Monday, 16 September 2019

The Secret Garden / Philosophy in the garden / Top 10 books about gardens / VIDEO:The Secret Garden (1993) - Original Theatrical Trailer





At the turn of the 20th century, Mary Lennox is a sickly, neglected and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy British parents who never wanted her and make an effort to ignore the girl. She is cared for primarily by native servants, who allow her to become spoiled, aggressive, and self-centered. After a cholera epidemic kills her parents and the servants, Mary is discovered alive but alone in the empty house. She briefly lives with an English clergyman and his family in India before she is sent to Yorkshire, in England, to live with Archibald Craven, a wealthy, hunchbacked uncle whom she has never met, at his isolated house, Misselthwaite Manor.

At first, Mary is as obnoxious and sour as ever. She dislikes her new home, the people living in it, and most of all, the bleak moor on which it sits. However, a good-natured maid named Martha Sowerby tells Mary about her aunt, the late Lilias Craven, who would spend hours in a private walled garden growing roses. Mrs Craven died after an accident in the garden, and the devastated Mr. Craven locked the garden and buried the key. Mary becomes interested in finding the secret garden herself, and her ill manners begin to soften as a result. Soon she comes to enjoy the company of Martha, the gardener Ben Weatherstaff, and a friendly robin redbreast. Her health and attitude improve with the bracing Yorkshire air, and she grows stronger as she explores the moor and plays with a skipping rope that Mrs Sowerby buys for her. Mary wonders about both the secret garden and the mysterious cries that echo through the house at night.

As Mary explores the gardens, her robin draws her attention to an area of disturbed soil. Here Mary finds the key to the locked garden and eventually the door to the garden itself. She asks Martha for garden tools, which Martha sends with Dickon, her 12-year-old brother who spends most of his time out on the moors. Mary and Dickon take a liking to each other, as Dickon has a kind way with animals and a good nature. Eager to absorb his gardening knowledge, Mary tells him about the secret garden.

One night, Mary hears the cries once more and decides to follow them through the house. She is startled when she finds a boy her age named Colin, who lives in a hidden bedroom. She soon discovers that they are cousins, Colin being the son of Mr and Mrs Craven, and that he suffers from an unspecified spinal problem which precludes him from walking and causes him to spend most of his time in bed. Mary visits him every day that week, distracting him from his troubles with stories of the moor, Dickon and his animals, and the secret garden. Mary finally confides that she has access to the secret garden, and Colin asks to see it. Colin is put into his wheelchair and brought outside into the secret garden. It is the first time he has been outdoors for years.

While in the garden, the children look up to see Ben Weatherstaff looking over the wall on a ladder. Startled and angry to find the children in the secret garden, he admits that he believed Colin to be a cripple. Colin stands up from his chair and finds that his legs are fine, though weak from long disuse. Colin and Mary soon spend almost every day in the garden, sometimes with Dickon as company. The children and Ben conspire to keep Colin's recovering health a secret from the other staff, so as to surprise his father, who is travelling abroad. As Colin's health improves, his father sees a coinciding increase in spirits, culminating in a dream where his late wife calls to him from inside the garden. When he receives a letter from Mrs Sowerby, he takes the opportunity finally to return home. He walks the outer garden wall in his wife's memory, but hears voices inside, finds the door unlocked, and is shocked to see the garden in full bloom, and his son healthy, having just won a race against the other two children. The servants watch, stunned, as Mr Craven and Colin walk back to the manor together.





Why did Marcel Proust have bonsai beside his bed? What was Jane Austen doing, coveting an apricot? How was Friedrich Nietzsche inspired by his thought tree'? In Philosophy in the Garden, Damon Young explores one of literature's most intimate relationships: authors and their gardens. For some, the garden provided a retreat from workaday labour; for others, solitude's quiet counsel. For all, it played a philosophical role: giving their ideas a new life. Philosophy in the Garden reveals the profound thoughts discovered in parks, backyards, and pot-plants. It does not provide tips for mowing overgrown couch grass, or mulching a dry Japanese maple. It is a philosophical companion to the garden's labours and joys.

REVIEWS
[A] fascinating journey through the lives and creativity of writers ... It is an intimate, charming book.' * Sensibilities: The Journal of the Jane Austen Society of Australia * An absolute joy of a book - I couldn't put it down. Its prose is as careful and lovely as a beautifully tended garden.' -- Nikki Gemmell, columnist for The Australian and author of Honestly [E]njoyable and erudite.' * Los Angeles Review of Books * [W]ith his vivid, critical, and, sometimes loving, attention to detail, he brings to new life writers and philosophers that anyone with a liberal arts education thought they already knew ... Young's enthusiasm, compassion, and moments of personal insight are infectious.' * Island * Young has managed the difficult task of creating an academically rigorous work while maintaining a light and engaging tone throughout the book, which is actually a highly intellectual look at the complex relationship between humanity and nature.' * Voice * [T]houghtful and highly entertaining.' * Limelight * [T]ake the plunge: the writing is fresh, the observations discursive, and the garden ... placed front and centre.' * Australian Garden History * Young helps readers reflect on the value of the garden beyond a place to hold a backyard barbecue ... [He] writes engagingly, showing off his skills as a storyteller ... [A]n intriguing little book.' * Weekly Times * [M]ore my kind of gardening' than the digging type ... Particularly interesting is his account of Jane Austen's creative relationship with her Hampshire gardens.' * The Lady * [Philosophy in the Garden] is a stimulating read where individual truths may well bloom ... [T]his volume is packed with brilliant literary info.' * The West Australian * Reading this book is like strolling in a luxuriant garden with an erudite friend, although one of a literary rather than horticultural bent ... Think of this engaging little book ... as a philosophical primer, an approachable introduction to ideas about gardens and the natural world.' * The Age * Young is an engaging writer. His technique is fluent and stylish and never marred by cliches or cliched thinking. He is sincere, a great relief from the ocean of irony in which we live, and intellectually questing, a relief from that other ocean of schmaltzy platitude.' * The Australian * This beautiful looking book is a wonderfully refreshing mix of literary gossip, historical exposition and philosophical reflection, and I never wanted it to end.' -- Walter Mason, author of Destination Saigon I found it utterly engaging and most illuminating. His style is very readable and full of wit and personality.' * Kate Forsyth, author of The Wild Girl * I've been looking forward to Damon Young's [Philosophy in the Garden] ... all year. Part philosophy lesson, part literary companion, it's a contemplative stroll through writers' relationships with their gardens.' * Charlotte Wood, author of Animal People * [T]hought provoking indeed.' * The Good Book Guide * [T]hought-provoking ... fine book.' * Gardens Illustrated * Young writes with a delightful combination of humour and insight.' * The Literary Review * A brilliant philosophical and literary meditation that helps us rethink our relationship with the natural world - and with ourselves.' * Roman Krznaric, author of Empathy * A gentle dig for ideas about how to live - this book will grow your mind and put a glow in your cheeks.' * Deborah Levy, author of Swimming Home * Like a garden coming into spring ... tremendous vistas of thought.' * The Daily Telegraph * [S]prightly and stimulating.' * The Spectator * Erudite, yet witty and accessible, [Philosophy in the Garden] is intellectual history at its most completely pleasurable.' * Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote * This is a gardening book that takes readers not on a walk around great estates but on a tour of great minds ... It's a lovely extension on the notion that gardens make you contemplative and in working with the soil you see life's big picture.' * The Daily Telegraph 


Top 10 books about gardens

From theatres of social snobbery to fiery manifestos for rewilding, these volumes show that gardening can be sexy, scary and sometimes scandalous

Vivian Swift
Wed 20 Jul 2016 15.28 BSTLast modified on Thu 22 Feb 2018 12.50 GMT

The problem with most garden books is that they are written by gardeners. Gardeners have a habit of filling pages and pages with homework-sounding words such as rhizosphere and loamy and pH, which isn’t even a word. It all sounds as exciting as algebra.

The other problem with garden books is that so many of them blabber on about an idea of nature that came into fashion in the time of hoop skirts and whalebone corsets. I’m talking about the ideology of the famed 19th-century conservationist John Muir, who wrote about wilderness as a place “to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the soul”. I want to read about this fey “sacred space” concept of nature about as much as I want to slap on a lace bonnet and ride side-saddle.

Wouldn’t it be great to read a garden book that didn’t have the personality of a maiden aunt? Yes, it would! And that’s why I, a dedicated non-gardener, wrote Gardens of Awe and Folly: to show that gardens aren’t demure! Gardens are sexy, and scary, sometimes even scandalous, and best of all, gardens are the perfect settings to serve up ice-cold cocktails and red-hot gossip … and any one of these books is the equivalent of that kind of garden party.

1. Rambunctious Garden by Emma Marris
This book will set your hair on fire if you are the least bit sentimental about the sanctity of capital-n Nature. Marris, a science journalist and metaphorical flame-thrower (from Seattle), has taken the gutsy stance that the environmental purity imagined by John Muir and his ilk vanished about 6,000 years ago with the planting of the first gardens in Mesopotamia, and can’t be restored. Happily, she offers a new, improved nature with her stories of radical rewilding, human-assisted migration of flora and fauna, and – gasp – the ecological godsend of invasive and exotic species. Oh yes, she goes there.

2. The Gardener of Versailles: My Life in the World’s Grandest Garden by Alain Baraton
Baraton has been tending the Grand Parc de Versailles for more than 40 years, beginning as a ditch-digging gardener’s assistant in 1976 and, since 1982, as its gardener-in-chief. In this charmingly ardent memoir, Baraton spices things up with advice on the gardens’ best hidden corners for trysting, lush descriptions of nightfall in the royal groves, and soulful odes to the mighty fallen (trees, kings, and previous gardeners-in-chief). Baraton is proof that there is such a thing as a debonair gardener.

3. Sunlight on the Lawn by Beverley Nichols
Any of the dozen garden books written between 1932 and 1968 by England’s most lovable snob would have been a perfect fit for this list. But Sunlight on the Lawn, from 1956, stands out for having the tastiest horticultural titbits dished up with the most generous helpings of the well-mannered malice at which the British gentry excels. Here is the ever-so-genteel Rose, thrusting honey-dipped insults at Miss Emily for her weeding methods, who parries with awe-inspiring sarcasm. Behind their backs is Mr Nichols, who lives for such scandals, stirring things up with his pronouncements on vulgar garden designs and tacky floral trends. Delicious.

4. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Here is a garden that is not only scary, but lethal. You probably already know the story of the orphaned Mary Lennox, “the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen”, and her rehabilitation of the spooky walled-in garden with the killer tree (the one the late Mrs Craven fell out of). But you probably did not know that Hodgson Burnett wrote this iconic English fable in the US, in her home on Long Island, less than three miles from where I live. This fact inspired me to believe that great garden writers can come from anywhere, even one’s own dull suburb.

5. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Another classic tale from Long Island. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, in exile from his native France at the outbreak of the second world war, found himself living here, “a haven for writing, the best place I have ever had anywhere in my life”. And voila: the tale of the Rose, beloved of the title’s sensitive alien, was born. Even more heartening to me, as a self-taught watercolourist, is Saint-Exupéry’s artwork, which is, frankly, terrible, and yet beloved around the world.

6. Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education by Michael Pollan
Pollan writes about dirt (dirt!) and is utterly fascinating, even to a reader who has previously stated that this is the exact subject that she most dreads in garden books. That’s because dirt, like every other topic Pollan addresses (roses, weeds, trees, etc), is only the jumping-off point for a flight of fancy that alights on political history, popular culture and class distinctions, all the while being both highly entertaining and deeply thought-provoking. Surprise surprise, there is a whole lot more to a garden than its planting list. When I wrote Gardens of Awe and Folly this is the kind of value-added storytelling that I did my best to emulate, because outright plagiarism is wrong.

7. Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden by Eleanor Perenyi
OK, this is the most boring title ever for a garden book. Which means that you will be all that more pleased by the verve and eccentricity of its author. As the American ex-wife of a Romanian baron, Perenyi has gardened in both the old and new worlds, in war and poverty, peace and affluence, and, lastly, Connecticut. Is she cultured and crotchety? Digressive and droll? Brainy and brash? Is she ever. Just read the chapter Onions, and I guarantee you will be as smitten with the lady as she is with scallions. One of my most treasured possessions is a photograph of Perenyi seated in her backyard parterre, a highball in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She lived to be 91, which goes to show how healthful the gardening lifestyle must be.

8. Our Life in Gardens by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd
Nothing could convince me that I might be missing something by not having a garden of my own – except maybe this book. This cosy memoir shows the authors to be the most companionable and down-to-earth of garden world paragons. Gazing at a portrait of artist Rubens Peale, the authors observe that the subject is holding one of the most beautiful flowerpots they’ve ever seen. Well, if puttering about in a herbaceous border would make me half as refined, witty, and personable, then I’d gladly grab a hoe and have at it.

9. The Potting-Shed Papers by Charles Elliott
I began my education as a garden writer by devouring this collection of 31 essays on gardens, gardeners, and garden history. Elliott roams to wherever his hyperactive curiosity takes him, from the invention of the lawnmower in England to the discovery of the blue poppy in China, with stops in the gardening cultures of Holland and Japan and, oh, almost everywhere else. Read this book and learn important stuff about the gardening mindset, such as how much determination it takes to grow a California sequoia in Gloucestershire, and how nutty and wonderful it is that anyone ever tried to do it in the first place.

10. The New Sylva: A Discourse of Forest and Orchard Trees for the 21st Century by Gabriel Hemery, illustrated by Sarah Simblet
Lucky you, Guardian readers, to have been born at the right time to feast your eyes on this highly anticipated followup to the illustrious Sylva of 1664! As in the original, this is an exhortation to Britons to cherish and maintain their woodlands, with Hemery writing movingly about forests as both artefacts of civilisation and celebrations of tree-dom in your mystically green and astoundingly pleasant land.





At the turn of the 20th century, Mary Lennox is a sickly, neglected and unloved 10-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy British parents who never wanted her and make an effort to ignore the girl. She is cared for primarily by native servants, who allow her to become spoiled, aggressive, and self-centered. After a cholera epidemic kills her parents and the servants, Mary is discovered alive but alone in the empty house. She briefly lives with an English clergyman and his family in India before she is sent to Yorkshire, in England, to live with Archibald Craven, a wealthy, hunchbacked uncle whom she has never met, at his isolated house, Misselthwaite Manor.

At first, Mary is as obnoxious and sour as ever. She dislikes her new home, the people living in it, and most of all, the bleak moor on which it sits. However, a good-natured maid named Martha Sowerby tells Mary about her aunt, the late Lilias Craven, who would spend hours in a private walled garden growing roses. Mrs Craven died after an accident in the garden, and the devastated Mr. Craven locked the garden and buried the key. Mary becomes interested in finding the secret garden herself, and her ill manners begin to soften as a result. Soon she comes to enjoy the company of Martha, the gardener Ben Weatherstaff, and a friendly robin redbreast. Her health and attitude improve with the bracing Yorkshire air, and she grows stronger as she explores the moor and plays with a skipping rope that Mrs Sowerby buys for her. Mary wonders about both the secret garden and the mysterious cries that echo through the house at night.

As Mary explores the gardens, her robin draws her attention to an area of disturbed soil. Here Mary finds the key to the locked garden and eventually the door to the garden itself. She asks Martha for garden tools, which Martha sends with Dickon, her 12-year-old brother who spends most of his time out on the moors. Mary and Dickon take a liking to each other, as Dickon has a kind way with animals and a good nature. Eager to absorb his gardening knowledge, Mary tells him about the secret garden.

One night, Mary hears the cries once more and decides to follow them through the house. She is startled when she finds a boy her age named Colin, who lives in a hidden bedroom. She soon discovers that they are cousins, Colin being the son of Mr and Mrs Craven, and that he suffers from an unspecified spinal problem which precludes him from walking and causes him to spend most of his time in bed. Mary visits him every day that week, distracting him from his troubles with stories of the moor, Dickon and his animals, and the secret garden. Mary finally confides that she has access to the secret garden, and Colin asks to see it. Colin is put into his wheelchair and brought outside into the secret garden. It is the first time he has been outdoors for years.

While in the garden, the children look up to see Ben Weatherstaff looking over the wall on a ladder. Startled and angry to find the children in the secret garden, he admits that he believed Colin to be a cripple. Colin stands up from his chair and finds that his legs are fine, though weak from long disuse. Colin and Mary soon spend almost every day in the garden, sometimes with Dickon as company. The children and Ben conspire to keep Colin's recovering health a secret from the other staff, so as to surprise his father, who is travelling abroad. As Colin's health improves, his father sees a coinciding increase in spirits, culminating in a dream where his late wife calls to him from inside the garden. When he receives a letter from Mrs Sowerby, he takes the opportunity finally to return home. He walks the outer garden wall in his wife's memory, but hears voices inside, finds the door unlocked, and is shocked to see the garden in full bloom, and his son healthy, having just won a race against the other two children. The servants watch, stunned, as Mr Craven and Colin walk back to the manor together.

Friday, 13 September 2019

The Sartorialist: India by SCOTT SCHUMAN


The Sartorialist: India!!!!!
I’m beyond excited to finally share the cover of my new book “The Sartorialist: India”! I’m humbled and grateful to have a brilliant partner like Taschen producing the book! I’ve become so accustomed to taking a photo and sharing it immediately that it’s been torture holding back the images in this book until it’s release. Of the 300 pages in the only, maybe ten images, have been seen before. Big cities, rural villages, fashion weeks, wrestling, music festivals, and simple street life are all a part of this book that I hope, in some small way, captures the exciting diversity and evolution of this wonderful country. You can click here to place an advance order on the book that will be released this September!
SCOTT SCHUMAN
The Sartorialist
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Thursday, 12 September 2019

REMEMBERING ...THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BERETTA LONDON GALLERY / Gentlemen Hunt // Autumn/Winter 2018-2019 AW18








REMEMBERING ...THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BERETTA LONDON GALLERY
IZZIE NOVEMBER 5, 2015

Last Thursday we were invited to attend the 10th anniversary of the Beretta Gallery London. An elegant temple of all things country, the Gallery is located in a renovated 3 story former bank building, and sits on the corner of historic Jermyn Street, known for its prestigious members only clubs and custom shops.

The Gallery features Beretta’s Premium Grade firearms, sport clothing for men and women along with shooting related accessories. Customers can also find travel luggage and accessories, gift items, homeware, and a selection of books about the Beretta legacy, sporting life, travel and the outdoors.

“Straddling two continents and operating under the Beretta trademark, the Galleries constantly refine their philosophy and strategy, while maintaining intact the style that is signature of the Beretta brand and always operating in harmony with the rest of the company’s distribution channels.

As for strategies and plans for the future, the Gallery concept is to be expanded into Europe’s leading capitals, with each store always occupying positions of unquestioned prestige that result in a successful compromise between prime location and high traffic. And finally the positive fallout mentioned above. A full range of our firearms, apparel, accessories and decorative items is on display in the Beretta Galleries of New York, Dallas, Buenos Aires, Paris and Milan and London.” Franco Gussalli Beretta









Val Trompia, a northern Italian river valley in the Province of Brescia, Lombardy, has been mined for iron ore since the time of the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages, Val Trompia was known for its ironworks; after the Renaissance it came to be a center for the manufacture of weapons.[4] By the mid 16th century Val Trompia had forty ironworks, supplied by fifty mines and eight smelters. The birthplace of Beretta is in the village of Gardone located on the banks of the Mella river, in the middle of Val Trompia (i.e., between the upper valley and lower valley).

The Beretta forge was in operation from about 1500, although the first documented transaction is a contract dated October 3, 1526 for 185 arquebus barrels, for which the Republic of Venice was to pay 296 ducats to Maestro di Canne (master gun-barrel maker) Bartolomeo Beretta (in Italian).The original account document for the order of those barrels is now stored in the Archivio di Stato di Venezia (in Italian) in Venice.[6] By the end of the 17th century, Beretta had become the second largest gun barrel maker in Gardone.

Under the guild system, the knowledge of gun barrel fabrication that was bequeathed to Jacopo (1520/25 – …) from his father Bartolomeo (1490 – 1565/68) was then passed on to his own son Giovannino (1550 – post 1577), and to his grandson Giovan Antonio (1577 – post 1649) and so on until guilds were abolished by Napoleon after his conquest of Venetian Republic in 1797.
Beretta has been owned by the same family for almost five hundred years and is a founding member of Les Henokiens, an association of bicentenary companies that are family owned and operated.

In 1918, the Beretta Model 1918, one of the first submachine guns in the world, was fielded by the Italian army. Beretta manufactured rifles and pistols for the Italian military until the 1943 Armistice between Italy and the Allied forces during World War II. With the Wehrmacht's control of northern Italy, the Germans seized Beretta and continued producing arms until the 1945 German surrender in Italy.[4] In that time, the quality of the exterior finish of the weapons diminished and was much more inferior to both the pre-war and mid-war weapons, but their operation remained excellent. The last shipment of Type I Rifles left Venice for Japan in a U-boat in 1942.

After World War II, Beretta was actively involved in repairing the American M1 Garands given to Italy by the U.S. Beretta modified the M1 into the Beretta BM-59 rifle, which is similar to the M14 battle rifle; armourers consider the BM-59 rifle to be superior to the M14 rifle in some ways, because it is more accurate under certain conditions.

After the war, Beretta continued to develop firearms for the Italian Army and police, as well as the civilian market.

In the 1980s, Beretta enjoyed a renewal of popularity in North America after its Beretta 92 pistol was selected as the service handgun for the United States Army under the designation of "M9 pistol".

In the 1970s, Beretta also started a manufacturing plant in São Paulo, Brazil. A contract between Beretta and the Brazilian government was signed, under which Beretta produced Beretta 92s for the Brazilian Army until 1980. Later this plant was sold to Taurus, who continues to manufacture the Beretta 92 under the name of PT92 using the same tools and labour which Beretta used, without the need for a license from Beretta, since the design is based on the original Beretta 92, for which the patents are expired.

Beretta acquired several domestic competitors (notably Benelli and Franchi) and some foreign companies (notably in Finland) in the late 1980s.

The Vatican Bank has been for years the main shareholder of the Pietro Beretta's group[ and during the 80s it also had a relevant stakeholding in the Italian leading tecnology group Finmeccanica

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Politicians who dress to rule



Jacob Rees-Mogg: This Is Not How A Real Gentleman Wears His Suit
Making Sense Of Jacob Rees-Mogg's Extremely Wide Suit
Prime Ministerial material? What poppycock!

BY MURRAY CLARK
29/05/2018



Jacob Rees-Mogg has long styled himself as the veritable gentleman of the Conservative Party - a harmless throwback to the days of yore when men held the door open for fair ladies and opened bottles of Krug with nothing but the family sword. Well: we say harmless, until you inspect his draconian anti-gay voting record or antiquated views on abortion.

Look a little closer, however, and the MP for North East Somerset doesn't even dress the part properly. Yes, he opts for nothing but a double-breasted navy suit, but it isn't the right one. Nor is it the right fit.

We refer you to his most recent jaunt to the BBC studios. The 49-year-old has smothered a willowy frame in an oversized suit, with cuffs extending far beyond what's expected of a proper suit for a proper gentleman. What's more, billowing trouser legs pool past the ankle, creating the unflattering shape of a 12-year-old at a wedding.

The remedy? Cinch it in. Fabrics should skim your frame, not drown it. Understand that different suits complement different builds too, and a double-breasted option is more befitting of a wider, robust body type.

Of course, an Old Etonian Oxbridge grad should know all of this - especially one that uses the 16th century courtier vibe as a smokescreen for some pretty troubling policies.


Politicians who dress to rule

Tim Newark looks into the links between Savile Row and the country’s political elite

I recently hosted a casual lunch for rising political star Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and, as it was a parliamentary recess, I thought the famously immaculately dressed politician might adopt a slightly more relaxed attire. How wrong could I be? He arrived in his impeccable double-breasted suit with shirt and tie and was a model of English charm and self-deprecating humour.

Rees-Mogg wore a light blue shirt, not a white shirt “as I rarely wear them other than for funerals”. He later told me that he wears his trademark suits out of sheer “idleness” so he doesn’t have to “worry about what I have to put on in the morning”, but I wonder if that is really true?

Some of our most successful political figures, past and present, have created popular personas for themselves by adopting stylish items of clothing that express their inner character and political philosophy, much more effectively than any speech or manifesto can.

Who can forget newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair sauntering into No 10 Downing Street in 1997 wearing chinos and open-neck shirt? Modernity had arrived in government and soon top businessmen and other politicians were ditching the tie to share in the Cool Britannia vibe.

Fortunately for Savile Row and more traditional clothing makers, the suit and tie has made a resounding comeback and remains a powerful political weapon. Certainly it is true for Rees-Mogg who espouses a return to traditional Conservative values.

If Chuka Umunna had not withdrawn from the leadership race against Jeremy Corbyn, then we might have had a Labour Party leader better known for his penchant for bespoke suits made on Savile Row than the scruffy Islingtonian once voted worst dressed man in the UK. Former PM David Cameron once told Corbyn in the House of Commons to “put on a proper suit, do up your tie” and some fashion experts have noticed a certain smartening of his appearance since his surprising rise in the polls, but Savile Row tailors are not making a slot available in their fitting diaries quite yet.

“There is nothing quite as convincing as a good suit, a crisp, bold French-cuffed shirt and co-ordinated tie to make a leader, be it political or corporate,” says Dr Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, an expert on leadership and distantly related to his US president namesake. “Politicians are, as a lot, rather baggy and unkempt so when someone cuts a good cloth and appears dapper – if not overdone or too slick – it draws loads of attention.”

Malloch, recently touted as a possible ambassador within the Trump administration, has subsequently had to consider his own political look when appearing on the BBC’s Newsnight and other current affairs TV shows. “I do the majority of my own shopping on Jermyn Street in London,” he says. “It is the essence of British class and quality and something too many Americans altogether lack. I prefer Turnbull & Asser for custom shirts, Harvie & Hudson for bespoke suits, three piece or wide stripped, and Crocket & Jones or Church’s for the best shoes, from Northampton, of course!”

Recognition is a key currency in becoming a successful politician and an accessory or a distinctive piece of clothing can help identify exactly where you are coming from. Where would Margaret Thatcher have been without her black leather handbag? Famous for her non-nonsense “handbagging” approach to government, her favourite brand of bag came from Launer, also much liked by the Queen.

“There is a great deal of noise made around Made in Britain these days,” says Gerald Bodmer, CEO of Launer London, “which we are a great advocate of as all our product is made in our factory in Walsall with traditional British handmade techniques. Baroness Thatcher really understood the ethos of Launer and this is something she wanted to be associated with.”

Nigel Farage, one-time leader of UKIP, had his covert coat. With its dark collar and tan colour, it originated in the later 19th century as a riding coat for gentlemen but its horse racing association saw it evolve into the uniform of working class men on the make, as worn by TV characters Arthur Daley in Minder and Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses. It manages to combine quintessential Britishness with countryside conservatism and working class aggression—all in all a good message to put out for the great Brexiteer grabbing a pint in a pub.

There could be no more iconic image of a British politician than Winston Churchill in 1940 in the midst of World War Two, defiant in a pinstripe suit, spotted bowtie, cigar clenched between his teeth and a Tommy gun in his hands. Even Hitler was shocked by the brazen image and had the “gangster” look reproduced in Nazi propaganda leaflets, but it was a triumph showing how Churchill was putting himself on the frontline too.

Churchill was a great patron of Savile Row and his photograph can be seen on the walls of several leading tailoring shops, such as Henry Poole & Co. There, he was fitted for a uniform at the age of 19 and the tailor had to work hard to enlarge his chest and shoulders. Sometimes he spent a little too much money on Savile Row and even during the war, while leading the nation to victory, he was struggling to pay his shirt-maker’s bills.

A stickler for wearing the appropriate clothing at grand events, Churchill could be critical of others. When he spied Labour politician Aneurin Bevan wearing a simple blue serge suit at a State Ball at Buckingham Palace, he said “I think that at least on this occasion you might have taken the trouble to dress properly.” Bevan glanced down at the Prime Minister’s trousers and stated flatly “your fly buttons are undone”.  Churchill was not altogether good news for Savile Row, however, with one tailor telling me: “Upon his death, he left quite a considerable account unpaid at one of the Row’s tailors …”

Churchill’s successor as PM was Anthony Eden, a man with film-star looks who cut a real dash. He knew how to wear a well-cut suit and shaped his manly look by pairing a double-breasted waistcoat with a single-breasted jacket with wide lapels creating the perfect silhouette. When he became the youngest Foreign Secretary since Pitt the Younger, his youthful fashion sense caught the eye of an American reporter who noted his “pin-stripe trousers, modish short jacket and swank black felt hat”.

That swank hat was the black Homburg – a stiff felt hat with a dent in the middle – that Eden turned into a fashion icon, so much so that it was simply known as the “Eden” in Savile Row. It knocked out the old-fashioned bowler hat as the headwear of choice for diplomats and civil servants.

Some critics thought his elegant fashion sense belied political toughness, but his hardline attitude towards Hitler won him the support of Churchill. Writer AN Wilson called him “easily the best-looking individual, of ether sex” to become Prime Minister in the 20th century and he had an impressive reputation as a ladies’ man.

When Eden’s glittering political career came crashing to an end in the wake of the Suez debacle, so did his fashion style – including the hat – and it was seen by many as a turning point in popular culture as the 1950s gave way to the more rebellious youth look of the 1960s, but the Savile Row suit is eternal.

“Politicians should always invest in a good suit,” says tailor Del Smith of Kilgour, but it’s not just a case of getting a suit made. “Anyone can do that, it helps to be in shape too. David Cameron looked good in a suit, wore it well, but then he did cycling and jogging to keep fit.”

Kilgour equipped Tony Blair and David Miliband with bespoke suits that gave them both a youthful and professional look that can very much impress the voters. “You’ve got be a breath of fresh air and a well-tailored suit can enhance that,” added Smith. A good lesson for all aspiring leaders …

Tim Newark is an historian and political commentator, contributing to the Daily Express, Telegraph and Sunday Times. He is the author of “Protest Vote: how politicians lost the plot”.


Saturday, 7 September 2019

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Friday, 6 September 2019

A royal mess: How Brexit has tarnished the crown



A royal mess: How Brexit has tarnished the crown

Queen Elizabeth II couldn’t avoid being dragged into the political fray.

By EMILIO CASALICCHIO 9/5/19, 5:33 PM CET Updated 9/6/19, 4:47 AM CET

Illustrations by Chris Buzelli for POLITICO

LONDON — Brexit has breached the gates of Buckingham Palace.

The battle over the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union has rocked some of the country’s most cherished institutions. It has dominated the political debate, paralyzed parliament, pitted Tory against Tory, Labour against Labour and threatened the integrity of the Union. Then late last month, it reached out and touched the queen.

Queen Elizabeth II is the least politically assuming of any sovereign before her. Promoted in the line of succession by the abdication of her uncle, the 93-year-old monarch has spent her more than six decades on the throne cultivating a neutral and institutional role.

“The queen’s personal view is to stay out of politics,” said Robert Lacey, a royal historian and historical consultant on Netflix series “The Crown.” “It’s her nature to be shy. It’s her nature not to intervene. She doesn't believe it’s the constitutional monarch’s role to make interventions, to change the rules or change things.”

But when Boris Johnson — the 14th prime minister to serve under her reign — asked her to shut down parliament for four weeks, she couldn’t avoid being dragged into the political fray.
  
The queen had little choice in the matter. Tradition dictates she grant the prime minister his requests. But with Johnson’s move seen as an effort to prevent parliament from blocking a no-deal Brexit and the country so deeply divided between Leave and Remain, any answer she gave was bound to infuriate one side or the other.

And some of the reaction was, indeed, furious.

 “The. Queen. Did. Not. Save. Us,” tweeted Labour MP and former frontbencher Kate Osamor. Shortly afterwards she added: “The queen should look at what happened to her cousin Tino ex-King of Greece when you enable a right-wing coup! Monarchy abolished!”

A petition launched by the anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain asking the queen to refuse the request from Johnson quickly racked up more than 50,000 signatures, and the sovereign was soon fielding requests from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson to meet with them and hear their complaints about the decision.

“A lot of people half hoped that the queen would somehow come riding in on a stallion or one of her corgis to save the day,” said Adam Wagner, a human rights lawyer and expert on constitutional law. “But the idea that the sovereign plays any substantial role in this farce is complete nonsense.”

Medieval trappings
In another political context, Queen Elizabeth’s decision to follow with tradition and grant Johnson’s request would have passed unremarked.

While the monarchy retains much of its medieval trappings, its power has been in decline ever since King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215.

According to protocol, the queen appoints the prime minister and accepts his or her resignation. She opens parliament almost every year with “the Queen’s Speech,” outlining the government’s program. The arcane tradition sees her leave Buckingham Palace in a horse-drawn carriage and ride to the Houses of Parliament, escorted by the Household Cavalry.

Once there, she leads the Royal Procession through the House of Lords, wearing the Imperial State Crown and the Robe of State. An official to the Lords, known as Black Rod, goes to the Commons to summon members and take them to the Lords Chamber. When he reaches the door of the Commons it is shut in his face and he has to knock three times to gain entry — to symbolize the authority of the Commons over the Lords. The MPs file into the upper chamber and listen as the queen reads out the government program for that parliamentary session from a throne.



Sarah Clarke, the first-ever woman to hold the position of Black Rod in the House of Lords | Pool photo by Victoria Jones via Getty Images

But formalities like these aside, the British monarchy has lost almost all of its real authority. The queen neither writes, nor necessarily agrees with the contents of, the Queen’s Speech. The last monarch to dismiss a prime minister was King William IV, who sacked William Lamb in 1834. It did not go well for him. His chosen replacement, Robert Peel, could not command the confidence of the Commons and an election was called, which Lamb won.

And the last time a British monarch refused to follow the advice of their government was in 1936 when King Edward VIII wanted to marry American socialite Wallace Simpson, said Robert Hazell, a professor of government and the constitution at University College London. Edward was forced to abdicate after holding the throne for just 12 months.

The monarchy’s few remaining powers include “the right to claim ownership of any unmarked mute swan swimming in open waters,” the titular ownership of any whales or porpoises swimming in British waters, and the right to drive without a license.

“It is no longer acceptable for a modern monarch in a parliamentary democracy to have any political power,” said Hazell, noting a similar decline of power in constitutional monarchies elsewhere in Europe.

“They are all now in effect neutered monarchs in that they no longer exercise any real political power and they have all become much less assertive,” he said.

Rule of law
Because the country has no written constitution, the queen's role in public life and what her ceremonial powers really mean exist in a grey area. A small number of people clearly thought Elizabeth could have — and maybe should have — refused Johnson's request to suspend parliament. But had she done so, it would have triggered a constitutional crisis.

Constitutional experts have also been quizzed in recent weeks over whether the queen might have to intervene and dismiss the prime minister if Johnson lost a confidence vote but refused to resign. The Commons would have to give a clear signal that another candidate could command a majority in order for her to do so.

Some Brexiteers have also suggested that the government neuter efforts by parliamentary rebels to delay Brexit by refusing to send their legislation for "Royal Assent," the process by which the queen agrees to turn a bill into law. The process once required the monarch's signature, but it is now a quick formality that does not involve her directly.

One legal expert said the constitution would be thrown into "crazy territory" if the government tried to pull such a move.

And so it’s perhaps not surprising that Johnson’s maneuver — and the queen’s involvement in it — has fueled calls for putting the constitution down on paper.



The Queen's relationship with the prime minister is all about formality — from their first official meeting after Boris Johnson was elected, to his request that she shut down parliament for four weeks | Pool photo by Victoria Jones via Getty Images

“We can’t run a country like this, we need a written constitution,” said Conservative MP Rory Stewart. “We’re only able to survive with an unwritten constitution because people behave, but as people push the limits more and more we need to clarify this stuff.”

Labour MP and shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis went a step further and called for a constitutional convention.

“We have a political constitution that is barely fit for the 19th century, let alone the 20th or 21st,” Lewis said. “It’s high time, once the dust has settled on Brexit, that this country really begins to understand that a democratic constitutional convention is necessary to work out what structure we are going to have for the United Kingdom.”

One of the key questions in any such venture would be the role of the monarch. “I’m not sure what the appetite is for a republic but I think that should be on the agenda as something we should discuss,” said Lewis.

While few are calling for an end of the monarchy, the creation of a written constitution could curtail its powers for good.

“With our historic norms crumbling, even ardent monarchists will see that only a written constitution can preserve the decorative role of the crown while protecting the rest of us from prime ministers acting like absolutist kings or queens,” said Anthony Barnett, the author and co-founder of the OpenDemocracy website | Pool photo by Leon Neal via Getty Images

“On one hand, you could have a written constitution that puts the monarch as a purely titular head of state that does not even have the formal power that she has now,” said Wagner, the human rights barrister and constitutional law expert. “Or you write exactly what powers the monarch has into the constitution. You could also have a president, and the queen could be a figurehead rather than have any political role at all.”


Anthony Barnett, the author and co-founder of the OpenDemocracy website, argues that the informal checks and balances that used to work in the unwritten British constitution — of Cabinet, government and the civil service, among other things — have been broken by a succession of prime ministers eager to bend the rules in their favor.

Johnson’s involvement of the queen to close down parliament was just the latest example of many.



“With our historic norms crumbling, even ardent monarchists will see that only a written constitution can preserve the decorative role of the crown while protecting the rest of us from prime ministers acting like absolutist kings or queens,” he said.

Charlie Cooper contributed reporting.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium Brexit service for professionals: Brexit Pro. To test our expert policy coverage of the implications and next steps per industry, email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.