Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Flashbacks of a Fool was a strange film and this isn't a review of it. Starring Daniel Craig and shot on a large budget, it wasn't bad exactly, but the script had more holes in it than a colander. I exited the cinema feeling there was just something a bit wrong about the whole thing. It all fell into place when I discovered afterwards that the film is the first to be written and directed by Daniel Craig's best friend - a commercials director. Aaahh. It's a shame really, as without Daniel Craig's considerable clout as star and producer, the script may have had a few years to percolate, the director might have got more experience on a low budget flick and a better film could have been made. However. There's one scene in the film which is unforgettable (and it doesn't include Daniel Craig sprawled nude on a rabbit skin bedspread). Anyone who has seen the film will know what I'm talking about:

It's 1972. A teenage girl and boy are standing in a white shagpile carpeted room, dressed in satin and blue eyeshadow, lip synching to Roxy Music. For this scene alone I would re-watch the rest of the film. The song is If There Is Something. You can listen to it here but it's really the end part you have to wait for (at -1.27) where it goes; "shake your hair girl with your ponytail" and so on. This could be the track of the summer with a bit of remix treatment. Someone needs to call in Mark Ronson stat. I'm completely serious. I think I might try to call Mark Ronson. I'm sure Bryan Ferry would be up for it. And while we're here, let's remind ourselves why Bryan Ferry is still the coolest bloke in the entire universe...

(images: Film still of Felicity Jones from The Telegraph.
Bryan Ferry: Getty, Another Time, Another Place cover, Nathaniel Goldberg.)

Friday, April 25, 2008



The Guardian kindly asked me to reveal one of my secret London haunts, as part of its blog by blog guide to London. Never one to pass up a chance to big up south east London, I of course chose the incredible Rivoli Ballroom. (And trust me, wandering around a deserted Rivoli Ballroom - haunt would be the right word.)

Read it here.

I've got so much more to say about the Rivoli, but right now, left over Phad Thai and episode 12 of Gossip Girl on youtube beckons...

...Some time later:
So, there were a few things that got cut from the little piece in the Guardian and more besides that I didn't have space for. The Rivoli is honestly the most amazing place. It is constantly used as a location for major films, music videos and photo shoots - basically if you've seen any of the above featuring a ballroom, that's The Rivoli you're looking at. I first found out about it when I was there assisting on a photo shoot ooh, about nine years ago now. It was before I lived in the area and everyone was like, where the hell are we? I wandered around into the bars off the main ballroom and got chatting to Bill, who has been running the place with his wife Jeannie for 30 years. Wandering around there on your own is a little like that scene in The Shining where Jack Nicholson sees all the ghosts of people dancing in the ballroom. All I know is every time I go near that main bar all the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I feel so cold my nose starts running. I always remembered that day and now that I live not far away, each time I drive past and see location vans outside I always have a quick look in case I catch a glimpse of Kate Moss or Kylie or Brad Pitt or Arctic Monkeys or (insert name of celebrity here). Although I of course found out about the intimate White Stripes gig the day after it happened. I blogged my disappointment here.

The other thing that got cut was that The Rivoli is currently up for sale. Last December they were offered 10 million quid for the place by property developers who would have, yes, flattened it and built a hideous new development of flats on the site. English Heritage swooped in within about 30 seconds and listed The Rivoli, meaning that no one can make major changes, or even minor ones without permission. At the time I thought thank God, good old English Heritage. I still think it would be a huge shame to lose the ballroom, as it's constantly in use not just as a location, but for ballroom dancing, functions and parties. But having spent a fair bit of time chatting to Bill and Jeannie, who are quite lovely and let me snoop around there and ask questions they've probably been asked a million times the other day, I can totally see the other side. They are both nearing 70, their health is failing and they now have a ballroom that will be very difficult to sell. They asked English Heritage for help to maintain the building a few years ago and EH didn't give them a penny. Bill and Jeannie have used the profits from running it to keep it in pristine condition with all the original features intact and cared for. So I kind of feel sorry for them. They are proper old school characters who've seen it all. I'd love someone to make a documentary about them and the Rivoli. I'm surprised someone hasn't already (have they??). I have actually never been there to dance, but I'm certainly going to now. We have plans involving swishy dresses and bouffant hair. We'll probably go to this. I wouldn't miss the chance for anything.

{pic by me}

Monday, April 21, 2008


Pia's photos

Elisabeth's handsome asparagus vendor

These photos that someone linked to recently. (Can't seem to retrace my steps to find out who it was.)

Little tuggy things pull at my heart. Why not dangle a freshly baked croissant under my nose, then stamp it into the (wet, cold) ground. Hunh? IMEANWHYNOTJUSTDOTHAT?

Oh, but it's the old grass is greener syndrome to some extent. I kept seeing Sessùn mentioned on blogs all over the place. "Why can't I be in Paris so I can go and look at all their lovely stuff?" I whined.

Then, looking on their website I saw the Sessùn shop is in rue de Charonne. I realised I've been in the shop about ten times and have ended up not buying anything. So - the power of wanting what's out of reach. And the power of the internet since their site is gorgeous.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I was really excited about Shine A Light. Marty Scorsese is my hero and I've always wanted to see The Stones live. What follows is an extract of a whispered conversation conducted about one hour into the film before we walked out.

Me: I'm really sorry, I thought it was a proper documentary, with interviews and behind the scenes stuff.
Usual Suspect: And instead it's a bunch of wrinkly rockers singing a load of songs I've never heard before.

If you've seen the trailer, you've basically seen the sum total of reportage - the rest is as Usual Suspect says. I guess they can play whatever songs (no one cares about) they want to, since they're The Rolling Stones.

The film did have a profound effect on us both though. It made us seriously contemplate the ravages of age more than ever before. Weirdly, only Keith (pictured at right in 1962) seems to get away with it; looking extremely comfortable and happy adorned with his signature gypsy/pirate/ garb and kohl rimmed eyes. He's gone past wrinkly into some other untouchable iconic sphere. No wonder Louis Vuitton signed him up.

(image source)

Friday, April 18, 2008


When a friend sends you an email, part of which says, and I quote: "We are still waiting for your several times announced visit to Florence," you know you need to get on a cheapo easyjet flight asap. It'd be terribly rude not to, after all.

I found this Italian phrase book, which I think belonged to my grandmother. There's no date on it but it is very certainly from the days of the British Empire, when the sun never set on British soil etc etc. Oh yes, we just blundered around bossing Johnny Foreigner about and maybe giving him a good clip round the ear if he was impertinent.

While this little book has given me hysterical giggles, it also made me feel incredibly uncomfortable about how British people used to treat the rest of the world. Every phrase is an imperious command. Really there's not a per favore or per piacere to be found. I can't imagine my sweet little Granny ever ordering anyone around like that. And the complaining! Often I'm aware of how the world still views the British, but my experience doesn't tally. It all makes sense now.

So here, I give you a few choice phrases from How to Get All You Want When Travelling in Italy.

I will tie the umbrellas together.
(Desidero unire insieme questi ombrelli.)
Why? Is that really something so crucial it merits inclusion in a tiny phrasebook?

Ask the sleeping-car attendant to come to me here.
(Dica all'impiegato dei vagoni-letto di venir qui.)

Send the page-boy to me.
(Mi mandi il ragazzo.)
Sounds a bit dodgy to me.

And now, the draughts section. These are only a few examples of the terror of draughts in a warm Mediterranean country:

There is too great a draught.
(C'e troppa corrente.)

Do you feel the draught?
(Sente la corrente?)

I do not mind a slight draught.
(Una leggera corrente non mi da noia.)

There is a terrible draught.
(C'e una forte corrente.)

Porter! Take my luggage to the custom-house.
(Facchino! Porti i miei baggagli alla dogana.)
Not a per favore in sight.

We shall certainly complain to the British Consul.
(Noi reclameremo certamente al console britannico.)
You don't say.

In the "Hiring a Taxi" section, the xenophobic fear of Italian taxi drivers becomes a tad hysterical:

Your meter appears to be out of order.
(Il suo tassametro sembra che non funzioni bene.)

I shall not pay this amount.

(Non paghero questo ammontare.)

We shall not pay more.

(Non pagheremo di piu.)

We are giving you a great deal too much.
(Noi le diamo gia molto di piu.)

Let us call a policeman.
(Chiamiamo un agente.)

I haven't even started on the "in a restaurant" section. All the things that could possibly be wrong with food, table placement or staff are thoroughly covered. My Italian is too rusty to pick up the subtleties in language that make the phrases sound wrong in modern English. The book uses "desidero" for I want, which I don't think I've ever used. Apart from that I wouldn't notice any difference. I guess I always think of Italian being a more formal language, whereas the way English people speak now is so casual it's like a constant apology. I might take the book to Italy and see if it stops me getting so ripped off by taxi drivers.


I know The British are supposed to be the new Japanese and everything; but one of my freelance gigs pays me in US dollars and they just sit there, sadly wilting. Changing them into pounds would be akin to turning them into a pumpkin at midnight. So, since I'm a little short on sterling, I've been thinking I could buy some clothes online from the US, thus putting some dollars to good use - hence the previous blouse post. But being in a position of having actual dollars rather than smugly surfing the exchange rate, I'm finding clothes by emerging US designers (as opposed to mega brands) very expensive. Like Lanvin prices for a designer only me, you and three other people have heard of. If I compare it to shopping in Paris where I've bought Isabel Marant dresses for 150 euros, tops for 80, and a Vanessa Bruno dress from the Athe range for 130 euros it doesn't seem like such a good deal anymore. And those designers are firmly established. But then again, I really love these Rachel Comey summery sandals. They're $265 (£132.50) and you can bet if they were sold anywhere in London they'd be priced at precisely £265, which is more expensive than the similar Marni sandals I recently rejected for being too expensive.

Is all this making you mentally calculate exchange rates from pounds to euros to dollars exhausting you as much as it is me? Go and have a cup of tea and I'll be back later today with a very fun post I've been wanting to share all week...

Monday, April 14, 2008


If it would just stop raining and imitate some semblance of spring for longer than three minutes before raining/snowing/hailing/all three simultaneously again, I would buy this blouse. I would then wear it every spring day until it fell apart.

(Isn't $264 quite a lot for a blouse though? Even with the exchange rate making it £132 it's straining the upper limit of my blouse budget. It is such a pretty blouse though, and you know how I feel about checks.)

I enjoy typing "blouse" so, don't you?

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Ew. After reading this post I decided to do a more thorough check than usual on people who'd made me a contact on Flickr and my photos that had been faved. I mean, I knew, obviously, there's a reason why the photo of my friend and I about to go to a masquerade party has been viewed more times than all the others. I blocked the people who faved it who belonged to groups like "erotic sexy masks" or whatever. I always thought the foot "letishists" were fairly harmless until I was targeted by the red ballet flat letishist. Uck. Just read Holly's post - it's far more eloquent.

The weird thing is that my photos are quite boring - just, here's a pretty flower. I never, well very rarely put up photos of friends or of myself. But the freaks still get through. I used to belong to a group called "what are you wearing today" and they had to change the name because it kept getting infiltrated by people wearing gimp suits. I always think that I use Flickr because I don't print my photos out anymore, but if I have to censor everything I put up there, why am I using it? Going through people who'd made me a contact, blocking people who made me uncomfortable I ended up with only two male contacts left. And I'm pretty sure they're both gay.

But anyway the thing I came in here to tell you is about one guy who had faved something that made me suspicious and had made me a contact. I hadn't reciprocated and when I went to check his photos out I got a Flickr message saying are you sure you want to look at these photos. I said yes, thinking oh god what am I going to see. The first three or four pages of his photostream were really boring photos of buildings. Boring, yet innocuous. I thought there must be a reason - and then from about the fourth page on: eurrghhh oh god, totally sick, abort! abort! I looked up for something to click on to get away and there's a message from Flickr that actually says, "changed your mind about viewing so and so's photos? Take me to the kittens!" I clicked on it and it took me to all the photos of little fluffy kittens (bet there's a pervy kitten "letish" group somewhere anyway). Isn't that amazing? Am I the only person who didn't know about the kitten escape route? It's really exactly what you need to cleanse your palate after seeing something like that. Anyway I hope you never need to use it but really, I don't use Flickr enough to be policing all the freaks on it constantly so I'm not sure what I'll do now.

If you put public photos on Flickr and have never thought about this you'll probably be needing some kittens...

*for Sean Connery letish explanation read Holly's post

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The Fosse bathroom light was a birthday present. J'adore...

I've always lusted after the Love pillowcases from Lush Designs. I've mentioned their stuff a couple of times on Gridskipper and their studio is around the corner; so I bought a pair, just to (ahem) support local business. The lovely Lush ladies are going to open a shop in Greenwich market - you know, before the whole thing is re-developed and turned into hideous flats. Why do people visit Greenwich in their droves? Oh yeah, the market...

*p.s. I Gridskipped where to buy cool magazines in central London. Read it here.

{photos by me}

Saturday, April 05, 2008


I haven't been around here much the past week. Well, the truth is that at some point I fell into a deep, dark hole that was tricky to get out of. Funny, when you are in that hole, your only options really are to cry for help, or to pull yourself out somehow.

You think I am speaking metaphorically, but no, I actually fell into an actual hole. More specifically the top step leading down from my terrace collapsed under me. (Afterwards I discovered that a rusty nail had been the only thing holding it up for the past six years.) There I was, doing a bit of terrace gardening, carrying a terracotta pot down to empty out. I put my foot on the step and the next thing I knew I was eight feet below, under the steps in the bit where there's spider webs and creepy crawlies and dead things. The pot was broken at the bottom of the steps. It's funny what your reactions are at moments like those. I quietly said "shit" to myself and noted the absence of searing pain that would indicate anything was broken. No one appeared except for my cat and next door's cat, who both looked very concerned. Oh, but then the bawling came and that was a little embarrassing. So I somehow clambered up the inside of the steps and dragged myself inside to bawl like a child in private. It was just the shock.

And that's the amazing thing. Apart from some pretty hardcore bruises and scrapes I am relatively unscathed. I am totally fine - didn't so much as get a cobweb on me. The heavy fabric of my trusty sailor trousers didn't even rip and protected me from too much bleeding. When I look at the hole with the big rusty nail sticking out and the broken step, it doesn't look big enough for me to fit through. I think of what could have happened. Cracked open chin, skull, broken leg or foot or nose or both arms. Lung, artery punctured by rusty nail.

I am the kind of person who avoids sport in case I injure myself, but now that seems a little ridiculous. I feel so lucky and a little more fearless. Weird, I know but true. It was all very Alice in Wonderland but really more like falling into a small well. A well with steps, luckily.

*I think I might need a new category for accidents, illness, broken bones etc. Honestly I am not that accident prone, I just like showing people my bruises, recounting how extremely brave I was etc...

{pic by me - nothing to do with anything except it's still a bit early for peonies here. I'm craving them.}

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I wasn't really into the shopping in Dubai. No doubt if you're living there, after a while having Waitrose, M&S and every British High Street shop out there is nice. But the prices are only slightly lower so I never really understood why you'd go to Dubai to spend your time in shopping malls that are just like being in England, except for the sound effect of the call to prayer over the loudspeakers. But that's got nothing to do with this Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted butter dish. I needed a butter dish and saw this one in Dubai. I picked it up, I saw the price, I put it back down. The End.

That's not what I'm adding to the list though.

It's the blue fluted mega pattern dinnerware, with the traditional blue fluted pattern enlarged and fragmented. It's not exactly new, but my coveting it is. J'adore it. You can see the entire range here. If you gave me some of the plates we could have an imaginary dinner party.

What's on your imaginary wishlist? (Something way over budget, out of reach or extravagant that you wouldn't/couldn't actually buy yourself)


Oh, Carla. Carla, Carla, Carla. This blog is not really the kind where we discuss State visits and I wasn't going to. Only, we are all still in a state of post Carla bliss over here. Smitten. Our Prime Minister, Prince Philip and Prince Charles came over all uncharacteristically gallant and kissy at the sight of such beauty. I'm pretty sure they are still swooning into their pillows whispering her name. Serious commentators used up acres of column inch discussing the merits of The Jackie O Hat (deliberate, slightly eerie, but had the desired effect), the faultless choice of Dior (French, but British), her grace, her beauty, her ease and adeptness at following protocol. All they could find fault with was teeny Sarkozy's stacked heels and the paper thin flatness of Carla's. But even that was sweet and tactful. We don't actually care that - as a French person said to me, "She has slept with everyone! She is, she is...how would you feel if Gordon Brown married Kate Moss?" My answer was that Carla is bohemian and that a Kate and Gordon union is highly unlikely. But at least it would make things interesting. Last week I happened to be within air kissing distance of Carla. I didn't see her but the entire area was buzzing that she was there. Six months ago if I'd passed her in the street I'd have gone, "Oh, there's Carla Bruni," and gone about my business. Sarkozy, on the other hand, said he wants to make the riverside architecture of Paris more like London. More dynamic. He is either insane, very dangerous or he was trying to be kind - in the way you might compliment someone's hair when you both know it's lank, greasy and they have really bad dandruff.