A Gentleman’s Guide To Cufflinks

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Cufflinks are items of jewellery that are used to secure the cuffs of dress shirts. Cufflinks can be manufactured from a variety of different materials, such as glass, stone, leather, metal, precious metal or combinations of these. Securing of the cufflinks is usually achieved via toggles or reverses based on the design of the front section, which can be folded into position. There are also variants with chains or a rigid, bent rear section. The front sections of the cufflinks can be decorated with gemstones, inlays, inset material or enamel and designed in two or three-dimensional form.

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Cufflinks on a double cuff

Cufflinks are designed only for use with shirts which have cuffs with buttonholes on both sides. These may be either single or double-length (“French”) cuffs.

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Cufflinks were introduced as far back as the 1600’s but didn’t gain popularity until the end of the 1800’s and have been a part of mens formal wear since. Today, they form part of formal wear and are an integral part of both black and white tie, and also give something extra to a gentlemans business attire. However as part of the everyday, they seem to have fallen a little by the wayside, but hopefully that’s just in the short term.

The Best of DC’s Elseworlds

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Elseworlds is an imprint of DC comics, the basic premise of which is to take familiar characters from their comic roster and put them in altered surroundings, time periods, or imagine them with an altered backstory. The imprint came about in 1989 with the publication of Gotham by Gaslight, which re-imagined Batman in the Victorian Era and pitted him against none other than Jack The Ripper. Over the years DC has published 100’s of these so called imaginary tales, and here is a look at some of my favourite ones.

Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty

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The story follows a feud between the Wayne family and the immortal Vandal Savage, a feud which starts in the 13th century and ends in the 24th Century. The story is split into three parts, Dark Past which features a knight named Joshua Wainwright during the Crusades, Dark Present which features Bruce Wayne in the 20th century as Batman, and Dark Future , which features Brenna Wayne as Batwoman.

Superman: Red Son

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In Red Son, Superman’s rocket ship lands on a Ukrainian collective farm rather than in Kansas. Instead of fighting for “… truth, justice, and the American Way”, Superman is described in Soviet radio broadcasts “… as the Champion of the common worker who fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact.”

Superman & Batman: Generations 1,2 &3

In which Superman and Batman age in real time from their first appearances in the 1930’s all the way through to the 30th century, the 3 series explores the dynamics of the two main characters, as well as their impact on their legacies.

Kingdom Come

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This story is set in a future that deals with a growing conflict between the visibly out-of-touch “traditional” superheroes, and a growing population of largely amoral and dangerously irresponsible new vigilantes, in many cases the offspring of the traditional heroes. Between these two groups is Batman and his assembled team, who attempt to contain the escalating disaster, foil the machinations of Lex Luthor, and prevent a world-ending superhuman war.

JSA The Liberty Files/ Unholy Three

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The Liberty File Set in Egypt, 1942, the Bat (a.k.a. Batman) has been ordered to work with two new partners, the Clock (a.k.a. Hourman) and the Owl (a.k.a. Doctor Mid-Nite), as a group codenamed the Unholy Three. Their mission is to find Jack the Grin (a.k.a. the Joker), a smuggler who has stolen information about an unidentified German secret weapon.

And in its sequel, The Unholy Three  set In 1948, with the war over, the Bat is now fighting criminals in Gotham City. He had briefly worked with the Clock and Mister Terrific, but Sloane blamed him for his fiancee’s death and said he couldn’t work with him. The Clock also retired to his civilian identity of Rex Tyler and returned to running his company. The Bat and the Clock are re-activated as government agents when two former KGB agents, the Parasite and Steelwolf, are working for an unknown employer. They are killing superheroes and seeking a plan called the Trigger. The Bat and the Clock are introduced to Clark Kent (a.k.a. Superman) a new agent who, despite his inexperience, is placed in charge of the group.

Dental Poverty

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Have you tried to find an NHS dentist lately? My god, I swear it would be easier to find a virgin on a maternity ward. In the town of Cwmbran, there is just one dentist taking on NHS patients, and that practice has a six month waiting list.

I haven’t had a dentist since I moved to Cwmbran, and I moved here in October of 2014. And the other day one of my teeth started giving me hell, luckily it passed, but I still put my name on the waiting list anyway. So I began shopping about to see if there was anything reasonably near. Nothing. Except private dental care, which costs a hell of a lot of money.

It got me thinking though, there is a really high correlation between those on low incomes and those with poor dental hygiene. Cheap food is laden with sugar, and those from low income backgrounds are more likely to smoke (another thing that rots your teeth) and whilst yes those on benefits will be exempt from the charges of NHS dentist’s (tabled below) those in employment with low incomes, especially young people, wont be. I mean if you work for 40 hours a week on minimum wage, it’ll cost you almost two thirds of weeks income to get some proper dental work done.

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1 This charge will include an examination, diagnosis and preventative care.  If necessary this will include X-rays, scale and polish and planning for further treatment.  Urgent and out-of-hours care will also cost £14.00. £14.00
2 This charge includes all necessary treatment covered by the £14.00 charge PLUS additional fillings, root canal treatments or extractions. £45.00
3 This charge includes all necessary treatment covered by the £14.00 and £45.00 charges PLUS more complex procedures such as crowns, dentures or bridges. £195.00

And it really is a bar to employment, missing or crooked teeth are something that is probably going to put off potential employers, or hurt chances of promotion, and whilst I know how shallow that sounds, its actually been proven to be true, time and time again. But the associated costs of travel and time off from work are also a factor.

So how do we address this problem? Well ideally it would be to increase the number of NHS dentists in Wales, which means the Welsh Government need to cough up a heck of a lot of money to entice qualified dentists to Wales while also paying to train a heck of a lot more. And since one of the Welsh Government’s priorities is “Promoting positive health throughout life” and that they are actively trying to improve health and reduce inequalities in healthcare. maybe its time that National Assembly of Wales put their money where their mouths are.

How To Wear White Tie

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White tie is probably the most formal attire a person can wear, without being decked out in medals and a uniform. These days it isn’t really worn much, but every once in a while you will find it brought back into practice. And in this day and age where detachable collars no longer exist, you may need to know what how to pull off this classic and elegant look.

The Shirt 

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First off, you’ll need a nice cotton dress shirt. it needs to be plain fronted (by which I mean, no pleats) with a wing collar, double cuffs and with studs, not buttons (although stud buttons are an OK alternative)

The Trousers 

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Evening trousers with a satin stripe, please. Which means no belt, so suspenders (braces for you yanks) and you should keep those in white.

The Waistcoat

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The waistcoat should be white obviously, and made of marcella cotton, and ideally will be backless, this allows ventilation, and a little breeze up there can be a god send in a crowded ballroom

The Tie

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The Tie should be made of a marcella cotton, that matches the waistcoat. And should always be the kind of tie that you have to tie yourself. You can always tell when someone is wearing a ready made bow tie, especially when worn with a wing collar.

The Tails 

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You should be wearing a black tailcoat with silk peak lapels, the buttons should also be silk covered.

Shoes 

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Patent leather black lace ups are the only thing that can be worn well with white tie. Keep it simple though, a little brogue like design is OK, but anything over the top will just ruin the look

Accessories 

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You can Add your own personal touches with a pocket watch, cufflinks a pocket square or a boutonniere shoved in your button hole.

Happy Towel Day 2018!

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Happy Towel Day everybody. For those who don’t know towel day is celebrated every 25th May and honours the works of Douglas Adams, the creator of the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy series of books, radio plays and television episodes.

 

How To Dress For Summer (And Still Look Good)

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With summer supposedly on the horizon, although as I write this I can see rain drops that may be causing serious body damage to the cars parked in my street, but I am eternally optimistic that the clouds will part and those beautiful rays will once again grace our skin. So how does one dress when the mercury begins to rise past 20ºC (68ºF) and the sweat begins to stain and embed itself in our wool rich fabrics that make up the most part of the British Gentleman’s attire?

There are a couple of things that you can do to make those ray filled days a little more bearable. And it comes down to:

Hats and Sunglasses- It may sound like a simple thing but a decent broad brimmed hat and a pair of shades can do wonders to keep you out of the sun. A nice pair of aviators and a panama hat combine two styles that really say gentleman in the sun.

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Accessories- I wear a tie every day (even on weekends) but in the heat, having a tie done all the way up with the top button fastened is a little too much to ask outside of the office  if you’ve spent the day sweating through your day job. But for less formal things why not try an open collar with a cravat?

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The Fit- Wearing tight fitting things is a sure fire (no pun intended) way to overheat, why do you think winter is filled with tight fitting jumpers and clingy thermal layers? A loose fitting shirt and jacket can be much cooler (both stylistically as well as temperature wise) than a tight fitting tee shirt or even a ghastly tank top.

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The Colour- I must admit that I tend to favour dark colours, on more than one occasion lately, I’ve been know to don black on black on black, with a suit, shirt and tie all exuding darkness. But in the summer sun, that is no longer an option. To survive without becoming a puddle, you need to embrace the light side of the colour spectrum. Think light greys, beige, khaki and if your feeling brave, you may even wish to go for white, when it comes to jackets and trousers. And moving on to shirts you shouldn’t be afraid to go to the classic white or light blue, but don’t discount cream or even a nice pastel pink colour, there is nothing unmanly about pink, for gods sake, you want something that will reflect the heat, not absorb it.

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The Fabric– OK, colour and fit will only get you so far, if you wear a baggy wool suit or a pastel pink tweed, you’re probably still going to overheat just a bit, this is why you need to focus on materials such as cotton and linen for jackets and trousers, and stick to a good cotton for the shirt, whilst avoiding heavier fabrics like wool, cashmere and velvet.

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hopefully this little guide will help you maintain a sartorial sensibility through the sweltering heat that June and July have come to signify, or will give you some ideas when it comes to picking what to throw into the suitcase.

Promotion To Civic Office

I got what amounts to a promotion Today.  After Two years of being Jessica’s consort when she was deputy and then Mayor, I’ve decided to give it a go myself as Vice Chair (Deputy Mayor) of Cwmbran Council. After the Councils Annual General Meeting I was unanimously vote into office.  I also found out that I’m the youngest person to ever hold the role, and the first person under the age of 30 to be in the position.

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Myself and the newly elected Chair, Cllr Peter Cathcart

The position comes with a snazzy new chain of office courtesy of Thomas Fattorini (Manufacturer of insignia, honours and awards, By Appointment of Her Majesty The Queen), which is actually the second honour I’ve received from Fattorini’s in less than a fortnight.

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The pendant of the Vice Chair of Cwmbran Council

I look forward to undertaking my civic duty for the year and as a personal aside I must take this opportunity to say how proud I am to serve my community, and how grateful I am for this chance.

 

Bemo Beard Oil Review

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I’ve never tried beard oil, though I’ve had a beard for over half a decade and I’ve been a pretentious git for almost three. So, when my darling fiancee presented me with a bottle of BEMO Premium Beard Oil to review, my interest was definitely piqued.

After trimming my facial follicles to a manageable length – I was beginning to look like a taller version of Gimli – I put the oil to the test. At first I wasn’t too sold on the scent, a combination of grape seed oil, crambe seed oil, almond oil, castor oil and aloe vera extract. But, after a week’s worth of use, it has grown on me.

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It puts me in mind of the Carlton Club in London; that ingrained smell of rich oils and foreign fragrances that somehow gives way to visions of oxblood armchairs wreathed in cigar smoke. A far cry from the image I had previously associated with oiled face fuzz: the Dick Dastardly-esque moustache-twirling villain!

The oil itself was very easy to apply, thanks to the bottle’s practical and elegant pump design. My only quibble is that the oil, as the name suggests, is rather oily. After use I did find myself having to wash my hands three or four times before the greasiness was completely gone. But, that said, my beard is definitely feeling softer and looking more luxurious.

But, then, I suppose I’m worth it.