The Frozen Northerner has been a bit lazy over the festive period and it is high time I got back in the groove, so where to start. It is well documented that The Frozen Northerner is only really comfortable wearing button down collared shirts, (mainly Brooks Brothers). The Americans are extremely comfortable wearing this type of shirt either with or without a suit; the English and certainly the Italians tend to regard the wearing of a button down shirt with a suit as a bit of sartorial misdemeanour. As I rarely wear a suit this not really an issue for me but, there are certain occasions that demand that I wear a suit so I will normally wear a shirt with a forward point or spread collar rather than one my beloved button downs. With regard to shirting if you are looking for something little bit on the expensive side you should go to a great heritage brand like Turnbull and Asser who have fabulous shop on Jermyn Street or amble further along to the current darling of shirt making, Emma Willis, alternatively you may be into Italian labels then perhaps something by Marol or Fray. Although all of the aforementioned brands are superb and would be a worthy addition to anyone’s wardrobe the truth is that The Frozen Northerner simply cannot afford to shop at any of these outstanding establishments. Fear not, if like me you are constantly working on budget then look no further than these three excellent establishments, Hawes and Curtis, T.M. Lewin and Charles Tyrwhitt, all three companies make formal shirts to a high standard offering extraordinary value for money. Which one is the best is hard to say but, having tried all three brands I have to say that I personally prefer Hawes and Curtis to the two other brands, which is not to cast aspersions on the Lewin and Tyrwhitt brands which are both very good. Unlike T.M. Lewin, Hawes and Curtis and Charles Tyrwhitt do not have a stores in Newcastle which is a huge disappointment; I firmly believe that these they would benefit from having shops in the north east of England but like a lot of companies based in London it would appear that opening a in this part of country is a bad idea which is pity as I am sure that they would both prove to be very successful, T M Lewin do have a shop in Newcastle that does well so it is pretty much a no brainer that the other two should follow suit. Everyone keeps telling me to dress smartly, so come you two help the Geordie male improve his attire and open a couple of shops up here.
When it comes to blogging about Christmas films, followers of my blog would tend to get the distinct impression that Christmas in The Frozen Northerner’s household may be a dark and sombre place given that the last two Christmas films I have blogged about have left me with nightmares that I have to this day. But it not all doom and gloom most of my childhood memories of films at Christmas are great, they would feature all of the Hollywood greats such as Flynn, Colman, Gable and Bogart, even better the BBC would often run a season of films with all of the aforementioned or maybe someone like Cary Grant or Fred Astaire these legends of the screen were from the golden age of Hollywood and I have to admit I watched them all religiously. My parents were great movie fans, especially the Hollywood musicals, so no Christmas was going to complete without me and my family sitting though host of classic song and dance movies featuring the likes of Crosby, Sinatra, Astaire and Kelly. If you want something really festive then forget White Christmas with Bing and Danny and start thinking about Holiday Inn with Bing and Fred, sure the film is saccharin sweet and the plot is as cheesy as a pot of fondue but that doesn’t matter a jot. The storyline is simple, Crosby as Jim Hardy and Astaire as Ted Hanover head a song and dance team featuring a girl performer Lila Dixon played by Virginia Dale, Hardy (Crosby) wants to retire to the country and take Lila (Dale) with him. However, Lila (Dale) decides to stay on the New York nightclub scene with Hanover (Astaire), Hardy (Crosby) hurt by Lila’s rebuff dutifully leaves for a farm in the country to lick his wounds, turning the farm into a holiday retreat, Hardy (Crosby) performs shows at various holiday around the year, while preparing up for his New Year’s show, Hardy meets and falls for Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds). Ex-partner Hanover (Astaire) now dumped by the lovely Lila (Dale), needs a new partner and heads to Holiday Inn to seek advice off Hardy (Crosby), now that he has lost his dance partner. Arriving at Holiday inn the very drunk Hanover (Astaire) ends up dancing with Mason (Reynolds) who he now sees as ideal new dance partner. It should be fairly simple to work out the plot form hereon in and that is to say everything ends well. No sex or violence just Crosby crooning and Astaire dancing, ably supported by the very underrated Reynolds, this is a slice of honest to goodness Americana, the way Hollywood liked to think people lived, with songs by the great Irving Berlin, Holiday Inn is one of the great Christmas movies, it may be lost on the youth of today but to me it is a timeless classic. Happy Holidays!
The Frozen Northerner on one December Sunday afternoon before Christmas will make his annual pilgrimage into his beloved hometown of Newcastle, although I regularly visit the greatest city in the world my Christmas trip will be different to any other jaunt that I take to the town over the year and because it is Christmas must meet with a certain criteria. For a start it must be dark, around about 4 pm, the journey needs be made alone and it must be by bus, this excursion will roughly take half an hour leading me through a host of pit villages which are now sadly in decline, the trip will eventually reach South Gosforth taking us up Matthew Bank and onto the Great North Road, once on the GNR which, is Geordie equivalent of the Appian way, you will see the affluence of Jesmond on one side and the Town Moor on the other, on whose horizon you will see the cathedral that is St James Park, home to association footballs’ greatest underachievers of all time Newcastle United. Disembarking at the Haymarket the Frozen Northerner will wander the streets of the city stopping to gaze at three places that he holds dear to his heart. The first stop will be at the Central Arcade, where I will stop and stare upon a genuine piece of Edwardian wizardry, designed by Oswald and Son and built by the very great Richard Grainger this building is one the finest pieces of neoclassical architecture you will find anywhere in the country, never mind Newcastle. Standing alone outside the old Marcus Price shop now sadly empty, I will gaze upon the Central Arcade’s beautiful lines and contours, awestruck by the sheer splendour of the building. Leaving the arcade behind I will head for another Newcastle landmark, The Northern Goldsmiths on corner of Pilgrim Street and Blackett Street with its Rolex gold clock and Venus statue lit up in the dark we are starting to get of more of a Christmas feel which is appropriate as we are now heading towards what should always be top of any Geordie’s Christmas list and that is a viewing of Fenwick’s window. Fenwick’s has been Newcastle’s most renowned department store for as long I can remember, where other department stores have decided to entrench themselves in the ghastly labyrinth that is Eldon Square, other stores have come and gone with the decay of Newcastle, but Fenwick’s has always stood resolute, maintaining its prime spot on Northumberland Street and remains the best shop in the city. As my readers well know the Frozen Northerner is no fan of department stores but if you are from the north east of England you have got to go and view Fenwick’s window at Christmas, there might be bigger and better windows displays in this country and around the world but, if you’re a Geordie then there is only one window display and this is it, this should always be a place that you visit at Christmas time. This spectacle is normally derived from children’s tales or fairy stories, the theme for 2017 is Paddington bear which a bit more predicable than usual however, it will make no difference to The Frozen Northerner who as normal be enchanted by the moving figures in each frame of this wonderful window. Adult or child if you’re moved by this spectacular presentation then you must be made of stone, if this not what Christmas is then I don’t know what is, Christmas is often a very dark place for The Frozen Northerner, but any visit to Fenwick’s window will always lift my spirits.
With this being my 100th blog I thought I would write a piece on my favourite player of all time, Graeme Souness. Some people may be dumbfounded with my choice as Mr Souness has gained in my opinion a rather unjust reputation of being a bit of an acquired taste. At his peak the moustachioed Souness would strut around grounds such as Anfield and Hampden Park like he owned the place, controlling each game with a steely determination whist spraying a sparkling array of passes around the park. He was demanding, arrogant, aloof and ruthless, possessing an inner strength which all great players demand of themselves, such was his influence during his time at Liverpool that when he left in the summer of 1984 to join the Italian club Sampdoria, the Liverpool forward Michael Robinson felt that half the changing room had gone. Others were not quite as complimentary with fellow Scottish international Archie Gemmill saying that if Souness “was made of chocolate he would eat himself”. Despite his unwavering self-belief in his own ability Souness was never able to establish himself in the first team at Tottenham Hotspur, dismayed by the lack of opportunities at Spurs, Souness would leave the bright lights of London behind him for the grit and grim of Middlesbrough a city hardly paved with gold, but a place that would shape his destiny for glory. At this point it is probably fair to say that Souness could have ended up on the scrapheap, fortunately for Souness his career was probably saved by two men, Jack Charlton and Bobby Murdoch. Charlton was an old school hard man that pounded the need for discipline into the young Souness whereas the highly underrated former Celtic midfield general Murdoch showed him how to perform to the highest standards on the pitch, they turned Souness into the consummate professional and you cannot underestimate how influential these two individuals would be for Souness. He left Middlesbrough for Liverpool in 1978 for a then record fee between English clubs, at Liverpool he would now mix with players that had the same hunger and desire that burned like acid in his belly, it took him a while to settle into his new surroundings but once he adapted, he would quickly establish himself as the best midfield player in Britain. Now in his pomp he cut a ferocious figure with his slide rule passing aligned to his merciless tacking, no one was going to stand in his way and if they were he would wreak terror and destruction to anyone that would try and knock him off his pedestal. With Souness at the helm Liverpool tore across Europe defeating anyone that stood in their way, if you wanted to play them they would play you, if wanted to kick them they would kick you back, at this time they were so superior to anything else around it was frightening. When he left Liverpool in 1984 for the riches of Italy I was devastated and things would never be the same. The Italian lifestyle was made for Souness and although he enjoyed a successful period at Sampdoria, the lure of becoming player/manager at Rangers would prove irresistible and would see him return to these shores for the start of the 86-87 season. To say his time at Rangers was explosive would be an understatement to say the least. He set about creating the Ibrox revolution changing the face of Scottish football forever, with his ambition now at its zenith like his time at Liverpool he neither asked nor wanted any quarter to be given by anyone, he constantly clashed with the Scottish authorities who did not like the way he wanted to transform the Scottish game. It didn’t make any difference he was now a mission from god and woe betide anyone that got in his way. He retired from playing in 1989 at the age of 38 to concentrate on management something that he embraced with a varying degree of success, but never reaching the heights of his playing career. These days Souness works as pundit for sky sports and given the right occasion he can still be as abrasive and confrontational as he was as an awe-inspiring player. Souness played for Scotland in three world cups, won a host of European and domestic honours with all of the clubs that he played for and for me he is the greatest Liverpool player I have ever seen, he may not have been the most popular player to wear that famous red shirt, but them again that was never going bother him, he was all about winning and was prepared to go to any lengths to succeed in his quest for fame and glory, the sight of him leading out that great Liverpool on a European night still makes the hairs on the back neck stand up, so there you have it blog number 100 the very great Graeme Souness or should I say Renoir with a razor blade.
Whenever I think of buying Christmas presents, Dr Frasier Crane immediately springs to mind, every year he will buy Marty Crane, his acid tongued father, a piece of sartorial elegance, Marty, for whom material things mean little or nothing, will look at the gift with disdain before throwing it back to the bemused psychiatrist at the first opportunity. The good doctor may have great taste but, his taste differs greatly from that of his father and therein lies the problem, is your Christmas gift going to be appreciated or is going straight back to the shop on December 27th to be gleefully exchanged. As slippers are often a present that is given at Christmas, The Frozen Northerner has decided to explore the range of slippers that are out there, but remember what the good Doctor needs from a pair of slippers is completely different to what the cantankerous Marty Crane wants. The choice of slippers is endless; they can be made of leather, fur, or maybe from some type of horrible synthetic material. If you have the time you can look at anything from Primark all the way to Manolo Blanik, there is that much choice. Would I buy any of the Primark slippers, no, but I have to say you cannot argue with the price, which in most cases gives you unbelievable value for money, having said that I wouldn’t buy the Blanik’s either, his prices are astronomical and little bit too rich for my blood but, irrespective of the price they are just not to my taste. The Frozen Northerner prefers something a bit traditional possibly like something from Church’s, Stubbs and Wooton, Crockett and Jones or Derek Rose. If I was going for an open backed slipper then look no further than Derek Rose who have a produced a leather and suede mule that would be perfect for the eminent radio psychiatrist. But, for me personally I would love a pair of Crockett and Jones house slippers featuring the Prince of Wales feathers, with its satin and velvet lining, these slippers are real eye catchers and certainly have the wow factor. Whatever style or make of slipper you may receive at Christmas, please try to remember that it the festive season so please dispense a degree of genuine humility when receiving your gift because remember the shops are back open on December 27.
Whenever I think of great cyclists I think of Coppi, Merckx, Hinault and Indurain in that order, (I have erased Armstrong for obvious reasons) I never ever think of Jacques Anquetil, which is quite remarkable considering he was the first man to win the Tour De France on a record five occasions, additionally he was also the first Frenchman to win the Giro De Italia, so for me to overlook him is decidedly disrespectful. Paul Fournel’s masterful little book is a glowing tribute to man that he first worshipped as a rather portly 10 year old, then all the way through to manhood. Fournel,s fascination with Anquetil would see him stay captivated with the great cyclist throughout his career and beyond. In 1953 after his first major victory in Grand Prix De Nations, Fournel describes how Anquetil visited Coppi in an attempt to understand what was needed to become a great champion. Despite his fame Coppi cut a tragic figure, his life had been played out like something from a Fellini film, after his scandalous affair with “The Woman in White” Giulia Occhini, the affair left Coppi tortured by catholic guilt, a shame he would take to his grave. Anquetil,s love life would be equally as complex, stealing the wife of his best friend and mentor Doctor Boeda, Janine Boeda would stay and dutifully support Anquetil throughout his glory years as campionissimo but after his retirement their relationship would become rather more complicated and would involve Janine’s daughter Sophie in ménage a trios that most of his French fans found unpalatable. Added to this Anquetil would speak quite openly about drugs that he used to assist him in races, a fact that hardly endeared him to races organisers, who carefully avoided talking about this cycling’s most taboo subject. Despite his off road antics there can be no denying the brilliance of Anquetil especially when it came to the grand tours, as Fournel points out Anquetil may have no fan of the classics such as the Paris Roubaix but when it came to the really big multi stage events he was out on his own. From 1957 he would dominate the grand tours becoming the first man to win the Tour de France, Giro and Veulta and with regard to the Tour de France Fournel digs deep to dissect Anquetil’s rivalry with more popular Raymond Poulidor . Pou Pou may have been the people’s favourite but that wasn’t going to affect Anquetil who was mentally much tougher than Poulidor. When I first opened this book I really didn’t know what to expect and I have say I got a lot more than I bargained for, to say Anquetil was a very interesting character would be a complete understatement, Fournel affection for the great man is there to be seen on every page and one wonder because he is well worth the hero worship that Fournel bestows on us, so go buy this because if you like cycling you will love this book.
Anyone that reads my blog will have noted that I tend to visit London at least two or three times a year, mainly to buy clothes either at John Simons or at Oi Polloi and although no trip to London would be complete without a visit to these two shops, my head is being turned by bloggers such as The Grey Fox wwwgreyfoxblog.com or Simon Crompton, http://www.permanentstyle.com. Mr Crompton is now becoming the doyen of fashion bloggers and has gained him a huge following however, if you are going to purchase items of clothing that he recommends you are going need plenty of money in your pocket because his taste is very expensive. Nevertheless, heeding to his advice has led me to Rubinacci which is situated on Mount Street in the very posh area of Mayfair. Why I am here, well I am here to buy a scarf, have I lost my mind, definitely. Choosing the right scarf can be as tricky as they come, are the scarves to be plain, spotted or striped or are they to be whimsical and feature a whole range of different designs and patterns. What material suits your style, is it wool or is it something more expensive like silk or cashmere, picking the right scarf can be the venerable minefield and I don’t have the answer, but then again who does, although I respect Mr Crompton views on the subject English men just can’t pull it off in the scarf department whereas their Italian counterparts have taken the wearing of a scarf to an art form, it doesn’t matter what the season it is, they will have a scarf for every occasion and of course they will wear it with an effortless ease. There are a limitless amount of brands out there producing some great scarves with some companies such as Begg and Co and Johnston’s of Elgin at the top of their game, personally I prefer the Italian brands such as Doriani of Milan or 19 Andréa 47, who both produce first-class scarves that feature some very interesting patterns. So what was I going to make of the scarves that Rubinacci has on offer? Unlike a lot of shops in Mayfair the Rubinacci staff did not display that superior attitude and were extremely helpful and gave solid advice about their products. I have to say it is pretty much impossible not to be seduced by one their scarves, Rubinacci use an array of beautiful fabrics and this noted Neapolitan tailor has created a sublime range of scarves that display some very interesting designs. Would I buy one of their scarves the answer would have to be yes, but be warned these scarves are not cheap, so you will need to think long and hard before buying, Rubinacci is a delightful shop that is selling probably the best scarves you might ever come across but the price is terrifying.