Wm Brown Project

A Negroni-drinking, Dunhill-lighting, Partagas-smoking, Land-Rover-driving, Rolex-Leica-snapping, Weber-barbecuing, Barbour-wearing, Sinatra-singing, Petrossian-consuming, book-and-magazine-publishing visionary - Matt Hranek is a modern day Hemingway View

The Best a Man Can Get

The film Jaws, whilst undoubtedly a classic, will indelibly blemish, if not completely extinguish, the joy of open sea swimming for the rest of your life. Whilst the line “we’re going to need a bigger boat” will amusingly grace your fishing trips/visits to Scott’s, you'll never be able to experience blissful relaxation whilst swimming serenely at sea without hearing John Williams’ bloody score in your head every time an unrhythmic wave of saltwater stirs against your skin. ​ The evocative power of great cinema is not always negative however:  At that impressionable stage in every man's life you’ll reach maturity, "break your cherry" and watch Scorsese’s Goodfellas.  At around the same age if you have any desire for independence and a keenness to demonstrate your manhood you'll start single-handedly preparing meals for your family. In emulation of Clemenza from the the Godfather (that other important spoke in the wheel of your masculine eduction), you'll choose an Italian meal. Undoubtedly at some part in the preparation, you'll find yourself chopping garlic. At that moment you’ll think back to Paulie from Goodfellas and you'll cut that garlic clove so fine that it will liquify in the pan with just a little oil. It is after-all you'll think to yourself “a very good system”. You'll shave garlic in the same manner for the next twenty years at least (and even if you stop because you find you like big wads of flavourful garlic in your marinara sauce) you'll never cut a garlic clove without hearing that Ray Liotta voice-over. ​ As they say in Sicily - Saluté ​ ​ MHS.

Welcome To The Senior

In 1952, at the age of 44, whilst on his annual 2-month holiday at Goldeneye in Jamaica Ian Fleming wrote the book Casino Royale - simultaneously inventing the character James Bond. In an interesting twist, Fleming eponymously named Bond after a bird-watcher and the author of a book on his bookshelf "Birds of the West Indies - a guide to the species of birds that inhabit the Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles and Bahama Islands”. ​ Holidays provide a chance for pause and contemplation. They allow us to consider our lot from a distance. Rather than the relaxation and idleness for which they’re better known, the retreat from our daily lifestyle can provide a rare opportunity to be more creative and to exercise and indulge those other vital parts of our character that we've ignored. So it evidently was with Fleming and indeed so it seems it is with me: I'm currently by a pool in the French countryside. Spurred on by this recollection of Fleming’s holiday action, my own recent 40th birthday, and the inspiration of others, I've decide to engage in similar creative activity and finally get around to start writing. In that mental picture one holds of oneself I’ve lived my whole adult life as a writer (albeit unpublished and unknown). The fact that I’ve never got quite got around to writing anything beyond e-mail being a minor impediment ​ It is said that Fleming wrote Casino Royale as a means of escapism, not only from his impending marriage and personal financial concerns, but from post-war rationing and a general foreboding uncertainty about the fate of the British Empire. Certainly dwindling British influence and the ascendance of the foreign powers all seem to feature as part of the Bond canon. In an obvious repeat of the British nation’s predicament I can't help but feel that I have very much in common with Fleming right now. Ironically, in creating Bond, one could argue that Fleming actually struck a retaliatory blow against the dulling of British influence and forged a “blunt tool” for the continuation of British cultural hegemony on a global scale that continues to this day. Inspired by this thought and led to egotistical delusion by a poolside cocktail (and perhaps too much sun) I did therefore contemplate calling this whole website venture “Oddie-Bill-Oddie.com” after the only other bird-watcher apart from James Bond that I can name. I held some vain hope that history might repeat itself and that in a bizarre twist my own holiday frivolity might somehow eventually serve to embolden my own children's generation. ​ Fleming reportedly wrote fast and edited later - luckily I followed his example here too. Upon more sober re-reading of the above I've come to fear that Fleming, despite not always noted as a being a good writer was a significantly better one than I. Un-lubricated I can’t escape the realisation that not only will this webpage fail to have any cultural impact whatsoever but that anything even obscurely referencing Bill Oddie is a bloody stupid name for a personal website. I’ve also noticed that drinking whilst writing also gives one a tendency to bounce themes and thoughts around a bit in the execution. Alas. Hopefully for you dear reader this has at least all come off a bit like a story told with great enthusiasm at the bar of your favourite establishment by someone you’ve just met and would like to know more. Certainly if you had been drinking when you read it I can assure you that your whole experience will have been much greatly improved - whether or not you liked any element of the writing or have even made it this far being an irrelevance. If you have made it this far I’d like to congratulate you - pull up a stool and let me pour you another. I can’t promise the writing will get any better but I can report that I’m having great fun - and I’ve always found that fun can be a quite infectious. ​ As we say here - Cheers! ​ ​ ​ MHS.

Welcome To The Senior

In 1952, at the age of 44, whilst on his annual 2-month holiday at Goldeneye in Jamaica Ian Fleming wrote the book Casino Royale - simultaneously inventing the character James Bond. In an interesting twist, Fleming eponymously named Bond after a bird-watcher and the author of a book on his bookshelf "Birds of the West Indies - a guide to the species of birds that inhabit the Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles and Bahama Islands”.

Holidays provide a chance for pause and contemplation. They allow us to consider our lot from a distance. Rather than the relaxation and idleness for which they’re better known, the retreat from our daily lifestyle can provide a rare opportunity to be more creative and to exercise and indulge those other vital parts of our character that we've ignored. So it evidently was with Fleming and indeed so it seems it is with me: I'm currently by a pool in the French countryside. Spurred on by this recollection of Fleming’s holiday action, my own recent 40th birthday, and the inspiration of others, I've decide to engage in similar creative activity and finally get around to start writing. In that mental picture one holds of oneself I’ve lived my whole adult life as a writer (albeit unpublished and unknown). The fact that I’ve never got quite got around to writing anything beyond e-mail being a minor impediment

It is said that Fleming wrote Casino Royale as a means of escapism, not only from his impending marriage and personal financial concerns, but from post-war rationing and a general foreboding uncertainty about the fate of the British Empire. Certainly dwindling British influence and the ascendance of the foreign powers all seem to feature as part of the Bond canon. In an obvious repeat of the British nation’s predicament I can't help but feel that I have very much in common with Fleming right now. Ironically, in creating Bond, one could argue that Fleming actually struck a retaliatory blow against the dulling of British influence and forged a “blunt tool” for the continuation of British cultural hegemony on a global scale that continues to this day. Inspired by this thought and led to egotistical delusion by a poolside cocktail (and perhaps too much sun) I did therefore contemplate calling this whole website venture “Oddie-Bill-Oddie.com” after the only other bird-watcher apart from James Bond that I can name. I held some vain hope that history might repeat itself and that in a bizarre twist my own holiday frivolity might somehow eventually serve to embolden my own children's generation.

Fleming reportedly wrote fast and edited later - luckily I followed his example here too. Upon more sober re-reading of the above I've come to fear that Fleming, despite not always noted as a being a good writer was a significantly better one than I. Un-lubricated I can’t escape the realisation that not only will this webpage fail to have any cultural impact whatsoever but that anything even obscurely referencing Bill Oddie is a bloody stupid name for a personal website. I’ve also noticed that drinking whilst writing also gives one a tendency to bounce themes and thoughts around a bit in the execution. Alas. Hopefully for you dear reader this has at least all come off a bit like a story told with great enthusiasm at the bar of your favourite establishment by someone you’ve just met and would like to know more. Certainly if you had been drinking when you read it I can assure you that your whole experience will have been much greatly improved - whether or not you liked any element of the writing or have even made it this far being an irrelevance. If you have made it this far I’d like to congratulate you - pull up a stool and let me pour you another. I can’t promise the writing will get any better but I can report that I’m having great fun - and I’ve always found that fun can be a quite infectious.

As we say here - Cheers!



MHS.

1855

I’ve always been an obsessive. I’d spend childhood summers indoctrinating my friends to share my latest hobby; if they were lucky they might even receive a homemade membership card. Despite the years passing I’ve never grown out of the pleasure of fixating myself with a new interest. As I approached 30 I took it upon myself to deliberately set out to start a brand new hobby every Summer. In 2005, in the midst of a Hemingway fixation, I took up boxing. In 2006 I read Proust (it took a year). In 2007, my most prolific to that date, I learnt to sail. By the end of the year I’d completed Royal Yacht Academy courses, gained my marine radio operator’s licence, helmed a 65ft yacht across the English Channel and crewed at both Cowes Week and the Round the Island Race. 2008 started with the same eagerness; after searching for my first taste of Puligny-Montrachet I made my inaugural purchase of wine from Berry Bros and Rudd - hands down the world’s most venerable wine merchant. Like Lock and Co. and Lobb a just up the street, opposite Trumper, Berry’s is a British institution. Serendipitously in 2008 Berry’s started offering professional WSET qualification courses. These are the courses one might take if you wanted to become a Master of Wine, so after my RYA success the previous year I signed up. Sitting in the Pickering Cellar surrou nded by the cartoons of Annie Tempest we spent the week sampling great wines from around the world, all in the great tradition of English amateurism. As part of this I was simultaneously introduced to the wines of Mouton Rothschild (a youthful 2002) and the illustrious 1855 Classification. In 1855, as part of the Paris Exhibition, the French government decided to showcase the best wines of the Bordeaux region. Like Robert Parker 200 years later they invented a system that, despite its faults, could quickly convey the comparative merits of one wine to another to a simple lay-man. These Grand Cru Classe wines from the Medoc were divided into 5 Cru (translated literally as growth). Barring an intital amendment only Mouton (that same wine I sampled in Berry’s Cellar) has moved up the classification - that famously moved up the ratings from a Deuxieme Cru to the highest level a Premier Cru in 1970. From 2009 despite minor forays I’ve practically forgone new obsessions (although my wife who I married in 2010 would disagree - she still calls me Mr Toad after the character in Wind in the Willows - Beep! Beep!). Instead I’ve took to discovering the best of Bordeaux in an attempt to enjoy every wine on the 1855 list. I’ve now been drinking my way through that list for 12 years and stand on the precipice of completing the journey very soon. I own over half of the bottles I’m yet to drink already - storing them for the right time. Ultimately this particularly passion has become a timeline of some of the best memories of my adult life: Drinking a Cos d’Estournal with my best man on the eve of my wedding, drinking an Haut Brion at the bar on an Emirates A380, a Leoville Las Cases in the casino of Monte-Carlo, a particularly fine Leoville Barton ‘96 with a Chinese takeaway after the birth of my first child, an ‘88 Ch. Margaux on my wife’s 30th. Countless bottles at births, birthdays, Christmases and even a few after mediocre days that just needed a special lift; with friends, with family - hopefully you can appreciate the gravitas of each and every bottle. Like all the best things in any life it’s been done with extreme passion but without any hurry.  After all once I’ve completed it what, I ask myself, will I do next? Burgundy?

Wm Brown Project

A Negroni-drinking, Dunhill-lighting, Partagas-smoking, Land-Rover-driving, Rolex-Leica-snapping, Weber-barbecuing, Barbour-wearing, Sinatra-singing, Petrossian-consuming, book-and-magazine-publishing visionary - Matt Hranek is a modern day Hemingway

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"Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” – P.J. O’Rourke

The Senior Daily

Like the FT's "How To Spend It" The Senior has taken on a new form.  Consider this a new wardrobe - hopefully the adage that clothes maketh the man has real value.  Hopefully readers like the redesign.  If you have any comments or suggestions get in touch.

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