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  • Writer's pictureCarl Plummer

Pelham on Parole. Chapter 13: Suits and haircuts – Pelham Hardimann, a well-dressed hero.

Dunn and Co.

On his arrival in Southampton, Pelham, in dire need of a set of togs before setting off to the Americas, cannot nip into Anderson Sheppard – his tailor of choice, but has the good fortune of a reliable gentleman’s outfitters at hand.

Things do not go too smoothly, despite the professionalism of the tailor involved. Pelham, like your author, does have some misgivings about all the measuring and fiddling that goes on at a gentleman’s outfitter. With your personal tailor it is a routine to go through but it remains as the foundation for further fitting, where the chest may wither, and the stomach expand – but that is as far as the personal stuff goes. The dressing to the left or dressing to the right is the initial concern, catching a chap unawares, and making one rather wary of any response as the fumbling occurs. My advice: grit your teeth and run through the names of your favourite football team or try to recall scores, wickets, batsmen, bowlers, and overs of your most memorable test match.

Dunn & Co. was founded in 1887 by George Arthur Dunn, a Quaker, who started by selling hats on the streets of Birmingham. Forty years later he had two hundred hat shops and as many franchises in other stores. These gradually developed into a string of High Street stores specialising in formal wear, especially suits, blazers, tweed sports jackets and flannels.

The stalwart of the British High Street found it increasingly difficult to remain relevant in the fast-changing retail environment of the 1980s: as new and innovative retailers arrived – with Next for men being a prime example - it struggled to adapt.

Serious problems began in 1991, with nearly forty shops being sold to Hodges, a private Welsh group which kept the Dunn & Co. name going, and receivers were called in, in 1996.

Yardley English Blazer

Yardley of London (usually referred to simply as Yardley or Yardleys) is a British personal care brand and is one of the oldest firms in the world to specialise in cosmetics, fragrances and related toiletry products. Forgive my anachronism here; I am well out of time with Pelham carping about his Yardley English Blazer cologne. (Yardley introduced English Blazer in 1991).

As for your author – he prefers a few gentle palm slaps of Nino Cerruti after a close shave. Established in 1770, Yardley was a major producer of soap and perfumery by the beginning of the 20th century. By 1910, it moved to London's Bond Street, and in 1921 Yardley received its first Royal Warrant.

The company is named after William Yardley, who purchased the firm in 1823 from the sons of the founder Samuel Cleaver, who had gone into bankruptcy. The company became Yardley & Statham in 1841 when Charles Yardley, the son of William, took on William Statham as a partner in the business. At the time, the business sold perfumes, soaps, powders, hair pomades and other toiletries.

Yardley's signature scent is English Lavender, which was launched in 1873. (I know – not very manly). Are we permitted to say ‘manly’ these days or is it non-PC?

In 1967, British model Twiggy becomes the face of Yardley, with the company becoming a symbol of Swinging London, miniskirts, Carnaby Street and mod fashions.

Ramon Novarro

Pelham spends time at a barber’s shop – for a trim before heading for the gentleman’s outfitters. Here, he gives his views on how a chaps Barnett should look. No floppy hair for him. A neat parting, slightly to the left – none of that centre parting malarkey.

José Ramón Gil Samaniego (February 6, 1899 – October 30, 1968), known professionally as Ramon Novarro, was a Mexican-American film, stage and television actor who began his career in silent films in 1917 and became a major box office attraction in the 1920s and early 1930s. Novarro as a "Latin lover" to become known as a sex symbol after the death of Rudolph Valentino. Novarro was born José Ramón Gil Samaniego in 1899, in Durango City, Durango, north-west Mexico, to Dr. Mariano N. Samaniego, and his wife, Leonor (Pérez Gavilán). The family moved to Los Angeles to escape the Mexican Revolution in 1913.

José Ramón tookbit parts in films in 1917 and supplemented his income as a singing waiter. His friends, actor and director Rex Ingram and his wife, actress Alice Terry, promoted him as a rival to Rudolph Valentino, and Ingram suggested he change his name to "Novarro". From 1923, he began to play more prominent roles. His role in Scaramouche (1923) brought him his first major success.

Novarro with Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (1931)

Novarro achieved his greatest success in 1925, in Ben-Hur, causing a sensation with his revealing costumes. With Valentino's death in 1926, Novarro became the screen's leading Latin actor, popular as a swashbuckler in action roles and was considered one of the great romantic leads of his day. He appeared with Norma Shearer in The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927) and with Joan Crawford in Across to Singapore (1928). At the peak of his success in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he was earning more than US$100,000 per film.

He made his first talking film, starring as a singing French soldier, in Devil-May-Care (1929). He The Pagan (1929), with Greta Garbo in Mata Hari (1931), and with Myrna Loy in The Barbarian (1933).

Novarro’s contract with MGM was not renewed when it expired in 1935 but he continued acting. In the 1940s, he had several small roles in American films, including We Were Strangers (1949), directed by John Huston and starring Jennifer Jones and John Garfield. In 1958, he was considered for a role in the television series The Green Peacock, with Howard Duff and Ida Lupino, after their CBS Television sitcom Mr. Adams and Eve (1957–58). He worked on television, appearing in The High Chaparral in 1968.

Novarro end was brutal and tragic; he was murdered on October 30, 1968, by brothers Paul and Tom Ferguson, aged 22 and 17, who called him and offered sexual services. He had in the past hired prostitutes from an agency to come to his Laurel Canyon home for sex, and the Fergusons obtained Novarro's telephone number from a previous guest.

According to the prosecution in the murder case, the two young men believed that a large sum of money was hidden in Novarro's house. The prosecution accused the brothers of torturing Novarro for several hours to force him to reveal where the non-existent money was hidden. They left the house with $20 they took from his bathrobe pocket. Novarro died of asphyxiation, having choked to death on his own blood after being beaten.

He was buried in Calvary Cemetery, East Los Angeles. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 6350 Hollywood Boulevard.

Kent Jacket

A double-breasted garment is a coat, jacket, or vest with wide, overlapping front flaps which has on its front two symmetrical columns of buttons; by contrast, a single-breasted item has a narrow overlap and only one column of buttons. In most modern double-breasted coats, one column of buttons is decorative, while the other is functional. The other buttons, placed on the outside edge of the coat breast, allow the overlap to fasten reversibly, left lapel over right lapel. To strengthen the fastening, a functional inner-button, called the jigger (or anchor button), is usually added to parallel-fasten the over-lapped layers together from the inside. Stylistically, double-breasted suit jackets usually have peaked lapels, and fasten left lapel over right lapel as usual for men's jackets.

The original double-breasted jacket has six buttons, with three to close. This originated from the naval reefer jacket. The four-button double-breasted jacket that buttons at the lower button is often called the Kent, after the man who made it popular—Prince George, Duke of Kent.

Due to the double-breasted jacket's construction, it is not recommended to wear a double-breasted lounge suit unbuttoned, unlike the single-breasted jacket, which can be left open or unbuttoned. Overlapping fabric on a double-breasted jacket tend to gather at the sides when unbuttoned. There are, however, formal jackets which are designed to be worn unbuttoned, with a vest: these are designed to avoid the perceived unsightly gathering.


Pelham notices the Pavlovian response of the tailor to the doorbell tinkling. So, a few notes on Pavlov for you. Classical conditioning (also known as Pavlovian or respondent conditioning) refers to a learning procedure in which a biologically potent stimulus (e.g. food) is paired with a previously neutral stimulus (e.g. a bell). It also refers to the learning process that results from this pairing, through which the neutral stimulus comes to elicit a response (e.g. salivation) that is usually similar to the one elicited by the potent stimulus. It was first studied by Ivan Pavlov in 1897.

Pavlov performed an experiment to condition salivation response in dogs, which brought about classical conditioning. He described classical conditioning as a form of learning in which a conditioned stimulus becomes associated with an unconditioned stimulus to produce a behavioral response, the conditioned response. He also identified various types of classical conditioning: forward conditioning, simultaneous conditioning, backward conditioning, and temporal conditioning.

Classical conditioning may play an important role in certain social phenomena such as the false consensus effect. It also finds its application in various areas such as behavioral therapies, conditioned drug response and hunger, studying the neural basis of learning and memory, etc.

Mr. Ponzi

Pelham Hardimann – your hero – spots a dodge or cone when he sees one, or so he thinks. Our hero would never fall foul to Pnzi and his ilk. Charles Ponzi, born Carlo Pietro Giovanni Guglielmo Tebaldo Ponzi; March 3, 1882 – January 18, 1949) was an Italian swindler and con artist in the U.S. and Canada. His aliases include Charles Ponci, Carlo, and Charles P. Bianchi. Born and raised in Italy, he became known in the early 1920s as a swindler in North America for his money-making scheme. He promised clients a 50% profit within 45 days or 100% profit within 90 days, by buying discounted postal reply coupons in other countries and redeeming them at face value in the U.S. as a form of arbitrage. It was at Banco Zarossi that Ponzi first saw the scheme of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" (which subsequently would be called a Ponzi scheme). Ponzi paid earlier investors using the investments of later investors. While this type of fraudulent investment scheme was not originally invented by Ponzi, it became so identified with him that it now is referred to as a "Ponzi scheme." His scheme ran for over a year before it collapsed, costing his "investors" $20 million. (250,000,000 as of 2020)

Ponzi's rise through banking and financial world was speedy and his scheme naturally drew suspicion. When a Boston financial writer suggested there was no way Ponzi could legally deliver such high returns in a short period of time, Ponzi sued for libel and won $500,000 in damages. As libel law at the time placed the burden of proof on the writer and publisher, this effectively neutralized any serious probes into his dealings for some time.

On July 24, 1920, The Boston Post printed a favorable article on Ponzi and his scheme that brought in investors faster than ever. At that time, Ponzi was making $250,000 a day. Ponzi's good fortune was increased by the fact that just below this favorable article, which seemed to imply that Ponzi was indeed returning 50% return on investment after only 45 days, was a bank advertisement that stated that the bank was paying 5% returns annually. The next business day after this article was published, Ponzi arrived at his office to find thousands of Bostonians waiting to give him their money. Despite this reprieve, Post acting publisher Richard Grozier (who was running the paper in the absence of his father Edwin, its owner and publisher) and city editor Eddie Dunn were suspicious and assigned investigative reporters to look into Ponzi. He was also under investigation by Massachusetts authorities, and, on the day the Post printed its article, Ponzi met with state officials. He managed to divert the officials from checking his books by offering to stop taking money during the investigation, a fortunate choice, as proper records were not being kept. Ponzi's offer temporarily calmed the suspicions of the state officials.

On August 11, it all came crashing down for Ponzi. First, the Post came out with a front-page story about his criminal activities in Montreal thirteen years earlier, including his forgery conviction and his role at Zarossi's scandal-ridden bank. That afternoon, Bank Commissioner Allen seized Hanover Trust due to numerous irregularities. The commissioner thus inadvertently foiled Ponzi's plan to "borrow" funds from the bank vaults as a last resort in the event all other efforts to obtain funds failed.

By the morning of August 12, Ponzi's certificate of deposit at Hanover Trust, which had been worth $1.5 million, was reduced to $1 million after bank officials tapped into it to cover the overdraft. Even if he had been able to convert it into cash, he would have had only $4 million in assets. Amid reports that he was about to be arrested any day, Ponzi surrendered to federal authorities that morning and accepted Pride's figures. He was charged with mail fraud for sending letters to his marks telling them their notes had matured.[14] He was originally released on $25,000 bail and was immediately re-arrested on state charges of larceny, for which he posted an additional $10,000 bond. After the Post released the results of the audit, the bail bondsman feared Ponzi might flee the country and withdrew the bail for the federal charges. Attorney General Allen declared that if Ponzi managed to regain his freedom, the state would seek additional charges and seek a bail high enough to ensure Ponzi would stay in custody.

Ponzi was charged with 86 counts of mail fraud and faced life imprisonment. At the urging of his wife, Ponzi pleaded guilty on November 1, 1920, to a single count before Judge Clarence Hale, who declared before sentencing, "Here was a man with all the duties of seeking large money. He concocted a scheme which, on his counsel's admission, did defraud men and women. It will not do to have the world understand that such a scheme as that can be carried out ... without receiving substantial punishment." Ponzi was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Bernie Madoff, a modern Ponzi.

Released after three and a half years and immediately indicted on twenty-two state charges of larceny, Ponzi spent the rest of his life in poverty, working occasionally as a translator. A heart attack in 1941 left him considerably weakened. His eyesight began failing, and by 1948 he was almost completely blind. A brain hemorrhage paralyzed his right leg and arm. Ponzi died in a charity hospital in Rio de Janeiro on January 18, 1949. Supported by his last and only friend, Francisco Nonato Nunes, a barber who spoke English and had notions of Italian, Ponzi granted one last interview to an American reporter, telling him: Even if they never got anything for it, it was cheap at that price. Without malice aforethought, I had given them the best show that was ever staged in their territory since the landing of the Pilgrims! It was easily worth fifteen million bucks to watch me put the thing over.

Cary Grant

And who should our hero, Pelham Hardimann, look like and dress like? Sean Connery? David Niven? Cary Grant? Pelham, while searching through the gentleman’s outfitter in Southampton, sees himself as Cary Grant.

Born to an alcoholic father and a mother suffering clinical depression, Cary Grant (born Archibald Alec Leach; January 18, 1904 – November 29, 1986) was an English-born American actor, who was one of classic Hollywood's definitive leading men. He was known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor, light-hearted approach to acting, and sense of comic timing.

Grant was born in Horfield, Bristol, England. He became attracted to theater at a young age when he visited the Bristol Hippodrome. At the age of 16, he went as a stage performer with the Pender Troupe for a tour of the US, enjoyed success and decided to stay in New York.

Grant started in crime films and dramas such as Blonde Venus (1932) with Marlene Dietrich and She Done Him Wrong (1933) with Mae West, but later gained a reputation for light, romantic comedy: The Awful Truth (1937) with Irene Dunne, Bringing Up Baby (1938) with Katharine Hepburn, His Girl Friday (1940) with Rosalind Russell, and The Philadelphia Story (1940) with Hepburn and James Stewart.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Grant developed a close working relationship with director Alfred Hitchcock, who cast the popular actor in the critically acclaimed films Suspicion (1941), Notorious (1946) and North by Northwest (1959), plus the popular To Catch a Thief (1955).

Toward the end of his film career, Grant was praised by critics as a romantic leading man, and he received five nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, including Indiscreet (1958) with Ingrid Bergman, That Touch of Mink (1962) with Doris Day, and Charade (1963) with Audrey Hepburn.

He is remembered by critics for his unusually broad appeal as a handsome, suave actor who did not take himself too seriously, able to play with his own dignity in comedies without sacrificing it entirely.

Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman originally sought Grant for the role of James Bond in Dr. No (1962) but Grant would not commit to a three-film contract. The silver lining to that: In 1963, Grant appeared in his last typically suave, romantic role opposite Audrey Hepburn in Charade. Grant found the experience of working with Hepburn "wonderful" and believed that their close relationship was clear on camera although according to Hepburn, he was concerned that he would be criticized for being far too old for her. and seen as a "cradle snatcher". The film was a great success – and is in my personal top ten (Grant and Hepburn together – with Walter Matthau as well – perfect). Many critics described Charade as the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made".

By the early 60s, the golden age of Hollywood was over. Of that golden age, along with Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant was one of the greatest. Smooth, suave, sophisticated, and funny.

Once he realized that each movement could be stylized for humor, the eyepopping, the cocked head, the forward lunge, and the slightly ungainly stride became as certain as the pen strokes of a master cartoonist.

—Film critic Pauline Kael on the development of Grant's comic acting in the late 1930s

No other man seemed so classless and self-assured ... at ease with the romantic as the comic ... aged so well and with such fine style ... in short, played the part so well: Cary Grant made men seem like a good idea.

—Biographer Graham McCann on Cary Grant.

You can’t beat the classic look.

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