Tuesday, 18 December 2012

LET THE TRAIN ...leave without you.

Just returned from seeing a show in town, although we didn't get to see it coz the trains were delayed and cancelled as the notice boards noted, due to someone being hit by a train in Elmbridge, or between Elmbridge and Clapham Junction.    These things happen.   I remember when I commuted from Essex they happened at least once a month. There would be hour long delays while guards would apologise profusely for not knowing what was going on and apologise for having to apologise and they would understand how this may have (never must because there's a legal issue I'm sure with saying 'we have screwed up your day, not we may have screwed up your day), just may have caused us inconvenience. It made us late for work, more tired than we needed to be, more stressed, more anxious.  One lost the will to live not just the will to get up in the morning and make way to a job one invariably hated.    There were those who could read and get into a book and then click in and out of the delays treating it as two, three or even four more chapters they could read through. One woman I knew completed the book. Then she got as pissed off as the rest of us.  Of course now you have iPhones, iPads, mini iPads to keep you amused unless you've forgotten to charge it.  

At Clapham Junction the apologetic guard urged people to get off and take the Victoria Line to Waterloo and Vauxhall.     Point is the Victoria Line doesn't' stop at Clapham Junction, something I had forgotten and 100s of others didn't know either.   We were left stranded. The train went off and we decided having been given options to either get on a bus - no number given - or a train to Shepherds Bush or one via Willesden Junction, I'm not sure.   Neither was anyone else sure including the train guards we asked.  We didn't swear, we didn't shout because it wasn't their fault.   We just wanted them to stop apologising and tell us the options.  They couldn't. They didn't.     Shit happens.  People get hit by trains.     But tonight SW Trains just made a drama out of a crisis. Their service and the staff we encountered were misinformed - so they misinformed their customers. The service was utter crap.

MADASATRAVELLER - you would need to be. My next book.

I was recently tagged by Janey Fraser (www.janeyfraser.co.uk) to participate in The Next Big Thing, where authors answer ten questions about their current works in progress. If you haven’t read her post about what she's working on now, jump over to her blog to take a look. I've never considered having an au pair, which is what her latest brilliant novel is about. It makes the politics in Parliament look like child's play. Fabulously wicked book to buy mothers who think an au pair is a good idea...

In turn, I tagged excellent writers and dear friends, established author, lecturer and journalist Anne Sebba (www.annesebba.com) who writes exquisite biographies including her latest 'The Other Woman' about Wallace Simpson.   It's a fascinating and engrossing story elegantly told.      Author and columnist Simon Hoggart (http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/simonhoggart) writes wonderfully pithy prose about anything and everything.  He observes with better eyes than the rest of us, but then he does comment often but not exclusively on politics - so he needs to.    His Long Lunch titles available as ebooks as well as in bookshops - the few that are left - will make you weep for all the right reasons.

I have also chosen two first time authors Dodie Hamilton (www.facebook/dodiehamiltonbooks) and her debut novel, the beautiful haunting romance in Second Chance and Julia Chambers first novel My Rennaissance which is elegant erotica at it's very best, putting Fifty Shades and any other variation on that theme completely in the shade....

So thanks, Janey, for asking me what I’m up to with my writing. Here’s what I had to say:

What is the working title of your book?

I have been working on three.   The Diary of Guilty Secrets, The Charm Bracelet and 
Madasa traveller..  I am currently working on a comedy thriller. 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Diary of Guilty Secrets is what I've wanted to write for a long time, just like the protagonist.    Charm Bracelet is a series of stories, some sad, some sexy, some tragic, some hilarious and Madasatraveller.....
My email address is madasatucker and I've been twenty years a travel writer.  How I got there is a journey in itself and I'm still on it.   It's a dream job but it has it's share of nightmare scenarios. I thought it would be interesting for people to see that the pieces to camera along the golden beaches has it's fair share of quick sand and the azure blue bath warm Indian Ocean seas have their sharks....

What genre does your book fall under?

travel fiction(alined)
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

In madasatraveller - ex husband playing a very haggard looking Hugh Grant type.  lover played by a young Rufus Sewell.     main character Emily Watson as someone who looks naive but isn't and is deeply flawed - like the author.   Or Goldie Hawn when she was very young.   And it must have the actors Ed Harris in it and Bill Nighy.   Just because..

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Bridget Jones meets Bill Bryson, occasionally with bursts of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Foul Play.   

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

by an agency  Wordcents.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

a month. I know the story. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

A Bridget with real problems who prefers the romance of travel to the romance with Darcey.   

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Going through my old school books and diaries and realising where I started and how far I've come....so far. 

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

There's better sex in it than there is in Fifty Shades but I think there is in most novels.   And it's very funny and inspiring. you'll want to get on a plane and keep going (and take the book with you...)

Friday, 30 November 2012


I was in excellent company last night.  Sir Trevor MacDonald who needs no introduction, but got one any way from the Chair, editor of the Sheengate Titles Richard Nye, Claire Fox, the director of the wonderfully named Institute of Ideas (sounds like something out of Hogwarts) and Matthew Syed, illustrious columnist and writer of the Times and former Commonwealth table tennis champion I wanted to ask him about table tennis but felt it oddly irrelevant in context of the debate. Discussing if the media were friend or foe (it didn't specify to whom) this of course had been perfectly timed to coincide with the Leverson findings (pure fluke but that's timing for you).

Sir Trevor felt Leverson would change nothing, everything would be bogged down in committees and sub committees and nothing would be done. Ever.   Claire and Matthew felt if statute was put in place, it would potentially be very dangerous especially if you had the likes of Blair or Thatcher in charge again or some lesser megalomaniac.  As for my view, I think the politicians are playing a game.  They are losers all of them, we are the biggest ones (the punter, the voter, the onlooker), but to think they could come out and out say one way or another would be a nonsense and would take a great deal of courage, which they don't have.    When I look at politicians now I think of them as actors upon a stage, not meaning anything they are saying, not even understanding most of it, just reciting it.   I don't feel contempt because it takes courage to get up on that stage.   And Sir Trevor noted that many journalists and reporters now treat politicians with barely restrained contempt when they interview them. As Sir Trevor noted, at least politicians enter the process to do something of good for their community (although I think some do enter it for ego), something you can never say about those who work in the city.

And who will be in this organisation that will monitor the press?  Who on earth, on this earth is so honourable, so without fault, so incorruptible to be considered for this position?  A politician? No. A banker?  You're joking.   A policeman - perhaps.   I think you need a 'common man', or woman who has a sense, a common sense and an ability to see through the emperor with no clothes phenomenon of what is bullshit and what isnt, what is in the public interest and what isn't.   It isn't someone who has risen to the top. If this year has proved anything the shit rises to the top more regularly than the cream does.  Although I must say I do like Eddie George.   I think his contempt for the city mirrors that of my own, but then he deals with them on a daily basis so that's understandable.

In many ways the media has been it's own worst enemy.   Editors allowing for lazy journalism - the recent article about Canada in the Telegraph being an example.  I met the Canadian head of PR for lunch this week and she despaired that they usual cliche about Canadians came up without anything relevant or up to date on a country that had a government which managed to manage their bankers - something our politicians had not.  As she commented 'It's harmless but it's pathetic.'

Then there's the phone hacking which hacked into 'common man' rather than celebrity, who I am afraid I have absolutely no sympathy with. That includes the Royals, both the young and old.    They are sold to us as though we know them. We don't have a clue who they are.  We just think we do.

Editors encourage journalists to get stories, to hit the negative angles because they are told 'it makes better news' and people are more interested in bad news than good. I think it's been proven somewhere, with stats or something, but then so has a lot of things which turn out to be rubbish.   And all media are businesses so their bottom line is more important than anything else.   Associated Papers are making money, The Times is running on a subsidy, the rest of the papers I think are losing money. The BBC may have been dented but they are respected around the world and like the NHS should not be tampered with.   They should not be interested in profit and should aim in their production values at all times and at all cost.   Every panelist agreed on that point.

The weave between the institutions of the police, the law, the church, the city, the media, the royals, the politicians has become so entwined this is like a lover's tiff that will pass over because the end game is more important.  There is too much money, too much power and far far too much ego invested in these institutions for morality and integrity to get in the way of profit.   This has been a year of revelation but not revolution.  And if it were it would be the wrong heads that would roll.    

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


So the new chief at the Bank of England is Canadian. I love Canada and all things Canadian and he's been chosen for many reasons, although the mainstream media focuses on the fact that he didn't allow Canadian banks to get screwed in the same way our government allowed our banks to screw us.   Or perhaps more precisely the Canadian government didn't allow Canadian banks to screw Canadians the same way our government allowed ours to screw us.

He's ex Goldman Sachs so he allegedly knows what he's dealing with - although does he also think he's doing God's work?  Or does that just mean GS now has friends in high places?

And have they chosen a Canadian because they don't know who within the British financial system they can trust?  Reminds me of that film Where Eagles Dare when Clint Eastwood, who was playing an American lieutenant (or some such, he wore a uniform) was brought in to a secret military mission during WWII to help British intelligence Richard Burton, because the Brits back at HQ didn't know who they could trust.  Nah.  Too far fetched.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

don't get sick at home..

Next article on travel will be about what happens if you get sick overseas and if you are in the position - which countries are the best to feel lousy in, if you get my drift.   I'm writing about it because this evening I have spent nearly three hours in A & E as my son has a suspected head injury that hasn't really sorted itself, has some days and not others, and I'm worried.    So along we went and waited.  Eventually saw a nurse after an hour who asked questions then as time went on and on... and other children started to appear... I asked another nurse how long it would be and why it was taking such a long time.   She replied there had been some urgent cases with young children. I get that. That's fine. But it would have been good, courteous, intelligent to tell the waiting patients that they would be longer than they had hoped (I'd been in there with him on several other occasions and I know you wait but not and never this long, and it had on both occasions been busier).   And hey, what is a suspected head injury anyway huh?  As it was now gone midnight and past the witching hour for both I suggested the school medical centre would be a better and faster and more efficient option.  I had to sign a form to say we were leaving. They couldn't find the form.    I thought bugger this we're going. They eventually found the form and I said it would have been a good idea to just let patients know, and manage expectations about time.  The doctor told me 'I am the only doctor here tonight.'   Yup, I understand that, cuts and all but I said a nurse could have gone round and at least explained to everyone that there was going to be a long wait.   She laughed at me. "you can't expect to wait for less than four hours at A and E'.   I told her to tell the patients that to which she repeated the same thing.  So for those out there who want to go to Kingston paediatric A and E EXPECT TO WAIT AT LEAST FOUR HOURS TO BE SEEN.     They won't' tell you this of course.   So I thought I would.    ps.  they are faster in most countries overseas I am sure even taking into account the flight......  And if his head is not right I'm going back there.   I hope she's gone by then.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Disillusioned Relatively Ordinary Professionals Preferring Independent Employment Situations

OMG didn't realise Liz Jones lived in Brentwood. I went to school there but didn't live there.  (Ilford Essex me). Same school and year as Ross Kemp (very nice man).    But Brentwood is commuter belt, mostly wannabes who work back office in the city, or have made it and want to show off that they've made it.  They are predominantly traders, although as one investment banker I met last month told me, traders aren't real bankers. All things considered I'm not sure that's an insult.    I'm surprised LJ moved to the country as it takes a certain type.  I think author and columnist Daisy Waugh had issues as well when she moved and returned back to the city.    The city puts up with pretentious twaddle. The country has no time for it.    

As for LJ, she writes for the Mail. Everyone who writes for the Mail has it inbred in them to be antagonistic even if they don't want to be.   That Brick woman, who no one likes because she is too beautiful also writes for them. She lives in France I believe. I'm sure they hate her there as well.

Friday, 9 November 2012


I went to yoga this morning. It is my gin and tonic, my whatever drugs my peers are taking at the moment to calm their hormones and tolerate their partners and life in general.  I have Tim.  He is phenomenal. There are yoga teachers who speak in hushed voices, others who smell of all things chinky chinky recent visit to Indian Ashram, others who waft about in floaty stuff and can do back bends so their noses are up their own backsides.   But Tim's class is wonderful.  It's bliss. It's what the books on yoga say it should be and so often isn't.    But the thing that always, but always amazes me is his meditations beforehand.  He talks to me.  I know he talks to me. Or perhaps he's psychic.  Sometimes he talks about strength or focus or balance, but never the same thing.    And always what I need, I know I need.  This morning he said it was a prayer and boy have I being praying this week.  His words, his very words were 'Let go of someone who is negative. Thoughts that are negative. Throw them away.  Just let go of them.'  He has never said that before.   For the first time I wanted to stand up and ask the other twenty five in the class 'excuse me but do you all have 'issues' with your exes?'  As we are all 'one' perhaps they do.  Any way.   Namaste to everyone who reads this blog.    Go do some sun salutations and throw away your exes - metaphorically speaking of course.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


If anyone is about on 29th November I am taking part in a debate on the media in Richmond as part of the literary festival.   Entitled Media - friend or foe, and with Sir Trevor McDonald OBE and Matthew Syed, we will be debating if the media is a force for good or ill.   7.30 pm at Clarendon Hall, I think it will be fun mainly because as a travel writer I tend to write the positives but always be constructive (I am not one to believe in a melting pot of cultures or indeed that everyone is friendly where you go - they are not).   And in some places where tourists are allegedly welcomed that is blatantly not true. Anyway please come.


There I was driving through Richmond Park in the morning mist, mellow fruitfulness, deer antlers, sun blistering orange about the horizon, the frost tinting the trees, bliss, you get the idea.  Keats would have been inspired.  Turned on the radio which is stuck on Radio Four and can't get it off but that's ok as the other stations at the moment irritate me.   Teresa May was talking very hesitantly about an inquiry and how the government were going to have an inquiry into an inquiry.  About the inquiry into abuse at a particular home in North Wales to see if it was done properly.  Does that matter? Is that the point?  She kept going on about how child abuse was dreadful.  Using the most exotic adjectives.   Erm, hands up first person who disagrees.  She came across as crass.   There's a list on the internet with the names of those allegedly guilty. It took Philip Scholfield three minutes to find it. I still can't find them.   This is turning into a year of Revelations.  Just we're not doing anything with them, are we?

debut novel I loved - SECOND CHANCE

Check out the debut novel by Dodie Hamilton.  SECOND CHANCE.   Available on kindle it's a beautiful and haunting love story that will resonate I should imagine with a lot of you.  It's the sort of story that stays with you long after you've read it and you'll wonder what ghosts linger in your own past..

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Who watched the program on Jimmy Saville? Panorama I think it was.  Basically it was saying that Jimmy Saville is a paedophile, or rather was, that there was a paedophile network at the BBC and that there was a cover up.    The good and great explained why they hadn’t done anything in much the same way Murdoch and his crones, Diamond and his, and it was the police force as well wasn’t it, in fact all the ‘establishments’ had explained away their greed, avarice, sloth by saying the system was to blame.   Mmm, I still think the individuals have a lot to do with it.    The BBC bods all looked slightly bewildered about their judgement being questioned as though they were being asked something that was beneath them by someone who was beneath them. Strangely, Murdoch and Diamond also possessed a demeanour which would not have looked out of place on someone who considered themselves God-like.   I do not trust establishment, nor do I trust systems which allow such ego inflated arseholes to take control and manipulate peoples’ lives in the way they do. But it is ultimately the individuals who make the decision to be corrupt, greedy, arrogant, evil.   The law allows them to behave the way in which they do, the system allows them to behave in the way they do, that doesn't mean they are any less corrupt or evil for choosing to behave the way they do.  They deserve to be broken as much as the system which allows them to thrive.   Perhaps they will go the same way as Maxwell.  I for one, personally hope so.  


What is the Jimmy Saville news replacing?   I know that sounds a really odd thing to say, and God knows, I'm not saying this case is not of national importance, but what is it that the 'establishment' doesn't want us to look at?  Perhaps that's just me being cynical about news, but when the 'establishment' seemingly bashes the 'establishment' I always get a feeling that it's all a big game where nothing in the end gets achieved, a lot of public money is wasted, systems and individuals are ridiculed but neither are broken or changed.   The individuals lose credibility (in the eyes of the public not of their peers unless they nicked money from them of course) but go away with a big payout and everything goes back to normal, whatever that is.  So what's this non news replacing eh?  


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

no news is good news.

Ive decided not to watch the news. This may be a bad thing as I write about issues that should be of interest to a % of the masses but I'm not sure people are interested in what the media offers at the moment. It's negative, consistently negative and that's not just a perspective.   There's a newspaper coming out which only has good news in it I'm told.  We already have one, think it's called The Bible.  As for me no news is good news.  

Thursday, 20 September 2012

emotional abuse

The law is allegedly going to stop emotional abuse within relationships.  I think it's the right thing to do but how to monitor is difficult.  Having been in an emotionally abusive marriage and my ex still attempting to bully when others aren't around to witness it, I know first hand how it can seem the person being bullied can seem like the one who's losing their mind. These psychopaths, because that's what they are, are usually highly financially functional men - although there are women - who come across as charming, laid back individuals.   I know this is so common.   I see it amongst friends.  In fact with one couple I had both versions of one story and knew the woman was speaking the truth but the man spoke with such sincerity that it made me feel sick. I knew he was lying, well not lying quite, just twisting the truth.      The problem occurs when you can never separate from them because you have children.  The best thing to do always is to have as little contact as possible on any subject.    It's difficult again when you have children because you will need to talk to each other, but eventually the buttons they will try to push won't work.  The marriage may stop but the abuse doesn't.    They will never stop trying of course.   Last time I sat with my ex for 10 mins, because that's all the time he had to talk about an issue, it lasted two hours. I walked back wondering how it could have lasted that long and then realised he had mentioned everything that he possibly could to push all buttons and none of them had worked. The only time I felt sad was when I learnt that his father was ill and it reminded me of my own father.    I wrote the Control freak Chronicles to identify the 'type'.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

any one tried some pussy?! www.pussydrinks.com

new drink out www.pussydrinks.com. They were selling it at Feastival and I'm looking through my notes writing out the features and picked this up and laughed. The twenty something girl at the stand told me with a straight face when I asked her - why call it 'pussy'  - it is a distinctive name and it was available.  Its a Branson product I think and he knows how to market.   Perhaps they should have regional versions like Essex pussy, Berkshire pussy and Surrey pussy, or cities, like London pussy, or Urban pussy.  or like that brand Cowshed - sexy cow, grumpy cow, smelly cow.    I don't somehow think that would work with pussy, or that people would buy it - especially smelly...... The spiel says 'the drink is pure....it's the mind that's the problem.'  !

Monday, 10 September 2012


Tom's started a new school and I'm told 'big school' has less chance of playground politics because parents have less opportunity to mix with each other - although I have a coffee morning with the new parents this Thursday which I think is an annual event so I don't think that will cause too many issues.   Tom did well at the previous school, getting a drama and art scholarship for which his teachers should take all the credit as well as Tom (teachers thank you for your support in calling Tom's dad to tell him how important extra curricular stuff was).  Of course his dabble dad (dabbles at parenthood) is now taking the credit for his son's success but I'm told this is common. The child does the work, the teacher does the work, the mother does the work and then when the kids reach teenage years and have something the dads can relate to they appear to become all fatherly forgetting the past twelve or so years when their kids bored them witless.  I don't think Tom's dad is alone in this, I just think he's an example of the behaviour.   At the speech day, the dads all stood around patting themselves on the back for the success of their son's, including Tom's, the gracious ones (and ironically the ones who had genuinely done the most) conceding that their wives had done all the work. There were a few of them but not many.    Because as far as men are concerned playground politics is like office politics. Men who talk good parenting rarely practice it. Those who do, just get on with it.  I'm told it was always the way.  

Sunday, 9 September 2012


Attended the feastival in Cotswolds last weekend.   Have delayed putting it on the blog as wanted to get it into perspective as the end to a fascinating summer of travel, being amongst people much younger than myself rather than being with people who wanted to be much younger than themselves.  

The real yoof.  In the States it was 20 somethings in a van touring California, Nevada, Arizona, hiking with a twenty something genuine hippy in the Lech valley, taking a trip to Greece - where, um, the Olympics all started,  I'm sure there's a twenty something connection there, but can only think of family, excellent spa and wonderful artist I met there who his wife described as a teenager - so that's probably the connection, and then to Ibiza where you had to be 20 to keep up with the 7am clubbing all nighters.

Rather than being exhausted I returned so happy I'd spent the summer travelling and not gawping at the TV.   I visited places which despite their own hardships don't need billion pound sports events to give them a temporary high.  The smile is innate in their culture. It is not in ours. OK, perhaps not so much with the Austrians, but where I was it was.  And the views from the hotel we stayed in were as awesome as those in the Grand Canyon.   Last week was Ibiza and clubbing.   Red bulls and vodkas. Completely over rated. Swedish House Mafia.  Mmm.  

And the camping stops in America, great if you are 20 something but waking up to a glorious sunrise and aching back wore off on the fifth morning.     And then I attended feastival, Jamie Oliver event mixing fab music and fab food, full of monied flowery dressed and Hunter wellied set, who had second homes in the Cotswolds and had kids they dressed as mini me, the car park field was full of BMWs and Audis as my ex (who was there...of all the fields in all the world you had to turn up...)  pointed out. Although he has an Audi so perhaps he doesn't realise he's part of that pampered past it set.   The lead singer from Texas desperately tried to get the crowd to scream back and dig down into their souls, but I'm not sure the crowd had souls or at least soul.   They were tame or tamed, or tired or something, but it didn't come out as anything that verged on hysteria which I think is what she was wanting.  

They ate their hummus and special indian curries and paid their £8 for their teeny weeny portion of bangers and mash and bought their daisy chain for their kids to wear in their hair.   I got chatting with a man who sold kitchen knives (hammer stahl absolutely superb..could cut through anything) and another who had a VW campervan that sold crepes and ice cream and worked in edit in TV during the winter with Jamie, and extremely well spoken guys who sold funky bbq type contraptions that folded up and had been CEOs of advertising companies in their 30s and were now re living their, erm, 30s in their 40s. Or they thought they were.

I have no wish to be 20 something again. It was full of neurosis and fear and meeting the real 20 somethings I realized nothing had changed, no matter how educated or well travelled they became, they still had the same hang ups and a few we, bless us, had given them in the process.  The 30 somethings are totally self absorbed, puritanical and well, boring, and the 40 somethings who want to be 20 somethings are neurotic and fearful or 30 something puritanical and boring.  

I like being 40 something nearly 50 something.   I don't have a clue how this age is supposed to act as I don't know anyone who admits to or wants to be this age, so I'm just getting on with it and enjoying it.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

SUMMER LOVE-IN - return to hippydom

I deleted this blog and yet 14 people looked at it. Wow, hope for not long.

Thursday, 9 August 2012


I am on a whistle stop tour of California with my son.   He is writing a blog which will be published soon which is hilarious in that it is honest, from the heart and to the point, something travel writers rarely are.  So taking a leaf from Tom's excellent diary, I'll keep this brief as well.  Spent a week in San Francisco. San Francisco does not need a week, it needs a few days and then it needs sunshine.    It's like London was with more wind and more homeless.  It has the potential to make a tolerant person intolerant it talks about tolerance so much.   Alcatraz was sad and diabolical and fascinating and worth going to but you need to book up to a month in advance for a trip there.   Don't just go round the island, get a trip that goes on it.    Cycling over the Golden Gate bridge is only a cool thing to do if the weather is warm so don't go in summer.  The bridge is not golden, it is international orange. I have a dress the same colour but I call it rust.     The hotels reminded me of those in The Shining. 1950s style, huge, slightly altered state staff and I turned each corner expecting rivers of blood running down the endless corridors and room service to bash through the door with axes screaming 'Here's Johnny'.  Book a charming bed and breakfast in town or outside of which there are many, but do it in advance.  The Italian Quarter is wonderful.    Pier 39 your teenagers will love.    Fab foodie place and great for teenage cool clothes.   Nuff said. Oh yes, and excessively foggy. The Fog was filmed here as were loads of other films.

Then onto Yosemite, Wonderful in every way, except the van driver lost the keys so we missed a hike went on another one and nearly got lost as well.   Hugged a Sequoia because it's rude not to and crawled through a dead one. Saw a bear with two cubs in first five minutes of being there although told bears are rare.     And then we were onto Death Valley, which was 123 degrees, fascinating, met a ranger with a braid, imagined if we got stuck it could potentially be across between The Hills Have Eyes One and Two. If you have been there yourself you would agree.   And now in Vegas which is a place where the characters from the Hills Have Eyes party when they're not eating people in them there hills.    I vowed I would never go once and now I've gone twice in one year. Seen the fountains and the strip and stood by the sign and seen the light show and going to spend time at the M and M store as Im with a 13 year old and this place is for 20 somethings and 30 somethings who lack imagination and 40 somethings and 50 somethings who need a life.   Can't wait for Canyon.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

don't usually write restaurant reviews but this one is special

Last time I was in this restaurant was over ten years ago. Called something else and owned by someone else, I remember thinking it was like being in someone’s home, albeit one they had turned into a dining room. Like a posh, pretentious Come Dine with Me.  All style no substance.  The service was eager as in they wouldn’t leave us alone.  Attentive is good, persistent is annoying.   I couldn’t read the menu as the lights were so dimmed I nearly burnt the menu putting it so close to the solitary candle and I left hungry because the food was good enough to look at and not enough to  satisfy.

This time, same layout but completely different experience, something Peter Burrell and Frankie Dettori MBE, the owners have done well to create. D├ęcor is minimalistic; ambience is warm.    Manager Umberto Scomparin has the manner of a knowing uncle (admittedly I suppose this is dependent on your age and sex) – but his manner is informed, helpful, warm, patient, like the proverbial baby porridge – ‘just right’.   He tells you where every ingredient originated, what is in season, making helpful suggestions not intrusive ones, or not -  if he senses you just want to eat and gaze at your partner (something they didn’t get ten years ago).   Empathy and probable telepathy is important in restaurant staff. 

The food is beautifully presented but not so much you feel you’re eating a work of art.  You can tell Chef Stefano Stecca loves what he does.   I started with salmon tartare, then sea bass, keeping it light, but there are more ample options – if you order ravioli as a starter, come hungry.  There are extremely reasonably priced set menus for Sunday lunch, especially considering where you are (Chelsea).   It somehow manages to cut across the bridge of being both smart and authentically child friendly – I’m taking my 13 year old there next week.   I haven’t been there in the evening, but at lunch time even on dull days, natural light beams in so you can see what you’re eating (many restaurants especially Italian ones go for the cosy, semi dark approach which is fine for romance, lousy for seeing the food – or menu for that matter).   And I had a menu I could read!  I know that sounds strange but as I get older the menu type face seems to get smaller – or seems to get smaller.   I didn’t even need the glasses.   Sette has empathy indeed.

There is no excuse to leave the restaurant feeling hungry or over fed– this place is the epitome of sublime ample sufficiency - it sets the right tone on every level in every way.
Sette is a cut above the rest.

www.sette-restaurant.com/The childrens menu is at £10 for two courses on Sundays and is Chicken Milanese, Tomato Spaghetti and Lasagne followed by ice cream or


Loved the flame.   Absolutely stunning and moving and clever.   And those drums and the chimneys going up. Danny Boyle's edge and hint to darkness was in every moment almost revealing a sinister underbelly and cost of success and all that glints gold - has to be paid for literally and metaphorically with lives, and blood and sweat and tears. Where there's light there's also darkness and all that.    CND, NHS were celebrated, as were the suffragette movement.   Homage to TV and film I am told was lost on the international audience. Don't care. The British should pat themselves on the back and the British did know what it was about and at this moment in the place in this way, this is all that matters.   And the british inventor of the world wide web applauded although the invention has pulled people apart as well as pulling them together.  The edge was even there.    Bond, Bean, Beckham and the Queen performed (although the Queen was seen to pick her nails and please don't give Beckham a knighthood. OBE fine, Knighthood no.    (my opinion but) Victoria will be the ultimate Lady Muck.  Thank God she didn't turn up, she would have looked as miserable there as she did at Wimbledon.

McCartney was out of time with the rest of his band and really out of time with the rest of the opening ceremony.   He recovered but as someone reminded me when I watched, the Beatles is huge.    Still, I thought the opening 'warm up' guy was absolutely fabulous, the Arctic Monkeys rocked the stadium to it's roots and the choice of music was perfect.   I wasn't there but I have a feeling chosing a film director to direct the performance meant it was fit for TV, more so than theatre.

Children dominated throughout. their innocence and energy and smiles and even at the end the flames were lit by Olympians of the future.   The ceremony was about hope for the future and their future.

Friday, 20 July 2012


Just watched the latest Batman which is the best of the series. It was as riddled with messages as BM's car was riddled with bullets.     Ludicrous in parts (a nuclear bomb is swung around like a bouncing ball into buildings and bridges, and still doesn't explode but I don't know anything about nuclear fusion so perhaps it can be done (just checked with engineer I met and he said it can be done, so there you are) - although come to think of it, it's in a film with a flying batman so why am I looking for what is 'realistic'. 

 A lot of what the film had to 'say' however was extremely pertinent and not lost on an audience who were quiet not only because they were fascinated by the action but realized how it mirrored our own society.  Which is of course, why it works.  That and the million dollar special effects.    They know when and how to push buttons these Hollywood types, and which buttons.

For example, in the film there are the under classes - literally - getting ready to up the revolution and bring the city back to the people, although led by a man who didn't believe the people deserved it in the first place.  The dispossessed lived in the sewers and they all had, without exception, an Eastern European accent and look Eastern European.   And the monied were portrayed as philandering wasters who do stuff for charity but only if it's tax efficient. 

There's a stunning female thief with incredibly high heels, high kicks and no morals or values, who wants to 'start again', (because she's been labelled as a thief - which of course, she is, but she doesn't want that label).    She is saved because someone else continues to believe in her goodness even when she doesn't and that's what allows her to save herself and others.    She's cool, until the end of course, when she wastes five seconds of a one minute count down to the end of everything (aforementioned nuclear bomb) by snogging Batman. Until then she was the go for it girl who kicks arse, arm pit, face, anything really.  But as soon as she snogs Batman, she just becomes the It girl.

And all the main male characters, all in their own way tortured lone individuals, have one weakness.   The love of a bad woman. Well not exactly 'bad', because I'm not sure one says 'bad' any more.  How about 'damaged'?   Doing the impossible they can deal with. Saving the world or destroying it - fine.  But falling for and trusting a damaged woman, nope, putty.   Bless.   Mind you I knew one of the women was damaged from the start because she a) has a french accent and the Americans don't like or trust the French and b) she always plays damaged women in all the films I've seen her in.  The actress was in Inception, as were three of the other lead actors. I wonder if the director directed that film as well?   

The damaged males all looked like smug worthless, slimy short types.  Yes they did all look like bankers. In fact one looked a dead ringer for Bob Diamond.      A part from the most damaged male who looks like a pumped up Hannibal Lechter and spoke through a mask.

The protagonists all needed to dig themselves out of a hole of their own making (anger, self pity, self doubt etc..) - literally in several cases, and everyone wears very tight black, drive very fast, very dangerously and just how I desperately want to drive around London at the moment.

There's a scene where 'Bain' (Hannibal Lechter lookalikee)  breaks into the stock exchange and starts shooting all the traders.   One trader says to him 'why have you broken in here, there's no money to steal', to which lead baddie replies - speaking for the masses 'what you doing here then?"  See what I mean by pressing the right buttons.   The cinema audience clapped spontaneously.

It sometimes became very difficult to see who the good guys were and who the bad guys were mainly because they were all damanged.  A bit like in life really, but everyone agreed the establishment were utterly clueless and not even well intentioned.

You could see why the bad guys were frustrated and wanted to blow everyone up, because the masses were such an apathetic lemming like bunch. Loudest message I suppose was 'don't live in fear, because fear kills. And if you have hope you should cross that bridge from fear to hope.  (they literally did have to try to cross a bridge but the good guys blew it up - but only because they thought it would save more of the group, confusing huh?).   And if you do cross that metaphorical bridge, it will set you free. Ironically at one point when they tried to cross a bridge, the police blew it up (see what I mean about the establishment, bloody useless).   And oh yes, to get yourself out of a hole you need to have internal strength as well as external strength.    And you have to fight to deserve your freedom and understand your worth.      Or perhaps I'm looking deeper into it and the film doesn't have any messages and isn't actually that deep.   It was, after all, about Batman.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


My son's last day at his prep school today. I remember the first when I contacted Ms Booth, the extremely efficient heart of the ship to find out if he'd passed.  She told me he hadn't then corrected herself and told me he had. I burst into tears because I was so relieved, so happy that he'd be joining a school where I felt he would thrive.  His first teacher Ms Appleton now retired had a wonderful turn of phrase and understanding of boys and men for that matter.   Picking up Tom once she said that boys continue to grow physically after the age of twelve but don't emotionally.  They stick at 12.   I disagree. I think some stick before but Tom has grown (all five foot ten and a bit of him) and thrived.   It's a salute to the teachers at the school.  It's the teachers who make this school what it is. A school may have wonderful facilities but they are only there to facilitate the teachers do their job. And the Tower House teachers do it brilliantly.  Teaching is such a worthwhile vocation.   At times I am sure extremely frustrating others rewarding and if you work in Inner London, terrifying and depressing.

I watched Tom play drums brilliantly at the prize day amongst his friends who are rounded, grounded, caring young men. They all watch after each other which is a very special quality I hope they keep into old age and pass on to their own children.  They're kind.   Ambassador and Head Boy in his year spoke extremely well, one from the head, the other from the heart.   Everyone won and deserved a prize. The singing was beautiful (poignant to hear boys so young singing 'yesterday' the lyrics belonging to someone much older in years).   The rock and swing bands were magnificent.

Tom's father was there, the first one he's made and the only one Jeremy hasn't. Thank you Jeremy for always being there for Tom in the past.  Your influence on Tom is a very positive one.   And thank you Tim for helping Tom with his drums.  His dad takes the credit but you are the one who deserves it.  It would be churlish to thank his father, but I'm very very glad he was there. Tom was very pleased to see him.   And Mr Geary, the captain my captain of the school.   Thank you for putting so much time and effort into helping Tom.     And Mr Nunn, and Ms Laird, and Mr Peyton, Mr Hare, Mr Evans, and Ms Bennett, Ms Gray, and Mrs Lamplough and Mick (who says these boys are the nicest Year 8 he has ever had.

Tom has signatures all over his white shirt. He no longer has to hang up his ruddy blazer after being asked six times to do so. I may ceremoniously burn it in the middle of the lawn.    I am still thinking about it.

I was busy in Waitrose this morning, looking like a wino with a romantic streak.   Bottles of vodka, wine and flowers for the teachers I handed to Tom this morning to give out.    Something obviously went a miss. The headmaster and head of art didn't get their vodka.  Teachers thanked me for wine when they should have got vodka and vice versa. I hope Ms Bennett got the whiskey and the women got the flowers.        I'll get the two missing vodkas to them at the beginning of next term.    Thank you Tower House for all the help you've given Tom and you've given his mum over the years.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


I felt for Murray.   He did himself a favour with those tears. The press were mixed in their response 'new bawls anyone?" when really that snipe wasn't necessary. But then people are quick to forget what a p* he's been in the past, but all in the name of winning and at any cost, even if it's to look sour and dour.  But he played his heart out and I felt for him. (why do the BBC interview STRAIGHT after the match. It's ruddy ridiculous. bit like asking somehow how they feel when they're father's just died. It's not good journalism. It's crass).

Talking of sour and dour, didn't Vicky Beckham look happy sitting next to hubby? I don't think tennis is her sport somehow. I'm sure she will say or her blogger will say for her she goes for bigger balls.    But she doesn't exactly jump up and down at football either does she?

I admit I don't understand anyone who doesn't get emotional watching sport, tennis, football, rugby, I shout encouragement at them all. It's a bit like hearing great music and not needing to dance or at least tap your feet to the rhythm.   Something I don't think VB can do even when she was in a rock band (she looked miserable with the rest of the Spice Girls as well).  If she can't smile, perhaps she should do a Murray, and try a cry.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Been working to deadline on travel related stuff, popped up for air and saw that Bob Diamond is all over the papers, smiling.   He must stop smiling that way. All who work in the city smile that way (except back office who get treated like shit by those in the front office).   I texted ex to ask how it was in the (RBS) bank and he said 'everything peachy' so the smiles are genuine. Am told when some of the traders and head honchos announced their resignation/sacking there were tears (real ones, but perhaps it was out of fear that they could be next), so just shows you how bubble-like their existence is.  

There are photos of Bob with other honorable celebrated characters - John Terry and Tiger Woods - so the league of dishonorable gentlemen in all its forms sticks together.    But is he going to dissolve into the depths of Scotland like the last titan did?  What's his name now? Forgotten it.   Anyway, he had his windows broken and knighthood taken away but got his pension and bonuses.  

No, Diamond is seeking revenge the papers say.  Oh I do hope he does.   I really do.  I really hope he gets all self righteous about everything.     Nothing like watching a really nasty spat between titanic egos with bank accounts to match, who all think they've been wronged when all of them are in fact at fault.  The monied classes sue each other with such gay abandon I'm starting to feel it's out of boredom more than pride.  Of course after an enquiry when they may or may not fine the banks (which is after all fining the tax payer if you think about it),  they will decide no one is to blame because everyone is, or rather they will say it's the public's fault for making these titans act the way they do.    Very catholic this lot.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Diamonds (Bob that is) are obviously not forever.    Can we have our money back please Mr Diamond.   You can keep your reputation as long we can have the past oooh..five years bonuses. Ditto the bonuses of the traders who fixed the rates.   My ex (head of gilt trading at RBS) always lectured me about how banking was a honorable profession.   It was never honorable. And how his job was to screw the bank of england.   I thought he was joking.   He wasn't.

Friday, 29 June 2012


I went to Wimbledon today and watched some great matches over a grey sky with occasional high lights of blue.     I decided I didn't like Sharapova.   She won in two sets and although she's a great tennis player, it became very clear to those watching she's a bad sport. I'm sure in other countries all this psychological game play is fine but it's just not tennis in England. (perhaps that's why we lose someone said to me today).   Choosing to change racquets just as her opponent is about to hit an important shot, those orgasmic grunts of hers like battle cries I'm sure she doesn't need to make. I hope one day someone does a Meg Ryan, or EVERYONE does a Meg Ryan in the stands and mimics her.   She did a lot of things that were meant to put off her opponent which weren't necessary and gradually, shot by shot, those watching cooled to her.  And commented.  Her final wave of success was greeted with polite applause in recognition it was fake.   I liked her before I met her. Now I've seen her at play. I don't.

Thursday, 28 June 2012


I attended the First Women Awards this evening, not I am disappointed to admit as one of the nominees, all of whom are extremely focused and inspirational, but as a supporter of friend and nominee Gina Miller who has worked extremely hard to bring the 'true and fair' campaign to the fore, ironically at a time when the City is showing itself to be neither. At the entrance two half naked girls twirled long pieces of red ribbon which I thought an unusual way to introduce women breaking the glass ceiling and business and commerce only to realise they were promoting the bar 'swag' or was it  or shag - I can't be sure - on either side of the entrance to the Connaught Rooms.   Anyway I think they were.   The confusion continued as I entered the main room and a woman politely tapped me on the shoulder.  "If this happened to me I would want someone to tell me," she said meaningfully looking into my eyes, pausing perhaps for me to finish the sentence for her.  Perhaps this was some sort of First Woman initiation I thought.   If it was I was failing.  "We can see your knickers." she said as if it were some sort of female Masonic code.    Thank you I said marching quickly to the ladies and making sure I looked knickerless which in the circumstances might have been more appropriate.

The man who introduced the proceedings said it was wonderful to be in a room of 75% women, so much more fun, so much more like a party.   Oh dear.    Shere Hite, who won the overall award, the internationally recognized expert in the field of psychosexual behaviour spoke hauntingly about her work and life admitting she had enabled women all over the world (and now in China) to realize and be comfortable in the knowledge that most women only come with clitoral stimulation.  Those two words hummed around the room for quite some time.   How could clitoral stimulation be bettered? The man who introduced the next award admitted he couldn't. Bless.    Every word of her speech was like a blistering bruise against a glass ceiling she had knocked against all her life so that others could follow without the criticism she had had to take.

Nothing really beat the big opener, although other high lights included one nominee being described as 'Queen of Drilling' which only our table thought was hilarious but perhaps we were still in clitoris mode.  And then there was the minister, Chloe Smith who presented the award to best First Woman in Finance (which Gina was up for).   She was allegedly demolished by Paxman on Newsnight a few nights ago (although I've just watched it and I just think she had a cough, was thirsty and was briefed by Osborne to not answer Paxman's questions which she did. They all do, just she didn't do it eloquently and has absolutely no charisma. She would probably procrastinate if you asked her what the time was).      This audience were gentler. She said very little and left, something that wasn't lost on host Clare Balding who thanked her and then said 'we'll leave it at that then." .   Theresa May, Home Secretary smiled and made a joke about specsavers but did little to motivate, inspire a nod or smile after that.

Each nominee was announced like a beauty Queen, which was odd and inappropriate.   Of all the speeches of the night that hit the right tone, Clare Balding possibly made the best mentioning author Nora Ephron who died of cancer this week. Ephron said women should be the heroine in their life, not the victim and make things happen in their life, not let things happen to them.    And that women should be trouble in life and if they haven't caused trouble by the time they're forty, they haven't lived their life right. I like that.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Email to a friend - 

I verged on hysterics this evening. thought I was having a breakdown.   I met some very talented people today
who are almost suicidal because they can't get their money out the bank and then learnt that Hester had stopped the bankers sipping champagne at Wimbledon because it was costing the tax payer £1m and thought it 
'inappropriate' as people couldn't get their money.  And now they've been caught for moving the interest rates to suit their own cause for years and years.  its not capitalism, it's criminal and it's theft.  I hate the bankers.  and I've just heard RBS are the next ones to be charged with interest rate rigging.   I'm so angry I could write a blog! 

Tony Blair edited the Standard today, his victory lap I suppose.   In a previous blog I suggested the best way to deal with anger, or I found the best way to deal with anger was to think of Tony Blair on a toilet. But it doesn't work any more, because now when I think of him on a toilet I realize the British public are the ones he is shitting on. Sarah Sands did London an incredible disservice by allowing him to edit the paper.

And Hester has said that it is not appropriate to entertain the clients at Wimbledon because it costs tax payers a million to do so, when they can't even get the money that the bank hasn't managed to call their own - yet.   The tangible hatred toward the City is well deserved. I just wish it would turn into something that would make them hurt as much as they have hurt business and commerce.   If they are going to be fined, fine them obscene amounts and choose where it comes from wisely. Take that money and give it to our state education system and our health system. Transfer it straight way. Don't allow the bankers to say they will donate the money for charitable purposes. Fuck that. Just take it and don't allow them their tax rebate for being charitable.  It's like saying well done to a thief for giving money away that he's just stolen from you.   Separate the investment from the retail arm so that the mortgage side is protected and the gamblers crash and burn as they should have done in 2008. I'm told if it is that simple they would have done it.   I don't believe that. I believe just like the Leverson Enquiry will be buried by a government that doesn't want mud on it's face, this will be buried too because the politicians and bankers are so intertwined - Christ some of the cabinet are ex bankers.

 My only fear is that when and if a revolution comes that the ones who don't deserve the anger - the shop owners, those who live in houses they can just about afford in areas they would prefer not to live in but that's all they can afford to buy or rent are the ones who get targeted. It happened last year it could happen again.

And silly me I turned on Newsnight.   The FSA have found out that Barclays have been breaking the Chinese Wall starting from 2009.  Well it's been going on way way before that FSA and on a much larger scale and every bank has done it.  They've been cheating the system and cheating the public and Diamond (year of Diamonds isn't it) Bob that is, not the Queen, was smiling smugly away saying he would forgo his bonus this year.   And the bank are paying some pittance as a penalty which as a Lord Livesey, who was interviewed  this evening, is pocket money to the bank.    It's a criminal offence they have committed and the government should take the money from their accounts and see for themselves what it is like for their customers to not have money which they feel is rightfully theirs.  They are thieves and liars and while the rest of us are labelled as such they get away with it and smile smugly.  The global system is wrong if it has allowed banks to have the power they have.   I tell my son that. He needs to know that this disparity in wealth isn't natural, hasn't been caused because of a capitalist system working at it's best, but because of corruption and greed.  I hope schools that have careers evenings don't allow bankers anywhere near their buildings nor universities, although they will soon be the only ones who can afford to send their kids there.

This is not capitalism.  This is something else.    Companies that got fat and greedy and ineffective in a capitalist state would fail.  Charitable donations would be made out of charity not because it's tax deductable.   To add insult to injury, the wealthy are giving to charity because it is tax deductable and patting themselves  on the back for their charitable ways when its our money they are giving away.   But the poor, those on lower income, still give more to charity, a larger percentage of their income than the rich ever do.    My son is watching this inequality and think it is natural, that it is the rule of supply and demand, of balancing balance sheets.  That's bull shit.   It's run by liars and cheats and Blair was and is the most revolting of them all.   I'm worried because my son will start to realize the shits get away with it in life. The bullies get away with it in life.  The liars get away with it in life and the cowards do and I don't want my son to grow up believing that.  Be the change you want to see in the world, I think that's what Gandhi said. Well the city has and it's all been about greed.    This country is run by weak men, the banks are run by weak men and it's the strong ones who tolerate the crap who are keeping it up.

Not sure how I will deal with my anger in future.   Blair on a toilet doesn't work for me any more.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


So much to write about so little time.   My birthday. Forty eight years young and gifts included a pair of high wedges which makes me look about six foot.  I'm not sure if this is a good look or not but at least  I 'm taller than Tom now who without them is taller than me (but only by an inch..or two). And Tom passed his common entrance with flying colours but I'm starting to sound like one of those painful round robin Christmas letters so I will stop there.

Last week, I went to Mauritius.   It was pouring it down in the UK and I got the commission and so I went and Tom went sky diving from 10,000 feet, seeing the island from a whole new perspective.   Knowing my son is jumping from a plane is far more nerve wrecking than doing it myself, which I have.  He absolutely loved it.   I recommend it to anyone who wants to sky dive. Skydive Austral are brilliant.  And we swam in the Indian Ocean and went out on a catamaran with lots of very enthusiastic Chinese who shouted every time they saw a dolphin, which was a lot. The island is beautiful, incredibly lush but only 3 1/2 % indigenous vegetation so some of the areas we four wheel drived round looked like a wild version of Richmond park complete with deer.

One of the journalists who went on the trip played golf and lost 24 balls.   He's a sports editor but that ball sport is not his game but he was fascinating to listen to with his inside stories, none of which are publishable because 'they can't be proven'.

And lastly attended an event launching the online newspaper The Steeple Times, written by Matthew Steeples, who has ruffled a lot of feathers already because he writes the truth.  God forbid anyone should do that, but I assured him he should continue.   After all when the Prime Minister talks of transparency, it's official to be online about the off the record stuff.   Held at Blakes Hotel which has wonderfully decadent bedrooms I am sure for wonderfully decadent clientele, it was very dark in the black, mirror and chrome basement, reminded me of a bachelor's pad, the sort of thing Spencer from Made In Chelsea would aspire to.

I talked to a journalist who worked for CBS who told me incredible stories he should put into a book but said he never will.   He was at the Berlin Wall when it went down (OK so were a lot of others but I was still impressed), and there when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot dead and at a host of other events.   He told me those stories, I told him the time I found one of the first families to escape Kuwait when it was annexed.    

It was also there I met a commodities trader called Haymer, although I doubt thats how it's spelt.   We talked of banks and conspiracy theories.  He thinks JFK were killed by the mafia. I think Diana was killed but don't know who did it.   He feels the banks should have been allowed to crash in 2008, although that's easy to say now. Especially if you work in the financial sector as you've made your money and got ours and can be all knowing because you've hidden it in some off shore fund no one can touch or find.   He also mentioned that it will only get worse and the banks should be allowed to crash now rather than later. (I think he's put a bet on that one.).   And that the RBS technical hiccup (their computer says nooooo....) is because they are bankrupt and they are hiding something. I don't have a clue what they're hiding.

"Greece will be out of the euro." he predicts, "All the wealthy Greeks have taken their money out of Greece, will wait till the country crashes and will go in again and buy up everything. The same thing will start to happen in the UK.  Those who can will take their money out and the working class and the middle classes who have a loyalty to their bank and a mortgage to pay will be the poor bastards who suffer."   I got the feeling I was the only 'poor bastard' in that room.

Monday, 28 May 2012


In celebrating a Diamond Queen, who is made of the hardest material you can possibly find, remember the real Diamond Queen, the authentic thing, who tried to bring some humanity to a family who have absolutely nothing to do with everyday life and remain as remote from the world as they were pre Diana.

The reason we are celebrating this year is ironically because of the interest Diana created in the Royals. It was the woman the Royals vilified that has kept the interest and support of this archaic and out of touch establishment alive. They are too pompous to acknowledge it, but it's the truth.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


There seems to be a plethora of stories in the papers about how long you should breast feed for. A woman has allegedly breast fed her daughter till eight, or was it seven. There's lots of debate if this is in bad taste or just good economic sense and lots of discussion about the importance of bonding.   From a travel perspective, if a mother is breast feeding it's a Godsend.  No bottles no sterilization, in most countries barring some states in the US and some parts of this country, the cultures are much more relaxed about breast feeding mums in public.  It's not only healthwise one of the best gifts you can give to your baby, but on a practical level when traveling it makes the mother's life so much easier.    I've produced a guide to traveling with babies and toddlers in conjunction with Persil.  Have a look at the attached guide which includes top tips for making the most of your travels with your baby.  

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


Was that documentary 56 up meant to be depressing?   It was supposed to give an insight into social history. The public school boys for the most part chose not to continue to be featured in the documentary probably because they've joined the Masons, are in the law, the city and are self aware enough to know they would appear smug and pompous.   And ultimately make the documentary even more depressing than it already is, revealing the extent of the divide between the haves and have nots.

What with watching that documentary and the news recently which seems to be a odd mixture of relentless rain, Olympic cheer, Jubilee Celebration and admiring Kate Middleton's latest outfit, combined with the tragedy that is Syria, the deaths in Afghanistan, the M15 guy found in a suitcase and parents killing their children, reasons never being explained, plus the news of the continual infighting allegedly between nations on whether the euro is going to sink or swim I'm wondering what the hell is going on.

The cobweb of lies going on between the law, the city, the police, certain parts of the media, in this country and globally actually, seems to have got so complicated and convoluted, the guilty, corrupt and stupid are being seen as guilty, corrupt and stupid almost as if even the manipulators are confused now.   The cobweb - the establishment and systems are redundant.  Why can't we just get rid of the web. We are the spiders after all.  And now Rebekka Brooks has been accused of perverting the course of justice.   (btw, what is the actual definition of that?   Justice that is.  I always realised it was relative but it's becoming utterly non sensical and meaningless.  Anything the government uses as a buzz word or phrase always becomes meaningless.   It was family values, now it's transparency).  All we need now is for a high court judge to be found in a bath house with CEO of an international bank and perhaps that will start the dominos falling, family values and transparency and all.     Please Ms Brooks start spilling the beans.  I don't know if you did pervert the course of justice but I bet you know an awful lot of very powerful people who do....

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Just watched five mins of This Morning which don't have or make the time to do normally but first there was Penny Junor who was dissing Princess Diana for being a mother who was more like a big sister to her kids because she didn't have a good role model, and then there was Liz Jones from the Mail, who was dissing women for behaving less like mothers for having kids, and not focusing on their work.   I admit I enjoyed seeing the usually extremely placid Holly Willoughby wanting to lean over - especially with LJ - and punch her.  I know both girls got their words in the Daily Mail, a paper for women who have self esteem issues and subconsciously want to chip it away even more.   Having written for it in the past I know that's the case (the first about a bullying relationship in a marriage and the second about bullying relationships in the playground), so it's features are about bullying but they also manage to intimidate those reading them at the same time. About abuse for the abused, while abusing them.     Not sure if that is evil or commercial.

Junor has always been very pro Pro Charles and fortunately people know she's pro Charles. I expect despite all the media hype about trying to make him and Camilla more popular it still ain't working, so having a dig at Diana's ability as a mother is really a last ditch attempt to get rid of the ghost.  Shoddy one. Guarantee there will be articles on how fab and balanced and successful Camilla's brood have been. Point is, so have Diana's so far.  Which is more than you can say for the nannies who looked after Charles, Anne, Edward and Andrew.   (will I get beheaded for saying that??)

As for LJ saying she wouldn't employ women of child bearing age, I understand it's very frustrating for employers who invest time and money and then the woman goes off and gets pregnant and has a baby.   She says that happened to her a lot when she was an editor of a fashion magazine.

But in both cases it's women attacking women.   It shouldn't be that way.   I remember I interviewed the late Barbara Cartland for tv and radio long time ago. She told me women should never read the news as their voice lacked authority and they should be in the home looking after their man, although she managed to keep down a job as a prolific writer.   And there was another Barbara. Barbara Castle, who I interviewed at the anniversary of the suffragette movement.  She'd just written her autobiography and there were loads of women (few men) asking her to sign their copies.    I asked questions of her (for the Standard actually, part of the same group as the Mail) and at the end she thanked me, told me I was a very good interviewer.   "women in journalism lose their femininity, they feel they need to be tougher, harder, more ruthless than men. And they are more ruthless with their own sex than they are with the opposite. That is a mistake."  she said.  "Stay the way you are feminine.    Femininity is all about strength, real strength, not arrogance."  I thanked her. I wasn't going to get a book but I did.    She wrote in her book 'never let it be a man's world'.  That was over twenty six or so years ago now.    I think we're going backwards.   Come on girls, be good to one another.   Then the men will follow.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


Interviewed by Jo Pembroke at Radio Gorgeous today to talk about infidelity.   Really enjoyed it and think I talked some sense and spilled some beans.

Sunday, 29 April 2012


Rainy weekend so visited the Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern.  A tight retrospective of his work I think the brochure said, which I suppose means he had to choose the best of the best - I don't know if this meant the most iconic, most expensive but I took my 13 year old with me who's observations are always revealing.    It's the sort of exhibition you wouldnt want to come alive at night (Night in the Museum style) what with it's sharks, mass of dead and alive flies, cut in half cows, calves, sheep, although I liked the butterflies.   He seems to be fascinated by life and death but even more so by decay.  The cigarette buts, things in the process of rotting (the smell of cigarettes decaying is revolting) and the fascination with pills and potions to keep us artificially alive  (kept reminding me of Will Self's 'how the dead live) - as are the sharks and cows in their  glass coffins waiting to be kissed.  But the exhibition made every visitor think and stare and chat which is what art should do.   He's fiercely commercial which I know many sceptics say make him a fraud. I don't think that's true. Just because Hirst has his eye on the bottom line all the time doesn't make him less talented, just perhaps more focused on what he feels will sell rather than what he wants to produce - which I suppose could be in itself what sells.  This doesn't make him less talented, just shallow.  

It's his mid life retrospective I suppose.   Most of us have crisis he has a retrospective - or perhaps that's what mid life crisis is all about - looking back and going 'agh' what have I done/not done/achieved/who can I blame.  He can't blame any one. He's made money, friends, contacts, been hailed by the likes of Blair as being fulcrul to the whole cool Britannia - creative and commercial not impoverished artist who dies in obscurity and realises his success only when dead a long time.  Perhaps it's just a personality thing and people don't like the person which is completely different - the dislike of Hirst is personal not professional.   I found the butterfly stain glass window stunning and beautiful and morbid and ugly at the same time but from the blurb on the walls there he seems to want to contradict himself a lot.   His work is accessible and popularist which is good.   Some of it is nonsense - the wall cabinet, the first thing you see painted in Dulux (which sponsored him at Art school I am told) is an 'exhibit'. Tom wanted to open it but I said you couldn't. Pity, it would probably have SUCKER written in large black Dulux paint inside.

We watched a programme on Sky Arts about it when we got home and Damien talking about his work walking around the spaces we had.  He talked about selling his work direct to the market and making millions. That shows an incredible business acumen, self belief, possibly arrogance, although he described it as part of the art of and in itself as the art was to do with worth and value and gold and diamonds. Making his art perform for him so I supposed that makes him a performing artist.     He's a billionaire so he doesn't need to care what others think of him now, not that I'm sure he ever did which is unusual for creative types.   They tend to have they layer of empathy that reaches out to people but perhaps money changes all that.   For what it's worth my 13 year old thinks his work is more to do with science than art and people's sense of the ridiculous and appreciation of the eccentric. And that it has no soul.   Hirst didn't have a room for 'soul'. Perhaps he never will.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Fifty Shades of Jealousy

Well done to the lady who wrote 50 Shades of Grey which is being blogged, talked about and by the 'academics' criticised for it's poor quality prose.  It's jealousy.   Your book has made an awful lot of money and there are some beautifully written books out there that haven't made a penny.  The book has tapped into not just the mood of the moment, but probably for the past three to four years.    Writers focus on the fact that the heroine is submissive, rather than the fact she's allowing herself to be submissive which is totally different.    Three years ago, fashion led the way with the proliferation of pink, short skirts, and the doll like quality of style icons (Cheryl Cole, Victoria Beckham) both of whom, at under five four, look like dolls rather than women.   Very bright, ambitious, opportunistic, (think Cowell described Cole like a beautiful cat playing with a mouse (him being the mouse), their qualities of vulnerability are focused on, their beauty rather than their brains - what they look like rather than what they say.  OK this is probably mainly because with Cole, when she opens her mouth it rather destroys the illusion of the Audrey Hepburnesque beauty and Beckham who tries to be enigmatic by not saying much and not smiling but just comes across as boring, which is an achievement considering how much she has achieved.   Neither are submissive but both play that way.  As do many women who are obsessive about control.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


I visited the London Book Fair last week which was fascinating. I expected it to be down beat, ebooks having chipped away allegedly at the traditional publishing market, booksellers being limited to now just Waterstones, the supermarkets reducing the number of books they take in and everyone being encouraged to support their local independent book seller - of which there are quite a few where I live.   The talk was of J K Rowling's grown up comedy novel and another lady's best selling bonk buster that she self published on the internet and has sold millions and according to twitter saved many marriages and sex lives.  Forget the joy of sex, lets hear it for the joy of writing about it because everyone seems to be having a go - writing about it that is.

Despite my expectations, the overall feeling was very positive. People are reading, they are reading more, just using different ways to read.    Romantic novels, with the impossibly slushy heroines and the dominant and forceful heroes are being read on kindles by people who wouldn't be seen dead reading them if others could see the cover of the book.  This is not porn but they are reading it like porn.

And only this week we learnt Tom Bower's unauthorized biography of Simon Cowell, the affairs picked up on more than the numerous good works he does and the uber intelligence and ambition of this media mogul.    So it was win win all round for sexy fiction.  

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


I saw Tony Blair on TV yesterday. He was in America I think, looking very busy, but had time to stop and talk to the reporters about how our government should not cap the amount of tax you can offset against donations. He has a right to his opinion, but come on, of what importance is his opinion?   Why does the BBC and ITV and Sky need to put a camera in front of him and ask his opinion?   Of what value is it? I think they probably did it to wind up the masses even more.  I think if they'd have got Fred Goodwin that would have got the masses marching.   TB is paid by extremely wealthy people who work and own extremely wealthy companies to discuss how he managed to teflon coat himself and still come out alive and rich, and how they can do the same.   I think even they are in utter awe of his ability to come out on top when really, in a saner world, he wouldn't be where he is today. No wonder Goldman Sachs came out with the comment about doing God's work, I think they had just been lectured to by TB.     I thought it was a joke when news was announced he was being sent to the Middle East on some sort of peace keeping mission.   Then again perhaps they thought by sending him out there someone would shoot him but no one has.      Blair looks increasingly demonic these days although I'm sure he still believes he is doing good work - well he is still alive so I think he must think that - after all those who make the most money only do so because they are worthy of it, yes?  Honest, decent, law abiding, tax paying (well within the law as it is now) transparent types who are philanthropic asking for nothing in return because giving of itself is enough.   And in these times of transparency no one, least of all the wealthy have anything to hide.   Which is of course utter rubbish.   It's always been utter rubbish but at least when we didn't know about it, it didn't wind the tax paying, charity contributing without getting recognition rest of us up so much.    I don't think they should receive any tax relief to give to charities.  I feel there shouldn't be a need for charities if you think about it.  There should be sufficient for the government to give out to those who need it, but then I suppose it would be the government playing God rather than the super wealthy, power hungry who feel they deign to give and hold back when and how they chose.   But at least the government wouldn't ask for a pay back, and there's no super wealthy power hungry people in politics right?  

And any way, I'm told that the super rich give only a teeny weeny percentage of their wealth to charity compared to those on say £30k a year.    I have visited resorts where guests have hired the £10k villas a night and the ones next door not for privacy but for security. These people have money to burn but have also burnt a lot of people on the way to get there. Perhaps that's why TB is in such demand as a lecturer.  They want to know how he's managed to get the tax payer to pay for the other two villas on the side. 

In the meantime, I've found a cure for rich rage.    Think of Tony Blair on a toilet.    I guarantee all emotion will completely leave you.   A sense of utter indifference overwhelms you.   While waiting for the second coming think of TB on the toilet.   Constipated.