Saturday, 11 August 2012

It's not cricket, it's Captain Hastings!

It's been a while since anyone's done a post on Poirot's Miss Lemon and subsequently a while since I've done a Captain Hastings riposte.  I needn't have worried though; just when I was beginning to think that the infamous red-and-white bow cardigan had run its course, up it pops over on Porcelina's blog (along with some more loveliness from the early episode The Dream).  What more incentive does a chap need? {rubs hands gleefully}

I could have used The Dream in my own post but I had decided from the outset to go through the series on a chronological basis, which means the next episode to get the Eclectic Ephemera treatment is Four and Twenty Blackbirds.  I'm afraid you'll have to wait a little longer (4 episodes, to be exact) for The Dream!

In Four and Twenty Blackbirds Poirot and Hastings (plus Japp) investigate the deaths of two estranged artist brothers.  I hadn't seen this episode for a while and my recollection of it was of another one-outfit show for the good Captain, namely a traditional - and hardly worth commenting on - funeral dress (there being two deaths in this mystery).  How wrong I was, and what a pleasant rediscovery it was viewing this episode!

Everything we've come to expect - pin-striped shirt, brown slacks and cable knit
pullover.  Yes please with knobs on to it all!  (Note the cufflinks too - very proper!).

Like a true Englishman, Hastings is obsessed with the cricket - in this case probably the 1934 Ashes Test between England and Australia.  England aren't faring too well (in reality Australia would win the '34 Ashes 2-1), much to Hastings' consternation and Poirot's apparently bewildered indifference.

A closer look at the pullover and its smashing detailing around the neck and arms.
Topped off with a splendid matching tie.  I love that radio too!

Poor Hastings is very upset that his beloved England have already lost the first Test but Poirot doesn't care - he's off to lunch with his dentist.  Miss Lemon's not bothered either - and just so you can never say I don't give you anything, ladies, here she is:

I never see you mention this lovely outfit.  Why not, hmmm? ;-P

Soon enough, though, there are more important things to worry about than the cricket.  A man is found dead at the foot of his stairs.  Poirot and Hastings swing into action!

A double-breasted black blazer with (regimental?) crest, striped cravat (again
regimental colours perhaps?) topped and tailed with grey trilby and trousers form
quite a relaxed look for our favourite Captain.

Off the two of them go, interviewing neighbours, housekeepers and models along the way.

A closer look at the blazer/cravat combo, as our man interviews the deceased
artist's model
Another close-up.

If it is a regimental crest and cravat that Hastings wears, that is of course his prerogative having served in the trenches during the First World War.  I'm sure it's possible to get a cravat in the same or similar colours (personally I get mine from Tom Sawyer Waistcoats, where there are some very nice patterns - some not dissimilar to Hastings') but I'm not sure about crested blazers myself.  All right if you were a member of a regiment, club, university or something, I suppose but always a bit too "specific" for me.  Nothing wrong with a plain blazer and a cravat, though!

"Tastes more um, well, er... more rabbity than any rabbit I've ever tasted!"
Never mind the rabbit, check out the cardigan - and matching tie again.
What a co-ordinated chap Captain Hastings is!

Later that evening, Poirot serves Hastings dinner - rabbit in the style of Liège (yum!) - and then proceeds to watch him eat it, citing a painful tooth as the reason he's not having any.  Personally I'd be a little worried about Poirot's motives! 

A Hastings stable - light grey/brown jacket, suitable tie and a brown trilby.

The next day and Poirot is still caught up in the idea of a possible murder.  Hastings is still caught up in the cricket.

A better view - note the trousers in a slightly different shade of brown, a
clever touch that works really well.

The model, Dulcy Lane, is a bit stand-offish and it doesn't help Hastings' gentlemanly nature to know that she also poses nude(!).

Two Miss Lemon outfits in one post!  Spoiling you rotten, aren't I?

Back at the office and Miss Lemon is listening to the wireless while doing some filing.  Surely she hasn't taken to the cricket?  No, it's Raffles!

I couldn't resist this shot!

Then it's off to the coast for the funeral and to question more people connected to the brothers.  Does that stop Hastings reading the cricket news?  Of course not!

Traditional black funeral wear, which actually only features in one scene.
Hastings adds what little bit of style he can by going double-breasted, and the Homburg
is another welcome (and again, traditional) addition.

Poirot takes Hastings away before he can bore the mourners with his cricket talk and having got as much information as they can they head back to London.

Another wonderfully mixed-up outfit - grey trousers, a dark brown jacket and...
is that a Fair Isle pullover I spy under there?

Hastings makes a bee-line for the radio, while Poirot examines some evidence.

It is!  What a corker!  A splendidly puffed-out tie under that collar too!

England still aren't doing well so, although hopeful of a recovery, Hastings continues to devote his time to helping Poirot solve the case.  Which of course he does.

Another classic Hastings expression - and a quite striking tie.

Following the unmasking of the murderer, Hastings joins Poroit and his dentist at the same café that precipitated the whole mystery.  There Hastings is amazed and delighted to read of an England counter-attack and astounded by Poirot's response, which is surely one of the greatest moments in the entire series.

The next episode - The Third Floor Flat - is also a belter of an early Poirot, so watch out for it!  In the meantime, we once again take our leave of Captain Hastings (and the cricket!).


  1. Bless you, Brucey! I'm so glad you've taken up the mantle of reporting the gentleman's fashions from Poirot, I know nothing about the topic and felt bad just concentrating on the ladies...

    I'm hoping to get the Poirot boxset in chronological order to continue my posts, have you seen that 1-12 has now been released?

    Miss P xx

    1. That's all right - I know nothing about the ladies' fashions in Poirot, but between the two of us we should have them pretty well covered!

      Yes, I've seen that we're up to series 12 on the box set now although it's a no-brainer that 1-13 will be released once the final four stories have been filmed (December 2012 is a possible release date, I'm told).

      I've actually only got the 1-6 box set which was a birthday gift back in 2007. I'm not too bothered, though, because as good as the later Poirots were they lost something once the characters of Hastings, Miss Lemon and Inspector Japp were dropped - although some of the more recent episodes have recaptured some of the earlier magic. I can always buy the remaining 7-13 as individual sets, anyway. I also have it on good authority that Hugh Fraser will return as Captain Hastings in two of the four final episodes - The Big Four and Curtain.

  2. Please don't despise me but I think Miss Lemony's hair is ghastly! Not good for her facial structure at all.

    The men's wardrobe however, my goodness but they all look dashing! :)

    1. I don't think many of my readers will hate you for disliking Miss Lemon's hair. Now if it had been her wardrobe, that might have been a different matter(!).

      In fact in the books Miss Lemon was painted as rather unattractive - Poirot himself calls her "unbelievably ugly" (!). Perhaps the series' producers were trying to channel some of that through the hairstyles, although as with Captain Hastings they managed to make a previously bit-part character into a lovable stalwart (and Pauline Moran played Miss Lemon beautifully, in every sense of the word).

  3. I think there are a good few chaps I know today, for whom it would take a dead body at the bottom of the stairs to pry them from their beloved sports! Hehe!

  4. Great Blog!! That was amazing. Your thought processing is wonderful. hastings.

  5. Just to let you know that the blazer that Captain Hastings is wearing is the school blazer I wore in the Sixth Form. It was at the John Lyon School, Harrow, Middlesex, UK, and the motto underneath reads "Stet fortuna domus" (may good fortune rest on this house. There are 2 red lines under the lion, between which you could put small patch badges if you had sports colours, were a monitor etc. Hope this helps. Adam Isaacs


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