As a somewhat niche/cool/sarcastic magazine emanating from the North West of England it’s good to know that Proper isn’t entirely out there on it’s own when it comes to this kind of ‘specialist’ publication. Step forward Umbrella Magazine and it’s suave editor Mr Anthony Teasdale who is clearly a kindred spirit when it comes to talking about gear in a down-to-earth, clued up and unpretentious way. Given these impeccable credentials it was a bit of a no-brainer to ask him for his favourite five, the results of which are ‘boss‘ as I believe they say in Liverpool.
Show me a man who doesn’t like a historical novel and I’ll show you a liar – and a boring one at that. Written – not by the ex-Watford and Milan footballer – but four Italian anarchists, Q by Luther Blisset makes the esteemed works of Umberto Eco look like they were penned by the thick lad in our junior school who used to eat pencils. The swashbuckling tale of a papal spy, ‘Q’, and his efforts to sabotage the proto-socialist communes of the 16th century reformation, it paints a bloody picture of European Christianity ripping itself apart. If that isn’t ace enough, it’s got loads of maps in the back of it. And we all know how great they are.
Item of clothing
If you’re a Proper reader it’s a fair assumption that you’re as obsessed with clothing as I am. What item of mine sums this all up? I’m going for my Benetton rugby shirt. Bought by my dad in the Isle of Man in 1985 (I was 13), it still encapsulates everything I love about “this thing of ours”: the way that smart, working class lads would spot an obscure item of clothing aimed at the European elite, and see that it had that ‘something’ which would work on the streets of Britain. Today, it hangs up in my wardrobe, ready to be brought out when I want to impress people. And no, it’s not for sale.
In my last job, I was lucky enough to be working in an office right by the National Gallery in London. Every Wednesday lunchtime I’d pop in and ‘do’ two or three rooms – and one occasion I saw – though ‘saw’ doesn’t really do it justice – this 1762 painting of one of the great racing nags of the time; Whistlejacket by George Stubbs. The combination of the canvas’ size (it’s nearly ten feet high), the near-photographic depiction of the horse and that abstract, blank background make viewing Whistlejacket one of the essential experiences in British art. Take that, Damien Hirst, you bad phoney.
The original wünderkind of British techno, Aphex Twin first came to attention with his Didgeridoo breakbeat house record, but it’s this album ‘Selected Ambient Works 85-92′ that seals his place as one of the true electro greats. Mixing low-in-the-mix beats with bubbling analogue bass, each track is topped off with soaring strings and beautiful synth melodies. I bought this in the ambient boom of 1993, and it’s still the only record I play at least once a week. It’s got a boss cover, too.
I’ll be frank here, I’ve given the countryside a good go, but it never fails to bore the fuck out of me. Growing up on the edge of Liverpool, I could easily have spent my weekends climbing up the majestic (ie, too high) hills of Snowdonia and the Lakes, but I’d swerve them for trips into town on the Merseyrail to look at tracksuits I couldn’t afford. To me, cities are places of possibility – there’s always a great bar round the corner, a secret restaurant in a basement or a military clothes shop selling gear that no-one back home has got. Who can’t like that? I’ll tell you who; straw-chewing rustics with Jamie Oliver barnets and middle-class, ex-town dwellers who think their daftly-named kids will get an idyllic childhood growing up in the company of sheepdogs and the cast of Emmerdale. Well, here’s some news for you, folks: “Boo-Boo” and “Poppy-Cheesecake” will fly the nest at 18 and never come back. And who can blame them?