Should old acquaintance be forgot…

Towards the end of the year the Boulevardier’s ponderings are reflective. I embrace sentiment and this time of year lends favourably.

The song that we link hands and arms to, and sing at the stroke of midnight, and usually through an alcohol hazed fog, makes me not only ring in the New Year but think on old acquaintances   – particularly those whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in a while.

When we are young(er) we push forward into life enthusiastically and rarely look back. I think back to the time of leaving school. These were the days before the (American) Prom was born in the UK and we collected our exam results and scattered to the corners of the country/world pursuing our dreams whether travel, education or employment. Of course there are those we stayed in touch with and I am proud to still be in regular contact with several members of my junior school class.

Those that were acquaintances rather than close friends were rarely brought to mind.

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This all changed in 2000 with the advent of Friends Reunited. WOW! A revelation indeed. In the early days of that site you could enter your details against your school year and send messages to other classmates (as long as both had paid for membership).

Social networking exploded thereafter with Facebook and Twitter seeming to take lead positions. Photos, stories, drama and the mundane acts of life unfold in our newsfeeds.

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I have been involved in both attending and coordinating reunions arranged over social media. We have set up school pages and everyone has added school photos.

This simply wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago.

I have met, re-met, and become friends with those who were previously acquaintances and realised what great friends we could have been at school too. I’m not going to give myself too hard a time about it though as my school was massive with over 1500 pupils and my year alone was in excess of 250. However, I suspect that irrespective of the size of the school, lots of people who are a similar age to me will report comparable experiences.

Social media comes under the scrutiny of those who believe it’s taking away from real life, person to person interactions. If I had a pound for every time someone said ‘I don’t need Facebook, as I see my friends.’ I would be a very rich man. Some of these sceptics have subsequently become avid social media users.

As long as there’s perspective you can reach a much wider audience than you would through traditional methods and help maintain remote and infrequent friendships.

For example how many postcards would we previously have sent from holidays? Ten maybe? And how many would arrive after the holiday had expired?

My newsfeed on Facebook is awash with shots of beautiful beaches, sunsets, and bronzed (sometimes red) friends in real time.

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I suspect the term ‘friends’ is the reason some became foxed. Not everyone who I connected with on Facebook would be classed as a friend in traditional terms. One definition is someone who you know, like and trust. My connections are a multifarious collection of people from school, work and previous places of employment, work clients, those I’ve played internet- based games with, those with similar interests connected through mutual friends, and some I’ve come to know through other networking sites like Twitter.

When I became ill at the beginning of 2013 and looked for support I went to Facebook. The volume of wellwishers and kind thoughts was overwhelming through my posts and private messages.

Problems start to incur however, when some start to live their lives through Facebook and stop engaging in real life. Social Media addiction is also a recognised condition. But this is a story in itself and not part of my reflection today.

It will be interesting to look back in twenty years and understand whether those who are young and leaving school in the Facebook era stay in more regular contact with a larger group throughout their lives and whether this does impact on real face to face meeting.

In any event I shall post on New Year’s Eve a message of gratitude and well wishes to all those I am in contact with over social media and be grateful for the love, support and laughs we have shared either in real life or online as both are invaluable to me. And that includes YOU, all my lovely blog readers!

May 2014 prosper for y’all!

TNW

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Tis the season to start getting ready for the season

What is it all about? Your Boulevardier loves immersing in the spirit, the smells, the tastes (especially the mulled wine), the sparkle and the music. I have already had celebratory dinners with good friends, attended early Xmas parties, a festive show by Mari Wilson, an orchestral winter concert, a Christmas musical show hosted by the Supreme Fabulettes and a 40th birthday bash. Yet to come are classy lunches, a carol concert at Westminster Abbey and of course the Selfridges sale on Boxing Day.

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But does it really mean anything else to me, something deeper?

It’s quite often said that no one should be on their own for Christmas or not get a hot meal. But there are many people worldwide who are alone and lonely, and without a hot meal on the other 364 days of the year. Do they feed lonelier at Christmas because they are told to?

I love the superficial side of Christmas as sited above but struggle with the deeper meanings or real sense of giving just because of the season.

Conversations surround us of anxiety to make certain gifts are appropriate and appreciated. I do actually prefer to give presents when someone needs or wants something, or for an event such as a wedding or anniversary.

Is it a time of goodwill to all men? Or is it a time when people put up a faux happiness and allege a sanctimonious good will to all?

I wasn’t sure.

And then I heard something several weeks ago which has moved me tremendously.

The Haberdashery, an independent café in Crouch End, which I have previously wrote about put out the following message:

We need your help! Please read…

On Christmas day we will be providing Christmas Dinner and entertainment
to about 30 elderly people that would otherwise either have no means to celebrate,
or be lonely.

This will happen at The Haberdashery in Crouch End.

The guests will be chosen by AgeUk, a local charity that looks after
elderly lonely people.

On the day we will provide Christmas Dinner (with all the trimmings),
drinks, Bingo, Secret Santa, music and lots of happiness!

I need your help though.

There are many ways to help:

– donating any amount of money (even £1.00 would help!) to go towards the
food and drinks for the day (any extra money leftover will be donated to
AgeUk)
– donating a present for secret Santa
– donating a bottle of wine or something that would be consumed on the day
(mince pies/Christmas pudding/turkey etc…). Please do get in touch if
you want to donate food/drinks so can organise not to have 20 turkeys and
no booze!
– fundraising through your friends/family/customers/circles… Seriously,
£1.00 each could make the difference!
– by donating any old item you might do not want anymore: we will have a
table selling all the donations at the Christmas Barboot at The
Haberdashery. Books, shoes, clothes, anything will do!
– spreading the word through twitter, facebook, word of mouth…
– putting me in touch with someone that might be able to help with
discounted food or someone that might want to donate for this cause

Any donations would be extremely helpful!

For the first time in years I am looking forward to Christmas day like
when I was a kid!!! Super excited!!!

Spread the love,

Massimo.

It was clear to me then. The religious, and the sanctimonious reasons for Christmas don’t matter. It is a time when the truly generous in our midst get together to be with family and friends, and help those in need.

The elderly in our society are often overlooked unfortunately, and have only their memories of enjoying wonderful Christmas lunches and celebrations in the past. Surely the elderly will rejoice the most in sending and receiving Christmas cards. They won’t be as competent online or use Facebook or Twitter. However, how can they send cards when the cost of a second class stamp is now 50 pence. When you multiply the price of cards and stamps by the amount you send the cost skyrockets.

Family is so important and I wouldn’t miss Christmas lunch at my parents. The time with my ageing parents, aunties and uncles is precious. However, I want to make sure the Haberdashery have all the help they need with this amazing and selfless initiative.

I offered to go and help, but they already have so many helpers on the day, which is fantastic in itself. I have to say I’m not sure my waiting skills would be up to much, but I would make a great welcomer or accompanying Sherry drinker.

So it’s the fundraising that I’ve focussed on. I set about speaking to a number of local retail businesses and was overwhelmed by their generosity to this cause. Any surplus generated will be presented to Age UK.

If you live in or around Crouch End, own a local business or have the means to contribute please let me or the Haberdashery know.

This to me is Christmas. It’s time to help those less fortunate than us and I think a Boulevardier engages in these activities and gives his all…

I even have a few decorations up at home (some borrowed) to really get into the swing which makes the Sherry taste much sweeter!

Have great holidays my lovely readers!

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TNW

Rules of a displaced Boulevardier

To celebrate over six months of weekly blogging I thought it was time to share with you the very essence of a displaced Boulevardier.

The trusty World Wide Web tells us that a Boulevardier is a man who promenades the fashionable streets of Paris. In other words an urbane, fashionable city dweller, who is usually of higher class and has knowledge of the city, and in particular how to find the best advanced cultural entertainment.

I do think that Crouch End is a suitable replacement for Paris. I also just about manage to replicate the criteria albeit in a displaced fashion.

I will now enlighten (and hopefully entertain) you by providing the seven areas of consideration in my self help guide.   

Hair

A Boulevardier, however displaced, should have a good head of hair. This should be coiffured into a chic style. The quiff is a good example of en vogue tresses, which equally retains a classic and classy element.

Regular visits to the salon are also required. Barbers do serve a purpose, but seem to deal more in volume sheerings than dazzling creations.

The most important part of the appointment is the initial consultation. It is not enough to provide the instruction

‘Just a trim please.’

The Tonsorial Artist will perform much better with a detailed description of each area of the how the cutting should take place for each area of the head.

For example ‘Please don’t cut any length from the front and top. The sides and back should be much shorter, and as short as possible without showing the scalp, and disconnected from the top rather than graduated.’

Healthy (some might say excessive) attention to clothing

Fashion is constantly changing and evolving, and while it would be fantastic to keep right up to the minute with every microscopic change it’s simply not practical. It is important to ensure sartorial sophistication exudes from your wardrobes and this can be achieved by developing your own essence of cool. Of course this will be wrapped around various genres, from hippie to punk, but it will be your own.

A cautionary note should be added. Please check with your friends and family first to validate your ability for natural panache, as without this creating your own style could lead to disaster.

Adding the right and the right number of accessories is vital. Think jewellery, manbag (to manbag or to not?), and shades. Shades are mandatory and the choice should be around which pair to wear.

And contrary to popular belief a man can never have enough shoes.

Social Media Presence            

Updating social media is an art. Each tweet, status update or photo should be interesting and make the reader or viewer wish they were in your world.

For instance if you wake feeling too tired to get up, then you post should read something like the following

‘Decadently lounging in bed savouring endless cups of tea.’

Timing your updates is also key and ensuring you still pay sufficient attention to any company you are keeping. It’s not wise to constantly update when you are in a social situation but sometimes needs must. Much will depend on the duration of your social intercourse. If you are meeting for a short lunch then it’s probably not prudent to be constantly tapping your phone or tablet, but if it’s a longer affair then it’s only reasonable to keep in touch with your wider circle.

Theatre, concerts and the arts

Regular visits to all manner of cultural events are required and enjoyed. Crouch End is vibrant with its own annual arts festival, and with so many nearby local theatres there is always something to watch and enjoy.

From the revue showings of new plays in bars to the acoustic music sessions in the cafes there is always something on.

These experiences should enrich your cultural conversational referencing.

We even had crocheted squares and woven pompoms decorating the trees and railings near the Clock Tower this summer.

Immergence and appreciation of all artistic expression is required.

Elegant Hosting

This is the area of Boulevarding (I think I just invented a new verb!) I struggle with most. The kitchen is not my natural sanctuary. If you think Carrie from Sex and the City, and her redundant kitchen you won’t be too far from the truth. However, I would like to protest that it is almost sacrilegious to stay in when there are global gastronomical opportunities minutes from my residence. Crouch End is bountiful with eateries. Everything from Caribbean fusion to Pan Asian via Spain, Italy, Turkey and Japan to name just a few.

The hosting at my home is finer tuned to thirst quenching and entertainment. My piano forte is often in use.

Drink Sherry and Tanqueray

A preferred tipple which coincidently sets you aside from the pack is also a bonus.

Sherry has certainly made a comeback in recent years, and our palates have been warmed to an excellent Fino or a darker Amontillado. Sherry is an elegant drink to enjoy and certainly raises the eyebrows of most bar staff when requested.

However, while it has been revived Sherry is not freely available. It is therefore important to have an alternate in mind. I oft for Tanqueray a lesser known London gin. My spirit of choice has long been gin, and I really don’t like the taste of the default Gordons. Amy Winehouse introduced me to the joys of Tanqueray when she sang of it in her track You Know I’m No Good.

If in doubt ask ‘What would Amy do?’

Replace ‘Amy’ with your own hero but it has to be someone qualified in style, cool and presence.

I hope my short and perhaps self-indulgent guide spurs some of you into the joys of Boulevardier hood.

TNW