Friday, 29 April 2011

It's been far too long!

...well, the title says it all really! I must offer my apologies for the tardiness of my posts - where is the time going?!

Anyway, I've been up rather a great deal since my last post (in March?) and I hope a few bits and pieces might interest you to read.
At time of writing, of course everyone (whether they like it or not!) is talking about or at least knows about the Royal Wedding. I had polished my silk topper and brushed my morning coat, but clearly my invitation got lost in the post!... But fear not, I spent the most marvellous day at a street party down in Vauxhall, south London. It was organised by friends who enjoy vintage things too - but what I really liked about the party was that it wasn't in any way strictly for vintage enthusiasts like myself and friends: lots of the locals came out too, everyone got on well, and the party soon took over not just the street but a large expanse of grass! This sort of thing shows the community spirit that Britain was once famous for, and how I wish it were still the case. And it further amuses me that the people who claim a dislike of a Royal Wedding celebration are missing out on just getting to know the neighbours if nothing else!

Secondly, some of you may know that I have (again!) been nominated for the 'Chap of the Year' competition, run by Gustav Temple and the good people behind 'The Chap' magazine. Now, it's generally good fun - but I have been very concerned recently by some of the comments on the voting page on the website: one person in particular seems to take great exception to my being in the competition and has launched what I think you will agree is an extremely rude and sustained attack on me. I have no idea who this person is or why they have done it. Sadly I feel this is taking the fun out of the competition, and my enthusiasm for 'The Chap' has severely waned. I am just fortunate that I have many genuine friends who have commented (without my mentioning it) in my support - so a big thankyou to you all. The trouble with the whole 'Chap' thing is that there's a line between taking it too seriously or not seriously enough - and then within that having a good sense of fun and good humour, or misinterpreting it and frankly being a bloody idiot. When, several years ago, I first became aware of this amazing vintage scene and everything around it, I think I was guilty of this latter trait. But I learnt from my mistakes, have become a better person for it, and have made many very close friends who will remain so for life. I think many people truly misunderstand 'The Chap', and indeed those of us who like vintage things. I would just say that we are real people and do all the things other people do - so don't view us with distain or shower us with insults just because you don't understand. Think before commenting, and everyone benefits.
So, I was somewhat depressed recently by all this - but I've got a busy week ahead and lots to look forward to, which I'm sure I will elaborate on again soon; and sooner than my last post!

Cheerio for now!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Latest goings-on

Hello everyone!

I've just realised how long it's been since I last wrote a new entry, and I do apologise - I've been so incredibly busy recently and will explain all...

This is my first proper day of relaxing and doing nothing in over a week - and God has it been good! Now, back in January I agreed to join the King's College London 'Gilbert & Sullivan Society' and help out with their production this year, which was 'Princess Ida'. Having done Drama at GCSE during my schooldays I knew a little about being on stage, but nothing really prepared me for what I had got into - namely, having so much fun; even if in the last week before perfoming I regularly didn't get home from rehearsals until midnight! Basically I was part of the Male Chorus which as I soon found out didn't just involve singing, but acting and dancing too - the perfect workout really!
Something that really impressed me about the production and the people in it was just how friendly everyone was, and particularly how willing they were to let an outsider like me (I am not, and have never been, at KCL!) come in and participate as fully as them. I had a fairly bad experience of Drama at school, because frankly the majority of stuff we did was utter rubbish (sorry to anyone I was at school with and Drama too during this time who might read this!) and badly put-together and organised. 'Princess Ida' was so much fun because, well, William Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan did a bloody good job at writing a comic opera that is as good today as it was back in the 1880's; their songs and memorable lines are still easily able to make people laugh, and their storylines are imaginative and clever. I'd happily perform again...but maybe I'd like a few months off first! ;-)

I continue to persue my vintage bits and pieces with vigour, and have just added a few new items to my ever-increasing wardrobe: a 1950's-dated White Tie tailcoat and evening trousers, a double-breasted white marcella waistcoat, (for wearing with White Tie) and a black silk top hat complete with its leather carrying case.
I think it's safe to say that I'm a little bit addicted to good vintage clothes - but then, as I have covered in a previous post, too few of us appreciate them these days anyway; and I like 'doing my bit'. I also can't resist a bargain: tailcoat and trousers were but £27; waistcoat £20; and top hat £195. Now though you may think this expensive, when you consider that Moss Bros. Covent Garden sell full White Tie rig of rather inferior quality for a mere £995 there's really no contest is there! I also like going for things that are a bit different, even in the vintage sense. For example, the tailcoat has watered-silk facings; double-breasted waistcoats are really quite unusual compared to their far more common single-breasted brothers; and the top hat (a 7 3/8ths, in case you're wondering - which is positively huge by vintage standards!) comes with the original leather box, easily worth £100 on its own. Now I just need an excuse to go forth and wear them!

I enjoy having little projects to do - when I'm not working, it keeps me occupied and doing interesting things. Having pretty much completed photographing and catalogueing my vintage items, now I've moved on to attempting to assemble complete Morning Dress, i.e.: Black silk topper, Morning Coat, double-breasted grey/buff waistcoat, and striped Morning Trousers. As you've read, I now have the top hat; I also have the coat - so only the waistcoat and trousers left, and it's really rather fun hunting for it all - sometimes you have to wait for ages for something good to come your way, sometimes it's frustrating, but overall for these reasons it's jolly good fun!

As I said, this is the first day I've had in ages to properly relax: performances were on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night; the show after-party also on Friday night (getting home at 06.30 and having to be up by 09.00 is 'interesting'!) then a good friend's birthday party on Saturday night - in which, apparently, I couldn't be a Hipster even if I tried... ;-)

Right, time for bed I'm afraid - well, that or a spot more conquering the 18th Century world on 'Empire: Total War'! I promise I won't leave it so long now 'til I write my next entry. And here's a little something to amuse you until then...

The amazing Teddy Brown

Cheerio for now!


Monday, 7 February 2011

Clothes that maketh a man?...

Good evening all! It's been a few days since I last posted, and as I'm having a supremely quiet evening-in I thought it was about time I wrote a new entry.

Today I've spent some time cataloging and posting up on my Facebook page some photos of items from my ever-expanding collection of clothes and the various bits and pieces that go with them. Now as those of you who know me will hopefully agree, I'm a chap who likes to dress well on pretty much a daily basis - even if I'm just going to the shops here in North London I will feel naked without some form of neckwear and good solid brogues on my feet!

Clothes are an interesting topic aren't they: they can give the rest of the world a view of you as a person without even having to know you in the slightest - but this can have both positive and negative effects. A person who dresses in a vintage style (by this I don't mean the 'vintage retro' affect, or anything later than the mid-1960's) invariably attracts attention to oneself, and often comments from passers-by. Yes, occasionally there will be bad comments - but I am happy to say that at least in my experience the majority are good. I suppose I am fortunate that I live in London, where generally everyone is left to be themselves and 'get on with it' - but it is rather fun to sense people taking a second glance at you as you walk past!

Something that certain people find hard to understand is individuality. Two former friends of mine had a big problem with me dressing as I do because, in their opinion, I was trying to live another life and give an air of being of a different social status to them. This has got nothing to do with it. I dress as I do because I like the era and the style, not because I feel that I'm better than anyone else or that I have any more right than anyone else to dress in a manner that I'm comfortable with. Another misconception that causes arguments is to do with political affiliation: people tend to assume that we who 'dress vintage' are all arch-Conservatives with a capital 'C' simply because we dress in a way similar to those who, in the past, were generally of the middle to upper classes - and nothing could be further from the truth. Going back to my previous point, they forget that we are all our own people and not affecting a look or thought for the sake of it: we do what we enjoy and we are nothing but ourselves.

But as I mentioned, the positive comments do outweigh the bad. Within weeks of moving to London from the countryside I had a neighbour politely say "Good morning sir!" as I passed his house - he was wearing jeans and T-shirt, and I Barbour, cords, and flat cap. It was said without any malice or piss-taking, and I very happily wished him a good morning too. I have noticed that if you dress 'well' you are far more likely to be taken seriously on an everyday basis; this latter point I particularly found when I was a student. Students are, rather unfairly, often tarred with the same brush as being untidy layabouts. As a student I wore a jacket, smart trousers, tie, and so forth on a daily basis - around the shops in the town I wouldn't be judged for being a student, and a further bonus is that annoying student election campaigners would leave me alone because I looked like a lecturer!

I also feel that it is important to do my bit to keep standards from slipping in certain areas. Now, I'm afraid with regards to clothes the thing I detest most is seeing someone wearing a pair of jeans slung halfway down their posterior. Why?! I just don't understand. Though few are as extreme as me in this case, I admit that I don't actually own a pair of jeans, and only use trainers for sports. When in Town (i.e. central London) on a weekday, I will wear a suit and black bowler and carry an umbrella. When in the country or in Town on weekends it's tweed jacket and corduroy trousers. People may think it's archaeic, but though people wearing such things were common even twenty/thirty years ago are now sadly lacking, there's no reason to mean that others such as myself should not keep their spirits alive on a daily basis. One further point is that, particularly around London, the tourists love it! To see a chap in suit and bowler walking down Pall Mall is still an image of London that they imagine today and, well, one doesn't like to disappoint, eh!

I'm sure I've rambled on long enough and made little or no sense whatsoever - so I'll say thanks for reading, and cheerio for now!

Monday, 31 January 2011


Allow me to introduce m'self: Robert Evans - or, as some of you may also know me, Lord Compton-Bassett. But more on that later...

Inspired by a few good chums, I've decided to take up blogging. I have no idea whether I'll be any good at it or not and I'll leave it to you to decide whether I'm worth following - but perhaps a few of you might gain some amusement from my 'Assorted Ramblings'. I chose this as a title because I really have so many interests and thoughts that I shan't devote this to one thing or another. They shall be random thoughts as I think of them and articles on anything and everything!

As a young chap who currently lives in London and has a great passion for the 'Vintage Scene', I'm sure the majority of my posts will be on vintage-related or vintage-inspired things. Lord Compton-Bassett is my alias amongst a group called The New Sheridan Club, a bunch of jolly chaps and ladies principally based in London who all share a love of things vintage and meet up as often as possible to have a good time comparing tweed jackets, dresses, the latest pipe tobacco, and often imbibing a fair amount of alcohol. We're lots of fun, honestly!

Right, that's it for now I think - introduction sorted; now to get those rambling thoughts in order for a proper article!

Cheerio, and thanks for reading!