Thursday, 29 October 2009

Halloween: Here comes Donnie

Given my interest in all things sartorial, I surprise even myself with my dislike for fancy dress. I just can't really be bothered with it, all the deciding what to wear, all that effort for something that is realistically going to be worn once. That's not forgetting that a fancy dress party is one fewer opportunity to dress one's best, and God knows I need as many of them as I can get.

So the "compulsory" fancy dress at the Halloween party on Saturday was less than welcome. That was until I remembered Donnie Darko. One of my all time favourite films, and it had a Halloween bit in it. Not only that, but Donnie was wearing a skeleton suit and a hoodie. How easy was that for a costume?

Do you know how hard it is to get a decent skeleton suit? Replicas of Donnie's go for fortunes on Ebay, but then I guess we're entering memorabilia territory there. Nevertheless, for a brief moment I considered shipping one of those suits over, until shipping times from America ruled it out. And the fact that even if you squint with one eye closed I would never pass for Donnie Darko, or even his stunt double.

So I got the next best thing. A cheap, crappy, ill fitting effort of a skeleton suit. I didn't know clothing could be made so bad, It's like they took the kids version and then added a whole chunk of material on the body. It might fit an obese midget, if he was lucky.

And that is what I will be wearing on Saturday. I'm not sure what will be more scary - the suit or the six inches of ankle I will be displaying.

Frank the rabbit had better start running now.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Wally Hermes yacht: floating cheese wedge

I don't know if any multi-billionaires are reading this, but if you are, I have just found a Christmas present you can buy yourself.

For everyone else I present an enormous floating wedge of cheese which has been neatly carved out to resemble a luxury yacht.

This is the Wally Hermes super yacht (WHY. Indeed). At first glance it looks like someone has sheered off the front of an ocean liner, but upon closer inspection you will see that it has been built like that.

The design has something to do with the fact that this is the most fuel efficient superyacht ever to be created. A good proportion of its power comes from things like sails, solar panels and windmills. If it didn't, in this day and age, no-one would have touched it with a barge pole. It is also questionable if there would be any oil left to power it in 50 years.

The trouble is, hybrid propulsion isn't very fast - about 12 knots - and massive yachts need speed to make them stable in rough weather. Enter 85-year-old naval engineer Roar Ramde who had desinged a super-wide hull for slow-moving boats laying cables in the stormy north sea.

The result is a 58m x 38m palace of opulence which floats, and would probably have a job getting much further up the Thames than Tilbury docks.

I'm sure there's a helicopter tucked away in there somewhere for that final leg of the journey.

How much? €1m per square metre. You do the math.

Via Oceansvibe

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Outlier merino hoodie: for nutters with bikes

You're going to have to ignore the fact that this bloke looks like some serial killer waiting in your garage to stick a screwdriver in you and concentrate on the hoodie he is wearing.

Outlier is kind of like the Rapha of New York, producing high quality, stylish garments for the cyclist. Given that in New York everybody rides a fixed gear bike, this stuff is essentially cycling adapted streetwear, good enough off the bike as on.

This hoodie, for instance is made from a merino wool so soft that is more often used in the manufacture of undercrackers apparently.

Last year's proved so popular that it was an instant sell out. The bloke in the picture missed out, which must be why he is so angry.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Nike Air Royal mid quickstrike: A workboot looking trainer thing

It's been a while since a pair of Nike trainers has got me very excited. The last truly memorable time has to be when I spotted a pair of Un-Tiffany Dunks in the now defunct Bonds skate shop off Carnaby Street.

Those trainers stopped me dead in my tracks. I was almost licking the window to get a closer look. They weren't my size. Eventualy a pair made its way over from Japan.

Many trainers have come and gone since the Un-Tiffany Dunks. Mainly other Dunks. But they all came a poor second to those turquoise-and-grey-with-3M-reflective-crocodile-skin wonders.

Since then I have often found myself staring at my now greatly diminished Nike trainer collection and pondered if such a genius creation would ever be repeated. Granted, many legendary colourways had come along prior to the Un-Tiffanys, not least the Tiffany Dunks themselves, but it seemed as if that release just might have been Nike's last finest moment.

And just when I thought all hope was lost, Nike goes and pulls it out of the bag. Today I have been made aware, thanks to Marcus Troy, of the Nike Air Royal Quickstrike.

Just look at these. These are everything I want in a trainer. Nice subtle leather uppers, pristine white soles, minimal branding, and those eyelets. It's like a Dunked-up work boot, or a work boot that's been Dunked perhaps. Except it isn't a Dunk. Or a work boot.

I don't know what they are to tell you the truth

But my feet need them.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

It's hoodie time

For some, the time of year might have them reminiscing of sitting around a roaring fire resplendent in a chunkly cable knit cardie, pipe in hand, slippers on feet.

Well it reminds me of that too. But it also rekindles times spent qeueing outside Bathing Ape's Busy Workshop at 9am when the shop didn't open until 11am, in the vain hope of buying a Shark hoodie. Or buying a camo hoodie from Maharishi. In short, this time of year reminds me of hoodies.

Hoodies, with all their chav conotations, the ultimate yoof wear, comfortable and yet comfortably menacing. More rebellious than a Union Jack leotard.

Every year I wonder if this will be the last that I accumulate another hoodie for the winter, for sitting by the fire with my pipe and slippers. And every year another one catches my eye, transporting me to chilly evenings, toasty in hooded jersey heaven.

This year's temptation came in electric blue, by Supreme, gathered in the Hideout as part of a precision shopping expedition in the desolate wastes of a Saturday morning west London. A previous mission resulted in the Norse Projects scarf from Hideout and Supreme hat from Dover Street Market you can see me wearing.

That's me on the right by the way. The blue is a bit of a giveway. And the hair. It's Lizzie on the left, in her newly commandeered (from me) cap.

So that's another year I'll still be wearing hoodies then.

Precision shopping in London: the West End route

View Precision shopping map of West End, London in a larger map

I've got this route planned out when I'm up the West End, precise tube connections and street intersections all mapped out in my head. I don't know if it is the quickest route, or the most sceenic. But it's my route. I feel like it's a friend of mine, I have adopted the landmarks, looking on with pride as tourists gaze in wonderment and clamber all over them.

Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, the tramp with the cute dog on the corner of Brewer Street. They are all part of the fabric of my London, the London I don't actually live in so can't really stake claim to any of.

But on any random Saturday and even the odd weekday, you will find me striding purposefully between my own personal landmarks.

Should any of you feel the urge to discover this route yourselves on one bright morning (London is crap when it's raining), it goes something like this:

Surface from the tube (Bakerloo line from Embankment) at Piccadilly Circus. Take the North Regent Street exit, past the loos with the rubbish 'wash soap dryer in a hole' hand dryers, up Glasshouse Street into Sherwood Street, past 'London's most central backpackers' hostel' and across Brewer Street to James Street. Past Golden Square , glance into Bape and do a quick circuit of the Hideout. This is a recce mission, checking out what they have in and banking it to mull over.

Exit left out of the Hideout, left into Beak Street, head to Regent Street, casting an eye over Albam and the Playlounge, Left along Regent Street, cross into Vigo Street and along past Abercrombie and Fitch and its gaseous odour to New Bond Street, right at Gucci into Stafford Street, and right at Dover Street to the five-floor emporium of crazy couture that is Dover Street Market. Buy a Monocle in the basement, check out the Supreme, Original Fake, Uniform Experiment, Visvim and the like in their little market-stall type spaces.

Exit right into Dover Street, past APC, left into Hay Hill, right into Berkeley Street, across Berkeley Square to Dunhill in Davies Street, quick scoot around, plate of quail eggs and a virgin Mary, exit right on Davies Street, up to Oxford Street, turn right, run the gauntlet to Uniqlo, try to buy a +J blazer, swear, then walk to Liberty via Harewood Place, Hanover Square, Princes Street Street, Regent Street and Great Marlborough Street, scan the menswear then head to the furniture and lighting department. Drool, exit through the perfume section, quick squirt of random Diptyque cologne, head south along Carnaby Street, left into Beak Street, right into Upper James Street and the Hideout. Decide if I want to buy anything I'd spotted on the recce visit, buy some Kuuma joss sticks (White Amber), exit right.

Past Golden Square again, pulling in to the Nordic Bakery for a filter coffee and smoked Salmon on rye with a slide of mayo, then back to the tube.

And that is what I call precision shopping.

Friday, 23 October 2009

How to run like a true gentleman

There is most likely a law somewhere, drawn up by someone who is never late, that will say something along the lines of: "If thoust a gentleman, thou shalt not run."

Of course this would excuse the pursuit of running per se, as in running for fitness, dashing along in a pair of Asics and some shorts. The law will instead apply to those times when a gent is dressed in everyday attire, such as whence making one's way to work. At such times it would be preferable to saunter, or stroll, paying attention to the environment and taking interest in the life on the street.

It's true that running while suited is a vulgar, undignified pursuit which can ruin the cut of one's jib and as such is something one should rightly be advised to avoid. However, it might on occasion be necessary to break into a light jog or a full sprint in order to make the bus, train, flight or appointment.

To that end, and as a person with a lifestyle demanding of at least one full-on bolt per day, I have deamed it wise to set out guidelines as to what will henceforth be known as the Gentleman's Sprint.

The Gentleman's Sprint is measured by performance and grace. Unlike the wild-eyed self-preservation dash undertaken while attempting to out-run a rabid dog, or a herd of cows, the Gentleman's Sprint must at all times appear as effortless and entirely intentional.

The above can be achieved by taking note of a few considerations. Before setting off, check outerwear, shoes, bags, hats etc for loose buckles, unfastened buttons and zips. The last thing you want is for your coat to start flapping around like Superman's cape while the contents of your case spills across the platform and your hat launches itself under the wheels of a train. In the same manner ensure shoes are sturdy enough to take a good pounding.

Most important of all is one's posture. At all times, stick chest and chin out, taking purposeful strides that say "I'm coming through and you will not stop me." Keep an arm free to deflect old people, or mothers with pushchairs.

If a ticket barrier threatens to impede progress, approach it like an Olympian at the hurdles, clear it in one bound and resume your stride.

A final dive toward the train doors is inadvisable, but if you've got that far and the train appears within reach then any method at your disposal to reach it is acceptable. This will henceforth be known as the Last Second Rule.

Follow these guidelines and you will not only reach your preferred method of public transport or place of employment, but you will have done so with a degree of dignity, excluding of course the Last Second Rule.

And you will feel confident that you can do the exact same thing all over again the next day, with your head held high.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Visvim: the sheep release

The thing about Visvim clothing is that you have to actually have it in your hands to appreciate what it's all about. Just looking at pictures like these, you would think this was the latest round of donations to be left outside the door of the local Oxfam.

But that jacket on the left is a Deckhand Jacket, based, presumably on the jackets worn by deckhands on ships (that's what the Japanese are like, call a spade a spade) with a sheep lining. I'm guessing that's just wool, but saying sheep makes it sound a little bit different, like you maybe get the head as well or something.

The tartan tablecloth on the right is a stole, which is a scarf in the shape of a tablecloth, made from cashmere no less, which, in case you didn't know, comes from a more expensive type of sheep.

So sheep feature quite heavily in this Visvim release.

No doubt the stuff will all be made to the same exacting standards as we've all come to expect from this label. And there's absolutely no doubt that as usual you'll be lucky to find this anywhere in the UK. The Hideout if you're lucky, or Dover Street Market.

Unlike sheep, which can be found on meat counters in any good supermarket.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Come on Saturn, do your worst

Ten days to go. That's when my life is going to change, 'tis writ large in the stars.

I don't usually read horoscopes, they're for girls. That's why you never find them in GQ. But one Sunday I stumbled upon my stars at the back of the Telegraph magazine and that's when I saw it.

You might call it a tip-off, I call it a worry. On October 29 Saturn, the ruler I never knew I had, moves into a new sign. This is the first time this will have happened in two years.

Without getting into the technicalities of how an entire planet moves into a new sign, this has concerned me. No one likes change, and the way this has been communicated by not one but two national newspaper astrologers feels somewhat ominous.

"What seems ideal now could be an obstacle then," muses Shelley von Strunckel in the Sunday Times. If what seems ideal Shelley? Spell it out for crying out loud and put me out of my misery.

And what do you mean by "change is in the air?" I know change is in the air. The clocks will be going back, isn't that change enough?

On the bright side this could mean I will win the lottery, get a phone call telling me a long lost aunt has left me a fortune, dig up some Saxon treasure in the garden.

All highly unlikely. Change these days doesn't seem to bring much in the way of anything good, in my experience. And now, thanks to those stargazers, I have another ten days of anxiety just waiting to see what doom awaits me.

That's the last time I read past the restaurant review in a Sunday magazine.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Hermes hoodie: Vulgarity rules

Now what do I like about this jacket? I'm struggling to think, on a style level. I mean it's a hooded leather for god's sake, two elements that should never be put together under any circumstances, unless your look is that of a boyband member. Or maybe you are one, in which case go ahead.

But I still like this jacket, for the simple fact that it is the most politically incorrect piece of clothing that has graced my field of vision in quite a while. These days there are certain times when even the wearing of a standard leather will have you batting off daggers from the cow hugging brigade, all fresh from chowing down on their plate of vegetables.

So what will they think of this offering from Hermes? It's more than just a leather hoodie. This is a calfskin (think veal, ewww) lined with ... wait for it ... mink!

Is there anything else that Hermes could add to this garment that would enrage the animal lovers more? Authentic cat paw zip pulls? Dolphin tooth buttons?

I'm not condoning the slaughter of endangered species in the manufacture of clothing - in fact I find the whole exotic skins as luxury garments thing a bit unsettling unless the rest of the animal is going to be eaten.

But I could turn a blind eye to the odd cat.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Arc'Terex Veilance: wind, rain, member's club

The thing about blazers is that while they're the best jacket in terms of a slick fit, they fall down in the protection stakes, which is a fairly big issue when you consider you really want outerwear to offer some kind of barrier to the elements.

Of course a true gent will swiftly inform you that this is what they invented umbrellas for, but I've always found umbrellas a little cumbersome to lug around, and if there's one thing you're going to leave behind in the pub ...

So the other option is to go for a waterproof blazer. Acronym do one, which fits the requirements in terms of cut, but falls down because of Acronym's preference to stick a zip or a pocket on every available surface. That just isn't going to cut the mustard down at the member's club.

The answer to this sartorial dilemma is here with the arrival of the new Veilance line by Arc'teryx. The brand best known for the sort of garments preferred by fell walkers has turned its attention to the altogether more demanding environment of smart streetwear.

The 2009 capsule collection is full of sleek jackets featuring a minimum of unnecessary detail, the stand out piece of which is this blazer.

Windstopper fabric, taped micro seams, invisible pockets and snapper buttons, this will have you wrapped up against the weather and still looking the part when you get into that trendy bar.

So now you can leave that umbrella behind in the pub and still have no reason to worry.

Find it at the Hideout, or if you're on a different continent to London, The Glade can post you one.

Raphael Saadiq: Let's take a walk

Here's something a bit smooth and funky for your Saturday morning, the perfect tune to spend that extra couple of minutes in bed.

What do you mean it's 1pm and you're already up? Get back in there!

Old Raphael's sure to be up alright with all that lot to look after. No wonder he's bursting in to song. But I can tell you this Raphael, going on about sex from the off might get things over with a bit quicker, but it's going to wear you out.

These young 'uns, they'll learn one day.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Clobber time: what I'm wearing today

Never being one to shy away from what everyone else is blogging about and for want of anything else to post right now, I bring you the first, possibly the last, and definitely a rare, glimpse of what I'm wearing.

So today I am sporting a Rapha winter jersey, Rapha tweed cap, Imperial Duke jeans held up by a Gucci Guccisima belt, and Visvim logans. On my wrist is my trusty Tudor Sub.

I have compiled this look as a kind of mid-point between grocery shopping and cycling, so I don't have to change completely for my ride, just change into my cycling shorts, which I'm not going to photograph at this moment, because they look a bit gay.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Nike Matagi pack: winter not included

Let's fast forward a few months. The snow is piling up at the back door and the wind is whistling past the windows. It's a cold and bleak night and I need more logs for the fire. They're piled up at the bottom of the garden.

Quite a task to retrieve and not one for the faint hearted, but one which I am prepared for nonetheless, because I have on my toasty feet a pair of Nike Air Baked mid QS.

All fur lined and suede in a kind of eskimo slipper type fashion but with a trainer sole, these little beauties were clearly made for late-night dashes into the frozen wastes of the mid-winter garden to restock on firewood.

All that and back in front of the fire to toast some more marsh mallows before you can say "Linford Christie," and without even having to take them off.

That's what I call versatile. What do you mean I need a pair of wellies?

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

CP Company 20th Anniversary goggle jacket

Now I wouldn't want to own this jacket myself, a little too terrace casual for me these days, although I guess I could be persuaded if I was given one of them, along with a 1932 Bugatti in which to compete in the Mille Miglia in Italy.

But there's is no denying the thought that CP Company designer Aitor Throup has put into his re-invention of the company's signature jacket. If the fact that it is made from Gore-tex, and dyed with a pigment taken from the very earth itself doesn't impress you, how about the fact that it is designed around the seated driver, so that it provides sufficient protection both standing up and while hairing down a country lane with the roof off.

Add to that the redesigned ergonomic hood, complete with trademark inbuilt goggles which make you look like a retro super hero, and you have the ultimate in technical jackets.

If you still have any doubts about the whole thing, just take a look at Aitor Throup's account of his redesign, which begins with the effect the legendary Goggle Jacket had on his career and more importantly his decision to go into fashion design. It's a tale written with the sort of passion only a true devotee could author, complete with concept sketches which are a work of art in themselves.

It's enough to make you want to speed up to Beak Street in London and grab one of those iconic creations for yourself. Then hack the roof of your Escort, just so you have an excuse to put the goggles on.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Scarves: big up your neck

I have a selection of scarves - little dandy silk numbers for when I'm feeling flouncy, nice thick heavy warm affairs to stop the ice chill of a February morning penetrating my gullet, and even a massive cotton thing I got in Ibiza one year which doubles as a beach blanket. Actually I think it is a beach blanket, it's just that I roll it up and use it as a scarf.

But no matter how many of these little oblongs of material I acquire, I can always find room for more. That's the beauty of them, they occupy the smallest of wardrobe spaces and even the most luxurious of scarves can be justified on the grounds of practicality.

Now the sporting of a scarf is not without its detractors. For the one thing, a scarf is to all intents and purposes a cravat that hasn't been properly tied, and thus a scarf tied with a flourish, like in a fancy bow, becomes a cravat. The wearer, to the uninitiated, becomes Terry Thomas, and while Mr Thomas was quite a chap, his memory does carry with it a certain caddishness, which one would be wise to carry off with confidence and more than a little self deprecation for want of being quite royally ridiculed by the opposite sex.

If in doubt of the cravatishness of one's neckwear it might be best to stick to the traditional scarf material of wool and its varying forms, and to only sport a scarf outdoors.

If you have no shame, no fear, and a penchant for the ouvert, then when it comes to scarves in their varying shapes and forms, the world is your crusty shellfish. You could even go for one of those snood thingys all the kids seem to be raving about.

Just don't tell Terry. I say!

My three preferred scarves for A/W 2009: Acronym neck gaiter, €129, The Glade; Louis Vuitton Eaton scarf, £300; CP Company light depoul wool dogtooth scarf, £75

40 Thieves featuring Qzen: Don't turn it off

Don't expect much from the video, because that light swtich is all you get. I suppose it's some kind of reference to the title of the tune, a lazy disco number reminiscent of the kind of thing they were churning out in the Studio 54 days.

This tune's been around a while but this is the first time I've found anything on it that I can post. If I come across anything else, such as a moving image, I'll let you know.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Ralph Lauren makes a decent coat? Really?

Sometimes I'm flicking through the latest mag, not really paying much attention, when I'm optically grabbed hold of by the short and curlies to stare in wonder at the sheer genius before me.

This vision can take any one of a number of forms, some of which I choose to share here, as with this Ralph Lauren over coat.

Even if I forgive him for using Ken doll models with dodgy hair, I don't even like Ralph Lauren really. Theres nothing wrong with the clothes, and let's face it, he's cornered the market when it comes to preppy dressing. But he's too good. In making his brand just the affordable side of expensive and easily available, he's become the easy option.

Can't be bothered to seek out something rare or inspired? Fear not, just slap on a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt, available on any high street.

So it was with a mixture of surprise and regret that I was looking at the perfect overcoat, the Chesterfield coat with vest, and it was made by Ralph Lauren. He only narrowly avoided being dismissed out of hand by the revelation that this garment is from his Black Label line - a more refined collection, and a bit harder to track down.

And damned expensive, I turns out. Which is why I'll let someone else have this one.

The roof is falling in

No, it's not a metaphor on the state of the economy, the roof really is falling in. The bathroom ceiling to be precise. What I always thought was a damp patch caused by the shower has turned out to be the bed of a lake, the water above growing in volume with the passing of every downpour.

The recent high winds and general monsoon-like conditions have clearly proved to be the downfall of the ceiling, which has started to bulge in an alarming manner, with water oozing through.

Now I know that on the scale of things this could be a lot worse. The bathroom could be within the house for one thing, meaning the lake could have been caused by a burst pipe - just imagine the carnage.

But it's still a pain. On the plus side, now I've (on builder's advice) poked a few holes in the plasterboard to release the water, I have the choice of two showers under which to stand in the morning. I could even do that hot/cold routine they like in Finland, or some other arctic territory.

Luxury. International luxury no less, soon with a bonus view of the sky through the collapsed roof.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Nike Livestrong M65 jacket: catch one if you can

I don't really know why I'm showing you this, because if you don't pick one up today you're going to have a bit of a job finding one.

So if you're not already living in New York or Los Angeles, you might as well forget it.

The Nike Livestrong M65 jacket is available today (October 10) only, in select stores in the US, including Undefeated LA and Nike Sportswear and Dave's Quality Meat, both in New York.

For your $395 (£247) you get a lightweight nylon jacket, with ultrasonic welded and taped back construction replacing the stitching. This means it will fold down and stash into one of its own pockets.

Now personally I can't stand that egomaniac on wheels Lance Armstrong, but he does raise money for an admirable cause, and there's no denying the personal hardship he's been through.

So before you make too much noise about that price tag it's worth remembering that the entire proceeds from the sale of this jacket go to the Livestrong foundation.

The proceeds from the plane ticket you buy to get to New York will just go to British Airways. And cost about four times the price of the coat, but hey, there's always Ebay.

Raleigh 'High Life' cyclocross bike

When I was a kid, Raleigh was the make of bike to be riding. You had your Burner BMXs, the Commando (which my overweight neighbour snapped in half), Grifter, and then there were the racers.

That was the heyday, back in the eighties. These days, Nottingham based Raleigh has about as much clout on the bike scene as Puch or that other crappy make, Universal. At least that's what I thought until I stumbled upon this Raleigh cyclocross bike, in a colourway inspired by Miller High Life.

All white with deep red graphics, some serious wheels and a pair of Easton forks just to reinforce the quality aspect.

The thing is, this bike is nowhere to be seen on the Raleigh UK website. Instead we're presented with an uninspiring selection of Airlites and Avantis.

Click over to Raleigh USA and it's a different story - single speeds, fixed gear, racers you would actually want to ride. And to add insult to injury, the website even looks good.

So what's going on Raleigh? You're an English brand, once the Number One English cycle brand, and all these years you've been churning out nothing but mediocre offerings.

Meanwhile, your American counterpart has caught the cycle zeitgeist and run with it, producing dreamy single speeds and racers to slobber over, as well as a cyclocross bike that looks so good it would be a shame to get it muddy.

Best you get your act together.

Friday, 9 October 2009

The last train from Fenchurch Street

There I am, plotted up in my usual seat, last train home, last man sober, the only one who's just worked till midnight, and there's a phone ringing.

It's one of those old fashioned ringtones, the default one you get on a Blackberry - urgent, loud, piercing - and the bloke in the seats in front of me is saying "Hello?" but he hasn't pressed the button, he's so out of it, so it's still ringing, and he keeps saying "hello?"

And after about twenty rings or so we're all telling him to push the button, and he says "Im trying", and eventually he finds it and he's speaking in this sort of gibberish, all his words merging into this monotonous tone. It's pitiful.

Then he passes out, forehead in his torpedo roll, phone in hand outstretched.

Further up the carriage, a security guard is standing between some seats. Just standing there, smiling, not saying a word, and from behind these seats you can hear a couple of blokes, sounds like they know each other, but they're getting a bit fresh, giving it the large. And all the while the guard is just standing there, smiling.

Next stop is me. That phone starts ringing, like it's some sort of alarm, right on cue. But this time it's ringing and this bloke keeps pushing the button, semi-conscious, then it rings again and again, like someone's desperate to speak to him.

So I tap him on the shoulder, tell him it's ringing.

He looks at me with this half grin, like the words have gone in but he's forgot how to process them. And then, like it's the most natural thing in the world, no dramatics, no nothing, he gives this tiny jerk and throws up. Mainly red wine by the looks of it, I can smell it now as I'm typing. It's all over the table, floating his torpedo, sloshing onto his suit.

The doors open and I'm gone. As I'm walking along the platform, I can hear a phone ringing.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Ahoy there, enormous houseboat thing

I can't really say I've had occassion to step aboard many boats in my time. Despite my best efforts I've still managed to avoid knowing anyone in possession of a ship, yacht, or even a dinghy. The nearest I have come so far to a life on the ocean waves has been the ferry to the Isle of Wight in 2004.

But that hasn't stopped me gaping in wonder at any new arrival in St Katharine Docks as I stroll through on my way to work - it might even have stoked my fascination. I spend the entire walk through the docks wondering what exactly the Dutch barge Noelle looks like below decks, and if Playbuoy really is lined in faux tiger fur as its name suggests.

Every now and then a vessel turns up that has my jaw scraping the floor. This is usually a multi-million pound Sunseeker (Eddie Jordan's, The Snapper, springs to mind) or a round-the-world yacht with a brushed alluminium hull.

Or this. Matrix Island turned up last week and it is basically a houseboat on steroids. A floating five-bedroom home. It has the lot - portholes the size of bistro tables, and double glazed windows cut out of the hull that you could fit a jetski through. There's even a water-level balcony.

Two things fascinate me about Matrix Island; first, what kind of mind decides to turn what appears to be a massive barge of some description into a floating detached house, and second, how it managed to stay afloat on the open water long enough to make it into the dock. Surely even mildly choppy water would have those windows out in a splash.

The fact it is floating at all makes it a lot more interesting than a Sunseeker.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The sun always shines at Louis Vuitton

The leaves are falling off the trees and it's been chucking it down for most of the day, so the last thing on my mind right now has to be sunglasses.

And what happens? Along comes a clip for Louis Vuitton sunglasses. As slick as the puddle outside the front door, it takes the viewer on a journey around one of the latest designs, with its Damier signature check etched into the framework and all that precision workmanship.

You just know that this is a pair of shades built to last. Especially since with the speed the winter seems to be steaming towards us, you're not going to get the chance to wear them for at least six months.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Blow me (up), it's a shopping bag

I still haven't made it to a supermarket till without having forgotten to bring one of the 2,000 Bags For Life presently spilling out of the kitchen drawer.

The thing is, it's not like I don't intend to take them. I'm an environmentally conscious person. I separate my waste.

But Bags For Life do not lend themselves to being re-used. First off, they look crap. The bags I'm constantly given are the most aesthetically unpleasing to the eye as I could possibly imagine. They have pictures of groceries on them for god's sake.

Besides that, they never seem to figure in my checklist before I leave the house. Keys and pants for sure, shoes optional. A Bag For Life? Not even on it.

But now I need to forget my Bag For Life no longer, because it will be attached to me at all times like a ripe hemorrhoid, dangling utility-like from my belt.

This is thanks to Greenaid, who have invented a re-useable shopping bag that rolls up and stuffs in a neoprene shell, shaped like a hand grenade. A weapon in the fight against climate change.

And just imagine the fun you could have with a hand grenade shaped piece of neoprene. Lob it into the basket on your trolley and watch the sea of Saturday morning grocery shoppers part before you as you make your way through the aisles. Play keepy uppey at the deli counter, volley it through the tills.

If you're really lucky you might even get the Counter Terrorism Unit to take you home with your shopping.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

These boots were made for crying

We were about halfway down the hill - about 500 yards at a push - before I knew something was seriously wrong. It was the boots. My brand new, just out of the box Visvim Serra hikers were going to kill me if I took another step. They were already killing me - it had been foolhardy to set out in nothing but a thin pair of dress socks between the leather uppers and my tender heels.

But those boots had been burning a hole in my shoe collection for a couple of months. Ever since I nabbed them at a bargain, but still eye-watering, price, they've been sitting atop my wardrobe waiting for some suitaby inclement weather to get an outing. The lack of a suitably stout pair of walking socks wasn't going to ruin their christening.

"I'm not going to make it," I said to Lizzie through gritted teeth."Leave me, and save yourself."

So Lizzie carried on down to the train station as I made the long trek back uphill, wincing with every step, to slip into something more comfortable.

The episode was proof if further were needed that the pain threshold of women is far above that of men. Lizzie also had her new shoes on - a pair of dainty little brogues. No socks, no nothing. After a trip to London which involved us getting lost in Bloomsbury and somehow ending up in Wagamama's in Soho, then tubing over to a pub in Islington before the long trek home, her feet were so raw that they were actually weeping blood. Not a whimper, all night. That's well hard.

Meanwhile, I continue to suffer. My heels are still showing the evidence of the failed outing of the Serra hikers, and even with the thick walking socks I have now invested in, they're still agony to wear some 24 hours on. I have been forced to admit that in contrast to the butter-soft nature of other Visvims, these blighters are going to need a bit of wearing in.

Looks like I'll be needing some lessons in pain control from Lizzie.