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'