Tuesday, 16 July 2019


SINCE 1787
We have been trading in fine tobacco and smokers' accessories from 19 St James's Street for over 225 years and our customers have included discriminating smokers from all walks of life – from commoners to kings. Among them have been Sir Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde, British and Foreign Royalty, the officer's mess of famous British regiments, and the leading lights of the stage, film, sport, tv, radio, music and literature.
Our world famous tobacco business started with Robert Lewis, who began trading fine tobacco in St James's Street in 1787. James J Fox was formed in Dublin in 1881 and opened its first tobacco shop in London in 1947. Fox acquired the business of Robert Lewis on 14 September 1992, uniting two of the most respected names in the cigar world. Both companies now trade as JJ Fox (St James's) Ltd and run the cigar departments of Harrods and Selfridges.

Born in 1913, Frederic (Freddie) was the fourth of five children and the youngest of James Fox’s three sons.
He found himself in charge of the family business, a single cigar shop on Dublin’s Grafton Street, after the untimely death of his two brothers. Stanley Fox was shot dead by armed thieves thought to be members of the IRA in 1926, while Ronald (Biffy) was missing in action over the Dutch coast in 1942 during an RAF mine laying mission.
Freddie, not content with just one shop, took the business from strength to strength. He established a successful import and wholesale business in Ireland alongside the world’s first Duty Free outlet which expanded the retail cigar business into London.
He developed numerous brands including Punch Nectares, Bolivar Amado, Hoyo Royal Hunt and La Corona Policromia, and established the Astor Tobacco Company.
His enterprising nature also saw Freddie acquire and develop a successful import and wholesale business in the Channel Islands; and he oversaw the origin of the business’s entry into the property markets, developing several high profile office buildings in St Helier, Jersey including Sir Walter Raleigh House on the Esplanade.
Freddie Fox died in 1990. He is still sorely missed by his family, friends and colleagues from the cigar industry.
Were he to be asked to comment on his career achievements, he might say :
“Not bad for a beginner.”
We would agree.

During our many years of trading at 19 St James's Street, we have collected a vast array of historic pieces and memorabilia. We chose to dedicate our museum space to the late and great Freddie Fox. The Museum is located in the basement of our flagship store and is open Monday to Saturday during the store's opening hours.
Please take the time to have a look at some of our pieces displayed here and the many more visible in the museum.

Cleaning Your Pipe

The Gentleman’s Tobacco Pipe and Pipe Smoking

Remember your grandfather had always seemed to be smoking a pipe, or you happened to notice your neighbor was contemplating a deep thought while enjoying his tobacco pipe. I have two fond memories. The first was always seeing my uncle with his pipe. Whether he was working in the garage, his wood shop, or working outside, he was smoking his tobacco pipe. Then there was my father. As a young boy I can recall the times that my dad would sit on the porch in the evenings, smoking his pipe, reading the newspaper, and then drifting off into his own thoughts while relaxing. Pipe smoking is returning to a place of popularity among gentlemen. It’s no longer reserved for the older men who lived before us. The enjoyment of tobacco pipes and pipe smoking is classic.

We see that tobacco pipes and processing are considered to be a great partnership. Men spend that past time sitting, smoking, and processing. It causes us to slow down and “be present” within the moment. Smoking a pipe just isn’t about blowing smoke. It’s about waiting and watching the beauties of life unfold around us. The world of tobacco pipes has gained a synergy of more than just smoking and enjoying a pipe and its aroma. Some men have become avid pipe smokers, collectors of fine pipes, tobacco blending, and even creating pipes for others to appreciate.

If you took the time, you will begin to see that tobacco pipes have a rich history attached to their creation. History tells us that the Native Americans brought about the use of the tobacco pipe, but the growing and mass production of tobacco came from an Englishman. Pipes have been unearthed with the discoveries of animal carvings and decorative markings. Most of these pipes were made from porphyritic and other hard stone materials.

Types of Pipes. Another type of earlier tobacco pipe was known as the “clay tavern pipe. This type of pipe was popular among the English and Europeans. The tavern pipe is a long stemmed tobacco pipe, but at the time was mostly crafted from clay. The clay pipes were fragile and broke often. This called for greater craftsmanship and creativity.

The majority of today’s pipes are fashioned from briar. The wood was called “bruyere” and through the years has become known as briar.” From our studies and understanding, briar is as close to the perfect material for the pipe bowl. Plus it is far more durable than clay or meerschaum. We also have to realize that tobacco pipes are work of art or masterpieces of great artisans. Each pipe that is crafted contains specific pieces that allow the pipe to properly function. Elements like the tobacco chamber, the draft hole, smoke channel, and slot are all part of the working pieces of a tobacco pipe. They are important because they determine the smoking qualities of the pipe.

Another form of tobacco pipe is Corncob pipes also known as “cobs.” These are way cheaper to purchase and have been quite popular with a long history of use in the U.S. “Cobs” are made from actual dried corncobs and then crafted into pipe bowls. Once that is done, they are inserted with a wood shank attached with either a plastic or acrylic stem. Most cobs are machine made. Watch this video to see how they are made.

How Corn Cob Pipes are Made

When you first begin to explore the world of tobacco pipes it’s easy for an individual to get lost, frustrated, and eventually give up. There are so many shapes and variations of pipes that they cannot even be listed. The simplest way to understand the world of pipes is to understand that pipes fall into two broad categories that are defined by the course of the smoke channel. They are straight and curved.

Over the years the creativity for the shapes of pipes have expanded extensively. Some have stayed and some have gone, but it all comes back to your personal taste to start with. Purchase something that feels good in your hand, catches your eye, and within your financial budget.

Buying a Pipe. Purchasing a pipe is like any other product out there. There are cheap ones and quality made ones. Before you go and buy a tobacco pipe please keep in mind

there are two main categories of pipes offered for sale: new and estate pipes. New pipes are just that…brand new, un-smoked and have never sold. Pipes like this will be found at a regular tobacco store for cigars and tobacco pipes. Estate pipes are pre-owned, smoked and usually offer you a great opportunity to get an amazing crafted tobacco pipe for half the price than what you would normally pay.

Cleaning Your Pipe.
Follow these simple steps and you shouldn’t have any issues when it comes to cleaning your tobacco pipe. Begin by purchasing some pipe cleaners. You should have soft ones and hard ones. Be sure to lay an old rag or cloth down on the work surface before proceeding. Next, make sure you buy sanitizing grain alcohol, NOT isopropyl alcohol. Thirdly, separate the components of the pipe by sliding or unscrewing the stem from the bowl. Fourth, dunk a hard pipe cleaner into the alcohol and clean the pipe stem by running it back and forth. Once you perceive that it is clean, insert the dry pipe cleaner. If the pipe cleaner comes out clean, you are finished. If it isn’t then just repeat this step. Please be sure to never reuse pipe cleaners. That is unsanitary and they are inexpensive.
Fifth, remove the resin and tar that has built up on the inside of the bowl with a scraping tool. Then fold an alcohol soaked pipe cleaner (that has been drained) in half and clean the bowl and the tenon (the air hole inside the bowl of the pipe). Do this by gently rubbing the sides of the bowl and sticking the pipe cleaner into the tenon. When you do this all of the residue should be wiped off with a dry pipe cleaner. Finally, rub and wipe the outside of the bowl with alcohol on a cloth and let it dry completely.

We hope you have enjoyed our post on tobacco pipes. Do you smoke a pipe? If so tell us how long, and what type of tobacco pipe you have.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Dirk Bogarde (1921-1999) UK actor

During the 1950s, Bogarde was a matinee idol under extended contract to the Rank Organisation. His Rank contract began following his appearance in Esther Waters (1948), his first credited role, replacing Stewart Granger .[10] Another early role was in The Blue Lamp (1950), playing a hoodlum who shoots and kills a police constable (Jack Warner) while in So Long at the Fair (1950), a film noir, he played a handsome artist who comes to the rescue of Jean Simmons during the World's Fair in Paris. He also had roles as an accidental murderer in Hunted (a.k.a. The Stranger in Between, 1952); a young wing commander in Bomber Command in Appointment in London (1953) and a wrongly imprisoned man who regains hope in clearing his name when he learns his sweetheart, Mai Zetterling, is still alive in Desperate Moment (1953).

Bogarde featured as a medical student in Doctor in the House (1954), a film that made him one of the most popular British stars of the 1950s. The film co-starred Kenneth More and Donald Sinden, with James Robertson Justice as their crabby mentor. The production was initiated by Betty Box, who picked up a copy of the book at Crewe during a long rail journey, and saw its possibility as a film. But Box and Ralph Thomas had difficulties convincing Rank executives that people would go to a film about doctors, and that Bogarde, who up to then had played character roles, had sex appeal and could play light comedy. They were allocated a modest budget, and were only allowed to use available Rank contract artists. The film was the first of the Doctor film series based on the books by Richard Gordon.

In The Sleeping Tiger (1954), Bogarde played a neurotic criminal with co-star Alexis Smith. It was Bogarde's first film for American expatriate director Joseph Losey. He did his second Doctor film, Doctor at Sea (1955), co-starring Brigitte Bardot in one of her first film roles; as a returning colonial who fights the Mau-Mau with Virginia McKenna and Donald Sinden in Simba (1955); Cast a Dark Shadow (1955), as a man who marries women for money and then murders them; The Spanish Gardener (1956), with Michael Hordern, Jon Whiteley, and Cyril Cusack; Doctor at Large (1957), again with Donald Sinden, another entry in the Doctor film series, with later Bond-girl Shirley Eaton; the Powell and Pressburger production Ill Met by Moonlight (1957) co-starring Marius Goring as the German General Kreipe, kidnapped on Crete by Patrick "Paddy" Leigh Fermor (Bogarde) and W. Stanley Moss (David Oxley) and a fellow band of Cretan resistance fighters based on W. Stanley Moss' real-life account, (Ill Met by Moonlight), of the Second World War abduction; A Tale of Two Cities (1958), a faithful retelling of Charles Dickens' classic; as a flight lieutenant in the Far East who falls in love with a beautiful Japanese teacher Yoko Tani in The Wind Cannot Read (1958);The Doctor's Dilemma (1959), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw and co-starring Leslie Caron and Robert Morley; and Libel (1959), playing three separate roles and co-starring Olivia de Havilland.

Later roles
After leaving the Rank Organisation in the early 1960s, Bogarde abandoned his heart-throb image for more challenging parts. He starred in the film Victim (1961), playing a London barrister who fights the blackmailers of a young man with whom he has had a deeply emotional relationship. The young man commits suicide after being arrested for embezzlement, rather than ruin his beloved's career. In exposing the ring of extortionists, Bogarde's character risks his reputation and marriage in order to see that justice is done. Victim was the first British film to portray the humiliation gay people were exposed to via discriminatory law, and as a victimized minority; it is said to have had some effect upon the later Sexual Offences Act 1967 ending the illegal status of male homosexual activity.

Other later roles included decadent valet Hugo Barrett in The Servant (1963), which garnered him a BAFTA Award, directed by Joseph Losey and written by Harold Pinter; The Mind Benders (1963), a film ahead of its times in which Bogarde plays an Oxford professor conducting sensory deprivation experiments at Oxford University (precursor to Altered States (1980)); the anti-war film King & Country (1964), directed by Joseph Losey, in which he played an army officer at a court martial, reluctantly defending deserter Tom Courtenay; a television broadcaster-writer Robert Gold in Darling (1965), for which Bogarde won a second BAFTA Award, directed by John Schlesinger; Stephen, a bored Oxford University professor, in Losey's Accident, (1967) also written by Pinter; Our Mother's House (1967), an off-beat film-noir and British entry at the Venice Film Festival, directed by Jack Clayton, in which Bogarde plays a ne'er-do-well father who descends upon "his" seven children on the death of their mother; German industrialist Frederick Bruckmann in Luchino Visconti's La Caduta degli dei, The Damned (1969) co-starring Ingrid Thulin; as ex-Nazi, Max Aldorfer, in the chilling and controversial Il Portiere di notte (a.k.a. The Night Porter) (1974), co-starring Charlotte Rampling, directed by Liliana Cavani; and most notably, as Gustav von Aschenbach in Morte a Venezia, Death in Venice (1971), also directed by Visconti; as Claude, the lawyer son of a dying, drunken writer (John Gielgud) in the well-received, multi-dimensional French film Providence (1977), directed by Alain Resnais; as industrialist Hermann Hermann who descends into madness in Despair (1978) directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder; and as Daddy in Bertrand Tavernier's Daddy Nostalgie, (a.k.a.These Foolish Things) (1991), co-starring Jane Birkin as his daughter, Bogarde's final film role.

In some of his other roles during the 1960s and 1970s, Bogarde played opposite renowned stars, yet several of the films were of uneven quality, due to demands or limitations set by the studio or their scripts: The Angel Wore Red (1960), playing an unfrocked priest who falls in love with cabaret entertainer Ava Gardner during the Spanish Civil War; Song Without End (1960), as Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt, a flawed film made under the initial direction of Charles Vidor (who died during shooting), and completed by Bogarde's friend George Cukor, the actor's only disappointing foray into Hollywood; the campy The Singer Not the Song (1961), as a Mexican bandit co-starring John Mills as a priest; H.M.S. Defiant (a.k.a. Damn the Defiant!) (1962), playing sadistic Lieutenant Scott-Padget, co-starring Sir Alec Guinness; I Could Go On Singing (1963), co-starring Judy Garland in her final screen role; Hot Enough for June, (a.k.a. "Agent 8¾") (1964), a James Bond-type spy spoof co-starring Robert Morley; Modesty Blaise (1966), a campy spy send-up playing archvillain Gabriel opposite Monica Vitti and Terence Stamp and directed by Joseph Losey; The Fixer (1968), based on Bernard Malamud's novel, co-starring Alan Bates;Sebastian (1968), as Sebastian, a mathematician working on code decryption, who falls in love with Susannah York, a decrypter in the all-female decoding office he heads for British Intelligence, also co-starring Sir John Gielgud, and Lilli Palmer, co-produced by Michael Powell; Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), co-starring Sir John Gielgud and Sir Laurence Olivier and directed by Richard Attenborough; Justine (1969), directed by George Cukor; Le Serpent (1973), co-starring Henry Fonda and Yul Brynner; A Bridge Too Far (1977), in a controversial performance as Lieutenant General Frederick "Boy" Browning, also starring Sean Connery and an all-star cast and again directed by Richard Attenborough.

Bogarde claimed he had known General Browning from his time on Field Marshal Montgomery's staff during the war and took issue with the largely negative portrayal of the General that he played in the 1977 film A Bridge Too Far. General "Boy" Browning's widow, the author Daphne du Maurier, ferociously attacked his characterisation and "the resultant establishment fallout, much of it homophobic, wrongly convinced [Bogarde] that the newly ennobled Sir Richard [Attenborough] had deliberately contrived to scupper his own chance of a knighthood."

In 1977, Bogarde embarked on his second career as an author. Starting with a first volume A Postillion Struck by Lightning (an allusion to the phrase My postillion has been struck by lightning), he wrote a series of 15 best-selling books; nine volumes of memoirs, six novels, as well as essays, reviews, poetry and collected journalism. As a writer Bogarde displayed a witty, elegant, highly literate and thoughtful style.

The Servant Original Trailer

Sunday, 14 July 2019


The Servant: a 60s masterwork that hides its homosexuality in the shadows

Joseph Losey's superb 1963 film about class and sex is once again in cinemas – but to locate its elusive gay gene, you have to revisit its source in Robin Maugham's extraordinary and disturbing novella

Peter Bradshaw
Wed 27 Mar 2013 16.21 GMT First published on Wed 27 Mar 2013 16.21 GMT

Homosexuality is everywhere and nowhere in The Servant. Harold Pinter's superbly controlled, elliptical, menacing dialogue is able to hint, to imply, to seduce, to repulse, in precisely the manner that gay men were forced to adopt in 1963, when homosexuality was still a criminal offence, and when representing homosexuality on screen was forbidden. To locate the gay gene in The Servant, you have to go back to its source, the 1948 novella written by Robin Maugham, the nephew of W Somerset Maugham. The Servant has its spark in an extraordinary event in Maugham's own life, to be treasured by connoisseurs of British sex and class.

Maugham had rented a house, which came with its own servant, a man who unnerved him by gliding about almost invisibly. One evening, Maugham went on a date with Mary Soames, the daughter of Winston Churchill. He took her back to his flat and she asked for a drink: a cold lager from the fridge, as opposed to warm ale. (Interestingly, this drink recurs in the movie, but not the novel.) The fridge was just next to the manservant's room in the basement, the door of which was open; Maugham glanced in and saw a naked teenage boy on the bed. The servant appeared from nowhere and said in his odd drawl: "I see you are admiring my young nephew, sahr. Would you like me to send him up to you to say goodnight, sahr?" Maugham pretended he hadn't heard and simply went away without replying.

The trap was plainly set for blackmail – financial or moral, or both. In the book, of course, Maugham heterosexualises the trap. Barrett brings in a young woman he describes as his "niece"; in the film it is his sister, and the misplaced suspicion of incest between Barrett and Vera becomes the "unnatural" act. It is a woman who seduces Tony. But it is Barrett who is pulling the strings. It is Barrett who effects the seduction at one remove, in the hope that he can use this as leverage over the master. In the film, it is as much about power as pleasure, but this manipulation is replete with sexuality.

Maugham's book is far more candid about the homosexual act. He has a character, Richard Merton, who does not appear in the film: a concerned friend of Tony who is the narrator (Maugham even implies that it is their relationship that is the bond of true love). Merton asks Tony outright if he and Barrett have sex, and Tony laughingly denies it, though without being offended or shocked. His passions are to become centred on Vera, who is absurdly and rather naively depicted as a nymphomaniac. But students of linguistic history might be interested in the use of the word "gay" in the book. After Barrett's redecoration, Tony's "chairs had been covered in a gay yellow chintz". Tony is asked by his friend if he is at heart a roving bachelor or a "gay wolf". "Moderately gay" is how Tony replies. The word did not yet mean "homosexual" but is in the process of transition. Harold Pinter avoids it entirely. His movie is about more than sex.

What did audiences make of this extraordinary, disturbing and compelling story? They may well have been alive to its literary echoes. Everyone adored PG Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster. They understood how Jeeves had the upper hand. But Jeeves was entirely benign and discreet. He knew his place. JM Barrie's play The Admirable Crichton showed a butler taking power because he is the only one with practical knowhow when his aristocratic employers are shipwrecked with him on a desert island: but the status quo is ultimately restored.

Insidious and insinuating, Barrett is more like a subtler Uriah Heep, and in their claustrophobia and hysteria, Tony and Barrett have something of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or perhaps Lord Henry Wootton and Dorian Gray, or even Edward II and Gaveston in Christopher Marlowe's play.

As far as movies go, Joseph Losey's previous film with Dirk Bogarde had a similar cuckoo-in-the-nest theme. The Sleeping Tiger (1954) starred Bogarde as Frank, a criminal who is invited by a trendy psychotherapist to come and live in the family house, believing that a stable environment will help him. Frank makes himself at home and begins an affair with the therapist's troubled wife. In later years, when live-in servants are less common, parallels with The Servant are less common also, but there is Curtis Hanson's The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992) featuring Rebecca De Mornay as the nanny who tries to take over the household. And a mention should go to Tinge Krishnan's social-realist drama Junkhearts (2011), which features Eddie Marsan as the ex-soldier who befriends a young homeless teen and gives her a platonic bed for the night in his council flat, only to discover she wants to bring in her boyfriend, who has been planning from the outset to take over his property.

Even in context, however, The Servant looks unique: its formal, theatrical elegance, combined with the ugliness of its emotions and fears, looks sharper and fiercer than ever. With its dark shadows, and faces distorted in convex mirrors, it looks like a scary movie, which is what it is. In Britain in 2013, even with Old Etonians in charge, the master/servant dialogue of 50 years ago seems impossibly arrogant. It was not unusual for instructions to be brusque, and the word "please" to be avoided, and a sentence rounded off with a curt "… would you?" And so the servant classes might well take refuge in an enigmatic mask, or take revenge with little gestures of pique or cheek, and generally store up resentment. In Britain the rhetoric of class, like that of sex, was largely in code. This is what the outsider Losey orchestrates, what Pinter writes and what Bogarde embodies.

• This is an edited extract from Peter Bradshaw's essay on The Servant included in the film's DVD booklet. The Servant is out now in cinemas, and will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 8 April.