Wednesday, 26 December 2007

The Staple - Advent Calendar

Mistletoe and Wine

"So here it is, Merry Christmas..." and I've been Xmassing to the max all week. Although this time of year is always a bit of a whirlwind, for me, Xmas has been more or less confined to December, and even then to the last fortnight or so. Schmaltzy adverts, shopping panic, eating too much and even Xmas music; all of it has kind of passed me by, in a very pleasant way. I think this is mostly as I'm not working in retail any more, and as a result I've had a terribly civilised yule. And I think this is the way forward; as much as I love shopping, I have been very virtuous this December with my present purchasing in anticipation of the sales. Not only that, my train journey home was fine - I even managed some seating in First Class, I had a lovely Xmas eve lunch with my mates, Xmas day itself was very relaxed, and even Boxing day has been rather lovely. The only constant thing throughout December was my lovely Thorntons advent calendar - a Staple if ever there was one; there's nothing like counting down the days until something exciting happens, and marking that with chocolate is the only possible improvement. Maybe I'm getting old, but Xmas now seems to be so much more of a real holiday and a break from everything than before. Lovely stuff. Xmas is an absolute must; time to chill, eat and relax. And of course throw yourself into the sale mêlée at Leeds Harvey Nicks tomorrow. Other Xmas Staples include:
Thornton's Advent Calendar
Watching old BBC programmes on Dave and Dave +1
Pink prosecco
A Vivienne Westwood checked scarf
A real fire
The Yard pub in Ilkley, West Yorkshire
Giving greatly appreciated presents

Sunday, 16 December 2007

The Staple - Gold Converse

If Gold was Good Enough for Jesus...

As the mythical 'Xmas party season' rolls into view, style sections seem to be full of partywear for both men and women. However, unless you work at some sort of UberTwat banking firm in the City, the suggested tuxedo and smart shoe look is a little OTT. Not that I dislike smart (quite the opposite in fact), it's just that I am rarely invited to an event which demands it, where other guests will appreciate the sublime cut of my jacket and the subtle choice of shirt and shoes that I would, in theory, make. In practice, I have been spreading a little Chistmas cheer in these beauties. I bought them in early spring - hence the slightly worn gold - after spraypainting both loafers and Converse for a few years before. They are some sort of Limited thing, only available from Foot Locker in Covent Garden, In gold leather, with diamante studded sides, and gilding on the rubber toecap as well. For me, not seeing anyone else wearing them has been a higlight, except for M.I.A. in a photoshoot. They are widely admired, and were well worth the premium over the more subtle gold Cons. Gold shoes are ideal Xmas party outfit finishers; they certainly solved my last-minute shoe crisis. And though they are everywhere in adverts; in reality, even in 'trendy east London', metallic shoes are rare. They are, however, best paired with an understated outfit. Give it a try this Xmas; after all, if gold was good enough for Jesus...Other Staples this week:
Gold leather, diamante-studded Converse hi-tops
Cantaloupe in East London
Daft Punk classic songs
Decorating the Xmas tree
The V&A's 'Out of the Ordinary' craft exhibition
Boycotting Tesco
A lovely evening in Camino, Kings's Cross

Monday, 10 December 2007

The Staple - Liberty

Palace of Dreams

I've touched on the joy of shopping at Liberty before, but this past week has really seen a zenith in my appreciation of the store. The Christmas cardholders event was an absolute pleasure, free glasses of wine, beautiful objects wherever you cast your eye, gorgeous guests and staff, and some of the most civilised shopping surroundings possibly anywhere. Particular highlights were seeing my dream sofa - previously discussed with a friend a couple of days ago - and more or less faling in love with it; a button-backed Chesterfield chaise longue in thick cerise velvet. Unfortunately at £2650, it costs almost 6 months worth of rent. One can dream. However, the Christmas shop yielded some gorgeous decorations and gifty items; as did the stationery department. As did the cosmetics and beauty hall. As did, almost, the menswear hall. And the shoe department. It's not just exceptional well bought-in and selected pieces that make Liberty great, but the entire experience of civility and hallowed surroundings or a gorgeous Arts and Crafts building. Liberty has a presence that Selfridges and Harvey Nichols with their steel and glass and marble and thick swathes of people and music just cannot match. The one thing that could make it better would be a well-stocked magazine department, and possibly a better area for men's grooming. But, this would merely be fiddling with perfection. Liberty is, quite simply, diving and I urge you to visit it at some stage over Chrtistmas to escape the histle and pick up some truly fabulous gifts. Other Staples:
Liberty department store
HOPS! pub in Covent Garden
Rediscovering the first Bloc Party album, 'Silent Alarm'
A green, double-breasted winter coat
Julien Maclaren-Ross' 'Bitten By The Tarantula'
The George on Great Portland St.
Seeing old Bond films on ITV - Christmas is here!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The Staple - Apple

[Insert Apple pun here]

So, as a result of the deathly illness that has struck me, I've spent nights in with my trusty laptop on which I am typing now, and I've been reminded just how important the internet, and available access to it have become. The free wifi has been a little intermittent this week, and without it, I've felt more isolated than I expected. However, typing as I am now, with a full fan of internet signal, sitting on my bed with the Mac balanced on a B-Store shoebox and the Guillemots in the background, I'm reminded of just how lovely it is to have this invisible connection with the world. And, perhaps more importantly, a device so ergonomic and efficient that if my wifi disappears here, I can pack up and go to Camino (or anywhere with interweb) and set up in 30 seconds. There's something appropriately edible about Apples; the glossy finish, soft touch and veritable malleability which makes using them a complete pleasure to use. The idea of a fully portable, uncomplicated portal which can store all my music, photos, writing and can allow me to book tickets, talk to my mates, do my banking, shop, meet people, even work is fabulous. And the added bonus of looking like a spare prop from 2001 is the icing on the cake. I am truly a convert; after years of crashing, boxy beige PCs and constantly breaking laptops, Apples really are top banana. Other, less pun-worthy Staples this week:
Apple laptops
The Baz Luhrman-directed Chanel No. 5 advert
Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes
A diamante spider brooch
Thornton's Advent calendars
Ian Curtis' biopic, 'Control'

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The Staple - Throat Spray

Cold Comfort Advice

Unfortunately, it's finally hit me. That fucking cold that goes around the office, gradually taking out your podmate and your boss, but which you seem to stay immune from. I staved it off during the weekend, but three nights of varying degrees and genres of indulgence have done it. My tonsils are back and this time they're bigger than before. I've been through this many times; I've no idea why. I think it might have something to do with a slightly hectic lifestyle, not really eating properly (different types of cheese for dinner and lunch is not a varied diet), but every few months or so, my tonsils suddenly decide to take over my throat and stop anything being enjoyable. I'm always quick to dose up with spoonfuls of honey, Dolitabs (miraculously tasty French paracetomol), vitamin C, Echinacea, Strepsils, Lemsip, and whatever else I have lying around in the cupboards, but this stuff is the best. It tastes so minty that it makes your eyes water; and spraying it into your throat is not the most attractive of propositions, but damn, it's good. It's immediate, portable, and a fetching shade of emerald green. The only bad part is that as I'm writing this, it's in my desk drawer at work; a photo will follow shortly. It's neither glamorous, nor expensive, but this is the one thing that I have for colds that I know is actually going to make me feel better. Once again, Boots prove that they are the best in the land. All hail the pharmacists! Aside from a stinking cold, other Staples this week include:
Antiseptic throat spray
Brora grey cashmere wristwarmers
Obscure Teutonic bleeps from a certain curly-haired mate's iPod
The Big Chill House in King's Cross
Having friends who can help with legal stuff
Hovis 'Seed Sensations' bread
A hot, well-brewed, sweet cup of tea

Monday, 19 November 2007

The Staple - Duvel

An Evening With...

So Saturday night was upon us, and after a little light retail therapy along the python of Oxford Street, we retreated to a good old Sam Smiths. Deciding to reconvene later and East, three of us headed back to mine. Where we stayed, happily ensconsed in pasta 'n' pesto, Duvel (absolutely perfect for an evening in; dark and tasty; a good 'session beer' in DadSpeak) and cheese straws. Who needs the hassle and hustle of the pub when you've got control of the music, - both volume and genre - good beer which isn't £4.50 a pint and comfortable surroundings on which to loll. And some of the best conversation, with no need to get as slaughtered as possible before the bar shuts, and spend valuable time with your mates queueing for drinks. When you realise that there's not anything that really suits your collective mood, and everything is so far apart, take refuge in your own home, chill with mates. It's perhaps a symptom of getting older, or perhaps a little serving of London ennui when leafing through the Guide, or maybe even a rebellion against blowing £40 for a few pints in somewhere vaguely interesting, but I have to say it was a lovely evening. Thanks to the fantastic company of Alvin and Julia, I'm kind of coming around to the idea that staying in, while perhaps is not 'the new going out' (what a vile phrase), but it is, at least, an alternative. Give it a try; it's a mini adventure. Other Staples this week:
Staying in on a Saturday night
Duvel beer
Candie Payne's album 'I Wish I Could Have Loved You More'
A black velvet blazer with an antique silver butterfly brooch
Kiehl's Creme de Corps
Paul Auster's book, 'Moon Palace'
Uniqlo's Pantone knitwear

Monday, 12 November 2007

The Staple - Checkered Scarf

Wrapped in checkered wool

As winter draws in, I am becoming increasingly alarmed at just how cold it's getting. It seems that my confient predictions of an Indian Winter when I bought my Paul & Joe gabardine mac in last year's sales were wrong. It's fucking freezing. I was out at 6am on Saturday morning, and not drunkenly coming back from a night out, but working with friends on a video shoot, and although I had 4 layers on, the cold still got through. Despite this, there's one item which I have had for many years now which has always kept my neck warm. This checkerboard scarf was charity shop gold. A £2.99 purchase from Help the Aged in Ilkley, it's been with me for years, across the globe, up mountains, to festivals and along pretty much every street in London. I am very much a scarf person; summer, winter, evening, day; I feel a little underdressed without a scarf. I once read that a Parisian can never have too many scarves about their person. This is one of the few maxims that I have ever followed; although I do realise the absurdity of it. Scarves are practical, easy to wear, cheap (mostly) and complete an outfit; giving it a certain flair that makes you stand out, particularly in such a dull place as the City. A scarf is a true Staple; ephemeral yet essential, the sort of thing that you buy or find that whenever you use it, it brings a smile to your face. Other Staples this week:
The Hideaway pub in Archway
Andrew Bird's album 'Armchair Apocrypha'
Papier Mâché octopus tentacles
A long woollen checkerboard scarf
Risotto from Strada
The lush colours and gorgeous cinematography of Stephen Poliakoff dramas (yes, I know i Stapled it last week)
A hardbacked paper diary

Sunday, 4 November 2007

The Staple - The Guardian

Weekend bliss

My weekend is never complete without a copy of the Guardian. It has become an integral part of my Saturday morning, waking up, throwing on my woolly hat, jeans and a comfy jumper and heading down to the Hades of Tesco to grab a copy of it, together with a box of croissants and maybe some fruit juice or a bottle of San Pellegrino. Then a hasty retreat back to the safety of the duvet, casting off the street clothes and tearing open the polythene wrapping which contains the newspaper. I go for the Weekend section first, and check on how my favourite columnists have managed with their variously calamitous weeks. Then it's the Travel section for some inspiration and morning reverie; the Guide for more columns and a look at what my ideal week might involve, entertainment-wise; the Work section out of habit; then I gradually work my way through the rest of it, cherry-picking the best pieces, the bits that appeal. An article on Jacques Demy, Diana Rigg's diary, a Sebastião Salgado photo-essay. All whilst dropping croissant crumbs on myself and slurping a cup of tea. In my very humble opinion, there's no more civilised way to start a weekend. And there's no more civilised ending that blogging about it either. Sometimes I do think I have a civilised life. It's terribly nice. And so to this week's Staples:
The Guardian on a Saturday
Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas'
Aveda for Men hair products
Having a good clear-out
Steven Poliakoff dramas
Black M&S cotton socks
The Crown on New Oxford St.

Monday, 29 October 2007

The Staple - Paris


It's only recently hit me just how much affection I seem to have for Paris. Any time I see an image of la belle ville, or cast a passing thought back to my year there, I think to myself 'Oh, Paris!' Of course it has its drawbacks, and I had a very goodtime/badtime year there, but there's something so alluring about that city, still, 2 years on. I suppose it's the same sort of sensation I used to get when I first moved to London, strolling through King's Cross listening to the Libertines en route to Camden, and though I still get that to a certain extent, its much less than it used to be. Paris' - or indeed any city's - allure is completely subjective, but I think that the unhurried and thoroughly civilised pace of life, combined with a classic elegance in both architecture and fashion, nouvelle vague references, and in my case a thorough knowledge of its geography makes Paris very irrestible. It was while on the train back from Leeds that I realised (although reading the Observer's Paris special issue probably helped) that I have such affection for a city. I think the way I discovered it, as a povertylicious student-flâneur probably helped, but Hemingway's quote from his memoirs of his time there sums it up best: "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." I can't wait for the new, quicker Eurostar link to open literally under my feet. This week's Staples are:
Spending leisurely time in Paris
Moleskine notebooks
Grey leather lace-up shoes from B Store
Reading literature on the Tube, not 'Metro'
Lemon fairy cakes with buttercream icing
Pink champagne
Jeremy Warmsley's album, 'The Art of Fiction'

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Staple - Gig Tickets

Music is my Kingsize Bed

After all the festivalling this summer, I'd almost forgotten what a gig feels like without sunglasses, shorts and visor, without grass underfoot and blue sky overhead, without warm paper cup of lager in hand and without lanyard around neck. A real, dark, inside gig at a converted theatre where the (real and not canvas) walls are painted matt black and the cries echo around wood-panelling and gilt lightshades. So I was exceptionally pleased last weekend when I met some friends with a spare ticket for The Cribs at Kentish Town Forum. One of my favourite bands, Wakefield's dis-establishment Strokes have enough energy to power your home until fossil fuels expire. The excitment of pre-gig pints, discussing the merits of one album over another, queueing to get in, bag checks and dimmed lights until the vapid NME-muzak cedes to the unmistakable statement; "We're the Cribs from Wakefield" with that elongated northern aaaaaa. And then bouncing, clapping, shouting lyrics, craning of heads to get a better view and taking blurry photos during your favourite songs, as if taking a photo can capture not just the image, but the music and the atmosphere as well. The crescendo of fulfilment that rushes through your body, filling it to the brim; the grins on yours and other people's faces; crowd-surfers throwing themselves into the mêlée of sweating adolscents. I used to do that. The final song, the cheers, shouts and undying applause until the roadies appear and remove the strewn guitars. The cool air outside and the streams of people to the tube. Fabulous. And it's LCD Soundsystem tomorrow. Just that thought is almost enough. Almost. And so to the rest of this week's Staples, which are all along a theme of sensory pleasure:
Having a gig lined up for next week
Wandering aimlessly around the V&A museum in South Ken
Avoiding the rugby with your best mates at The Cock on Gt. Portland St.
Picking up a newly-reheeled pair of shoes from the cobbler
Giving a guided tour of a department store
Breakfasting decadently at the weekend
Crisp evenings by the Thames

Monday, 15 October 2007

The Staple - APC bag

Paris Portage

OK. So it was outrageously expensive. But isn't it fabulous? After a promotion on the Friday, what else could I do but head down for a retail therapy reward? I spotted this bag a couple of weeks ago, hidden on a high shelf at the APC concession. I was attracted by the navy and brown plaid, barrel shape, and abundance of straps. The wool is soft but durable. A side pocket makes it even more practical. This bag bridges the gap between smart and scruffy and looks equally as good with a smart trenchcoat, purple canvas trainers or a work outfit. And the thrill of buying the last one in Selfridges (except the display model), having it packed into a stiff, shiny yellow card bag, hitching it over your shoulder and walking away grinning ear-to-ear, thinking 'I shouldn't have bought that' while cute boys glance admiringly and jealously in your direction, cannot be beaten. Yes, it's materialistic and self-indulgent, but sometimes everyone needs a bit of this. Unfortunately this means I will be eating nothing but toast for the rest of the month, but with a bag like this, so what? With this in mind, here are the rest of the week's Staples:
APC plaid wool barrel bag
Gin and tonic
The Marlborough Arms on Torrington Place
'The Third Policeman' by Flann O'Brien
A Silent Disco in the Tate Modern
The London Love column in thelondonpaper
Black and white gingham shirts

Monday, 8 October 2007

The Staple - Chocolate Log

Yule Britannia

As we edge ever-nearer to an American-style Xmas which begins as soon as the final rays of summer beat down, our retailers begin Christmas earlier and earlier each year. However, this needn't be as bad as you might think; along with the opening of Selfridges Christmas Hall (August 18th this year; a guilty pleasure if ever there was one), the arrival of Yule logs in Tesco is almost enough to take away from its Hades-like atmosphere. These rolls of chocolate joy should be sold throughout the year, and the fact that they are not perpetually flummoxes me, especially the fudge-covered Finest ones. Especially the end pieces. The most vexing fact is that they are still labelled as Christmas food. It is October, and thus not Christmas at all. But none of this takes away from the delicious fudgy filling in between swirls of soft cakey sponge, in solid chocolate. It's almost better than the M&S food porn adverts. Well, this is Tesco. And the rest of the 'Christmas' food selection is similarly palatable; puddings, pies and cakes that recall the roaring fires of home, crisp winter mornings and your favourite winter duvet. Grab some next time you're pushing past your fellow shoppers, I guarantee it'll be worth it. Staples this week are along an autumnal theme:
Chocolate Yule log
Notting Hill Exchange
Long umbrellas with a curved handle ("the surprise formal element")
Cocoa with honey
Luxe merino knitwear layered over American Apparel t-shirts
House parties - especially those with live music and DJs
Rediscovering your old Modest Mouse CDs

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

The Staple - Monocle

An Eyeglass for an Eye

I almost can't believe I've not Stapled this before. Monocle magazine is a relatively new title (this is only issue 7) and it's already stocked outside of the specialist magazine vendors. A magazine whose main headline reads "Is Nuuk the next Reykjavik?". A magazine with an entire manga pullout comic at the back, but which also deals with everything from Tajikistan to Cartier. A magazine that's also beautifully designed (thanks to ol' Tyler Brûlé). Quality magazines are something I buy often; they have the temporality of a newspaper coupled with the artistic photography of modern art museum, and good enough writing to fill many bookshops. They are a fabulous form, and this upstart has displaced several of my regular purchases with its no-nonsense tone and subject matter you hadn't even considered not knowing existed (the shortage of diplomats in Azerbaijan?). It also proves that there's plenty of life in non-digital media yet. Absolutely essential for lunchtime and bus reading, as well as late night flicking when you don't yet want to sleep, but are too tired to read another novel or send another variety of digital message. Staples this week are:
Monocle magazine
The Hookah Lounge on Brick Lane
Leather motorbike gloves
Wensleydale cheese with cranberries
Leftival in Bethnal Green ("in memory of Hash EwaWoowa")
The Antiques Roadshow
Interpol's 'Our Love to Admire'

Monday, 24 September 2007

The Staple - Olives

Parental Guidance

I love it when your parents go on holiday - you get the house to yourself if you're younger, they get some time out, and when they get back they are infinitely more relaxed. And, if you're lucky, they bring you presents. In my parents case, they've moved on from souvenit t-shirts (but only after repeated requests) to culinary delights. This time, after a recent trip to the Pelopennese, they brought these melt-in-the-mouth Kalamata olives. Succulent and gloriously (almost aubergine) coloured, these little pearls of joy are almost gone despite me only getting them yesterday. There's something wonderfully decadent about olives, their salty taste is that of holidays, and the stones mean that you always have to have a receptacle with you; they're terribly social and deserve more than most, the term amuse-bouche. So next time yours go away, drop a gentle hint for some food; failing that they'll bring you a bottle of plonk - but if you're lucky, they'll bring you both. Bizarrely for me, this was quite a culinary staple, but I have to give an honourable mention to Nigella Lawson, whose fabulous inflection and insistence on decadent easy food has inspired me this week, amongst other Staples:
Wahaca Mexican restaurant
Wearing shirts with the top button done up and no tie; the 'air tie'
Pine Nuts
The Salisbury Pub in Covent Garden
Nigella Lawson's Express Italian programme
The National's album, 'Boxer'

Monday, 17 September 2007

The Staple - Blue shirt

La mode

London Fashion Week has arrived, and at last I've had a free weekend to escape to the shops. And amongst the distressed D&G denim and the dayglo patent hi-tops in Selfridges, I browsed among the more sophisticated brands APC, Martin Margiela and Dries van Noten. But one brand to which I keep returning is Full Circle, kind of like Kris van Assche for Dior on a more modest budget. That's where I discovered this beautiful shirt, which had me thinking all around Selfridges, despite the preponderance of well-dressed young men, and eventually I was rushing back to buy it. The colour is the hottest of the season, featuring throughout the menswear floor, from Alexander McQueen through Burberry Prorsum and Paul & Joe to Gucci. Note also the beautifully-cut, minimal and unusally small collar. The fit is immaculate, slim but not skinny or tight, and the colour is flattering but not garish; on trend but not fashion victim. OK, at £50 it's not especially cheap, but I would be surprised if anyone could recognise it as non-designer. Men's fashion (ouside the fabulously hedonistic BoomBox scene) is all about a subtlety of cut and colour that merges together to create an almost imperceptibly better whole that is immediately noticeable. This fashion week, I have been telling my mates (semi-jokingly I suppose) to 'do their bit' for British fashion. This shirt, and indeed much of the Full Circle Autumn/Winter collection is a very good place to start. Along with this week's other Staples:
Cadbury's mini rolls
The new Go! Team album, 'Proof of Youth'
Full Circle menswear
Framed film posters
The Rake pub in London Bridge
Hoegaarden with a slice of lime
Notting Hill Exchange

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

The Staple - A Ticket To Ride

Emergency Exit

It's easy to forget just how lovely and accessible the rest of the SouthEast of GB is from London. We got some mates together for a brief jaunt out to Southend this Saturday, and although it might not be the classiest mini-break, just soaking your toes in the freezing sea and chilling out on the beach is enough to de-stress from a week of work and a Friday evening of blasting it. I'm a true believer in chilling out; a relaxed body is healthier and happier. And it might be just because I'm a country bumpkin, but I can't relax in the city; at least not in London. So a fantastic train ride (for only £7.60 return) and an hour later, there we were on the beach. Escaping for just a few hours was so lovely, and even better earlier in the summer at a caravan park near Clacton; we didn't even make it to Clacton proper, just hung around the park all weekend. It was one of the best of my life. With so much choice, and the weather still being (touch wood) warm-ish, I urge you to get your frisbee and a four-pack and get yourself to Liverpool Street. It's even better than a hungover Saturday in your bed watching the Hollyoaks omnibus. Yes, even better. This week's Staples are:
Groupsave tickets out of London
Toblerone in airport-sized packs
Queens Park in northwest London
Noise-cancelling headphones with a overhead band
Aubergine knitwear
Evening picnics indoors
Peppermint tea

Thursday, 6 September 2007

The Staple - Abanícos

Viva España

So I went to Spain this weekend, for a bit of an R&R sojourn to recover from the Festivalis. And it worked. I was very chilled out, and it wasn't just the Cava, or the sun, or getting 12 consecutive hours of sleep, the lovely Gaudí architecture, or even being surrounded bu Iberian demi-gods. When it gets hot in Spain, Spanish people (mostly women, I'll admit) use these abanícos - folding fans. They are both practical, and can be stylish - I did have some original 1950s ones that made it into a fashion column, but one was tragically lost in a cesspit, and the other was claimed by my Mum. However, my favourites were these uber-tacky souvenir ones, with a gilded brown plastic exoskeleton, cliched 'España' imagery and black lace. What's not to like? They are the best thing if you're hot, anywhere, they double as an eyeshade and what's more, they double as communications devices. In the court of Marie Antoinette, fans like this were used to signal desire, disgust and despair, with but a flick of the wrist; something that I reckon should be brought back - not a look, but a coded movement. What versatile objects. Clearly multitasking, but without the macho overtones of a penknife - get your fans out on the Tube or wherever and get them used; you can only win...Anyway, this week's Staples are mostly of a holiday theme; more practicalities later...
A Spanish-style fan
Rosé wine
Tailored shorts
Tortilla Española
English breakfast muffins slathered in butter
Hot Spanish men

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Staple - Umbro visor

Vive la Fete

OK, so I survived Reading Festival; just. Unfortunately the seagull didn't, nor did my wallet or phone, or my lovely pacamac-cum-bag. However, out of all the things I've taken to festivals this year, one has been useful come rain or shine, this visor. It's an Umbro diffusion product, from the milliner Philip Treacy, the man who designed hats for the fabulous Isabella Blow (RIP). Not only was it useful for keeping water/beer from my glasses, but it also allowed my head to breathe and there have been days when it hasnt been removed, in fact I think it was the last thing I took off before sexytime...or maybe that was my glasses. Anyway, festivals are about balancing practicalities with luxuries, Clinique with Carling, Umbro with Umbrellas, Tents with beautfiul T-Shirts. And of course seeing some fucking fabulous music, and having an unfeasibly good time with your mates. But when they're over, the fundown begins; every year after Reading, I have some quiet time with some favourite music and have a moment of sadness that the festivals (and this year there were 8), and the summer is over. And althought this is true, everything else still remains, it's just that wearing a gold visor around town is a little less acceptable when you're on your way to work Ah well, it'll still be here next year, along with those other luxuries. Next year, on the inspiration of the girls camped next to me, I'm taking a plastic bowl to fill with water - there was nothing more refreshing all weekend than dunking my head in some cool, clear liquid. The luxuries don't have to be luxurious, just useful; it's all about balance. With that in mind, here are this week's staples:
A gold visor
Hot English boys
Prescription Sunglasses (yes again, they're just so useful)
Manuka Honey
Reusable carrier bags for the supermarket
Stealing vodka from a festival bar

Monday, 20 August 2007

The Staple - Resin Seagull

Festivalis Digitalis

You know that rubbish you buy just because it seems like a good idea at the time and you're a bit drunk/high? Well, I love doing that. Just finding some improbable item somewhere is one thing I am actually good at (perhaps I should add it to my CV?) and last week was no exception. French supermarkets (in case you've not had the pleasure) are often stocked with such gems. So the combination of France and a tiny festival with supremely good acts ( meant that we spent a good couple of hours in total in the hypermarche, where I bought a resin model of a seagull. Which I instantly became attached to. Hash EwaWoowa - as he became known - was an event in himself. He was thrown at people's faces whilst being tied to a piece of elastic; became an amusing prop when a real seagull stole someone's lunch from a bar; got into a dogfight with a toy poodle in a nappy and tragicaly lost most of his legs, and nearly took a dive into the channel on the return trip. It's rubbish like this that makes festivals, and indeed life, worth living. That novelty item, the one that you discover and create a story around can often be the best reminders of temps bien perdu; embrace them when you find them, as they provide much better memories than a million filed digital photos. This week's staples are:
Justice's album '+'
Spanish dessert wine as an aperitif
Pref magazine
Mauve canvas shoes
The Yorkshire Grey pub in Fitzrovia
Reading Festival
Hot French boys

Thursday, 9 August 2007

The Staple - Jil Sander


So I'm in my kitchen 'jacking' wifi broadband working out whether to sit on a camping chair or stand. I'll stand. It seems appropriate - and I have the Long arms of the Law on my side. So this blog thing is going to be stuff to do, stuff we like, stuff we think is essential, culled only from the finest of sources. And it all starts with shoes.
Good work shoes will get you as far as you can go in life; everything you need to know about a person is in their shoes, particularly the ones they wear for work. My shoes - Jil Sander 'shovel toe' plain black nappa lace-ups, in the most elegant shape i could find, make me uber happy whenever I put them on. I've just buffed them to a gleaming shine, using Kiwi products which I've been using since I was a bairn. When you're in work tomorrow, or on the bus or wherever, take a look at your deskmates' shoes and note how they reflect the person; functional people go for Clarks; young trendy 'metrosexuals' (YES, they still exist, I used to live with one - bootcut stonewash denim?) wear pointy faux-brogues from Topman, or worse, River Island. Your boss probably has some classics from Church's, John Lobb, or if he isn't quite so top spec, Marks'. This does really only apply to work shoes; leisure shoes are an entirely different area - much more colourful and fraught with peril. Shoes people; keep an eye out, and do try and remember that other people are doing the same.
This week's staples are:
Field Day Festival in Victoria Park, East London
A chocolate orange brownie from Leon
An item of animal print
A Razmopolitan cocktail
Camino in King's Cross
Sunglasses with metal frames - no fluoro plastic allowed.