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Friday, 30 January 2015


The essence of BANALITY, the culprits: Berkeley Homes

The architects promised me they would replace the 7, seventy-year old trees these uprooted - they were replaced by trees, hardly very mature and only 4 in number.

The front building in Ebury St. aspires to look Georgian – ugly balconies - a glaring failure – the building behind is better behaved architecture but equally banal. Poor London and thank goodness for the handsome towers further East.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

FOOD: London Street Markets, Pimlico

My favourite - Orange Square Pimlico Road every Saturday - at 9am the stands go up, at 1pm the stands get taken away. It is an event, a stage set for the freshest and best of English produce - fresh vegetables, fruit, cheeses, sausages, meat, pies and flowers (see my entry on roses). 

Also in Pimlico road, Hunan, no menu just a stream of delicious dishes. Chinese Cuisine at its best!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

BOOKS: The Assassination of Thatcher

Read Hilary Mantel's perturbing book of short stories. 

Pitiless descriptions, devoid of moral judgements by the author – she is an artful, beguiling, utterly credible writer as we know from Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

TRAVEL: Aman-i-khás, Rajasthan, India

On the edge of a National Game Reserve of Ranthambore. 

85 square metre tents - designer Jean-Michel Gathy - made in Jodhpur.

 Rajasthan Sirohi Goats, with ears like Spaniels. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

DOCUMENTARY: BBC Four - China in Six Easy Pieces

A rather trite title for an illuminating programme. 
Succinct, well constructed with Lars Tharp who is never patronising, and unlike so many presenters has no ‘tricks’ they mistake for charm.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

SHOPPING: Socks and Knitted Ties

In Italy the term ‘mezza calza’, literally – ‘half sock’ – is derogatory and is used about people who are considered vulgar. ‘Half a sock’ is what most Northern European men wear and as a result they show hairy expanses of leg, or startlingly white flesh – yuck! 
Socks that reach the knee you can get in Britain but rarely, if ever, in cotton.
So… when in Italy look out for Schostal - - Gallo – and also Gallo do the best knitted ties (see my post of 14 November 2014)

Saturday, 10 January 2015


At the Pimlico Farmers' Market every Saturday in the Summer and well into Autumn is a stall selling the most ravishing English-grown roses. See - also cut flowers and next day deliveries of fragrant sweet peas! 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

MEMORIAL: Romana McEwan

The last month of any year one has undercurrents of sadness - such an occasion was - A Requiem Mass at St. James' Spanish Place W1, for Romana von Hofmannsthal McEwan ended with the Final Trio from Der Rosenkavalier (click here for YouTube link) by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, her Grandfather. 

Romana was.... stylish, she smoked with a holder, at ease, friendly and funny with a hoarse voice and a lovely laugh, married to the talented painter, Rory McEwan. She was an excellent hostess and an enviable friend to many.  

Monday, 5 January 2015

FILM: America America / The Young Lions / Reflection in a Golden Eye

Brando’s Smile, the biography [see my entry 30th October 2014] led me to Tennessee Williams and hence the DVD of A Streetcar Named Desire directed by Elia Kazan. 

Brando and Anna Magnansizzle in The Fugitive Kind, directed by Sidney Lumet. From the play Orpheus Descending by Tennessee... who revered Elia Kazan, the director of some of his plays. 
This led me to Kazan’s America America – a great saga of a movie. My infatuation with Brando and his acting led to The Young Lions directed by Edward Dmytryk.

Montgomery Clift and Dean Martin are American, Brando a German. World War II told from both sides, old fashioned, black & white and great.

Reflection in a Golden Eye, Brando and Elizabeth Taylor as husband and wife, his latent homosexuality leads to suicide. Directed by John Huston [his best and last film, The Dead?]Psychologically a bombshell when filmed, based on a Carson McCullers book. This caustic writer of febrile sensitivity links up with Tennessee Williams, their friendship described in his biography [see my entry 30th October].

Saturday, 3 January 2015

CULTURE: Ming Dynasty

MING Dynasty 1400-1450 at the British Museum.

Exquisite objects, great refinement – notice the giraffe on the collage above – a gift that came from Bengal in India in 1414
The famous giraffe Zarafa came from Africa to the Jardin du Roi, now the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, in 1827.

*****1414-1827 says it all!*****

Check it out – on until 5th January 2015