hugh laurie originally came to our notice in the uk via the television series a little bit of fry and laurie along with renowned raconteur, stephen fry. they followed this up portraying the p.g. wodehouse characters, jeeves and wooster with such excellence, that i now find it hard to read any of the wodehouse stories without picturing fry and laurie in those humorous roles. though fry has continued a career path that some would identify with oscar wild (i think it possible he sees himself as something of a reincarnation), laurie eventually moved his acting skills to the usa, becoming i hear tell, one of the highest paid actors in television through the series house which, though riven with dark humour, showed laurie to have something of a serious side to his public persona.
and then, as if to reinforce this new found level of seriousness, he released the joe henry produced let them talk, a selection of blues songs recorded in the company of tom jones and irma thomas, along with some of the finest musicians currently available across the pond. while the short videos accompanying this release are peppered with occasional humour, his treatment of the songs is deadly serious. laurie hardly has the most convincing of blues voices; perhaps a diet of razor blades and broken light bulbs would assist, but nonetheless, it offers a fitting tribute to compositions such as st james infirmary and buddy bolden's blues.
not that it has any specific bearing on the subject under discussion, but i am reminded (not musically, i hasten to add) to the title of a rod argent composition; the serious side of sirius three.
many comedians and humourists are remarkably unfunny when bereft of an audience or carefully rendered script, but it is surely of testament to laurie's versatility that he can swap betwen humour and seriousness? a bit like the cycle clothing offerings, now that you come to mention it, from new zealand's solo clothing.
the brainchild of paul mason, the company made its mark on the pelotonese via a series of humorous cycle jerseys bearing the names and designs of utterly fictitious sponsors, each pertaining to a specific country of origin. i still have an example of the original french jersey (which, according to paul, is still the most popular, though i note that it seems no longer available via the solo website) st neith clement sur lie, alluding to a non-existent but highly believable french cycle club.
though this series of classique jerseys offers tidbits of humour, depending on your own proclivities, there is nothing humorous about the quality and sincerity behind the garments themselves. for rather than employ the more common method of dye-sublimation to colour the jerseys, paul mason opted for screen printing, an alternatve that offers a greater depth and vibrancy of colour.
however, while not wishing to appear in any way unkind or to undermine that on which paul has created a particularly well-liked and successful business, this past month or so, things just became serious. sent from uk distributors, paligap i received a retro tech winter jacket, merino collar and merino short sleeve baselayer, perusal of which needed not to be too extensive before recognising that mr mason has done his homework. built with wind and waterproof panels featured on the front and top of the sleeves as well as the shoulders, this is something of a serious contender in the stakes for an ideal cosy jacket.
though i have previously discussed the semantics of just what can be meant by the word jacket, this particular example straddles two camps. in milder weather, it may well be convenient to wear over said merino baselayer, but in view of the temperature drop in the hebrides just before christmas, i opted to cover that baselayer with a solo retro-tech s/s jersey and a pair of similarly logo'd armwarmers. the jacket is a close fit, but not so much that dressing in this manner prevented blood flow either to the hands or head.
available only in black, the jacket possesses a total of five pockets: three regular rear versions, along with a fourth zipped outer on the rightmost rear. and coming as a complete surprise, because i only found it by accident, was a concealed zipped pocket secreted along the right hand seam on the side panel. while forum discussions have oft criticised the propensity for cycle clothing purveyors to over utilise black, in the solo winter jacket's defence, it does proudly display a wide reflective strip that stretches from one cuff to the other via the chest, breaking only to allow a full length zip.
there's also a thin reflective strip that does a similar job across the jacket's rear.
confusion, however, reigns, for i would be far happier to advertise my presence to those approaching from the rear, than to those passing in the opposite direction. i think it perhaps might have been more pragmatic either to swap front reflection for rear, or perhaps more usefully, have a similar width of reflective strip across both front and back. that full-length zip takes great care not to nip the nape of the neck, by being offset from the centre of the jacket, culminating in a respectfully high collar that allows room for the wearing of that merino collar.
at this time of year, i cannot but point out that i would have preferred a jacket that offers wall to wall rain protection, but both you and i know that this rarely translates into an appropriate level of breathability. on my first trip into the hinterlands, half of my journey had precipitation imposed upon it, and it would be a false claim to state that i arrived at my destination in any state other than a trifle damp, principally across the rear of both arms. though the waterproofing extends the full length of both sleeves and incorporates the shoulders, it is a feature of atlantic winds that they rarely meet you head on. much of the water ingress arrived on the left arm into which the gale-force wind was blowing at the time.
slightly disappointingly, the knitted cuffs and hem offer spongelike surfaces to persistent rain, so while the polyester of the jacket often dried sufficiently at the coffee shop to allow for a comfortable return, squishy cuffs aren't my favourite. it is, however, possible to ameliorate this situation by stuffing a solo raincoat in one of those rear pockets for just such an eventuality. subsequent outings in less concentrated rain met with greater success; the comfort, warmth, windproofing and breathability proved that solo's new found seriousness arrives as a result of well-considered options.
no winter jacket i have come across seems well-disposed towards the ideal combination of waterproofing and breathability, and unless someone discovers a truly magical fabric, it seems likely that things will remain thus for the foreseeable future. i am not given to training of any nature, whether in summer or in winter, but on those colder days ripe for busting a gut in the name of going as fast as i can, the solo winter jacket cannot be seen as other than ideal. yes, additional waterproofing might be something you'd like to take with you just in case, but unless you're looking at a serious and lengthy downpour, this will do me (and, by implication, you) just ginger peachy, thank you very much.
the solo winter jacket is available in sizes from xs to xl at a cost of £170. the solo black merino baselayer can be acquired in small through xl for £50 and the one-size fits all merino wool collar is a mere £18
thursday 27th december 2012..........................................................................................................................................................................................................