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Sunday, 30 November 2014


The capital of Gastronomy - Paris ? has capitulated - but nothing beats a baguette or a soft boiled egg at the Deux Magots or Café de Flore on Boulevard St. Germain, and opposite at the famous, beloved Brasserie Lipp the food is mildly disgusting but still unmatchable is the Millefeuille - yummy! 
So food no longer so good, an astonishing phenomenon, so go for... beautiful decor of the 1930's... at The Relais Plaza - Avenue Montaigne and Prunier - Avenue Victor Hugo - both on the right bank. 


Tuesday, 25 November 2014


For the convenience of the lame, the elderly and the merely frightened, a 'safety aid' - inexpensive and easy to install on the corner of staircases!

BOOKS: Ömer Koç

I have a friend who is an avid collector of artworks ranging from Iznik pottery to cutting edge Contemporary sculpture, his taste includes objects of all periods and furniture of the 1950's. The extraordinary Ömer Koç moreover is a great reader and bibliophile. 
At Christie's in London earlier this year, there was a celebration of the first part of his library catalogue of books on Turkey and the Orient. A beautifully produced, beautifully printed book on beautiful paper. Amongst some of the mouth watering books on display was an original copy of Eothen: Traces of Travel Brought Home from the East, by Alexander William Kinglake, first published in 1844. Sharing my enthusiasm was my friend Gael Camu - who had read the book and I had not. Next day arrived a paper back (see and the fun began. It was a template for many a travel book Ömer Koç tells me and I wish more of them had been as amusing. ('pace', Leigh Fermor, Dalrymple et al)

On entering the Ottoman Empire from Hungary: 
The Pasha received us with the smooth kind, gentle manner that belongs to well bred Osmalis. Then he lightly clapped his hands and instantly the sound filled all the lower end of the room with slaves; a syllable dropped from his lips, it bowed all heads and conjured away the attendants like ghosts 

Greek Marines: 
Our mate was a Hydriote, a native of that island rock which grows nothing but mariners and marine's wives.

There was at Crete a Limassol who hoisted his flag as an English vice-consul... I induced him to allow my dining with his family... The lady of the house, it seemed, had never sat at a table with a European... inexorably condemned to bear with the dreaded gaze of European eyes, she tried to save her innocent children from the hard fate awaiting herself.   

A visit to Lady Hester Stanhope:
Speaking of Ibrahim Pasha, Lady hester said that he was a bold, bad man, and was possessed of some of those common and wicked magical arts upon which she looked down... Ibrahim's life was charmed against balls and steel, and that after a battle he loosened the folds of his shawl and shook out the bullets like dust. 

Meeting an Englishman in the Desert on a Camel:
The masters had no sooner passed each other than their respective servants quietly stopped and entered into conversation. As soon as my camel found her companions were not following her, she caught the social feeling and refused to go on... 
He (the Englishman) at once attributed my advances to a laudable wish of acquiring statistical information, and, accordingly, when we got within speaking distance, he said "I dare say you wish to know how the Plague is going on in Cairo?"

Read this fascinating book - you can tell from my extracts how funny it can be. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


Conservative moi? 
I admire Giambattista Valli, and Alexander McQueen - there are many other talented designers but they are less consistent or too commercial & generally ugly & boring clothes.

Giambattista Valli 
Giambattista Valli

Alexander McQueen - Savage Beauty exhibition coming to the V & A March 2015

Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen

Friday, 14 November 2014


Charvet - Place Vendôme - the most luxurious of all shops for shirts & ties - famous since 1838 - in Evelyn Waugh - best made shirts worldwide - very good knit ties,  from Gallo in Italy. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

COMMENT: Nigel Ryan

A memorial requiem mass at the Brompton Oratory for Nigel Ryan - known to a galaxy of friends as 'News at 10' - he directed the News for ITN for a decade. 
The programme has never been so good and punchy, before or since, it had an energy, and immediacy and a credibility not easy to achieve. 
A beautiful mass - was sung by the famed Oratory Choir - my usual gripe, the congregation singing hymns - 

Unaccompanied by the mourners, the Celtic Alleluia and Sanctus Benedictus Missa pro defunctis 1614 were a marvel.

A man who spoke three languages, had experienced bloody wars as a Reuters Correspondent, he broke many a heart with his charm and memorable good looks. 

Tempus fugit.

Friday, 7 November 2014

COMMENT: Remembrance Day Poppies

Lest we forget the fallen in 
1914-1918 War paraphrase the Financial Times..

The Poppies have struck a chord... a brutal war turned into a field of flowers, memory as spectacle.

TRAVEL/CULTURE: London - Paris on Eurostar

Easyweasy - dirty windows to Paris and clean on the way back - WHY?
Invited to Puccini's glorious Tosca, Rome, 1800.
Martina Serafin - Tosca
Marcelo Alvarez - Cavaradossi 
Ludovic Tézier - Scarpa 
The Conductor - Daniel Oren (the longest arms I have ever seen)

Directed by Pierre Audi, who describes himself as an 'outsider' and like many of that ilk he is very versatile, talented and idiosyncratic. Artistic Director of the Dutch National Opera, he founded and made the Almeida Theatre, the foremost avant garde theatre in London, a benchmark for excellence. 

A Napoleonic Tosca with some spectacular 'coups de théâtres', an emphasis on faith, crosses, and a bevy of golden cardinals - an arresting and memorable production at the ugliest opera house in Europe, the Opera Bastille - you are warned not to have seats in the first seven rows as the acoustics are so bad - the lighting is appalling, the circulation worse. 

Jean-Honoré Fragonard Les Curieuses 1767-1771
Paris in the doldrums - an exodus to London (France's largest city after Lyon), and Brussels. The economy had, a President much despised - this beautiful city is a heartbreak. Maybe the new Bernard Arnault/Louis Vuitton Museum (a glass nod to the Grand & Petit Palais - Frank Gehry the architect of the moment has never matched his Guggenheim Bilbao building) will make a difference and Patrick Modiano did get the Nobel Prize - deserved?
Nevertheless at the Musée d'Orsay an exhibition to startle and make you think SADE Attaquer le soleil.
Sade - 1740-1814.
Carl Schleich Pièce acrobatique
  • Emprisonné sous trois régimes 
  •  Il demeura toute sa vie un esprit libre
  •  Son oeuvre reste interdite jusqu'en 1958
  • Il est le moraliste de l'immoralité
  • Il disloque le corps à l'extrème 
  • Il condamne Dieu à Mort 
Fin du XVIIIe Siècle La Révolution Libère les pulsions destructrices. 

Voir, c'est croire; mais sentir, c'est être sûr! 

Jean-Jacques Lequeu Autoportrait 1786
Man Ray Monument à DAF de Sade 1933 

Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres
Anonyme Le Serment d'amour
Francisco de Goya L'exécution

Thursday, 6 November 2014

TRAVEL: Southern Germany

A September visit to Southern Germany, near where the Rhine and the Rhone meet and go into Lake Constance, staying at perfect Dauenberger Hof with its Pavilions, Chapel, Barns and enchanted gardens. 

These were designed by Arabella Lennox-Boyd 
some 15 years ago for and with charming couple

Wonderful lush landscapes, great Castles, Wagnerian forests - bucolic bliss.