A scoundrel's top 10 list
Or what's really laying around our den, and why
We've been unforgivably quiet of late, we know. What can we say? Life, family, work (or lack thereof) and dodging the American Express hit-men takes time and true determination.
However, my recent lack of structured and coherent enthusiasm came to a grinding halt when I stumbled across The Gentleman’s Journal taking a stab at the top 10 items every respectable gent simply must have, dahling.
And it got me to thinking: what do the rest of us scoundrels need and actually have laying about our dens? And, more interestingly, why?
So, without further ado, and with more than a nod to TGJ for shaking us out of our funk, here's my very own, uncensored Top 10:
There's no denying art, and appreciation and understanding thereof, are hugely dependent on what you were exposed to as a pup. Sure, you can learn and expose yourself as an adult (avoid the park, folks), however I'm a firm believer in strong, deep foundations, in part because my mother was an architect and both her and my father avid collectors of art in all its forms.
Variety, continuous challenge and avoiding the superficial traps are the only real rules to buying art. That and buying what you truly love, what moves you. Often to tears given how much you spent on the bastard.
Beating my brothers, during the splitting up of my mother's estate, to this 1973 Self-Portrait by the ever-pained and distorted Francis Bacon was a masterstroke. It was made all the sweeter by their attempts to, quite literally, lift it off my wall more times than I can count. I've looked at this for as many years as I can remember and still can't fathom or figure it out. Which is the point of truly great art: a vision without end.
Another guerilla art sale by my family hair-dresser, this one is both amusing, mocking and a unique piece by what many recognise as one of the great living artists: Robert Combas. His works are usually far too loud, demanding and colourful for me, so a simple golden-penned piece entitled "Picasso fait le con avec un minotaure idiot"("Picasso fucking around with a stupid minotaur") is a life-long joke that continues to give. It's also from the 1990s, in the hopes of connecting with the millenials and other generational sub-genres.
I'm a sucker for geometry. Not the actual topic, mind you, but the forms that emanate from it, and the degree to which they can sustain interest despite being a bunch of shapes and lines. I'm also proud to call myself Belgian, which is why this drawing from renowned Belgian artist Gaston Bertrand is hung opposite my bed. I won't speak further to the matter, folks, apart from telling you I have no idea what the hell it's called.
2. Wall of Sound
The good news is that hi-fi is back with a vengeance, thanks to hi-rez formats, resurging interest in vinyl and tin-cans (headphones, kids). So, when folk offer up a disheveled all-in-one speaker here and a simpering whimper there, I've adopted a different approach. It's called the man-cave wall of sound, but 21st century style. This means light decorative touches, smooth lighting, comfortable furniture and as many speakers as you can squeeze in the frigging hole. Speakers are courtesy of Focal-JMLab, specifically their Utopia line; don't have time right now to detail the rest of the system. All of this is nicely boxed in thanks to incredibly helpful acoustic panels. The result? Well, I'd have to invite you over to experience it for yourself…
I was in my teens when I bought this seminal piece. It's another Belgian creation, one from master bladesmith Jean Tanazacq who has chosen a boar as his logo. You wouldn't want to mess with the man or question his skills: full tang blades, compressed leather handles and brass for the hilt and pommel. It's delicious, heirloom-quality protection for those who understand why knife-fighting is learned not first, but last. Cue "Leon".
While gentlemen require robes, scoundrels have a somewhat different perspective: dress completely and properly or wear your birthday suit. Perhaps that's why this robe — a lovely wedding gift — remains as intact as the day it was received. Shame, really: looks quite comfortable.
Coffee table books are akin to fake graduation diplomas and honorific degrees: intellectual and cultural padding. However, these two display both the depth of my own religious ignorance and my family's delicate, subliminal messaging about where they would like me to spend my time. And what to ride while doing so. Bless them.
As a lover of words, and former editor/journalist, I can think of nothing more entertaining than trying to figure out how to use a circa 1920s German typewriter. Beats the hell out of me, and everyone else I present it to. Still, what a piece of history, eh?
7. Somewhere to park and somewhere to hide
The above is a lovely Chesterfield office chair, which has had its leather replaced with one that matched the original colour. I blame, literally, my parents backsides for that. It's beautifully built — having lasted over 125 years — incredibly comfortable and sits in the above-mentioned man cave. So I can look over the vast dominion my wife has confined me to, given my banishment from the rest of the residence.
What's below? Somewhere to hide. Cause we all, like, need to from time to time.
8. A ride
Given my car obsession has been festering and fermenting for almost four decades, what you see here is the culmination of all the wisdom, experience, tears, laughter and sheer thrills that passion has bestowed upon me: the Lotus 2-Eleven. It also has no roof, no doors, no interior and my wife cried when she found out she owned it thanks to a complicated offshore transaction my lawyers have forbade me to divulge further information on.
Well, a good decanter is always a sign of good taste and red noses. This number is a family heirloom that sees regular action, although it was only recently discovered — thanks to some silver polish and elbow grease — that it came from the House of Christian Dior. Always in heavy rotation, empty far too soon.
Inevitably, the scoundrel reaches the ultimate depth and/or greatest height, and in that quiet and lonely place, the scoundrel actually expects to find an answer to the ultimate question: why? You long for a supreme being to whisper the answer in your ringing ear and be off with a skip and a jump. No such luck, folks. For some, religion marks an end point, answers to all questions etc. For others, it's simply another door to open, walk through, nose around and leave. My kids put the menorah on the dining room table because it looked 'nice'. That's a start, isn't it?