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Fanfic rants and resources: the British Army, bespoke tailors, and baronets - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
Fanfic rants and resources: the British Army, bespoke tailors, and baronets
 

Right, you lot.  Before we all trot off for a last weekend at Brighton, or go forth to pick brambles only to find that they were early this year and there are none left (no jam for you this winter, I’m afraid), or pleat our kilts for the caber toss at the Invercharron Games, a few points.

 

 

 

If there is a genre of Potterfic, including AU/AH, that I should like to see done and done well, it is that that explores the Auror Corps, a Wizarding military establishment, and the civil politics of Wizard-dom.  Unfortunately, whilst I have seen it done, I’ve rarely seen it done well (I have sometimes contemplated bribing Age of Sail fen on my f’list to write some Potterfic simply to achieve this).  When I have seen it done, it has generally been by Americans – to which I am by no means objecting – who are usually Harmonians – which is hard to complain of in an AU, I suppose – and who know a great deal about weapons and arms, the US Army, and the like, but have no concept of the British Army (or police forces, in Auror stories that make the Aurors the Old Bill rather than an Armed Service), the regimental system, British and Commonwealth ranks and insignia (New Zealand subalterns do not wear ‘lieutenant’s bars’ on their collars, my dear fellow, they wear a star – ‘pip’ – or two on their shoulder or on their rank slide when in combat dress), the Queen’s Regulations, Army traditions, aid to the civil power, and the like: which I do complain of.

 

To remedy that, may I suggest these resources?

 

The Queen’s Commission: a Junior Officer’s Guide

http://www.sandhurst.mod.uk/files/qc.pdf

 

Soldier Management – A Guide for Commanders

http://www.army.mod.uk/linkedfiles/servingsoldier/usefulinfo/soldier_management.pdf

 

Manual of Defence Writing – JSP 101

http://www.army.mod.uk/linkedfiles/dets_a/aecs/10_aec/defence_writing.pdf

 

I may also note that the writing advice in JSP 101 can be studied with profit by any writer in any fandom, and that the Seven Questions system in Soldier Management bears usage by any writer seeking to write a battle in any fandom.

 

Similarly, with rare (and in the main British) exceptions – ‘Corridors of Power’, say – political fiction in the Potterverse, with its utterly mad ideas of what a Wizengamot session might be like, and Ministers standing – usually written as ‘running’ – for election as such, is badly in want of instruction.  The Beeb’s guide to Parliament, at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/a-z_of_parliament/default.stm, is, unlike its recent CBBC guide to 9/11, now replaced, is reliable and instructive.  Nick Robinson is not to be missed, at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/, nor are Iain Dale, http://www.iaindale.blogspot.com/, Guido Fawkes, http://www.order-order.com/, and 18 Doughty Street, http://www.18doughtystreet.com/.  And of course there is the official website, http://www.parliament.uk/, the website of the History of Parliament Trust, at http://www.histparl.ac.uk/, and a useful site on the British constitution at http://britishconstitution.blogspot.com/. 

 

Then there is a matter that I have ranted about before.  No power on earth, it seems, can prevent people from writing snob-stuff in the Potterverse.  Unfortunately, most of them have no idea of the subject.  Armani, including ‘Wizarding Armani’, is not U.  There follows a representative, although by no means exhaustive, list of shops worth finding on the Web and studying, particularly where some of the tailors have guides and tips:

 

Bespoke tailors:

Anderson & Sheppard

Ede & Ravesncroft

Huntsman

Dege & Skinner

Gieves & Hawkes

Davies & Son

Maurice Sedwell

Henry Poole

 

Shirts:

New & Lingwood – NB: Old Etonian kit

Hilditch & Key

Hawes & Curtis

Thos Pink

 

Cufflinks &c:

Asprey

 

Bootmakers:

New & Lingwood – Russia calf

Foster & Son

Cheaney

Church’s, w caution

Jno Lobb

 

Barber / hairdresser:

Geo F Trumper

 

Gunsmiths:

Holland & Holland

Purdey

 

Additionally, please to read, mark, and inwardly digest the work of Mr Thos Mahon, at http://www.englishcut.com/.

 

One of the worst and most persistent offences I see in snob-stuff Potterfic is the woeful misapprehension and mishandling of titles, honours, and post nominals.  May I suggest starting with the Honours System, http://www.honours.gov.uk/, and Order of Wear, http://www.honours.gov.uk/honours/wear.aspx?  Post nominals are shown at http://www.honours.gov.uk/honours/chivalry.aspx, and certain exceptions pertaining to the rule that ‘order of wear’ governs the order of post nominal letters after a name are found therein.

 

Correct form – that is, forms of address – is best addressed by Debrett’s Correct Form.  Buy it or go to the library.  (Not everything in this world is online for free, and I cannot do everything for you.)  For God’s sake, though, use your ’eadpiece.  He may be ‘Your Grace’ to the gardener, but to his equals it’s ‘Morning, Duke’ – or ‘Hullo, Charles’ or ‘Evenin’, Collingbourne’ or ‘Oi, Tubby!  You remember Weedy, here?  Fagged for me at Eton’ or ‘Uncle Charles!  Did you see how Mummy fell at the last fence, Uncle Charles?’ or what have you, depending on relationship.  But this begins to exceed the scope of my remarks.

 

Please look after this bear use these resources.  Your readers will thank you and your conscience will improve in tone – as will your writing.

 

 

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39 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
lazy_neutrino From: lazy_neutrino Date: September 14th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I say old bean, what a spiffing resource!

Bespoke tailors:

Anderson & Sheppard

Ede & Ravesncroft

Huntsman

Dege & Skinner

Gieves & Hawkes

Davies & Son

Maurice Sedwell

Henry Poole


Has Tommy Nutter gone from Savile Row, then? I used to walk past his shop in the late 80s and always loved the displays.

Armani, including ‘Wizarding Armani’, is not U.

Have you explained U and non-U in a previous post, then? I would love a link if you have!
sollersuk From: sollersuk Date: September 14th, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U_and_non-U_English would probably be a good start.
lazy_neutrino From: lazy_neutrino Date: September 14th, 2007 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fascinating - thank you! I had no idea it predated Nancy Mitford. Shows what I know!

wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 18th, 2007 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

What, the bloke who ruined KFS?

(Shudder.) I couldn't say. I shd stress that this is by no means an exhaustive list, but meant to be representative and to include shops with Useful Websites.

As to U and non-U, see: http://witchlights.topcities.com/culture/uandnonu.html.
lazy_neutrino From: lazy_neutrino Date: September 18th, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: What, the bloke who ruined KFS?

KFS?

And thanks for the link!
serriadh From: serriadh Date: September 14th, 2007 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

There are more problems than that with writing potter!politics, I think.

Excellent points, all. I don't read that much Potterfic as I used to, but I still hugely enjoy these resource lists as much as an educational tool for my own interest (and to learn about what is, give or take the matter of class ;) ) my own culture.

What I find odd about Potterfic dealing with politics is that so litte deals with the rampant corruption/backwardness of the system as depicted in the books. I'm not historically knowledgeable enough to say what era is most representss, but the Ministry is certainly not that much like our Parliament. There's no hint of elections, for instance (see remarks on 'they wanted Dumbledore for Minister' etc.)... and it's also not clear what function the Aurors have, which makes it difficult to write them (though there is no excuse for not trying) - are they police? army? secret service? all of the above? are they under control of the Minister/Minstry or are they 'independent' like Uk judges?
sollersuk From: sollersuk Date: September 15th, 2007 08:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: There are more problems than that with writing potter!politics, I think.

It's a definite omission, given how very rampant the corruption is. And we don't see much of the Aurors in action, and Harry is so ignorant of aspects of the wizarding world that others take for granted that the suggestion that he might make a good Auror might well be along the lines of "Have you ever considered a career in the KGB?"
sollersuk From: sollersuk Date: September 15th, 2007 08:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: There are more problems than that with writing potter!politics, I think.

Sorry, hit the "Post comment" button too soon. What I meant to say next was that possibly fic writers have problems getting their heads around that degree of corruption. Perhaps we need more writers from areas gthat do have that sort of experience? Or people knowledgeable about periods in British and European history that might have useful insights? Roman history might be a good start, particularly the feeling that there is absolutely nothing wrong about that way of doing things.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 18th, 2007 01:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you - you and Sollers the Wise, both.

Post-DH, I am more and more convinced that JKR's model is a dystopian take on Baldwin-Chamberlain-and-Dawson-at-the-Times, had Winston, say, died in '36 or so.
wednesdayschild From: wednesdayschild Date: September 14th, 2007 10:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Correct form – that is, forms of address – is best addressed by Debrett’s Correct Form. Buy it or go to the library. (Not everything in this world is online for free, and I cannot do everything for you.) For God’s sake, though, use your ’eadpiece.

Not Potterfic related, but my now-ex-boss was a Dame (and a Professor incidentally) and you would not believe the number of letters (including, more shockingly, job applications) we got that addressed her incorrectly. I'm not sure what was my favourite: 'Ms' or 'Lady'. Both caused many chuckles in short-listing meetings.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 18th, 2007 02:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Snort. I can imagine.

Ah, well. As the American songwriters noted, there is nothing like a Dame....
bufo_viridis From: bufo_viridis Date: September 15th, 2007 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)
For God’s sake, though, use your ’eadpiece.
That's would be the hardest part, I believe...
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 18th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Amen.

It was ever so. Alas.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: September 15th, 2007 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Purdey's, that's the Georgette Heyer reference I was trying to remember! (We have a particularly contentious bunch on one of my fashion doll groups, and I wanted to suggest specifically the accessory that should come with a giftset of two new male dolls...)

You should cut us some slack with the Armani, though. It's really just a buzzword at this point. Plus, everywizard isn't Nature's Nobility, even if the family did happen to get itself represented in the Black Family Tree. Marcus Flint, Oliver Wood, any given Prewett, and other such: if they play pro Q and they're well-known, they wear Armani. It's like a law or something.

Here's something we Americans need serious help with! How do you get out of school without a ceremony? No graduations, no proms? How does a sixteen year-old girl get to wear an evening gown if there are no proms?

Give us some fancy social events -- balls (that don't depend on centennial events like the Tri-Wizard Tournament), tea dances, anything -- that involve pretty dresses!

shezan From: shezan Date: September 15th, 2007 12:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think you can possibly cut ANY slack with Armani (or "slacks", for that matter.) It's stuff Russian oligarchs' bodyguards wear.)
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: September 15th, 2007 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)
"It's stuff Russian oligarchs' bodyguards wear."

Well, yeah. And athletes. Guys that basically get paid to be thugs, except the people that pay them want them to be presentable, but not above themselves.

Question: do ladies go to the same establishments as gentlemen, or do they get their high heels, dress suits, gowns and big hats from different places? And why does Narcissa always have her "hair hanging down her back"? Loose hair on a grown woman seems so sort of "aging-hippie-chick"...

(Russian oligarchs' bodyguards -- love that phrase! Exactly the feel I'm going for with my competition diorama for the dollie convention!)
alliekiwi From: alliekiwi Date: September 15th, 2007 07:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Here's something we Americans need serious help with! How do you get out of school without a ceremony?

A reply to this is... why do you need a ceremony? You managed to finish school, but so did practically everyone else. It doesn't mean anything. The thing that means something is if you passed your exams - and you don't find out about those til the holidays - after you've left school. Employers want exam results, Universities want exam results.

If you want a ceremony, you get it when you graduate from university. That's when you'll get the cap and gown treatment.

sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: September 15th, 2007 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
We don't need the ceremony. Cool kids skip the ceremony. We need the parties. We need the drama. We need the fashion...
tahariel From: tahariel Date: September 15th, 2007 08:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Weddings and posh birthday parties, mostly, though my secondary school (high school) had a Winter Ball and a Leavers' Ball in my final year, where only those students were invited, unless they brought dates.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: September 15th, 2007 10:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's what we want, thanks!

Any debutante balls, political functions? Dancing lessons? Sweet Sixteens, Quinceañeros?

See where I'm going with this? The kind of young girl who writes most of the fanfic out there can live without Armani if you give her something else, but she must have parties where the characters can express themselves and their emotional drama through their costume. (That's why I loved Georgette Heyer at that age! Lots of parties, lots of clothes!)

I know it makes you guys twitch when Harry and the gang "graduate" from Hogwarts; I'm just trying to help you understand whence we poor misguided Yanks are coming...
naath From: naath Date: September 18th, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Debutante balls are the province of the ultra wealthy; costing fortunes to attend in glistening places like Venice.

No, your average young lady would not be attending one. No-one of my acquaintance ever did. You might read of them in the society pages of a newspaper like the Times that is read by people who care about that sort of thing. One imagines that Wizarding Society might hold such an event - the Black sisters probably attended, the Weasleys almost certainly did not (no money and no *class* even if they do have Pure Blood).

There may well be some kind of "year 7 ball" that we could imagine (not that there was one for Harry's year of course but in the normal school year there might be). It would be a fancy disco with a nice dinner and people in pretty dresses sneering at people in cheaper pretty dresses who don't care because they knew that they weren't in that class of thing anyway.

Other people's weddings, funerals and Christenings (naming ceremonies perhaps) are an excellent chance to show off one's attire.

On the train of "things one reads about in the society pages" no doubt there are hunt dinners, and outings to the races and the regattas and horse shows and dog shows and film festivals (posh ones) and all sorts of things that the high-an'-mighty get up to. But for most of us it's the school leavers disco and our mate's hatchings, matchings and dispatchings.

At Cambridge (where we are Not All Snobs Honest) we have "May Balls" - extravaganzas of cheap food, cheap booze and cheap bands costing more money than sense. I don't think these things should come under the heading you are looking for.
tahariel From: tahariel Date: September 18th, 2007 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry it took me a few days to reply, I've been moving into my new university accomodation for the year :)

We don't really have debutante balls in this day and age, at least not in most social circles, unless Daddy is ridiculous rich :D We do have fancy dress parties, where you dress up as something you're not, but they tend to be very informal affairs unless it's a Masquerade Ball (which would be for one of the previously mentioned occasions.)

One exception is charity balls. They're expensive, though, so again, you'd have to be rich to go to one. Draco could afford to go, for instance, but the Weasleys couldn't. Harry probably could, but he might not be in the right circles to get an invite, if that makes sense - it depends on how he acts, really, whether he plays up to being The Boy Who Lived as a public figure or not.

Does that help?
luci0logy From: luci0logy Date: September 15th, 2007 09:14 am (UTC) (Link)
How does a sixteen year-old girl get to wear an evening gown if there are no proms?

Quite simply, she doesn't. At university - post 18, however, there are plenty of opportunities to wear an evening dress with departmental, themed and residential house balls.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: September 15th, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Wizards Got No Balls!

Waaaah! But there is no Wizarding university!
luci0logy From: luci0logy Date: September 15th, 2007 10:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wizards Got No Balls!

Then we need to invent one.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 18th, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Mr Wemyss backs slowly away from this thread....

... Leaving such mysteries to the ladies, God bless 'em.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: September 18th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Avast, Me Hearties!

Even though tomorrow be "Talk Like A Pirate Day", we apologizes to Mr. Wemyssie fer hijackin' his LJ!

I invites ye all to board my ship to continue the pretty-dress parley, leavin' this poor beggar in peace!

Arrgh.
zanesfriend From: zanesfriend Date: November 2nd, 2007 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Mr Wemyss backs slowly away from this thread....

Exactly. I was a Classics major and have read Euripides. I know what happens to men who spy on women's mysteries.
shezan From: shezan Date: September 15th, 2007 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to assume you're not mentioning Turnbull & Asser because it now belongs to the Fayeds? But I'm glad you list Hilditch & Clé, and Henry Poole.

There was a shirtmaker on Jermyn Street called Lewin's who had very good ties & handkerchiefs at non-silly prices. Many of my friends used it - still there? And Floris makes good shaving soap in a wooden bowl.
l_aqrchard From: l_aqrchard Date: September 16th, 2007 10:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Lewin's is certainly still there, and still selling things at non-silly prices. Definitely worth a visit.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 18th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Not as such.

I merely chose representative shops with Very Useful Websites. Although, mind, the Fayed-een connex were hardly a point in favour of poor old T&A....
luci0logy From: luci0logy Date: September 15th, 2007 09:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Geo F Trumper

I have used them in one of my fics. Their website is most informative too.

One of the main things that bothers me regarding Auror fics, is that time and again they seem little more than the WW version of the old bill. JKR has a department that deals with that - Hit Wizards. I do agree that as Aurors are supposed to be Dark Wizard catchers, then they are more likely to be like the army. I shall have to pump my son for information regarding training with weapons and battle tactics.

A terrific post, even for a brit.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 18th, 2007 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

You're vy kind.

I rather suppose that the Aurors fill the role of the army and militia in the old Chartist-Captain-Swing-Riot-Act days, with the Hit Wizards as pre-Peel Bow Street Runners.
house_illrepute From: house_illrepute Date: September 15th, 2007 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
please never delete this post!

this comes JUST IN TIME because I'm doing a ... well... post-DH Colin fic that deals heavily with the Auror Training Corp (he's a photojournalist and is 'assigned' to it)... so, while not truly ABOUT it, i did buy a couple books on Sandhurst and britain military books in order to make it somewhat 'realistic' or 'parallelistically real' if i can muck about with the language a bit...

thanks for doing this!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 18th, 2007 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Wouldn't think of it.

Delighted to have been of use.
zanesfriend From: zanesfriend Date: September 17th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Question: what about a person who has both one or more of the awards you list and advanced academic degrees?

"Professor Sir XYZ, Ph.D., KCMG"? Or the other way around?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 17th, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, if he's worth knighting, it's 'DPhil'....

Tabs and such use 'PhD', after all.

Easy, though: honours before academic qualifications, in order of precedence; then degrees in order of attainment followed by FRS or what have you.

If you really want to have fun, try an Irish earl who's a C of E cleric, privy councillor, and MP....
eriathwen_bob From: eriathwen_bob Date: September 24th, 2007 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, if he's worth knighting, it's 'DPhil'....

If he's an MP, he'll have had to drop the 'earl' part.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: September 24th, 2007 01:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Er, no, actually.

Plenty of Irish peers have been in the House of Commons even before the 1999 act, as Irish peerages didn't eo ipso boot one into the Lords in the Union parliament.
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