Most males can be found nowadays wearing jeans, with most men finding them suitable for any type of occasion and I include weddings in this appraisal. The frozen northerner upon leaving school spent the better part of 30 years in heavy engineering wearing workwear so now that I am entering my golden years I certainly do not want to be seen in jeans or other type of work wear in any way shape or form. Men of my age frankly look stupid in jeans, the advertisers may tell you that you can look cool in jeans even though you are past 60 but the reality is that you need to wise-up and avoid this marketing ploy like the plague, accept the fact that you are longer in your twenties and dress appropriately for your age. Chinos are perfectly good alternative to jeans for the more mature man, but personally I prefer trousers that are made to measure from a decent piece of cloth so, where can you find a decent tailor in the Newcastle area. Once a upon a time the choice in the north east there was a huge and varied amount of tailoring establishments, but much like pub retail market in this area they have diminished at an alarming rate of knots and are now few and far between. Far and away the best place to go to get a pair of trousers made to measure is Isaac Walton tailoring, which is situated on Westgate Road Newcastle. Isaac Walton has been around in Newcastle since 1887 and used to have huge enterprise on Grainger Street where they were noted as superior schools outfitters. But, over the years trade in that particular area has declined, with the outcome being that Isaac Walton has had to relocate to these smaller, but much more customer friendly premises. The firm is now ran by the formidable Michele Shield who took charge of the company in 2015 with the aim to highlight that high quality tailoring is still available in Newcastle. Their range of cloth is huge and varied and comes from well-established British suppliers rather than from overseas which is the way it should always be. For me personally this shop is like finding an oasis in the desert, you may find the price a little bit high but believe me it is well worth it. I despair when I see that shops like this no longer exist and having just received my first pair of trousers made by the company I cannot tell you how happy I am with them, they are absolutely beautiful and have been made by people that genuinely care about the product they are producing. Rest assured I will check other places locally to see if they can better what Isaac Walton have on offer, but for moment please take my advice and visit Michele Shield and her team, not only will they treat as a valued customer, they will make you a damn good pair trousers.
I watch the race for the presidency of the United States with a kind of morbid fascination, am bothered who will win the election, not really, if so why can I not take my eyes off what is going on in the current primaries. Well, the answer is quite simple it’s Donald Trump, here is a man on a mission and where will it take us no one is really sure. But he could be around for an extended stay and the longer he stays around, the more nervous everyone will become. Over the years the Republicans have somehow managed to get men elected without an ounce intelligence or integrity, these are gentleman ( I use the term loosely) who happily gave large tax concessions to the super rich without having a shred of remorse to how the people at the bottom end of the social strata were fairing. These were people like Richard Nixon, Ronald Regan and George W Bush who have cheerfully allowed themselves to be manipulated by men in the shadows who didn’t care a jot about the average American. Even more baffling is the fact men such as these were not only elected to power they all managed to stay in power for two terms so, given these facts you could possibly argue that Trump has a very good chance of not only going all the way but staying there for the long haul. Americans love men full of their own importance and Trump is certainly full of that, watching him together with Sara Palin (possibly the thickest person ever to nearly make vice president) should be enough to ensure that you cast your vote elsewhere, but no the good people of New Hampshire now think he is viable candidate who has got to be taken seriously. The Trump bandwagon now rolls on to South Carolina and with the endless millions he has at his disposal the Trump propaganda machine will kick with all of might for the third stage in the run for white house. Let’s not kid ourselves at the minute, what is going on within the race for Democratic nomination does not really interest anybody it is purely a side show to what is going in the Republican race. In Hilary Clinton they probably have best and most articulate candidate for the job, but as history has shown the best people do not always make to the white house. Furthermore there is always the question of her husband, Bill Clinton because, when the real muck raking starts, you can guarantee that his interesting past will be brought to the fore by her opponents and it won’t be pretty. Who will win the race to the white house I really haven’t got a clue, will it change the lives of many people living in squalor and deprivation who are unable to sustain a reasonable way of life I very much doubt. The American election is what it has always been and that media driven circus, the only difference this year is that there is a very live chance that a real live clown could win it and that clown’s name is Trump.
It’s Valentine’s Day and as a man, the frozen northerner will be required to do something special for his wife, it may involve sending her flowers, taking her out for a nice meal at somewhere extravagant and expensive or, may involve staying at home and showing off my culinary skills and actually cooking for her, the list is endless but Valentine’s day demands that you show a little bit of imagination if you are to keep the flame alive between you and your partner. If going out in public the lady in your life she will not want to be embarrassed by your slovenly appearance or your overall indifference to the occasion so remember get a haircut have a shave and try to dress smartly, these things matter to most women, so don’t spoil her evening by wearing a boiler suit and smelling of motor oil. Most males take very little interest in good grooming products, this a mistake, even if I am nearly 61 I still try to look smart, use good accessories and wear decent aftershaves. Men of my age will hopefully still want to use something that smells fairly pleasant, which is acceptable to her nose, so that she is not overcome by the smell coming off you, I am not talking Brut here, you want her to think you that have made an effort which means smelling of something that doesn’t repel her. Hopefully you will have matured into a person that uses a decent cologne or aftershave. When it comes to smelling good there is huge range of products that are available and it can be somewhat of a minefield to wade through. The frozen northerner only ever uses 3 products when it comes to aftershaves and over the last 10 years has rarely wandered off these tried and tested fragrances which are Czech and Speake No 88, Aqua Di Palma Colonia and Christian Dior’s Eau Savage. These item are not cheap but believe me are well worth the money, now I could prattle on about what is in these aftershaves in an attempt to give you the impression that I am expert on this subject, I am not, the answer is simple they all just smell great. Which is the best of the three, I have absolutely no idea, but you really need to invest in one these products if you going to have any chance of impressing her on this romantic occasion. You may be getting old but you are not yet dead so have a bit pride in your appearance, smell nice and make a fuss of her and remember nothing puts a woman off more than some smelly old man.
You’re probably thinking what on earth is the frozen northerner doing reading this series of books which, cover horse-racing from the 1930,s all the way into 1960’s, when he has never gambled a penny in his life. Well, let me tell you the reason I find these books so interesting is that these are not just a series of books about the turf and jockeys, trainers and characters associated with it, is also about a group of individuals who were rich and famous and had money to burn and lived in world far removed from the one that I live in. These people used racing as a hobby and were prepared to squander great fortunes trying to win the biggest races, notably the Epsom Derby which was and still is the greatest horse race the world. These books features men like American banker William Woodward jr, French textile magnet, Marcel Boussac, the Maharajahs of Rajpipla and Baroda, Sir Victor Sassoon, Baronet of Bombay and perhaps the most famous owner at the time or any other time, HH Aga Khan 111 and his son the international playboy Prince Aly Khan. I have only named a few but, they are had one thing in common the loved horse racing and were all fabulously wealthy. They hired the best trainers and jockeys putting them on retainers so they always had first choice on their services for the big races. Some managed to win the blue riband (the Epsom Derby) of turf some did not, but it did not stop them spending huge amounts in their attempts to win this timeless classic of a race. Reading about the jockeys such Gordon Richards, Rae Johnstone Charlie Smirke, Scobie Breasley and a very young Lester Piggott is equally as fascinating and gives a vivid account of their careers which unlike the owners was not all wine and roses. So if you are just the slightest bit interested in the history of horse racing you should at least try to get your hands on one of Alfred Cope’s yearly assessment of the racing seasons. These books may be fairly hard to find depending on what year you are looking for but, with a little bit of research these high informative books can be found and are amazingly cheap, so please purchase one and open yourself up to a world you never knew existed.
Aga Khan 111 with 1936 Derby winner Mahmoud
Marcel Boussac with his 1950 Derby Winner Galcador
Prince Aly Khan with the peerless Piggott on board the great filly Petite Etoile
Sir Victor Sassoon with Pinza his first Derby winner in 1953
I bought this Roberta Flack album featuring Donny Hathaway probably around 1980 after hearing the track ‘Back Together’ in Julie’s nightclub in Newcastle. Up until I heard this track I have to say that I was not a very big fan of Ms Flack, despite the fact that she had enjoyed great success with the two major number 1 hit singles, ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ and ‘Killing me Softly’. For me personally, I always thought she was at her best when singing with Donny Hathaway and this album goes a long way to prove it and is, in my opinion her finest piece of work. This LP (yes LP) should only be played vinyl and nothing else, if you are truly to appreciate the brilliance of this classic soul album. Produced by Flack and Eric Mercury and featuring back-up vocals by the likes of Luther Vandross, Gwen Guthrie, Stevie Wonder and Jocelyn Brown, the album features 7 great songs with the two standout tracks being ‘Back Together’ and ‘Don’t Make Me Wait Too Long. The album proved a watershed for both Flack & Hathaway due to the tragic early death of the latter, leaving us only with the thought of what might have been. Roberta Flack has had a long and successful career and has produced some great songs, but for me she has not done anything that comes anywhere near to this sublime masterpiece, play it late at night and ease into the groove with this breathtaking piece of R&B/Soul magic.
January brought to us an event for which I am at complete loss for words for. It is called the ‘January transfer window’. This is an opportunity for premier league clubs with more money than sense to completely lose any degree of sanity and spend millions on players that you and I have never heard of and who in all probability will disappear off the face of the earth by the start of the next season. I find professional football and in particular the premiership a fairly disgusting organisation that is gorging itself to death on self-indulgence and greed. Look no further than Newcastle United’s failed £10.5 million bid to attract Andros Townsend away from Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs rejected the bid holding out for for a possible £ 14 million but now both parties have settled on a £12 million deal. This is an unbelievable amount of money for a player who cannot even hold down a regular first team place at Spurs and is currently playing for their under 21 side. God only knows what he is demanding in wages, but rest assured he will be employing some sleazy agent who really doesn’t give a chuff where Townsend goes as long he gets his 5%. Similar to Townsend we have Johnjo Shelvey, anointed as the new saviour of Newcastle United after joining them from Swansea for £12 million, someone, somewhere at Newcastle must have a serious alcohol problem if they are paying this type of money for a player who is average at best and has failed to cut the mustard at his last two clubs. I am only using these two as an example because they are linked to the frozen northerner’s hometown club the once revered but now despised Newcastle United. These two are just the tip of iceberg with this Country being littered with players from around the globe who are decidedly average but are getting paid a small fortune to ply their wares. It will only get worse with increased revenue from Sky next year we will see run of the mill players acting like pigs at the trough wanting and getting more money than they ever dreamed of. Do these players care about the club they play for or the fans who dig deep into their pockets to watch these so called stars put in some half-hearted performance. I think not, whether they win, lose or draw they don’t really care, they will slip into their Armani suits and turn the key in their Bentley convertible and head off to their overpriced home to meet up with thick as mince model girlfriend. So when I watch Jim White and his fellow sky sports presenters getting excited over some nondescript player being transferred for a ludicrous amount of money just remember that the clubs and the players don’t really give a monkey’s. All they care about is the money.
Film 4 has currently been showing the great Orson Welles movie The Lady From Shanghai, now most people will always tell you that Orson Wells most celebrated movie is Citizen Kane, which was critically acclaimed by nearly everyone in the film industry and is frequently regarded as the greatest movie of all time. However, the frozen northerner who has watched Kane on numerous occasions and finds the picture hugely enjoyable, would argue that for him, it only comes third in the Welles pecking order behind the aforementioned Lady from Shanghai and the superb Touch of Evil. Gloriously shot in black and white, I am unsure why I like the Lady from Shanghai so much, but I suspect the main the reason may be Rita Hayworth, Welles estranged wife at the time the movie was being shot, who plays the femme fatale, Elsa Bannister. Hayworth at the time was Columbia pictures leading lady and was famous not only for her good looks, but also for her flaming red hair and was christened the “love goddess” by the studio. Welles forced Hayworth to cut her hair short and dye her hair blond for her role as “Elsa” which did not go down with her many fans and may have attributed this to the film initial flop at the box office. Nevertheless Hayworth delivers a wonderful performance along Welles, Everett Sloane, as her disabled husband Arthur Bannister, and Glenn Anders as Bannister’s law partner George Grisby. The film’s sometimes complex murder plot revolves around the Bannisters yacht trip from New York to San Francisco via the Panama Canal and focuses on the relationship between the Welles character able seaman, Michael O’ Hara and the temptress Elsa Bannister. O’ Hara is unwittingly being framed for a murder he did not commit, but with Hayworth around who can blame him for being distracted. Taking in some exotic locations along the way the story finally unravels in San Francisco, climaxing in a Chinatown theatre featuring the legendary hall of mirrors where finally the Bannisters get the their comeuppance. Welles was a great director who was greatly underappreciated, mainly by people in his own country, here was a man who was often shunned by the major studios primarily because they saw him as too much of a maverick. He should have made a lot more movies than he did and it is tragedy that his projects were often overlooked. Welles must have known that when he was shooting the Lady from Shanghai that all the attention would be on Hayworth and to his credit he was big enough to let all of the spotlight be on her, but then again Welles like all of us was only human and who wouldn’t want be seduced by the flaxen haired bombshell Hayworth, certainly not me.