April 22, 2010

Dear Diary

“Dear Diary,

I have a dilemma. The funny little blog that I’ve been writing for a few months has, much to my eternal surprise, been growing in popularity. Of course, I never meant to journalise per se, and I certainly didn’t want it to be one of those crass and conceited spaces where bored individuals talk endlessly about themselves to no apparent end. Look at me! This was not the kind of attention I desired. No, I meant to create an outlet for some serious thoughts that might nevertheless be cut loose from academic apparatuses: the stifling structures and strictures of my ‘day job’. But then, you know about all that. Of course, one must entertain; such an endeavour is nothing without an audience. Hopefully, they’ll stick with me when we have to go over the hard yards. Anyway, those times are still some way off. To the matter at hand.

I don’t want to dwell on me. This blog is not a diary, after all. I’ve got you for that. But then strange things keep happening to me, and I do wonder what to do. The good people out there in the ether will probably be interested in my stories, but I can’t be seen to preach disapprobation of self-interest and wanton egotism on the one hand – it’s so terribly unmanly – and wax on and on about yours truly on the other. So, I shall commit my story to these pages, and hope in that magical way that you will provide me with the guidance I seek.

I’ve talked on the blog about compliments before, but nothing like this. Today I left my regular seat in the library and went for lunch. On my return I found a hand-written note, tucked under my book. It was from a fellow British historian, unknown to me (and me to him). He’s from a rather nice college in the northern Midwest. Harvard is something of collecting ground, it seems. He can’t have known that we had a research specialism in common. Anyway, the note read:
I love the outfit today. Great hat. Great jacket. And have picked up on you as one of Cambridge’s best-dressed men before today. Would you consider being photographed for an article on this subject?
The note raised a smile, and perhaps a blush. Just for the record, I was wearing the linen blue boating blazer with the confident white stripe, a mid-blue Valentino tie with white collar, and those new 514s I bought the other week. The trusty panama was on the desk. It’s an outfit not unlike the picture of me I have on the blog – you know the one? – only I went with the four-in-hand knot today, and an altogether more summery colour palate.

Now, how does one react to such a note. Of course, I wrote to the email address he left and asked for further details, offering thanks and suchlike. But this is such an unusual turn of events in the ordinary course of a humble man’s life, and I very much doubt that the etiquette guides would have anything to say on the matter. I’d like to ask my public for their opinion, but I loathe attracting attention to me, me, me. So, there it is. I leave it with you, dear Diary, and trust that the answer will somehow emerge.

Thunderstorms forecast for this afternoon. Till tomorrow, then.”


  1. I would imagine that if people enjoy your dress enough to write you notes it would be.. a gift upon society to be photographed, no? You don't have to allow them to feature your face straight-on, after all, if you're adverse to publicity.

    Also: Good call on the approach, here. Tricksy!

  2. Well written. I had to read it twice, as the first time I could have sworn you were talking about your cousin Maurice. Anyway, I digress.

    As long as the purpose of his invitation is genuine, and not something to be shown on "hothothotties.com", I would say take it as a compliment to your hard work and attention to your look. Looking at it from the other gentleman's point of view, he feels he found the needle in the haystack, so to speak, with the normal sartorial choosings of most men. I say good for you. Enjoy the moment.

  3. Fellow gentleman,
    Oblige your admirer on the condition that publishing will require your approval. I refuse to publish anything that my stars don't like. Have fun with the shoot; I hope he produces worthy work. If not, summon me: I'll feature you proudly. My blog's in dire need of elegance, as is my stomping grounds, the birthplace of grunge. Another reminder that I must leave this place eventually. Btw, love your work and fashion - inspirational, indeed.
    Mr. Andy

  4. I have an uncle by that name, but that is all.

    I don't know what might be the subject of something going by the name of 'hothothotties', and presume that neither do you. It sounds far too warm for me in any case, even in linen.

    'Tis true that America is something of a haystack. In some respects.

  5. Thank you Mr. Andy, for the compliment and the advice. I look forward to seeing more of your worthy blog.

  6. Doctor,

    remember that gentlemen used to have their portraits taken and that photography in the way offered you is like staring into the public eye. Don't stick your chin up, steady yourself, and smile; if you cannot smile, grin. - And a true gentleman never blushes.

  7. I 'perhapsed', even to dear old diary. Let us, in that case, say that 'I was sanguine' instead.

  8. How very nice of someone to leave you a note like that. And your modesty as well. It seems you are not letting this go to your head at all, which is natural from the little I know of you. I hope you accept with the usual humble conditions and get a little praise for your hard work. Cheers.

  9. I say that you should definitely go for it. One of the reasons you and others I think started these blogs was to document your individual journeys in to the realm of style. I have certainly been learning a lot reading your blog among others and am documenting my own travels. So many of us are frankly a little tired of the way many men today dress and carry themselves. Such an utter lack of concern for appearance and the simple respectableness that being well dressed shows.

    Getting the exposure, and showing others that it isn't hard and doesn't have to be expensive can only be a good thing.

    And congratulations.

  10. Thank you, DG. You are right in part, but my aim is to introduce men to a realm of substance, if you will. Style is nothing if it is not in some way connected to something bigger: an external manifestation of inner character. Clothes don't make the man, but they can perhaps indicate something about the man. Concerns over appearance therefore really run rather deep. I wouldn't want to lose that thought in something frivolous.

  11. I have just stumbled across your charming and erudite blog, and I look forward to reading more...

  12. Thank you m'Lord. Good to have you around. Please stay and browse for as long as you wish.


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