As we receive an increasing amount of international attention, I shall once again write a few lines in english. This time, the reason is given by an exile english drone. Together with his dronette and family, he bravely left England to find his new habitat in the perhaps only region in the world producing as much rain as the isles of Britain: Småland. That is, except for Göteborg. The Amazon Jungle, and of course, the backyard of my little crocodile hunting summer cottage in a Southarfrican river delta.
Like we often say while staying in the latter: ”Logi mara chache ikifungwa peke yake katika Limpopo”, which freely translated from Swahili means ”A log rarely floats alone in the Limpopo”, we welcome Mr Findlay Northice to Sweden. May your tweed never hang unused in the dark of the wardrobe. A fellow drone in Sweden, is never more than a click away from us. Even though the damp and chilly northly winds of Vättern may cause the feeling to arise.
Goodness, what’s all this here? A Drones Club, in jolly ol’ Scandiland? How too, too perfect. Mind if I share a tale? Smashing. Make yourself comfortable on the Chesterfield, or whatever it is you Viking types use for furniture. Reindeer, I shouldn’t wonder (I jest!). Do so, for I have something to impart, if you would…
My summer – by month if not climate – was one of gin-fuelled hazes in London. Various rendezvous found me ensuring I was fully betweeded, or at the least dashed-well linened for the moments where Henry Hall’s famous anthem could be truthfully sung.
However, even in London, as an enthusiastic advocate of the Dandy Revolution, one garners looks from passers-by for what is, simply, appropriate dress for the city (no brown in town, but one’s pocket square the foil to a flawless button-two super-150 navy business suit, tailored with no compromise for lapel width and mirror-buffed Oxfords by Barker’s; the usual.)
Granted, these looks varied. From the gawps of underfed blackguards scuffing around Brick Lane in ‘vintage’ (Gah!) brogues and pedal-pushers, unfamiliar with Cherry Blossom polish, through to the disparaging ones from off-duty tailors lurking around Burlington Arcade in St. James’s, lazily surmising the darting on the rear of one’s shirt, even beneath a waistcoat. But then, the only thing worse than being stared at, is not being slightly despised for such a sharp silhouette.
Nonetheless, this fear lingered…
It was sidelined, mercifully, by the Blitz Party in London’s Old Vic Tunnels. A few Chaps were visible, and unlike the children wearing daddy’s shirt, H&M trousers and — heaven forefend — clip-on braces, those of us who knew simply acknowledged each other with a subtle inclination of the head (no hats here, we were indoors, after all). Just as with our tailoring, we held ourselves a cut above (regardless of evidence to the contrary, such as titles, income, qualifications, etc).
It was sunk yet further by the Glorious Victory which was the Siege of Savile Row; Ambercrombie & Fitch’s global empire began its inexorable decline that day, chased off in a fug of Turkish shag and a well-buffed cap or three. We marched on their building to the chant of ‘All we are saying/ Is give three-piece a chance’ led by the not-bally-well-famous-enough-yet Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer. The world’s press reported us, and knew that here was a deceptively poorly-organised but perfectly-groomed group of fellows who were Terribly Put Out. (Of course, a less formidable band would have been found at around 5 in the afternoon, as the last of us shambled — nothing to do with the gin, you understand — out of the French House in Soho, wherein we celebrated our evisceration of the opposition, slipping as leather sole met rain-soaked pavement to mingle with the non-pie eyed commuters at Oxford St tube.)
My fear was pushed to the welted soles of my co-respondents by a chum’s wedding in the country. A new Fulton walking umbrella and an outing for the high-crown Derby, and some exceptional claret courtesy of HM Forces saw a happy day for Brigadier and Mrs O’Mara. This preceded catching a friend revelling in his role as musical director at the glorious, art-deco Aldwych theatre for one of Irving Berlin’s finest — and in this instance — most perfectly costumed musicals, Top Hat. A dip in temperature even mitigated a late outing for the Crombie (1965, Meaker’s of Picadilly, button-three) at said soiree.
Summer floated around yet more. Friends in Richmond and Hyde park danced in and out of shadow. Cufflinks were changed, panamas set rakishly, and cravats knotted looser still as for a few days the sun found its place above England’s capital. Summer, and I, were at our respective zenith. Given its convenient location a short saunter from my chambers, I passed through the Tea House Theatre many times (run by the obscure Hal Iggulden, of the Dangerous Book for Boys fame) and revelled in all the decadence and debauched dandyism that makes Vauxhall, even now, such a wonderful part of town.
I had all but forgotten my lingering concern, as, charmed with a brace of stunning women, I attended, feeling very much ‘the cock of the walk’, and certainly the cock of something, the true sporting occasion of 2012 in London: The Chap Olympiad, in glorious Bloomsbury. Again, your honour, the details escape me as events of later in the day have left strong images but unreliable memories burned into my cortex. I recall marvellous umbrella jousting, some rather unfortunate baiting of butlers, exceptional trouser-scrimmaging, and folk disporting themselves suitably appallingly on the Field of Pleasant Dreams. Additionally, as throughout all the year, superb tea and cake were at levels which must not — and shall not — be compromised. And again, things ended rather appallingly, and somewhat late, with the inevitable detriment to one’s employment prospects.
Now, my dear thing, please don’t misunderstand me. It is not to say that I am not steering all my industrial ships safely through the ice-field, helming them exceptionally from the bridge, in an appropriate — given my naval bent — button-six double-breasted overcoat. It’s just that, well, one is preferred to join the Watch on time i.e. seven bells exactly, not ‘seven bells give or take twenty minutes, plus one last puff on the meerschaum, sir’.
And thus my fear was realised. Such idling and bonhomie finds me forcibly re-employed outside not just the comfort of zone 1 (London transport regions…) but outside the comfort of, well… where are we now? Zone 7, I would imagine? To be honest, it could be zone 2 for all I know of such tundra. I digress…
I arrived, afeared, in a country with, I thought, no great chappist legacy. No Terry Thomas, no Beau Brummell, no Noel Coward nor Tony Hart, not even a Mark Gattis, dammit. But Sweden, in the occasional chappist flashes, you have reassured me. Yes, I receive looks in even the mildest of outfits from the Gina Tricot/ H&M Nordiclones, but really, if one does not achieve such attention, one simply isn’t making the required effort.
And then, yet further the Drones Club confirmed that, even here in sleepy Småland, the Dandy Revolution is happening apace. So much so that when I stood in the shadow of the beautiful red-brick Husqvarna factory, Euphonium in hand,new Edwardian-watch fob in waistcoat, I felt that perhaps my fear had been unfounded. That here in Sweden, a chap is, indeed, a Thing To Be.
And so, my dear Swedish chaps, I doff my hat to you: in the most appropriate of the 73 ways, and look forward in some way, at some juncture, to doing so in person. Huzzah to you all! Huzzah!
Mr Findlay Northice