underworld-Sebastian-Horsley/dp/0340934085/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415362714&sr=1-1&keywords=sebastian+horsley

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Style it out...

Some of you that know me will be able to confirm the fact that over the past 4-5 years I have managed (hopefully with some level of success) to transform my 'look' and actually move to the ranks of people who actually care what goes on their backs.

From the years of selecting my outfit from a wobbly pile of t-shirts, skinny jeans and cardigans/baggy jumpers (finished with the ever present knackered leather jacket) I now have a wardrobe worthy of Henry Hill in 'Goodfellas' and proudly line up my suits/blazers in varied shades like a rainbow of tweed and wool from left to right.

Books and websites have been devoured on the subject of style and appearance as well as how one should conduct themselves within polite society (or with your mates in the pub, either way),and hopefully you'll notice that with only minimal effort NOT to be a total bell-end that the rewards will be forthcoming and your circles will widen.

Here are some tips for the 30 something man about town to follow and assimilate into their own psyche.

1) Manners: They will never go out of fashion no matter what people say. Please's and thank yous, holding doors open, complementing someone on their appearance (whether genuinely deserving or not) is something that will always put you in good sted with friends and strangers. Also NOBODY likes to be proved wrong in front of their friends or work colleagues. Yes we all know that in Mad Men the lead character is named Don Draper and not Dan Draper but for the sake of this mildly incorrect misuse of a single vowel you can nod and listen to the point they're actually trying to make, constantly bringing up their error and audibly mocking them will not get you an invite to the next night out. Nobody has ever felt better or happier after being told that they're incorrect or wrong about something incidental by a stranger in fact this is how most fights tend to start.

2) Get the right size for Gods sake: Whether it be skinny jeans or a three piece suit always get the right size to the inch. I can assume we're all past the age range where "we'll grow into it" or "i'm on a diet so i'll keep that as my target size". Just get the right size that is completely comfortable and looks exactly right.

3) Suits you!: Wearing a suit shouldn't be something you only reserve for weddings, funerals or court cases. You should feel completely comfortable within a suit and use the confidence it brings to your benefit. Fads and fashions come and go but a well fitted suit will ALWAYS look great.

TIPS:

*Lengths (small), (regular), (long) = For a non bespoke off the peg suit jacket you'll see these options (usually colour coded) for each size. Try them all on and get the closest one to a perfect fit. The back vents of the jacket should at least cover half of your backside and with your arms by your sides palms open should reach the halfway point of your hand (no more, no less). There is nothing worse sartorially speaking than a baggy suit jacket or subsequently one that looks like a prop from The Incredible Hulk where you're about to pop every button and tear it to pieces if flex a muscle or check your watch. The 'proper suit jacket sleeve length'? "A man’s shirt cuffs should be slightly visible from under his jacket sleeve. How far? One half inch"- Frank Sinatra




*Trousers: Nobody is happy with their waist size but it's one thing where you'll need to (brace for pun) simply 'suck it in' and get the correct size. Again if you try and kid yourself that although the tape measure reads 40 that you're in fact a 34 if you breath in it'll just mean you'll have a massive belly hanging over the belt line like an explosion in a lard factory. Get the right size and look right. Length wise you're best of listening to Sinatra's advice of letting the trousers stop just as they break when hitting the laces. No baggy suit trousers, these aren't your Sunday tracksuit bottoms for lounging around in or a pair of baggy jeans for a Hip Hop gig. Everything needs to work together.

*Belts: Even if you get the correct size waistline (and I'll assume you all will now) you may fluctuate slightly back and forward now and then within the suits lifetime and require a little extra support from a belt. Always make sure your belt matches your shoes in both material and colour. You shall receive a smartly placed swift boot in the privates if I see you out with a brown belt and black shoes. Unforgivable.

*Shoes: Leather is always the way to go, laces or loafers are fine although those 90's style slip on shoes with square toes that look like clown shoes are most definitely not something anyone should be seen wearing again. Pointy toed shoes have definitely had their day as well I think, go classic. A rounded toe Derby, Tasselled slip on loafer or Brogue is perfect for any occasion and the accepted colours will be Black, Brown, Oxblood burgundy or light tan if in the summer and wearing a light shade of suit.

*Shirts: This is where personal taste comes into the picture. There are many styles of shirts, cuts, cuffs, collars available on the market and all are perfectly acceptable, from the standard straight collar to the wide collar (popular with footballers and pundits ; look at Ray Wilkins next time he's on Match of The Day) or even the Sebastian Horsley styled giant broad collar that fights for domination with the tie itself over which is the most prominent.

Cuffs are down to the person. Both is ideal although a french cuff that requires cufflinks is always a nice touch for special event although please go conservative with cuff-links as one slip up here can make you look like a dick very easily (pint glasses, bulldogs, racing cars etc. all look equally stupid)



*Ties: A tie should be no thicker than the length of your finger, no kipper ties or pencil thin ones please. When it comes to material only choose 100% silk and for knots although there are a hundred variations I personally stick to the standard 4 in hand or a half windsor if the tie is slightly too long for my frame. The point of the tie should reach (but not touch) your belt line, just enough to cover your bellybutton. Anything shorter looks like you've just come home from school and are begging for a 'peanut' (google it) or too long resembles someone who prefers to be lead around on a dog leech (hey each to his own).



*Pocket squares : ALWAYS, it adds a personal flourish and flair and gives the appearance of someone who is completely comfortable with themselves and the fact they are wearing a suit. Again simple conservative colours are best and a straight fold is best, leave the flower arranging ones to the professionals. The reason why for me a basic and standard fold is best is at some point over the evening someone will no doubt go "is that real or a bit of cardboard" and yank it out so retrieving it and carefully yet swiftly re-folding it and placing it back with minimal effort is much better than panicking and trying to find the youtube clip you copied trying to create a 3 point arched fold.


*Socks: Really? Yes I'm going to help you choose your socks m'lad. Always match the trouser colour or shoe colour if feeling a little more flamboyant. I know we're British but you can't just wear black socks 365 days a year and hope for the best.

I've never been one to assist with hair both cranial or facial. Do what thou wilt but keep it clean and free from cobwebs and dandruff and for gods sake no ponytails.


Go fourth young men and multiple!


Some excellent sites:

http://www.samuel-windsor.co.uk/

http://en.monsieurlondon.com/

http://www.us.thomaspink.com/

http://www.ctshirts.co.uk/default.aspx?q=|||||||||||||||




Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Chews-day ramblings.

Had the first twinge of my 33rd year today as I bent over to pick up my shoes. The crack of a dozen Castanets seemed to echo through my hallway and over my back passage as I stood hunched slipping on a hurriedly half polished loafer. 33 is quite an age for me. It's the oldest I've ever been and the youngest I'll ever be again but it still feels like a mugger that's appeared from the shadows in front of me and demanded my youth. Am I officially now 'out' of the circle of the young? When does middle age actually commence these days? Statistics do show that people generally live a lot longer if they've managed to side step illness and wayward drunk drivers or postcode gang stabbings but if three score and ten is the age the majority aim for Biblically speaking then i'm only 2 years away from the half way point. Jesus was 33. Hendrix didn't make it and some simply don't know when to cash in their chips with dignity. 30 itself is a milestone and new chapter in any mans life. Your twenties are a blur or at least mine were and I know for sure that if I met the 22 year old version of myself on the train I would think "you're going the right way to end up a bitter old fucker my lad" and hopefully he would have put his feet up on the seat and turned up the music one notch louder, after all a young man who listens to the advice of the old is generally set to repeat the mistakes of the speaker without any of the knowledge gained from the experience of error.

Here are few things I've picked up and learned along the way that are meant to amuse and are free for the taking if desired. If not then that's fine too as the band-aid and bandage business would be on course to bankruptcy if people started following warning signs.


Things I've learned.


1) Always know when to leave the party. To soon is too rude but if you're tapping away on your mobile come 4am looking for "numbers" you know you're prolonging a dead end gathering like a Dodo on life-support.

2) There are only two types of music. Good and bad. Now this is a quote that's been attributed to everyone from Louis Armstrong, Ry Cooder to Duke Ellington but whoever first said it was bang on the money. Music is all about the venue, atmosphere and company. I refuse to share some music with those less worthy to appreciate it fully.

3) Try your best to tell the truth. It's a hell of a lot easier to remember. They say a good liar disguises the lie with detail and real imagery but when the fallacy is re-earthed out of the blue the pieces of the jigsaw will always be harder to fit on the fly, especially when dodging the effects of a hangover or a set of accusing eyes. The truth is the same today, tomorrow or next year.

4) 'Real' is overrated. No dear listener I haven't immediately spun a coin of contradiction from my previous statement, this only relates to tall tales and drunken party reminiscence not sworn testimony. This is related to anecdotes told by yourself to amuse or amaze. It's all about the delivery. Building up to a story with a preamble of "This reminds of a story I once read in an old newspaper I saw laying on a park bench in Brixton and I thought that...etc.etc" has already lost the concentration of the listener who now with a cracked smile fading is quietly judging your shoes, un-matching socks or incredibly cheap sickly sweet Cologne you've chosen this week. Get to the point or at least A point. "That reminds me of a time in Soho with a trio of Russian diplomats and a one armed piano player..." this will always sound better even if based on legend, after all the point of a story or fun anecdote is to raise a smile from the listener and hopefully keep the attention drawn to you. You never know if you keep talking they might get another drink in.

5) Even the worst drink in the world tastes fine after the third round. This is a lesson I learned from imbibing a friends home made wine at a Xmas party. Upon initial inspection and tasting of the bruise coloured liquid it loudly polluted my taste-buds and ravaged my tongue like a Panzer attack of deicer and value grapes. After the conversation had darted and grown with regular top ups along the way it seemed that I'd been won over and this was in fact a cheeky little number that wouldn't be out of place at a relatively clean Italian eatery.

6) Everyone looks good in a suit. Now I know this can be an issue with some as they feel too formal and constrained within the confines of a pinstripe off the peg three piece but if you've actually bought the correct size or have relaxed and actually asked an assistant to measure you and chosen wisely with a jacket that fits both your shoulders, arms and doesn't hang past your open palm you'll find you've never looked better in your life. A tracksuit outside of a gym or ripped jeans outside of a casualty waiting room is never a good look for someone old enough to remember when Channel 5 was still a pipe dream.

7) Complements work better than flattery. They are definitely different things altogether. When someone has clearly made an effort with their hair, dress, make-up or even finally looked up some YouTube page you sent them six months ago regarding the correct way to polish ones shoes and have followed it to the letter then bring it up. It'll make them feel good, show them that their efforts have not been in vain and hasn't caused you the slightest unrest or hassle. Flattery is someone a crawling P.A's does when discussing the bosses golf swing.

8) When it comes to Art, age is irrelevant. Whether you're reading a book, watching a movie or listening to a Alan Lomax field recording of a teenage Muddy Waters singing and playing it is of no consequence of the age of the piece. Plenty of things happened before you were born, some that are far greater than anything to happen after and their worth isn't based on your personal time-line. Being uninformed or ignorant on a myriad of subjects isn't something to take a bow over, after all Napoléon died nearly 200 years ago...but I still know he lost.



"I will not be a common man. I will stir the smooth sands of monotony." - Peter O'Toole

Tomorrow is promised to nobody. Now where is the fire escape. Chin-chin!


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Back from the egg...

Good afternoon my children!

Yes I have returned once again from the abyss of time and space and back onto your phones, screen and board psyches that crave a pointless and random point of view regarding everything from the correct way to part your hair to which Beach Boys albums to listen to this month.

I can see the last message of hope I last had to offer was back in March with the latest Arctic Monkey's video. A lot has happened since that day with deaths appearing a few times too often for my liking, weddings and employment hunting coming and going like a fart in a hurricane.

So what is left to discuss? Well music will always be there of course but I can't remember the last time I was knocked out by a new single or album by anyone that wasn't sending me it free of charge with a freebie shaped carrot being hoisted in front of me to encourage a favourable review.

My latest interest has been the more grown up pursuit of mens style. No I don't mean the latest colour or shade of socks available from Paris but in fact 'style' itself. Who has it? Who definitely doesn't? In fact those who don't wouldn't even get a mention as there is frankly far too many of them to even consider listing them from A-Z.

It's time to move on from simply pointing a knowing finger at sub par indie bands and saying "well you're shit aren't you my little darlings?" They know they are before they even leave the rehearsal studios, it's just something to do on their gap year at university before finishing with a degree in psychology then going to work at their fathers law firm. They don't harm anyone so why should I even bother recognising them? They are the kindly aunts of the music world so best off leaving them be and concentrate on the more rewarding things in life.

I will continue to post here with any reviews I decide to conjure up from the cosmos thanks to the usual amount of alcohol streaking through my bloodstream like a dog chasing a rabbit through my veins but until then good people here is the link to my twitter page where updates are as regular as Kennedy funeral.

https://twitter.com/Art_Of_The_Gent

Monday, 3 March 2014

Arctic Monkeys - Arabella (Official Video)



Wednesday, 26 February 2014

OASIS 1994

After the frankly underwhelming news that Oasis will be reissuing their debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’ on the 20 year anniversary date in all it’s Re-mastered glory it opened a floodgate of social media chat and Oasis bashing quotes such as “it’s ALL just copying The Beatles”, “it’s all rubbish”, “I preferred Northern Uproar” etc. These are the usual things that happen whenever their name is mentioned and as an Oasis fan it is something you just tend to ignore as the people usually parrot talking these recycled opinions weren’t there when Oasis hit for the first time. How could they be? They were 5 years old.




I was 13 years old in August 1994 the same month that ‘Definitely Maybe’ was released. At the time I’d been listening to a steady stream of Nirvana (obviously), Guns N Roses (who in 1991 had released x2 separate DOUBLE albums the same day with ‘Use Your Illusion 1&2” so even the casual fan had a lot to work through) , Lenny Kravitz (‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ had been released only the previous year) and a bunch of non-descript Grunge bands that had been signed on the back of Nirvana but had half the charm and none of the hooks. Looking back at the above list the most apparent thing is that that they are all American bands as for me the early 1994 U.K scene in West London for the 13 year old music fan was pretty flat. There was the tail end of the ‘Grunge’ scene happening although with the devastating suicide of Kurt Cobain in the April of 94 the wind had definitely farted it’s last from the sails of that ship. I was at secondary school where music as a pastime and lifestyle was broken into a few key fractions, those who listened to Happy Hard-core/Rave music and those who listened to Rock. Hip-Hop hadn’t really broken in Ruislip at that time amongst the playground elite (which I most definitely wasn’t considered). Anyone who didn’t fit into either of these groups listened to chart music or couldn’t care less.

When ‘Definitely Maybe’ was released it seemed to do it without much fanfare on a large scale although there was a definite buzz surrounding it with people who had only discussed football and computer games the Friday previous. I had bought the album along with ‘Parklife’ by Blur the same day and although I cannot give an exact time I became an Oasis fan I think it was somewhere between second 1 and second 5 of the intro of ‘Rock ‘N’Roll Star’ after which I was a goner.

It sounds ridiculous now but at the time nobody since the Sex Pistols was playing loud rock and roll music like this. The charts were really full of bands like Wet, Wet, Wet, Mariah Carey, Bryan Adams and Chaka Demus & Pliers! The ‘real’ guitar music was all coming out of America and even that was starting to look pretty stale. Bands that used to be leather trousers and makeup were now wearing lumberjack shirts and playing pawnshop looking guitars to jump on the ‘alternative’ bandwagon. The more indie fans in the press still spoke in hushed tones about "the new Stone Roses album finally coming out" but as I hadn't even heard the debut at the time and couldn't care less about the follow up that had now been 5 or so years in the making.

“Why didn’t you choose Blur?” I hear the more sensitive of readers out there moan. Well in all honesty I did listen to ‘Parklife’ more than few times (mainly as the guitar chords were printed inside the sleeve so as a new guitarist I loved playing along) but I picked ‘Definitely Maybe’ up first and it struck such a chord within me that anything secondary was going to be a passing interest. Also Blur had already released 2 albums previous to ‘Parklife’, they weren’t new. They had a strong fan base and weren’t too welcoming in a bunch of newbies muscling in (especially those who still required a fake ID to get a beer). Oasis on the other hand still had the wrapping on them and I felt like I was getting in on the first floor. This was year zero. The first album and steady stream of singles were released one after the other and each track and more importantly the B-sides were digested accordingly. Oasis fans will know about the joy of their B-Sides which in a lot of cases were better than the A-sides (‘Listen Up’, ‘Acquiesce’, ‘Headshrinker’,’ Half the World Away’…etc.). Gigs were regular and fairly cheap in relation to todays hiked up prices and not only would you get to see Oasis but the support band would be a group such as The Verve, Supergrass or The Bootleg Beatles! The band was smart enough not to price their fans out of the gigs and always kept them at a level where even someone signing on the dole could walk up to a box office and buy one without any hassle.

Like all cultural trends and fads when all is said and done only the clichés and posters will remain and when people go to fancy dress parties in 20 years and ‘dress 90’s they will wear Union flag jackets and dresses while playing a selection of Brit Pop anthems and it will all seem correct and bang on the money, but like those people who bought ‘Sgt Pepper’ the day it came out the person who downloads it in 2014 will only see a fraction of the bigger picture. Unless you were there and lived it you’ll never really 100% get what it was like and how important it was. Sorry.



Is it too soon to rose tint the mid 90's? Possibly. I know that I don't ever feel the need to listen to any of the songs from this period as at the time I must have played them constantly on loop although I will admit that now and then if a lesser played track from 'Definitely Maybe' such as ‘Bring It On Down’ or 'Slide Away' gets cued up I’ll prick up my ears and feel the blood pumping again and remember how vital Oasis were to the music scene back in 1994 and how glad I was to have been there when it happened.

'Definitely Maybe' 20th ANNIVERSARY Edition will be reissued on May 19th and will include rare and unreleased recordings. The reissue is the first in the new 'CHASING THE SUN' series that the groups label Big Brother Records will be issuing along with the follow up 'What's the Story (Morning Glory)?' and 'Be Here Now'.

Along with the standard CD reissue there will also be a digital download version as well as a special 3 disc special edition that includes rare recordings and demos, a 12" vinyl LP featuring the bonus CD content as a free download and finally a 'DELUXE' box set which will feature the LP and CD.

Oasis will also re-release the single 'Supersonic' on 12" Vinyl 45 to coincide with RECORD STORE DAY 2014 (April 19th)

The bonus tracks will include:

'WHATEVER' (Single version)
'LIVE FOREVER' (Acoustic Version)
'SHAKERMAKER' (Demo)
'HALF THE WORLD AWAY' (Demo)
'STRANGE THING' (Unreleased)
'SAD SONG' (Live At Manchester Academy)

Oasis NEWS 26/02/14




The teasing headline was sent to the Official OASIS Facebook page yesterday but what could it be? Shaggy haired 90's aficionados screamed "reunion" while others more in-tune with the marketing aspect of the 20th Anniversary of the group’s debut album 'Definitely Maybe' pointed their fingers at a reissue or re-master.

It seems the latter was the correct bet.

The 1994 classic debut 'Definitely Maybe' will be reissued on May 19th and will include rare and unreleased recordings (if such a thing exists in the 2014 YouTube world). The reissue is the first in the new 'CHASING THE SUN' series that the groups label Big Brother Records will be issuing along with the follow up 'What's the Story (Morning Glory)?' and 'Be Here Now'.

Along with the standard CD reissue there will also be a digital download version as well as a special 3 disc special edition that includes rare recordings and demos, a 12" vinyl LP featuring the bonus CD content as a free download and fingally a 'DELUXE' box set which will feature the LP AND CD.

Oasis will also re-release the single 'SUPERSONIC' on 12" Vinyl 45 to coincide with RECORD STORE DAY 2014 (APRIL 19TH)

The bonus tracks will include:

'WHATEVER' (SINGLE)
'LIVE FOREVER' (ACOUSTIC VERSION)
'SHAKERMAKER' (DEMO)
'HALF THE WORLD AWAY' (DEMO)
'STRANGE THING' (UNRELEASED)
'SAD SONG' (LIVE AT MANCHESTER ACADEMY)