Tuesday, 31 March 2009

How to ruin a good watch

I once thought I could make money out of buying and selling watches, so I invested in a limited edition RAF Red Arrows Breitling chronograph. It featured the Red Arrows squadron crest on the right hand side of the face and on the left a picture of one of their Hawk jets. These details turned what was a beautiful watch into something resembling a children's toy. I lost a lot of money on it.

Breitling happens to be the worst culprit in devaluing its brand with limited editon releases. As well as the aforementioned Red Arrows edition there is also an edition bearing the Bentley logo, aimed, presumably at those Bentley owners who also wear the t-shirt and fly the Bentley flag atop their garage. There are no doubt countless other commemorative pieces I have yet to discover.

I was put off the Omega Seamaster 007 edition because Omega has actually added the 007 logo to the other end of the second hand. Precisely what image is that going to portray as you order your vodka martini and your watch slips from under your cuff? Do you hope your lady friend might, perhaps, assume you are an agent of M16? Or Bond himself?

Which brings me to the TAG Heuer Monaco Twenty Four Concept Chronograph 40th Anniversary edition (pictured). Understated in matt black with only the addition of the orange and blue Gulf colours and logo to the face.

Lovely watch, granted, but it does kind of imply that one has a Scalextric installed in the loft.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Supreme Kuumba smelly stuff

I never thought I would get excited about joss, or 'incense' sticks until I got a noseful of Kuumba. This is incense but not as you know it - none of that jos stick stench that seeps its way into your Ligne Roset sofa and remains there for the next two weeks. This is an altogether more refined, less smoke-filled room experience.
Probably why Japanese incense brand Kuumba has elevated itself above your traditional tree hugging hippy joss stick image to release a number of collaborations with upmarket streetwear labels.

It produced an air freshener with Stussy last year and exclusive scents in collaboration with Undefeated, Clot, and Supreme.

This season's Supreme Kuumba kit comprises incense stick holder, and a tube of joss sticks. It will smell nice, and you will like to look at it. You never know, you might even make new friends. That's how great this stuff smells.

Finding a stockist is a different matter. Try The Hideout.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Cycle log 29/03/09

Given its distinct lack of mountains South Essex isn't really known for its cols, but there are one of two sizeable hills, if you know where to look.

One of these is the Benfleet Road, from the Hoy and Helmet to the water tower - a steady, draining incline which must be about a kilometre in length. This is about one fifth of a mountain climb in the alps or even parts of the peak district.

A fact which left me a little disheartened when it almost got the better of me. True rouleurs would take in three or four decent sized cols in one stage of a tour, and there was me, lungs screaming, legs at the point of seizing up and I'd only done 1km.

Just made me realise what these people actually have to go through on the tours and also that I am a good few mountain climbs away from being anywhere near their levels of endurance.

One of these days I wouldn't mind doing a mountain, just to see if I get past a km. Somehow I doubt it.

Rapha clobber:
Softshell jacket
Softshell gloves
Winter hat (still)
Fixed shorts
Merino socks
Arm warmers
Short sleeve jersey

Time: 1hr 28 minutes
Distance: 23.81 miles
Average: 16.6mph
Max: 33mph

Friday, 27 March 2009

Top five style icons

Having just returned from a blogging seminar, during which the popularity of lists was emphasised, I have decided to create a new Friday feature, which will forthwith be known as the Friday Five. This will be a list of five things, of no particular theme or importance. This feature will run as long as I can think of things to compile them with. So, here is my five most important style icons:

1: Steve McQueen. Now this dude knew classic relaxed style. Most of what he wore is still a classic to this day - thick chunky cardigans, bomber jackets, sharp suits, polo shirts - and his influence has carried through the years. Shame he's dead.

2: Malcolm McDowell. The British actor who manages to effortlessly combine panache with a hint of menace in all he does, from Clockwork Orange, the film that made his name, right up to the present day and his role in Heroes. He was even photographed for GQ in a Burberry trenchcoat with a British Bulldog on a lead. Now that is cool.

3: Daniel Craig. Would I have considered Mr Craig if he wasn't now James Bond? Probably not, but he is, and Bond is these days is kitted out in Tom Ford and equally salubrious menswear brands, which Craig carries off well. Can't say I'm a fan of the Omega watch though.

4: Which brings me to Sean Connery. The only James Bond to sport a Rolex Submariner, the ultimate classic watch. ALso impeccably dressed, although many a woman would argue Sean Connery could look good in a potato sack. Advanced years have led to stylists giving him the granddad look, which is a shame, because he was snappy in his day.

5: Jude Law. Classic English gent with a twist, his style improves with age, not least because he is now the face of that quintissentially English brand, Alfred Dunhill. Sales went ballistic when he started wearing their stuff, but to be honest it has always been good.

You might note that the only American on there is Steve McQueen, and that is because Americans, with the exception of McQueen, have no style.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Shades of summer

It's grey and miserable outside so my thoughts immediately turn to this year's sunglasses. My optician, who is not a person I'm inclined to take style tips from, insists that "this year is all about the aviator." Well skizzle my schnizle Sherlock, wasn't it all about the aviator last year too? And the year before that?

To be honest I would have thought that if this year was about anything it would be the Wayfairer, seeing as all the cool kids were wearing them last year and the mainstream is usually about four seasons behind. Even Noel and Liam Gallagher are wearing them, so they're definitely mainstream now. I can just see the Manchester crew making like Crocket from Miami Vice as they dodge the downpours.

So Wayfairers won't be the way forward for me. I'm with the optician, not because he's right, but because he's not wrong. The aviator shape has become a classic, and that wins over 'on-trend' all day long for me. I'm trying to ignore any Top Gun references.

I've narrowed my selections down to the Tom Ford Camillo or Dita Flight (both pictured, the Tom Fords are black and gold).

I'll probably go for the Tom Fords on the basis of availability. Dita, being Japanese, are virtually impossible to track down in the UK.

As for the sun, that's proving even harder to come by.
PS: I have been informed that the actual 'on-trend' sunglasses for this year are Rayban Clubmasters, which are essentially half-rimmed Wayfarers. So I was half right.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Jazzy funk

Dozing off on the train when my nostrils are filled with a sickly stench, evoking painful memories of misdirected teenage years I'd rather forget.

YSL Jazz. Made me feel nauseous then and it makes me want to retch all over this man who is violating my nostrils now. It might actually make him smell better.

Back in the late eighties the stuff was all the rage. That and Kouros, equally offensive. I think Joop! was also an option. The kind of aftershaves that are less a refreshing sensation than a full frontal indecent assault on the snout. They would strip paint. I thought they'd been banned.

Nevertheless at the time they were an improvement on the Old Spice my mum splashed over me just as I was leaving for my first school disco, with the immortal words: "you'll be fighting the girls off now!" Well mum, I didn't.

So have I gone into a timewarp or is this person actually wearing 20-year-old aftershave? There's a credit crunch on I know, but are people really that poor?

I Google it. They still make it. Costs £30. You can get something decent for that price.

I don't know what bothers me more - the fact it is still being made or that people buy it.

The Jazz is in my nose, I can smell it everywhere, like a rolling flashback. If it carries on like this I'll be wearing Global Hypercolour t-shirts again. Don't tell me they still make them. Surely not.

Unkle and ting

UNKLE can do no wrong in my book. Not a view shared by many, I know, but I think that's what makes me like James Lavelle's melancholic downbeat breaks even more.

Impeccable taste, 24-carat collaborations and a sound that makes you want to lie down and jump up and punch the air all at the same time. This latest track, Heaven, is from the End Titles album, which, even if you aren't an UNKLE fan, you might be surprised to find the orchestral piece from a recent BMW advert on.

Apparently the footage in the video is from the film Fully Flared. Spike Jonze and Ty Evans edited the footage and gave it to UNKLE to use as a video.

It blew me away. Enough said.

Where did I put that skateboard?

While we're on the subject of tunage, get your ears round Lilly Allen's latest serving. Can't say I even care for her that much but this is as pristine and catchy as pop can get, and you can't fault her lyrics.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Nike sludge releases

Another month, another Nike SB release and for April the brand has looked at the ground beneath its trainers and coloured accordingly.

The new releases of Blazers and the Dunks are offered up in varying shades of sludge, offset with bright flashes of colour limited to things like the tongue tabs. There is also some sort of Zoom air abomination in grey and black which would be better left on the shelves.

Nice to see Nike err towards the understated after last year's lairy offerings which included the vomit-inducing tie-dye.

The great thing about the SBs is that if you don't like them, another selection of colourways will be released next month.

Who knows what they will use as inspiration next time. Shades of sewage, perhaps?

Monday, 23 March 2009

Is that a car?

I've been driving a small car for a few years now - tasty little Smart Brabus Roadster. Not the greatest car in the world, the passenger door has a habit of opening while travelling at speed, the soft-top leaks, I've had to get the aircon fixed on an almost annual basis, and when I'm travelling with the roof down there's so much turbulence that I actually have a job breathing.

It's a challenge to carry much more than two weekend bags and you can forget about suitcases. So as far as practicality goes I'd be better off riding a bike.

But despite all this, I love it. I can drive all the way to Norwich and back on £25 of petrol thanks to its 770cc engine, and because Brabus stuck a twin turbo on it, I can put my foot down and the little thing accelerates like the clappers.

Above all, it looks the part, and in this era of average speed cameras and 50mph limits, nothing else really counts. It has huge alloys, it looks sleek. A reviewer once likened it to half a 911 and I can see why.

I wonder what that same reviewer would make of the new Tata Nanom (above - the red thing). The "world's cheapest car," like that's something to be proud of. You can buy quite a lot of car for £1,400. An old BMW perhaps or something equally German, like a VW. All of which will most likely last thousands of miles longer than this boil on the roads of life.

But then I don't particularly care how reliable the Nano is or isn't. To me it stands for all that is bad about small cars. Its very existence makes me angry. It falls into the Gee Whizz category - intended to be cute but instead inherently offensive. It seems to have been designed by those people who draw up those childrens' buggies with the steering handle on the back and a hole in the floor for kids to push them along with their feet.

One saving grace is that because the Nano has been released at possibly the worst time in history to launch a car, production has been cut and it won't reach the UK until 2011.

That's long enough for anyone contemplating such a misdirected expenditure to see sense. You might not care how you look, you might not care how your car looks. But that's still no reason to buy a Tata Nano.

I've seen better designed dodgems.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Cycle log 21/03

I'm poodling along, not a care in the world, a few miles into a 29 miler when I'm overtaken by another cyclist.

Now I'm not a competitive person and there's a little more practice required before I reach race standard, but all the same, it made me feel a little miffed. The overtaking manoeuvre took place at the very moment I had been congratulating myself at being able to maintain a decent pace. I was cruising, basically, and feeling all the better for it.

The day was perfect, the only wind was that which I created myself from cutting through the gentle breeze. I had the whole ride ahead of me, taking in the cosy towns and villages of South Essex as they awoke from their slumber. A few early risers were already up cleaning cars and fry-ups could be detected wafting from a couple of kitchens.

Then I'm under attack. I glance to my right as a blur in black spandex kicks down a gear and turbo pedals ahead, his celeste Bianchi leaving me in his wake.

I wasn't prepared. I hadn't seen another rider since that paperboy on the London Road. I could have given him a run for his money if I'd known he was coming.

But try as I might I could not catch up. Worse still, he was gaining distance - he must have been doing at least 5mph more than me. I had been done, good and proper, and as the incline approached and he disappeared around the corner I was forced to admit defeat.

Still, there's one consolation - if he had that much energy first thing on a Saturday morning, his Friday night couldn't have been too good.

Rapha clobber:
Short sleeve jersey
Arm warmers
Softshell gloved
Fixed shorts
Winter hat
Merino socks

Time: 1 hr 29 mns
Distance: 24.72 miles
Average: 16.6mph
Max: 29.7 mph

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Visvim Weller Polo s/s 09

Every year around this time I ask myself if I really need another polo shirt. They've been a sizeable part of my wardrobe for decades now, so the answer is invariably no.

Then along comes Visvim with a new line and that's it. Obviously I need one, and I must have it in blue. I don't have a blue one.

The luxury Japanese street brand has never been one for adventurous colours, although this year it has moved on from its monochrome white, black and grey and added red and blue.

It's all about the detail with Visvim, so the cut is spot on, the fabric Sea Island Cotton and as an added bang for your bucks they've stitched a logo on the front.

What more do you want? Contrast piping on the collars? Nope sorry, not this year.

It's anyone's guess where these will be available in the UK, but that just makes me want one even more.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Acronym S/S 09

Acronym clothing is the sort of stuff that allows you to step out of your front door safe in the knowledge that if anything's going to ruin your day, it isn't going to be the weather, or bird crap.

When I've got my Acronym SSJ1 windproof, waterproof, pooproof jacket on, Mother Nature can basically do her worst. Sure enough, on come the winds, the hail, the driving rain but I still make it the hundred yards to the station completely dry apart from my legs. And that's what Acronym's all about. Urban weatherproofing.

So the arrival of the 2009 spring capsule collection in time for the March tornados and the April monsoon provided a little lift to the day.

No real surprises. Out came the staple collection of updated ACR classics. A Goretex jacket here, a schoeller top there. A few bags thrown in and even a cotton cap, as well as the S-J11 Stotz Etaproof Jacket, pictured. All guaranteed to be manufactured to the sort of bulletproof standards which would realistically allow you to go hiking backwards up Everest in, or something equally risky.

Not that you ever would. This has always been pricey stuff, but now with the weak value of the pound, it's going to take a brave soul who parts with £500 plus for a jacket, credit crunch or not.

The high prices are down to the low production runs - the garments are finished by hand, and the materials used.

Some might consider it a small price to pay for looking pristine as that tornado batters all around you. There is one alternative - stay indoors. And where's the fun in that?

Available now at The Glade

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The scourge of Ebay

EBay. Great site, frequented by morons. Take the auction I've got running - a pair of headphones, B&O.

Turns out there's a lot of fakes being sold. So I put on the auction "100 per cent authentic." It's not an opinion, it's a statement of fact.

One bright spark asks how I know they are authentic. He has issues with the word 'authentic', says it's different to 'genuine.' Well sir, here's the dictionary definition, Collins English Gem:

Authen'tic a. Trustworthy, real, genuine, true ... etc

Note the word genuine there? Yup, that's your clue. Perhaps you'd be better off spending your hard earned on something you really need.

Like a Speak and Spell. I'm sure you'd find one of them on eBay.

Monday, 16 March 2009


So now the Stussy Store has shut down. Shame really, I've got a bit of their gear. Nice tees, good colours, and the caps were OK too.

But the last few times I visited the shop I couldn't help feeling like they were missing the point a bit.

Once last summer I went to the launch of a collaboration line between Stussy and the Japanese brand Neighborhood, called Boneyards. Evening occasion, bit of an event, they even had a DJ. Creative skater types hanging around outside the shop drinking beers like it was downtown LA, which I guess was the intention.

So I've picked a t-shirt - didn't take long, they were either black or white - got to the till and was told that they weren't actually for sale.

Then I was offered a free beer.

I mean how much more of a gift horse do you want to look in the mouth? A bunch of blokes in a shop drinking beer with money to spend? You could have sold us all Stussy ice cubes for a tenner a pop and we'd have bought them.

I think the idea was that I would get drunk and fall in love with not one t-shirt but the entire collection, go home, not sleep, go back to the shop and sit outside the door till they opened it in the morning and then promptly buy the lot.

But it didn't work like that. I got home, slept and when I woke up, I decided it was a bunch of black and white t-shirts and I didn't really want any of them.

Maybe Stussy should open a bar.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Man down

So much for the marathon ride today, I've managed to poison myself. Up all night on the lav, never felt so bad - it was hard enough getting out of bed, let alone get on a bike.

I've put it down to the bacon sandwich I cooked when I got home yesterday. The egg was out of date but dutifully sank in the glass of water, and I actually think the bacon was the culprit - it smelled of bad fish, that should have been enough to put me off.

It's one of my worst habits, can't bear to see good food go to waste. Well that's a lesson learned.

So here I am, on the sofa, James Bond on the telly and chavs in sound system bangers cruising down the road making the windows rattle.

From now on I'll be checking sell by dates.

Cycle log 14/03/09

Too much else going on for a ride of any substance so pulled one of the stock routes out of the bag - a straightforward sprint along the seafront to Shoebury and back. This is now so regular that I can race the clock and try to beat my previous best time.

The bike had just been serviced and was running like a dream, and the weather was gorgeous - a bit overcast but deliciously warm for the time of year. I was even getting a bit hot in the softshell jacket.

Trouble is, the world had woken up by the time I set of at 11am. Makes for a much less enjoyable ride. Non stop traffic, combined with the pleasure cyclists who like to dawdle along at 10mph, often in whole family groups. That's why the rouleurs like to get on the road as early as possible, before anyone else starts clogging them up.

So a ride of frustration more than anything. All the same I beat my time, and there's always tomorrow to get a decent ride in.

Oh yeah, beat my previous best by a stonking 3 minutes, although I guess that wouldn't be difficult given last week's gale force winds.

Time: 50.51 minutes
Distance: 13.99 miles
Average: 16.5mph
Max: 37.6mph

Rapha clobber:
Fixed l/s top
Fixed shorts
Racing cap
Softshell jacket
Softshell gloves
Merino socks

Friday, 13 March 2009

The beauty mob

Every now and then the features department holds a beauty sale. Within seconds of the email arriving the stampede of heels on the metal stairs outside becomes deafening.

When the email arrived this time, I decided to join them. After all, I'm in touch with my feminine side - I've been known to apply a touch of morning after face stuff once or twice and there's all sorts of depuffery potions available for blokes these days.

The heady mix of perfumes and oestrogen sent me reeling as I opened the door. A low murmur filled my ears, like a religious chant. Women I see every day were knocking into me with a glazed expression, as if a trance-inducing substance had been pumped through the air conditioning.

This was a passively hostile environment. No one said it but I knew I wasn't welcome. I felt as if I had gone into the visitors' enclosure at a football game.

The desire to vacate the room overwhelmed me, so I legged it, barging past the marching hordes as they filed into the room. My gentlemanly manners were forgotten. This was a matter of life and death, I had to get out before they drained my glands and used me as a perfume.

I once believed that to be a lone male in a room full of women would fulfil a fantasy. Well, I can tick that one off, and in doing so, it has become a nightmare. The mere hint of perfume is enough to give me flashbacks.

There are some places a chap must not go, ever.

The features department beauty sale is one of them.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Tai Hachiro X Uniform Experiment Fenom glasses

So I'm having a little scan through Ebay and I turn up these Tai Hachiro X Uniform Experiment Fenom glasses, which made my jaw drop.

I hadn't even been in the market for new specs. I'm quite fond of my Oliver Peoples even if the optician did persuade me to add tinted lenses, thus ensuring my inability to wear them at any time other than on bright days or away from the public, for fear of being mistaken for a celebrity.

Reminds me of a time back in the 80s when my mate turned up at the pub on a Saturday night in a pair of new shades, claiming he'd misplaced his spectacles. We all knew he thought he'd look cool, as you always do when you get something new to wear. He actually looked like an emaciated pimp. Especially at 2am.

The Ebay examples don't look like the real deal to me. The genuine items are available virtually nowhere outside of Japan except at Concept Shop, far too pricey.

I ping James in New York - the only other person I know who can understand this obsession for obtaining impossible to locate goods that no one else has heard of. Dover Street Market, he says.

Sure as eggs is hard on the outside, DSM will be getting them in. No idea when. But hey, the graft is done. Now for the waiting.

Don't expect to see them on my face anytime soon.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Rapha tweed cap

The whole urban cycling movement thing has taken a sartorial turn upmarket with the arrival of clothing brand Rapha.

Last year the brand launched its fixed line, a kind of casual collection aimed at the about-town rider who would rather not look like he'd just finished a stage of the Tour De France.

The showpiece of this line was the tweed softshell cycling jacket, cut from Prince of Wales check fabric and backed with a waterproof, windproof, breathable Schoeller material.

It should have been an instant sell out so I can only put the fact that it's still available down to the prohibitive £450 price tag.

For spring summer 09 Rapha has taken the tweed look, reminiscent of bygone days free-wheeling down country lanes with the wind in one's hair, a lady by one's side and a pipe in one's mouth, and added a tweed racing cap.

A much more accessible option, and one I have already taken advantage of.

Rapha did release a tweed cap a while back, in collaboration with Paul Smith, which is now, thanks to its limited release, highly collectible. Whether the new range will prove as wise an investment is anyone's guess.

Whatever happens, this is the only racing cap to be wearing while you're cruising the Hoxton highways this summer.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Ringing the changes

What is this obsession with ring tones? Every mobile these days is equipped with a silent or vibrate option but still people insist on inflicting their individual ringing alert on anyone within earshot.

This morning alone I have been party to (in no particular order) the opening bars of Stairway to Heaven, the CTU bleep-bleep burrrrp of TV show 24, something that sounded like the Hovis advert until it broke into a dance track by Shakira, and a phone manufacturer's attempt at reproducing an old-style phone ring, which was so loud that my eardrum spasmed.

These sounds actually say a lot about the owners of the phones - almost without exception, they say "I am devoid of any personal expression not emitted by my phone."

But let's explain this in a bit more detail. If your ring tone is rock music of any era you are without exception an ageing has-been desperately clinging to some belief that you are still cool. If your tone is that of two-step garage you are a chav desperately clinging to some belief that you are cool. If you have downloaded one of those ring tones advertised on the TV you are a fool with more money than sense clinging to some belief that you are cool. If you are using one of the pre-loaded ring tones that came with your phone you are a fool with no imagination, but at least you're not clinging to the belief that you are cool.

In fact the only ring tone that is in my mind vaguely acceptable is one which is as unobtrusive as possible - maybe a little whispering tweep for instance, or at the very worst, the standard english ring tone, set on low.

There is one exception to the rule - my dad, through no fault of his own and entirely down to my sister, has been lumbered with the Benny Hill theme tune. And that, as far as ring tones for seniors go, is pure class - especially seeing as he doesn't know how to get rid of it.

Monday, 9 March 2009

The white stuff

The milk situation in this office has been a source 0f friction for years. People moaning that they're "always buying it but there's neveer any left when I want a cuppa," different desks claiming ownership to a given pint.

There are solutions - a milk fund, labelling of individual bottles - all open to fraud and theft.

Then there's the issue of who clears it up when it spills in the fridge - judging by the putrid stench emanating from said appliance as I write, this is not a task easily delegated.

In a nutshell, milk is a political hot potato. Wars have been waged over less.

On Friday, a worrying development - the first bottle of milk to be wrapped in a bag. An ominously black bag. This would not be touched because aside from the presence of the bag clearly marking out as something someone might want to take home rather than share with the office, the liquid in the bottle might be something else. Like calomine lotion, for instance.

I made no secret of my rage. How selfish can you get, populating the fridge with milk for personal consumption? Where was the team spirit, comrade?

Today, as part of my role as a contributing member of the office, I walked in with a pint.

"You needn't have done that," explained my boss, "I've got a load in the fridge. It's in a black bin liner. For some reason no one touches it."

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Cycle log 08/03/09

The wind this morning was like cycling against a wall. I tried, I really did, but I couldn't get past 14mph on the way home, or out of fourth gear, no matter what I did.

It had all been so much different on the way out. I was turbo charged, pushed along on the breeze, overtaking cars, topping 35mph on the downhill stretches, unstoppable. I was overtaken once by a mountain biker as I slowed at a zebra crossing, but his victory was short lived once I got my speed back up. I even passed a couple of fellow rouleurs who were asleep at the wheel, piddling along while I made a valiant attempt at the world speed record.

At Shoebury I turned round, and then it hit me. Force 9 straight in the face. My 30mph record was ancient history. All that mattered was getting home. Within half a mile the burn set in, my thighs felt like they were going into meltdown, it was all I could do to stop going backwards.

Rouleurs on the easterly route zipped past, going like the clappers. Little did they know the torture that awaited. The sky was blue, the sun was out and there was me, head down, looking no more than ten feet ahead with one thing on my mind - getting back.

You've got to love the wind.

Time: 53.11
Distance: 14.05 miles
Average speed: 15.8mph
Max speed: 36.9mph

Rapha clobber:
Softshell jacket
Fixed l/s jersey
Softeshell gloves
Winter cap
Fixed shorts
Merino socks

Cycle log 07/03/09

This is the first cycle log. Seeing as I've delved headlong into the world of cycling - in particular road racing - over the past few months, it only seemed right that I should keep you all updated on it. I'm going to clearly mark out the cycling blogs so you can skip them if they bore you rigid.

The logs will give a run down of where I've been and for the bike nerds among us, will include a record of things like what I was wearing, how fast I was going and if I managed to break the sound barrier. So here goes:

One's company

I've always been a bit of a lone ranger when it comes to my rides. On the occasions I've been accompanied by friends trying to get back into shape it inevitably ends in disaster.

Like when Steve pulled up for a ride on a mountain bike that would have a job getting stolen at midnight outside an amusement arcade, dressed head to toe in his rugby kit.

We got as far as the Ridgeway - about 1.5 miles - when his gears packed up. Using the three gears on his front cog, we got as far as Southend pier - 3.5 miles and had to turn back.

Since then I have avoided drunken conversations about cycling.

So I almost had an accident when I was greeted by a jolly "morning!" from another rider while somewhere in the wilds of Barling yesterday. It had been a perfect ride, out along Marine Parade, to Hadleigh, then through Rayleigh, Hockley and Rochford past bankers' mansions with views across the Roach Valley. I had been lost in my world, at one with the machine, leaning into corners, attacking the hills.

Barling is a bleak piece of country and thanks to its winding roads and rural bleakness, quite popular with riders. My new companion wasn't alone - suddenly I was surrounded by about a dozen rouleurs, who, it transpires, are all from Leigh and gather for regular rides.

So the lone ranger days might be numbered, provided I get up early enough, which is more of a challange than the riding.

Time: 1 hr 44 mins
Distance: 25 miles
Average speed: 16.3mpg
Max speed: 30.1mph

Rapha clobber:
Winter cap
Softshell Gloves
Long sleeve jersey
Fixed shorts
Neck warmer

Bianchi D2 Cyclocross, set up for road

Friday, 6 March 2009

Dead Ape

I never set out to make this blog some kind of fashion bitch rant but there seems to be so much material at the moment that I would be foolish to ignore it.

Following on from yesterday's Kanye West attack on Louis Vuitton, we have a man who until recently I regarded as something of a legend.

I used to be into Bape - really into it. I found out a lot about Nigo, I was a regular visitor to http://www.bape.com/. I even queued for hours outside his damn Busy Workshop to get a hoody.

James Lavelle and Ian Brown used to be into it, two of the coolest people in music.

So what happened Nigo? At what point did you lose it? Did the whole monkey thing go to your head?

Because now, someone's got to say it, you look like something out of Billy Smart's circus. And so do all your mates.

Take a tip from England - over here those kecks with the elephant ears that you stick your todger out of are only available in joke shops. And don't even get me started on the day glo jackets.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

No Kanye, NO!

Now I do like to think of myself as a bit of a trainer freak. I own more Nike Dunks than is reasonably sane for a 37-year-old and still think nothing of dropping a good few English pounds on a pair of kicks if the urge takes me, even if it means cutting back on other things, such as eating.

So when I heard that Kanye West had gone off to Louis Vuitton to learn a bit about fashion and design, the radar came on. The French luxury behemoth has in the past taken part in some inspired collaborations, with some notable cultural icons.

The venture with Pharrell Williams on their sunglasses back in 2005 resulted in some interesting creations, albeit a bit bling. Then came the designs from Takashi Murakami, the Japanese pop artist. He was responsible for the multi-colour monogram pattern and more recently the camo patterns, known as Monogramoflage, which have since become highly sought after collectors' items.

So what has the pint-sized self styled bling king that is Kanye West come up with under the tutelage of the Paris fashion house? Well, these. I am actually lost for words. I mean I know the fella is a bit avant garde, but he actually put his name to these monstrosities.
I guess he's taken a bit of a tip from Nigo's multicoloured Bapesta line, (which is getting a bit tired now, to be frank), and also nodded at Pierre Hardy, Dior and that kind of leisure pump type thing beloved of Euro-queers.

But as a package I'm afraid Kanye gets a nill points for these. Call me old fashioned, but to me, rocking the psychedelic Marty McFly look is all a bit much for my sensibilities. And yes, I took part in Bapesta thing back in dim and distant 05.

Still, they're bound to (Mc)fly off the shelves.

Read Highsnobiety's report and see more pics here http://tinyurl.com/cyp4ox

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Japanese crisis

There's a bit of a crisis going on among the purveyors of luxury Japanese clothing. Brands like Visvim, Bape, Fragment and Neighborhood have always been a bit of a challenge to get hold of at the best of times - they've only ever been officially available at a few London retailers such as the Hideout, Dover Street Market and Busy Workshop.

But Busy Workshop in Upper James Street shut down a few months ago, downsizing to a capsule shack within Dover Street Market, and the Hideout, also in Upper James Street, didn't order any more Visvim for this season because they had planned to relocate. Which leaves nowhere but Dover Street Market (again) offering a couple of Visvim collabs.

With the strength of the yen against the pound anything you do find is going to cost the proverbial arm and leg, if you're lucky. DSM is retailing Visvim footwear at upwards of £400 for a pair of kicks which last year was retailing for £20o-ish.

The only place to find any of this stuff without visiting Japan in person is going to be online, but with the exchange rate as it is, the sterling price of Japanese clothing is going to be astronomical.

The Hideout staff are a little concerned by the whole episode and have admitted that the clothing brands which occupy 90 per cent of their stock is going to be a reckless choice even for those on footballers wages.

However it's worth remembering that these brands were launched and flourished in a country which has aready spent a decade in recession. Their exclusivity and quality will carry them through this one.

The only question is how much hardship those with the Japanese clothing tendencies can put up with to remain loyal.

First up

An interesting email pops up from the boss: “I’m thinking of banning the words ‘nerd’ and ‘geek’."

Why not, I think. Can’t remember the last time I felt inclined to use such expressions so it’s not like it’s going to cause any inconvenience, and if it saves the feelings of anyone who could be described in such a manner for even once then it’s got to be worth it.

General agreement emerges among the raft of ‘Reply To All’s that follow, although it’s never straightforward and someone suggests that these people might actually like it. “Besides, it’s cool. Think of American Apparel,” he says, and I wholeheartedly agree, Think American Apparel indeed. Last time I went in there it was all day glo trackuit tops and spandex shorts. Cool and nerdy at the same time. Is that really what they wear?

But it’s true what he’s saying. These days it’s totally cool to be called a nerd, Thick rimmed glasses are all the thing again, proof if ever needed. Nerds are everywhere, TV, the lot. They build computers and stuff too. It’s like that prophecy “the geek shall inherit the earth”. Or was it meek?

Don’t ban the words, celebrate them. Nerds are good! In fact, give them a bank holiday! If it wasn’t for nerds, would I have anything to write this on?