29 June 2010

Faded Lois Dreams.

Here's a little passage from the forthcoming book 'Faded Lois Dreams' from Andrew Vaughan available to buy soon.
"Andrew Vaughan's 'Faded Lois Dreams' is the tale of a northern footy lad residing in London on the cusp of what would become known as 'Casual.' It thankfully avoids many of the genre's clichés and instead offers an emotional and intelligent insight into the mindset of a young man trying to make his mark in the big city, a city that is described in meticulous detail; the pubs, the buses, the shops, the football grounds, the sights, the sounds, the smells of a London and a fan culture that has largely disappeared in the past three decades". Phil Thornton.
I'm not really a staying-in-on-Friday night type of guy but sometimes needs must. Especially as there is a gang of us going to Peppermint Place for cocktails and burgers later tonight.
Listen to me...fucking cocktails. But first I'm going down to Finsbury Park to try and get a ticket for the QPR and West Brom FA Cup semi-final at Highbury. Yeah, QPR. My second team. My London team. The R's, the Super Hoops. That great 1975/6 team when they almost won the league.
Parkes Clement, Gillard, Francis, Thomas and the others. And, of course Stan Bowles. My hero. A genius.
Coming down to London when I was fifteen to watch the great man. Songs of Steve Harley buzzing around my head while reggae music seeps out of the doorways of Shepherd's Bush and I sneak a Guinness in to wash down the Jamaican patties. This land of Steptoe & Son and on this clear beautiful Saturday in London N10 it is poignant to note that young Steptoe passed away a couple of weeks ago. Harry H Corbett, just fifty seven years of age. A heart attack. A complex man by all accounts. Filled my Saturday evenings with joy when I was younger. Him and his dirty old man of a father. West London rag and bone men yet ironically Corbett was brought up in Manchester . As was Bowles. Yet Bowles had that west London swagger. A beautiful footballer that helped transform QPR into a major side. Yet for QPR - that rise from the third division to the first one man was there all the way through. He won't be here today because Dave Clement - that elegant, accomplished full back that played four hundred and seventy two games for QPR is no longer with us. Thirty four years of age and - according to the papers - suffering from severe depression as he feared his career was over due to a broken leg he took his own life during the week.
Couldn't face life without football. One of the greatest distributors of a ball from the back and one of Rangers' finest couldn't face life without football. Today is for Dave. The boys from W12 will make sure of that. I change into my Saturday best. Warm enough to go without a coat I slip on my blue and white Benetton rugby shirt. Hoop across the front. Blue hoop for Dave Clement on this bright blue beautiful day. Lois jeans, laundered and crisp. Vent cut in the seam and sewed perfectly by Gal's mum. A seamstress by trade she sorts us lads' clothes out. Does the mum bit for us single fellas far away from home. And the jeans nestled perfectly onto the Forest Hills . Cleaned especially. The Lacoste belt from Tenerife with the metal crocodile on show. Watch glistening as the sun sneaks through the net curtains showing 11.38 and time to go. Wave to Ranvir, who beckons me over.. The shop is empty and she wants to chat. Dad's at the cash and carry so Capital Radio is playing loud. Filling the streets of Muswell Hill with some of the latest pap. She looks good. Tight faded jeans, white blouse unbuttoned - more than usual - to reveal a glimpse of cleavage and the patterns on her bra. Beautiful brown skin, perfect white teeth and painted toes. "Hey Rich, you look alright. "Well better than normal, anyway." "Stayed in last night. "Football today and Peppermint Place tonight. "You fancy it?" "The football, nah. "Wouldn't mind the burger place though." "Well come along." "I'd love to but you know. "Plus I wouldn't trust you." "And you'd be right there." I smile and turn. Left out of the shop and knock the window near to where she's sat. She blows me a kiss and I feel good. Really fucking good. As I get on the bus I feel guilty about feeling good. Think about Dave Clement and how I get so depressed at times But that depressed? I don't know. Maybe football's all he had. But no, the papers say he was married and had children and well... football's not that special. Girls and love and sex and music and clothes but most of all girls. Surely. A kiss from Ranvir. Her beautiful body. Her nose. Just ever so slightly too big. And her big brown eyes that can change from lonely to darting. From sad to sparkling in a matter of seconds. Football's good but it's not that good. It's simple, straightforward whilst women and sex are so complicated. Obtuse, awkward, intriguing, confusing, unobtainable and alluring. And everything else. I snap out of it. I have to. It's football and my second team is in the semi-final of the FA Cup.
I jump off the bus before Finsbury. Clear my head and notice the sky has clouded over. The pubs are rammed. West Brom everywhere. A smattering of boys all dressed-up but in the main a boisterous set of barmies. I make my way to the ground. Down the Blackstock Road looking for some QPR faces. The Plimsoll Arms is solid QPR... at last. I grab a lager and by the time I've took the top off it I've sorted a ticket out. Talk about Dave Clement puts a strange lilt on matters. This isn't what it should be. Ninety minutes from Wembley and all that.
The game is grim but Bob Hazell shepherds Cyrille Regis out the game and the R's go through one nil. I slip in and out of the gaps through the gates and away from the celebrating super hoops. Around the backs to Holloway Road and pick a 43 up to the Angel, dive onto a 73 and alight by The Rising Sun. Few have been working so I check the scores with them. Some northern kid called Geoff's just started. Right little Perry Boy and all. Seems to have fitted in just fine. Likes a beer, the footy and his music. Got an eye for the girls. Seen him chatting to Val Bombone. Our Italian goddess. She's our Sophia Loren. Trestles of thick brown hair and curves - what curves. She's impenetrable in all senses of the word but best of luck to the kid. It'll be fun trying... Signorita Bombone is not one of the Rising Sun crowd. In fact there are none of our girls here this early evening and that's good. Tonight's just a few of us going for a meal at Peppermint's. Have a chat about football and drink too much. The others are due in an hour - so make that an hour and a half with their timekeeping. I get a Guinness and join Elt, Martin and Perry Boy at the bar. Early Saturday evening. Few shoppers, office workers and the odd few out for the night. The sirens of Tottenham Court Road are blaring outside while in here we are cocooned against the harsh realities of city life. I like pubs when they are like this. Elt flashes a couple of foreign girls a smile and offers them a light for their cigarette.
They seem content with their own company and that's fair enough. Cheryl walks in and shouts me from the door. "Rich, get me a drink mate." "Sure what's up?" She's shaking as she tells me the tale. On her way home after work and a middle-aged woman's only gone and jumped. Northern Line southbound and stood right by Cheryl. The girl has her own demons she doesn't need this. She's done what I would have done and simply turned and gone back up the escalators and out of the hell hole that is the London tube system. There was no sound. The woman didn't scream.
The driver would have seen her too late but will now see her for the rest of his life. Cheryl's crying. I say to Elton: "I'll let you know later." I lend her a tenner so she can buy herself a brandy and Babycham and get me a Guinness. Insists on going the bar. Her tough upbringing means she'll battle through this and as she's at the bar I think about that tube system. Some girl we know her brother either fell -or jumped - underneath one. It's too easy. You can hear the train approaching. Feel the warm wind coming down the tunnel. One step, maybe two. Time it correctly and it's over. Ten, twenty, thirty or more years of torture can be obliterated. Easy way out. Easier than drinking weed killer - which is what it is rumoured Dave Clement did - I'm sure. But it isn't for me. I hope not any way. Tone, Dell and Gal are here. I explain about Cheryl and we decide to fuck the food off. There will be other times. Now is for beer and getting our heads around things.
I walk Cheryl down to Centrepoint for her bus. Not sure what to say or do really. Tell her I'll speak to her Monday. Let her boss know if she isn't it. She'll be in. Tough girl. The evening turns into night. Elton is paralytic. Perry Boy's nicking ashtrays, glasses, cigarettes and all sorts as we move through Fitzrovia from pub to pub. Or the ones that are open on a Saturday night. The White Hart, the Fitroy, Newman and finishing in the One Tun for the free jukebox and biker girls. By last orders we've had enough. Gal and Tone wait with me for the 134 before tottering off home to King's Cross and the Angel. I make it upstairs and read my programme and before I know it I'm off the bus outside the house. Home? Safe. With thoughts for Dave Clement and Cheryl and sleep...

25 June 2010

Getting shirty.

I seem to have bought a few very nice shirts recently, can't afford to go out and wear them now though, first up, I think I got rather lucky with this one as it was price marked considerably cheaper than it should have been, but those Oki-ni folks honoured it anyway (corrected now though) an Arn Mercantile gingham shirt, absolutely lovely quality shirt made from the finest Zimbabwean and Egyptian cotton, that can't be bad eh? next up a Universal Works patchwork check shirt, and pretty much the same shirt in a chambray indigo. Finally a tremendous Stansfield work shirt (which is from a previous season) via Daniel Jenkins who sends things out double quick too, and sublimely packaged. Dominic Stansfield does shirts very well, very sharp with ace little details hopefully there's a new collection on the horizon.

22 June 2010

Icons of our time - Gary Oldman.

'Now I know I'm pretty, but I ain't as pretty as a couple of titties', he came in peace but he left us in pieces, memorable quotes which stuck in the head like a Bex Bissell headbutt, spawned by the acting talents of British thesp Gary Oldman arguably one of the best this country has ever produced, forging such a wide range of characters and accents from fiction to fact, cult heroes, to infamous villains and fictitious ghouls, his versatility knows no bounds. Who else can you say you've ever seen play a white Rastafarian drug dealing psychopath with such conviction? never mind his role as a dwarf. Born in South London in 1958, his father a welder his mother a housewife, Oldman was a keen musician at an early age, but upon seeing and being taken aback by Malcolm McDowell's performance in 1970's The Raging Moon aka Long Ago Tomorrow - the story of a young talented footballer who becomes paralysed and has to come to terms with being confined to a wheelchair, he decided to pursue a career in acting. After several years involved treading the boards Oldman broke into screen acting towards the end of the seventies, his debut role coming in 1982's Remembrance, followed by a breakthrough role in Mike Leigh's terrific television play Meantime (1984) one of my favourite films, a true slice-of-life swipe at Thatcher's Britain. This was a fairly small but memorable role as Coxy the scruffy young skinhead, who was largely all piss and wind, looked like he needed several baths, but was still a funny kid, alongside the cream of up and coming young hopefuls Phil Daniels, Alfred Molina and Tim Roth - whom he teamed up with again in the film version of the Tom Stoppard Shakespearean play Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. Meantime set a standard which led to a starring role in Sid and Nancy (1986) as The Sex Pistols' infamous late bassist Sid Vicious, a role in which Pistols vocalist John Lydon claimed was portrayed by 'a bloody good actor'. This paved the way for a career on the other side of the water and the boy from South London was Hollywood bound.
Often playing darker characters and bad guys Oldman got one of the ultimate bad guy roles as the Count himself in Francis ford Coppola's 1992 box office hit Dracula, not to mention playing the devil on more than one occasion, one being in a long commercial the other a Guns 'n' Roses video. He also played the infamous, Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK (1991). Beethoven in Immortal Beloved (1994) and British play write Joe Orton in Prick Up your Ears in 1987. Such a diverse character actor though, it's his choice of more than quirky roles which makes him stand out for me personally, he nailed it as a football hooligan top 'table' pub fighting, pillow beating Clive 'Bex' Bissell in Alan Clarke's original The Firm, only a television movie, but one many will always have a soft spot for, arguably flawed in it's concept; the numbers, the clothes and the details which matter to a minority, I personally don't think it's that far off myself, it became a 'cult' due to two large factors, the talented Alan Clark directing the hungry Oldman in the lead as 'Bex', remade last year by Nick Love, and although pretty watchable, it never captured the magic of the original, The Firm is that combo of Clarke and Oldman, without them anything else is inferior. This was shortly followed by yet more bar brawls and headbutts in his role as the boisterous and Irish-American mobster Jackie Flannery in the slick State of Grace along side Sean Penn and Ed Harris in 1990, with the corrupt pill popping Mozart fan Agent Stansfield in Luc Besson's acclaimed Léon The Professional (1994) following soon after.
His role as Drexl Spivey in True Romance (1993) is truly unforgettable, an awesome film as it goes, but the role of Drexl has to be one of Oldman's finest cinematic characters for me, I remember reading that he went pretty 'method' to immerse himself into this role, as far as hanging out down in the 'hoods in Los Angeles to perfect his accent, which is the most convincing white, black man you could ever expect to see. His mixed bag of roles have also included the unrecognisable role as Mason Verger in Hannibal 2001, the only surviving victim of Hannibal Lecter, Oldman spent many hours in make up for his turn as the ugly, mutilated, paralysed pederast who meets his untimely fate to some hungry boars. His role as the dwarfed twin brother to averaged sized Matthew McConaughey in 2003's hit and miss Tiptoes has to be seen to be believed, I don't quite know how they did it.
Gary Oldman starred along side another British talent Paddy Considine in the Spanish produced backwater thriller Bosques de Sombre aka The Backwoods, a film that to me unfortunately never really lived up to it's cool poster, which is never a good thing, but it did have a great Leonard Cohen score and a smart late seventies outdoor look about it, shotguns, semi flared cords, lambswool pulovers and waxed Barbours.
I guess such a wide range of roles and a huge chunk being in independent cinema is what makes Gary Oldman such a diverse talent, a master of accents and one not afraid to be covered in slap too. It's not hard to see why Oldman has such a cult following, and has inspired many other actors since. Many will say his best period came in the 90's with many successful and important roles to much acclaim and to decent box office receipts, but he's recently appeared in some big budget box office hits such as the Harry Potter serials and the latest Batman franchise. He also did a star turn away from the camera, narrating the recently released and rather good Italia 90 documentary One Night in Turin. He is currently acting as George Smiley in a remake of the John le Carré spy thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy which was a hit late 70's television show starring the late great Alec Guinness.

The many faces of Gary Oldman, from the top, Coxy, Sid Vicious, Drexl Spivey, Mason Verger, Count Dracula, Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg, Ludwig Van, Lee Harvey Oswald.
With then on and off screen wife Lesley Manville on the set of The Firm.
With Natalie Portman on the set of 1994's Léon
Basquiat 1996, with Jeffrey Wright, David Bowie and Dennis Hopper, and below as dwarf Rolfe in Tiptoes.

Personal live saw Oldman divorced from actress' Lesley Manville and Uma Thurman and separated from former girlfriend Isabella Rossellini, Oldman still smarts from his lurid press as a womaniser and Hollywood hell-raiser. Sober, now a recovered alcoholic who once allegedly sank a couple of bottles of spirits a day, Oldman isn't keen on fame in general and the Hollywood ideal, often dubbed the best actor never to have won an Oscar, Oldman is still a highly decorated talent, behind the camera Oldman's directorial debut with his semi-autobiographical and pretty hard hitting Nil By Mouth in 1997 which was some debut, gritty to say the least, Nil by Mouth is notable for it's 480 uses of the word 'fuck', but that's just trivia, this is an excellent film, worthy of the many independent film awards it bagged, including a Palm D'or nomination at Cannes and a BAFTA for best screenplay, it's about time he did it again.

21 June 2010

Button it.

Just received some dapper button badges via Sabotage Times, which was a nice touch. As a mentioned a while ago on here, this is a decent new site to wile away the hours packed full of interesting articles and features.

18 June 2010

Recent Pick-ups.

Here's a few recent additions over the last month, out with the old in with the (mostly) old , first up Ralph Lauren 'Philip' chambray shorts, so far we've had about one weekend of heat this summer, I might wear these when we get another, nice little pocket detail, see? That man Ralph again with a bright yellowy polo, followed by a Salmon, not pink Benetton polo, who you calling a poof?
Next up two pinstripe shirts in the same week? I don't know what's come over me. Brooks Brothers chambray button down, and a Hackett 'Thomas Mason' shirt which has some lovely little details, I've only ever owned two, maybe three Hackett bits, and no, not one of them was an Eng-er-land World Cup hooly action polo. Edwin ED-39 for the old denim fix, next up another trusty REI Co-op cotton parka dating from 1979 so it's as good as older than I am, we'll say a summer parka for now, nice pockets and shit. An old Cecil Gee bright orange cotton smock, for those life size 'Action Man' moments. Paul Smith bucket hat aswell and another ecru zipped Super Chino shirt from about ten years ago, as always nice details.

16 June 2010

Hanon x Clarks Ashcott.

Hanon Ashcott by Clarks of England. This model was first launched in 1976, originally manufactured in Ireland. The timeless Ashcott was produced by Padmore and Barnes in Kilkenny up until 2003 when they ceased production, and was a shoe Hanon carried for many years.
Hanon have now collaborated with Clarks to re-produce this model with a modern twist for their 20th anniversary, made from high performance fabrics Tech Tuff leather and perforated premium suede, atop of the ever reliable crepe sole, with a choice of coloured laces these two Special Edition models retain a smart formal look with a casual edge. Topped off with a Northern Soul vibe on the heel tab and leather fob, these will be released at the end of this month.

14 June 2010

Bag of the day.

Recently picked up this vintage Back Pack / Day Pack via the US of A, made by Alpine an old outdoor brand based in Sacramento, sunny California, which may now be defunct by the looks of things. Coming in a vivid blue nylon with an ace old school logo, this old rucksack has probably seen plenty of action and is still in great nick. I like the details on this, it's quite small but very roomy, with a large deep front pocket for loose bits and a nice hidden flat pocket on the top closing flap for your Proper magazine and passports n' shit. This has a duffle bag style main compartment to it which ties up and locks with a B-LOK® a clever substitute for tying knots and the pain in the arse of undoing them, these are still staunchly produced by this brand in the US today and are geared at being 'great for seniors, arthritics or the knot-challenged'.