Thursday, November 30, 2006

'The Urban Grey': A Suit Review

A youthful modish grey, this single-breasted double-buttoned suit is perfect for those who want to inject a bit of style into the office environment. With no trouser pleats and flapless pockets, the extras have been kept to an absolute minimum for a streamlined, ultra-chic effect. Brightened by a blood-red tie and a cut-away shirt-collar, this suit combines the formality of our standard model with a definite sense of modernity, balanced by the luxurious softness of wool. Appropriate for the office or any formal occasion, this classic suit is also the one to be spotted in during after-work drinks. Particularly suitable for those city boys who play as hard as they work.
To read more about this suit click here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

'The Baroque': A Suit Review

With its opulent lining and elegantly tapered waist, this unusual suit - fresh from the garment house A Suit That Fits - has a definite touch of the baroque. Brilliantly fitted with a gorgeous lining, it clings like a lover to the sides of your chest, heightening every sensation. One touch of the pure wool fabric, liberally padded and lined with satin, and we guarantee you’ll never want to wear anything else. Sit in it for a while, as I am doing now, and you begin to notice all kinds of things. First there is the ticket pocket, a small flapped opening halfway down the torso on the left hand side, perfect for storing theatre tickets and other random things; then there is the fine slate pinstripe, quiet enough to make an impression without dominating the overall look. A suit, we think, that’ll add a whole new dimension to your wardrobe – the exotic look of the 21st century ‘corporate baroque'.
To read more about this suit click here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Cinema and a Pale Yellow Jumper

What a cool evening I had last night. After ten minutes of waiting outside the wrong Odeon on Leicester Square (did you know there were two?) Sean rang me to see where I was. When we finally met he was wearing a lemon jumper and his hair looked blacker than before, as black as soot in fact. We shared coffee/toffee ice-cream in the Odeon and then watched The Prestige. Sitting in the cinema with someone called Sean was a strange thing, especially as my trips to the flicks with my ex Shaun (who I still feel a connection and love for) were always incredibly intense. Am I the only one who finds there's something sacred-like about cinema-going? Think about it. When you enter the auditorium, you leave behind the world of light and enter an utterly different dimension. Not only are the scenes projected before you often unlike anything you've ever experienced, you're forced to sit in silence or talk in a hushed whisper. At its most basic level, there's something incredibly beautiful, almost philosophical, about it, a bit like Plato's cave. You sit in a dark room, watching patterns of light fall against the wall, and when you turn around you see scores of faces, also whitened by the light: what could be more beautiful?

After the cinema we went - by Sean's recommendation - to the most marvelous restaurant in London: The Stockpot! I have to admit, as soon as we walked in the door, the clientele surprised me. An old man was sitting in the corner, sucking on his gums, while beside him an old woman, who looked like a bloated frog, stared blankly at a mountain of mash that was piled on her plate. The place itself was simple, slightly grim-looking depending on what you're used to, and decked out in cheap decorations. I felt like I'd stepped back in time to an innocent Britain, not yet fooled into thinking that by making something look nice you immediately improve its quality. The food was like the food you get at home (a British home, I mean): that is, charming and unpretensious. We had turkey, roast-potatoes, carrots and Cranberry sauce - a whole Christmas dinner in fact, Brussel Sprouts included - and left feeling full and very English.

That night, in bed, listening to Anna Netrebko sing Rachmaninov in her creamy white soprano, I cast my mind back to Sean's yellow jumper. Sitting opposite it after the darkness of the cinema had felt like being in the proximity of light, as if an essence of pale yellow had distilled in the air and could be touched if I reached out. Rolling over, I snuggled into the dark warmth of my duvet, shut my eyes and slept.

The above painting is by Xavier Pick, a contemporary London artist who makes beautiful pictures of London by night. To see more of his work or purchase paintings click

Alternatively, visit my classy London-based sponsors:
A Suit That Fits.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Tockington Manor

I went to a Chroma reading last night at Waterstones on Oxford Street (Chroma is a literary journal in which my poems have appeared) to watch my writer-pal Brynn read his winning story, Spawn of the Regime. While he was chatting to Louise Hercules, this month's Chroma cover-girl, I sat down with a mince-pie and a glass of water and looked around at the crowd. Straight away, I found my eyes drawn to a familiar face on the other side of the room. It was a face I will never forget, probably because it's so closely associated with a time in my life in which I was happiest. "Caroline," I said, raising my voice above the crowd. "I knew it was you!" she said.

The most interesting thing about my friendship with Caroline (a friend of mine at primary school) was more the backdrop over which our friendship played out - the fact that the school we attended was such a special place - the stuff of dreams, really, or of Harry Potter as Caroline said last night. In the heart of the English countryside, Tockington Manor was surrounded by acres of grounds in which we could lose ourselves for hours: sometimes we'd read together quietly in the woods; sometimes we'd venture far into the trees and sit on a moss-covered rock that we called, oddly, 'the quarry'; sometimes we'd tell stories and fantasize we had magic powers; at all times, though, we were surrounded by nature, by rabbits running through the vast fields, by enormous oak-trees that swept their leaves across the green, and deep woods that rustled their leaves, and pear trees that grew against the old stone walls. It was as if the headmaster and his wife believed in the Romantic ideal that contact with nature is crucial to the instruction of sensitive beings - and I am grateful to my mother and the Toveys for allowing my soul to be attuned, at least for a time, to the natural rhythm of the universe. The experience was character-building and continues to influence my creativity today.
When I think about it now, and realise how far the lives of Caroline and myself have diverged, and how good that time was and how it's now gone, and the years of alcoholism that followed, I feel sad; until I think that other children are enjoying today what I enjoyed all that time ago. This is an extract from a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in which he writes about what I'm trying to say more lucidly than I ever could. It's called 'Frost At Midnight' and it's addressed to his son, Hartley:

Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the interspersed vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shall learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

This entry was made possible by A Suit That Fits.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Blackened Caryatids of St. Pancras Church

The other day I wrote the following lines:
Below the vast November sky the heat-cracked surface lies
half an inch up, baking and changed,
the roots are fruitlessly unearthed.
The blackened caryatids of St. Pancras Church stand like sentinels,
themselves unobserved – potential reminders of a cancerous London.

Something moves lugubriously in the earth. The armoured octopi have stirred;
their feelers snake past tarmac and stone, dreaming
of gustation, touch.
I still haven't got a clue what it means. I've tried to revise it, to try to make sense of it, to make it part of a 'whole', but every attempt seems to fail. It's very frustrating. The Caryatids and the roots undoubtedly obsess me, but I don't seem to have anything interesting to say about them. It's partly the way they stand that interests me, each of them spaced so gracefully apart, gazing into air, with one hip thrown wide. But the thing that obsesses me the most is the way they're so dirty. I don't know how long ago the above picture was taken, but now they're literally black. On the one hand they embody the beauty of the female form, but on the other hand they're marred by a thick pollutant. The first time I walked past them, there was something incredibly poignant about them. For a moment I felt as if they were speaking to me, that they existed just for me and wanted to tell me something - that they, the Caryatids, and everything they stood for, were being deformed by the crazy ugliness of the industrial/commercial world.
An old teacher of mine, Tim Liardet, said there comes a point in the writing of a poem when the writer should know what he's writing about; only then can he form a fully realised piece of work. I guess what I've been struggling with over the last few days is that I didn't know what I was trying to say. I thought it was something so deep in my unconscious that I was unable to bring it to light. Whatever it was, I thought, it's too garbled, too dream-like and fragmentary. But now I think I know what I'm saying. I know what it is the Caryatids have done to me. They've reached into my soul and reminded me what it feels like to strive for something greater - something not of this world -
This entry was made possible by A Suit That Fits.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Impressions of Paris

Yesterday I wanted to write about my weekend but every time I touched the keys the words failed to do justice to my thoughts. I wanted to write about the sunset over the Seine, the way the light falling on the water spread like the petals of a rose. I wanted to describe my friend's face, how his skin was oranged by the glow, and his pale eyes, usually so controlled, opened wonderously wide. I wanted to describe the gold light that illuminated the Tower, the way it shimmered every hour, and we stood in a dark room, looking out over the rooftops and silhouetted roofs, watching it sparkle in the gloom. I wanted to capture the impalpable haze, the way the soft white light broke through the blinds, and the trees along the Seine waved like plumes - lime green, red and gold. I wanted to describe the metro doors, how the violent clanging filled me with fear, how they herded us under like cattle and we disappeared in a holocaust of doors. But most of all I wanted to describe Sebastien's eyes, how their silent whiteness seemed to wipe out time, leaving nothing but their own white rays, and how I would have relinquished Paris even, if only they had smiled.
This blog-entry was made possible by A Suit That Fits.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Suit That Fits A Woman

Here at A Suit That Fits we've received substantial interest from women looking to buy men's suits. Of course we've been happy to oblige. There's nothing sexier, more mysterious, than a woman in a man's suit. When Marlene Dietrich donned the above number, eyes glowering above seductively wettened lips, she made an important statement about gender and the clothes we wear. Women, she said, need not let themselves be objectified to exert a powerful sexiness. Women can wear what the hell they like.

The man's suit is laden with authority. The mere act of wearing one is a masculine 'privilege' that gives men a level of power in society. The brilliance of gender-bending is not that it allows women to wear suits (there are plenty of women's suits out there), it's more the fact that it reveals gender to be an artificial construction capable of being mimicked and transformed. When people look at a butch lesbian and feel as if something's gone awry, it's because they're made aware of their subjection to a system of signs that empowers some whilst disempowering others. Rather than actually doing something about this, they deal with it in the easiest way possible: ostracize the problem-maker and stigmatize the lesbian. But a woman who dons a man's suit not only looks clever because she has the wherewithall to become a vehicle for a "Fuck you" message to the system, she also looks ultra-chic, her wardrobe having taken on resonances of meaning that go above and beyond the norm. Exposed, undermined, the veils of illusion lifted, the patriarchal structure loses its power and the seeds of revolution are sown. What this revolution will look like, nobody knows until it comes.

Join the gender-revolution. Visit A Suit That Fits.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Dark Outside

Outside it is dark. A thousand windows glitter over London. Coldplay's 'Kingdom Come' plays on the radio, reminding me of my ex's belief that if he waited for me I'd be... his. Sadness spreads through me. Soon I'll be shooting out those doors - into the night - onto the pavement - the Tube - towards Warren Street where I'm meeting friends. Will any of it shake this heavy sadness? In our lunch break today Jen and I went ice-skating in Broadgate Arena; we circled beneath an unblemished sky on a rink that resembled a frozen pond. I wore a jacket by A Suit That Fits to keep me warm. I felt incredibly free.
Now I'm waiting for the clock to hit 5.30 so that I can go out into the cold.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Selling, Suiting and Writing...

This morning I had to pitch an article to the Pink Paper in the hope that they'd be interested in the company I work for. I've never liked selling myself or my writing. It's one of the reasons I became a writer. When it comes to expressing myself, I need time to find the most effective words. If I was super-confident, why would I need to write at all? Writing is for people who have trouble expressing themselves - until pen is put to paper, that is, when everything starts to flow. It's why I feel such connection when I write - as if something's been unlocked inside me. My blood literally starts to tingle. I can feel it buzzing in my arms. For the period it takes me to complete the piece, my mind is wholly absorbed.
Having to sell myself is an unavoidable nuisance. If you don't make people notice you, you simply don't get noticed. The same can be said for A Suit That Fits. It's my job as Junior Writer to get this company noticed. If I had to do it by speaking to people, I'd be the crappest sales rep in town. So thank God I can do it in writing... The difficulty comes when I think I'm a writer before I'm a seller, that I can only write effectively about what I feel inside. Luckily, A Suit That Fits make it easy. Not only are they the most exciting new garment house in London, their suits as exquisite as their marketing stunts are crazy, they understand the power of a few carefully-chosen words.
Visit their website here.