Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Old Knock and Religion

Jean-Léon Gérôme's L'Éminence Grise

This is a topic that most Old Knocks would refrain from discussing in a public forum such as this.  That is not to say that the Old Knock is reticent to discuss matters of religion.  In fact, for many, it is a topic to consumes many of their waking hours.  However, please remember that the Old Knock is a retiring sort, who prefers to avoid any type of spotlight (which makes this blog ironic indeed—until one understands that the author never really thought anyone would read it!)

(A point of clarification may need to be made here.  While an Old Knock could, theoretically, come from anywhere on the globe, it should come as no surprise that, for the most part, the Old Knock type is European in origin or extraction.  The name itself comes from a derivation of a nickname for C.S. Lewis’s tutor.  Because of this, the average Old Knock will find himself or herself coming from a Christian origin by default, if for no other reason.  This is by no means absolute, but on average it does tend to play out.  It should also not be taken for granted that this means that Old Knocks are necessarily devoutly religious, merely that their background tends to come from a European Christian society.)

All this said, there may be some broad observations that may be made in regards to the Old Knock’s religious views. 

First and foremost, the Old Knocks love and reverence for historical tradition informs his or her approach to matters religious.  Many an Old Knock takes pleasure and comfort in the solid traditions of the past.  Knowing that there is a unifying tradition of rites, linking believers together around the world and across the centuries, is a comforting thought indeed.

Along these same lines comes another important aspect of the Old Knock’s approach to religion: the picking over of the minutiae of practice.  Typically, these arguments tend to be historical, not spiritual in nature—which is why many Old Knocks feel safe to impose their opinions on others. 

If brave enough, this Old Knock may begin addressing more of these topics in coming posts, but only if the dear readers will kindly correct him when he stumbles.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Being Modern

In Cary Grant’s 1960 film The Grass Is Greener, we see an old fashioned man fighting, in his own way, for his wife against a modern millionaire.  There is a conversation near the beginning of the film between Grant’s character, Earl Vitor Rhyall, and his butler, Sellers, in which the butler lays out for his master this particular conflict of being a non-modern man in a modern world.  In this scene, Sellers is concerned because he does not seem to be able to make progress with a novel he is writing.

Sellers: Almost certainly the basic trouble is myself.  I’m fundamentally happy and contented.  That’s bad enough of course.  But on top of that, I’m normal.  That’s fatal.

Victor: Hmmm you mean you’d prefer to be unhappy and abnormal.

Sellers: (Smiling) Of course.  You see I want to be a success and to be a success one has to at least start off by being modern.  Like yourself, m’lord, I’m not.  It means I have no feeling of insecurity or frustration.  No despair.

Victor: And that’s essential.

Sellers: First essential.  I feel perfectly contented, really rather blameless and hardly resent anything at all.

Victor: Tsk, tsk.  You are in a pickle, aren’t you?

The Young Fogey: An Elegy

(I have had a link to this article for some time, but I wanted to make sure that I could still find it when needed.  So, I've mercilessly cribbed it from The Spectator.  No disrespect intended.  In fact, I wish to pay Mr. Mount the utmost compliment by attempting to save his article for posterity.  --O.K.) 

The Young Fogey: An Elegy

Harry Mount mourns the extinction of young men who wore four-piece tweed suits, including ‘westkits’, and loved the old Prayer Book 

They’re playing rap music in the jewellery department at Christie’s South Kensington. In T.M. Lewin, the Jermyn Street shirtmakers, you can dip into a fridge by the cufflinks counter and have a frozen mini-Mars while you are leafing through the chocolate corduroy jackets.

But who is left to mourn these things? In the old days, the Young Fogey, the character invented by Alan Watkins on these pages in 1984, would have been in the vanguard of the protesters, shrieking and whinnying away about the desecration of his haunts. He is silent ...because he is no more.

Twenty years after his creation, the Young Fogey has pedalled off into the sunset on his sit-up-and-beg butcher’s bike, broad-brim fedora firmly on head, wicker basket strapped to the handlebars by leather and brass ties.

He hasn’t actually died. The two archetypes of the Young Fogey mentioned by Mr Watkins — the journalist and novelist A.N. Wilson, and Dr John Casey, Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge — were only in their thirties at the time, and so are now in their fifties and in rude health. But there is no one following in their footsteps and they have abandoned the whimsical attitudes that once defined them.

The grown-up Young Fogey — now, typically, in a position of power, as are Mr Wilson and Dr Casey — will live in some style, but he’ll no longer be interested in style. You might not even notice him in a crowd. Goodbye, braces with old-fashioned fasteners and trouser waistbands strapped perilously close to the nipple line. Farewell, frockcoats cut for long-dead Victorians. No more the endless pairs of black brogues. Hello, suit of modern cut. Hello, moccasins. Hello, loafers.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Old Knock Wardrobe: Trousers

Not much to be said about them, poor old things.  They rarely fit properly, are typically getting a bit warn and could use a good wash.  But they do keep us warm and mostly dry.  They are the Old Knock trousers. 

The cut is typically loose.  An old leather belt or old tie is used to keep them snug above the navel.  The Old Knock would normally prefer that they be a bit long, as opposed to short, to keep the drafts out.  Cuffs or no cuffs?  Who knows.  It depends on what was in style when the Old Knock left home for the first time all those years ago, because these are likely to be the same trousers he or she wore back then.  As always, comfort and durability are key.  The fabric tends toward natural fibers—not for any ecological compunction, mind you, but because natural fibers tend to be softer and last longer.  The traditional Old Knock will probably prefer a nice flannel or tweed in some earthy color along the lines of mud or soot—the better to conceal muddy cuffs and coffee stains. Deep pockets are another nice addition.  Old Knocks love to fill their deep pockets with an assortment of necessary equipment for their day.  Patches here should be kept to a minimum.  After all, one doesn’t want to look like a hobo—that’s overdoing things a bit.  Elbow patches are one thing, but knee or bum patches?  Really!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Old Knock Wardrobe: Tweed Jacket with Elbow Patches

There is no other item of clothing that is more closely connected to The Old Knock in the general public’s collective imagination (even if they are not aware of the existence of such a thing as an “Old Knock”) than the Tweed Jacket with Elbow Patches.  It meets all of the requirements for an Old Knock Wardrobe item: comfortable, durable, likely handed down from generation to generation, practical.