Sunday 31 January 2021

THE DIG starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes | Official Trailer | Netflix

 The Dig is a 2021 British drama film directed by Simon Stone, based on the 2007 novel of the same name by John Preston, which reimagines the events of the 1939 excavation of Sutton Hoo. It stars Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, Johnny Flynn, Ben Chaplin, Ken Stott, Archie Barnes, and Monica Dolan.


It was released in a limited release on 15 January 2021, followed by streaming on Netflix on 29 January 2021.



In 1939, Suffolk landowner Edith Pretty hires local self-taught archaeologist-excavator Basil Brown to tackle the large burial mounds at her rural estate in Sutton Hoo. At first, she offers him the same amount of money he received from the Ipswich Museum, about the minimum agricultural wage[2], but he says is inadequate; she ups her offer by 12% to £2 a week (approximately £120 in 2020), which he accepts. His former employers try unsuccessfully to persuade Brown to work on a Roman villa they deem more important. They ignore Brown, who left school aged only 12, when he suggests the mounds could be Anglo-Saxon rather than the more common Viking.


Working with a few assistants from the estate, Brown slowly excavates the more promising of the mounds. One day the dirt collapses on him, but he is dug out in time and revived. Meanwhile, he spends more time with Edith, a widow, and her young son, Robert, and ignores daily letters from his wife, May. Edith struggles with health issues and is warned by her doctor to avoid stress.


Brown is astonished to uncover iron rivets from a ship, which could only make it the burial site of someone of tremendous distinction, such as a king. Prominent local archaeologist James Reid Moir attempts to join the dig but is rebuffed; Edith instead hires her cousin Rory Lomax to join the project. However, news of the discovery soon spreads, and Cambridge archaeologist Charles Phillips arrives, declares the site to be of national importance, and takes over the dig by order of the Office of Works.


As war approaches, Philips brings in a large team, including Peggy Piggott, who uncovers the first distinctly Anglo-Saxon artifact. Brown is retained only to keep the site in order, but Edith intervenes and he resumes digging. Brown discovers a Merovingian tremissis, a small gold coin of Late Antiquity, and Philips declares the site to be of major historical significance. Philips wants to send all the items to the British Museum, but Edith, concerned about the war raids in London, asserts her rights. An inquest confirms she is the owner of the ship and its priceless treasure trove of grave goods, but she despairs as her health continues to decline.


Peggy — who is badly neglected by her husband, Stuart — begins a romance with Rory, but he is soon called up by the Royal Air Force. Edith decides to donate the Sutton Hoo treasure to the British Museum, requesting that Brown be given recognition for his work. She dies in 1942.


A note states that the treasure was hidden in the London Underground during the war and was first exhibited — without any mention of Basil Brown — nine years after Edith's death. Only recently was Brown given full credit for his contribution and his name is now displayed permanently alongside Edith Pretty's at the British Museum.


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 86% based on 95 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Featuring beautifully matched performances from Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan set against gorgeously filmed English countryside, The Dig yields period drama treasures." According to Metacritic, which sampled 32 critics and calculated a weighted average score of 73 out of 100, the film received "generally favorable reviews".


Kevin Maher of The Times gave the film 5 out of 5 stars and described it a "serious, intellectually committed, and emotionally piercing cinema. Unmissable." Katie Rife of The A.V. Club gave the film a B- and wrote, "for all the film's sweeping, romantic ideas, the actual experience of watching The Dig is a lot like sitting at a bus stop."


However, Mark Bridge of The Times noted that archaeologists had taken issue with the film's portrayal of Peggy Piggott as inexperienced and only hired because her light weight would not disturb the delicate site. By 1939, Peggy was an experienced archaeologist in her own right, and had studied archaeology at the University of Cambridge and the University of London. She was also presented as married to an older, more experienced male archaeologist, when in reality Stuart was only two years her senior (27 and 29, respectively), and they had met while both students. In addition, Charles Phillips was in his late 30s but is played by Ken Stott in his 60s, and the landowner Edith Pretty was in her mid 50s but is played by Carey Mulligan in her mid 30s (the 53-year-old Nicole Kidman had originally been slated to play Edith).


Bridge also criticised the addition of the fictional Rory Lomax as a love interest for Piggott. The character of Rory, Edith Pretty's cousin, is depicted as the photographer. In reality, Mercie Lack and Barbara Wagstaff (two local school mistresses), and OGS Crawford (the archaeological officer of the Ordnance Survey) separately took series of photographs. Two women who extensively photographed the site were excluded from the book and film in order to create a romantic storyline.

Wednesday 27 January 2021

REMEMBERING: 'Very Ralph' documentary (2019): Official Teaser | HBO

Very Ralph review – a flashy designer documentary that's so last season

HBO’s look at Ralph Lauren’s multi-billion-dollar fashion empire delves into an American Dream come true. But post–Trump, it feels more grotesque than glitzy


Priya Elan

Fri 15 Nov 2019 10.36 GMT


The rags-to-riches story of Ralph Lauren is something to behold. Born Ralph Lifshitz on 14 October 1939 in the Bronx to Ashkenazi Jewish parents from Belarus, he shared a bedroom with his two brothers and had no formal fashion training. Instead of going to a prestigious fashion school, he started his career flogging ties from a drawer in a showroom in the Empire State Building. Now, that is but a distant memory; Lauren’s brand is worth $6.3bn and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. With a style that is a fever dream of WASP-ish Americana – timeless and conservative – the Ralph Lauren story feels like perfect fodder for a documentary like HBO’s Very Ralph, which aired in the US earlier this week and in the UK on Friday.


Director Susan Lacy tells the fairytale breathlessly, while also showing that Lauren was at the forefront of many of today’s fashion concerns, from athleisure to increasing diversity in his ad campaigns (he made waves when he featured Tyson Beckford, an African American model, as the face of his suits). And yet, despite all this potential, the film falls flat. Instead of narrative tension we are fed endless scenes of his charmed life: here’s Ralph throwing the first pitch at a Yankees baseball game, or emotionally embracing Oprah, or dressing up like the Marlboro Man in a dusty cowboy hat and tight blue jeans to stand round the fire at his Montauk ranch. Lacy only hints at the hollowness behind Lauren’s Jay Gatsby-esque persona. “It’s performance art in which you participate. It’s a stage set in which the clothes are on sale,” says fashion writer Judith Thurman, talking about Ralph Lauren shops, though she could be dissecting the man himself.


That the documentary chooses to omit Lauren’s cancer scare – he had a benign brain tumour removed in the 80s – also speaks volumes. Very Ralph has taken amazing access to Lauren’s inner circle and pumped out nothing more than a series of approved images of the man, all–American snapshots that would not be out of place in a Ralph Lauren moodboard. It is the documentary equivalent of walking through the after-spray of a luxury perfume, a souped up version of Through the Keyhole. Which is a shame, partly because we are living in a golden age of fashion documentaries (starting with The September Issue through to The Gospel According to Andre, McQueen and Halston) that show you can mix the fabulous fantasy of the catwalk with the darker realities of the fashion industry.


But its issues run deeper than that. In the film, the late Karl Lagerfeld describes Lauren as: “the American designer who best represents America and American style for the rest of the world.” But what version of American style? And what America? Post–Trump, the truth is that a very white, very male take on the American Dream is hard to stomach. This is touched upon all too briefly at the end of the film. “[Lauren’s] adherence to these narratives of America that are core to his brand can get a little stale,” says New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman. “Particularly at a time when a lot of people who have not felt included in these narratives are finding a voice and are demanding that we rewrite how we think about all these stories.” And there lies the problem: in its faithful reading of Ralph Lauren, the film renders the classic American Dream, in its purest form, as something that is still attainable, something to strive for, when for many it is forever soured.


Very Ralph airs on Friday, 9pm, Sky Atlantic in the UK, and on HBO Go and HBO Now in the US

Monday 25 January 2021

Kenneth Branagh to play Boris Johnson in TV drama about Covid crisis

Kenneth Branagh to play Boris Johnson in TV drama about Covid crisis


The Sceptred Isle will examine the PM’s handling of the pandemic and its impact on Britain


PA Media

Sat 23 Jan 2021 20.20 GMT


Sir Kenneth Branagh will play Boris Johnson in a TV drama about the prime minister’s handling of the coronavirus.


This Sceptred Isle, which was first announced last year and has now been commissioned by Sky, will be directed by Michael Winterbottom, who will also co-write, while Tim Shipman, the political editor of the Sunday Times, will act as a consultant.


Starting with his appointment as prime minister, the five-part drama will recount the first Covid-19 cases in the UK, through to Johnson falling ill with the virus, and the arrival of his son.


The series will trace the impact on Britain from the pandemic, and the response of scientists, nurses and doctors.


It is based on the first-hand testimony of people inside No 10 Downing Street, the Department of Health, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), and from hospitals and care homes across the country.


Winterbottom has co-written the series with Kieron Quirke, and will direct all five episodes.


He said: “The first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic will be remembered forever. A time when the country came together to battle an invisible enemy. A time when people were more aware than ever of the importance of community.


“Our series weaves together countless true stories – from Boris Johnson in Number 10 to frontline workers around the country – chronicling the efforts of scientists, doctors, care home workers and policymakers to protect us from the virus.”


Global producer and distributor Fremantle has signed a first-look deal with Winterbottom and his production company Revolution Films, which will develop and produce scripted series and films, with Fremantle co-producing and distributing the projects worldwide.


The deal is done in collaboration with Richard Brown and his company, Passenger, with Brown and Melissa Parmenter from Revolution Films serving as executive producers on the political drama


Zai Bennett, managing director of content at Sky UK, said: “Covid-19 has presented once-in-a-generation challenges to the world, and in the UK the resilience and fortitude of the public over the past year has been nothing short of extraordinary.


“Portraying NHS staff and key workers on the frontlines of the extraordinary fight, to those in government facing unprecedented challenges, Michael Winterbottom has a clear and compelling vision in telling this remarkable story.


“The incredible creative talent Fremantle have assembled including the central performance from Kenneth Branagh will make This Sceptred Isle a drama we are proud to be part of telling.”


Brown added: “Michael is a master of weaving compelling drama from factual stories and he has an undeniable, distinct vision for this project. He and Kieron have written remarkable and meticulously researched scripts which powerfully dramatise these extraordinary events that continue to affect us all.”


The series will begin filming in early 2021 and is expected to premiere on Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the autumn of 2022.


Kenneth Branagh to play U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Sky Original drama This Sceptred Isle

The limited series will be produced by Fremantle, Passenger & Revolution Films


Saturday 23 January 2021


Sky today announced the commission of a major new limited series, This Sceptred Isle. The Sky Original drama which will air on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW TV will be produced by Fremantle, Richard Brown’s Passenger and Michael Winterbottom’s Revolution Films. BAFTA and Emmy award-winning actor Kenneth Branagh will play U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. The five-part drama will chart the events surrounding the U.K. Prime Minister, the government, and the country in the face of the first wave of the global pandemic.


This Sceptred Isle will tell the tale of some of the most devastating events to ever befall the United Kingdom, and of a Prime Minister leading in these unprecedented times. The drama will trace the impact on Britain from this once in a generation pandemic, and the response of scientists, nurses, and doctors as they worked tirelessly and heroically to contain and overcome the virus. It is based on the first-hand testimony of people from all walks of life; from Number 10 Downing Street, the Department of Health, The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), and from hospitals and care homes across the country.


Michael Winterbottom has co-written the series with Kieron Quirke, and will direct all five episodes. He will also Executive Produce alongside Richard Brown (Passenger). Melissa Parmenter (Revolution Films) will produce alongside Josh Hyams and Anthony Wilcox. Tim Shipman, political editor of The Sunday Times, is acting as a consultant on the series. This Sceptred Isle is the first project to emerge from a multi-year first look deal for scripted drama series struck by Fremantle and Passenger with Revolution Films.


Winterbottom has a track record of making factual based dramas including the award-winning films Welcome to Sarajevo, A Mighty Heart, 24 Hour Party People and The Road to Guantanamo.


Co-Writer & Director, Michael Winterbottom said: “The first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic will be remembered forever. A time when the country came together to battle an invisible enemy. A time when people were more aware than ever of the importance of community. Our series weaves together countless true stories - from Boris Johnson in Number 10 to front line workers around the country - chronicling the efforts of scientists, doctors, care home workers and policy makers to protect us from the virus”.


Sky UK Managing Director of Content, Zai Bennett said: “Covid-19 has presented once-in-a-generation challenges to the world, and in the UK the resilience and fortitude of the public over the past year has been nothing short of extraordinary. Portraying NHS staff and key workers on the frontlines of the extraordinary fight, to those in government facing unprecedented challenges; Michael Winterbottom has a clear and compelling vision in telling this remarkable story. The incredible creative talent Fremantle have assembled including the central performance from Kenneth Branagh will make This Sceptred Isle a drama we are proud to be part of telling.”


Executive Producer, Richard Brown said: “Michael is a master of weaving compelling drama from factual stories and he has an undeniable, distinct vision for this project. He and Kieron have written remarkable and meticulously researched scripts which powerfully dramatise these extraordinary events that continue to affect us all”.


This Sceptred Isle was commissioned for Sky by Zai Bennett, Sky UK’s Managing Director of Content. Gabriel Silver, is the Senior Commissioning Editor for Sky Studios. The five-part series will commence shooting in early 2021 and is expected to premiere on Sky Atlantic across all Sky territories (UK, Germany, Italy, Austria and Ireland) in Autumn 2022.

Saturday 23 January 2021

A First Look at President Joe Biden’s Oval Office


A First Look at President Joe Biden’s Oval Office

The newly-inaugurated president pays tribute to numerous historical figures through his office decor.



JAN 21, 2021


On January 20th, Joe Biden became the 46th President of the United States—and given that he wasted no time carrying out his presidential duties on Inauguration Day, it should come as no surprise that he already has a newly-redecorated Oval Office as his workspace. While the inauguration was underway, this historic room (and the rest of the White House) was treated to a makeover, with many furnishings being removed and replaced to suit the president’s vision for his new backdrop. After all, if there’s one thing many of us have learned from spending more time at home during the pandemic, it’s the importance of truly making a room your own.


The most noticeable—and telling—amendment made to the Oval Office at President Biden’s request is the plethora of artwork that pays tribute to those who came before him. This includes portraits of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton, and busts of Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., Daniel Webster, Cesar Chavez, and Robert F. Kennedy. This decorating choice reflects Biden’s admiration for and willingness to learn from history—after all, he double majored in history and political science as an undergraduate student at the University of Delaware.


Of course, President Biden is not one to make choices solely based on aesthetics, so it’s hardly out of scope to presume that his artwork selections have a deeper meaning. Hanging above the Resolute desk (which has now been used by eight presidents in total, beginning with John F. Kennedy, and more recently used by Barack Obama and Donald Trump) is a portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Similar to President Biden’s plans to help the U.S. overcome a difficult time in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FDR led this country amidst the Great Depression and World War II. In the same vein, the painting of Benjamin Franklin is said to illustrate Biden’s belief in the importance of science, something that is especially paramount in the age of a pandemic.


A Trump-era portrait that has since been removed was one of President Andrew Jackson, who was a proponent of slavery (and an owner of enslaved people himself). Jackson also signed the Indian Removal Act, which forced over 46,000 Native Americans out of their homeland. This choice of artwork came under scrutiny following a November 2017 event in which then-President Trump honored Navajo Code Talkers who served in World War II, with this portrait on the wall right behind them.


It should also be noted that the close proximity of the portraits of political rivals Jefferson and Hamilton in President Biden’s Oval Office was no accident—this was meant to emphasize the urgency of overcoming political differences in times of strife.


Suffice it to say, it seems like Biden is looking to the furnishings of his new Oval Office as a source of inspiration in challenging moments, and as a way to honor both his predecessors and other notable American figures.


Beyond (or rather, just below) the artwork of Biden’s Oval Office is a piece of decor that is noticeably more vibrant than its predecessor: a rich royal blue rug that was last seen in this room during the Clinton administration. This decor decision is a stark contrast from the Trump-era Oval Office, which had a predominantly neutral color palette, mainly made up of beige and other muted hues. It’s possible that this rug was chosen, at least in part, because blue is the color that is most often associated with the Democratic Party. There are now just four remnants from the Trump Oval Office: a gray damask wallpaper selected by Trump himself, the Resolute desk, gold drapes that were first used by Bill Clinton, and a pair of cream, patterned couches, which were originally part of George W. Bush’s Oval Office.


Given that President Biden only just moved into the White House yesterday—and the move-in process had to take place in under five hours—it is likely that more decor changes will soon be made to the Oval Office and other rooms in the People’s House. We'll keep you posted!


What does Joe Biden's Oval Office makeover reveal about the new US president?

Thursday 21 January 2021, 10:45pm


New presidents usually redecorate the historic room to reflect their own tastes as well as the type of leader they want to be - or at least want to be seen as being.


Some of the changes are purely cosmetic, such as different rugs (a dark blue one replaces Donald Trump's choice), curtains and wallpaper.

But the makeover of the US president's formal working space in the West Wing of the White House is far more than just aesthetic - Mr Biden's touches are a signal to world of the man he is - and serve to distance him further from Mr Trump.


The Winston Churchill bust brought back in by Mr Trump after it was removed by Barack Obama (a move which prompted the then foreign secretary Boris Johnson to accuse the 44th president of an "ancestral dislike of the British Empire"), has once again been put back in storage.


Instead, Mr Biden has chosen busts of iconic civil rights leaders, founding fathers and former presidents.


Alongside these leading figures from history that have shaped America, Mr Biden - who as former vice president to Mr Obama knows this room well - has added personal touches, including a table adorned with family photos.


The family photos

 Portraits of Mr Biden's family adorn a table, including a photo of his late son Beau Biden who died of a brain tumour in 2015.


Nested among the portraits is a bust of Latin American civil and labour rights leader Cesar Chavez.


The busts

 Mr Biden has chosen to exhibit powerful figures in the civil rights movement in his Oval Office, with busts of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks prominently displayed. There are also sculptures of activists Robert Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as one of the Chiricahua Apache Tribe.


A rock from the Moon sits on a shelf in the office. It is not clear how Joe Biden came across this bit of the Moon, but - as the first nation to reach the Moon - this lump of rock is a symbol of America's power, ambition and endeavours.


The desk

 One item that has lived on is the Resolute Desk - one of six available for US presidents to choose from. The desk - built from oak used in the British Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute - appears to transcend personal taste and political divides and was the choice of both Mr Trump and Mr Obama.


The portraits

 Mr Biden has notably removed a portrait of Andrew Jackson - censured and fellow populist 19th-century president - that once hung in his predecessor's Oval Office.


It has been replaced with Benjamin Franklin, that, according to the Washington Post, is intended to signal the 46th President's interest in science (something that Mr Trump was not well know for).


There now also hangs a portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and paintings of founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton hanging side by side; the pair had very different ideologies and frequently disagreed, but still forged a partnership.

Thursday 21 January 2021

In Memoriam . a tribute to gavin stamp (1948–2017) / VIDEO: STAMP,Gavin.


A tribute to Gavin Stamp (1948–2017)

Thomas Marks 4 JANUARY 2018


Gavin Stamp, who has died at the age of 69, was a resolute champion of good architecture. As one of the most eloquent architecture critics of his generation, he brought his vast learning to large numbers of readers who might otherwise have overlooked debates about architecture and how profoundly it shapes our lives (not least as ‘Piloti’, author of the Nooks and Corners column in Private Eye); as a passionate and dauntless campaigner, he fought for the preservation of many historic buildings suffering negligence or threatened with demolition, and against the wanton development of this country’s historic urban fabric. In his writing he took no prisoners, but in person he was as gentle and courteous as they come.


As Apollo’s architecture columnist, Gavin wrote more than 150 stylish, argumentative articles for the magazine – expansive in their scope, exuberant in their curiosity, and unfailingly generous with their knowledge. The first, published in May 2004, was what he later described as ‘an opportunity to rehearse the scandal of the mutilation and desecration of one of the great Mediaeval buildings of Europe, King’s College Chapel’; the last, which appeared in the December 2017 issue, celebrated the overlooked contribution of women architects in Britain, closing with sharp criticism of those who continue to question Elisabeth Scott’s authorship of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford. His columns often unfurled into polemic in this way, but not before readers had been beguiled by their elegant and enlightened stitching of architectural history and description.


In the preface to Anti-Ugly: Excursions in English Architecture and Design (2013), a selection of his writing for Apollo, Gavin wrote that the column encouraged him ‘to ponder, research and write as best I can’. ‘Rereading my articles’, he wrote, ‘made me realise that many are, to a degree, autobiographical, but I hope this may be forgiven.’ They were of course so much richer for his decades of looking at, and thinking and writing about buildings, and reflected so many of his detailed passions. There would always be room for an aside about his beloved Sir Edwin Lutyens, the focus of two books (one a thoughtful and inspiring study of the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme), and for Sir Gilbert Scott and his dynasty (Gilbert Scott Jr, the eldest son of Sir Gilbert, was the subject of his PhD thesis; Stamp’s illustrated biography of the latter, Gothic for the Steam Age, was published in 2015).


There were the churches, plenty of them, which Gavin so cherished and the latter-day vandalism of which so angered him. And there were celebrations of the buildings in places that had structured his own life – from Scotland, where he had taught at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow from 1990 until 2003, to India and latterly Croatia, where he had enjoyed travelling in recent summers with his second wife, Rosemary Hill, the writer and biographer of A.W.N. Pugin.


It was my privilege to inherit Gavin, so to speak, when I became the editor of Apollo in 2013, and to have edited his monthly columns since the previous year (the column was first commissioned by my predecessor but one, Michael Hall). Reading any new piece – carefully numbered up to the final article, 154 ­– always brought a sense of wonder at the masterfully condensed learning, at Gavin’s ear for the piquant or wry quotation, and at the strength and persuasiveness of his opinion on subjects that ranged far and wide, from pubs and seaside pavilions to architects’ portraits and blue plaques. And there was the pleasure of learning to share his valuable fastidiousness about architectural photography (the history of photography was another of his great fields), from his friendly complaints about converging verticals (‘which I abhor’) to a wider feeling for why it matters so much to record and represent buildings with the utmost clarity and care. We were lucky to be able to print in Apollo so many of Gavin’s own excellent photographs, which he had been taking and archiving for decades.


But greater than the privilege of editing Gavin was that of getting to know him, and hearing him speak of the buildings, places, and causes that had become such personal concerns to him (in the last 18 months, he often signed off with a gloomy note about Brexit: ‘Bugger Brexit (but where now?)’). When we last met, while he was undergoing chemotherapy last summer, we talked about ‘gloomy’ politics and the columns that might come: on the Italian fascist architect Marcello Piacentini, on the Chinese Palace in Palermo, and, when it reopened, on Guarini’s great Cappella della Sacra Sindone in Turin. Whatever the subject, you always wanted to read anything that Gavin had to say about it.


The architectural journalist Ian Nairn was another of Gavin’s heroes. On the 30th anniversary of Nairn’s death, he wrote that ‘So much of what [Nairn] wrote, excoriating the impersonal, is all too relevant today.’ Gavin, like Nairn, has died before his time – but we will want to keep reading him, and will need to keep campaigning in his memory, for many decades to come.


A full obituary of Gavin Stamp will appear in the February issue of Apollo.


Gavin Stamp obituary

Architectural historian who campaigned to save notable buildings from destruction

For nearly 40 years, Gavin Stamp’s pseudonymous column in Private Eye waged war on the property developers and planning authorities who disfigured British towns with their greed and ineptitude


Ian Jack

Sun 7 Jan 2018 14.19 GMT


Gavin Stamp, who has died aged 69 after suffering from cancer, was an architectural historian and campaigner whose scholarship and enthusiasm promoted the understanding and reputation of several great but neglected architects, and helped save many fine 19th and 20th century buildings (he would say not nearly enough) from the wrecker’s ball. As a writer and conservationist he followed a tradition set by John Betjeman and Ian Nairn, both of whom he admired, and for nearly 40 years his pseudonymous column in Private Eye waged war on the property developers and planning authorities who disfigured British towns with their greed and ineptitude. Stamp concluded that their disregard for history, especially in the shape of Victorian buildings, was a form of national self-hatred.


His passion for buildings first appeared when, as a boarder at Dulwich college, he filled his weekends by exploring the streets of south London and southern suburbs such as Bromley, where he was born. Like most pupils in the days of the so-called Dulwich Experiment, he had a free place at the school (funded by a local authority grant) – a fact that he was keen to stress later in life whenever he was mistaken for a typical product of a paid education.


His ancestry was distinguished but nonconformist by tradition and neither lavish nor rich. One great-uncle, Josiah Stamp (later Lord Stamp), was an economist and public servant who rose to become chairman of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway; another great-uncle, Sir Dudley Stamp, was an eminent geographer. Their father had been manager of WH Smith’s railway bookstall in Wigan before coming south to establish a small London grocery chain, Cave Austin, which his grandson, Gavin’s father, Barry, inherited and – in the face of competition from the new supermarkets – failed to sustain; Gavin’s mother, Norah (nee Rich), had also been involved in the business, travelling around in her mini to inspect the stores. Later Barry became a driving instructor, which some people think explained Gavin’s life-long hatred of cars. He never learned to drive one.


At Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, he took a history degree that included architectural history, and back again in south London, this time in a bedsit, began to piece together a freelance life that revolved around the Architectural Press, publisher of the Architectural Review. He was a fine and largely self-taught draughtsman and drew sketches and plans for the anti-modernist architect Roderick Gradidge, and helped the curator John Harris catalogue the Royal Institute of British Architects’ drawings collection; some years later, in 1977, he organised and designed the catalogue for the RIBA’s Silent Cities exhibition on the war memorials of the first world war, which was the start of a lasting absorption with that war’s physical remembrance.


His visits to the offices of the Architectural Press – and, just as important, to the pub beneath it in Queen Anne’s Gate – introduced him to celebrated contributors such as Osbert Lancaster, Betjeman and Nikolaus Pevsner. He became particularly close to Betjeman and it was at Betjeman’s suggestion that Stamp took over the Private Eye column, Nooks and Corners of the New Barbarism, that the poet had founded in 1971 and that his daughter Candida had continued.


Stamp took the pseudonym Piloti, which are the piers on which a lot of modernist architecture rests, and wrote his first column in 1978. His last, published only a week before he died and as pungent as always, suggested that Britain needed some new architectural prizes: the Attila the Hun award for vandalism that never ceases (won this year by Liverpool city council “for its cynical indifference to World Heritage status”); and the Emperor Nero award for fiddling while Rome burns (won by the House of Commons for its reluctance to leave a decaying building, because MPs understand too well that its magnificence is the only thing that still “gives dignity and status to this collection of mediocrities”).


It would be fair to say that by the early 1980s, Stamp gave a very good impression of a Young Fogey. He had a Cambridge PhD in the work of an early hero, the Victorian Gothicist George Gilbert Scott junior, the son of the more famous George Gilbert Scott senior, and lived in a little house with his wife, the writer Alexandra Artley, almost in the shadows of the senior Scott’s most famous creation, St Pancras station. He wrote for the Spectator and the age of denim never touched him: he wore tweed jacket, scarves and polished shoes.


London seemed his inevitable home, until in 1990 he took a job lecturing in architectural history at the Glasgow School of Art and moved with his family to a terrace house built and inhabited by the Scottish architect Alexander “Greek” Thomson in the mid 19th century. Stamp became one of Thomson’s great champions at a time when his architectural legacy was imperilled (as a few of his buildings still are), and founded a society in Thomson’s name that helped elevate his reputation close to that of a later Glasgow architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.


Stamp became a senior lecturer and then a professor in Glasgow, and made friends with unfogeyish Glaswegians such as the former shipyard worker and Marxist Jimmy Reid – a man he tremendously admired. But the Glasgow years were eventually unhappy: the restoration of his house was unaffordable, his marriage failed, and in 2003 he returned to London, where he worked as a writer and occasional lecturer.


In 2014, he married Rosemary Hill, the biographer of Augustus Pugin and widow of the poet Christopher Logue, for whom Stamp had designed a handsome memorial stele in Kensal Green cemetery much in the style of Greek Thomson and erected the year before. The wedding party, befitting Stamp’s 20-odd years as chair of the Twentieth Century Society, took place in an upstairs room at the Festival Hall.


Stamp’s scholarship deepened our understanding of architects such as Scott, Thomson and Edwin Lutyens, as well as more minor figures including Robert Weir Schultz, who worked for the medievalist John Crichton-Stuart, third Marquess of Bute. He was among the first writers to take a serious interest in the colonial architecture of India, and his early concern about the fate of the telephone boxes designed by Giles Gilbert Scott (grandson of the first GG Scott) inspired the campaign that saved many of them.


In later life, he sometimes fretted that he had “wasted his time” writing journalism and catalogue introductions rather than “proper books”. Nevertheless, his short history of Lutyens’ great building at Thiepval, The Memorial to the Missing of the Somme (2006), has taken its place among the most memorable accounts of the western front: a book that has all Stamp’s characteristic anger, lucidity and compassion.


The same qualities moved Stamp leftwards in his politics, until the Britain he was born into, Attlee’s Britain, became a kind of rear-mirror utopia. His last wishes specified an Anglican funeral ceremony and a south London cemetery – and that in the coffin he wore the lapel badge of his last great cause: “Bugger Brexit”. Through his journalism, his campaigning work and his fierce independence, it was Stamp, arguably more than any writer since Betjeman, who made sure that architecture remains high in the list of British public concerns.


He is survived by Rosemary; and by the two daughters of his first marriage, Agnes and Cecilia.


• Gavin Mark Stamp, journalist and architectural historian, born 15 March 1948; died 30 December 2017


• This article was amended on 9 January 2018. Gavin Stamp’s PhD was on the work of George Gilbert Scott junior rather than George Gilbert Scott senior. He raised concerns about the fate of the telephone boxes designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, the first GG Scott’s grandson.


Obituary: Gavin Stamp, 1948-2017



Alan Powers looks back at the life and work of the architectural critic and historian who died at the end of the year


Gavin Stamp, who has died aged 69, was a writer, teacher, broadcaster and activist in architecture and conservation. He connected emotionally with buildings (also railways and aircraft) at an early age, and, like John Betjeman, was able to project his enthusiasm, understanding and sense of protectiveness towards them to a wide audience. His style was brisk and sometimes brusque; preferring facts to theories, and valuing people and anecdotes as means to relive the imaginative experiences of the past.


Finding the experience of James Stirling’s History Library at Cambridge a let-down, modern architecture and its smooth talkers were henceforth always under suspicion, and Stamp became a leader in a growing revisionist movement in architectural history and conservation. His PhD in 1978 was published in 2002 as Architect of Promise: George Gilbert Scott Junior (1839-1897) and the Late Gothic Revival. Working freelance in journalism and part-time teaching from an overcrowded Gothic Revival attic in Borough, he took over the Nooks and Corners column in Private Eye, started by Betjeman, as well as writing regularly for the Spectator.


The exhibitions Silent Cities (on war memorials) and London 1900 at the Heinz Gallery, held in 1977 and 78 respectively, were part of a project that culminated in the popular success of the 1980-81 Arts Council Lutyens exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. But he was already beginning to change some of his views, enjoying the company of such outspoken and hard-drinking Modernist survivors as Ernö Goldfinger (on whom he and James Dunnett presented an exhibition at the AA in 1983) and Berthold Lubetkin.


Stamp played a significant role in shaping a pluralist policy for the extension of post-war listing during the 1990s


In 1983, Stamp succeeded Bevis Hillier as chairman of the Thirties Society (renamed the Twentieth Century Society in 1992) and he continued in this role until 2007, leading annual foreign trips where he explored newly opened east European capitals. The pace was fast and furious, with minimal and largely liquid lunch breaks and stragglers left behind if they didn’t get back on the coach. The same rules applied when he ran the annual Victorian Society Anglo-American Summer School.


In 1988, the 1939 limit for listing buildings was extended with a conveniently conservative Trojan horse in the form of Bracken House, built in the 1950s. With other members of the Thirties Society, Stamp played a significant role in shaping a pluralist policy for the extension of post-war listing during the 1990s, starting to build his own selective sympathy for the more romantic kinds of Modernism.


This process continued when he went to teach history at the Mackintosh School of Architecture for a period of 10 years. With his first wife, the journalist Alexandra Artley, and their two daughters, he lived in the house in Moray Place built by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson for himself. Stamp went on to found the Alexander Thomson Society and curate an exhibition with book on Thomson in 1999.


Recalling one of Stamp’s memorable and always unscripted lectures, on Lutyens’s Thiepval memorial on the eve of the 2003 Iraq war, Carmody Groarke associate Lewis Kinnear writes: ‘His oratory had such strength that it unequivocally reinforced and concluded all his preceding teachings, asserting that even with the greatest of weights, architecture has the agility to be political, cultural and engrain timeless lessons.’


After an interlude in Cambridge working on a survey of British architecture in the interwar period, Stamp returned to London (definitely south London, where his roots lay). He was disappointed not to find any official position in teaching, but settled back into the freelance life, contributing a monthly column to Apollo (some collected in the 2013 book Anti-Ugly), becoming a grumpy travel presenter on TV and writing a successful series of books that drew on his interest in researching historic photography of buildings and deploring the loss of good urban scenery by bombs, venal councillors and developers.


In 2014, he married Rosemary Hill, the Pugin expert. His last years were overshadowed by a sense of time running out, but he was able to bring forward long-delayed projects such as a book on Giles Gilbert Scott.

Monday 18 January 2021

Biden's plan to wear Ralph Lauren fits inauguration's sober, unshowy tone


Biden's plan to wear Ralph Lauren fits inauguration's sober, unshowy tone


Fashion brand reported to be dressing the president-elect, a move that would subtly signal a distancing from the Trump era


Priya Elan

Sun 17 Jan 2021 09.30 GMT


Joe Biden is being dressed by the fashion brand Ralph Lauren for his presidential inauguration on 20 January, according to Women’s Wear Daily, in a move that has prompted a round of speculation about his meaning and motives at a time of crisis in the US.


On the surface, Biden’s choice of Ralph Lauren is no great shakes: here is a fashion brand with a classic, mass All American image. From the Oscars to the mall it is both luxurious and high-end, mid-range and accessible. Biden’s suit is expected to be single-breasted and two-buttoned, in a dark shade of blue worn with a crisp white or baby blue shirt.


“Ralph Lauren is a brand that has become synonymous with America on the global stage,” said Emma McClendon, who curated Power Mode: The Force of Fashion at the Museum of FIT in New York. “From the company’s preppy advertising campaigns, to the red, white and blue uniforms [Lauren] has designed for the US Olympic team”.


But – like much else in American public life – Biden’s sartorial choices are not divorced from their political context.


Lauren fits the sober, unshowy mood the Washington inauguration will take place in, as Donald Trump’s four years of turmoil come to an end in the wake of an attack on the Capitol by a rightwing mob.


The choice could also be read as a subtle rejoinder to the preceding pumped-up Trump era.“Isn’t a Ralph Lauren suit supposed to be an expression of understatement, of sober reliability and even predictability?” said Michael Zakim, author of A History of Men’s Dress in the American Republic.


With three years between them, Biden and Lauren are both members of the so-called “silent generation”. “[It’s] a manly form of unostentatious modesty that no one’s actually supposed to be noticed – striking a pointed contrast to Trump’s clinical impulsiveness and need for attention,” Zakim said.


Ralph Lauren has dressed Democratic and Republican heads of state, including Melania Trump, who wore a pale blue dress for Trump’s inauguration. Being one of the few designers who dressed the outgoing first lady led the hashtag #boycottralphlauren to trend on Twitter. “Lauren’s designs have been more often associated with the women of the West Wing than the men,” said McClendon.


As well as Melania, McClendon name-checks Hillary Clinton wearing a white Ralph Lauren suit to accept her presidential nomination at the 2016 Democratic national convention. “In this way, Biden’s choice of Lauren could be seen as unifying – selecting an American brand that has been supported by both sides of the aisle,” she said, which also certainly fits with the inauguration’s theme of “America United”.


Lauren’s steady-hand trademark might be over-egged to some, but there’s a happy parallel with Biden, whose own preppy style has not changed much since the 1970s.


Still, the choice of inauguration designer subtly diverges from the expected choice of Brooks Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy last year. Forty-one of the past 45 presidents wore the brand, including Barack Obama and Trump.


“[Biden] obviously feels comfortable in his clothes and projects the image that is, at the same time, youthful and mature,” said Djurdja Bartlett, who edited the book Fashion and Politics.


Domestically produced, Ralph Lauren reaffirms a message of American exceptionalism. “Ideologically, Biden’s style is a visual testament to Americana in its most idealised version. His are effortless clothes that remind Americans and the world of the times when America was effortlessly great,” Bartlett said.


When contacted by the Guardian, a Ralph Lauren spokesperson replied: “Unfortunately, we can’t comment.”

Friday 15 January 2021

Douglas Chalmers Hutchinson Sutherland and the Debrett 'English Gentleman' series


Douglas Chalmers Hutchinson Sutherland MC (18 November 1919 – 28 August 1995) was a British author and journalist, who was born at Bongate Hall, Appleby-in-Westmorland, in 1919. He always joked that the error of judgement in his not being born in Scotland was compensated for a year later by his family's moving to live in the remote island of Stronsay in Orkney.


The family later moved to Aberdeenshire, and Sutherland followed his elder brother to Trinity College, Glenalmond. He joined the army in 1938 as a Private with the King's Own Scottish Borderers, though Sutherland was later commissioned into the King's (Liverpool) Regiment, and saw active service during the Second World War, for which he was awarded the Military Cross, twice being mentioned in Despatches. In 1945, he was posted to Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery's 21st Army Group Headquarters at Bad Oeynhausen, where he joined the Allied Liaison Branch, and was an observer at the Nuremberg Trials.



Returning to London at the age of 26, Sutherland would observe that his first challenge as a civilian was sartorial.[citation needed] To this end, he was helped by Oscar Hammerstein, the American lyricist, who was a friend of his first wife Moyra Fraser, then a ballet dancer. Hammerstein presented him with his cast-off suits,[citation needed] and thus attired, he began working as a journalist for the Evening Standard, and later, the Daily Express.


Sutherland's life during this period is affectionately depicted in Portrait of a Decade, where he recalls many of the colourful characters of 1950s London, centred on Muriel Belcher's famous Colony Room in Dean Street, Soho. However, he is best remembered for his best-selling humour series which began with The English Gentleman, and was followed by The English Gentleman's Wife/Child/Mistress, and The English Gentleman Abroad.


A more serious side to his writing included biographies, including those of the sporting Earl of Lonsdale (The Yellow Earl), and Fraud with Jon Connell, founder of The Week magazine, the life of the international fraudster Emil Savundra, which won the Crime Writer's Silver Dagger Award for the best non-fiction crime book of the year.


In 1963, with Anthony Purdy, he published a book on the notorious spy ring of the 1950s, Burgess and Maclean.Prior to its publication it was rumoured that pressure to withdraw some of the book's most controversial content was placed on the authors from the British establishment, and that Sutherland and Purdy were obliged to suppress their information for reasons of national security.[citation needed] After Blunt's exposure some twenty years later, Sutherland immediately released The Fourth Man, the first full uncensored account of the intrigue.


Having married three times, Sutherland settled in Scotland with his third wife Diana. His latter years were marred by ill health and a dispute over the publishing royalties of the English Gentleman series, and he died at South Queensferry on 28 August 1995. His children include Carol Thomas, architect Charlie Sutherland, choreographer James Sutherland, comedy performer Jojo Sutherland and curator Adam Sutherland, director of Grizedale Arts.


Obituary: Douglas Sutherland

Leo Cooper

Sunday 10 September 1995 23:02


Douglas Sutherland was perhaps best known for his English Gentleman series of books, starting in 1978. The avalanche of witty trivia, in this and its four succeeding volumes, tended to obscure his other, more substantial, contributions to the literary and social scene: an excellent biography of Lord Lonsdale, The Yellow Earl (1965); The Landowners (1968); The Fourth Man (1965), an early and accurate account of the treachery of Burgess, Maclean and Blunt; two regimental histories (the Argylls and the Border Regiment) and a number of other books on fishing, wildlife and two volumes of autobiography.


Wherever he lived there was never any likelihood of his neighbours' being unaware of his presence. He lived life to the full. He had a distinguished war record, winning the Military Cross (and some say a Bar). He wrote one very funny book about his military experience, called Sutherland's War (1984), in which he claimed to have captured a tank driven by his former German tutor.


He was a clever journalist, a bon viveur, an habitue of pubs and clubs, not least the Colony Room, in Soho. He was a frequent visitor to El Vino's, he worked for the London Evening Standard and contributed to many magazines and newspapers on a freelance basis. He was generous, more often than not short of cash; and sometimes bloody-minded, not least to his wives. But he was a king of laughter, a wonderful gossip and a man of so many parts that he was difficult to pin down (and sometimes to reassemble).


Although, wrongly I think, best known for the English Gentleman series, which certainly earned him (and its publishers, Debretts) a lot of money, he should not be judged by such waffle. He was far better than that. He spent money like water and drank whisky as if it were; he was always the first man to put his hand in his pocket and the last man out of the pub. He was a great embroiderer of episodes in his career. He enjoyed the comforts of life without ever being able to afford them, and he was kind, talented and, when he was able to be, and indeed when he was not so able, generous.


Two stories remain in the mind. He wrote a history of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders for me, published in 1969. During the course of his research he was unwittingly locked into Stirling Castle after everyone had gone home. Climbing over the walls, no singular feat, he managed to reach his car only to be apprehended by the local copper. Having passed the breath test, he was allowed back into the car and, driving off, put the car into reverse and rammed the police car. A second test was called for, with the inevitable result.


I once saw him give a speech to the assorted might of the Argylls, standing up in front of us all with his fly-zipper undone. No one seemed to mind. On another occasion, he rang my office at about 8.30am to ask, "Can you lend me a pair of socks?" While he was sleeping rough under the arches at Charing Cross after a row with his wife Diana, someone had relieved him of his socks - but not his shoes. I was able to obligeand sent a chit to the Royalty Department asking them to debit his royalty account. Needless to say, they failed to see the joke.


Douglas Sutherland lived a rumbustious and varied life. He was a very funny man and a very brave man. Having learnt recently that he had incurable cancer he refused all treatment. When offered the opportunity of going home to live out his final days he had to admit that there was no longer anyone left to look after him, Diana, his third wife, having died four years ago.


Sutherland once rented a house near Malton, in Yorkshire. It was called Pasture House. He always said he was attracted to the name, so people could say "I walked past your house this morning." I bitterly regret his passing.


Leo Cooper


Douglas Chalmers Hutchinson Sutherland, writer, journalist: born Appleby, Westmorland 18 November 1919; married 1944 Moyra Fraser (one daughter; marriage dissolved 1954), 1954 Susan Justice (two sons; marriage dissolved 1960), 1991 Diana Fendall (died 1991); died 28 August 1995.


Originally written for Debrett's Peerage and now something of a classic, Douglas Sutherland's guide to that endangered species, the English Gentleman, was originally written as an antidote to all the endless, dull little books on manners and etiquette: the kind read by those who long to be recognised as part of the real gentry by the way they use their finger-bowl or address an Archbishop. Both genuinely informative and yet very funny in its self-deprecating tone, The English Gentleman offers a window to the parvenu on the rather perverse world of the genuine article. It describes his habits: where he might live, what he might wear, his school, his clubs, his hobbies and sports, his family and relationships, his behaviour when abroad, his mode of speech and the acceptable way to behave in almost any given situation (invariably the very opposite of what the outsider might think). Not to mention advice on the correct attitude to have toward money (it is vulgar), sex (it is vulgar) and business (it is vulgar unless, of course, it is run at a heavy loss). It all adds up to an unmissable initiation into the eccentric social history of the stiff upper lip. A hilarious and insightful look at the real life counterparts to the sort of squires found in the fiction of Nancy Mitford, PG Wodehouse and Compton Mackenzie. Proving that truth is often stranger than fiction.


Dressing The Part

From “The English Gentleman Is Dead: Long Live The English Gentleman!”

By Douglas Sutherland, 1992


In the second half of the 20th century it is true that the English Gentleman has had to shed something of his country image and assume the trappings of an urban life. This does not, however, mean that the way he dresses has become any less distinctive than it has always been; a style which is envied and imitated throughout the world.


Certainly a gentleman would never dress for effect but this does not mean that it is not something which he feels to be beneath his notice to devote any thought. He would no more think of disregarding the advice of his tailor when having a suit made (“built” is the correct expression) than he would instruct his surgeon on how to remove his right leg should such an operation become necessary. He is essentially a conventionalist.


What gentlemen seek to avoid at all costs in their dress is any suggestion of the sort of flamboyance which might be calculated to frighten the horses. In short, gentlemen in their appearance never seek to glitter. Such wardrobe items as designer shirts and underwear or other ostentations adornments have no place in his life.


It might be helpful to observe that the way a gentleman dresses has  nothing to do with his financial circumstances. The tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows, which is so often thought of as his hallmark, is not an affectation. It is usually simply a case of his not being able to afford a new one. To have leather patches sewn on or cuffs relined without there being any necessity is one of the worst forms of affectation.


By the same token it is unlikely that he would have in his wardrobe anything which he would call a sports jacket. This is simply an in-built mental attitude more than anything else. A gentleman will often have a great number of jackets but each will have a specific purpose. Thus he will have a jacket in which he goes shooting which is called a shooting jacket and when this becomes too old and disreputable looking, it will be demoted to the role of a gardening jacket. He will probably have a blazer or two inherited from his cricketing or rowing days or simply to lounge around in when he is not required to wear a suit, just as he will have a hunting jacket to go hunting in or a dinner jacket for when he goes out to dinner.


… It is also advisable when hiring morning clothes not to rely on the inevitable “morning” tie the dress hire firm will thrust upon you. It is becoming more and more the practice to wear an old school tie with these clothes. In fact, to wear an old school tie on other than formal occasions is increasingly considered to be bad taste. This is something I shall refer to again when it comes to looking at the whole public school business.


This attention to detail is also reflected in the number of cuff buttons on a gentleman’s suit It is the sort of triviality on which it is wise to be careful. Traditionally only bespoke suits sport four buttons on each cuff. The others have only three. As part of the very high cost of a handmade suit, a customer can expect that all the button holes are handsewn and all the buttons sewn on to last a lifetime. A button which comes off in the first ten years of a suit’s life would, in the view of the more old-fashioned customer, justify its being sent back for free servicing. Most important is that cuff buttons should unbutton so that, among other things, a gentleman can turn them back when he is going through the ceremonial washing of hands. For cuff buttons to be sewn on to a suit purely for show is regarded by many to be as bad as the wearing of a made-up bow tie or keeping their trousers up with a belt instead of braces.


Of all the details which go to make up the way a gentleman dresses, perhaps the most important of all concerns the head and the feet. Generally speaking, a gentleman always wears well polishes leather shoes. The traditional high polish of a gentleman’s footwear derives from the days when every gentleman had his own personal servant either as a batman when in the army or a valet in his private life and for whom the most exacting chore was the task of keeping his master’s riding boots and other footwear up to snuff. In these servantless days it is still considered to be rather infra dig for a chap to be seen to be cleaning his own shoes. However, in households where chivalry has not yet died, there are quite a few gentlemen who draw the line at deputing the task to their wives and anyway it is something that many wives are not awfully good at. This is an example of one area in this modern world where some gentlemen are having to bite the bullet for the sake of keeping up appearances and do the job for themselves.


What a gentleman wear on his head is another matter for debate in a world where everything is changing. It is basically true that , eve since the wearing of morning clothes with the then obligatory top hat whenever he came up to London went out of fashion, the gentleman has dispensed with a town hat. There was a brief period when gentlemen coming up to London to see their men of business like lawyers or bankers favored the bowler or, as it is more correctly described, the Coke (pronounced Cook) hat as a compromise the with more formal topper. The Coke hat had originally been designed as a hard hat which could be worn when out hunting on less formal days. When it became adopted by businessmen for City wear, however, it dropped out of fashion with their country cousins. in these days when so many gentlemen have become urbanized most of them now go bareheaded about their daily business. By contrast, to wear a hat for any openair activity in the country is almost universal. However, whatever the occasion, it is not the hat the gentleman chooses to wear but the way that he wears it that makes him distinctive.


Perhaps there is no hat in the whole repertoire which demonstrates this better than the common or garden flat at which the late Norman Wisdom made so much the hallmark of the working man. Where the pigeon fancier from Birmingham and all points north wears his cloth cap with the brim pointing defiantly outwards and upwards, the gent somehow manages to wear it tipped down over his forehead so that the brim runs more or less parallel with his nose. This in turn means that if the wearer is to see where he is going he has to tilt his head back and gaze on his fellow men with a look of disdain akin to a guardsman on parade. It is something which takes quite a lot of practice. I believe this is the origin of the expression “to look down your nose” at people. The gentleman does not really mean it. It is just one of this many curiosities.


The overall look common to all gentlemen, which has its origins in his nursery days, is of being well brushed and well scrubbed. the only difference in his more mature years is that, as the day goes on, he stays that way longer.


Fashions change in these matters but, in the present day, most gentlemen are clean shaven. In fact beards, apart from a few naval officers and arctic explorers, have been out since the days of Edward VII The day of the well clipped mustache in the military style once so much the fashion is also now very much out since its universal adoption by the more rampant homosexuals. Only in the way the hair is cut is there now a certain amount of lassitude. Where the short-back-and-sides-llook  was once more or less de riguere, many gentlemen now wear their hair much longer, even to the extent of the pony-tail look not always being confined to young gentlemen’s sisters. The more conventional, however, are usually content to display their individuality by allowing the hair of a certain amount of length at the sides and brushed up into the sort of quiffs which used to be known as “bugger’s grips.” The origin of this expression is now lost in antiquity which is perhaps just as well.