Sunday, 10 February 2013

a man's a man for a' that

for a' that, and a' that,
his ribband, star, and a' that:
the man o' independent mind
he looks a' laughs at a' that

There are certain things, it seems, that as men we should own. I'm sure there are similar lists for ladies but  I'm not acquainted with any such list. I stumbled upon a list recently that you may wish to peruse purely for pleasure.

I did actually spend a few minutes thinking about these items - to a certain degree, it's mainly about what's called in the guitar fraternity GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) but some of the items on the list make sense. Certainly not all. So, I thought I'd spend a few moments going through the list - much as I hope you all will.

1. I have NEVER owned a pair of brogues - I'm not sure I'd recognise a pair if I tripped over them but they look like the sort of things skinheads in the 1970s used to chase me through the mean streets of Stevenage with.  I may not recognise them but I've probably felt them against my head a few times.

2. A toy - the list suggests a Strat as one of the possible "toys", so yes, I own two. Both American originals and one of them I have mentioned before, the other I bought in memory of my mother as she left me a small amount of money when she died. I have lots of toys, especially in this modern digital age, but I agree that we all need a hobby (no matter how awful we are at it).

3. Isn't that the fate of all bits of old clothing?

4. Just having a watch is enough in this day and age. Lots of younger humans can't tell the time nowadays. I'm happy with my Timex Expedition - it glows in the dark! It tells the time.  Er . . .that's it.

5. I have a picture of my wife, me and our three kids on the beach nearby.  I have another one of me with my eldest daughter and dad and grandad.  All happy enough. I guess that now everything is Facebooked and recorded and updated every other second, that seems like it's nothing unusual.

6. My father bought me a Black and Decker drill and electric saw as a Wedding gift. The saw eventually gave up the ghost but the drill continues and is regularly put to use - even my son uses it now. Fantastic present. I must admit that the Bosch saw is much better than the original B&D one but it lasted for years and was certainly an incredibly useful piece of kit for many years. Actually, the Bosch cuts straighter.

7. Well, there always seems to be one in the house somewhere. I don't really like the stuff but it's always handy to have one around. other people like it. So they say. Useful every 31st December.

8. Well, what can you say? It's obviously a useful thing to have around - if only to order stuff from Amazon.  What do you mean, you use your debit card? It's not protected whereas credit cards are, automatically.

9.  Well, I've got a few of those but my favourite is an Oysterband one that says " Lord Protect Us" on the front and "From Your Followers" on the back. I've had a few "looks" from people for that one. There are some bands that it won't ever look cool wearing one - that doesn't stop some people wearing them. However, a new freshly laundered "Led Zeppelin Knebworth Road Crew" T-shirt will always look naff.

10. A good fountain pen is,indeed, a thing of wonder. Amongst the Lamy's and others, my Rotring Art Pen is still a thing of beauty. I just used it to jot down the list from the MH site. I'm not sure if it fits the list but - well, who cares?

11. The Godfather trilogy on dvd. I own it. I have watched it. However, there are better things - Once Upon A Time In America for a start. Sorry.

12. Well, what can I say? Kate Bush? Joni Mitchell circa Blue? Madelaine Smith . . . .etc

We've all got our own lists, so what do we think? What should we own? It's interesting that they never put Richard and Linda Thompson's I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight on the list but I guess that it's assumed everyone owns it anyway.

Oh yes! Good friends. How come they're not on the list? Probably the most important item.


Mike C. said...


I have to say, if there's one thing guaranteed to raise my hackles, it's these bloke-ish lists that are basically "normality" checks (makes me think of dogs sniffing each other).

I expect this one was paid for by the Brogue Shoe Manufacturers Association... ("Oh God, I'm not normal, I don't own a pair of shoes with decorative holes! To the shops!!")

I do like "moth-gored", though (from no. 3 in the original list)... positively Shakespearean, hardly "normal" at all.


Zouk Delors said...

Dave, I can't be bothered to page back and forth between sites (especially at 3G data speeds), so 4/10 for readability and see me. Also I'm inclined to agree with Mike's points (except I don't really get the arse-sniffing analogy). It's a classic below-the-line (-belt?) promotional technique to work your product into a list of recognised high-status items. I recently saw a "Great Crooners" cd of standards sung by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and - wait for it - Michael Bubbly (yeah, I know)!

Dave Leeke said...


Apologies all round - I was obviously bored yesterday evening after dinner. Probably had some school work to do.

Anyway, I agree that these lists are really for advertising or just demonstrate a lack of ideas. But what is it about lists? Newspapers, magazines and TV schedules are full of these celebrations of mediocrity. I know what you're saying, Zouk, but most of these things aren't really "desirable" are they? Or do some people really need to be told what to wear and how to wear it? What was that line in "Life of Brian"? "We're all individuals"

Anyway . . . I must go and polish my new brogues . . .

Mike C. said...


No need to apologise -- you're clearly not endorsing the list, or the idea behind it!

Besides, these new brogues have really boosted my alpha-male quotient, especially worn with my moth-gored Steely Dan t-shirt!


Zouk Delors said...

I refuse to look at the list!

Did have a nice pair of brown brogues a while back though, which I got for a 5er off the cobbler in Middle Row. Leather soles. Didn't Frank Zappa sing "Brown Shoes Don't Make It"?

eeyorn said...

Notwithstanding the caveats on product placement and blokish lists, I'd agree that a pair of good quality comfortable shoes are a must. Mine are not brogues and I'm OK with that.

I'd also go along with the need for a toy. Mine would be a good replacement for my Strad-copy violin, last seen in Bulgaria about 4 years ago. I'd also hope to supplement it with a good acoustic guitar and a quality camera.

No booze in the house(it evaporates too quickly), no credit card, haven't worn a watch in years and as Zouk will no doubt confirm, my day-to-wear consists of a selection moth-eaten or cigarette burned items which would be wasted as gardening apparel, since I don't have a garden.

I do however own a fairly pristine tee-shirt commemorating Roy Harper's 4 gigs in 2 weeks at De Barras pub in Clonakilty, his adoptive home. Circa 2005.

And I do, of course, own a copy of 'Bright Lights'.

Dave Leeke said...

Other than the obligatory copy of "Bright Lights" I would expect everyone to have an acoustic guitar. Mine is a rather superb Fylde that I bought in 1977 for £250, the equivalent nowadays to about £1500. I could never afford to buy such a quality instrument today.

Times were much simpler then. I had few things to spend money on beyond music and beer - quite where such a large amount of money (at the time) came from, though should probably remain a mystery.

A master craftsman made it and I shall hope to keep it for the rest of my days.

A camera is another creature all together. I have rarely bothered with photos until recently. Having a iphone with me constantly has meant that I can take snaps - and that's all they are - wherever and whenever I am. I leave photography to those, like Mike, who have devoted their lives to it. As Mike's blog demonstrates, a good photograph can be a thing of rare beauty. However, sometimes a snap can help enhance a landscape or capture a moment that words can often fail to fully do justice to.

Martyn Cornell said...

Brogues? Pah. A pair of black Church's Oxfords, kept properly polished and well soled-and-heeled, is vastly superior. They really DO go well with jeans or a suit. Champagne, except if you're paying £80+ a bottle, is dreadful value for money: if you MUST have sparkling wine in the house for sudden celebrations, make it Domaine Chandon or something similar. A drill? Useful, but not as useful as a 3lb lumphammer. And rather than a Swiss watcgh, every man should have a Swiss Army knife. Vastly more useful.

Zouk Delors said...

A lump hammer, eh, Martyn? Heh! Heh!

I've got one of those too, acquired in the same way as yours, I suspect, as part of a job lot with trowel, bolster and two strung pegs.

It has come in handy more than once but the shelves I used it to put up were a disaster. Maybe a combined electric drill and lump hammer kit is the ideal present for the man's man?

PS Any idea where to get spare toothpicks for the Swiss Army knife?

Dave Leeke said...

Martyn, Zouk,

I totally agree about the Swiss Army Knife. I sent mine off last year to be cleaned up. It came back almost brand new - several parts were replaced. And it was all done free!

For spares, try:

Toothpicks, funny skinny biros, everything!

I like the credit card sized ones but keep breaking them (or losing them).

Zouk Delors said...

Haha! Just tried to follow your link to see about a toothpick. Unfortunately I'm on Costa's wifi and their customers are prevented from visiting that site, or its likes*. They need to be kept safe, obviously.

*Please note that I'm using "its likes" (ironically) in what I believe is the traditional, pejorative sense and not after the recent wider-ranging and all-pervading fashion. (Pedant? Moi?)

Zouk Delors said...

Haha! Just tried to follow your link to see about a toothpick. Unfortunately I'm on Costa's wifi and their customers are prevented from visiting that site, or its likes*. They need to be kept safe, obviously.

*Please note that I'm using "its likes" (ironically) in what I believe is the traditional, pejorative sense and not after the recent wider-ranging and all-pervading fashion. (Pedant? Moi?)

Dave Leeke said...

'Please note that I'm using "its likes" (ironically) in what I believe is the traditional, pejorative sense and not after the recent wider-ranging and all-pervading fashion'

Er, you might have to help me here, Zouk, not too sure about this one (a long, surreal week etc). I may be an English teacher but not THAT expert on language. Blimey, I got in through the skin of my teeth with a degree in literature and sociology.

You can fool some of the people some of the time . . . .*

*I'm only pedantic about things I feel superior about. So, not too many things, then. . .

Zouk Delors said...

Nothing really to explain, Dave, except that unless it's my imagination you hear and read the expression a lot in the media nowadays, where perhaps before "and such" might have stood, or even the actual characteristics only alluded to by "the likes of".

I doubt it's likely to impinge on your school curriculum much. As for your secret about the sociology degree, I won't tell a soul.

Anyway, the main point was Costa customers being denied access to toothpicks, presumably so they aren't facilitated in the procurement of weapons(?). I'm assuming that the word "knife" triggered the blockade (and that probably by O2, who provide the service to the cafe), but I don't really know. Is this an example of internet police?

Have fun decorating. I'm sure Junior will be happy to lend a hand in the circumstances.

Dave Leeke said...

Right, I'm with you now - after a good night's sleep (the first of the week). Lots of people, especially kids, drop "like" into their conversations continuously:

"And he said was I going out tonight and I was like, yeah!"


"And I was like angry."

So were you actually angry or just like it? Anyway, I blame satellite tv and the plague of bad American soaps and comedies.

The insurance people were in yesterday and it's all sorted and there's a "Restoration" company* coming on, like, Monday. Hopefully the extent of the decorating for us will be choosing the colours!

*I think that's right - she may have said a Restoration Comedy, I'm not sure now.

Zouk Delors said...

You mean like:

, right?

I was thinking more the likes of Melvyn Bragg (and such).

Glad you're sleeping better again.

Dave Leeke said...

Yeah, exactly that! I wonder if the dancers got the irony?

But, you know, it's like 'yeah' you know, wow, I was like. . .

. . . well, sentient . . .