Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Thanks Bookster!

Some months ago (March 2018) during a short trip to Lisbon, Jeeves  took some photographs of himself wearing a ready to wear Hacking Jacket, made by Bookster (
In a very pleasant follow up, Bookster, tailored using the same “tweed” fabric, a pair of trousers following my specifications (very simple and functional.)

 High Waist Trousers. (to wear with suspenders)
Double Pleats Inward
Plain Waistband with Button Side Adjusters
Turn-ups (5cm)
Two Back Pockets
ZIP fly
Lining half to the knee

What I really wanted was a timeless, comfortable and functional suit, away from the “Italian syndrome” who has dominated the scene of “business” life, in a great paradox, transforming people who want to look responsible, in “fat babies” wearing too small clothes.
Thanks Bookster!
JEEVES / Tweedland / António Sérgio Rosa de Carvalho / Architectural Historian.

All Photographs by  MisjaB

All Photographs by  MisjaB

Model:  Hacking Jacket
Cloth: Thistle Tweed
Cloth Weight:  550gms / 22oz
Weight Category: Medium Weight
Cloth Pattern: Check
Cloth Colour: Green Gold Mix with Purple/Wine Windowpane Over Check
Lining: Purple Viscose Twill Lining
Buttons: Dark Horn
Style: 3 Button Front
Lapel: Notch Lapel with Collar Tab Feature
Outside Pockets: 3 Extra Slant Flap Pockets and Welted Breast Bocket
Inside Pockets: 2 Inside Breast Pocket with Security Pocket Right, Pen Pocket and Card Pocket left
Cuff: 4 Button Real Cuff
Vents: Twin Vents
Trim: Purple Undrcollar

Customer Service: +44 (0)113 887 8424


Bookster was established by Peter and Michelle King in Herefordshire in 2007 and was borne out of selling vintage clothing in the 1970s which, over time, became renowned for specialising in Tweed.

This specialisation was due to a continued frustration that tweed clothing was only available in a limited number of small sizes. With a growing customer base of demand for Tweed garments (in a variety of shapes and sizes) they decided that the best way to serve their clients was to actually start making Tweed jackets in custom sizes.

Thus Bookster Tailoring was established to introduce The Bookster Original made to order Tweed Jacket. Popularity for the product rapidly grew and soon demand had seen the product range widen significantly, whilst maintaining the Bookster Tweed Jacket as its core focus.

In 2014 Bookster Tailoring was acquired by new owners, with a rich tailoring heritage stretching back over 100 years, and subsequently the company’s headquarters moving to Leeds, a famous heartland for tailoring and cloth production.

The acquisition has only strengthened Bookster’s client offering in terms of product range, customisation options, selection of cloth, fit, tailoring quality and customer service. Today Bookster, still specialising in Tweed, has a customer base of satisfied clients who appreciate the quintessentially British style of a Bookster garment, its’ premium quality and perfect fit.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

A scandalous piece of opportunism and insensitive bad taste./ "Diana's funeral: re-enacted in Salford with Jill Dando and a mariachi band"

A scandalous piece of opportunism and insensitive bad taste.
JEEVES/ Tweedland

“Whether you are a monarchist or a republican, some events should be beyond humour, and the funeral of Princess Diana is one thing nobody should be laughing at.”
"the recreation is nothing short of sick and twisted".
Charlie Proctor / Royal Central

“THIS was the disgraceful moment Princess Diana was "exorcised" in a reenactment of her funeral - 21 years after she died. The sick remake featured a smashed up vehicle imitating the crashed Mercedes Diana was travelling in when she was killed.”
Express / Fri, Sep 7, 2018

Diana's funeral: re-enacted in Salford with Jill Dando and a mariachi band
It provoked tabloid fury. But this bizarre spectacle, complete with car wreck, posed tough questions about death, royals and the social order. Our writer joined the procession

Dave Simpson
Thu 13 Sep 2018 00.06 BST

 ‘Princess Diana to be EXORCISED in ‘sick and twisted’ FUNERAL re-enactment,” raged a recent tabloid headline, announcing a “satirical remake” at Salford’s White Hotel to mark the 21st anniversary of her death. The paper even quoted Charlie Proctor, editor of regal website Royal Central, who blasted: “Whether you are a monarchist or a republican, some events should be beyond humour, and the funeral of Princess Diana is one thing nobody should be laughing at.”

But are the artists involved in this event really laughing at Diana? Or is something more interesting going on? I decide to find out for myself, and so I join the procession as a coffin draped in flags is carried through the streets of Salford. As requested, everyone is wearing black and many carry flowers. The procession walks in respectful silence while traffic slows, bystanders gawp and people peer from behind twitching curtains. Genuine paparazzi hurry after the procession, just as they chased Diana’s Mercedes before the fatal crash in Paris. Someone says: “This is going to be the weirdest experience we’re going to have this year.”

They’re not wrong. The Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales 2.0, is a free entry, word-for-word re-creation but with a mariachi band in place of Elton John. The event – put together by well-known faces from the arts and featuring novelist and film-maker Chris Petit as “master of ceremonies”, and writer and documentarian Jonathan Meades as Diana’s brother Earl Spencer – was always going to be controversial. Posters for the event (provocatively depicting Diana, Jimmy Savile, Jill Dando and Barry George) have been torn down across town.

“We sent out a press release knowing what would happen,” says author Austin Collings, who is directing the re-enactment. “But it’s very Chris Morris/National Enquirer to talk about an ‘exorcism’. The papers used a picture of the wrong building and said we’re having a Jimmy Savile impersonator, which is nonsense. So it’s already become an exercise in fake news.”

For most people in the procession, what awaits us at the hotel is shrouded in mystery. Those involved are being cagey. Film-maker and artist Stanley Schtinter says only that it will “reclaim the people’s princess for the people”. Even one of the actors – Little Anthony, once of Manchester band Intastella – has no idea what he’s getting into: “All I know is that my role involves a pair of union-jack boxer shorts.”

Collings, who ran with the idea after Schtinter suggested it, was brought up a staunch anti-royalist, but researching the project by watching hours of old footage made him reappraise Diana and her attitude to the royals. “I love the factshe was a passionate thorn in their side,” he says. “The more you watch, the more endearing she is. When you see footage of the Queen Mother approaching a crowd, she keeps her distance, whereas Diana bowls right in.”

Collings is old enough to remember the original, emotional funeral and the way that – briefly – the nation turned against the royal family because of the way they treated Diana. And he remembers how the press treated her:“She was the first woman to have her cellulite homed in on, when she was at the gym. It was the precursor of the Kim Kardashian treatment of celebrity, almost Ballardian.”

What about Jill Dando and Barry George (who was wrongly convicted of her murder)? How do they come into it? Collings says he sees both Dando and Diana as “ciphers, truth-tellers to power. Savile, as a friend of Charles, was a marriage counsellor to the royal couple. Diana had a terrible feeling about him from the start. She had emotional intelligence.

“At the time, putting her hands on black babies and all the stuff with landmines seemed like PR, but you look at it now and maybe she became a woman in a way they hadn’t let her. And the men she chose later on – an Indian doctor [Hasnet Khan]; Dodi [Fayed], a Muslim – were V-signs to the royals. So we’re essentially telling an absurd story of class, monarchy, racism and corruption.”

The procession arrives. The paparazzi are refused admission to the old club-turned-arts space. Everyone gathers in uneasy silence. But for all the mystery beforehand, it’s largely as Schtinter envisaged: a word-for-word re-creation, but taken vastly out of context. The rundown space, with its huge speakers and 24-hour licence, is no Westminster Abbey. It feels truly surreal, emphasising the strangeness of our social order.

Tony Blair, hissed and booed, is the pantomime villain, brilliantly played by Rob Thornber, a kitchen worker and club promoter. He had four days to learn the part but studied footage to send up the pomposity of the then-PM’s original speeches and bizarre, dramatic stutter. A car wreck – a Volkswagen, not a Merc – filled with flowers feels a bit crass, though Collings argues that it provides crucial context.

Earl Spencer’s emotional, almost vengeful eulogy about how Diana’s “blood family” will protect the princes is, however, received in awestruck silence. The words are delivered by Meades via a deliberately bad recording, so people hang on every word. We never do get to see Little Anthony’s Brexit boxer shorts: his role was dropped. Nor, despite subsequent tabloid reports, is there any reference to Savile, apart from on that initial poster. Instead, the Aloof’s The Last Stand – the most-played song on Radio 1 on the day Diana died – closes proceedings at punishing volume, while mist descends and George shoots Dando.

Afterwards, everyone I speak to has a different perspective. Alex Taylor, 28, from Stockport, sees it as an exercise in challenging the limits of free speech. Artist and musician Dalitso Moni believes dialogue about taboo subjects “brings people together – it’s an artist’s job to give you experiences you might not have thought of”. Isabel Aitken, who gave some of the readings, identifies with Earl Spencer’s idea that “people were drawn to her because they saw one of the dejected and vulnerable. She was such a part of the establishment, but struggled to assert her individuality, and I admire her for that.”

It’s not always clear how the creators intended the piece to be received. But for art student Alice Pennington, playing Dando in a performance about Diana has made her think about #MeToo. “For me, things haven’t changed in terms of growing up surrounded by idealised womanhood. I think Jill Dando was on the verge of exposing something, and there are parallels with these young women who were killed in mysterious circumstancesand who embodied female innocence. Diana was the fairytale princess who refused to play the game.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, AKA TV producer James Norton, says: “People still get pissed off with William and Harry for being emotional and talking about depression, but that’s Diana’s legacy – and it’s still subversive. They don’t think royals should behave like that.”

“It’s the weirdest thing I’ve seen, but I think she’d have liked it,” says 19-year-old Huddersfield student Eve Pennington. “She was a rebel, wasn’t she?”

Princess Diana funeral remake with Mexican mariachi band sparks fury –'It's disgraceful'
THIS was the disgraceful moment Princess Diana was "exorcised" in a reenactment of her funeral - 21 years after she died. The sick remake featured a smashed up vehicle imitating the crashed Mercedes Diana was travelling in when she was killed.
PUBLISHED: 17:26, Fri, Sep 7, 2018 | UPDATED: 18:16, Sat, Sep 8, 2018

It was organised by artist Stanley Schtinter at The White Hotel, a "rundown" popular rave warehouse in Manchester located yards away from Strangeways prison.

Around 160 people attended - and many of the mourners were no older than 30.

It included a Jimmy Savile impersonator and writer Jonathan Meades played the role of Diana's brother Charles, Earl Spencer - who read his original funeral speech in full.

The coffin arrived in an Uber and mourners threw broccoli and flowers as it was carried into the warehouse.

Photographer Karen Priestley, 49, attended the event yesterday - on the 21st anniversary of Diana's funeral.

She said: "There must have been around 160 people there and some of them looked emotional.

"People were carrying flowers and broccoli - a lot of those attending would be too young to remember the original.

"It was sick and disgraceful - there was a smashed up car imitating the vehicle Diana was in when she died.

"It was covered in flowers and they had a picture of Diana with roses next to it.

"The final service was a word for word reenactment of her funeral - and they even had an actor playing Diana's brother to read his speech.

"They had somebody dressed up as a priest and a man dressed as a high priest.

"The White Hotel is a disused warehouse where they hold raves - it's white but that's the only thing that is true to the name."

The procession started at 6.30pm and the route wound its way through the backstreets of Broughton in Salford.

The White Hotel said of the event: "The World Cup may not be coming home but our Queen of Hearts has just ordered a taxi and she's on her way.

"Commissioned by The White Hotel's arts cabinet, artist Stanley Schtinter has cooked up a word for word remake/re-enactment of Princess Diana's funeral to mark the anniversary of the original and popular 1997 production.

"The funeral will benefit from the natural incorporation of the Jill Dando/Barry George fit-up/Crimewatch cock-up, and Jimmy Savile cock-in(to) the mix for goodbad measure.

"With an original score by a live Mexican mariachi band (includes a specially adapted version of Candle In The Wind), and appearances by writer and TV star Jonathan Meades (as Earl Spencer) and writer and filmmaker Chris Petit's Museo de la Soledad (as Master of Ceremonies)see it as a purge after another year of pointless patriotism."

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

THE NEW BOOK OF SNOBS A Definitive Guide to Modern Snobbery By D.J. Taylor / Andrew Mitchell and the Plebgate affair.


A Definitive Guide to Modern Snobbery
By D.J. Taylor
Illustrated. 275 pages. Constable.

The New Book of Snobs by DJ Taylor review – what is the new snobbery?

There are film snobs, garden snobs and inverse snobs, not just people who send their children to elite private schools. Snobbery is in all classes and is a very human failing

Bee Wilson

Thu 27 Oct 2016 06.59 BST Last modified on Wed 29 Nov 2017 10.11 GMT

 “I’m afraid we’ve become terrible salt snobs,” joked the late food writer Alan Davidson when he and his wife Jane had me round for lunch one day in the early 2000s. On the table were a panoply of special salts, from pink Himalayan to damp, grey fleur de sel from France. Announcing himself as a salt snob was a form of gentle self-mockery, something Alan was good at. He knew how absurd it was to have all these salts, when he could have made do with a cheap tub of Saxa. But it was also a modest kind of boastfulness. Alan wanted me to notice how superior his salt collection was, which I duly did.

The concept of snobbery is deeply complex, as the literary critic and biographer DJ Taylor cleverly explores in his “definitive guide” to snobs. Snobbery is a form of social superiority, but it can also be a moral failing. Snobs may laud it over others, but we, in turn, despise and punish them for it. Taylor starts his book with the “Plebgate” affair of 2012, in which the government chief whip Andrew Mitchell was forced to resign his official post, and later pay substantial damages, after it emerged that he had rebuked a police officer who asked him not to cycle through the gates of 10 Downing Street with the words: “Best you learn your fucking place … You’re fucking plebs.” As Taylor notes, Mitchell’s sin was not to swear, but his use of the word “plebs”, which, in ancient Rome, simply meant the common people.

In modern times, very few snobs are snobs all the time. To be a salt snob does not necessarily mean that you will be a snob in any other area of your life. Taylor confesses that he becomes a snob whenever he hears Adele on the radio or hears a Channel 4 presenter “tumbling over her glottal stops”, but hopes that he is not a snob per se. He is the son of a grammar school boy from a council estate and feels that he knew “all about petty social distinctions from an early age”. He is fascinated by the many forms snobbery takes, from the garden snobs who despise hanging baskets and patios (the correct word, apparently, is terrace) to the inverse snobs who feel superior to anything that smacks too much of “middle-class” behaviour. Taylor also identifies the film snob, a perverse individual who may consider Brian de Palma’s Body Double wildly underrated and sees no point in Meryl Streep.

In his The Book of Snobs (1846-7), the novelist WM Thackeray noted that some people were snobs “only in certain circumstances and relations of life”. Others, however, were what Thackeray called positive snobs, who were “snobs everywhere, in all companies, from morning to night, from youth to grave”. Thackeray argued that in the Victorian society in which he lived, many people could not help being positive snobs, because the whole of British national life was founded on the principle of hereditary privilege. The true snob, in Thackeray’s book, would find, as Taylor explains, that “his entire existence is governed by its logic: wife, house, career, recreations”. The Victorian snobs depicted by Thackeray might ruin themselves to pay for a fashionable hat or a pianoforte in the back parlour or an absurdly expensive truffle-laden dinner. This was because they felt it was social death to dine with people of the wrong class, such as doctors or lawyers, instead of “the country families”.

Maybe I move in the wrong circles (or do I mean the right circles?), but I wonder how many people in modern Britain, even posh people, still think or act like this. Taylor, the author of a biography of Thackeray, aspires to update The Book of Snobs to modern Britain. But for much of the book, it feels as if he has hardly updated it at all, writing as if all snobs were people who necessarily went to elite public schools and who insist, like Nancy Mitford, on being “U” and not “non-U”. Taylor anatomises many varieties of current snob: school snobs, country snobs, property snobs and so on, in novelistic sketches. But many of his different snobs end up sounding rather similar, and I don’t recognise much of contemporary society in his book.

By the end, Taylor’s snob seems to have become a very specific class of person, one who keeps labradors, eats potted shrimps and cares about whether someone went to Winchester or Eton. Such a snob is rather like the Sloane Ranger of the 1980s (his acknowledgments cite Ann Barr and Peter York’s The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, on which he seems to have modelled some of his style). Snobs, Taylor writes, are “fond of mangling or truncating personal pronouns”. The “diehard snob doesn’t have a bath, he ‘takes his tub’”. Late middle-age snobs “talk artlessly of having ‘made a bish’”. The snob, Taylor airily claims, “is a person who uses a title ostentatiously”.

Yet we can all think of plenty of snobs, of one kind or another, who base their snobbery neither on title nor ostentation. And so can Taylor. What makes this book a missed opportunity is that he has taken what could have been a panoramic meditation on the place of snobbery in British society and crammed it into a needlessly narrow and archaic framework, giving the impression that snobs only belong to that class of people who are found on the grouse moor or in Debrett’s.

Taylor is an intelligent writer, however, and the best parts of this uneven book suggest that snobbery is far from limited to the upper classes. “Snobbery is universal,” he argues at one point. ‘“No social class, intellectual category or art form is immune to the snob virus.” The essence of all snobbery, Taylor says, is the making of arbitrary distinctions. It consists of “imposing yourself on a social situation, pulling rank, indicating, with varying degrees of subtlety, your own detachment from the people in whose presence you find yourself”. As such, it is both an unlikable characteristic and a very human one. Whether we are eating salt or deciding where our child goes to school, the person has not yet been born who never once secretly felt that his or her way of doing things was better. The snob is someone who hasn’t yet realised when to keep these feelings to himself.

‘The New Book of Snobs’ Updates the Shifting Science of Social Cues

By Dwight Garner
April 18, 2017

The English writer William Golding (“Lord of the Flies”) had a longstanding sense of social inadequacy. When he applied to Oxford University, the admissions interviewer noted that he was “N.T.S.” — not top shelf.

Golding wrote that he would like to sneak up on Eton, the elite private school, as if he were a cartoon villain, “with a mile or two of wire, a few hundred tons of TNT and one of those plunger-detonating machines which makes the user feel like Jehovah.”

There’s no sting like a class sting. There’s a bit of Golding, an imagined status-anarchist, in most of us. Who doesn’t hate snobs? Yet we’re all snobs about some things.

It’s among the contentions of D. J. Taylor’s clever and timely “The New Book of Snobs” that the world would be a poorer place without a bit of insolence and ostentation. “The cultivation of an arbitrary superiority,” he writes — whether we are in a refugee camp or a manor house — “is a vital part of the curious behavioral compound that makes us who we are.”

Often enough, you’d need a hydraulic rescue tool, a Jaws of Life, to pry apart snobbery from a simple human desire to get ahead. As Taylor puts it, “not all social aspiration is snobbish” and “to want to succeed and to delight in your success is not necessarily to betray a moral failing.”

Taylor’s book takes its title and inspiration from William Makepeace Thackeray’s “The Book of Snobs” (1848), in which that Victorian novelist defined a snob as one “who meanly admires mean things.”

Snobbery is no longer so easy to define. As in a string of binary code, the ones and zeros keep flipping. In a world in which reverse snobbery is often the cruelest sort, it can be hard for the tyro to keep up.

This is where Taylor’s book comes in. “The New Book of Snobs” will not help you navigate the American status system. It’s a very British book; so British that there are currently no plans to publish it in the United States. (I’m reviewing it because it’s new and interesting, and because copies can be easily found online.)

To understand Taylor fully, it will help to be conversant with the humor magazine Viz, as well as with the humor magazine Punch; with the reality-TV star Katie Price as well as with the writer Nancy Mitford; and with the Kray twins and the rapper Tinie Tempah, as well as with Evelyn Waugh and Beau Brummell.

Writing is hard because thinking is hard. Writing about class and snobbery, in particular, is so hard that doing it well bumps you a rung up the class ladder. In America, no one has made a serious attempt to unpick the multiple meanings of status cues since Paul Fussell did in his wicked book “Class” (1983).

As a myriad-minded social critic, Taylor is not quite on Fussell’s level. (Almost no human is.) But he’s astute, supremely well read and frequently very funny. In its combination of impact with effervescence, his book puts me in mind of a Black Velvet, that curious cocktail made from Guinness stout and champagne.

The English class system, with its hereditary titles, is vastly different from ours. But snobbery — class’s meddlesome twin — is a lingua franca. There’s plenty for an attentive student to learn here.

We are in the age of Trump, and, clearly, some forms of attempted snobbery will always take the form of conspicuous consumption. Taylor correctly points out, however, that the wiliest snobs “pursue their craft by stealth.”

He’s excellent on the distinctions that can be conveyed “by an agency as subtle as an undone button, a gesture, a glance, an intonation, the pronunciation of a certain word.” In England, it’s possible to be crushed by the sound of an attenuated vowel.

Americans in Britain, Taylor suggests, must remain on alert. Upper-class Brits like to ridicule American vernacular by stressing our usages, as in (the italics are his) “I think she’s gone to the restroom,” or “We’ll have to take a rain check on that.”

Don’t think you can escape this sort of game. “The man who most loudly proclaims his lack of snobbishness,” Taylor writes, “is most likely to be a snob.”

Taylor’s book is filled with small, tart taxonomies. He lists the great snob heroes of fiction, including Lady Catherine de Bourgh in “Pride and Prejudice.”

He offers tidy profiles of notable snobs, including the journalist and politician Tom Driberg (1905-1976), who would write the managers of hotels in advance, “demanding an assurance that there would be no sauce bottles or other condiments on the dining tables during his stay.”

The author probes some of the class resentment behind Brexit, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. President Trump is not mentioned in this book. But leaning on George Orwell and Charles Dickens, Taylor discusses nationalism as “an extreme form of snobbery.”

A great deal of strong writing about class has been emerging from Britain in recent years. I’m thinking, in particular, of Owen Jones’s book “Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class” (2011). Taylor’s book is vastly different from Jones’s, but, in a sense, these men are climbing the same mountain from different sides.

To linger on the topic of class can seem like a sign of a sick soul. The subject can make us touchy, whether we are highborn or low or someplace in the middle. The critic Dwight Macdonald was a man of the radical left, yet a descendant of the old Dwight family of New England. In one grouchy 1947 letter, he wrote, “We can’t all be proletarians, you know.”

With nearly all status signifiers in flux, books like Taylor’s are more important than ever. Snobbery and immense learning, he makes plain, do not always walk hand in hand.

But in 2017, it pays to heed the advice of Ian McEwan, who wrote: “It is quite impossible these days to assume anything about people’s educational level from the way they talk or dress or from their taste in music. Safest to treat everyone you meet as a distinguished intellectual.”

Follow Dwight Garner on Twitter: @DwightGarner

Andrew Mitchell and the Plebgate affair explained for non-Brits
Why is ‘pleb’ a toxic word? How can a judge calling you a bit dim be a good thing? And how can two people sue each other at the same time? A guide for non-British readers

Peter Walker
Thu 27 Nov 2014 18.33 GMT Last modified on Thu 21 Sep 2017 00.35 BST

Andrew Mitchell, who resigned as chief whip over the 'plebgate' affair

A senior British politician, Andrew Mitchell, has lost a high-profile libel action against the publishers of the biggest-selling daily newspaper, the Sun. That’s the easy bit.

For non-Britons, or indeed anyone who has not been following each twist and turn in a two-year saga which takes in politics, policing, law, the media, language, class snobbery and the intricacies of who can use which gate at Downing Street, everything else gets a bit complex.

We’re here to help. Below is a handy guide to what happened and what it all means.

So what did happen?
It all began on the evening of 19 September 2012 when Mitchell, then chief whip of the government – effectively the enforcer for the ruling party, the person who keeps discipline and makes sure ministers vote as they are ordered – tried to cycle out of Downing Street. He was in a rush, en route to an engagement, and wanted to ride directly out of the main vehicle gates.

But to Mitchell’s displeasure, he was told to dismount and walk his bike through a pedestrian entrance. He argued with the officer on duty, PC Toby Rowland and, according to the officer’s account of the exchange, told him:

Best you learn your fucking place – you don’t run this fucking government – you’re fucking plebs.

All this was gleefully recounted in the next day’s Sun newspaper, and even though Mitchell denied using the word “plebs”, the continued bad publicity led him to resign just over a month later.

The row has rumbled on ever since, including minute examination of CCTV footage from the evening in question, and culminating in a legal case which finished on Thursday that saw Mitchell sue the Sun for libel over its story, while at the same time Mitchell was sued by PC Rowland for calling the policeman a liar.

The judge, Mr Justice Mitting, released a complex ruling, but one that concluded Mitchell did use “the words alleged or something so close”, including the word pleb.

What’s the big problem with pleb?
Meaning a common, or lower-class person, pleb is a largely outdated piece of slang in Britain, rarely heard by most in recent years before Mitchell inadvertently brought it back to prominence.

As insults go, pleb is relatively mild, and has a distinguished etymology, being derived from the Latin term plebeian, a member of the lower orders in ancient Rome. However, it is a class-based slur, and despite weekly newspaper articles decreeing the end of class, Britons remain obsessed by social status, especially the idea a compatriot might be judging them in connection with it.

This obsession is all the more the case in the government in which Mitchell served, which is dominated by the products of England’s top private schools, which are, confusingly, known as public schools. Chief among these is Eton, attended by David Cameron. Mitchell went to the very marginally less posh Rugby – current fees for boarders about £32,000 (just over $50,000) a year – but was later an army officer and investment banker, which makes him very posh.

The idea of a government minister using a class-laden insult to demean an ordinary policeman was seen as especially toxic. It didn’t help Mitchell’s case that he was annoyed at being held up while heading to the Carlton Club, an old and hugely posh private members’ club.

Who did people believe?
It depends who you asked, and when you asked them. Mitchell has something of a reputation for anger and blunt speaking – OK, for being very rude. The just-finished libel trial heard testimony about him calling one security officer “a little shit” and telling another, charmingly:

That’s a bit above your pay grade Mr Plod.

But there were also claims the police exaggerated the complaints, in part as a political manoeuvre targeting a government which has sought major restructuring of policing. The Plebgate affair, as it was inevitably know, was used as a campaign tool in fighting police cuts. Eventually, two officers were sacked, one for passing information to the Sun.

For about two days Mitchell was a semi-popular cause célèbre among British leftwing Twitter users, who liked to argue that if he could be fitted up by the police, what hope was there for young black men from the inner city. This didn’t last long.

Why did the judge decide against Mitchell?
In what might count as a slightly mixed verdict for PC Rowland, the judge ruled in part that he thought it unlikely the officer had invented the “pleb” exchange because he seemingly did not have the imagination to do so.

Karen McVeigh
 Not only did Rowland lack wit, inclination imagination to fabricate, neither did he inclination for pantomime invention needed #plebgate

Is Mitchell uniquely rude among British ex-cabinet ministers?

No. Not even this week. David Mellor, who served in government in the early 1990s, was in the news this week for raging at a London taxi driver he thought had taken the wrong route. Among the choice sentences recorded by the driver on his mobile phone was this volley:

You’ve been driving a cab for 10 years, I’ve been in the cabinet, I’m an award-winning broadcaster, I’m a Queen’s Counsel. You think that your experiences are anything compared to mine?

What’s the lesson from all this?
Don’t be rude to the police. And be wary of trying to take them on in the courts – the police trade union, the Police Federation, has spent a reported £1m ($660,000) backing Rowland’s case. And if you must be rude as a British politician – as Emily Thornberry also knows only too well – just don’t bring class into things.

Patricia Routledge as the snob Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances

Monday, 10 September 2018

Heroes, Mavericks and Bounders: The English Gentleman from Lord Curzon to James Bond by Hugh David

Heroes, Mavericks and Bounders: The English Gentleman from Lord Curzon to James Bond– September 16, 1991
by Hugh David
The author of "The Fitzrovians" examines the fortunes of the English gentleman from the end of the 19th century to the present. Starting on the playing fields of Eton, he reveals the true origins of our modern idea of a gentleman and comments on how the gentleman has fared since his heyday in the Edwardian summer. From Lord Curzon and the "souls" to C.B. Fry and from Oswald Mosley to Guy Burgess, by turns glamourous, moving and startling, Hugh David unravels the story of a breed whose code of behaviour is recognized throughout the world as being that of the English gentleman.

The International Journal of the History of Sport, 9:2, 316-334, DOI: 10.1080/09523369208713797  Hugh David, Heroes, Mavericks and Bounders (London: Michael Joseph, 1991). Pp.xiv + 306. £18.99. ISBN 0-7181-3264-5. 
M. D. W. TOZER Northamptonshire Grammar School

It was a clever idea, but it does not quite come off; but marrying popular journalism with serious scholarship is never easy. The author almost succeeds with the former, an approach that allows him to dip at will into the biographies of the famous and not-so-famous of the twentieth century. Here we follow the fortunes of the heroes, mavericks and bounders of the book's title. The sub-title - The English Gentleman from Lord Curzon to James Bond - signals the line of intended scholarship, but little that follows lives up to that first expectation. This surely is a scissors-and-paste job from a full suitcase of books borrowed from 'Science & Miscellaneous' in the London Library. But there is some fun to be had: Stanley Matthews makes a surprise appearance as one of nature's gentlemen; a gold-plated Sir Bernard Docker is at first cheered on by hoi-polloi, but then goes too far and gets his come-uppance; the class A James Bond intended for a class A readership becomes a runaway hero with his millions of BC readers; and Douglas Hurd denies that his titled father was anything other than a tenant farmer - though of 600 acres. It all makes good holiday reading. The scholarship is at its safest right at the start of David's period, the 1890s. Lord Curzon, inevitably, is his personification of the English gentleman, that  very superior person. The mantle passes to King Edward VII, John Buchan, Raymond Asquith and others, and becomes increasingly creased and worn as each decade goes by. By the time it has reached Oswald Mosley, it is decidedly threadbare. David's 'gentleman' simply did not survive the Great War, let alone the People's War and the coming of the Welfare State. Harold Macmillan may have affected the hauteur of a gentleman, Guy Burgess had indeed enjoyed a privileged upbringing, and John Profumo relished a high society redolent of Tum-Tum himself — but these are the trappings and trimmings of a gentlemanly style, not the solid stuff of the mantle itself. So back to the beginning. David properly charts the importance of the Victorian public schools in the inculcation of the gentlemanly ideal, and his assessments of Thomas Arnold's legacy and Eton's all-pervading influence are accurate. The Oxbridge connection is also reliably traced. The central role of sport is identified, whether at home, school or college, and its adaptation to fit both the education and the recreation of the gentleman is properly recognized. But this is where David starts to be led astray by his own cleverness. Gentlemanly sport is country sport: hunting, shooting, fishing and the like.  Modern sports were invented as school and college term-time substitutes, because local geography or magisterial veto curtailed the real thing, but once the holidays began so the country called once more. In the same way, London-based gentlemen might from Tuesday to Thursday play tennis or row, but each long weekend allowed easy escape to the serious round of country estates. It is true that many a gentleman became proficient at decidedly middle-class games, but only for the short duration of his education and the fling of a few years beyond; time enough perhaps to play at Lord's for Middlesex or for the Casuals in the FA  Cup, maybe even to answer his country's call in a Test or an International. Yet none of this was ever taken too seriously. The play had to appear effortless, and the company had to be congenial. In due course it was back to a lifetime of true sport in the shires. No 'pukka' gentleman would seek perpetual glory in cricket or football, and he would certainly never countenance making it his living. Thus the cricketers W. G. Grace and A. J. Raffles - the former always larger than life, the latter the fictional creation of E. W. Hornung - were inevitably on the periphery of the gentleman's world; outsiders looking in. Grace's ambitions were far too transparent for membership of the gentlemanly MCC, while Raffles's skills were merely enjoyed and admired like those of any other hired entertainer.  The 'Gentlemen' who annually met the 'Players' were unlikely to be real gentlemen;
C.B. Fry was not; nor was Prince Ranjitsinjhi. The middle classes and Indian princes might aspire to be English gentlemen, but that is another story. One of David's happier digressions follows the spivs on the make in the ration-book years of austerity: like their flashy wares, this book is not all it is cracked up to be, and it should be treated with marked circumspection.  M. D. W. TOZER Northamptonshire Grammar School

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

U and non-U English usage

 U and non-U English usage, with "U" standing for "upper class", and "non-U" representing the aspiring middle classes, was part of the terminology of popular discourse of social dialects (sociolects) in Britain in the 1950s. The debate[clarification needed] did not concern itself with the speech of the working classes, who in many instances used the same words as the upper classes. For this reason, the different vocabularies can often appear quite counter-intuitive: the middle classes prefer "fancy" or fashionable words, even neologisms and often euphemisms, in attempts to make themselves sound more refined ("posher than posh"), while the upper classes in many cases stick to the same plain and traditional words that the working classes also use, as, confident in the security of their social position, they have no need to seek to display refinement.[1]

The debate was set in motion in 1954 by the British linguist Alan S. C. Ross, professor of linguistics in the University of Birmingham. He coined the terms "U" and "non-U" in an article, on the differences that social class makes in English language usage, published in a Finnish professional linguistics journal. Though his article included differences in pronunciation and writing styles, it was his remark about differences of vocabulary that received the most attention.

The English author Nancy Mitford was alerted and immediately took up the usage in an essay, "The English Aristocracy", which Stephen Spender published in his magazine Encounter in 1954. Mitford provided a glossary of terms used by the upper classes (some appear in the table at right), unleashing an anxious national debate about English class-consciousness and snobbery, which involved a good deal of soul-searching that itself provided fuel for the fires. The essay was reprinted, with contributions by Evelyn Waugh, John Betjeman, and others, as well as a "condensed and simplified version" of Ross' original article, as Noblesse Oblige: an Enquiry into the Identifiable Characteristics of the English Aristocracy in 1956. Betjeman's poem How to Get on in Society concluded the collection.

The issue of U and non-U could have been taken lightheartedly, but at the time many took it very seriously. This was a reflection of the anxieties of the middle class in Britain of the 1950s, recently emerged from post-war austerities. In particular the media used it as a launch pad for many stories, making much more out of it than was first intended. In the meantime, the idea that one might "improve oneself" by adopting the culture and manner of one's "betters", instinctively assented to before World War II, was now greeted with resentment.

Some of the terms and the ideas behind them were largely obsolete by the late 20th century, when, in the United Kingdom, reverse snobbery led younger members of the British upper and middle classes to adopt elements of working class speech (see: Estuary English and Mockney). Yet many, if not most, of the differences remain very much current, and therefore perfectly usable as class indicators.

U and Non-U Revisited Hardcover – March 29, 1979
by Richard Buckle

Monday, 3 September 2018

« Le plus beau métier du monde » by Giulia MENSITIERI / Chanel shoes, but no salary: how one woman exposed the scandal of the French fashion industry

« Le plus beau métier du monde »
Dans les coulisses de l'industrie de la mode
La mode est l’une des plus puissantes industries du monde : elle représente 6 % de la consommation mondiale et est en croissance constante. Depuis les années 1980 et l’entrée dans l’économie néolibérale, elle est devenue l’image étincelante du capitalisme, combinant prestige, pouvoir et beauté, et occupe une place centrale dans les médias et les imaginaires. Pourtant, cette industrie, qui apparaît comme un horizon professionnel hautement désirable, repose principalement sur du travail précaire, et ce aussi bien là où la production est externalisée qu’au coeur de la production créative du luxe, comme les prestigieux ateliers des maisons de couture.
À partir d’une enquête en immersion auprès des travailleurs créatifs de cette industrie (stylistes, mannequins, créateurs indépendants, coiffeurs, maquilleurs, vendeurs, journalistes, retoucheurs, stagiaires, agents commerciaux, etc.), ce livre dévoile la réalité du travail à l’oeuvre derrière la façade glamour de la mode. Il met notamment en lumière les dynamiques d’exploitation et d’autoexploitation ainsi que le prestige social liés au fait de travailler dans un milieu désirable.
Des séances de « shooting » pour magazines spécialisés à la collaboration auprès d’un créateur de mode, en passant par des entretiens avec des stylistes travaillant pour de célèbres maisons de luxe et de couture, cette enquête dévoile une nouvelle forme de précarité caractéristique des industries culturelles du capitalisme contemporain, une précarité combinée au prestige, à la reconnaissance et à la visibilité. Il s’agit ainsi de décrypter les dynamiques invisibles sur lesquelles repose l’industrie de la mode pour mieux la «déglamouriser ».

Chanel shoes, but no salary: how one woman exposed the scandal of the French fashion industry
A new book by academic Giulia Mensitieri, laying bare the working conditions of stylists and young designers, has sparked controversy. Will it lead to improved conditions for those forced to work for clothes vouchers instead of cash?

Stefanie Marsh
Sun 2 Sep 2018 15.00 BST Last modified on Sun 2 Sep 2018 16.44 BST

Giulia Mensitieri: ‘When we think of exploitation, we think of sweat shops or sexual harassment. But I was looking at the creative side.’ Photograph: Judith Jockel/Guardian
Giulia Mensitieri takes little to no personal interest in clothes. So it is likely to have been an ugly surprise to the French fashion industry that her PhD – now a book entitled The Most Beautiful Job in the World – has opened up its secretive profession in such a dramatically public way. In France, the book’s findings – that fashion, the country’s second-biggest industry, exploits most of the creatives who work in it – were quickly picked up by the media when it was published earlier this year. The resulting headlines included: “The ruthless world of fashion”; “Fashion’s dirty underside”; and “An extremely wealthy industry founded on unpaid work”.

The reality of fashion was illustrated by Mensitieri’s chance introduction, eight years ago, to her subject matter. She met “Mia”, a successful Italian stylist who had moved to Paris: “She was wearing Chanel shoes and carrying a Prada handbag, being flown across the world in business class. I never would have imagined that she was in the situation she was in.” Mia couldn’t afford to rent a room, so she was couch surfing at a friend’s house behind a screen in the kitchen. “Sometimes she had no money for her phone bill. She was eating McDonald’s every day. She never knew when she would be paid for a job and how much she would get. For example, for a week’s work, a very big luxury brand gave her a voucher for €5,000 (£4,500) to spend in their boutique.” True, Mia could have sold it (and, among hard-up fashion workers, there is a lively market in reselling luxury goods). But Mensitieri points out that working in fashion means being seen in a constantly updated uniform of beautiful, expensive clothes and accessories – paid for by vouchers such as the one Mia received instead of a salary. “This situation is nothing exceptional. Mia is just a paradigm of what is going on.”

The book is lively from the start. Mensitieri’s analysis and case studies build up a fairly damning picture of her subject matter. One interviewee, a former fashion journalist at a glossy magazine, describes how she was dropped by her coterie of friends and colleagues one day. They just suddenly stopped taking her calls or responding to her emails. There was no explanation. “This is the violence everyone told me about,” says Mensitieri. “Once you’re out, you’re out.” There can be a trauma attached to such sudden ejection. “All your social relationships are in that world. They’re gone.” From being exceptional, now you have transgressed in some unmentionable way. Or, simply, you are not special enough any more. “Finding work in a new sector can be difficult because ‘normal’ people behave so differently from what you’re used to.” Finding a job can be difficult, coming from an industry that those on the outside tend to look down on as fluffy and lightweight.

Mensitieri, an alumni of École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, one of France’s elite grandes écoles, is in London to talk about her book, although it has not yet been translated into English. “I was a little bit scared when it came out,” she says, “because it’s quite a strong renunciation, even though that was not my goal. I’m an anthropologist, not a journalist.” The book’s salient claim is that, “when we think of exploitation in fashion we think of sweat shops abroad or sexual harassment of models. But that’s not what I was interested in. I was looking at the creative side: stylists, makeup artists, young designers, interns, assistants. What I really want to make clear is that exploitation exists at the very heart of the powerfully symbolic and economic centre of the maisons de couture; the big luxury brands. But it is a different form of exploitation.” In some cases, also barely legal.

Critics of the book complain that Mensitieri only interviewed 50 people for her analysis, all of them off the record. There are no statistics. Some took Karl Lagerfeld’s general view: “Fashion is a total injustice. It’s like that. And that’s it.” “But no one,” claims the author, “has said that what I’ve written isn’t true.”

The big brands generally do not like the idea of an objective outsider meddling, but it seems that the people who work for them do. They have written to Mensitieri to say they had never considered themselves exploited before they read her book, wrapped up as they were in the industry’s glossy promise. “They say that, now they’ve read the book ... they began to see the big picture and little fragments of their own experiences,” says the author. “And once they understand the big picture, they can’t look at fashion and their job in fashion or themselves in the same way.”

Jean Paul Gaultier, the only well-known designer to have commented on the book so far, brushed it off, saying fashion was like any other industry, that, “[fashion] is like a family”. Sales of Mensitieri’s books suggest that the general public doesn’t entirely share Gaultier’s views. When ID France published an interview with Mensitieri, it was its most-read article. Perhaps tellingly, journalists who have written about the book for commercial fashion magazines have had their articles dropped at the last minute.

We meet at a London cafe where, I had read, staff are chosen for their looks and sex appeal. It is an example of the kind of social status that fashion is so good at conferring on those who work in it – in exchange, Mensitieri discovered, for not paying them enough, or at all. Or paying them in convoluted, unpredictable ways that cannot easily be turned into cash: an unexchangeable €1,000 voucher for a designer boutique, first-class flights to fashion shoots or accommodation in luxury hotels.

“The message is, you don’t have to be paid because you are lucky to be there at all. Working in fashion is hyper socially validating, even if you’re unpaid. That’s an important point for me. Fashion presents itself as something exceptional, a world outside the ordinary,” she says. “There is a kind of confused denial of the norms of labour conditions. The dream that French fashion, especially, projects is that of a life of effortless luxury – mundane everyday facts of life such as working for a living, or indeed even money, are considered vulgar, taboo, even dirty subjects.

“But is it really possible that France’s second most profitable industry after cars and before armaments – a €15bn industry – can be an exception in capitalism? To me, fashion is the very centre of contemporary capitalism – it upholds the old forms of exploitation; factories in Bangladesh and so on – and the new, very modern forms which are more a kind of self-exploitation, a blurring of the line between your work and everything you are outside of work.”

France’s fashion industry is intensely bound up with national identity. “Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never truly be elegant,” Balzac wrote in 1830, and it is an image that the world’s centre of luxury shopping is keen to uphold. Louis Vuitton’s new flagship store, in Place Vendôme, for example, inhabits a building designed by Louis XIV’s favourite architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who helped design the Palace of Versailles. To understand fashion’s reach and power, Mensitieri explains, look at the parade of designers President Emmanuel Macron invites to the Elysée palace. “The government is keenly aware of the industry’s economic and symbolic power,” she says. If the film Zoolander sums up the general public’s ideas about fashion in other countries, “In France, to say ‘I work in fashion’ is something extremely important.”

To engage properly with her interviewees, Mensitieri had to learn the etiquette: “When to say ‘darling’, when to stay silent. Saying ‘no’ is uncool. ‘Yes’ can mean anything. And there is a kind of addiction to this adrenaline, this prestige, this idea of being exceptional. I talk in the book about ‘the jackpot’ – winner takes all. The economy of hope, I call it. ‘Maybe I will be next’, even though the statistics tell you it’s unlikely you will. Fashion is colonised by desirable projection. You are never present, because tomorrow will be better. It’s an addictive way of thinking.”

Her interviewees talk a lot about personas and the need to invent one if they are to have any hope of success. A teetotal model describes how her agent told her to be more “rock’n’roll” – to wear leather jackets and to be seen in certain bars drinking beer. An assistant makeup artist describes the tantrums his very famous boss threw if his favourite green cotton wool buds were not laid out in a perfect square.

 “What is amazing is that the workers justify this. They say: ‘Oh, but he’s a genius. That’s what geniuses do.’ A designer I interviewed worked for a luxury, edgy, well-known company. She dressed Lady Gaga, and so on. She had been working at the company for five years, designing the men’s and women’s collections with a third job in production. She was paid the minimum wage. When she was talking about it she said: ‘The creative director, he was my mentor, he was like a father to me, he was a genius.’” Mensitieri calls this “the glamourisation of domination” – the hero-tyrant who you put on a pedestal while she/he exploits you. “The biggest goal of neo-liberalism is the individualisation of structural domination; you leave everything at an interpersonal, subjective level.” It was only when the poorly paid designer left her work because of burnout that the bubble burst. She seemed confused when she told Mensitieri: “He was earning €13,000 [£11,700] a month but I was on the minimum wage. Just €100 [£90] a month more would have made the difference to me. But he wouldn’t do it.”

“It starts in fashion school,” says Mensitieri. “The students there know they will be exploited but they don’t see themselves as exploited.”

Who, then, are the exploiters? , the French leader of the world’s luxury goods market, owns 70 luxury fashion brands, including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Fendi. It saw its  in the first half of this year. Owners of the big brands make billions. Alain and Gérard Wertheimer, who own Chanel,  last year – four times the company’s profits. (In a further paradox, people in the industry’s business and marketing side tend to be paid well, or at least in line with other businesses their size.) Further down the chain, what about the responsibilities of top designers, whose annual salaries can run into the millions? Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s creative director, has an . Surely a well-paid designer is making a morally questionable choice by not paying workers more? Mensitieri lets designers off the hook on this point. They are part of a larger system, she says, it’s not up to her to make moral judgments. It is discouraging to hear that, despite the high praise Mensitieri has received privately from even very well-known designers, “Nobody has said: ‘Yes, I’m now going to pay my staff more.’”

It is not just people working in fashion who might recognise themselves in these descriptions. It is a similar scene across all the creative industries and academia, says Mensitieri. She also makes a good comparison with the charity sector where, it is widely held, “doing good” is incompatible with being paid well.

If her theory is true, does she think there is hope for reform? “If you want to change things, you have to look beyond fashion, or whatever industry you’re in, and talk to people in different fields who are working under the same conditions,” she says. “I’m not an optimistic person, but there are interesting things happening at the fringes. There is a strong anti-fashion movement in the UK and, in France, models are working together for better working conditions.” It’s advice that some people working in the fashion industry may not want to hear. “You need to start collaborating – which is an almost heretical thought in fashion. You need to stop thinking of yourself as special.”