From Netflix and Chill to Dressing to Kill (101 Tips For The Modern Gentleman)

  1. Knowing a good florist is a must, whether getting a mothers day bouquet or a dozen roses for that special somebody, nothing says I care less than the words Tesco’s Own, it also shows that you give a damn beyond some passing thought whilst buying beer.
  2. A true gentleman knows his good points and his bad and whilst you should always accentuate your good points there is absolutely no reason to shy away and mask your bad points. If you have a blocked sink, call a plumber. If you don’t know which end of a paintbrush is up call a decorator. There is nothing unmanly about it, knowing what I do about myself and lack of prowess with a wrench my last struggle involving a toilet will  be teaching my daughter to use one.
  3. A real man changes his bed sheets weekly, as well as this you should own more than one set of bed sheets, you’re not in university any more.
  4. Work out a “look” early on, I’ve been the guy in a suit since 17, you should experiment with styles until you find one that works for you and remember that dressing well is its own reward.
  5. Know a good jeweller, even if you’re single, it’s good to know one, even if its just for your own watches and cufflinks.
  6. Always tip waiters and waitresses even if service is poor. You don’t know whats going on in their life, or if this poor service is the result of a bad day, incompetent co workers or a manager with a personality akin to Seabiscuit’s nether regions. Chances are poor service isn’t solely down to them alone and a decent tip may make it a better service for the next person.
  7. Familiarise yourself with the menu’s and wine list’s of at least three fine dining establishments (including one vegetarian spot) knowing the menus and winelists will make it easier to steer the bill to suit your budget and a good recommendation on the wine goes a lot further than “a bottle of the house red please”.
  8. chivalry may not be dead but it is on life support. these days its not the norm to pull out chairs or stand whenever a woman leaves the table. In this day and age a I settle for a sort of half chivalry, I’ll stand to greet a woman and always offer up my seat in a crowded bar or on public transport, I will always hold the door open for anyone, regardless of gender, I tell myself that I’ll start acting in strict accordance with the chivalric code the very moment I’m knighted
  9. All men Should Own a decent suit, a tailored suit is to women as expensive lingerie is to men.
  10. Never wear a hat indoors unless you work in a kitchen or on building site.
  11. A gentleman should always have about his person: a working pen, a handkerchief and a lighter, as you may never know when you or even better a young lady may need one.
  12. A good knowledge of wines and spirits for the man about is a must. Putting lemonade in smirnoff is acceptable, putting it in grey goose is a capital crime. Similarly not knowing the difference between sparkling wine and champagne is something no one should be guilty of. Even if you don’t like a particular spirit or aren’t a wine drinker a little education is no bad thing.
  13. You should always endeavour to treat those who are gender reassigning as you would any member of that persons chosen gender, and whilst I’m sure I personally will put my foot in it and occasionally  use the wrong pronoun I don’t do so from ignorance , nor from malice, it’s just that I find gender politics hard enough to navigate under normal circumstances, let alone when someone is trying to cross the floor.
  14. Whilst a gentleman may possess a wonderful singing voice, when he chooses to employ it is important, after a rugby match can be overlooked , karaoke can be forgive if not forgotten. But under no circumstances should a chap engage in a boozy kebab infused rendition of Wonderwall, even if he is one of the three tenors.
  15. You should always strive to remember everyone’s name and one fact about them, this simple act can boost the confidence of almost anyone, as it shows that a near complete stranger thinks enough of them to take an interest in their life.
  16. Lear a little about art, even if its just learning to say you don’t like something with a touch of eloquence
  17. There is nothing wrong with a little culture, Britain is a land of stately homes, art galleries and museums, why not acquaint yourself with the cultural melting pot that is Britain, In Wales, all museums are free and host impressive collections of historical artefacts and art ranging from Pre-Raphaelite beauties to modern art reminiscent to something hanging on my fridge. This does prove, in spite of what the newspapers say, culture can be found outside of the M25.
  18. A man should always have at his disposal a selection of wines and spirits (including a re,d a white, and a rosé all above the £7 mark) the spirits should be drinkable alone but also shouldn’t make you want to weep if someone asks for a mixer.
  19. you should never underestimate the power of being well informed, watching the news or reading a newspaper regularly will not only increase your understanding of current events and the  world in general, but will provide you with ample conversation topics and is proven to increase your IQ.
  20. Having survived this long in your life you should know that when a woman asks “how do I look in this?” your automatic response should be “you look great”. This is not the case. You should answer honestly, if a colour doesn’t work for her, tell her. Don’t be harsh in your criticism, explain your opinion delicately, shes asked for your opinion, give it. She’ll probably respect you more for it.
  21. A gentleman will under no circumstances post explicit materials of any persons they have been intimate with on the internet and will not share these images with friends, regardless of break up circumstances or any other mitigating factor.
  22. Good manners should be the norm, not a means to to get into someones undergarments, just because you’re polite to someone does not guarantee VIP access to their genitalia. Do not then accuse that person of leading you on, I fail to see why people feel they should be rewarded for behaving the way they are meant to behave.
  23. Being a single man can be both amazing and frustrating in equal measure in equal measure. Most frustrating is trying to determine weather or not someone is into you. I have a simple trick. This Text “Hey [insert name here] hows it going I was wondering if you  wanted to [activity] on [day]. How they answer should give you some indication of how they feel. A resounding yes is a pretty clear, however if they reply with an “I’m busy sorry” there are two interpretations to this answer, either they are legitimately busy or trying to let you down gently. I’ve only ever found one way to work out which, reply exactly “no problem, maybe some other time.” How your intended replies will be the give away. If they reply offering alternative dates/times you’re in, if there’s no reply it may be time to move on.
  24. A mans home is his castle and he should rule with an iron fist from throne room to kitchen, no man should fear pots and pans, all men should learn to cook a few simple dishes and learn them well and remember that presentation is everything.
  25. A true gent will avoid firearms unless he plans to eat what he kills.
  26. One should always know how to make a number of cocktails, some basics are; a  screwdriver and a sex on the beach.
  27. Always strive for the perfect Martini, knowing full well that you will never achieve it.
  28. Talking about money depresses people, there is nothing more puerile than talking about the size of your (ahem) endowment.
  29. always pass the port to the left, even if you don’t touch the stuff yourself.
  30. All gentlemen should own a corkscrew
  31. The correct way to make tea is; teabag then boiling water, allow to brew for about a minute, then add sugar and finally milk
  32. Basic use of cutlery should be instilled at a very young age, but since none of us can help our upbringing, remember, the knife goes to the right and the fork to the left. Regardless of need, a knife should always be picked up and held at all meal times. A spoon should be used in the right hand and elbows should never touch the table.
  33. Keeping abreast of fashion is a must, if only to know what to avoid, crocs are a crime against nature, let alone fashion.
  34. you should learn some basic DIY skills there is something almost therapeutic about beating something with a hammer for constructive purposes.
  35. When hosting a dinner party you should not serve food that was ordered from justeat
  36. A gentleman should follow sport, if only to know what’s going on when it appears on TV.
  37. Learning to sew is a useful tip for the modern gent as “make do and mend” is a trend that has fallen by the wayside, but it makes your clothes last and keeps you looking better for longer.
  38. You as a gentleman should never underestimate the power of live performance, and you should regularly partake in the majesty pf theater, ballet and opera, not only to broaden your mind, but they will often broaden your social standing as well.
  39. You should always give money to buskers, regardless of their musical talents.
  40. A gentleman should always offer to pay, but shouldn’t be threatened by going dutch.
  41. Flip Flops are a no
  42. A man should always try to maintain his appearance, you may run to fat or lose your hair, but you should always try to make the most out of what you have to work with.
  43. One should always strive to be on time, the universe may conspire to foil you in this, but the effort should be made.
  44. A mobile phone should be used only when needed, not as a social crutch.
  45. A man should imbibe enough to become fun, but stop before becoming a figure of fun.
  46. No man should ever have a name for his penis
  47. A sane man should always read his contracts word for word and should not shy away from asking for clarification or changes to be made.
  48. If a tan isn’t natural it shouldn’t be had.
  49. Body hair should be kept trimmed, a body trimmer is a must.
  50. An adult should both own and know how to tie a tie.
  51. A man should know how to dance, even if he chooses not to.
  52. A chap should only ever wear swimming trunks he would be comfortable going to a bar in.
  53. Never take a date to Wetherspoons (unless they ask) if Wetherspoons is the height of culinary excellence where you live…move.
  54. Know how much tax you should be paying.
  55. Always Know the number of a reliable taxi firm.
  56. Swearing is a part of modern life but a gentlemen will stand apart from the crowd. Why not turn a “go fuck yourself” into a “go and sodomise yourself”, why not get creative with it, the more loquacious the better.
  57. Always end a relationship in person. The end of a relationship should not mean the end of common courtesy, you owe it to that person to do things face to face.
  58. Always remember that your religious views are similar to your genitals, you may enjoy them, you may receive great comfort and pleasure from them in times of need and you may think that they are better than everybody else’s and want to spread them to the four corners of the world, but please refrain from brandishing them in public.
  59. You should always have a few little tricks at your disposal for entertaining children, but remember that children are actual human beings ,so you will need something better than the never classic “got your nose”.
  60. A gentleman will not bemoan his circumstances, but instead seek to change them. Remember it’s better to light a flame thrower than curse the darkness.
  61. Never wave cash at a bartender, its undignified and wont get you served quicker.
  62. Whether texting, emailing, writing or tweeting, always use the queens English, spelling mistakes can be overlooked, but deliberate mistakes cannot, for example, like is not spelled with a Y, bae is not a word and yolo sounds like the name of a circus dwarf.
  63. Even if you love the sound of your own voice, others may not, sometimes less is more and its the quietest that speak with the loudest voice, in a meeting or social situation, others have a right to be heard.
  64. A gentleman should never lose his temper, times are sent to test us, but the times make the man, decisions made in haste will invariably go sour.
  65. alternatively though more has been lost through indecision than choosing the wrong course of action, the key is confidence in your conviction.
  66. Always look a person in the eye when talking to them, don’t look at their feet. Observing someones body language while conversing is fine, but feet have nothing interesting to say.
  67. By now you should know what to ask for from a barber and have preprepared small talk ready for once you’ve asked them for it.
  68. Blasphemy should be avoided, especially by atheists. It’s a tad hypocritical to yell “Jesus Christ” regardless of whether you’ve hit your hand with a hammer. This rule may be overlooked as it would take the most iron willed of atheists to yell “theory of evolutionary biology and natural selection” when met with a hammer.
  69. Newborn babies, whilst the representation of innocence, purity and the future are in fact nothing more than squashed, ugly, wailing loud messes of bodily fluids, however when presented with one a gentleman should make the generally accepted cooing noises, recitations of beauty and cuteness and appropriate comparisons between this shrill ball of vomit, urine and excrement and the adults who sired it.
  70. Talking to oneself is perfectly acceptable, sometimes its nice to have some intelligent conversation.
  71. Never be afraid to admit that you don’t know something or that you don’t know that much about a particular subject, you may learn something new and a little education goes a long way.
  72. If you do one day become a parent, remember that it is important to strike the balance between master, magistrate, mentor and matel.
  73. If you have to question your motives for being somewhere, perhaps its time to leave.
  74. A gent should know what to drink regardless of where he is, it really is a massive annoyance to be held up at a bar, or while getting coffee by someone else’s indecision.
  75. He whose round it is shall choose the vintage.
  76. Similarly if it is your round and someone is not specific about what they want, ie “I’ll have a lager”. It is bad form to get them the cheapest brand, unless that is what they usually drink.
  77. It’s no bad thing to admit to being too broke to take part in an activity with friends. It shows your responsible enough to say no and the occasional night to yourself is something to be treasured.
  78. Whether netflixing or attending the cinema, you should always ask what it is your companion would like to watch, however prefacing it with what you would like to watch is acceptable.
  79. Never put a knife in your mouth
  80. It’s okay to correct a mispronunciation, but not to make fun of it.
  81. Travel, a holiday should broaden the mind, not diminish the liver.
  82. Even if you are an ardent pacifist, never put down someone for serving in the military. It’s a legitimate career path for many who would otherwise be written off by society and chances are an 18 old private will be earning more than most recent graduates, with the added bonus of being debt free.
  83. Become informed about politics, you don’t have to join a political part, but at election time you should look at what the candidates are saying and work out who will be best for you. nothing is more childish than voting for someone because your family has done so for decades.
  84. if you don’t drive you should have, at least, a basic knowledge of public transport in your area.
  85. Never mention a persons weight, if they’ve lost some, chances are they’ll know and if they’ve put some on chances are they wont wan’t to know.
  86. When it comes to footwear you should try and strike a balance between comfort and looking good, if you ever find a pair that are both, you should by 20 pairs of them.
  87. Real gentlemen will always have a toast ready, you never know when it’ll come in handy
  88. You should always taste food before adding salt, adding salt to something without tasting it is a little insulting at the best of times. So try it first.
  89. Animals are a good judge of character, even if you don’t like them, be nice to them.
  90. Cheese is life, make peace with it.
  91. When giving a gift you should bear in mind that presentation is key. Even a poundland box of chocolates can be made presentable with a bow. This works wonders at Christmas time, especially for those relatives that you are obligated to buy for, but don’t want to spend a fortune on.
  92.   Whilst the health problems are highlighted everywhere, smoking is still a hobby for many men, just be wary of your surroundings and be mindful of those around you.
  93. Get a coffee maker, good coffee is worth waiting for.
  94. Now mater how hot it is, a shirt should always be worn in public (exceptions can be made for swimming pools and beaches)
  95. Always give a lady the aisle seat.
  96. Announcing that you are going to the toilet is fine (preferred terms are the gent’s or the men’s room) announcing what you are going to do there however is not .
  97. Invest in a good umbrella, a cheap one will break at the most inopportune moment, one that cost £10 or more may make it through the British summertime.
  98. Knowing the rules to two or three card games is an essential skill. No one wants to sit at a bar in a casino, but alternately no one wants to lose their shirts either, so remember bet with your head not over it.
  99. The English language is a beautiful thing, don’t bastardise is with text speak.
  100. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but emoji’s are worthless
  101. Most importantly, remember that being a gentleman is not about education and status, but about a commitment to bettering yourself, being comfortable in your own skin and treating everyone with the respect that they deserve.

Hopefully this post will help you out in some way. Because it may be a mans world, but there is defiantly a long way to go until its a gentleman’s world.

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Who Would Win In A Fight? A Dragon Or A Giant Squid?

The dragon circled about lazily above the sapphire blue ocean beating its wings in a slow but steady motion keeping it aloft above the waters of the Pacific. Dragons know no concept of boredom, knowing only hunger and rage, but this particular dragon was at best restless and desirous of some carnage to whet his appetite.

The squid was not in its natural environment, the squid was too high up, too close to the surface, but hunting had been slim, and a shoal of silver finned fish had taunted her from the oceanic depths, enticing her with their scent, but had scattered and separated leaving her with no prey, growing hunger and unfathomable annoyance.

The dragon glanced down at the crisp, clear water and at first noticed nothing, then casting a second glance became aware of a great black shape beneath the ocean waves. Just a black shadow maybe thirty feet long and moving fast. Sensing a chance for some sport the dragon moved closer, changing his course and flapping his wings furiously the dragon came about and hovered momentarily above the serene waves of the sea peering in to the murky depths of those vast waters. The shape had stopped moving, both black blur and dragon were stationary, with the dragon floating mere feet from the surface.

The squid was aware it was being watched, it could feel the heat of the sun above, even underwater the suns presence could be felt this close to the surface, but what was even more noticeable was its absence. She could feel the shadow above watching, waiting, judging and in that moment she knew, knew that it was time to strike or time to run. She lashed out with two tentacles, wildly thrashing about above the surface for something to latch on to. At first the tentacles found no purchase on the dragons scaled hide, but the barbed sucker rings of her tentacles finally caught home and with heave of herculean might she pulled the dragon under, into the ocean, into her domain.

The Dragon had been taken unaware, it thrashed and clawed at the giant squid, but to no avail, no matter what the dragon did the creature was pulling it down to a watery death, its talons were making every effort and were tearing chunks of squid flesh from the beast, but its tentacles were still latched firm between its scales.

The dragon knew that it was now or never, it exhaled its last breath. Above water the flame from such a deep breath would have melted stone, but here in Posiedons realm it had a different effect. The squid could feel the water heating around her, could feel every molecule of her being heating beyond reckoning to the point where her whole body felt as though it would wash away with the tide, she had to let go, had to get away, but she was still attached to the great winged monstrosity, the dragon sensing this flapped its wings and rose severing the squids tentacles at the root. Breaking through the surface of ocean the dragon flew upwards, spread its wings and roared, with wings spread wide enough to eclipse the sun the dragon looked down to where the squid was writhing in its own agony, and left without glancing backwards.

 

NB: This post is the result of a conversation I actually had with Jessica Powell, Find her madness over at babiafi.co.uk 

Time For A Change (Literally)

Just a reminder the clocks go back tonight.

In the UK the clocks go forward 1 hour at 1am on the last Sunday in March, and back 1 hour at 2am on the last Sunday in October.

The period when the clocks are 1 hour ahead is called British Summer Time (BST). There’s more daylight in the evenings and less in the mornings (sometimes called Daylight Saving Time).

When the clocks go back, the UK is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Opera, An Aide De Small Talk Guide

One of my more obscure passions is opera. I know what you’re thinking, that this is a pretty weird thing for a man in his 20’s to be into, but there you have it, I am enamoured  with those foreign subsidised vowels. I’m not sure how my love of the art form came about but it is something I’ve indulged since my teens, leading my mother to be possibly the only parent ever to yell up the stairs “WILL YOU TURN DOWN THAT F***ING OPERA” to which I would invariably turn it up louder.

So here is a little look at 5 operas designed to give you something to start off with.

Pagliacci:

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Pagliacci is a fairly short Italian opera by  Ruggero Leoncavallo which premiered in Milan in May 1892. It follows the tale of the jilted clown Pagliacci and his quest for revenge on his cheating wife and her lover. As an opera in two acts the High point of the piece from my point of view, comes at the end of act one, where the great clown, upon discovering his wife’s infidelity begins preparing to take the stage for the evenings performance, it’s beautiful, haunting and really moving.

HMS Pinafore:

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H.M.S Pinafore is a comic opera in two acts by the British duo Gilbert and Sullivan. This opened at the Opera Comique and had an original run of 571 performances. The story takes place aboard the ship HMS Pinafore. The captain’s daughter, Josephine, is in love with a working class sailor, her father intends her to marry the slightly inbred First Lord of the Admiralty. She goes along with her father’s wishes, but her fiancee’s  advocacy of the equality of all man encourages Josephine to overturn conventional social orders and plans to elope with her true love Ralph. As with most Gilbert and Sullivan operas it feels like a pantomime, especially being in English. The best part from my point of view is the song He Is An Englishman, it evokes a national pride in me (even as a Welshman) and is both stirring and rousing at the same time.

Cavalleria Rusticana 

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The Cavalleria Rusticana is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni adapted from a play and short story written by Giovanni Verga. It premiered in Rome in 1890 and since 1893, due to its relatively short length, has been performed with the aforementioned Pagliacci. The story is a pretty simple one, a young farmer goes off to war, while he’s away his fiancee gets married to another man, he comes back and meets another woman, his married ex doesn’t like it, they begin an affair, then the cuckolded husband and the jilted rebound girl team up for revenge and like any good opera ends in tragedy. You may recongnise this particular opera from The Godfather Part Three. I think the best bit musically would actually be the Intermezzo, and the this opera was actually the first opera recording that I ever purchased on CD (the Maria Callas version).

Carmen

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Carmen is a four act opera by the French Composer Georges Bizet the opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, the song Habanera from act 1 and the toreador Song from act 2 are among the best known of all operatic arias. The opera is written in the genre of opéra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue. It is set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the tempestuous gypsy Carmen. José leaves his childhood sweetheart and also deserts from his military service, however he loses Carmen’s love to the toreador Escamillo, after which José  then kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of everyday life, immorality, and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, broke new ground in French opera and was highly controversial at the time, however managed to draw in non french audiences and proved extremely popular outside France, a fitting legacy for Bizet, who died after the productions 33rd performance, never knowing the success it would gain.

Der Ring des Nibelungen

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 I’m cheating somewhat as Der Ring Des Nibelungen is actually a cycle of four operas composed by Richard Wagner, comprising of Das Rheingolfd, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. The plot revolves around a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world, forged by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich from gold he stole from the Rhine maidens of the river Rhine, intended to rule the feminine multiplicative power by a fearful magical act termed as ‘denial of love’. With the assistance of the god Loge, Wotan – the chief of the gods – steals the ring from Alberich, but is forced to hand it over to the giants, Fafner and Fasolt in payment for building the home of the gods, Valhalla, or they will take Freia, who provides the gods with the golden apples that keep them young. Wotan’s schemes to regain the ring, spanning generations, drive much of the action in the story. His grandson, the mortal Siegfried, wins the ring by slaying Fafner (who slew Fasolt for the ring) – as Wotan intended – but is eventually betrayed and slain as a result of the intrigues of Alberich’s son Hagen, who wants the ring. Finally, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde – Siegfried’s lover and Wotan’s daughter who lost her immortality for defying her father in an attempt to save Siegfried’s father Sigmund – returns the ring to the Rhine maidens as she commits suicide on Siegfried’s funeral pyre. Hagen is drowned as he attempts to recover the ring. In the process, the gods and Valhalla are destroyed. The musical high points of this saga are too numerous to mention, but most will be familiar with the piece the Ride of the Valkyries (of Apocalypse Now fame).

Hopefully you’ll all go out and immerse yourself in these great works of art, but at the very least I hope this little guide may come in useful if you ever need it for small talk, are dragged to one by a would be suitor or even need an answer in a pub quiz.

 

 

Smell You Later, A Bluffers Guide To Picking A Cologne

Even in the animal kingdom a man is marked by his scent, the last few weeks of meet and greets and various other social necessities have exposed me to a lot of bad aftershaves and some really questionable cologne. I mean seriously its like a nasal assault going on. I mean I’m sure its a matter of taste but whatever happened to the less is more school of thought.

That being said I’m not offering criticism without it being constructive, so with that in mind here are some alternatives that aren’t the nasal equivalent of napalm and all come with my own stamp of approval.

Budget Range

old-spice

For my everyday range of aftershave I go with something of a classic, I use the original old spice, just a little slap on the face in the morning and your good to go. I’ts a more musky scent and makes me feel a bit manly, its got a sort of burnt wood, barbecue scent to it which in large quantities can be overpowering, so use sparingly.  At £8 a bottle it does go a long way.

Mid Range

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When I wan’t to be a little bit fancier, if its a big meeting or a social function I’ll go with Calvin Klein’s  CK One, just a few spritzes of this you’ll knock them dead, whether in the boardroom or the tap room. This rings in at about £25 per bottle so you could use it as an everyday thing, but I feel it would tire out a bit quickly as an everyday scent, but as a change up it works quite well.

Pricier Range 

versace

When I really want to pull out all the stops, when I’ve got a hot date or when I want to wow civic leaders and business moguls (I occasionally meet some, honest)  I go whole hog with a bit of Versace pour Homme Dylan Blue. At £58 per bottle you can bet your backside that I use this with some degree of austerity.

I hope this helps you out gentlemen, and ladies bear this in mind, especially with Christmas around the corner.

Booze Review: Hooper’s Dandelion & Burdock Brew

One of the key things I wanted to do with this blog was review lots of cool and nerdy stuff, indulge in my own ramblings and make it seem as if I knew what I was talking about when it came to politics and current affairs.

But today I’ve hit a bit of writers block, I didn’t have a think to write about. No new comic’s to review, nothing to cover politically, no top 10 lists to go through and since its half term I can’t really say that I’ve done anything very exciting.

That is until I took a walk over to Morrison’s to grab my Euromillion’s ticket (more to come if I actually win) and I took a stroll down the booze aisle, and I spied a bottle of Hooper’s Dandelion and Burdock Brew (an alcoholic dandelion and burdock) I was intrigued. I purchased a bottle and I drank It. Immediately I was transported back to my youth, reliving the taste of cheap Tesco’s own dandelion and burdock. It clocks in at 4% and doesn’t taste alcoholic at all, so I’d imagine that after 5 or 6 it would really creep up on you.

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It was nice, sweet and probably something I would have again, just as something different from time to time.

Form Vs Function

Today I had one of “those” moments. One of those moments where I sacrificed functionality for the look of the thing.

Let me rewind a little bit. In July, as a birthday present to myself, I purchased a completely bespoke tailored suit, then over the months that followed I proceeded to eat and drink all sorts of crap and have put on a fair bit of weight. Over the last month however I have started taking better care of my self, I’ve been eating better, drinking less beer and have even cut back on my Achilles heel, coca cola.

So cut  back to today and I’m getting ready for a meeting this afternoon, I put on my beautiful three piece, double breasted, pinstripe suit, did up my silk tie, looked in the mirror and realised my outfit was on point, and I looked good.

However I went to put my wallet in my jacket pocket and it spoiled the  whole flow of the outfit, so I did the only sane thing and ditched my wallet and sacrificed any function my outfit had…. But damn it I looked good.

 

The A-Z Of Super Teams

The Avengers

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Marvels flagship super team formed in the 1960’s and originally comprising of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Ant-man and the Wasp, this team has gone on to produce multiple spin off titles and has run for over 50 years. Even being the focus of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Big Hero Six

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Japan’s premier superteam introduced by marvel in the 1990’s, originally comprising of Hiro, Gogo Tomago, Honey Lemon and Baymax along with X Man Sunfire and former villain Silver Samurai, this team was formed by the Japanese government to protect their shores. This title was short lived running for only 3 issues in 1997, then ressurected as a mini series in 2005 before enjoying success as an award winning Disney animation

The Champions

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In the aftermath of the Civil War II storyline, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), and Nova have left the Avengers and make plans to “put the world back together.” After recruiting The Totally Awesome Hulk, The Vision’s daughter Viv, and a time displaced cyclops, they form the Champions.

The Defenders

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Originally formed of The Incredible Hulk, Namor The Submariner and Dr Strange the team came together in order to take on lovecraftian villains the undying ones, who are hell bent (pun most defiantly intended) on taking over the earth for themselves. The defenders would enjoy a great deal of success over the years and, unlike regular superteams, would feature a rotating cast of characters depending on the mission at hand. The defenders name lives on to this day and will feature as a new television series as a joint venture between Marvel Studios and Netflix.

Excalibur

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Britain’s Premier superteam, consisting of various European and American X-men led by the mystical hero Captain Britain and his wife, the Roma Gypsy, Meggan. Conceived as a team when the X-men were missing and presumed dead, Excalibur dealt with a number of threats, including aliens, werewolves, alien werewolves and a whole series of extra-dimensional misadventures. The original series ran for 125 issues and then came back as a mini series, then another 24 issue series entitled New Excalibur, which then morphed into the Captain Britain and Mi 13 series.

Fantastic Four

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Marvels first family was arguably the beginning of the silver age of comics as far as marvel are concerned, a team made up of the Thing, The Human Torch, The Invisible Woman and the bizarrely titled Mr Fantastic (the man has an excessive amount of doctorates but whatever). The Fantastic Four have endured in comics since their development in 1961, however have not enjoyed much success in other media, with every attempt at hitting the big screen being a disaster, including one film so bad it was never released.

Guardians of the Galaxy

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There’s been more than one team to bear the name Guardians of the Galaxy, a team from the year 3000 who would sporadically appear in the pages of the Avengers, and the New team, coming in the Wake of Marvels Annihilation and Annihilation Conquest events, this version featuring Star Lord, Gamora (the deadliest woman in the galaxy) Drax The Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot (the sentient tree and Monarch of Planet X) have stared in 2 series (25 and 27 issues respectively) with a third ongoing series under way, as well as a major motion picture (with a sequel to be released next year) that many are claiming is the high point of the Marvel Cinematic universe.

Heroes For Hire

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Heroes for Hire is literally as it says on the tin, the concept started with Luke Cage the Hero For Hire, who teamed up with Iron Fist, and then various other superheroes forming heroes for hire inc.

The Invaders

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The Invaders were Marvels superteam of world war two featuring Captain America and his teenage sidekick Bucky, The original Human Torch and his teenage sidekick (sensing a pattern?) Toro, Namor The Sub Mariner, Union Jack and Spitfire. They took the fight to the axis powers and did what they could to further the allied cause, before Captain America and Bucky became frozen in the ice cold Atlantic.

Justice League

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The Justice League of America is DC’s flagship superhero team, originally formed of Batman, Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and The Martian Manhunter. The Justice League has featured almost every hero from the DC universe at some point or another. The team has enjoyed great success as a title, running almost non stop since the 1960’s, its spawned two animated tv series, various animated feature length pictures and a major motion picture is just around the corner.

Knights of Pendragon

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The team is formed to be agents of the Green Knight; a mystical entity representing the natural cycle and spiritual growth. The Knight is in ageless conflict with the Bane, an unnatural destructive force of warfare and winter, apparently led by the Red Knight, the Green Knight’s adversary. The Green Knight invests power, in the form of a possessing spirit bestowing powers, to various groups throughout British history, to protect nature; one such group were the original Knights of the Round Table; the Knights of Pendragon are a modern-day incarnation.

Legion of Superheroes

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The Legion of Super-Heroes is a fictional superhero team in the 30th and 31st centuries of the DC Comics Universe. Initially, the team was closely associated with the original Superboy, and was first portrayed as a group of time travelers who frequently visited him. In later years, the Legion’s origin and back story were fleshed out, and the group was given prominence on par with Superboy’s in a monthly comic. Eventually, Superboy was removed from the team altogether, and appeared afterwards as an occasional guest star.

Midnight Sons

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The midnight sons came together from the mystic corner of the Marvel universe, comprising of Blade, both The original and the Second Ghost Rider’s Johhny Blaze and Danny Ketch, Morbius the Living Vampire and Doctor Strange, they came together to fight threats like Vampires and Lillith the mother of demons. The team was rather short lived even though the concept was pretty cool.

Nextwave Agents of H.A.T.E

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The Nextwave series features a collection of minor Marvel superheroes: monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone; Monica Rambeau, the former Captain Marvel; Tabitha Smith, formerly of X-Force; Aaron Stack, the Machine Man; and new character the Captain, previously called Captain ☠☠☠☠ (the obscured words being so horrible that Captain America allegedly “beat seven shades of it out of [him]” and left him in a dumpster with a bar of soap in his mouth). These individuals are assembled by H.A.T.E., the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, to fight Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction (U.W.M.D.s). The Nextwave team learns that H.A.T.E. is funded by the Beyond Corporation©, an organization formerly known as terrorist group S.I.L.E.N.T. As a result, the heroes leave H.A.T.E., stealing a vehicle called the Shockwave Rider. They destroy the U.W.M.D.s that the Beyond Corporation and H.A.T.E. have hidden around the United States, while being pursued by H.A.T.E. Director Dirk Anger.

Outsiders

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Originally formed by Batman The Outsiders have had three incarnations. They were founded by Batman, whose ties to the League had become strained. The Outsiders were reformed in the early 2000s by Nightwing and Arsenal after The Titans dissolved following the events of the graduation day story line, in which the heroine Donna Troy was killed by a rogue Superman android. The intention of this new team was to act as ‘hunters’, actively searching for superhuman criminals currently on the loose, rather than waiting for them to act and then responding as other super-vigilante groups often do. In its most recent formation the group’s leadership was relinquished by Nightwing to Batman, who recruited former members and newcomers. He has stated his intention to use the team as a black ops version of the Justice League, able to take the proverbial “fall” in public opinion when the League cannot. After Batman’s (apparent) death in Final Crisis, he posthumously charged Alfred Pennyworth with recruiting a new team of Outsiders for a forthcoming mission of “great importance”.

Power Pack

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Power Pack is a fictional team of comic book superheroes consisting of four young siblings who appear in books published by Marvel Comics. They were created by writer Louise Simonson and artist June Brigman and first appeared in their own series in 1984. The series lasted 62 issues. The characters have since appeared in other books. Power Pack was the first team of preteen superheroes in the Marvel Universe and the first in comics to operate without adult supervision. The title retains a cult following and in 2005 was relaunched as a title aimed at younger reader

Quantum and Woody

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Eric Henderson and Woodrow Van Chelton are adoptive brothers. After years of estrangement they are brought together by the mysterious death of their father (Woody’s foster father). They set out to find their father’s killer and, in the course of their investigation, are accidentally imbued with powers.

Runaways

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The Runaways are an interesting concept. Take the children of a group of super villains, let them inherit their superpowers, then upon discovering that their parents are murderous villains instead of doing the superhero thing and fighting them, they run away.In August 2016 Hulu ordered a pilot for a TV series based on the comic.

Suicide Squad

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Take villains and make them heroes, its a simple concept, that has made DC a fair bit of money over the last year, Suicide Squad is has been around in its current incarnation since the mid 80’s and this year has managed to become one of DC’s highest grossing cinematic releases to date.

Teen Titans

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What started out as a Justice League for teenage sidekicks has over the years evolved into one of DC’s best selling titles, spawning its own animated series and several animated features including the upcoming Justice League vs Teen Titans. Originally featuring Robin, Aqualad, Speedy and Wonder Girl the Titans have expanded to feature fan favourites such as Cyborg, Raven, Beast Boy and Starfire.

Ultimates

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The Ultimates are The Avengers, but from another universe, thats pretty much all you need to know.

V Battalion

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The group was originally a British agency formed in World War II to fight Nazis,the leader of the organization was John Watkins. However, in his superhero alter-ego, Citizen V, he was strangled to death by Baron Zemo. In time Zemo hunted down and murdered most of the original organization. Citizen V’s pregnant lover Paulette Brazee was kept in hiding to protect her and her unborn child. She would later give birth to a son named John (JJ) Watkins, Jr. In time both Paulette and JJ took up the mantle of Citizen V as well as JJ’s son John Watkins III.With the original organization destroyed, a group of Golden Age heroes choose to reconstitute the group, including Roger Aubrey (the Destroyer), Betty Barstow (Silver Scorpion), and Helmut Grueler (Iron Cross). The organization operated out of Symkaria and one of their primary missions was to hunt down Nazi war criminals. The team has constituted 2 mini series and one or two sporadic appearances over the past 20 or so years.

West Coast Avengers

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The team is founded by the Avenger Hawkeye in response to a suggestion by android and fellow Avenger the Vision, who at the time wished to expand Avengers’ influence. Hawkeye recruits Mockingbird, Wonder Man, Tigra, and War Machine, Together the team defeat a petty criminal called the Blank and later the Avengers foe Graviton. The team would later take on Henry Pym as a scientific advisor and compound manager. Due to constant in-fighting and a general lack of organization, Captain America intervenes and disbands the team. Several members of the West Coast team—including a returned Iron Man—are unhappy about the decision and leave to form another team, called Force Works.

X-men

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The X-Men were formed by Charles Xavier and his dream of peaceful coexistence between humans and the mutant race. Facing racism and fighting for survival these days the term X-Men pretty much just refers to any mutant out there, but the dream still lives on even if they fight for it. The X-men is arguably marvels biggest franchise with over 30 different ongoing titles over the last 50 years and and 9 major motion pictures (with a 10th to be released in 2017), as well as 3 pretty awesome cartoon series (with possibly the best theme tune outside of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

Young Avengers

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The Young Avengers came about after the actual avengers called it quits following the events of Avengers Disassembled. Featuring a Young Vision, the twin sons of the Scarlet Witch and (The adult) Vision, The half Skrull/ Half Kree Hulkling, and female teenage Hawkeye and a young black Captain America wannabe. They have slowly become a fan favourite, with two ongoing titles and various miniseries and one shots the Young Avengers are definitely here to stay.

Zoo Crew

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Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! (give me a break, nothing starts with z) is a DC Comics comic book about a team of funny animal superheroes called the Zoo Crew. The characters first appeared in a special insert in The New Teen Titans #16. followed by a series published from 1982 to 1983

 

 

Poppy Appeal Launch

Today was the launch of the British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. It was my privilege to attend the launch with my daughter, who now has her second poppy. It was good to hear from our local Member of Parliament and of course the Deputy Mayor of Torfaen. It was also nice to have highlighted the vital work of the British Legion.

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The British Legion do vital work to help all members of the British Armed Forces (both the regular Army and the Territorial Army, Navy, RAF and Royal Marines) as well as their families also running the poppy appeal and remembering the fallen.

I’ve always thought that the work of the British Legion was important, and it was a pleasure to help kick off this campaign.