Saturday 30 November 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 30/11/2019

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Ease into the weekend

We’d like to say that the Monocle Weekend Edition is like a pleasant brunch with old friends. But it’s more fun than that. This is a get-together where people with some fun ideas get to hold court, big ideas are aired and you leave a little bit tipsy but rather inspired. This week we watch Zed Nelson’s new film, The Street, discover why the editor in chief of Fantastic Man needs a cold shower every day, get an invitation or two from Tyler Brûlé and discover how the hoodie became the epitome of new luxury. Plus we ask for a little support. Dive down and enjoy.

Opener / Andrew Tuck

Erroneous salutations

My attempts at getting a yoga habit began a few years ago when the hotel we were staying in offered genuine early morning sun salutations. When the class is about 20 metres from your bedroom, it’s light at 06.00 and a nice breakfast concludes your fresh start to the day, it is an easy decision to sign up.

Back in London I was determined that my partner and I would continue our wobbly warrior poses and so I found a class near my house for us to attend. I sent him an email, the message field was “good news” and the short missive read: “I have booked us in to yoga for an hour on Wednesday. Doggie-style at 7am. X.” Sadly it’s the sort of low-brow correspondence that we sometimes exchange when not discussing Plato over porridge.

But there was one small problem with the email. Turns out that I didn’t send it to my partner. I sent it to a work colleague. Now, in my defence, they share the same initials and had very similar email addresses. The first that I knew of my errant mailing was when a reply popped up from my workmate with the simple reply: “Fantastic. I thought you’d never ask.” And that’s how the three of us ended up going to yoga together and spending summers with our yogi in the Himalayas. OK, that didn’t happen but my colleague did get one of the best stories for the leaving speech that he delivered last week. Meanwhile, two years later, my partner and I are still wobbling away and headstand envy has become a thing.

But sometimes those of us who follow the path (mine’s made of crazy paving and has some potholes that need attending to) need to muster a lot of inner strength to maintain any peace found during our lessons intact. Indeed, I have mentioned the stresses of these yoga classes before – it mostly comes down to some of the people who attend them – but after a recent experience I am wondering whether there might be a place for a new military-style yoga class. Extra discipline. Perhaps all done in camo.

There are several people who always seem to arrive five minutes late no matter what time the class is. They enter in a flurry of coat removing, shoes being tugged off and mats being manoeuvred into remaining gaps on the floor. It’s like one of those nature films where a seal attempts to find a spot on a tiny icy outcrop already occupied by a multitude of its kind. The person in this instance also seemed to have pitched up with enough bags for her round-the-world trip. Just breathe.

In the final minutes of the class, when you get a nice lie down with your eyes shut, the woman’s phone started ringing. And ringing. But, probably aware that she was now surrounded by a sea of mean thoughts, she didn’t move. The phone stopped ringing. And then it started again. Finally the fleet-footed teacher nipped over, removed the bag from the room (but sadly not its owner) and attempted to regain his composure – but there were some angry “oms” to conclude that hour. Well, from me anyway. Indeed, I was hoping for some stocks to be wheeled out and for rotten-vegetable throwing to commence. But she just left, a little embarrassed.

Now, I am no saint when it comes to my relationship with my phone but some people’s separation anxiety flummoxes even me. Head to a washroom and gents are texting with one hand, while… you get my drift. And my classmate is not the only person to bring their phone to yoga – it’s just that other people stop their texting and actually turn off their devices just as the class is starting.

But all these people should be wary because when you are distracted and still messaging, you can easily dispatch an email on an unwise path that certainly will not deliver enlightenment. Not everyone will be so forgiving. And that concludes this lesson. Namaste.


Lifting the hood

Few items are associated with as many different subcultures – or conflicting connotations – as the hoodie. Linked with hip-hop, Ivy League colleges, the boxing ring, surfing, skating and gangs, the hooded sweatshirt has now become a symbol of both Silicon Valley geeks and the luxury industry – as well as a focal point of debates about racial profiling and police violence. A new exhibition opening tomorrow at the Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam explores these myriad threads.

“The hoodie has been in and out of the news [for much of the past 20 years],” says Lou Stoppard, a London-based journalist who curated the exhibition. “In the UK in the mid-2000s, there was a moral panic around it – young men were getting Asbos [anti-social behaviour orders] prohibiting them from wearing hoodies during certain hours. Later, in the US, agitation about the hoodie continued with horrific events, such as the murder of Trayvon Martin [who was wearing one when he was shot by a vigilante]. At the same time, the hoodie was emerging as a key part of high fashion: a sign of the influence of streetwear and sportswear on luxury brands. So while it was being maligned as an emblem of crime or rebellion, it was also being heralded as a trend.”

The exhibition combines contemporary garments from high-fashion houses such as Vetements with artworks, photos, historical matter and digital pieces. “It shows how intense and often contradictory that coverage of and discussion about the hoodie has been,” says Stoppard. Oh, and if you wear a hoodie – you get in free.

‘The Hoodie’ opens tomorrow at Rotterdam’s Het Nieuwe Institute and runs until 12 April 2020.


An uncertain vintage

What year is this? Are they filming the next series of Peaky Blinders? Or perhaps swing dancing is a new fitness fad? Meet the throwbacks – dressed head-to-toe in rare, re-used clothing – they have fully converted to heritage chic. It is not just a look but a life commitment, necessitating encyclopaedic knowledge of US army-issue jackets; size and shape changes of the Levi’s 501 from 1900 to 1950; and heated debate over whether Bass Weejuns should be worn with or without socks – and they had better be domestically made!

Sure, you look great, daddy-o, but one question: how far do you go? When you pull down your wide-legged tweed trousers, are you sporting a pair of privates-hugging Calvin Kleins? Or were your undergarments made in the 1950s? How have they lasted and who wore them before? Fancy a jog? Are you lacing up a crumbling pair of Onitsuka Tigers from the late 1950s while talking about the health benefits of smoking? And without an iPhone how do you meet with friends – do you just head over to the bowling alley and hope that the fellas are outside combing their hair in the rear-view mirror?

We salute these heritage heroes, even if their dry-cleaning bill is through the roof because none of their gear can be machine-washed.


Full of Christmas cheer

This weekend marks not only the start of December but also the official launch of “Where did the year go?” season. From the moment I filed last week’s column to this very moment on the TGV I don’t think I’ve been in one meeting or casual get-together that hasn’t somehow been punctuated with “Can you believe it was just a year ago that we were looking at the proposals for 2019?” or “My goodness, how did this year just disappear?” In more chatty situations this generally leads to themes related to feeling overstressed about the rush to year-end finish line, the high-speed carousel of seasonal events and the most classic of all: “I’m really not feeling the Christmas season just yet, are you?”

Me? I’m happy to report that I’m already feeling quite Christmassy as a weekend road trip to Südtirol with a jump up to Tegernsee got me into the right mindset for the coming weeks. A serious amount of snow in the Alps, a steady diet of clementines and Helene Fischer cooing German and English carols out of the speakers did just the trick. Next week I will take it to the next level with a few days in Japan to celebrate the launch of our Nippon-themed December/January issue and for a little Veuve soirée (or as the Japanese affectionately call it Buu-buu) at Trunk Hotel. If you happen to be in Tokyo this Thursday and would like to join in the singing and shopping then please contact my colleague Nanako ( to RSVP. If you’re not able to join us in Shibuya and are looking for a few cues to get you into the Christmas groove, might I suggest the following:

  1. Munich was looking its Weihnachtlich best this week. A one-nighter at the Cortiina (ask for one of the new rooms out the courtyard in the back) should do the trick with stops into Lodenfrey, A Kind of Guise, Schumann’s, Ludwig Beck’s music department, Käfer and Dallmayr to address shopping lists as well as additions to your Christmas spread.

  2. Paris is also a fine option for a day trip or long weekender. Le Bon Marché does a good Noël twirl and its holiday wrapping concept should score a few graphic-design awards. Speaking of twirls, the Peninsula has put a skating rink atop one of its rooftop suites (if you don’t know what to do with the family or your year-end bonus).

  3. Staying with grand cities, what about Vienna? Think custom-made pajamas, capes, good hats and shipping home a couple of cases of superb Austrian wine for getting you through your two-week break.

  4. Yes, yes, I know I haven’t given you a North American option but it’s tricky so I’m suggesting Stockholm – reasonably connected from most major US hubs. Svenskt Tenn is a good place to start and then make your way to Nitty Gritty, Papercut and then back to the city centre for dinner at Teatergrillen.

  5. If none of these appeal then there are two final options. You can pull on your Saturday best right now and make your way to 90 Dufourstrasse in Zürich for our Christmas market, which is on today and tomorrow. As before, Raffi and Linda will be running the show. Should you not be in Switzerland this weekend then please join us in London next weekend for our full line-up of holiday favourites: snorting reindeer, Santa from Lapland, lavender Nancy from Wales, Raffi and Linda will also be in London – and we have a special table of the chicest hampers from the River Café. Looking forward to seeing you.


Gert Jonkers

Gert Jonkers is editor in chief of Fantastic Man, one of the smartest men’s magazines around, but he wasn’t always in publishing. He took his first professional steps as a country singer before becoming a journalist and writing for the likes of Esquire, T: The New York Times Style Magazine and Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. His collaboration with creative director Jop van Bennekom yielded beloved titles including Butt, The Happy Reader and The Gentlewoman. Here Jonkers explains why he wakes up and goes to sleep to the sound of the radio – and why he has a penchant for ice-cold showers.

What news source do you wake up to? Talk radio. Dutch Radio 1, to be precise; the Hilversum-based national broadcasting service, bringing news and some (bad) music. In general I love the whale-song-like quality of talk radio and I only register a small part of what they’re actually saying. It’s also a great soundtrack for dozing off again for an extra half hour after the alarm has gone off.

Coffee, tea or something pressed to go with headlines? Coffee. And a bowl of muesli with oat milk, yoghurt and fresh fruit. At breakfast I read the morning newspapers on my iPad, as well as Women’s Wear Daily and The Business of Fashion. However, I never look at my email or Instagram at this early hour.

Something from the FM dial or Spotify for your tunes? Spotify is great for trailing off in odd territory. I can start with Amanda Lear’s 1978 album Sweet Revenge, or Khruangbin’s recent spacey-dub album Hasta El Cielo, and an hour later am baffled about where the algorithm has taken me.

What’s that you’re humming in the shower? I don’t sing in the shower and never have; not even back in my early twenties when I was a professional singer. I do make strange, somewhat scary heavy-breathing noises, though, ever since I started finishing my showers with 20 seconds of ice-cold water. It’s said to be very healthy and it took me a while to get accustomed to but it now feels like a treat.

Papers delivered or a trip down to the kiosk? I subscribe to two newspapers, De Volkskrant and Het Parool, although they’re only physically delivered on Saturdays; on weekdays I just use the digital log-in. For Saturday’s FT I go to the kiosk.

Five magazines for your weekend sofa-side stack? I read Frieze, Pin-Up, Apartamento and then magazines that I’m intrigued by.

Sofa or cinema for the evening? Definitely the sofa. I think I see about 10 movies a year.

What’s the best thing you’ve watched lately?Sauvage, the French film [directed by Camille Vidal-Naquet].

Sunday brunch routine? I like to go to yoga around lunchtime on Sunday, at a lovely hippy studio in Amsterdam called Svaha – so there goes my brunch slot.

A favourite newsreader perhaps? Winfried Baijens for NOS Journaal is good – and handsome too.

What’s on the airwaves before drifting off? The aforementioned Dutch Radio 1 and, more specifically, Met Het Oog Op Morgen (With the Eye on Tomorrow), a programme that’s been broadcast every night between 23.00 and midnight for as long as I can remember. That’s the perfect time to go to bed anyway. The programme is another musing on the news of today so sometimes I feel a bit newsed-out – but in that sense it’s great to fall asleep to.


Breaking ground

‘The Street’, Zed Nelson. In his brave and beautiful new documentary, noted filmmaker and photographer Nelson trained his lens on east London’s Hoxton Street. Hoxton was the area synonymous with the capital’s gentrification in the mid-1990s – all contemporary-art galleries and expensive, ironically named bars. But Hoxton Street itself largely held on to its pie-and-mash shops, singalong pubs and council flats. Nelson’s film is the story of how rapid change affects the families and businesses that have always had a foothold on the street and its new arrivals. The discussion between the stalwart cockney pie-maker and the supposedly arriviste German beer-seller is memorable and instructive. Their exchange on the topics of Brexit, xenophobia and a creeping feeling of being priced-out rings very true. For the street, read the city – read the world.

‘The Revolution Will be Stopped Halfway: Oscar Niemeyer in Algeria’, Jason Oddy. The work of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer is known the world over but his Algerian projects much less so. This handsome volume, compiled by writer and photographer Jason Oddy, celebrates the buildings that Niemeyer designed in the 1960s shortly after the North African country’s revolution. From the University of Science and Technology Houari Boumédiène to futuristic sports arena La Coupole, these buildings are unmistakably Niemeyer for their aesthetics and utopian sensibilities.

‘Sky Sea Land’, The Scottish Gallery. Londoner Jonathan Christie’s solo exhibition at Edinburgh’s Scottish Gallery displays the artist’s charming watercolour-and-sgraffito paintings. His drawing-like works are colourful but subtle and have an evocative – if nostalgic – quality. Cups, lemons and dogs appear in these poetic vignettes of mundane life.


Strait talking

Gibraltar – a slim peninsula protruding from southern Spain – was captured by the UK in 1704, ceded to them in 1713 and has remained a UK territory ever since. Although the island’s population of 34,000 has a heritage including Spanish, Genoese, Maltese and Moroccan, Gibraltarians continue to identify with their motherland. The streets come complete with red telephone boxes and bobbies on the beat (although, admittedly, there’s plenty of Iberian tiling as well).

“The Gibraltar Chronicle is an institution,” says Brian Reyes, editor of the daily newssheet. Launched in 1801, the paper is one of the oldest English-language dailies still in print. “Because of the unique circumstances of our peninsula we write a lot of news with an international dimension,” says Reyes. “My reporters will go from covering a school play on a Tuesday evening to interviewing a UK minister on a Wednesday morning.”

What’s the big story this week? Gibraltar is whitelisted by the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] but we have been criticised for a long time by the Spanish government, who argue we serve as a tax haven. Well, we were invited by the OECD to its 10th anniversary summit in Paris, which took place this week. It was an important step in rebuffing criticism.

Can you name a favourite headline? “Tony Blair says Britain is a mess.” The reason that one stood out for me was that it was so succinct. It really resonated with people here regarding what’s happening in the UK at the moment: when we look over there we despair. We voted 96 per cent to remain [in the Brexit referendum] on a turnout of 84 per cent. We’re very much remainers.

Favourite photo? For a story about trade with Morocco we featured a photo of a Gibraltarian lighthouse with red and white stripes. The lighthouse is in the foreground and the mountains of Morocco are in the background; the camera lens has pulled the mountains forward so they look much closer. It reminds you of the proximity of the country and the need to look south post-Brexit.

What’s your down-the-page treat? One story this week was about a company called Gamma Concept, which participated in an international competition for street seating. Its entry was a four-person bench for people in wheelchairs. A section was effectively cut out of it so that wheelchair-users could sit in the centre surrounded by people, rather than at the end of the bench. It’s a physical manifestation of inclusivity.

What news will you be covering this Christmas? We have teamed up with a polling company and will run a survey on Gibraltar’s Christmas habits. We’ll be looking at everything from what people are buying when they go Christmas shopping to the food they have on the table. We’ll be running that next week.


How do I explain that I don’t work here?

“May I have the cheque please?” said a polite man recently just as Mr Etiquette – decked out in the dashing threads you’d expect him to don for an evening out – was heading back to his seat in a restaurant after a trip to the WC. Yes, some smart-dressed souls will already be familiar with being mistaken for staff at a restaurant, café or museum. No harm done – you’ll just need to quell the illusion sharpish. A polite laugh and prompt apology will suffice. If, however, the tone of the asker is outright rude you could mull over an alternative course of action: why not have your own table’s cheque sent over to the smug so-and-so with a smile and a wave? “Well, you did ask for it,” you might consider mouthing.


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