Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Irreverent and knowing as James Bond: Sir Roger Moore obituary / VIDEO: Roger Moore: A Matter Of Class

Irreverent and knowing as James Bond: Sir Roger Moore obituary

Actor who brought humour, panache and suavity to his starring roles in The Saint, The Persuaders! and seven James Bond films

by Ryan Gilbey

Sir Roger Moore, who has died aged 89, considered himself to be only the fourth best actor to have played Ian Fleming’s secret-service agent James Bond on screen: in his estimation, he came in behind Daniel Craig (whom he called “the Bond”), Sean Connery and George Lazenby. Though Moore was rarely regarded as the best or most definitive Bond, his inimitable humour and panache made him many viewers’ favourite. His tally of seven films – beginning with Live and Let Die (1973) and ending with A View to a Kill (1985) – equalled that of Connery, though Moore occupied the role for a longer consecutive period. He was eloquent on the distinction between their portrayals. “Sean played Bond as a killer and I played Bond as a lover,” he said. Only on Fridays did he resemble a cold-blooded mercenary: “That’s the day I received my paychecks.”

His casting was sometimes erroneously considered to be the catalyst for a new-found levity in the series; in fact, the two films prior to his arrival (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969, and Diamonds Are Forever, 1971) had already tipped the tone towards silliness. What Moore did very cannily was to underline the absurdity of Bond himself. “My whole reaction was always – he is not a real spy,” he said. “You can’t be a real spy and have everybody in the world know who you are and what your drink is. That’s just hysterically funny.”

Irreverence and knowingness were integral to his interpretation. But he also seemed far more plausibly endangered as Bond than Connery had ever been. Part of the viewer’s affection and even concern for him could be attributed to his advanced age: Moore was already 45 when he was cast as Bond, whereas Connery made his debut at 32 and Craig was 37. This contributed to the sense that Moore’s wellbeing was actively at risk on screen. Subjected to punishing levels of G-force on a flight simulator in Moonraker (1979) or dismantling a bomb while dressed as a clown in Octopussy (1983), he looked uniquely vulnerable. Clambering up the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge in A View to a Kill seemed inadvisable behaviour for a man of 56.

His range was modest, as he was the first to admit. He credited his success to “99% luck”, and singled out the 1970 supernatural thriller The Man Who Haunted Himself, in which he played a businessman who appears to be living two lives, as “the only film I was allowed to act in”. Such self-deprecation only encouraged critics to contribute their own jibes: Anthony Lane of the New Yorker said that Moore “needed a stunt double for his acting scenes” in the Bond films.

Moore became an object of mild mockery after the 1980s satirical TV show Spitting Image featured a puppet of him that expressed its emotions solely through its eyebrows. The joke proved robust, but not everyone realised that Moore had cracked it first. “The eyebrows thing was my own fault,” he said. “I was talking about how talentless I was and said I have three expressions: eyebrow up, eyebrow down and both of them at the same time. And they used it – very well, I must say.”

He was born in London, to Lily (nee Pope), a housewife, and George Moore, a police constable whose responsibilities included drawing accident scenes to be used in evidence in court. Roger himself had artistic ambitions early in life. He left school at 15 to accept a job as a trainee animator at Publicity Picture Productions, but was sacked a few months later when he neglected to collect a can of film.

Tagging along with friends in 1945 to auditions for film extras, Moore was picked to appear in a non-speaking role as a legionnaire in Caesar and Cleopatra, starring Vivien Leigh and Claude Rains. The film’s first assistant director, Brian Desmond Hurst, took Moore under his wing and encouraged him to audition for Rada. When Moore was accepted, Hurst paid his fees. He left at 18 to become a supporting player in the repertory company of the Arts theatre, Cambridge, before he was called up for military service. Posted to Germany, he succeeded in getting a transfer to the Combined Services Entertainment unit. In 1946, he had married Doorn Van Steyn, a fellow Rada student.

After three years in the army, Moore returned to acting, landing small roles in theatre and film, as well as appearing as a model for knitting patterns and in photo stories. He moved to New York City in 1953 with his second wife, the singer Dorothy Squires (Moore and Van Steyn had divorced earlier that year), and began getting acting work on US television. He signed a contract with MGM and was cast in a series of unmemorable films, including The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) and Interrupted Melody (1955). Returning to Britain, he took the lead in a 1958 television adventure series adapted from Walter Scott’s novel Ivanhoe.

Other regular TV roles of increasing size followed, including two western series, The Alaskans and Maverick, before Moore finally became a bona fide star, playing the crime-fighter and playboy Simon Templar in the popular television crime series The Saint. Produced by Lew Grade, it ran from 1962 until 1969. Moore, who also directed nine episodes, brought a suavity to the part which makes it a clear precursor of his work as James Bond; even his habit in early episodes of looking directly at the camera prefigures the later Bonds, where he all but winks at the audience.

Two years after The Saint ended, Moore was cast once more as a playboy adventurer in another Grade TV series, The Persuaders!, in which he was teamed with Tony Curtis. The odd-couple pairing (Moore, as Lord Brett Sinclair, was dapper; Curtis, playing Danny Wilde, was a ruffian) and the action staged in glamorous locations made the series a hit. Moore also directed two episodes. During this period, he was appointed the head of Brut Films, an offshoot of the cologne manufacturer. He tried unsuccessfully to entice Cary Grant to make his acting comeback in a Brut production, but succeeded in recruiting him as one of the company’s advisers. Moore was also instrumental in the making of A Touch of Class, the 1973 romantic comedy for which Glenda Jackson won her second Oscar.

His brief tenure as a mogul was abbreviated when he signed a three-film contract to play James Bond, a part which demanded no adjustment to the persona he had already established. Live and Let Die, an attempt to modernise the series with gritty blaxploitation trappings, still had its share of daftness; in one scene, Bond escapes across water using a row of alligators as stepping stones. Moore’s performance here and in his second outing, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), was cool and confident.

But it is his third Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), which is rightly considered his pinnacle. The writing, direction and production design were impressive, the action more than usually taut, and the balance of comedy and suspense acutely judged – as in the iconic opening sequence in which Bond escapes falling to his death by opening a parachute emblazoned with the Union Jack. (The film was released in the Queen’s silver jubilee year.) Moore appeared relaxed but never complacent. He even came up with some of the movie’s nicest touches, such as the moment when Bond, emerging from an underwater drive, deposits a small fish out of his car window.

In between the Bond films, Moore moonlighted in other roles, including Gold (1974), a mining adventure shot in Johannesburg, the romantic comedy That Lucky Touch (1975) and the war movie Shout at the Devil (1975), co-starring Lee Marvin. But nothing came close to eclipsing his day job.

Outside the Bond series, he rarely deviated from action, appearing in quick succession in Escape to Athena (1979), North Sea Hijack and The Sea Wolves (both 1980). The Wild Geese (1978), a clunky, crypto-racist thriller about ageing mercenaries, was unusual in showcasing a more brutal side to Moore. Though he was seen pushing villains to their deaths in The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only (1981), nothing compared to the opening scene of The Wild Geese, in which he kills a drug dealer by forcing him to ingest large quantities of cocaine at gunpoint.

Moonraker (1979), among the silliest of the Bond series, was rushed into production to capitalise on the Star Wars-inspired craze for all things space-related. Moore had a gas playing a mummy’s boy who believes himself to be Roger Moore in the US ensemble comedy The Cannonball Run (1981), before returning to Bond in the comparatively sober For Your Eyes Only and the positively quaint Octopussy. Moore bowed out, not before time, with A View to a Kill, where he looked understandably wary to be sharing the screen, not to mention a bed, with the ferocious Grace Jones.

Though the producer Albert R “Cubby” Broccoli suggested in his autobiography that Moore had refused to accept that his time in the role was over, the actor later denied this. Once free of Bondage, Moore lost his appetite for acting and took on only a handful of roles, few of them distinguished. He had been due to return to the stage in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Aspects of Love in 1989, but dropped out shortly before opening night, blaming inadequacies in his singing voice.

He joined his friend Michael Caine in Bullseye! (1990), a pitiful Michael Winner comedy in which they played two characters apiece. He also appeared in The Quest (1996), directed by its star, the action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme, and in the Spice Girls’ vehicle Spice World (1997). He had a supporting part in the two-hour pilot for a new series of The Saint (2013), but the show was not commissioned. In 2012, he undertook a highly successful UK stage tour of An Evening With Roger Moore, in which he reflected on his life and career.

Moore devoted much of his time to being a goodwill ambassador for Unicef; it was for this humanitarian work that he was knighted in 2003. He had left Britain in the late 1970s to avoid what he considered the prohibitive tax rate for high earners, and took homes in countries including Switzerland and Monaco. Money continued to be much on his mind: his 2008 autobiography, My Word Is My Bond, is peppered with variations on the line “a rather nice deal was agreed with my agent”.

Moore admitted to being a lifelong hypochondriac; among those to whom he expressed thanks in the acknowledgments of his autobiography are five GPs, four cardiologists, two dermatologists and a proctologist. He visibly enjoyed his time as Bond and expressed only occasional regrets about his career. “I spent my life playing heroes because I looked like one,” he said. “Practically everything I’ve been offered didn’t require much beyond looking like me. I would have loved to play a real baddie.”

He is survived by his fourth wife, Kristina Tholstrup, whom he married in 2002, and by three children – Deborah, Geoffrey and Christian – from his third marriage, to the actor Luisa Mattioli, which ended in divorce.

• Roger George Moore, actor, born 14 October 1927; died 23 May 2017

Monday, 22 May 2017

Sprezzatura / Baldassare Castiglione / "The Compleat Gentleman" / VIDEO: Sprezzatura in Cinema

Sprezzatura is an Italian word originating from Baldassare Castiglione's The Book of the Courtier, where it is defined by the author as "a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it". It is the ability of the courtier to display "an easy facility in accomplishing difficult actions which hides the conscious effort that went into them". Sprezzatura has also been described "as a form of defensive irony: the ability to disguise what one really desires, feels, thinks, and means or intends behind a mask of apparent reticence and nonchalance".

However, while the quality of sprezzatura did have its benefits, this quality also had its drawbacks. Since sprezzatura made difficult tasks seem effortless, those who possessed sprezzatura needed to be able to trick people convincingly. In a way, sprezzatura was "the art of acting deviously".[9] This "art" created a "self-fulfilling culture of suspicion" because courtiers had to be diligent in maintaining their façades. "The by-product of the courtier's performance is that the achievement of sprezzatura may require him to deny or disparage his nature". Consequently, sprezzatura also had its downsides, since courtiers who excelled at sprezzatura risked losing themselves to the façade they put on for their peers.

The Book of the Courtier (Italian: Il Cortegiano) is a courtesy book. It was written by Baldassare Castiglione over the course of many years, beginning in 1508, and published in 1528 by the Aldine Press in Venice just before his death; an English edition was published in 1561. It addresses the constitution of a perfect courtier, and in its last installment, a perfect lady.

The Book of the Courtier is an example of the Renaissance dialogue, a literary form that incorporated elements of drama, conversation, philosophy, and essay. Considered the definitive account of Renaissance court life, it is cited frequently along with Stefano Guazzo's The civil conversation (1574) and Giovanni Della Casa's Galateo (1558). They are among the most important Renaissance works of the Italian Renaissance.

The book is organized as a series of fictional conversations that occur between the courtiers of the Duke of Urbino in 1507 (when Castiglione was in fact part of the Duke's Court). In the book, the courtier is described as having a cool mind, a good voice (with beautiful, elegant and brave words) along with proper bearing and gestures. At the same time though, the courtier is expected to have a warrior spirit, to be athletic, and have good knowledge of the humanities, Classics and fine arts. Over the course of four evenings, members of the court try to describe the perfect gentleman of the court. In the process they debate the nature of nobility, humor, women, and love.

The Book of the Courtier was one of the most widely distributed books of the 16th century, with editions printed in six languages and in twenty European centers. The 1561 English translation by Thomas Hoby had a great influence on the English upper class's conception of English gentlemen.[2]

Of the many qualities Castiglione’s characters attribute to their perfect courtier, oratory and the manner in which the courtier presents himself while speaking is amongst the most highly discussed. Wayne Rebhorn, a Castiglione scholar, states that the courtier’s speech and behavior in general is “designed to make people marvel at him, to transform himself into a beautiful spectacle for others to contemplate." As explained by Count Ludovico, the success of the courtier depends greatly on his reception by the audience from the first impression. This partly explains why the group considers the courtier's dress so vital to his success.

Castiglione's characters opine about how their courtier can impress his audience and win its approval. Similar to the Classical Roman rhetoricians Cicero and Quintilian, Castiglione stresses the importance of delivery while speaking. In Book I, the Count states that when the courtier speaks he must have a “sonorous, clear, sweet and well sounding” voice that is neither too effeminate nor too rough and be “tempered by a calm face and with a play of the eyes that shall give an effect of grace.” (Castiglione 1.33) This grace, or grazia, becomes an important element in the courtier’s appearance to the audience. Edoardo Saccone states in his analysis of Castiglione, “grazia consists of, or rather is obtained through, sprezzatura.”

According to the Count, sprezzatura is amongst one of the most important, if not the most important, rhetorical device the courtier needs. Peter Burke describes sprezzatura in The Book of the Courtier as “nonchalance”, “careful negligence”, and “effortless and ease.” The ideal courtier is someone who “conceals art, and presents what is done and said as if it was done without effort and virtually without thought.” (31).

The Count advocates the courtier engage in sprezzatura, or this “certain nonchalance”, in all the activities he participates in, especially speech. In Book I, he states, "Accordingly we may affirm that to be true art which does not appear to be art; nor to anything must we give greater care than to conceal art, for if it is discovered, it quite destroys our credit and brings us into small esteem." (Castiglione 1.26) The Count reasons that by obscuring his knowledge of letters, the courtier gives the appearance that his “orations were composed very simply” as if they sprang up from “nature and truth [rather] than from study and art.” (1.26). This much more natural appearance, even though it is not natural by any means, is more advantageous to the courtier.

The Count contends that if the courtier wants to attain grazia and be esteemed excellent, it would be in his best interest to have this appearance of nonchalance. By failing to employ sprezzatura, he destroys his opportunity for grace. By applying sprezzatura to his speech and everything else he does, the courtier appears to have grazia and impresses his audience, thereby achieving excellence and perfection. (Saccone 16).

Another feature of rhetoric which Castiglione discusses is the role of written language and style. Castiglione declined to imitate Boccaccio and write in Tuscan Italian, as was customary at the time; instead he wrote in the Italian used in his native Lombardy (he was born near Mantua): as the Count says, “certainly it would require a great deal of effort on my part if in these discussions of ours I wished to use those old Tuscan words which the Tuscans of today have discarded; and what’s more I’m sure you would all laugh at me” (Courtier 70). Here, the use of the old and outdated Tuscan language is seen as a form of excess rather than a desirable trait. Castiglione states that had he followed Tuscan usage in his book, his description of sprezzatura would appear hypocritical, in that his effort would be seen without a sense of nonchalance (Courtier 71).

Federico responds to the Count's assessment of the use of spoken language by posing the question as to what is the best language in which to write rhetoric. The Count’s response basically states that the language does not matter, but rather the style, authority, and grace of the work matters most (Courtier 71). Robert J. Graham, a Renaissance literary scholar, notes that “questions of whose language is privileged at any given historical moment are deeply implicated in matters of personal, social and cultural significance”, which he states is the primary reason for Castiglione’s usage of the native vernacular. This also illustrates the Count’s response on the relativity of language in Latin. With the role of language set, Castiglione begins to describe the style and authority in which the courtier must write in order to become successful.

The Count explains, "it is right that greater pains would be taken to make what is written more polished and correct…they should be chosen from the most beautiful of those employed in speech" (Courtier 71). This is where the style of which the courtier writes encourages the persuasiveness or successfulness of a speech. The success of a written speech, in contrast to the spoken speech, hinges on the notion that "we are willing to tolerate a great deal of improper and even careless usage"[8] in oral rhetoric than written rhetoric. The Count explains that along with proper word usage, an ideal courtier must have a proper sense of style and flow to their words. These words must be factual yet entertaining as the Count states, “then, it is necessary to arrange what is to be said or written in its logical order, and after that to express it well in words that, if I am not mistaken, should be appropriate, carefully chosen, clear and well formed, but above all that are still in popular use" (Courtier 77). This form of emphasis on language is noted by Graham as; "Although the Count is aware that more traditional aspects of the orator (appearance, gestures, voice, etc.)…all this will be futile and of little consequence if the ideas conveyed by these words themselves are not witty or elegant to the requirements of the situation” (Graham 49).

Brett & Kate McKay | July 14, 2009

A Man's Life, On Virtue
In Praise of Sprezzatura: The Compleat Gentleman
Baldassare Castiglione painting portrait sprezzatura

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Brad Miner. Mr. Miner is the author of The Compleat Gentleman.

What was once called sprezzatura, a wonderful word coined by the sixteenth-century writer Baldassare Castiglione, is a kind of graceful restraint that is an elemental characteristic of true civility. It helped define Western ideas about the gentleman, and it helped strangers to manage the slow transition to friendship.

Castiglione was an advisor to Popes Leo X and Clement VII, and to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier appeared in 1528, but it has surprising freshness today. It was considered revolutionary in its time, and yet Castiglione’s take on manliness owed much to Aristotle and Cicero. The ideal courtier was to have Aristotelian arete, which is to say excellence. An aristos (whence our word aristocrat) was educated in the best ideas and tempered by training to possess the best impulses, martial and artistic. He was, in Jacob Burckhardt’s phrase, engaged in “self-fashioning.” For Aristotle — and for men of the Renaissance such as Castiglione and Shakespeare — the standard for self-fashioning was the “golden mean,” the center between extremes. As Peter Burke explains: “Courage is defined as the mean between rashness and cowardice, liberality as the mean between extravagance and parsimony, and so on.” From Cicero, Castiglione took the Stoic concept of neglentia diligens (studied negligence), an obvious precursor to sprezzatura. And like many writers of his period, Castiglione respected Ovid’s famous observation, “Ars est celare artem.”

The purpose of art is to conceal itself.

Castiglione advocates such “art” in the formation of the gentleman, but his critics say he means pretense or dishonesty, and Castiglione’s courtier has come down to us as a superficial fellow content to fake it if he can — so long as the deception is shrewd.

Sprezzatura in Practice

No one is born a gentleman. Becoming one is a matter of education, and Castiglione’s “art” is really the practice of the principles that when finally internalized create the man whose urbanity, wit, athleticism, and restraint have sunk into his sinews.

A gentleman practices sprezzatura so that he can get it right. Confucius said that “although the gentleman may not have attained goodness, he acts in such a way so that he might become good.”

Developing sprezzatura is a worthy challenge in a culture that discourages and is suspicious of discretion and restraint. Many people are simply aghast at taciturnity. We tend to distrust anyone we suspect of not being “open.”

But the whole point of restraint, and the etiquette supporting it, is to give us a chance to negotiate slowly and carefully the difference between being strangers and becoming friends.

The handshake developed as a way strangers could show themselves unarmed. It was a sensible and cautious first step towards friendship. We do well to remember that intimacy must be a process, a negotiation, and that who meets a stranger and jumps quickly into bed, so to speak, has a better than even chance of waking up next to an enemy.

The ability to pause before acting and then to act sensibly is manifest prudence, which is the first among the cardinal virtues.

A man who has sprezzatura is content to keep his own counsel. He not only does not need to have his motives understood, he prefers that they not be understood. His actions, including his carefully chosen words, speak for him. It is not necessary for others—save his intimates—to know more.

Although it is not specifically a reason for embracing circumspection, it so happens that a discrete gentleman amasses, over time, a tremendous edge in the affairs of this world. He hears things that others do not, because people of all sorts confide in him, knowing that he will not betray their trust. The knowledge of the human heart that the compleat gentleman thus develops can be a burden, but it is also something of a liberation. It may call upon every bit of his strength to restrain himself from saying or doing more than he ought with knowledge gained from friendship, but there it is.

The art (and depth) of sprezzatura is defined by a man’s power: the stronger and wiser he is, the gentler his manner and the more circumspect his speech; the more, in other words, his true self is hidden.

Of course there is more to sprezzatura than just restraint. There is the quality people refer to when a man is called suave. Cary Grant was usually a gentleman in his film roles because he seemed able to do difficult things with ease and because he seemed a “man of the world,” not only suave but urbane as well. One could not imagine him saying anything inappropriate, and it was inconceivable that he would blurt out an intimacy, perhaps not even to an intimate friend. He knew the difference between a true friend, an acquaintance, and a stranger.

Implicit in sprezzatura is not only an effortless elegance but also a strenuous self-control. In the end, to be a gentleman is to hold Stoically, quietly to the conviction that he not be seen doing his “gentlemanly thing.” Silence really is golden. As Cervantes has Sancho Panza put it: “A closed mouth catches no flies.”

Intrigued by the concept of sprezzatura? Want to know more about the virtues and attributes that every man should seek to cultivate? Enter to win a copy of Brad Miner’s The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry. Mr. Miner reaches back in time to recover the oldest and best ideals of manhood. The book explored the roles every man should embody: warrior (a readiness to face battle for a just cause), lover (he lets a woman be what she wants to be) and monk (a man possessing true knowledge).

Brad Miner is Senior Editor of The Catholic Thing and was the founding editor of American Compass: "The Conservative Alternative," which was formerly a division of Bookspan, a joint venture of Bertelsmann and Time-Warner that operated most of America's commercial book clubs. His Compass Points blog received recognition in the 2007 Webby Awards.
He is the author of five books, including The Concise Conservative Encyclopedia and The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry. With journalist Charles J. Sykes, he co-wrote and edited The National Review College Guide: America's 50 Top Liberal-Arts Schools. His most recent book, Smear Tactics, was published in November by HarperCollins, and will be released in paperback this August. A new edition of The Compleat Gentleman was published by Richard Vigilante Books in 2009.
He has managed bookstores in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton, held senior editorial positions in New York with both Bantam Books and HarperCollins, and from 1989 until 1992 was Literary Editor of National Review, America's leading journal of conservative opinion. As a book editor, he has published the work of a diverse and distinguished group of authors, including Sidney Hook, Evan S. Connell Jr., Hal Lindsey, Mother Angelica, and Chuck Yeager. He is the author of scores of magazine and newspaper articles.
He has been a John M. Olin Visiting Professor at Adelphi University.
Mr. Miner has appeared on many radio and television shows and has been quoted in articles appearing in The Washington Times, The New York Times, USA Today, Columbia Journalism Review, The Los Angeles Times, Newsmax, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Washington Post, Newsday, and The American Spectator.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Britain Through A Lens: The Documentary Film Mob Part 1

The unlikely story of how, between 1929 and 1945, a group of tweed-wearing radicals and pin-striped bureaucrats created the most influential movement in the history of British film. They were the British Documentary Movement and they gave Britons a taste for watching films about real life.
They were an odd bunch, as one wit among them later admitted. "A documentary director must be a gentleman... and a socialist." They were inspired by a big idea - that films about real life would change the world. That, if people of all backgrounds saw each other on screen - as they really were - they would get to know and respect each other more. As John Grierson, the former street preacher who founded the Movement said: "Documentary outlines the patterns of interdependence".
The Documentary Film Mob assembles a collection of captivating film portraits of Britain, during the economic crisis of the 1930s and the Second World War. Featuring classic documentaries about slums and coal mines, about potters and posties, about the bombers and the Blitz, the programme reveals the fascinating story of what was also going on behind the camera. Of how the documentary was born and became part of British culture.

Target for Tonight (1941)

Target for Tonight is a 1941 British documentary film billed as filmed and acted by the Royal Air Force, all while under fire. It was directed by Harry Watt. The film is about the crew of a Wellington aircraft. The film went on to win an honorary Academy Award in 1942 and 'Best Documentary' by the National Board of Review in 1941.
Before the film, several text cards explain bombers and the Royal Air Force chain of command. The film begins with an observation aircraft flying over and dropping a box of undeveloped film. Bomber Command develops the film and analyses the resulting photographs, which are presented for the audience to see. There has been a massive build-up by German forces in the subject area for the past few months. The film shows the planning of the mission, even detailing how the bomber wing chooses munitions for the task. The weather forecast is expected to be good and the pilots are briefed. The crew of "'F' for Freddie", the bomber that is the focal point of the film, suit up and take off. While over Germany, the crew bombs the target, dead on for one bomb, but their aircraft is hit by flak from "faceless" anti-aircraft gunners. The radio operator is hit in the leg, and Freddie is the last aircraft to return. Mist covers the water, prompting worry at the Command. Meanwhile, Freddie cannot climb after the flak hit. They are not losing altitude, but are in a bad situation. Tension builds in the film until finally, 'F for Freddie' lands. No aircraft are lost and the mission is a complete success.

The film was shot at RAF Mildenhall and at actual RAF Bomber Command headquarters in High Wycombe, with the head of Bomber Command Sir Richard Peirse and Senior Air Staff Officer Sir Robert Saundby appearing in the film. In order to not give away information to the enemy, RAF Mildenhall took the fictitious name of Millerton Aerodrome and several other aspects were altered involving the day-to-day operations. Squadron Leader Dickson, the captain of 'F for Freddie', was played by Percy Pickard, who went on to lead Operation Biting and Operation Jericho, a raid on Amiens Prison, during which he lost his life along with his navigator, Flight Lieutenant J. A. "Bill" Broadley. The second pilot was played by Gordon Woollatt. Also appearing (and uncredited) is Constance Babington Smith, who as a serving WAAF officer at the time was responsible for photographic interpretation of aerial reconnaissance pictures. Appearing in the control room scene is world record holder John Cobb, then a serving RAF officer. Although the film was about a bomber squadron flying Wellingtons, the aircraft shown on the film poster are Boulton Paul Defiant fighters.

Herman Wouk, in his novel The Winds of War, included a Wellington bomber christened "F for Freddie" in an episode of the story. The lead character, American naval captain Victor Henry, flies onboard "F for Freddie" as an observer during a bombing mission over Berlin. Wouk's fictional narrative evokes portions of the real "F for Freddie's" mission log: one of their bombs hits their target squarely and flak damages the plane and injures one of their crewmembers in the leg (in the novel, the rear gunner rather than the radio operator). They have trouble holding altitude but make it back after a long, tense flight over hostile territory.

Scenes from the film were included in the episode "Whirlwind" from the documentary British World War II documentary The World at War. The documentary criticised the film for what it considered was an unrealistic portrayal of strategic bombing. Until the development of radio navigational aids and the pathfinder force later in the war, many British bombers failed to find their targets.

A possible identity of 'F for Freddie', is Wellington Mk 1c OJ-F (P2517) which was serving with No. 149 Squadron from November 1940 to September 1941.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The origins of "The yellow rain slicker"

 "The origins of the waxed cotton used in the Filson garments and in our Australian riding coats go back to a Scottish mill that wove sails for the British clipper fleet. The mill made flax (linen) sails for the early clipper ships. Linseed oil was produced from the seeds extracted from the flax plants, and the oil was used to waterproof sailcloth for use in seamen's clothing, particularly seamen's capes, the forerunner of the fisherman's slicker. The capes were fully waterproof, but heavy and became very stiff in cold weather. They also turned yellow in time, leading to the traditional yellow of the fisherman's slicker. By the mid 1800's, as the design of the clipper ships developed towards faster ships with larger sails, flax sails proved too heavy. A new cotton sail, made from strong two-ply yarns in both warp and weft, provided the lighter cloth with the extra strength for the larger sails. The new cotton material also was better for waterproof clothing, and, treated with linseed oil, was used for mariners' waterproof clothing with little change up to the 1930's."

Monday, 15 May 2017

Wodehouse in Exile, BBC Four / VIDEO: PG Wodehouse - Plum - Bookmark - BBC Documentary - 1989

Wodehouse in Exile, BBC Four, review
Benji Wilson reviews Wodehouse in Exile, a BBC drama focussing how author PG Wodehouse came to face a treason charge that led to his exile from Britain.

By Benji Wilson7:00AM GMT 26 Mar 2013

The idea of PG Wodehouse being accused of treachery towards his country – a country whose self-image he did so much to create – may seem laughable now, but as BBC Four’s fine drama Wodehouse in Exile showed last night, that was what happened during the Second World War.
His crime, such as it was, was to have been released a few months early from an internment camp in Upper Silesia in 1941, whereupon he was enthusiastically sucked up by the German propaganda machine and put on the radio to tell the Americans in a series of typically peppy dispatches how well he’d been treated.
Wodehouse thought his broadcasts would show the world unbroken British resolve. In fact he had been duped, and back in London the response was incandescent: “The only wisecrack he ever pulled that the world received in silence,” one newspaper said.
This was a classic BBC Four “inspired by real events” film (of the sort that will soon be no longer: BBC Four has exiled drama as of later this year), and it bounded on at a suitably Woosterian lick. Writer Nigel Williams cast Wodehouse as a sweet old man who wouldn’t say boo to a goose, let alone to an unctuous Nazi. It was only later in the piece when Wodehouse’s wife Ethel finally let him have it with a blast of indignation that you began to question whether a man of such brilliance could really have underestimated the impact of his own words to such calamitous effect. But then as Ethel said, “You can never resist it – the chance to amuse.”

Wodehouse in Exile Review – BBC Four
Posted on March 26, 2013

Wodehouse in Exile - BBC FourBBC Four’s historical drama about P.G. Wodehouse felt like an attempt to rehabilitate a novelist who doesn’t actually need rehabilitating. It actually seemed, ironically, a bit like propaganda, showing as it did a version of history that portrayed Wodehouse and his wife as the most lovable people in the world, and all criticism of Wodehouse to be illegitimate in the extreme.

The film told the story of the English novelist’s time in Europe during WW2. He spends some time in a concentration camp, is manipulated by the Nazi’s into broadcasting some propaganda, and then seeks to rescue his damaged reputation in the UK and US. I had many problems with Wodehouse in Exile, not least amongst them the characters.

As I mentioned above, both Wodehouse and his wife, Ethel, are portrayed as being loved by all. Now, that might have been the case, but the work was not put into the film’s writing to justify this portrayal. Ethel is a very annoying character; shouting at people, being rude, suddenly dancing and singing for no reason, flirting with other men. And yet every other character loves her. There is one scene where she somehow storms into a recording studio guarded by the fucking Nazis and protests angrily, to everyone’s amusement. It’s like the film is in complete awe of its characters. That can be okay, but only if you do a lot to convince the audience to be as equally in awe, otherwise it’s just jarring, and you find yourself asking: ‘Why do all these characters love this incredibly annoying, rude person?’

Wodehouse himself was better written, and did seem quite a likable person from the start, mainly because of his wit. ‘I think it’s the German army. Shall we let them in? Or will we pretend we’re out?’ ‘I think it’s time [Hitler] took a firm position on his moustache. Does he want it or not?’

Despite this, the level of love other characters had for Wodehouse throughout the film was way over the top. ‘He’s a kind of saint, in a way,’ says one character, and even the military intelligence officer sent to question his treason loves him. As do all the Nazis. I get it, okay? Wodehouse wasn’t a traitor. You don’t need to ram down our throats how nice he was. Be a little more subtle.

I haven’t read any of P.G. Wodehouse’s works, so I wonder if maybe I’m missing something, and I suspect that fans of his writing might have appreciated the film more. For instance, the characters are almost stereotypes of Englishmen. Everyone is so incredibly wet, and very upstanding. Everyone is ‘old bean’ or ‘chap.’ ‘There’s a bombing raid on at the moment – very boring,’ says Wodehouse’s daughter, who becomes a flustered, hysterical, antiquated version of a woman at one point, being calmed down by her gentlemanly husband. I can only assume such characterisation is a tribute to Wodehouse’s idiosyncratic writing, because if it isn’t, it is bloody awful.

The film’s very flattering portrayal of Wodehouse results in a lack of critique or exploration of his propaganda broadcasts. There is one good scene where a government minister angrily denounces what Wodehouse has done, but we needed more scenes like this. Instead, we got the case against what Wodehouse did put into the mouths of some beastly journalists, with their flashbulbs and shouts, and in every other scene where criticism is raised there is always someone on hand to dismiss it.

The only person in the film who doesn’t like Wodehouse is Mackintosh, a character so irredeemably bad he could fit seamlessly into a Disney film as the villain. He could have been given a moustache to twirl menacingly and it wouldn’t have been out of place. He was a smarmy, snivelling, pretentious, insecure traitor. It’s poor writing to make an antagonist that black and white. And his character made huge shifts to serve the plot: in the beginning he’s dumb and insecure and then suddenly he’s a master manipulator. You could maybe explain this by arguing that Mackintosh was a spy only pretending to be dumb, but if that was the case then the film needed to indicate that in some way.

There’s also some pretty dodgy attitudes towards Germany and the French – ‘You loathsome little frog!’ ‘Fuck the French!’ – and an attitude towards England that bordered on nationalism. ‘Oh England, what do you do to those who love you,’ is a line that is so overwritten I cringed to hear it.

So, yeah, I guess I didn’t like Wodehouse in Exile. I imagine P.G. Wodehouse fans probably disagree though. I liked the character of Wodehouse – and Tim Pigott-Smith’s portrayal was good – but there were too many problems with the film around him. In an essay, George Orwell wrote about Wodehouse’s time in Europe, criticising those who attacked him: ‘It was a chance to ‘expose’ a ‘wealthy parasite’ without drawing attention to any of the parasites who really mattered.’ If only Wodehouse in Exile had approached the subject with as much depth, and with less sycophantic flattery. I would guess that the film’s writer is a huge P.G Wodehouse fan who couldn’t bring himself to criticise what he loves. Kill your idols they say. It might have been a better film if the writer had followed that advice, and had written more objectively.

Random notes:

The scenes with Wodehouse’s daughter seemed shoehorned in to add some pathos at the end, when it’s revealed she has died. To be fair, it’s such a big event in Wodehouse’s life it probably had to be included, and it must have been hard to try and fit it in alongside the main story.
Wodehouse changed over the course of the film, becoming more cynical and critical, which was good.
‘Maybe jolly old England won’t be there anymore ‘old chap’,’ says Mackintosh. Such a line seems almost like a critique of anyone who doesn’t like the whole English upper-class dialogue thing – you must be a villain if you don’t like it.
Quite a captivating beginning: radio voiceover–opening credits – bombs.

At the start of the Second World War Wodehouse and his wife remained at their Le Touquet house, where, during the Phoney War, he worked on Joy in the Morning. With the advance of the Germans, the nearby Royal Air Force base withdrew; Wodehouse was offered the sole spare seat in one of the fighter aircraft, but he turned down the opportunity as it would have meant leaving behind Ethel and their dog. On 21 May 1940, with German troops advancing through northern France, the Wodehouses decided to drive to Portugal and fly from there to the US. Two miles from home their car broke down, so they returned and borrowed a car from a neighbour; with the routes blocked with refugees, they returned home again.

The Germans occupied Le Touquet on 22 May 1940 and Wodehouse had to report to the authorities daily. After two months of occupation the Germans interned all male enemy nationals under 60, and Wodehouse was sent to a former prison in Loos, a suburb of Lille, on 21 July; Ethel remained in Le Touquet. The internees were placed four to a cell, each of which had been designed for one man. One bed was available per cell, which was made available to the eldest man—not Wodehouse, who slept on the granite floor. The prisoners were not kept long in Loos before they were transported in cattle trucks to a former barracks in Liège which was run as a prison by the SS. After a week the men were transferred to Huy in Liège, Belgium, where they were incarcerated in the local citadel. They remained there until September 1940, when they were transported to Tost in Upper Silesia (then Germany, now Toszek in Poland).

Wodehouse's family and friends had not had any news of his location after the fall of France, but an article from an Associated Press reporter who had visited Tost in December 1940 led to pressure on the German authorities to release the novelist. This included a petition from influential people in the US; Senator W. Warren Barbour presented it to the German ambassador. Although his captors refused to release him, Wodehouse was provided with a typewriter and, to pass the time, he wrote Money in the Bank. Throughout his time in Tost, he sent postcards to his US literary agent asking for $5 to be sent to various people in Canada, mentioning his name. These were the families of Canadian prisoners of war, and the news from Wodehouse was the first indication that their sons were alive and well. Wodehouse risked severe punishment for the communication, but managed to evade the German censor.

“I never was interested in politics. I'm quite unable to work up any kind of belligerent feeling. Just as I'm about to feel belligerent about some country I meet a decent sort of chap. We go out together and lose any fighting thoughts or feelings.”

On 21 June 1941, while he was in the middle of playing a game of cricket, Wodehouse received a visit from two members of the Gestapo. He was given ten minutes to pack his things before he was taken to the Hotel Adlon, a top luxury hotel in Berlin. He stayed there at his own expense; royalties from the German editions of his books had been put into a special frozen bank account at the outset of the war, and Wodehouse was permitted to draw upon this money he had earned whilst staying in Berlin. He was thus released from internment a few months before his sixtieth birthday—the age at which civilian internees were released by the Nazis. Shortly afterwards Wodehouse was, in the words of Phelps, "cleverly trapped" into making five broadcasts to the US via German radio, with the Berlin-based correspondent of the Columbia Broadcasting System. The broadcasts—aired on 28 June, 9, 23 and 30 July, and 6 August—were titled How to be an Internee Without Previous Training, and comprised humorous anecdotes about Wodehouse's experiences as a prisoner, including some gentle mocking of captors. The German propaganda ministry arranged for the recordings to be broadcast to Britain in August. The day after Wodehouse recorded his final programme, Ethel joined him in Berlin, having sold most of her jewellery to pay for the journey.

Aftermath: reactions and investigation[edit]
The reaction in Britain to Wodehouse's broadcasts was hostile, and he was widely considered to be a coward and a traitor, although, Phelps observes, many of those who decried his actions had not heard the content of the programmes.  A front page article in The Daily Mirror stated that Wodehouse "lived luxuriously because Britain laughed with him, but when the laughter was out of his country's heart, ... [he] was not ready to share her suffering. He hadn't the guts ... even to stick it out in the internment camp." In the House of Commons Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary, regretted Wodehouse's actions. Several libraries removed Wodehouse novels from their shelves.

On 15 July the journalist William Connor, under his pen name Cassandra, broadcast a postscript to the news programme railing against Wodehouse. According to The Times, the broadcast "provoked a storm of complaint ... from listeners all over the country". Wodehouse's biographer, Joseph Connolly, thinks the broadcast "inaccurate, spiteful and slanderous"; Phelps calls it "probably the most vituperative attack on an individual ever heard on British radio". The broadcast was made at the direct instruction of Duff Cooper, the Minister of Information, who overruled strong protests made by the BBC against the decision to air the programme. Numerous letters appeared in the British press, both supporting and criticising Wodehouse. The letters page of The Daily Telegraph became a focus for censuring Wodehouse, including one from Wodehouse's friend, A.A. Milne; a reply from their fellow author Compton Mackenzie in defence of Wodehouse was not published because the editor claimed a lack of space. Most of those defending Wodehouse against accusations of disloyalty, including Sax Rohmer, Dorothy L. Sayers and Gilbert Frankau, conceded that he had acted stupidly. Some members of the public wrote to the newspapers to say that the full facts were not yet known and a fair judgment could not be made until they were. The management of the BBC, who considered Wodehouse's actions no worse than "ill advised", pointed out to Cooper that there was no evidence at that point whether Wodehouse had acted voluntarily or under compulsion.

When Wodehouse heard of the furore the broadcasts had caused, he contacted the Foreign Office—through the Swiss embassy in Berlin—to explain his actions, and attempted to return home via neutral countries, but the German authorities refused to let him leave. In Performing Flea, a 1953 collection of letters, Wodehouse wrote, "Of course I ought to have had the sense to see that it was a loony thing to do to use the German radio for even the most harmless stuff, but I didn't. I suppose prison life saps the intellect". The reaction in America was mixed: the left-leaning publication P.M. accused Wodehouse of "play[ing] Jeeves to the Nazis", but the Department of War used the interviews as an ideal representation of anti-Nazi propaganda.

The broadcasts, in point of fact, are neither anti- nor pro-German, but just Wodehousian. He is a man singularly ill-fitted to live in a time of ideological conflict, having no feelings of hatred about anyone, and no very strong views about anything. ... I never heard him speak bitterly about anyone—not even about old friends who turned against him in distress. Such temperament does not make for good citizenship in the second half of the Twentieth Century.

The Wodehouses remained in Germany until September 1943, when Allied bombing led to the couple being allowed to move back to Paris. They were living there when the city was liberated on 25 August 1944; Wodehouse reported to the American authorities the following day, asking them to inform the British of his whereabouts. He was subsequently visited by Malcolm Muggeridge, recently arrived in Paris as an intelligence officer with MI6. The young officer quickly came to like Wodehouse and considered the question of treasonable behaviour as "ludicrous"; he summed up the writer as "ill-fitted to live in an age of ideological conflict". On 9 September Wodehouse was visited by an MI5 officer and former barrister, Major Edward Cussen, who formally investigated him, a process that stretched over four days. On 28 September Cussen filed his report, which states that in regard to the broadcasts, Wodehouse's behaviour "has been unwise", but advised against further action. On 23 November Theobald Matthew, the Director of Public Prosecutions, decided there was no evidence to justify prosecuting Wodehouse.

In November 1944 Duff Cooper was appointed British ambassador to France and was provided accommodation at the Hôtel Le Bristol, where the Wodehouses were living. Cooper complained to the French authorities, and the couple were moved to a different hotel. They were subsequently arrested by French police and placed under preventive detention, despite no charges being presented. When Muggeridge tracked them down later, he managed to get Ethel released straight away and, four days later, ensured that the French authorities declared Wodehouse unwell and put him in a nearby hospital, which was more comfortable than where they had been detained. While in this hospital, Wodehouse worked on his novel Uncle Dynamite.

While still detained by the French, Wodehouse was again mentioned in questions in the House of Commons in December 1944 when MPs wondered if the French authorities could repatriate him to stand trial. Eden stated that the "matter has been gone into, and, according to the advice given, there are no grounds upon which we could take action". Two months later George Orwell wrote the essay "In Defence of P.G. Wodehouse", where he stated that "it is important to realise that the events of 1941 do not convict Wodehouse of anything worse than stupidity". Orwell's rationale was that Wodehouse's "moral outlook has remained that of a public-school boy, and according to the public-school code, treachery in time of war is the most unforgivable of all the sins", which was compounded by his "complete lack—so far as one can judge from his printed works—of political awareness".

On 15 January 1945 the French authorities released Wodehouse, but they did not inform him, until June 1946, that he would not face any official charges and was free to leave the country.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Time for some videos produced by The Savile Row Bespoke Association ( posts below )

The Savile Row Bespoke Association was founded in 2004 with the aim of protecting and developing the art of bespoke tailoring on Savile Row.

Today, the Row continues to flourish – the home to more than a dozen bespoke tailoring businesses, employing over 100 working craftsmen that form the centre of a unique community in London’s West End. Savile Row is a community that not only creates a unique English luxury product, but one that also forms the training base for young craftsmen and women who will go on to become tailors or designers themselves.


Protecting Intellectual Property
In the general interest of member firms, ensuring that the mark ‘Savile Row Bespoke’ is neither abused nor devalued. Savile Row Bespoke Ltd is the owner of the Trademark. The mark is a collective mark. Further information can be obtained from the Association’s lawyers Olswang.

Developing Training Initiatives
The SRBA has devised and administers apprenticeship courses in conjunction with the Merchant Taylors’ Livery Company and Newham College.

The Savile Row apprenticeship scheme is the form of in house training and accreditation for Savile Row Cutters and Tailors recognised by the SRBA.

The SRBA welcomes proposals for training and development in conjunction with other institutes

Promoting the Art of Bespoke Tailoring
Working to promote the art of bespoke tailoring and to represent the interests of retailers and tenants of the Row whose businesses are sympathetic to the aims of the Association.

The Savile Row Bespoke Association has drawn attention to planning issues that are detrimental to the Row and the measure of care needed to maintain a working craft industry in Central London. Favourable press comment has reminded the public that bespoke tailoring is a home-grown and successful luxury industry, bringing vitality and originality to a great city.

Ensuring Quality
To protect and ensure the future of true British bespoke tailoring, the Savile Row Bespoke Association has defined the strict quality criteria and manufacturing standards that are upheld by member firms.

The Association board meets regularly and welcomes applications to join.

Establishing synergies with weavers, suppliers and subcontractors.

Facilitating discussion to ensure the future of the industry.

The Savile Row Bespoke label
In 2006 the Savile Row Bespoke Association members convened to establish a method of identifying garments specifically made by the Savile Row tailors who meet the association’s required specifications. From this the Savile Row Bespoke label was launched, which all the members now include in their work to formally denote a genuine Savile Row bespoke garment.

Made by hand, using skills that the modern world considers archaic or lost, Savile Row suits are simply the best suits in the world.

The Savile Row Bespoke Association protects the art of bespoke tailoring and works to ensure that the well dressed man will always consider Savile Row to be his spiritual home.

Addressing Collective Problems
The Association is a place for discussion and consultation about collective problems of concern to the members. The Association acts as spokesman for the industry with local and national government services and trade unions.

To Protect and Promote London as an International Capital of Men’s Elegance
Working with local government, United Kingdom and International organisations to maintain and develop London’s unique position as one of the world’s great cities and home of male elegance. Savile Row typifies the values of London. It has a heritage of over two hundred years; it has a rich mix of style, craft and individuality and an international reputation. Westminster Council and the Central London Partnership have now declared policies of active support to maintain Savile Row as the international home of bespoke tailoring in central London.

Savile Row Bespoke Association

With such an incredible product receiving little by way of deserved recognition in recent years, The Savile Row Bespoke Association was formed in 2004 through an alliance of five like-minded houses – Anderson & Sheppard, Dege & Skinner, Gieves & Hawkes, H. Huntsman & Sons and Henry Poole & Co. – tailors which understood the need for a trade association capable of safeguarding Savile Row’s unique bespoke standards. Today, the SRBA has twenty-two member and associate member houses, who work together to protect and champion this understanding of bespoke tailoring and to promote the ingenious craftsmen that comprise the community of Savile Row. The SRBA sets the standards that define a Savile Row bespoke tailor, and all members of the Association must conform to the above definition of a bespoke suit and much more besides. A Master Cutter must oversee the work of every tailor employed by a member house and all garments must be constructed within a one hundred yard radius of Savile Row. Likewise, every member must offer the customer a choice of at least 2000 cloths and rigorous technical requirements are expected. For example, jacket foreparts must be entirely hand canvassed, buttonholes sewn, sleeves attached and linings felled all by hand.

In addition to promoting and securing the working practices of Savile Row tailors, the SRBA has played a key role in promoting Savile Row’s continued relevance as an international centre of modern, luxurious men’s style. Since it was founded in 2004, the SRBA has initiated and taken part in a number of events throughout the world, including presentations at the British Ambassador’s residences in Washington, D.C., Florence, Paris and Tokyo, the Friday Late exhibition at the V&A in London, the British Fashion Council’s London Collections: Men men’s fashion weeks and it’s own, widely celebrated, Savile Row Field Day. These showcases serve to both celebrate the art and craft of Savile Row and demonstrate to the fashion industry and international press how the Row remains at the zenith of its trade through its enthusiasm and willingness to contemporise and innovate. Many SRBA member houses design and tailor specific pieces for these events to convey their place at the centre of modern men’s style to a young, dynamic and diverse audience.

The SRBA is not only connecting the Row with a younger audience, but with a younger craftsman too. The Association has introduced over fifty new apprentices to Savile Row since 2004, ensuring that the lifeblood of The Row – the extraordinary skills of its master tailors – can be passed onto the next generation. Every member house must employ a salaried apprentice at all times, whose work is overseen by the Technical Committee of the SRBA, staffed by the Head Cutter of each member house. Crucially, through this initiative, the Association not only ensures that Savile Row’s future is secure, but also that the community of Savile Row retains a valuable connection to a younger, more contemporary customer, as well as its traditional, established clientele.

In the same vein, the SRBA promotes greater innovation within the industry through a connection with its associate members. Foremost amongst these are the abundance of world famous British woollen mills and cloth merchants that create the superior fabrics which each and every tailor uses. Firms such as Huddersfield-based Dugdale Bros & Co. and Huddersfield Fine Worsteds, historic London-based merchant Dormeuil and Harrisons of Edinburgh work closely with the SRBA to ensure that the tailors’ fabrics are not only of an appropriate standard, but that they too are innovatory. These mills work upon the feedback of the SRBA, producing ever more engaging and elevated cloths whilst still using the appropriate traditional weaving methods.

With the balancing of tradition and innovation in mind, it should be noted that although the Association’s primary objective is to promote Savile Row bespoke tailoring at its finest, it would be a mistake to ignore the continued modernisation of Savile Row’s retail practices. A number of houses have introduced beautifully conceived and crafted ready-to-wear capsule collections to complement their core bespoke offering, whilst others have transformed into extraordinary international retail destinations – expanding the appeal of Savile Row still further, without compromising The Row’s central values of quality and service, nor neglecting its core bespoke product, which every member tailor retains as the heart of their business. With the work of the SRBA, Savile Row has undergone a timely renaissance, retaining its global reputation for quality whilst developing a new vibrancy and dominance in the luxury retail sphere. Excitingly, the Association itself is continuing to grow alongside the Row, with three more member houses joining this year alone, helping to secure Savile Row’s enduring identity in an ordinarily fickle and changing industry.

In such an environment Savile Row continues to grow from strength to strength, demonstrating its relevance and confidence, promoting British style and retaining its reputation as a global icon of men’s luxury; a reputation which the Savile Row Bespoke Association is proud to play a dominant role in upholding.

The English Gentleman at Apsley House - 12th January 2015 from Savile Row Bespoke Association on Vimeo.

On Monday 12th January, for London Collections: Men, the bespoke tailors of Savile Row, The Woolmark Company, and the select shirt makers and shoe makers associated with The English Gentleman’ presented the modern face of British elegance at the wonderful Apsley House, hosted by The Earl of Mornington. The presentation is a reminder of the fact that London is the world’s capital of masculine style, and has been for over two centuries. Through 'The English Gentleman', now in its 6th Season, Savile Row tailors and the gentlemen's houses of St James's continue to present the finest collections in the most iconic and exclusive settings in London. To celebrate the bicentenary year of the Battle of Waterloo, The English Gentleman was styled by Jo Levin, Creative Fashion Director of British GQ and presented by Anda Rowland (Anderson and Sheppard), Sammy Aki, Lloyd Almond and Poppy Charles (Huntsman)

The English Gentleman at Apsley House - 12th January 2015. Short version. from Savile Row Bespoke Association on Vimeo.

A short film that captures the essence of the military styling that was the central theme of Savile Row's The English Gentleman at Apsley House Autumn/Winter '15 presentation of 12th January 2015.
Pieces were supplied by Savile Row Bespoke Association members Anderson & Sheppard, Chittleborough & Morgan, Dege & Skinner, Gieves & Hawkes, Richard James and Welsh & Jefferies.

The film was produced by Woolmark.

The Road to Lord's - 17th June 2013 from Savile Row Bespoke Association on Vimeo.

The members of the Savile Row Bespoke Association (SRBA) joined forces with London’s best bootmakers, shirt makers and hatters to present over one hundred outfits showcasing the modern day face of traditional British men’s style for the second season of The English Gentleman at London Collections: Men.
The event was spread throughout the iconic rooms of Lord’s cricket ground, the spiritual home of England’s most quintessentially elegant game.
The event was made possible by the support of The Woolmark Company and SRBA partners Chivas.

Warm thanks should also be paid to the organising committee of Anda Rowland of Anderson & Sheppard, Jo Levin, Sammy Aki, Audie Charles, Lloyd Almond, Eleanor Duthie, Holly Roberts, Rob Soar and the team at event co-sponsors Anderson & Sheppard.

Michael Gambon’s Suit Journey – The English Gentleman at the Cabinet War...

Sheep on The Row - 5th October 2015 from Savile Row Bespoke Association on Vimeo.

Wool Week 2015 got under way with Bowmont and Exmoor sheep grazing on Savile Row and live models displaying the wonderful work and wares of numerous Savile Row Bespoke Association members and associate members. Special thanks are due to The Woolmark Company, stylist Sammy Aki and Lloyd Almond for making the day possible. Wool Week is an initiative of The Campaign For Wool.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Herald / Hérauts d'Armes / VIDEO:State Opening Of Parliament (1960)

A herald, or, more correctly, a herald of arms, is an officer of arms, ranking between pursuivant and king of arms. The title is commonly applied more broadly to all officers of arms.

Heralds were originally messengers sent by monarchs or noblemen to convey messages or proclamations—in this sense being the predecessors of the modern diplomats. In the Hundred Years' War, French heralds challenged King Henry V to fight. During the Battle of Agincourt, the English herald and the French herald, Montjoie, watched the battle together from a nearby hill; both agreed that the English were the victors, and Montjoie provided King Henry V, who thus earned the right to name the battle, with the name of the nearby castle.

Like other officers of arms, a herald would often wear a surcoat, called a tabard, decorated with the coat of arms of his master. It was possibly due to their role in managing the tournaments of the Late Middle Ages that heralds came to be associated with the regulation of the knights' coats of arms. Heralds have been employed by kings and large landowners, principally as messengers and ambassadors. Heralds were required to organise, announce and referee the contestants at a tournament. This science of heraldry became increasingly important and further regulated over the years, and in several countries around the world it is still overseen by heralds. Thus the primary job of a herald today is to be an expert in coats of arms. In the United Kingdom heralds are still called upon at times to read proclamations publicly; for which they still wear tabards emblazoned with the royal coat of arms.

There are active official heralds today in several countries, including the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Canada, and the Republic of South Africa. In England and Scotland most heralds are full-time employees of the sovereign and are called "Heralds of Arms in Ordinary". Temporary appointments can be made of "Heralds of Arms Extraordinary". These are often appointed for a specific major state occasions, such as a coronation. In addition, the Canadian Heraldic Authority has created the position of "Herald of Arms Emeritus", with which to honor long-serving or distinguished heraldists. In Scotland, some Clan Chiefs, the heads of great noble houses, still appoint private officers of arms to handle cases of heraldic or genealogical importance of clan members, although these are usually pursuivants.

Chez les Grecs, ils sont appelés κήρυκες / kếrukes et chez les Romains fetiales, mais rien ne permet de prouver qu'il existe un lien entre ces officiers et les hérauts qui apparaissent au Moyen Âge. Ce lien semble avoir été créé au xve siècle par les hérauts eux-mêmes afin de prouver l'ancienneté et la noblesse de leur office à une période où celui-ci était remis en cause.

Apparue vraisemblablement au xiie siècle (on relève une mention tirée de Chrétien de Troyes datant de la fin du xiie siècle), les hérauts d'armes sont intimement liés au développement de l'héraldique.

Issus des rangs des jongleurs et ménestrels, les officiers d'armes se spécialisèrent dans les tournois, les joutes ou encore les pas d'armes. Ils les annonçaient, y menaient les chevaliers et les commentaient. À l'origine, ils n'étaient pas liés à un noble en particulier et menaient une vie d'errance, contribuant ainsi au renom de divers chevaliers. Ils relataient leurs faits d'armes partout où ils se rendaient. Ce rôle eut une influence notable sur l'office. En effet, toute l'organisation du groupe est liée aux tournois. Tout d'abord la distinction des officiers selon leurs marches d'armes correspond aux divisions territoriales des groupes de chevaliers dans les tournois. Ensuite, la hiérarchie de l'office d'armes est également assujettie, du moins sur le plan symbolique, à la chevalerie et aux tournois. En effet, comme le rappelle Olivier de la Marche dans ses mémoires, il faut sept ans à un poursuivant d'armes pour pouvoir devenir héraut. Cette durée correspond au temps nécessaire à un écuyer pour devenir chevalier.

L'âge d'or
Ce rôle en matière de tournois fit d'eux des experts en blasons, ce qui leur permit d'avoir des fonctions militaires officialisées au début du xive siècle comme le montre l'ordonnance prise par Philippe le Bel en 1306 sur le gage de bataille. En effet, il n'y avait pas d'uniforme dans l'ost féodal, et les combattants ne se reconnaissaient que par les armoiries figurant sur les bannières, les pennons ou les écus. La connaissance des blasons acquise en fréquentant les tournois permettait aux officiers d'armes de reconnaître rapidement les protagonistes et de saisir le déroulement des batailles. Ceci les rendait fort précieux, notamment au xiiie siècle où les armoiries se sont individualisées. Ainsi, ils se fixèrent auprès de seigneurs en conservant certaines spécificités héritées de leur ancien statut d'errant, par exemple des fonctions de messageries et d'annonces facilitées par les immunités dont ils jouissaient (en particulier le droit de circuler librement partout où ils se rendaient). Ils acquirent aussi de nouvelles compétences, notamment dans la définition des règles en matière d'héraldique et la composition des armoriaux.

Selon les contemporains, le xve siècle est une période de crise pour l'office d'armes. Sans doute, le droit reconnu au moindre capitaine de s'attacher les services d'un poursuivant y est pour beaucoup. En effet, cette mesure a vraisemblablement entraîné une multiplication des poursuivants d'armes, parfois recrutés parmi des gens indignes de cet office selon leurs pairs, « de vielz menestrels qui ne poient plus corner » comme le dit le héraut Sicile3. Mais, ce qui a le plus fragilisé le corps des officiers d'armes au xve siècle est sans doute le passage de l'ost médiéval à une armée permanente soldée. À partir de 1445, en France, les compagnies d'ordonnances se substituent aux contingents de vassaux se ralliant à la bannière de leur seigneur. Le rôle militaire des officiers d'armes disparaîtra complètement après la guerre de Trente Ans, puis leur rôle héraldique disparaîtra en 1615, date de la création du juge d'armes. Paradoxalement, cette période de déclin décriée par les hérauts du xve siècle semble, à nos yeux, être l'apogée de l'office d'armes. En effet, il n'est qu'à prendre l'exemple de la constitution du collège héraldique français en 1406 ou encore celui des requêtes présentées aux princes présents au congrès d'Arras de 1435, pour comprendre que les hérauts représentaient un corps assez important et reconnu au xve siècle.

S'il y a déclin de l'office d'armes, celui-ci semble davantage se situer au xvie siècle. Ceci est sans doute dû à une conjonction de facteurs dont le principal semble être le passage du système féodal à l'État moderne qui transfère toutes les dignités au monarque et retire à la noblesse son caractère militaire. Ce mouvement s'amplifiera au xviie siècle et l'office d'armes perdra ses principales prérogatives. Leur rôle héraldique disparaîtra en 1615, date de la création du juge d'armes. En 1627, le collège héraldique perdit son indépendance et fut rattaché à la grande écurie royale après la suppression de la connétablie. Quelque temps plus tard, ce sont leurs fonctions militaires qui seront remises en cause : Louis XIII sera le dernier roi de France à s'entourer de hérauts pendant la guerre de Trente Ans. Enfin, leur rôle de maîtres de cérémonies leur sera retiré au profit de l'introducteur des ambassadeurs. Par la suite, l'office d'armes réduit, semble-t-il, à un simple élément de la pompe impériale et monarchique, subsistera en France jusqu'en 1830. Ainsi, des officiers d'armes participèrent à l'ouverture des États généraux de 1789, aux funérailles de Louis XVIII et au sacre de Charles X en 1825. On les mentionne une dernière fois, en France, à la tête du cortège du Te Deum célébrant la prise d'Alger le 11 juillet 1830.

À l'heure actuelle, certains pays disposent encore de hérauts d'armes, notamment l'Afrique du Sud, l'Angleterre où ils prirent part au couronnement d'Elizabeth en 19534, le Canada, l'Écosse (Lord Lyon), l'Espagne où ils participèrent à la proclamation de Juan Carlos en 19755 et l'Irlande. Aux Pays-Bas, des hérauts d'armes figurent seulement pendant la cérémonie d'inauguration du Roi. Ils étaient normalement des membres du Haut Conseil de Noblesse ; pendant la dernière inauguration, celle de la reine Beatrix en 1980, il s'agit de combattants de la Résistance.