Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Devilled Pumpkin

Now that I've lugged the pumpkin home we need to dream up a really scary face for it: something truly bloodcurdling; the embodiment of evil; a picture of wickedness, let me think....

Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Damn Disappointment

What! You've never been to Kenwood House? You'll love it. Come with us today. We're going to walk the dogs up there. Yes, I know it's absolutely freezing but it'll be worth it - I promise. It's fantastic, as you approach the front of the house through the trees and you get a glimpse of the neo-classic facade it's just gorgeous. Adam I think. Then as you walk round to the front, well it just takes your breath away. The orangery - absolutely stunning. I'm sure you'll recognise it: it's been in loads of films...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Lost Youth

I no longer share the house with three teenagers: John turned twenty today.
At this point a cute picture of him blowing the candle out on his first birthday cake or some such thing would have been appropriate but that was before the days of digital photography and Brian CBA to go up into the attic and dust off the old albums - not with getting the telly warmed up for the footy so I'll just have a quick look in iPhoto and see if there's a more recent one of him...........

Oh. I'm sure I remember there being one or two of John on here somewhere. Oops. 
1,347 photos of - let me see - Lotus, Ed, Capri, Enzo, some hydrangeas, an unknown dog, the sky, the old Volvo, some ducks, a wall, three nuns, the Palace Theatre, a ginger cat, a bull, sweet peas, Nelson's Column, the BT Tower...

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Should I trade all my worldly goods (yes, including dogs) for this view...
 Oops, wrong pic. THIS view...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Four Candles Please

When I went to Pilates last night I spotted something very familiar propped up in Kate’s hallway: a dirty rectangle of wood about the size of a kitchen-cupboard door and screwed onto it, in a haphazard arrangement, were a random selection of filthy door handles. We looked at each other, “General Woodwork” we said simultaneously. Kate had been to the closing down sale of our favourite shop of all time. (When I say ‘favourite’ I mean most visited. My favourite shop of all time is a vintage designer boutique in the cloisters of the Palais Royale Gardens – not having the guts to even enter the shop I have only respectfully admired the exquisite mannequins through the glass, expecting to be asked to move on at any moment.) 
The General Woodwork Stores on the High Street has been there forever and with stock from every decade of the last century gathering dust out the back it has been the most perfect place to find all the trimmings that we have ever needed to accessorise this outlandish place. A sturdy, beautifully carved piano leg, covered in cobwebs made the perfect newel post; funky, gilded door handles from the 70’s were just right for the Barry White bedroom; the biggest, brass, Victorian door knob for the front door; pretty, lemon-yellow, plastic handles for a 60’s kitchen; a whacking great big swathe of tree trunk came in handy for a shelf: they had everything you could dream of and more. Some years ago someone had painstakingly and unwittingly created works of art by taking one of every fixture or fitting in the shop and fixing it to the boards that lined the walls and it was one of these that Kate had procured and brought home.      
Unlike the Paris Boutique the staff at General Woodwork were not the least intimidating – three old boys, I think they were brothers owned the store and they never laughed at us once: smiled a little maybe when we explained some hair-brained scheme that we had in mind for, say, suspending a very heavy beaded curtain from the cornice or dismantling and reassembling an old cupola in the back garden. They’d listen patiently and then say
“I’m with you Brian... one of these might do the trick.”
GWS didn’t just sell fancy stuff: hundreds of tiny flat- headed, copper nails to fix the lead roof back onto the cupola; one extra large hook for the hanging chair; a yard and a half of medium-gage chain for said chair; plastic, recessed handles for sliding doors; hinges, nails, screws, bolts and brackets: anything and everything you could possibly need for any DIY project and the nice thing was nothing came in rigid plastic packaging and you didn’t have to buy ten of something if you only wanted one. Oh, and somewhere out the back they even had a box of dog biscuits to keep the whippets happy. We will really miss it.
Kate says “What are you going to do without it?”
“Move” I reply. “Sell up and move to a modern flat where everything’s already done.”
And I have just the place in mind…
Up at the reservoir they’ve built a 29 storey tower block with views all over London and beyond. Brian and I are going to have a look at an apartment there this afternoon up on the 23rd floor. It’s still a hard hat area as they haven’t been fully kitted out yet. Perhaps I can request a 70s style kitchen and an 80s dining room and I’d really like a 50s bedroom and a Mad Men lounge. Hmmm... maybe a new build isn’t for me after all.
Dog walking at the reservoir yesterday.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Mad Dog

When you're a very small dog this must seem like a very big house. Forty five, steep, scary, cold, hard stairs from Ed's bedroom down to the draughty hall, across the living room floor and then another fifteen steps to negotiate down to the basement where breakfast is served. Even for a very brave puppy that takes some guts and after weeks of teetering on the top step plucking up courage to set off Lotus finally made her first descent unaided. Once she's off, like a roller coaster there's no stopping to catch a breath, no pausing on the thirteenth step to admire the view, no slowing down to check out that croissant crumb that someone's dropped and with no carpet to cling onto or cushion her trip it really is some white paw ride. After a day or two she is quite the expert and manages to weave in and out of the whippets legs on the downhill run. 
THEN came the ghastly silicone spray incident - see last blog.
The vile, slithery molecules had wafted through the air onto every horizontal surface in the house and so when Lotus launched herself off the top step yesterday morning things didn't quite go according to plan.
Boy was she mad...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

James Bondage

My old friend James did a shoot here yesterday. He always photographs something…umm…interesting and I wasn’t surprised when two beautiful girls stepped out of his Hummer followed by a couple of stylists dragging Ikea bags full of stilettoes and some unrecognisable scraps of coloured neoprene.
While I made coffee, the stylists unpacked, the models went into hair and make-up and James took a load of pictures of the new dog.
“Latex” said James.
“Lotus” I replied.
“No, Latex. I’m shooting a load of Latex underwear today”
“Nice. What are all the aerosols for? I asked, glancing at an arsenal of canisters lined up on the mantelpiece.
“Lubrication. Makes it easier to slip the bits and pieces on and off. They don’t use talcum powder any more. They use this silicon spray stuff. Apparently it goes everywhere (smiles) but worry ye not, we’ll do all the spraying by the back door.”
“Fine. I’ll leave you to it. Give us a shout if you need anything.”
Brian and I stayed in the basement office most of the day until Joe came home from school and then we headed off to pick up Ed and take him to the theatre.
“Joe, stay down here with the dogs until James and that lot upstairs have gone. Understand? You stay down here. When you hear them leave, go up, let the dogs out into the garden and then check that they haven’t left any food around that they might eat. Got it?”
Brian, Ed and I got back at about 8.30. As we opened the front door a small fat dog came hurtling towards us, spinning across the hall floor like an ice puck. Frantic scratching noises came from the front room: two bewildered whippets were doing impressions of Bambi when he tries to walk on the frozen lake.
“Look, it’s sick!” cries Joe, gliding past in his socks.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

My Metamorphosis

FINALLY, after two weeks of being stuck indoors with the flu I woke up yesterday feeling BETTER and fancied hitting the town. I ignored the “I think I might be coming down with something” off Brian and we headed out into the dank London air. First stop: The Crypt, Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone.
Flaming torches lit the way down to the cavernous, vaulted space where we were greeted with a glass of Champagne and a waxy slab of raw meat the size of a family hatchback and oozing blood - only the hipster perched on the corner, swigging fizz and appearing to be unconcerned about his swag gave the game away: that this was art and not something from the abattoir. 
The title of the exhibition, “Metamorphosis” was interpreted by most of the artists as a nightmarish mutation of decaying flesh into something a little prettier, and visa versa. Glistening tentacles coiled around road kill and adorned with sweet little hummingbirds anyone? Followed by a downy piglet whose spilled entrails have spawned a family of magical mushrooms, all topped off with another cute stuffed birdie. 
"Brian! You feeling okay?"
Other pieces were alluringly beautiful and macabre - an ornate, gilt and glass coffee table housed a barely-there, human figure, woven from gossamer thread - as fragile and precious as a holy relic. Hard to describe so here it is…
Paul Hazelton for All Visual Arts
Escaping up the fire escape to the mezzanine floor and we were face to face with the exquisitely detailed ceramic head of a startled hare, which, as you peer at it, creepily morphs into a frightening half-monster, half-human skull. All the kind of stuff that should set alarm bells ringing were you to stumble upon it back at your date's pad after a few drinks but quite at home in the dramatically lit crypt. I found the show mysterious, alluring and an excellent night out. There were a couple of things that I could happily live with – the picture that they chose for the flyer is an inspired cocktail of dark, lurking crocodile; dripping fruits and fairy lights and the other picture that I loved was the understated and classy portrait of a woman by Jonathan Wateridge - 


Monday, 1 October 2012

Venice in Peril

Awww… Baby Joey turned 17 at the weekend. Sweetheart. Here he is age 7 at Versailles wearing his very favourite coat ever. He’s always loved that Parka and even continued to wear it after the fluffy trim all melted in the “Burning Halo of Fur” incident in Santa Maria della Salute in Venice. A cruise ship full of catholics had just visited the cathedral and lit a host of votive candles: a roaring furnace of flickering flames with only one empty space left right in the middle for Joe to reach in and position his little 50 cent offering...

As you can see from this photo of Joe and Phoebe trying on Parkas yesterday - he was only mentally scarred.