The democratising effect of the internet has meant that blogs are now where we go to for honest opinions, insider knowledge and regular low-downs on what’s really happening out there. And when it comes to looking sharp when you finally become a grown-up (or at least look like one) then David Evans’ Grey Fox Blog is the place for you if you want to get your Dilf game on. As big fans of his writing we asked the silver haired scenester to do us a five which I imagine he wrote whilst reclining on a leather Chesterfield smoking a dead expensive cigar and listening to Van Morrison or some mental jazz although he was probably just sat at a (vintage wooden) desk.
As I write about and support British-made clothing on the blog
it’s inevitable that my favourites will be products of UK manufacture. We have a long heritage of clothing production in this country, going back centuries to when sheep and wool were an important source of income for many communities and continuing with cotton in cities like Manchester and in Yorkshire. The skills in producing the raw materials, spinning, weaving, sewing, cutting and tailoring were common well into the last century, but were lost when brands took production abroad to find cheaper sources of labour. We can’t blame them for this; they had to remain profitable to survive, but many factories were closed as brands, some of whom (ironically) are now struggling to get back into British manufacture, pulled out.
But there are some great businesses reviving these rare skills. Many are small entrepreneurs, often young and passionate about what they do; others are established factories which have created successful brands to survive. Among my favourites are Private White VC for clothing, Holdall& Co and Tusting for leather bags and luggage, Triplstitched for shirts, Loake and Cheaney for formal shoes, Norman Walsh for trainers, Gloverall for outerwear, Johnstons of Elgin and Quiggleys for knitwear. There are many more and I have a database of over 450 suppliers of British-made menswear and accessories on my blog, Grey Fox.
I read a lot, but the books I re-read again and again are the Sherlock Holmes books; I’ve re-read his long and short stories many times. The Patrick O’Brian novels, based on the Royal Navy in Nelson’s time, are revisited every couple of years. They formed the basis for the film, Master & Commander starring Russell Crowe and and Paul Bethany who played among the two most fascinating characters in literature, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. I read a lot about science, space and space travel and have a small library on the Apollo space programme. I feel so lucky to have lived through the excitement of the Moon landing; it seems astonishing that man succeeded on such a dangerous mission with computing power that wouldn’t even drive a mobile phone. The heroism and courage of those involved have rarely been equalled.
Piece of music
Like many men, I largely stopped listening seriously to popular music after the age of thirty, so my tastes have frozen at The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Sade, The Beatles – almost anything from the mid-sixties through to about 1980. I have no shame in admitting that Abba will still get me dad-dancing as well. Now I love opera and Verdi’s La Traviata and Rossini’s Barber of Seville are firm favourites.
Works of art
It’s hard to pick out favourites when there is such a huge variety of visual art to choose from. Every culture produces art of such variety and beauty that it’s impossible to make a selection. I love art that’s has a practical use; classical architecture and, more recently, the architecture of Wren and Hawksmoor in London remain favourites. In modern painting, I like Howard Hodgkin; from previous era, Stubbs and Turner. I find myself increasingly admiring photography, from the work of Cartier Bresson to the work of Helmut Newton and Martin Parr. We are surrounded by so much beauty and I admire and envy those who have the ability to reproduce some of that beauty in their art.
A hard one this. I love my collection of old cycling jerseys. The wool and acrylic they were made from is hardly practical for cycling, but the colours and hand-embroidered lettering speaks of an era pushed into the past by modern fabrics and materials like titanium and carbon fibre.