Bicycle Diaries: Let your tweed flag fly!

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Let your tweed flag fly!

Once again, the Central Committee of the BBC chose an unseasonably warm day to gather together nearly 40 ladies & gentleman for a fab tour of the Windy City's posh fireplace pubs. As always there were a lot of new punters who joined last Saturday; but a lot of cheery ole' timers and Ocean Pearls as well. We also had a journalism student along to vid the first stop at Jack's Bar & Grill on Southport just below Lincoln.

The growing interest in our little collective reminds of an article that appeared in The Spectator a few weeks back. It so often happens on the opposite shores of the Atlantic. The Brits despair over the passing of a well-worn tradition just their American cousins herald its rebirth. This time around it's the demise of that dowdy English fashion sense: the threadbare, genteel poverty so valued by the upper classes since the late 18th Century. Harry Mount writes,
The idea was born that it should always take a few seconds to notice if someone is well-dressed. Nobody who was really smart wanted to appear so — that would be ostentatious. Enter those frayed shirt collars, jumpers with the elbows gone, battered chintz rather than fresh new seat covers.
The usefulness of things, no matter how old or time-worn, is what mattered. But now both the masses and classes of Merry Olde are in the thrall of the new, the minimal, and the modern. Think of London's Millennium Wheel and Beetham Tower, both representing the UK's squeaky clean embrace of the 21st Century.
For the first time in history we live in a civilisation where, the richer you are, the fewer things you have, and the newer, cleaner and more stripped-down those things must be.
When I read this I looked around the genial clutter of my apartment and realized that shabby chic is indeed alive and well in this colonial outpost. It's even catching on among the punters on Madison Avenue. Back in November last year, The New York Times described the new wave of hipsters giving up their skinny jeans for tweed trousers and spotty t-shirts for high-lapel vests. And here our Tweed Rides are attracting more bikers than the venerable Midnight Marauders.

Perhaps it has something to do with George Bernard Shaw's observation that England and America are two countries separated by a common language.

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Anonymous Nipper said...

Hi BBC just thought I would leave a message from GB to let you know tweed cycling is still alive and well. I am a member of Taunton Tweed Cycle Chic who meet four times a year for 'Tweed Runs'. Your BBC ride looked jolly fun, I think our next ride will involve similar keeping warm in local taverns. To see the TTCC rides take a look at my blog;
BTW the bicycle in my blog header is British and the ukulele is from Chicago (made in 1950s)

23/12/10 20:57  

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