I feel terribly at home in libraries. They are in that loathsome Millennial phrase ‘my happy place’. So it is perplexing to me that my visits to the British Library are so few. But it was to the BL that I went this afternoon to start researching a new book nominally titled The Savile Row System. I can’t say much more than that other than it is a Su Thomas, James Sherwood and Sam Clark production and could be a super title for Thames & Hudson.
It feels like millennia ago that I finished the text and layouts for Jewellery for Gentlemen and yet we still have to wait until September this year for the publication date. As of May 1st I am resuming work on the Henry Poole & Co monograph Henry Poole: Founding Father of Savile Row. The lion’s share of the text is written and I am more than ready to get started on the picture research. We know all the noble British, European and Russian royal and aristocratic customers so it should be relatively straightforward to track down surviving garments.
I feel a book comes alive for me when we start working on the pictures. The text is done and all we need to do is sprinkle the magic over the book with pictures that bring the words to life. The British Library is a phenomenal achievement built around a glass cube that contains the King’s Library: a collection of over 38,000 books gifted from King George III to the British Library when it was housed at the British Museum.
I was too young to visit the BL when it was kept at the BM. It must have been magical to research at desks that played host to Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster; two of my heroic authors. Still, the British Library in Kings Cross isn’t too shabby. They have a museum dedicated to the treasures of the collection that blew me away today. There are drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, musical scores penned by Purcell and illuminated manuscripts in miniature gilded and jewelled to within an inch of their lives. This paper archive is worth more than gold.
We had a very productive meeting at the BL who have an archive of tailoring magazines unsurpassed in the world. These illustrated journals will be the backbone of The Savile Row System and I think Su, Sam and I will create another first in publishing. We shall see what we shall see. Another pleasure of the day was adding to my vinyl collection. I bought Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black that sounds sensational with the crackle and groove of vinyl. She was the Billie Holiday de nos jours.
I am feeling so much calmer since ‘the troubles’ died down. I am no longer slipping a Bailey’s Irish cream into my morning hot chocolate and wait until cocktail hour for my first lick of Prosecco. I am also writing furiously which is always a good sign. Some people need rest after a manic episode. I want to get back to work. Give me a project and watch me fly again.
Not that I don’t need rest. I do my best to be in bed alone at midnight at the moment and to get at least six hours’ sleep. This is the max for me. Any more time sleeping is time wasted. I can get plenty of shut eye in the Chapel of Rest darling. There is work to be done and I am chomping at the bit to get on with it.
The one element of my life before the recent troubles that I cannot subscribe to is being suited, booted and tied every working day. I don’t feel like wearing my suits at the moment and don’t want to choke my neck with ties. So I’ve gone back to the early 90s when I used to wear suits with Converse trainers and T-shirts. If it looks anachronistic well screw it. Sue me. I’ve also blonded my hair as it has never been since the 1980s. And my dear blondes do have more fun.
Now the dust has settled from the troubles I have re-assessed my friendships and have found Su, Richard, La Farmer, Mr Bowering and Mr Brown to be top of my list of lifesavers. These wonderful people rang my doorbell when I had gone silent for more than a week. They kept on texting and phoning to check-in and make sure I hadn’t checked-0ut. My parentals have been particularly good and for that I am eternally grateful.
You certainly get to know who your true friends are when manic depression takes over one’s mind. I got in touch with my favourite (read only) Aunt to say hello. She told me she’d taken a step back because there was nothing she could do to help. That’s a laugh. She hadn’t stepped forward for the best part of a year. Not even a phone call. This I find disappointing. If the boot were on the other foot I’d have been up that motorway at warp speed to help her along. Still, you live and learn.
I’m with Amy Winerack on Rehab. I say no, no, no. I remain a heavy drinker who can function perfectly well in the working arena. In fact I would go so far as to say I am always two drinks away from top form hence the dependence on Dame Booze. I find it hard to live without a little drinkie every day. It is in my physical and mental nature to enjoy lifting a few. Honit Soit Qui Mal Y Pense. Until next time…