Monday, January 26, 2009


...Wearing this silver feather brooch. It was my mum's, or possibly it was my granny's - anyway I dug it out and have been playing how many ways: on the neck of a thin white t-shirt, on the end of a long silver chain or two, as a hair accessory, possibly even as a ring, though it's the size of my finger - haven't worked that one out yet.

...Like everyone, falling in love.

...Catching the last day of the Andy Warhol exhibition Other Voices, Other Rooms. Even with a free ticket and the promise of Diana Vreeland footage I only managed to drag myself along to the Hayward Gallery at the last minute, where it was mobbed with queues of other lazy last minute people. I can see how the whole reality TV/blogging/myspace/facebook/etc thing is relevant to him and like, really, TERRIBLY IMPORTANT, but as one critic noted, "He may have been right about everybody being famous one day for 15 minutes, but what he did not factor into his equation was the amount of time needed by the rest of us to watch everybody being famous for 15 minutes." It was lovely to see and hear La Vreeland - red cigarette holder aloft for emphasis - in full voice; "Mahhvelous, yeeeesss" - the full, high quality version of the interview you can see here in really bad (almost unwatchable) quality. There was also some footage of Tina Chow and Sonia Rykiel that I noticed, but it was all so overwhelming (well, actually also underwhelming) I flitted from one video to the next, not really taking much in, and not really feeling drawn in because not much was happening of interest. Talking of drawn - in the bizarrely hung first room, where some of the exhibits were hung 25 feet high on the wall, I noticed a series of what I thought must be Andy Warhol's childhood figurative pencil drawings. Until I reached it and saw that they were from 1963. I don't want to be too rude, but it all suddenly made sense, the delving into so many other mediums that weren't reliant upon him being able to draw. So that begs the question: does it matter? To me, yes. And since we bloggers are in the business of recording and documenting the daily minutiae of our lives it made me want to tread more thoughtfully there as well.

...Being a bookworm. I'm going to do a reading list this year; I've almost finished Mrs Dalloway and A Room of One's Own (prompted by the discovery that not one of my English friends has read any Woolf, yet friends from other countries rave about her), re-read The House of Mirth, started Something Wholesale and The Bell Jar (one of those books I'd always avoided for being depressive, but now I can't believe I've lived so long without it.)

...Going on a sentimental journey. I visited the former houses of my grandparents on both sides (who are all no longer with us), due to an overwhelming desire to connect with my roots. It may have been triggered by the news that the house I grew up in (that my dad sold two years ago) has been extended on all sides, the big tree in the front garden cut down and garden paved over, and the whole house generally "Dallas-ified" - as tends to happen in the London suburb I escaped from. Why it should be upsetting when it has nothing to do with you anymore I don't know; people are pretty much entitled to do what they want with the homes they own. But I can't describe the relief when I saw my granny's lovely Arts & Crafts house still intact - not a UPVC window or out of proportion extension in sight.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I thought the Holiday collection was supposed to be the last one from Mayle - but here's Resort, which is new...isn't it? Anyone? I thought Holiday and Resort were the same thing, but Holiday looks like it's on sale at La Garconne and this isn't. Perhaps they separated it into two lots to make saying goodbye a little less painful. Resort, spring, why not just keep going? Please?

Anyway, j'aime beaucoup le Rex pant (above).

*UPDATED TO ADD* Thought so. Mayle isn't quite closing yet - despite announcing the winter Holiday collection would be the last and prompting many skint Mayle fans to purchase a last chance something. I suppose my prayers were answered.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I feel like this picture. I don't mind the cold, but the lack of light in the flat months of January and February means it's hard for me to get inspired, or in turn to feel inspiring. I want to squirrel away the nuggets of creativity, as though if I share them too soon there won't be enough. They need to incubate before they hatch in the spring.

Now I'm annoyed that before comparing inspiration to a chicken foetus I compared myself to squirrels, those little bastards who stole all the bulbs I planted and ate all the camellia buds.

I hope to start posting more of my own photos to go with my posts again soon. Somewhere along the way this winter I stopped taking my camera out and have hardly taken any pictures. But now I've found the (hilariously illustrated 1970s) operating instructions to my new/old manual camera online and I'll start learning how to use it.

{photo by Rinko Kawauchi, from Aila}

Monday, January 12, 2009


Curious name, curious place. Someone said that new-ish restaurant/bar in Soho, Bob Bob Ricard is like the waiting room of the Orient Express. (I would add, on acid.)

Taking over the previous site of ad agency honcho hang out Circus, the re-design of the place is instantly recognisable as the work of David Collins who designed The Wolseley, The Connaught Bar, Claridge's Bar, The Berkeley Blue Bar, Nobu Berkeley etc etc - to name just a few in London.

BBR looks bizarrely retro, but it's custom made and brand spanking new - a Collins speciality. Red wallpaper with a veiny white print, juxtaposed with sapphire blue wallpaper with a sort of agate circle print, antique looking mirror squares, turquoise leather booths, a lot of cubist brass fittings everywhere - and a "champagne button" at every booth. So much going on it's hard to describe or remember it all. Oh yes, marble too.

We sat at the bar where the poor barman had been made to wear a pastel pink tuxedo jacket, as had all the other male staff (females wore turquoise). He actually looked embarrassed. Everything was so opulent that it felt quite eerie to sit at the bar and drink ten quid cocktails while discussing the recession.

Needless to say we were almost the only people in there so I felt a little conspicuous taking photos. I managed to snap one of my drink - can't remember what it was but the glass was tiny and they seemed to be strictly rationing the amount of nuts given out. I don't think it'll be enough to recoup all the money they spent on the fixtures and fittings somehow. Maybe they could try to get a refund on those pink tuxedos. It's not their fault, it's really a lovely place that was very obviously planned in detail before boom turned to bust.

EDIT: [ A button that called a waiter would have been useful; a button that called the waiter a t*** would have been better; a button that severely electrocuted the chef would have been amusing. But perhaps the most sensible and useful would have been a button that called Domino’s Pizza. This restaurant is the last turkey standing. ] - A.A. Gill and I are so in sync.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


I'm re-posting this sarky lil piece I wrote about Parisian etiquette for Webooks here, as the whole Webooks articles-to-go-with-their-books-thing is no longer of the interwebs. Where does it all disappear to? The same place as all the lost odd socks no doubt.


Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, but Parisians are not exactly known for their welcoming bonhomie. The haughty stereotype is not strictly true though; it’s usually more a case of cultural differences making the Parisian you’re attempting to interact with pull that pained, lemon sucking expression. Here are five top tips to help you get it right in the city of light. [Edit: Oh my god. A cheesier sentence never was wrote. They MADE me do it.]


Parisian etiquette states that when entering a shop it's obligatory to say “Bonjour” directly to the person working there. When leaving always say, “Au Revoir.” This goes double if there is only one person working there and the place is empty. Though in many cultures it’s acceptable to browse in a shop without acknowledging the person working there, (being considered more polite to pretend they don’t exist) in Paris it’s like waving a big sign that says; “I’m an arrogant tourist.” Even if you don’t speak any other French, those words will completely change the shop worker’s demeanour towards you from frosty disdain to faux pleasantry at least. Try it both way and see the difference it makes. [EDIT 2: Since writing this I have followed Nancy's advice to look grumpy/bored when greeting shop assistants - works like a charm!]


If you must remark loudly upon the awesomeness of Notre Dame Cathedral / the Eiffel Tower / the sunset over the Seine, try to hold it in until you get back to your hotel room. There’s nothing more annoying to the indigenous population than having their city discussed as if it’s a ride at Disneyworld. Those looks you’re getting? They mean shut up. You could always blog about it later.


You should attempt to blend in under all circumstances. This does not mean wearing a beret with your name embroidered on it. Even worse would be making your comfort a priority over everyone else's by wearing cargo shorts, a sweaty T shirt, enormous trainers and a backpack. Never wear any colour except black, navy, charcoal grey or perhaps one beige item. Don’t wear anything that draws attention to you, or looks like you’re trying to be sexy.


Give chain smoking another try and borrow a small dog (bulldogs are in). At a bar, order a Pastis Pernod and pretend you drink it all the time. Generally try to pout and frown simultaneously. Practice carrying a baguette nonchalantly: No one can help you fake this; you’ll just have to develop your own style. If it still looks like you’re about to pass a relay race baton, hiring a Velib bicycle is a good way to get around the problem, as they have baskets you can put your baguette/pooch in.


It took me ages to work out that the most important part of the day in Paris is lunch time. Restaurants mostly cater to tourists in the evening, but in the middle of the day they’re full of Parisians enjoying their lunch break. Except on special occasions, Parisians rarely dine out during the week, choosing instead to make the most of their luxurious two hour lunch breaks (many shops still close during these hours as well). The atmosphere is a lot livelier; the staff more on form and you’ll be able to dine from the better value prix fixe lunch menu. The best bit is you’ll get to spy on the locals in their natural habitat: phones switched off, laptops put away, work forgotten and ready for a good long meal and a gossip. And they do this every work day.

All photos by me except 3: Griswold Family in European Vacation
and 4: Clerf's flickr.

Monday, January 05, 2009


The silence could only mean one thing. I had to get up to see and what I see is a light icing sugar coating of white over everything. Lola has gingerly investigated and confirms that it is snow. Does this mean I have a feeling for snow - even though I've been predicting snow every day for the past month? Got to get back to it before it's gone...

{photo: Edouard Boubat - Florence sous la Neige, Paris, 1950}

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Some links to a few lovely blogs. I find in each of them a subtle, original charm, which feels right for this last precious day - of being able to not think about tax returns, or of having to go outside into the frosty cold...

Beautiful flowers + hilarious wit.

Windy Days
Daydreamy beauty.

Kennedy Holmes
A beauty (not just on the outside).

An Apple a Day
Beautiful world. I read all the archives in one sitting.

I'll be back soon. x