London Undercover

I have recently purchased an umbrella, made by London Undercover, it is part of their city lux collection, beautifully packaged it features a khaki woven canopy, maple wood handle as well as leather and brass attachments, for me it appears to be the perfect accessorise to compete with the rather inclement weather that we are currently having to endure. Rather surprisingly, The Frozen Northerner has never previously owned is a quality umbrella, but now belatedly, he sees it as essential requirement in a vain attempt to stay dry. Why I have never owned a good umbrella is completely unfathomable and although I very happy with my London Undercover brolly I decided to do a little bit of research as to what is out there. 

Umbrellas come in all shapes and sizes ranging from the rather smaller compact telescopic type to the more classical solid stick style. Prices for umbrellas vary greatly and there is something for everyone, as I always try to get good value for money, I firmly believe that London Undercover fits that remit, although, I have admit that the Brighton based company Mr Stanford ( who I discovered on a trip to Fortnum and Mason)  are in all probability just as good.

Mr. Stanford

If you have endless pot of money and are driven by a desire to stay ahead of the game then you may well be seduced by the umbrella made by famed shoemaker George Cleverly who in collaboration with noted Neapolitan umbrella maker Francesco Maglia have loving produced a solid stick umbrella for The Rake magazine which comes in a whopping £600. This may be artisan craftsmanship at its finest, but in all honesty you are going struggle to see any style warriors wandering the streets of Seaton Delaval with one of these.

As I pointed in my blog on the Italian Gentleman there are Italian umbrella makers such as Francesco Maglia  and Mario Talarico who have peerless reputations and although not as expensive as the Cleverly/Maglia piece they are also a bit on the pricey side.


Cleverly / Maglia

With regard to purchasing umbrellas in the North East your options are severely limited, Jules B of Jesmond offer a nice range of Barbour umbrellas, as well as a few from Paul Smith but nothing much that’s a bit different. End Clothing do have a range by the excellent London Undercover but these objects of beauty are not available in their Grainger Street emporium, only online, which is not the way I want to shop, but in this case it was the only option. So if you are going to buy an umbrella, please choose carefully, despite the fact I chosen London Undercover don’t overlook Mr Stanford because both are fine British companies that need your support.





Oldman or Churchill?

The awards season is now upon us and whether you like it or not, at some point you are going to come across the stars of the silver screen, strutting their stuff along that sacred red carpet. Despite the fact that these people are mere mortals, they will be fawned upon by an army of sycophantic reporters who will enthusiastically tell the men how wonderful they look in their Armani Tux’s whilst joyfully expressing in their humble opinion, the ladies have made a peerless choice in selecting their Dolce and Gabbana, Dior or Stella McCartney outfit making them look more radiant than any other star could possibly look. They will then proceed to ask these so called stars a series of questions that clearly identifies these people of having the basic intelligence of five year old.

The theme of this year’s events is black, in defiance of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, whilst no one can condone the actions of the evil Weinstein; I think it is going to take a lot more than someone wearing a little black dress to get on the man on the street to understand or be bothered about the shenanigans that go on in Hollywood. The black dress may make a statement but for how long? These “stars” will eventually return to their gilded cage and life will go back to the way it was and will be, because this game is all about the money and nothing else.

Say Cheese!

I really don’t know what I make of these “stars” anymore; while not actually watching the show, I caught a taste of this self-indulgence at the BAFA’S event recently held at the Royal Albert Hall. This gut wrenching, stomach churning occasion left me totally bewildered, these people are so far removed from reality it is unbelievable, catching Gary Oldman’s acceptance   speech for best actor, I got the impression that Gary Oldman genuinely believed he is Winston Churchill.

That Red Carpet!

Like most people I enjoy a good movie, but these types of events really should have no place in modern society, there are a lot important issues out there than a bunch of overpaid luvvies  air kissing each other and generally brownnosing anybody that can get them on the next rung of the ladder. The little black dress may have made a statement but the power brokers in Hollywood and the stars that serve them really couldn’t care less all they care about is who is going to make them their next buck.

Fully paid-up Luvvie


The Italian Gentleman

One of the gifts I received over the Christmas was a book entitled The Italian Gentleman by Hugo Jacomet. Wei Koh, founder and editorial director of the noted men’s style magazine The Rake describes Monsieur Jacomet as an arbiter of style which in layman’s terms means that he is a bit of an authority on the subject he talks about, which in this case is clothes.

Hugo Jacomet

Publisher of the very brilliant style blog The Parisian Gentleman, Monsieur Jacomet works tirelessly in the pursuit of improving the sartorial elegance of the male gender. Why  I like him so much, is that he is very good providing sound advice on how to build a smart wardrobe without displaying a know it all attitude, unlike a lot of style gurus to tend  be a bit pompous and full of their own self-important.


The Italian Gentleman took Monsieur Jacomet over took three years to complete and is his second book, following on from his first offering, the rather aptly titled the Parisian Gentleman. If you are buying The Italian Gentleman in the hope that you are going to find a page upon page of global brands such as Armani, Dolce  and Gabbana, Gucci, etc, then you going to be sorely disappointed.

A Careceni

It’s not that Monsieur Jacomet disapproves of these companies that are recognised the world over; it is just that he is just more interested in exposing the reader to the smaller, often family run businesses. He is well aware that these artisan craftsmen and women are disappearing and he is doing his damnedest to make sure that these establishments are kept alive by becoming better known


The book covers everything from the mills of Vitale Barberis Canonico and Ermenegildo Zenga, all the way down to ties by E Marinella and umbrella makers such Francesco Maglia and Mario Talarico. In between he champions a raft of tailoring establishments such A Caraceni in Milan before heading further south to Naples to reveal such enterprises as Ambrosi, Napoli, Sartoria Formosa and Sartoria Sabino to name but three. All of the sections are brilliantly researched and highly informative, but I have to honest, the section on shoes blows the rest of the book away, reading this chapter I was positively salivating at shoemakers such as Enzo Bonafe, Paolo Scafora and Bontoni.

Enzo Bonafe

Monsieur Jacomet leaves no stone unturned in quest in his pursuit of excellence and even if you are only slightly interested in clothes you should read this book. You will not believe how many ideas you will get,  on how to find ways and means on becoming better dressed . It doesn’t matter how old you are, there is something in here for everyone, so please buy the book.

Francesco Maglia




The Protopopovs

As the winter Olympics approach, I am reminded of the events that took place at European figure skating championships of 1969 which, were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, West Germany. Noted BBC commentator Alan Weekes, was gleefully informing us that the pairs competition looked to be at the mercy of double Olympic champions, husband and wife team Oleg Protopopov and Ludmila  Belousova ( Ludmila always used her maiden name when skating). Little did we know that there was an upset on the cards with, the previously unknown, but now legendary Irina Rodnina and her first partner Alexei Ulanov, literally blowing The Protopopovs off the ice.

Irina Rodninia would go have outstanding career first with Ulanov and then with Alexander Zaitzev, with whom she would later marry. But this isn’t a blog about her, it’s about The Protopopovs


That defeat by Rodnina and Ulanov would finish the ageing Protopopovs at international level, consigning their achievements to the annals of history. But, overlooking their accomplishments is to do their sport a disservice.


Unusually both skaters took up the discipline at the relatively late age of sixteen, progress was slow and it would be 1962 before they would stand on podium at the world championships, winning silver medals. From that moment their careers would now be propelled on a upward curve and would see them triumphantly gain gold medals at the 1964 winter Olympics stage at Innsbruck, Austria. They would mesmerise audiences worldwide and over the next four years they would dominate the sport, winning World, European and another Olympic gold at Grenoble, France in 68.

But, as happens with any athlete, time was catching with the Protopopovs as those 1969 European championships would prove. At their peak the Protopopovs brought a graceful style to the ice rink, their elegance and panache highlighted the influence of Oleg’s mother a former ballerina, on the duo’s creative development. The beautiful movement they created was never more spectacular than when the pair were performing “the death spiral” these one handed intricate movements where the hair of the petite Miss Belousova’s hair would often brush the surface of the ice, were a spine tingling sight, that enthralled audiences around the world. These “spirals” demonstrated a magnificent piece of originality that allowed the Protopopovs to display a technical and artistic superiority that their rivals just could not match.


The fact that Rodnina went on to greater success is unquestionable, today, ice skating is very much about athleticism, whereas the Protopopovs were all about balletic movement and beauty, I know who I would rather watch.



Pocket Squares

Georgina Von Etzdorf

What does a pocket square say about a man, is he wearing it to look a bit rakish or is wearing for the sole purpose of brightening up a rather drab suit or sports jacket, maybe he is hinting that bubbling under the surface lies a man who thinks that the addition of a boldly patterned pocket will allow him to look a little bit more suave, whilst attempting to cut a more dashing figure. Why are they so popular I have no idea, although, I suspect they are worn in a vain effort to make one standout from the crowd. Pocket squares are everywhere and are worn with style and panache by everyone from fictitious characters like James Bond and Don Draper) to original style warriors such David Niven or Frank Sinatra (sadly I am not seeing to many being sported by gentlemen from the north east of England. Normally made from silk, linen or light weight cotton, a pocket square belongs in the top pocket of a smart jacket; it is not a handkerchief and is there only for show, so please keep it well away from those nasal passages. They come in vast array of colours and may either plain or patterned and can be folded in a range of various shapes. As I have pointed in previous blogs the Italian and French male revel in sporting this type of clothing accessory whereas the English tend adopt a more conservative approach, so where do we purchase these decorative items, they can found anywhere from Marks and Spencer to Turnbull and Asser and like any item of clothing being discussed by The Frozen Northerner which one you chose is all about the amount disposable cash you have in your pocket. There are some real beauties out there by companies such as Drakes, Rubinacci, Calabrese 1924, Exquisite Trimmings hell, if even The Shoe Snob is getting in on the act, all of these firms make outstanding products but The Frozen Northerner’s personal favourite is Georgina Von Etzdorf, who once upon a time made a dazzling array of pocket squares. Unfortunately this noted textile designer has not produced pocket squares for a number of years which is hugely disappointing; you may find the odd one on E-Bay or maybe Etsy, but good luck with that one. No matter which one you select chose it carefully and it should enhance your ensemble, showing that given the right opportunity, you are always trying to become a little bit more stylish.

Calabrese 1924
Exquisite Trimmings


In Blog Notes 31 I had previously highlighted the lunacy of the football’s January transfer window which I thought was joke, however, this year again we have surpassed ourselves with Liverpool paying around about £75 million for a very average player, in the shape of one Virgil Van Dijk. No matter how nauseous this type of transfer makes me feel, it pales in comparison to the £20 million that Everton have paid for serial failure known as Theo Walcott. I have always believed that Sam Alladyce’s career has been grossly overrated and now he has just confirmed it, by signing Walcott. Earlier in Blog Notes 59, I revealed the precarious position Jack Wilshere had placed himself by going out on loan to Bournemouth to resurrect his career, a career that Arsene Wenger now believes warrants the captaincy of a very overrated Arsenal side. Did Walcott heed this warning when left for Bournemouth, no chance, Walcott, very much like the rest of the overpaid prima donnas who pontificate around the greediest league in the world, probably spends his time listening to his agent or the normal hangers on that surround any premier league player (or any professional footballer for that matter) I really don’t know who is to blame for Walcott’s pathetic failure to fulfil his potential, perhaps it’s the fault of Sven Goran Eriksson who blew smoke up Walcott’s backside at a young age, and then stood back and watched a highly promising career dissipate and fall apart, although I suspect that Theo does not see it like me, wake up boy this is a reality check, unbelievably he still thinks he can make the England world cup squad, the boy needs psychiatric help and I don’t mean in the shape of Gareth Southgate, let’s be honest what does venerable Theo bring to the party, well he has a nice turn of pace which, he invariably uses, he has a nice range of tattoos (a staple for any premiership player) and it looks like he suits a beard. Apart these attributes I am seeing precious little of anything else, will big Sam be able to turn him around I would like to think so, but, realistically I cannot see it, Theo should have been a very good player, instead he is just another one of the many players around that just take the money and run. What a tragic waste of talent.


The Making of Modern Britain

I have to admit I have a bit of a soft spot for the acclaimed Scottish political commentator Andrew Marr, for some unfathomable reason he appears to have the ability to make politics slightly interesting, making his Sunday morning programme The Andrew Marr Show highly watchable. However, where he really excels is in producing political history programmes like The Making of Modern Britain, which was produced in 2009 and is currently being repeated on BBC 4, I firmly believe that programmes like these should be made compulsory for any child slightly interested in 20th century history and the social upheaval that came with it. Although I like to think that I had a good understanding of the events of that century I never have really understood how the early part of the century were dominated by country house politics. The sun may never have set on the British empire that particular time but at home the country was ran by upper and middle grandees who cared little for the working classes, the allowed them (and allowed is the right word) to receive a pittance of a wage whilst the led a life of squalor and deprivation, Thatcher may have banged on about benefits of Victorian and Edwardian values which is fine if you’re a Tory but not if you were working class, Marr dazzlingly captures the mood of the time and how the working man was no longer willing to doff his cap, women also wanted recognition craving the right to vote  and organised a campaign led by the very aggressive suffragette movement. Reform was slowly coming and the Tories were fighting hard to resist, but the beauty of the series that it not only about politics and this where Marr’s series brilliantly succeeds, he manages to effortlessly intertwine the politics of the time with advances in technology, covering everything from aviation to the cinema and that before he even begins to talk about futility of war. Britain and the working man and woman have come a long way from slums and grime that they forced to live in, like any working class man The Frozen Northerner has never forgotten where he has come from, the only difference is that Andrew Marr explains it much better.