Saturday, 31 October 2015

Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot!

In which G.M. Norton dresses up as Dr. Watson.


This week, I have a pictorial post for your peepers. 

I've always loved Sherlock Holmes. At the age of seven or eight, I became an avid reader of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's literary works. I believe this sparked my interest for all things old. I just loved the imagery of Victorian England that was conjured up in my mind.

A few months ago, I was asked to take part in a Sherlock and Watson-inspired photo shoot. Of course, I usually prefer to take centre stage but this time, I was only too happy to leave the Sherlock duties to my chum, Ant and assume the role of Doctor John H. Watson. 

I must admit, I slightly regret not shaving off the beard, although in fairness, it is quite Victorian and Edwardian in style.

The photos were taken by the wonderfully talented Jason Lawton and the rather fine outfits were from Royal Exchange Costume Hire. Many of the pictorials were taken in Peel Park in Salford, one of the world's first public parks, which opened in 1846.

I do hope you enjoy them! 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Win a luxury men’s skincare collection (worth £116)

In which G.M. Norton valiantly tests out skincare products.

In order to look one’s best; one must have a well-stocked bathroom cabinet.
Colognes, a manly safety razor, pomade and horn comb all take pride of place, along with other items such as tweezers and skincare products. Yes, that’s right – men need to look after their skin too.
As I don’t have my own personal valet to make sure my grooming arsenal is in plentiful supply, I was tickled pink to be sent a full skincare collection from luxury brand, The Refinery.
I received a face wash, moisturiser, scrub and face mask. I must confess at this point that until now, I have never used a face mask. Read on as I take you through my thoughts on each product.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

This little finger on my right

In which G.M. Norton becomes the proud wearer of a signet ring.


I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am. A very special parcel arrived this week from my chums at Rebus Signet Rings. I’m sure you can guess what it was, given the name of the company. For those not quite up to speed, it was this chunk of gold.
Featuring my Norton of Morton monogram, it was love at first sight. Even more so once I slipped it on my little finger. The ring, which has been deep seal engraved in reverse, was carefully handcrafted by one of Rebus’s expert engravers. They have done an absolutely fabulous job. Every so often, I find myself lovingly gazing at it and admiring the skill that has gone into making it.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

The ring masters

In which G.M. Norton visits Blighty’s finest signet ring specialist.


Given the choice, a gentleman seldom rises before the clock has chimed six bells. Especially when the bed is so warm and there is still a dark hue to the morning October sky.

It transpires that the chance to visit a signet ring workshop is enough motivation to get me jumping to my feet. Two hours and seven minutes after leaving Manchester, the train smugly pulled in at London’s Euston Station.
A short walk to the London Underground and within a couple of tube stops, I was walking along the famed Hatton Garden, the renowned jewellery district. Rebus Signet Rings are just behind Hatton Garden on the delightfully named Leather Lane.

Leather Lane is full of life and character. Street traders filled the pavement, selling their wares. I loved the atmosphere, excitedly I counted the numbers – 35, 37, 39 – before reaching no. 59, the home of Rebus.
 
I pressed the buzzer on the door and was quickly granted safe passage. Upon entering, I was warmly greeted like an old friend.

Emmet Smith, the director and owner of Rebus Signet Rings, greeted me personally before taking me to the downstairs workshop. A cup of tea was soon thrust into my hand, making me instantly smitten with the place.
 
The workshop is small but perfectly proportioned, with strange looking objects as far as the eye can see. 
There was a quiet, studied, focused air as the skilled craftspeople used traditional hand-engraving tools to perfect chunks of gold, silver and platinum. 

It certainly made a welcome change from a mouse and keyboard.

I couldn't help chuckling when I spied the painted wall sign, ‘Keep focused and get a massive amount of shit done’.
Emmet kindly explained the process of making a signet ring. He handed me the 9ct yellow gold signet ring that had been made for me in the very room I was standing in. I slipped it onto my little finger, a perfect fit.
The ring will carry my Norton of Morton monogram, which will be deep engraved in reverse. This will mean that I’ll be able to use it just like King Charles II did, and sign off my gentlemanly correspondence with my wax seal.
Emmet is a lovely chap. He told me how he started at Rebus as an apprentice before having the foresight to buy the business and become the owner. The story of Rebus Signet Rings keeps getting better and better.
Emmet proudly brought over two beautiful Victorian reference books. The first lists all manner of family surnames, with a reference number alongside them. Using the second book, you can use the reference number to find the corresponding family crest for the surname you are interested in. It turns out that ‘Norton’ has quite a number of family crests previously assigned to it.
As he explained, the books help to fire imaginations. You really can have almost anything engraved on a signet ring. 
Rebus also boast Initial and Talisman collections, which are proving extremely popular. The Talisman collection includes whippets, seahorses and bumble bees. Emmet's personal favourite is the owl, which is surprisingly not one of their best sellers. 
Whatever style you plump for, it is clear to see that signet rings are extremely precious and should be cherished.
What I absolutely adore about Rebus Signet Rings is the fact that they do everything in the traditional, time-honoured way. All designs are hand-drawn before being hand engraved, including the most intricate coat of arms imaginable. 
There's simply no comparison between an individually hand made ring crafted in the City of London and some mass-produced rubbish made by machine. Each ring that is crafted by the skilled men and women at Rebus is made with the utmost care and attention to detail. 
It was fascinating watching the team of engravers work, with magnifying visors and eye glasses, meticulously giving all their attention to tiny pieces of metal. 
Rebus caters for all tastes, so rings are available in yellow gold, rose gold, white gold, silver and platinum, with a choice of various face designs. You can also add jewels or stones.
Rebus recently opened a York office which is managed by Rachel, who worked and trained at the London workshop for many years. This is ideal for those in the North of England who rather fancy their own signet ring. It's close to Betty's Tea Rooms too, making a visit even more appealing! There must be something about Yorkshire (known as God's Own Country) as Cordings are opening up a gentleman's outfitters in nearby Harrogate.
Thanks awfully to Emmet and the team at Rebus for making me feel so welcome. It really was a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

G.M. Norton
Protagonist of 'Norton of Morton'

Saturday, 3 October 2015

The history and etiquette of signet rings

In which G.M. Norton waxes lyrical about signet rings.


Recently, I’ve become ever so slightly obsessed with signet rings. They have an utterly compelling history involving ancient Egypt, Kings, future Kings, power and authority, villains stealing identities, friends or foe on the battlefield and family heirlooms and traditions.

So, where did my obsession with signet rings start? I point the little finger of blame firmly at His Royal Highness Prince Charles. I have a great deal of admiration for his classic style. Studying photos of him in various double-breasted suits (as one naturally spends one’s time), I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the signet ring on his left pinkie finger.