Issue 10: Winter 2010
Reader Survey p2
New Columns aviation and polo p14 & p27
German in High Heels p21
Nicky Haslam’s guide to being the ‘Perfect House Guest’ p19
Richard Eyre on Feydeau p32
sordidus et olidus, sed etiam habet multas res smashingae
Bryan Ferry on Manet p36
Ecce, mundus est
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year He’s no Angel Gabriel, but inestimable emissary Nick Foulkes is the best possible mortal to deliver FQR’s Christmas Message “All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician and ridiculous to the philosopher.” nd before you start getting cross, don’t blame me: I could never come up with something half as clever, as epigrammatic and as sweeping as that. This was the work of Lucretius, whose bestselling De Rerum Natura made him very much the Richard Dawkins of his day – his day being somewhere around the first century BC. Perhaps, like me, Lucretius was forced to attend chapel rather too frequently while he was at school. I seem to remember going to chapel a few mornings a week, with chapel practice on Saturdays and then the full monty on Sunday night. However, much as the chaplain and masters tried to wean me off Christianity by exposing me to long and tedious sermons, they only succeeded in inculcating a mild and vacillating agnosticism. By contrast, whoever it was who went to work on Lucretius did a fine job of religion aversion, prompting him to pen such lines as, “Muchextolled Religion has too frequently given birth to criminal and impious deeds; as when at Aulis the chosen leaders of the Greeks, the chief of men, foully stained the altar of the virgin Trivia with the blood of Iphigenia.” I say, steady on, old chap, all this talk of bloodstained altars, impiety and virgins is a bit early-Seventies Hammer House of Horror. (Talking of which, you could always get me a copy of Dracula AD 1972 for Christmas). I think that the chief problem with muscular
atheists is that they protest too much. I know that religion has always been a teensy weensy bit controversial: the Crusades; the Spanish Inquisition; The Thirty Years War; the Albigensian Heresy; the Partition of India; settling differences of opinion by burning people at the stake and our current difficulties with the bearded gentlemen in the hills of Afghanistan are just one or two of the more contentious moments – but I am sure you can think of your own examples. Nevertheless, I do find that ramming one’s atheism down someone else’s throat is just as tiresome as having someone trying to convert one to Roman Catholicism at a dinner party or, for that matter, someone doing as I am now and dragging religion into Christmas, a time when we should traditionally abandon ourselves to gluttony, greed and bickering with loved ones in front of the television. But bear with me if you can. One of the enduring ironies is that while the modern state of America may have had its roots in religion with the Pilgrim Fathers, it has seen fit to expunge Christmas and replace it with the generic term “Holiday”. And I think that is a shame. You see, I feel that religion – at least, the Christian faith as we practise or fail to practise it in the Old World – has an enduring value and charm as a social custom; it is more or less harmless. I have no idea what the statistical information on this is like, and I am of the firm opinion that the best sort of journalism uses as few facts (invented or even true) as possible, so I am going out on a limb here, but I would hazard the absolute foggiest of vague guesses that in the developed world, religious violence kills rather fewer people than, say, cardiovascular disease or malignant neoplasms. And while not entirely harmless, driving under the influence of religion, with, say, a St Christopher medallion affixed to the dashboard, or some form of religious symbol dangling from
the rear-view mirror, is probably less of a risk than getting behind the wheel of one’s motor vehicle ❄ after a couple of pints of refreshing methylated spirits, a festive pipe or two of “cracked cocaine” or even a magnum of Cheval Blanc 1982. Indeed, the Church has very strong ideas about alcohol consumption – next time you take Communion, just try asking the padre for a refill. Cycling around London with its beautiful ecclesiastical buildings (if you have not visited the church on Farm Street, you must) or watching the Easter Parades in Spain, I am charmed by the sense of being linked to a common history. Sadly, I may not be able to convince myself of the existence of a supreme being created in part by Walt Disney and in part by Holman Hunt, but it does not mean that I cannot appreciate the historical legacy left by those who had a rather clearer idea of these things than I do. esides, even when they change hands, sites of religious interest become palimpsests of human experience – whether as the cathedral of Constantinople, a mosque, or now as a museum, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is still, whichever way you look at it, an impressive piece of work. Traces of religion are everywhere: our year is still demarcated by religious festivals and, in a world that is increasingly fragmented, Christmas remains an experience that we can all share and relate to, even if only as the narrative glue binding together the strands of the modern Decameron that is Love Actually. You see, for all its bad press, religion has actually done a fair bit of… well… good. I am not thinking here of going out and converting the heathen (a handy term for those who believe a different set of fairy tales than we do, and who don’t drive Bentleys or don’t shoot with Purdey or Holland & Holland guns), but rather of the buildings, the paintings, the poetry and the music. It may seem to be stating the obvious, but without Christmas,
n s in H
there would be no ‘White Christmas’ along with Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ and Wizzard’s ‘I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday’, while Bing Crosby’s joyful masterpiece is surely one of the greatest gifts that the Feast of the Birth of our Saviour has bequeathed humanity. And if you remain unmoved by the warm tones of “the Bingle” reminding you of glistening tree tops and the Christmases you used to know, then consider the learning and scholarship. As anyone who has ever seen the film The Name of the Rose or tried to read the book of the film will tell you, the Dark Ages were, well, rather gloomy and, to put not too fine a point on it, a bit shit. In fact, the only places where any sort of learning was kept alive, in Europe at least, were the monasteries. Indeed, had it not been for farsighted clerics like Sean Connery in his monk’s habit preserving ancient learning, we would still be living in wattle-and-daub huts instead of spending Christmas in Mustique with our smart friends. Maybe Lucretius would not agree, and I don’t know about you, but speaking for myself, anything that takes me to a nice, sunny part of the world at a gloomy time of year can only be a very, very good thing… Merry Christmas. ❄Yes, it remains a sad indictment of the unfairness in our society that some people have to drive themselves rather than employing a driver in a peaked cap – and it is this sort of blatant injustice that I am sure David Cameron is working night and day to correct with his fairer, bigger society and in this he has the backing of FQR and, in particular, our proprietor Charles, who, in order to show solidarity with the plight of the chauffeurless at Christmas, has sent his driver on holiday and made his wife operate the controls of the ancestral Bentley. Nick Foulkes is the editorial director of the FQR Group of Publications and Editor in Chief of Finch’s Quarterly Review
No Common Census
to Bethlehem and sleep rough in a stable. If you want to, you can send your completed form back …in which FQR’s esteemed to Finch HQ by donkey, but the post will do, or you can get your valet to drop it round when editorial director, Nick he is picking up your new tweeds from Kent & Foulkes, brings tidings of great Haste. Now, I know what you are thinking: we are joy to all Finchland’s readers “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree going to gather all this incredibly important that a census should be taken of the entire Roman List the following Where do you place the Favoured religious beverage: information and then we are going to sell this world. (This was the first census that took place resorts in order of monogram on your shirt: Communion wine ☐ vital demographic treasure trove to an internet while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And preference: below left nipple ☐ Kool aid ☐ marketing company, who will be in touch to sell everyone went to his own town to register.” St Moritz ☐ just above trouser waistband ☐ Virgin’s blood ☐ you everything from Viagra to cable TV. Well, t least, that is the way that the Gospel of Mustique ☐ on the tail ☐ you have Charles’s word that we won’t… at least, Luke in the “New International Version” Marbella ☐ Favoured Classical Author: not unless we are really hard up. puts it. The King James version has bit Tobacco product of choice: Tacitus ☐ You see, it is all part of our new five-year plan more flourish in the “And it came to pass…” How many day’s Cohiba behike ☐ Aristophanes ☐ to deliver limitless riches. The trouble is that if department. For some reason, various American shooting on average Davidoff Dom Perignon Virgil ☐ FQR is a cash cow, we have not yet worked out versions have it down as an enrolment; the do you get a year: (circa 1980s) ☐ how to milk it and, by filling in our questionnaire Wycliffe version talks of this census in terms of a under 20 ☐ Snuff ☐ Preferred disaster movie: you will be helping us inch slightly closer to our “description”, but don’t forget that John Wycliffe around 40 ☐ Towering Inferno ☐ Croesan dreams. If you won’t do it for me, do it – as distinct from Wyclef Jean – was translating over 60 ☐ Preferred artist: Earthquake ☐ for Charles; I can’t bear to think of him going the Bible in the 14th century). Christian Berrard ☐ Beyond Poseidon without his summers in Amalfi and his winters However, as FQR is a new and decidedly Favourite Duke: Sir Frank Brangwyn ☐ Adventure II ☐ in the Bahamas. international publication, it is natural that we Connaught ☐ Anything that Fabien says ☐ By telling us your preferred choice of timepiece, should choose the New International Version of Hazzard ☐ Preferred country of the name of the man who cuts your shirt collars, events – although I am sure that the entire New Windsor ☐ Preferred educational incorporation: the last time you had a pair of shoes made and Testament is by now available as a single tweet, that establishment: Cayman Islands ☐ so on, we will be able to build up a detailed and there is an iPad app for downloading the census of What is your SocioLe Rosey ☐ Panama ☐ informed picture of you, dear reader. We can then Caesar Augustus and then overlaying its results on Economic Group: Yale ☐ Delaware ☐ do what they did before the Iraq war and sex up Google Maps. And I daresay that one is able to Oligarch ☐ Home tutor ☐ that data, massage those statistics and send it off follow the Nativity as a fan on Facebook. Plutocrat ☐ Preferred George: to our advertisers. I can see it now: “97 per cent Even those of us whose Biblical scholarship is Noblemen/other ☐ Preferred musical choice: Eliot ☐ of the readers of Finch’s Quarterly Review have a trifle rusty will recall that Joseph of Nazareth Poulenc ☐ Michael ☐ four or more domestic servants”; “73 per cent and his wife Mary were required in Bethlehem Which best describes Englebert Humperdinck ☐ The fine Mark Birley shoot more than 60 days a year”; “four per cent for the census “because he belonged to the house your Principal Wizzard ☐ founded dining have been convicted of murder in the past three and line of David” and, of course, the rest of the Residence: establishment years”… This level of insight will have us fighting story – shepherds, angels, wise men bearing gifts Stately home ☐ When my car breaks down I: in Mayfair ☐ off the advertisers with a stick – not that we aren’t (we particularly love the gifts) and so on – is Small Monaco ring Jack Barclay for already overrun by them as it is. If you don’t have familiar enough. apartment for a new one ☐ Preferred Tailor: the time, please feel free to get your gamekeeper But it is on the census that I wish to dwell. It is accounting purposes ☐ dismiss my chauffer ☐ Mariano Rubinacci ☐ or butler to fill it in on your behalf. Alternatively, one of the touching tenets of the vestigial classical The Empire Suite have the Planquin Terry Haste ☐ ring up Tom Chamberlin at FQR and have him education that I received, drummed into me of the Carlyle Hotel ☐ brought round ☐ Huntsman ☐ complete it for you. And if you are not sure by various of my Latin teachers (including the about what to answer, do not to hesitate to make splendidly named Mr Trappes-Lomax), that the Preferred Restaurant: Favoured swimwear and Favoured shirt maker: something up… as long as it burnishes the already Romans invented everything from the hypocaust Riva ☐ mountaineering brand: Charvet ☐ lambent reputation of FQR. Mark’s Club ☐ Chucs ☐ Budd ☐ to the iPad and that I would probably still be Nor are we expecting you to do this out of a Scotts ☐ Chucs ☐ Emma Willis ☐ daubing myself with woad and be writing this disinterested sense of civic duty. As Christmas is Chucs ☐ with a sharp stone on the back wall of my cave, coming, Charles had a word with Santa and he were it not for the Pax Romana. A pax that, by has got his hands on some wonderful presents for the way, seemed to have been achieved only with you – provided, of course, you have been good a lot of bellum. citizens of Finchland and filled in your forms. However, while the Romans may have been dab hands at knocking up aqueducts and building And so, shortly after the festivities have finished (and when he is back from the Caribbean), Charles roads, their civil service was not that well organised. With the greatest respect to my former Classics will be drawing names out of his silk top hat and deciding who will be winning some truly stunning masters, the guys in togas had simply no idea about how to organise a census. Imagine deciding to prizes. I have no idea what these prizes are, but I imagine there will be a lovely IWC wristwatch; the hold a demographic survey right before Christmas – as if Joseph did not have enough on his plate, chance to go on holiday with Kevin Spacey; some Piaget jewellery for the woman in your life (and what with closing up the shop for the Christmas holidays, and his fiancée pregnant too. Yet the poor some highly practical white goods for the wife); gallons of Chanel eaux de parfum – the list goes man saddled up the donkey, strapped the heavily pregnant about-to-be Mrs Joseph on its back and set on… off to Bethlehem, where, of course, it being Christmas, it was difficult to get a room. You see, unlike the Romans, we like to do things with a certain style. We know your time is precious, I mention this because, taking a leaf or, rather, a clay tablet or scroll from the book of the Romans, and we know you like nice things, so good luck. As a father myself, and having been present at the FQR is holding Finchland’s first census. I know Christmas is coming, you are getting in training for the birth of both my children, I can’t help thinking that dear old Joseph would have been a lot happier Cresta and all that, but think of it this way: all we are asking you to do is to tick a few boxes denoting had he had the chance to win a smashing new watch or the prospect of a fortnight in the sun to look your favourite things and generally giving us all sorts of highly sensitive and personal details about forward to, to keep his spirits up while his wife gave birth in a stable and a bunch of richly attired your life and the way you choose to lead it – there’s no need to leave your home on Christmas Eve, go strangers and agricultural labourers barged in for a quick gawp at the future saviour of mankind.
Proprietor’s Spouse: Sydney Ingle-Finch
Proprietor: Charles Finch Editor in Chief: Nick Foulkes
Art Director: Tristram Fetherstonhaugh
Contributing editors: Vicki Reeve, Simon de Pury, Tom Stubbs, Kevin Spacey, Emma Thompson, Saffron Aldridge, L’Wren Scott, Stephen Pulvirent (mississippi steamboat correspondent) Deputy Editor: Emilia Hungerford Editor at Large: Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis Aviation Editor: Nettie Mason Entrepreneur at Large: James Caan Liberal at Large: Matthew Modine Literary Editor: John Malkovich Fine Arts Editor: Charles Saumarez Smith Photography Editor: Patrick Fetherstonhaugh Film Editor: Adam Dawtrey Highland Editor (19th Century): Charlie Gladstone Travel Editor: Kate Lenahan Cookery Editor: Maya Even Racing Editor: The Hon. Harry Herbert Polo Editor: James McBride Hunting Editor: Reza Rashidian PA to the Proprietor: Tiffany Grayson The FQR Group of Publications including: FQR Art; FQR Style; FQR Living Well, FQR Big Game Hunter, Game Shot and Conservation; FQR Equestrian Life; FQR Ocean Wave incorporating Nautical Style; FQR Home and Hearth; FQR Paranormal; FQR Faith (Formerly FQR Monotheism in the Modern Age); www.finchsquarterly.com Chief Executive: Charles Finch Editorial Director: Nick Foulkes Creative Director: Tristram Fetherstonhaugh Commercial Director: Jonathan Sanders, Chief Financial Officer: Adam Bent Designed and produced by Fetherstonhaugh Associates www.fetherstonhaugh.com The views expressed in Finch’s Quarterly Review are not necessarily those of the editorial team. The editorial team is not responsible or liable for text, pictures or illustrations, which remain the responsibility of the authors. Finch’s Quarterly Review is fully protected by copyright and nothing may be printed, translated or reproduced wholly or in part without written permission. Next issue: February 2011. All advertising and subscription enquiries should be sent for the attention of Tom Chamberlin: email@example.com Tel: +44 (0)20 7851 7140.
FQR Winter Sports Film Special
Winter Sports on Celluloid
have a confession to make. It may disqualify me from the coveted post of film critic, or even teaboy, at Finch’s Quarterly Review, but so be it. I don’t ski. Nor do I skate, and I have never ridden a skeleton head-first down the Cresta Run. I’m sure Charles cuts a dashing cashmereclad figure on the slopes, and I strongly suspect that Nick can throw a thrilling triple toe loop when he takes to the ice in handstitched Lycra at Somerset House every Christmastide. But, regrettably, my total experience of winter sports, as with so many aspects of life, comes from watching the movies. That has left me with the impression that any sport designed to be conducted in temperatures below freezing is either stupidly dangerous – it seems impossible to venture down the piste without being pursued by black-clad, machine-gun-toting maniacs – or inherently comic. Given that winter sports are based on the premise that the faster you go, the more likely you are to die, it’s apt how well the subject lends itself to slapstick. As the old saying goes: “If I fall down, that’s tragedy; if you fall down, that’s comedy” – particularly if you are wearing a skintight bodysuit at the time. Maybe it’s just that going up a mountain is a noble endeavour, but coming down again, however fast, will always smack of anticlimax. That’s not even to mention those hivernal activities that barely seem to qualify as sport, such as curling, memorably described as “extreme housework”, or cross-country skiing, which is simply a way of getting to the shops when you’ve run out of milk in Finland. It must be admitted that the essential incongruity of performing athletic feats on snow or ice hasn’t lent itself to great cinematic art. But there are laughs, a few thrills and spills and some halfforgotten gems. Here’s a selection of movies to watch with a glass of Glühwein as the cold nights close in.
Blades of Glory Will Ferrell is a funny guy, although there’s something about the way he relentlessly ironises his characters that gets exhausting across a whole movie. Blades of Glory isn’t his best film, but there’s still plenty of comic value in his pairing with Jon Heder as rival figure skaters who form an all-male pairing to get around their lifetime bans from the sport. Ferrell is leatherclad bad boy Chazz Michael Michaels, Heder the uptight perfectionist taught to skate by nuns at his orphanage. Fans of Saturday Night Live will enjoy Amy Poehler and Will Arnett, real-life wife and husband, playing the incestuous brother/sister team who will stop at nothing to win gold. Slap Shot Ice hockey is the biggest sub-genre of winter-sports movies, which is of limited appeal to most Brits. Notable titles include Miracle (about the US amateur team that beat the mighty USSR in the 1980 Olympics), Mystery, Alaska (with a young Russell Crowe) and The Mighty Ducks (which spawned its own NHL franchise). George Roy Hill’s Slap Shot from 1977 is definitely worth a second look, and not only because it stars Paul Newman. Cynical, violent, sexist and sometimes hilarious, it mixes satire, slapstick and gritty social realism in its depiction of a failing small-town ice hockey team that discovers the only way to win is to play rough and dirty. Downhill Racer From Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid. Robert Redford stars as the golden boy of the slopes, and did all his own skiing for the film. Ski movies are surprisingly rare, and this curio from 1969 didn’t exactly
Cool Runnings Very loosely based on a true story, this amiable comedy stars John Candy as a washed-up bobsleigh coach who enters a Jamaican team for the 1988 Winter Olympics. It was a big box-office hit with audiences, who lapped up its predictably inspirational underdog schtick, and weren’t bothered by the shameless milking of the usual Rasta stereotypes.
encourage Hollywood to make any more. Paramount didn’t have a clue how to market this dark study of what it takes to achieve sporting success. Redford’s character is a self-absorbed and emotionally disconnected, yet these are also the qualities that bring him victory. Redford was so frustrated by the studio’s handling of the movie that he created the Sundance Film Institute to promote independent filmmaking. Sun Valley Serenade This could have been One In A Million or Thin Ice, or Everything Happens At Night, or any of the dozen movies starring the Norwegian Olympic ice-skating gold medallist Sonja Henie. Henie is mostly forgotten now, but she was once one of Hollywood’s highest-earning stars. The musical romance Sun Valley Serenade from 1941 is her most enduring, featuring a lavish ice dance, a rare acting role by Glenn Miller, and Dorothy Dandridge doing the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. The Cutting Edge Most significant as the screenwriting début of Tony Gilroy, who went on to script the Bourne franchise and write and direct Michael Clayton, The Cutting Edge is a romance about a spoilt ice-dancing diva who can’t find a skating partner, so her coach forces her to try out an ice-hockey goalie who retired through injury. It’s hate at first sight - always a good recipe for eventual love and Olympic triumph. Men With Brooms ❄ Only the Canadians, and maybe the Scots, would make a movie about curling. “There’s more than one way to sweep a woman off her feet!” was the tagline. Men With Brooms was written and directed by Paul Gross, who also starred (he was known for playing the lead in the successful Canadian TV series Due South). I must confess I haven’t seen the film, described as an offbeat comedy about smalltown life, but I’m including it here for curiosity value. Eddie The Eagle This film doesn’t exist yet, but it should. Steve Coogan was attached years ago to play Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, the bespectacled English buffoon who became far more famous than any mere gold medallist when he came last in the ski jump at the 1988 Olympics. Thus far, the financing has stubbornly refused to come together for producer John Heyman, but surely this is a film the world is crying out for – and the recent casting of Rupert Grint will no doubt help things along. Adam Dawtrey is Finch’s Quarterly Review’s film critic ❄ FQR’s Festive Favourite
Courtesy of TheReel Poster Gallery
Winter sports in the movies? It’s downhill all the way, says Adam Dawtrey
Simon Khachadourian on his passion for Art-Deco wintersports posters
s is the case with many things, it was the ❄ legendary and innovative Mark Birley who (in this country at least) set the trend for collecting vintage posters. As any habitué of Harry’s Bar and Annabel’s knows, the poster collection Mark assembled from the 1960s onwards has been used to stunning decorative effect. The collection is especially important as it dates from a time where very little information was available to poster collectors. Without reference books, auctions or the internet, the only resources at Mark’s disposal were a keen eye for timeless, pure design and an instinct for quality and rarity. No surprise, then, that he built up probably the best extant collection of vintage Art-Deco wintersports posters. It was Mark who encouraged me to start offering vintage winter-sports subjects in Pullman’s growing inventory almost 20 years ago. Many of these images are dramatic in the extreme – highly stylised graphic renderings of grand Alpine resorts, downhill skiing races, bobsleigh runs and other winter-sports pursuits set in all the “right” places (usually Swiss, from Gstaad to St Moritz and points between), all redolent of an âge d’or sadly long since passed. Swiss artists led the way in most areas of poster art, with Carl Moos (1878-1959) and Charles
Kuhn (1901-1975) – his legendary “Snowman” image created to promote the 1929/30 season at St Moritz is one of the most valuable of all – amongst the names to look out for. It is Emil Cardinaux (1877-1936), however, whose posters combine all the great ingredients of the best winter-sports posters, and which consistently achieve the highest prices today – his work includes the stunning Davos “Bobsleigh” poster from 1918 and several superb posters created for St Moritz between 1910 and 1925. Arguably his masterpiece, the early-1920s “Winter in Switzerland” is rare in the extreme, with only five examples known. Collecting vintage posters should really be considered in the same way as philately – as with stamps, posters were printed in relatively large numbers (print runs of usually at least 1,000), but most were necessarily destroyed when removed from billboards. The survival rate of vintage posters in good or better condition is therefore extremely low, with only a few examples of the most desirable posters being known to exist. Consequently, values for the best pieces have grown dramatically over the past decade or so… and don’t just blame Pullman for this – Christie’s has held its annual Ski Sale for about 12 years now, and hammer prices for the finest posters often exceed their estimates by a factor of five or more (and that’s before you add buyers’ fees of 30 per cent on top), with really rare pieces often selling for £20,000 to £30,000.
As with stamp collecting, it pays to buy the best pieces available – you get what you pay for, and nondescript and/or plentiful posters are as cheap now as they were a decade ago, but then, they always will be. Important factors to consider include the artistic merit of the piece, the artist responsible, the poster’s condition and, of course, the resort and activity depicted. Posters with bobsleighing or ski-jumping at Davos, Gstaad or St Moritz will always be more collectable than, say, those promoting Rochersde-Naye, Andermatt or Flims, lovely as these places undoubtedly are. hat being said, rare and valuable vintage posters are not for everyone, however financially well qualified they may be. A couple of years ago, I was congratulated by an eminent shipowner client of Pullman for the winter-sports posters I’d illustrated in the Christmas issue of Pullman magazine. Anticipating a sale, I was a little disappointed when he went on to complain, “But, really, Simon, the prices these days!” He readily agreed with my response (high demand from increasing numbers of collectors for a very finite supply of great pieces), but commented that although he could readily afford £20,000 or more for a rare poster, he didn’t actually want to decorate his Gstaad chalet with possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds-worth of them. It was this conversation that prompted me to conceive our new business, Pullman Editions
Images courtesy of the Pullman Gallery ltd ©
Winter Sports Poster Special
Ltd, with my wife, Georgina, which she now runs from our other gallery. To address the needs of clients (including the aforementioned billionaire), we have designed a collection of 24 new, vintageinspired winter-sports posters created by our house artists, Charles Avalon and Dexter Brown, which we have published in an edition of 280 pieces (far fewer than vintage pieces) costing a somewhat more accessible £395 each, unframed. They are not reproductions of anything, but are newly designed, exclusive posters incorporating all the ingredients of the great vintage Art-Deco posters (which we, of course, continue to offer at our main gallery in St James’s). The inaugural collection is entitled “Art Deco in the Alps” and features many of the definitive Swiss and French resorts – Gstaad, Davos, St Moritz, Chamonix, Verbier, Villars, Val d’Isère, Crans-Montana and Zermatt are all included. As original decorative art with bags of “chalet-chic” appeal, they do the same job as rare vintage posters but for a fraction of the price. Our shipowning friend has already ordered one complete set! Simon Khachadourian is the owner of the Pullman Gallery (www.pullmangallery.com), which specialises in 20th-century objets de luxe and Pullman Editions (www.pullmaneditions.com), designer and publishers of the “Art Deco in the Alps” posters. ❄ FQR’s Festive Favourite
Winter Sports Special
Happy Landings FQR’s Alpine Aviatrix Annette Mason gives the low-down on flying high
n your skiing holiday this winter you may well land at an altiport, or elevated airfield, in the European Alps. Bangda in Tibet is the world’s highest airfield at 14,219ft asl (above sea level), though you’re unlikely to land there this winter, as there are not many (if any) ski slopes in Tibet. Heliskiing down Everest – now there’s a challenge. On the other hand, on your way to St Moritz, Samedan airfield in the Engadin valley is only 5,600ft asl, but altitude sickness, even at this elevation, is a possibility – as you will be higher and descending rapidly, the effects are worse if you are a private pilot in a single-engine aircraft. Samedan is relatively easy to land at as it has a 5,905ft-long runway, and as Gstaad and St Moritz are nearby, it’s usually full of gorgeous people
looking for their helicopters. Altitude sickness is more likely at Courchevel altiport, though this may be the least of your problems, especially if you’re landing on snow, as it has a very short runway. It is the highest in the Alps at 6,588ft asl, and has one of the shortest runways at 1,722ft. With no go-around, you only get one chance to land, before you interface with the scenery. It’s also the world’s steepest – a terrifying 18.5-degree gradient. Think taking off by going down a water slide or ski jump, with nothing but a sheer drop at the end.
One Cool Customer Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis charts her slippery course from skis to snowboard – and back
lthough I was born in the Eighties, it was in the Nineties that my consciousness slowly awoke and I plunged into the prepubescent world of consumerism. I bought my first CD. I began to dabble sartorially as well as musically speaking. At first it was all about Grunge. Kurt Cobain was my hero. Corduroys and old cardies, badly dyed hair and a belly-button piercing followed swiftly. Music had to be loud, slightly aggressive and American. Grunge grew into Punk Rock, and skateboarders became my new pin-ups. My style evolved and I began wearing candy shades of pink and blue with over-the-knee socks and short skirts, the uniform of the skater chick. About the same time, snowboarding gained popularity in Germany. Having grown up in Bavaria, my siblings and I – barely
FQR’s recommended AlpineAirstrips Courchevel Méribel L’Alpe-d’Huez Any Glacier ❄
You might also have to contend with the Foehn effect, when dry wind coming down a mountain warms up as it descends, creating strong up and down draughts, swirling around the mountains, causing rapid changes in cloud and weather. Oh, and try to avoid flying into Mont Blanc. It is also breathtakingly beautiful, literally, with air pressure decreasing, the higher you are, the less oxygen there is in the air to breathe. This causes the lightheadedness and nausea. Around the corner is Méribel, with a few tricky glaciers you can land at. It’s part of the Trois Vallées with Courchevel.
having taken our first steps – were forced onto skis. All I remember was an abundance of fluorescent-coloured clothes and being cold. I found skiing to be rather overrated. It took hours to get dressed, then it took even longer to get up that damn mountain. Finally, you got the payoff; it lasted a mere few moments. Then you had to get all the way up that mountain yet again. On top of that, I found the sheer quantity of paraphernalia needed for a day on the slopes quite impossible to keep together. A missing glove, a lost pair of sunglasses and my mother would get scarily angry. My parents dragged us to the usual hotspots: St Moritz, St Anton, St Christoph, Zürs, Kitzbühel. What I seem to remember was the fabulous pool at the Hospiz Hotel in St Christoph and the amazing slide at the Corviglia Club, but not so much the skiing. Even in my teens, skiing didn’t quite match the look I was going for. I always felt there was something nerdy about the sport. The early rise, the queuing, the tight suits, even the movements on skis appeared odd to me. Let’s face it, there was nothing cool about skiing. So you can imagine that when snowboarding came along I had no hesitation whatsoever in abandoning ship and joining the snowboarders. Everything about snowboarders was cool. They wore baggy clothes in muted tones rather than frightening onepiece suits in neon orange. They wore big hats and cool shades and their snowboards were decorated with funky stickers. They smoked cigarettes (and other smokables). They spent most of the day sitting in the middle of the slopes chilling out. In between chilling they
The altiport is similar, though lower at 5,639ft asl, and the runway is often snow covered and shorter at 1,400ft. This makes landing exciting, as it’s difficult to judge your height above snow. So it may be no surprise that you need a special licence to fly in the mountains, and any ski wear is absolutely perfect for warmth. The heaters in small planes can be fairly feeble, and there’s always the outside chance of the drama of a forced landing, and a bit of a wait for help… Annette Lynton-Mason, wife of Pink Floyd drummer Nick, is an actress, motor racer, biker (on a Suzuki Bandit), helicopter pilot, competitive horse rider, sculptor, mother, housewife – and FQR’s Aviation Editor ❄ FQR’s Festive Favourite
would get up, do an incredibly acrobatic jump and sit back down. Their demeanour was always subdued and unimpressed. But, most importantly, they loathed skiing. Of course, even within the world of snowboarding there were two camps. You had the freestylers (the ones described above, the cool cats) and then you had the racers, who might as well have stayed on skis, if you ask me. I, of course, became a freestyler. For Christmas I begged for board and gear. I started smoking and I learnt to skid down the slopes. Voilà. o be honest, I didn’t really enjoy snowboarding after the initial novelty wore off. I still felt cold and I never really got good enough to join in on the jumping, but at least I got to hang out with some of the dudes that did. What I really wanted was to go out with one of those dudes. The ones who jumped and chilled. Of course, being cool meant they didn’t show the least bit of interest in an awkward 13-year-old girl. After I left for boarding school at the age of 15, then moved to Madrid and Paris for uni, the mountains were replaced by beaches and nightclubs. If I did make it to the slopes I would probably find myself in one of those après-ski dens before I knew it and so my winter-sports career began to fizzle out. Today life on the slopes seems to have radically changed. Everyone wears helmets, the slopes are jam-packed and snowboarding has definitely lost its edge. So the few times I have gone down a slope in the past couple of years has been on skis. I must admit
Winter Sports Special
FQR’s . . . o o D i k S u o Y e Winter Som Some You Don’t The dog days certainly aren’t over when it comes to sledging in the Arctic – but the Ski-Doo is a worthy challenger, says adventurer Tom Avery
exhilarating hen I was about and can be hair-raising at times. eight, I read a book about shadows, the wind, What you really have to watch is the Captain Scott – one dead reckoning and a compass. This wind chill, and you need to take extra of those old Ladybird books that re-enactment of Peary’s expedition care not to get frostbite. we were brought up on, but this was amazing – it was the toughest I find the South Pole mentally one inspired me. I spent the yet most rewarding expedition of my tougher than the North because the next 20 years daydreaming life – and we beat Peary’s time by four view doesn’t change at all. It’s the same about how I would and a half hours. day after day, whereas the North Pole follow my is a labyrinth childhood of snow and hero’s footsteps ice boulders to the South Dog Power Horse Power and open water Pole and serve 1. The camaraderie of working 1. It’s seriously fast – a massive and pressure my expedition alongside dogs. It’s like having adrenaline rush. ridges – the view apprenticeship as eight extra team-mates. 2. Provided you have enough fuel, changes every a mountaineer. I 2. It’s the original way to travel; the you can cover huge distances in a five minutes. was inspired by Eskimos have been driving dogs for day’s travel – unlike dogs, Ski-Doos And the dogs these incredible thousands of years. don’t get tired. provided an tales of bravery 3. Unlike a Ski-Doo, a dog team will 3. You can pull large, heavy trailers extra dynamic. and adventure – never break down. behind. At the South not just of Scott 4. If you become separated from your 4. You sit on a comfy leather seat.❄ Pole we were but of Shackleton team, the dogs will come and find 5. No dog muck! pulling our own as well. Finally, you. sleds and, day at the age of 27, 5. A pack of barking dogs is an after day, it I was able to excellent polar bear deterrent! ❄ FQR’s Festive Favourite was this complete my first totally flat polar adventure landscape and skied 700 miles to the South The highlight of my expedition whereas the North Pole is anything Pole over 45 days and six hours. We to the North Pole was working with but flat. Keeping oneself mentally actually broke the world record and the dogs. They are all individual stimulated going to the South Pole became the fastest team in history. characters, incredibly loyal, and they was a lot harder. Having said that, I have also been to the North Pole. love nothing more than pulling the on three days we were able to deploy I read about this American explorer sledge across the ice floes. We formed power kites so we kitesurfed when the called Robert Peary who, in 1909, a very special bond with them. Dog wind came from the North, and that claimed to be the first person to reach sledging is the traditional way to travel was a wonderful change. it. But he did it in just 37 days, which in the Arctic – Eskimos have done it I have a passion for the great is very fast, and no one really believed for thousands of years. To travel with outdoors. I never fail to be inspired him. What I wanted to do was to see dogs in the Arctic was an enormous by the spectacular landscapes I come if it was possible to reach the North privilege and I miss them all dearly. across or surprised at how far the Pole in 37 days. So I recreated Peary’s The more modern way of travelling human body is capable of pushing journey. We used wooden sledges in the Arctic is by snowmobile. itself if you really want it to. built to exactly the same design, and When Top Gear went to the North Tom Avery is one of only 41 people we used the same breed of dog – the Pole, I helped Richard Hammond ever to have reached both South and Canadian Eskimo Dog, which is an learn how to ride a dog sledge and North Poles on foot. He is a founding amazing animal of which there are while I did this I followed him around member of the Champagne G H Mumm just 400 in the world today. With 16 on a Ski-Doo. A snowmobile is a lot Cordon Rouge Club (“the exceptional dogs and five people, we navigated easier than dog sledging – you just club for extraordinary people”) and comuch the same way that Peary did; plonk yourself on the back and away owns and runs Verbier Exclusive Chalet we didn’t use our GPS, we used our you go. It is enormously Company (www.verbierexclusive.com)
FQR’s Polar Transport Comparison
that I suddenly enjoyed it much more. Carving skis have made skiing a lot more democratic. The fact that my skills never matured beyond the age of 12 became less obvious. Thus I began reassessing my opinion on skiing. Yes, I still prefer the sea, kitesurfing and waterskiing, but there is something incredibly cosy about the whole winter-sport thing. Furthermore, Prada makes a fabulous ski range and so does Moncler. A quilted and belted jacket, a sexy pair of trousers, a bit of fox on the head, an old-school pair of Vuarnets and you’ve got a look. Add to that a day in the very fresh air, lunch on a sunny terrace atop a mountain, a sauna, a fondue, and some Dracula before bed… the idea is growing on me as we speak. That’s it, this winter I’m back on the slopes and I won’t be chilling with the snowboarders, that’s for sure.
“Never be carrying a miniature dachshund while performing a triple Lutz. It makes them very sick, which in turn upsets your fellow skaters.” Liza Campbell “I love skiing but hate the cold and feel it terribly. My top tip is: don’t go for Christmas or the New Year – and take plenty of thermals.” Rachel Johnson, Editor of The Lady “Go to the beach instead.” Elettra Wiedermann “Don’t show off in front of teenagers. You’ll never impress them and it’ll probably end in disaster.” Charlie Gladstone “Don’t go. The Maldives and Seychelles are preferable.” Christopher Biggins “Don’t go skiing during the Christmas holidays. Escape somewhere hot and sunny instead and then go skiing once everyone is back at work.” Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis “Climbing a mountain with snow shoes.” Reza Rashidian “If you are skiing or escaping the cold and heading to a beach, consider what you are actually putting on your flesh to protect it. A lot of the added ingredients in skincare products are carcinogens, reproductive disruptors, pesticides, endocrine disruptors, plasticisers, surfactants & degreasers. So read the labels on what you’re using to ‘protect’ your skin and look for healthy alternatives.” Matthew Modine ❄ “Go heliskiing in the Himalayas.” Celia von Bismarck “An obscene abundance of Cartier for both you and the dog if you are in St Moritz or Gstaad.” Kinvara Balfour “Long-distance hiking in the Andes.” Charles Saumarez Smith “The best powder skiing in the world is at Niseko Village, Japan. Stay at the new Green Leaf Hotel – fun, young and cool – at the base of Mount Annupuri.” James W McBride “Thermals and lip gloss.” Annette Mason “I never go skiing without my favourite Ray-Bans.” James Caan “Mountain wisdom is about always planning for the worst case and having a thorough back up plan… and that is advice from experience! So let people know where you are going and when you are due back, have a waterproofed mobile phone and a small pac-lite down jacket in a day sack, just in case the day has to become a night! Those are my priorities always. And then get out there and enjoy!” Bear Grylls ❄ FQR’s Festive Favourite
Diamonds on Ice
Denis Bellessort’s guide to on-piste bling
y experience with winter sports and diamond rings is that they are not really meant to go together. My first tip is therefore to leave the ring at home or in a safe. Due to the large temperature variations from the freezing cold outside the size of a finger can easily increase by two to three sizes with warm gloves. The ring becomes painfully tight and if one is on a ski lift the pain cannot be taken care of immediately. Remove the glove as soon as possible to expose the finger to the cold. This can within two minutes decrease the size of the finger by four sizes, to two below normal. Unfortunately, what often happens then is that the pleasure of moving the hand freely leads to picking up something, maybe even throwing a snowball, and the ring slides off without making a noise. This happens every year to beautiful and very sentimental rings. My second tip is not to panic if a ring gets lost. Last year one of my dearest customers had a ring with what I call a connoisseur diamond. She calls me sometimes when she travels to describe the light in her diamond at sunset or afternoon in Tanzania or India… a very beautiful vintage stone (also her engagement ring, unique and irreplaceable). As per the story above she lost it in the snow and called me. Now my heart was pumping and I was perhaps as shocked as she was. Luckily, it had not snowed for two days. My tip was not to panic and for one of them to stay in the vicinity of the loss while making sure no one looks for it. Walking in the snow around it would remove all chances of finding it. The other person should get a torch. All one has to do once darkness descends is to sweep the floor at a distance with the light. It can take sometimes 30 minutes or more for the magic moment to happen, when rays of light hit the diamond, and the diamond bounces them back all over the place like an explosion of light. This is pure magic. The diamond is found. That was the case with my customers/friends this time and has been with others. The torchlight experience works very well anywhere: garden, street… Denis Bellessort is the founder of Bonds of Union, a leading Jewellery Consultancy (www.bondsofunion.com)
FQR Winter Sports Special
Kate Lenahan is on the piste again as she picks the best international resorts
SKI WITH THE STARS Colorado, USA Resort: Aspen/Snowmass Aspen’s four resorts provide dynamic, challenging skiing as well as captivating views along a tributary of the Colorado River. Where to stay: The One and Only Little Nell (www.thelittlenell.com). With prime access to all of Aspen’s treasures – including the spectacular slopes.
SKI IN EUROPE Switzerland Resort: Zermatt Ski any (or every) day of the year in the Alps’ highest and most thrilling resort. Where to stay: Hotel Firefly (www.firefly-zermatt.ch). The elements fire, water, earth and air make up the theme threaded through this luxurious hotel’s design.
ULTIMATE SKI EXPERIENCE Whistler, Canada Caters for all ages and capabilities (such as the 2010 Winter Olympic Games competitors). Where to stay: The Four Seasons (www.fourseasons.com/whistler). Immerse yourself in the snow, stay in, play golf, or relax and rejuvenate at the spa. Kate Lenahan is FQR’s Travel Editor
SKI IN THE FAR EAST Japan Resort: Niseko Slopes remain open until 9pm, enabling long hours of floodlit, fresh-powder skiing – making it Japan’s top ski resort. Where to stay: Green Leaf, Niseko Village (www.greenleafnv.com). The hotel (a YTL Lifestyle Resort) promises to redefine alpine luxury in Niseko, Japan – sister city to St Moritz in Switzerland.
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FQR Cannes Highland Special Special
Country Pursuit of Style Niels van Rooyen pinpoints the essence of Holland & Holland and reveals its new house tweed
worked at Holland & Holland for 22 years and then left for a brief period when the focus shifted too much to fashion. Now I’ve returned, and we have shifted back to what is at the heart of the company – not fashion, but authentic country living. To fulfil this country lifestyle, I wanted to create items for our clients to wear before a shoot, during a shoot (technical gear), and then after the shoot. This way, Im ag e Co the total lifestyle is encapsulated ur in our collection. I wanted te sy of Ho the collection to be the lla nd right mix of traditional an d and Ho classicism lla nd English humour. It had to be English prep,
trendy in some ways, but elegant and quirky in other ways – really all about that beautiful English twist. To go along with this, we decided to bring our manufacturing back to England. British craftsmanship is a cornerstone of what we do and, very sadly, it has been dying out in England. As the demand for goods increases, companies have decided to move abroad where it is cheaper to build bigger and bigger factories. Holland & Holland has opened its doors again to authentic British craftsmanship, both in our ready-to-wear and bespoke collections. One way we are doing this is by working with 75 different craftswomen all over England who are knitting each and every one of our shooting stockings by hand, especially for us. It takes one lady approximately four days to complete. This makes each pair very authentic and of top quality. We have also established our new house tweed. The idea of passing things on from one generation to the next has always been central to British culture. While people still do this with things such as watches, it has, sadly, died out for clothing. We hope to bring it back with our house tweed. Our tweed represents many things that have been passed down from one generation to the next. Originally, the beaters wore gamekeeper’s tweed during a shoot because it was inexpensive and durable. Now estate owners want to wear it because it is traditional and practical, and is in harmony with the colours of the countryside. We also want the house tweed to pass down a story. Stories and the ideas behind our collection are just as important as the objects
themselves. In 1845, Mr Holland, founder of our company, was photographed wearing his tweed. It’s waterproof, lined, pressed nailhead tweed, woven just for us. For the ladies, we make it with a lilac overcheck as well. And even here, the lilac tells the story of the heather on the Scottish moors, where many of our clients love to shoot. Everything here must, and does, have a story to share. I also took a look at our collections over the years and realised that we’d never had a signature piece. So I looked at the gun, which is, has been, and always will be my main source of inspiration, and found the diamond and checkering on the grips of the guns to be beautiful. They are very tactile, practical – and yet so elegant. So I took it a step further and put it on crystal, on scarves, on ties, and onto small bridle leather goods. Next I plan to put it on our bridle-leather luggage set. If you know the diamond and checkering, then you will know that it is from Holland & Holland – otherwise, you don’t need to know. It is about craftsmanship, and is unique to Holland & Holland. It is the country though, that is central to the Holland & Holland way of life. It is a wonderful, non-stop world, full of time spent in nature with good friends, enjoying country pursuits. It is also a focused lifestyle, focused on nature conservation, appreciating everything the country has to offer, and enjoying that lovely English quirkiness I mentioned earlier, all the while holding on to the traditions. I really want to bring back this sense of tradition to our lives and to the lives of our clients. I think we’ve lost so much of it. You get people going to the opera now in jeans and a T-shirt, which just kills me – it really is shocking. The shooting world is a very calm one, a very traditional one, so everything is handed down from father to son and even the discipline and the notion of what it means to really be a gentleman remains in the family. And in the end, that’s what really matters. Niels van Rooyen is the Creative Director of Holland & Holland
Nessie is the mother of invention
Nicholas Chandor tells of his ancestors’ unique approaches to Hibernian boredom…
It seems to me that, with a few notable exceptions, the idle rich have lost their way – fun is now too easy to have, there are too many things at their well-manicured fingertips, and not enough time in which to do them. Oh, how things have changed! The whole point of Scotland – well, at least the 19th century – was for the visiting English to get bored, and not just short-term bored, but stupefyingly, maddeningly bored. The highlight of the week could be a walk, an endless game of cards or, heavens above, somebody catching a fish! My four-times-great-grandfather Squire Bankes had obviously reached a new level of boredom when he decided to raise the bar on the size of fish one should catch. He thought it would be rather good fun to have a go at catching the Loch Ness Monster – if nothing else, it would kill a bit of time. Rather than using the conventional methods of catching monsters (oversized rod and line etc), he hit upon the idea of trying to poison it. After a brief trip to Manchester he managed to secure a dozen barges, which he filled with quick
Hogmanay in The Highlands is just the ticket, says Charlie Gladstone
Hurrah For Hogmanay www.finchsquarterly.com Winter 2010
nyone who has as much as considered a trip to Scotland has thought that, perhaps, Hogmanay might be a good time to visit. The Scots take New Year’s Eve seriously – so seriously that they have two public holidays in its wake. One day will not cure the hangover of a really big night out. Hogmanay in Edinburgh is a Big Event. Many local residents flee the city as revellers from across the globe descend on Princes Street. In order to control numbers – a few years ago nearly half a million people descended on the city and chaos ensued – admittance to the centre of the city is by ticket only and over 100,000 people turn up each year. So, if watching fireworks whilst hugging your friends and posing for photos for Facebook in the company of 99,999 others is your idea of fun, you know what to do. But apply for tickets soon; it is very popular. A couple of years ago, a cunning friend of ours – from Glasgow, no less – saw an opportunity in this gathering and headed to Edinburgh with a dozen large boxes of those glowsticks that you wave around whilst posing for Facebook. He set up a stall just outside the city centre and – hey presto! – sold the lot by midnight. He was back in Glasgow with a rucksack full of cash in time for bed. Our Hogmanay, in The Highlands, is a little less crowded. It’s true that Scotland exerts a magnetic pull at the end of the year, and our house is always brimming with friends of all ages.
www.finchsquarterly.com Winter 2010
High Times In The Highlands
lime. The idea was simple: they would be towed up to the loch, their cargo would be released and – voilà – the monster would pop to the surface. After a perilous journey, the barges duly arrived, and, to the report of my by now rather expectant relation’s favourite cannon, released their deadly cargo. What he failed to realise, in his understandably excited state, was that the loch was tidal and the quick lime was flushed out to sea by the strong current. The monster, presumably mildly irritated by this, went into hiding and managed to survive four further attempts – 48 barges in total. The same branch of the Bankes family also adopted an interesting approach to settling boundary disputes. Through a series of fortunate marriages and rounds of Bezique they had managed to acquire a reasonable amount of land, but never satisfactorily established their borders with the neighbouring estate. A river divided the two estates, and a small island was the hotly contested piece of land. Rather than try to buy, sell or legally
prove ownership, Squire Bankes simply rounded up the crofters who lived on this land and, in the dead of night, rowed out to the island with the orders to dig it up. By the next morning, to the consternation of the neighbours, the island had simply vanished. Dash! The Bankes family has a history of practical solutions to everyday problems, presumably dreamed up on long, lazy afternoons gazing across the heather. One member of the family, in her mid-30s some time in the late 1800s, thought up an ingenious solution to the rather tedious task of walking. She simply went to bed. And she didn’t let going to bed prevent her from leading a social life, either. She attended many of the great occasions, balls, Ascot and so on, in her bed. There is even an extraordinary portrait of her in full Victorian splendour, dress, tiara etc, playing the tables in Biarritz in bed. I think it’s safe to say that she had perfected the life of the idle rich and should be taken as a role model for us all. Nicholas Chandor is Head of Interiors at Paul Smith
He thought it would be rather good fun to have a go at catching the Loch Ness Monster
One of the longest-held traditions of Hogmanay is first-footing, which involves visiting friends and neighbours as soon as possible after midnight to help them to welcome in the New Year. The notion behind first-footing is that a tall, dark stranger crossing your threshold soon after midnight will herald good luck for the coming year. In fact, all it really involves is friends and neighbours dropping in for yet another drink in the middle of the night, generally laden with their own food and drink. And very nice it is, too. Today it happens less often than it used to – largely, of course, because of the changes in attitudes to drink driving. There was one occasion three years ago, however, when our first-footers tackled our whisky with such enthusiasm that we all gave up after a few hours and went to bed whilst they stayed in our drawing room. The next morning, one of them was still there, asleep. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we often have a large fall of snow some time between Christmas and New Year. Snow looks lovely, but it can make life difficult at Glen Dye. It brings down power cables, and we have spent several Hogmanays with no power (we do have a vast and very old generator, bought 20 years ago from an oil rig, but it’s hard to get it to work when it’s pitch dark and we’re having fun). Three or four years ago, on New Year’s Eve, we had one of the biggest dumps of snow we’ve had for years, maybe three feet. It fell across much of Scotland and caused widely reported travel chaos. Thousands of people were stuck in their cars overnight and many others camped in village halls. Some of our guests were trapped by the chaos en route to stay with us. One of these guests, the antiques
dealer James Graham-Stewart (known to our children as Tall, for obvious reasons), was crossing Scotland to spend Hogmanay with us. His big old Mercedes estate was no match for the snow and he ground to a halt 100 miles or so from us. Miraculously, he found a room at a pub where, instead of an evening (in the dark)
Hogmanay and fire are intimately bound together in The Highlands
1. If you take your dog, obey kennelling rules as, cruel as this may seem, your host will not appreciate wet dogs and other less desirables to be left around the house. 2 Be a dab hand at Freda – and don’t moan about bones broken whilst playing. 3. Always join in on any reels, even if you don’t know how – this at least will keep your fellow guests entertained. 4. Don’t dress like Paris Hilton on the hill. 5. Arrive and leave by chopper rather than negotiate the A9. 6. Always have masses of cash for tipping. 7. Don’t be squeamish about the bath water; it’s peat, not dirt. 8. Ensure you have plenty of gossip from south of the border. 9. Have a hip flask of something delicious. I recommend The King’s Ginger. 10. Re-read The Thirty-Nine Steps. Who doesn’t like espionage in The Highlands? 11. Don’t go expecting a MacNab; bagging a stag, brace of grouse and salmon in one day is rare and ramblers can ruin your chances. 12. Avoid mocking the estate tweed if it’s gaudy. 13. Find someone to share the bath and bathwater, as draining the hot-water tank is a no-no. 14. Don’t fret if there is no egg-white omelette for breakfast. Expect a full fry-up, porridge, trout or even the liver from the beast. 15. Go to the House of Bruar, aka the “Harrods of the North”. This is the place to pick up last-minute requirements, whether it’s oatcakes or cashmere. 16. Don’t take whisky – it’s coals to Newcastle. 17. Don’t take a pristine 4x4, as you will inevitably be asked to drive to the furthest hill loch and thus trash it. 18. Don’t loiter around the kitchen. Hired help is usually a goodlooking university student who will not appreciate you lusting after them as they bend down to get something from the Aga. 19. And remember: the green baize door is there for a reason. If you do start up a dalliance, make sure you are prepared to marry them or you can face never being invited to The Highlands again! 20. And finally: do not, under any circumstances, refer to Scotland as North Britain. Nicky Haslam is a renowned Interior Designer
with us, he s p e n t Ho g m a n a y with a minibusfull of Goths who were en route to, well, whatever Goths do on Hogmanay. The strangest thing about this pub, however, was that when James eventually went to bed he discovered that he was sharing his room with the publican’s vast hoard of tin foil; there were hundreds of rolls of the stuff – under the bed, in cupboards, you name it… Happy days. One of my long-held obsessions is fire; I love a good campfire or a bonfire, particularly if I can also swing an axe as part of the proceedings. I am still vaguely traumatised by the time – I was five or six years old –
that a friend and I set my parents’ drawing-room curtains on fire at seven one morning. But I am recovering and if there’s a fire to be had, I’ll be involved. This is convenient, because Hogmanay and fire are intimately bound together here in The Highlands. Many cultures use fire to herald the New Year; the symbolism of light and fire to welcome a new year is straightforward and compelling. It seems that fire is used to celebrate Hogmanay much less regularly than it used to be, but one of our local towns is a notable exception. Stonehaven, a lovely fishing port half an hour from Glen Dye, has an annual Fireball Swinging ceremony at Hogmanay. This has happened every year since the Middle Ages and is – perhaps because it flies in the face of Health and Safety “common sense” – more popular than ever. Thousands of spectators line the streets of Stonehaven to watch the 45 or so Fireball Swingers as they parade through the town. The construction of the fireballs is a closely held secret and no two are exactly the same. They are all, however, made from chicken wire stuffed with something flammable – wool, old clothes, that sort of thing – and there’s no doubt that paraffin or petrol is involved somewhere. The ceremony itself is beautiful in its simplicity; the participants parade through the town waving their fireballs and… well, that’s that. What is so good about this is its simplicity, its sense of community, its heavy symbolism and history. I’d recommend a visit to Stonehaven over one to Edinburgh any day. Charlie Gladstone is Finch’s Quarterly Review’s Highland Editor (19th century)
Torchlight procession to mark the beginning of the New Year celebrations, Edinburgh, Scotland/ Derek Blair/Rex Features
1930’s Scotland Courtesy of Nicholas Chandor
Nicky Haslam’s Top 20 Tips for the Perfect Highland Guest
Arnaud Bamberger always aims – and scores – high in the shooting style stakes
arrived in London in 1992 and I had John Kent make me a tweed shooting suit almost immediately. One of the first things I learned about life in England was that you Rosbifs shoot in style – great style – and I love
not seen very many grey shooting suits. What I like about it is the fact that it is elegant and distinctive but not too overpowering. I think that’s the key to getting shooting clothes right – it is one of the occasions when I find that the English gentleman is at his most creative when it comes to clothes. But the mistake many people who are new to shooting make is to choose a deliberately loud check – John calls them “bookmaker’s checks”. They think they are being individual; in fact, they’re being vulgar. Any rich idiot can choose a loud cloth, but it takes time, taste and the guidance of a great tailor to get it right and, with John, I know it is impossible to go wrong. For my most recent suit
I wanted something a bit special, something that you can’t find on the market. I found this bunch of old Scottish materials from the middle of the last century and, as I always do, I made a shortlist of about half a dozen. And then, having slept on it, I selected a beige one. I wanted to have it quite traditional but not too much like a shooting jacket with those vents and pleats and what not because, after almost 20
Arnaud Bamberger photographed by Patrick Fetherstonhaugh
that but, coming from New York (where I had been working for a number of years), I hadn’t really needed a shooting suit for Central Park. Luckily, I was placed in the hands of a great tailor. I was introduced to John by a friend of mine, Edmondo di Robilant, and if you have ever seen Edmondo’s shooting clothes you will know what I mean when I say I knew I was in safe hands. I love shooting and if I go shooting with friends I’ll just wear a sweater, but when I go to a grander place, such as Blenheim Palace or to the Bamfords, I like to look the part. I like to look elegant. And I can always rely on John for that. He understands my style, which is a bit old-fashioned or classic. Classic, but not boring. The first shooting suit I had made by John was grey check with a touch of orange – quite simple but very elegant. I have
years of living in England, I realised I would wear it to lunch or breakfast but for the shoot itself I would wear my Barbour or waterproofs, never a jacket. That is what I like about life in Britain: you have to have a shooting suit that you wear to shoots… but you never actually wear it while shooting. Arnaud Bamberger is the Executive Chairman of Cartier UK. Tailor: Kent,Haste & Lachter, 13 New Burlington Street, London
What’s It Got? ’Scot The Lot Liza Campbell’s unique take on her Scottish homeland
cotland: land of glens, whisky, tartan and arcane dance moves. My brother once persuaded his girlfriend that it was uphill all the way from London. Every year, thousands come to experience the wildness, the beauty and the blood sports. It’s a place where people who might find themselves frowning at a small cloud over Cap Ferrat happily stagger for miles through sodden heather in pouring rain. Having grown up in The Highlands, I was conscious of being just the latest layer in a family history that stretched back to the time of fairytales. Cawdor, the castle where I was born, dates back to the 14th century, a time when people planted holly trees outside their homes to ward off witches. My ancestors took this superstition to its illogical conclusion and built Cawdor around a holly. Today, w, the cause of much early confusion when people talked about family trees. Myth and reality were further blurred by Cawdor being the location of the key murder scene in Macbeth. Home was a place that featured on road maps and in a work of fiction. My parents were very social, yet Cawdor was not really designed for hospitality. Like all medieval castles, it is essentially a fancy
bunker: drawbridge, portcullis and moat are the architectural manifestation of the words “Fuck off!” Castles that fell short of this mission statement lay in ruins all around. Even though protected by high walls, the inhabitants would be at the mercy of enemies who would catapult decomposing livestock over the battlements in the hope of starting the plague. Their descendants now loan each other their lawnmowers. Being born a Campbell comes with an inbuilt notoriety, thanks to the massacre of the MacDonalds at Glencoe. On being introduced, Scots’ reactions to my name can range from jokey horror to sincerely cold. It’s not that massacres were exclusive to the Campbells, it’s that the crime was made more odious by accepting 10 days of hospitality from the MacDonalds prior to killing them. In the aftermath, as with so many Scots, members of both clans chose to start anew in America. The Campbells became soup barons, while their old rivals came to dominate the burger business. It is a remarkable fact that, for such a small country, such a disproportionate number have thrived abroad, including the railway tycoon Andrew Carnegie. Scotland is an extraordinary country that shapes extraordinary people. Liza Campbell is an artist and writer
its shrivelled trunk still stands in a dungeon
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FQR Cannes Special
TOP DRAW Sylvie Nissen and Yann de Saint-Sulpice salute the incredible artistry of René Gruau
omerset House is currently paying homage to René Gruau, the “Master of Elegance” who was the creative force behind Dior perfumes from 1947. The exhibition revolves around René Gruau’s First Century, which has a foreword by John Galliano and was published in France in 2009 (it is republished in time for this exhibition). Its five major themes structure the exhibition: “la femme-fleur” dear to Christian Dior, “Gesture and Attitude”, “the Line Dior”, “Dior Homme” and, finally, the friendship between the aristocrats of style themselves, Dior and Gruau. The exhibition also highlights the place of Gruau in the evolution of art history. Gruau is like the dwarf standing on the giant’s shoulders to see the further of the two – advertising graphics went on to become an art of their own and part of art history. Gruau influenced a generation of fashion illustrators and, for this exhibition, five illustrators were commissioned to create works inspired by the collaboration between him and Dior. In 1858 Worth founded the first house of couture. Until then designers responded solely to customers’ orders – they were just the craftsmen. As an artist above all, Worth offered his designs, prepared in advance, in his luxury lounges. Collections changed regularly,
high heel is an exclamation point. It states: “I am a woman and I am feminine and sexy.” However, what sounds obvious can be quite a challenge: to walk in high heels only looks sensual if you have the time and the lifestyle. Wearing them, one should stride in slow motion, like a gazelle who’s in no rush. Hurrying around on high heels engulfed by a clicketyclackety echo neither looks poised nor sounds elegant. I have a love-hate relationship with my heels. After years of convincing myself that elegance and heels were inseparable, I discovered that it does not necessarily have to be that way. It proved almost impossible to find high heels that were also comfortable enough to rush around in all day. So I relented to flats. If one does not want to look like a hunted giraffe on stilts in everyday life, then flats are cooler. In fact, flat shoes show that one does not need to impress anybody. They are
magazines such as Woman and Beauty. Later he worked for US Harper’s Bazaar and Flair, for which he became exclusive designer – not to mention the Dutch magazine International Textile for which he signed covers for 25 years from 1946. Dior, Balmain, Fath, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Rochas – René Gruau designed for the biggest names in fashion, working for about 30 prestigious labels during his career. Drawings, paintings, fashion design, theatrical scenery, costumes for film and ballet… His work – of which whole sections remain unknown – is immensely comprehensive. Gruau’s style gave women the desire to enter into the proposed piece of fashion and to transform it according to her personality. In the unfinished line of Gruau, not everything is said; the woman is involved. Gruau – in perfect symbiosis with Dior, Givenchy and Balmain – is the epitome of a refined and subtle symbolism that takes into account that “fashion should be a
opening the cycle of fashion. A f t e r World War II, luxury manufacturers turned to painters – Dalí and Cassandre for Paquin and Schiaparelli. Meanwhile, Gruau became the “visual memory” of Balmain, then Dior. At the dawn of the 1930s, the selftaught Gruau moved to Paris with his mother and began to draw for Marianne and Le Figaro where, crucially, he met Dior himself. He then lent his talent to Chapeaux Mode, Femina, L’Officiel, Marie Claire, Vogue and British
quite Gloria Gaynor-ish: “I am what I am”. So let me break it down: wearing a pair of simple, flat ballerinas has an air of sweet and cool. A pair of killer heels makes you feel sensual and hot. In our busy modern world, high heels are for special occasions when I have the time and props to be feminine; it’s about being a woman, and letting men be gentlemen. In fact, to go out for dinner and dancing, and to flirt with life, I need to feel feminine. Don’t get me wrong I don’t need to be with a man to justify wearing heels. Wearing a pair of sky-rocketing Prada chunky courts or superslim stilettos can make me feel like a warrior woman, strong in the face of any challenge, as much as making me feel playful and sashay to the beat of my own mood. It’s all part of my armour. But it’s a night out, a special lunch or just a mood one afternoon. Each city has its own Stepping out with Celia von codes regarding high Bismarck involves stepping up
High Heels For The High Life 21
clever compromise between the stated desire of being dressed and the unspoken desire of being undressed”. For over 70 years, this master of elegance was the virtuoso of the biggest names in fashion, the most prestigious brands, the most prominent magazines and of the most colourful displays. His style is unmistakable, marked by an incredible restriction of means, fascinating in its extraordinary power of expression and suggestion. A clean line and two or three colours have explicit implications, finesse, nuance and sophistication. His work (some 80,000 illustrations) embodies, according to his favourite expression “the chic” and, more precisely, the quintessence of the chic. Dior Illustrated: René Gruau and the Line of Beauty is at Somerset House, London, until 9 January 2011 (020-78 45 4600; www. somersethouse.org.uk) Since 1980, Sylvie Nissen and Yann de SaintSulpice have run the Sylvie Nissen gallery in the lobby of the Hotel Carlton Cannes, which specialises in period jewellery, precious stones and promotes artists with unclassifiable talent in jewellery design, paintings, objets d’art and the work of René Gruau, which it represents exclusively worldwide
heels. In Berlin, where I am based, the killer-heels club is rather small. Most women do not understand fashion as an art form. In Geneva, where I grew up, high heels are more prevalent but not anything funky. Then again, it depends which field one works in. As a political science student and consultant for non-profit organisations, I try to wear slightly conservative heels, which I pair with colourful stockings. But as soon as there is some art fair, fashion show or movie premiere, I am delighted to be able to express my creative side with arty, macaroon-coloured shoes. There is little more exciting than giving in to the temptation of yet another pair of beautiful heels – wearable sculptures. Sometimes I decide on wearing a great pair just for the sake of it. Especially when I feel uninspired or I need a change of rhythm when what I am doing starts to bore me. It works every time! Heels can inspire decadence. I remember my bewilderment when on my 20th birthday Dai Llewellyn poured champagne into my black
silk Yves Saint Laurent pump and drank from it. I must admit that I was more shocked than smitten at the time, but I find it rather comical in hindsight. The funniest experience was when a journalist asked me at a party what I was wearing, and whether my shoes were borrowed. Social reporters are really not what they used to be. I nonchalantly raised my foot and shoved my Prada heel, a personal gift from La Signora Prada herself, into his face and told him to look at its sole. When he discovered my engraved initials “CvB” in gold, he started to stutter and quickly excused himself. He has never asked me another silly question since. Celia is a widely travelled fashion darling, human rights activist, polictical scientist and a party favourite
Emma Thompson and Nick Haddow on The Safe project through sex trafficking, some through torture, some because of F.G.M or because of their sexuality. Each one has a unique story to tell and every story helps us to understand trauma and influence other groups (like legislators, politicians and general public) to take actions that help to end the abuse. I work with them not because I’m a bleeding heart but because I am profoundly interested in what they teach us about the human condition and what they may end up contributing to our emotional development. If, a hundred years ago, rape wasn’t considered a crime or much of a trauma how did our attitude change? I think
it changed because people who had suffered rape finally described what it was and what it did to them, physically and mentally. Now, in this country at least, rape is considered a crime and its consequences for the victim are much better understood. That development needs to be repeated with all forms of abuse” Emma Thompson “After meeting Helen, who is amazing, I really knew it was something I wanted to do. What I have learned from this is how fortunate I am to be part of this project, and also how lucky I am to have an amazing friend like Emma.” Nick Haddow
Images Courtesy of Nick Haddoow
he Safe project began as a collaboration between photographer Nick Haddow and actress Emma Thompson, aiming to raise national and international awareness of the terrifying growth of the sex trafficking industry and to raise funds for the Helen Bamber Foundation, so that it can continue its powerful and highly effective work with the women who have become victims of sex trafficking. “The Helen Bamber Foundation is a safe place for a wide variety of people who’ve been traumatised in different ways – some
Gaspard Ulliel, Photo © Ki Price, Cannes Film Festival 2010
Now available on Virgin Media, channel 445
’ve worked with Born Free for maybe 15 years or longer. I first met Virginia McKenna, who established the Born Free Foundation in 1991, on a movie we did together called Staggered. Our courtship was quite slow – I think it started with her selling me a raffle ticket, and then Born Free asked me to go on MTV to talk about how I’d adopted Aslan the lion as a present for my wife. I did the “Hey, honey, I bought you a lion!” thing. So I went to see Aslan – it was freezing cold at his holding area in Kent – and then I got to see the boy years later at Shamwari in South Africa. Shamwari is a Big Five Game Reserve, run by Adrian Gardiner, which hosts two Born Free Sanctuaries for lions and leopards rescued from zoos, circuses and other captive facilities. There is no shortage of lions that need rehoming. We took my daughter with us, and heard Aslan just let out this huge roar, which fascinates all the wild females. They all go, “Wow, who’s that?” You can’t touch him, but you can go and see him and there is an education area called the Julie Ward Centre – for the locals just as much as for tourists. It’s a bit grand for me to say that I have been working with Born Free on projects because I’m someone who just turns up and is on telly – and that’s where my expertise stops. But
Animal-lover and -adopter Martin Clunes relates his reasons for getting involved with the Born Free Foundation it’s meant an awful lot – I do care desperately about the plight of animals. I find the way we overlook them and generally mistreat them terribly embarrassing. There are a lot of smart charities and you can generally tell that by the people who back them – and I don’t mean people like me, I mean people like Adrian Gardiner and the support they give so wholeheartedly. I saw the lions before they had been relocated to Shamwari when they were freezing their butts off in Kent – infinitely better than the place they’d come from, but it was still a holding pen.
And then to get the chance to go visit them at Shamwari was amazing. Granted, they have to be fenced in but they are in the right place, surrounded by the right animals. They just seemed so happy. The Born Free commercial I have done this Christmas is about animal adoption and it is in perfect symmetry with how I got involved. Aside from buying that raffle ticket, I thought it would be a good idea to adopt a lion. These adoption packs are great value for money. I know my daughter likes the folders you get with special things in it – you get a personalised letter and a picture of the animal you’ve adopted, and updates twice a year. You get a really proper folder, not just a flimsy piece of paper that says you’ve adopted lion B. I don’t think the preachy thing works or helps. I get such pleasure from the relationships I have with my animals or the animals I come across. They make me laugh all the time. The horses, the dogs and the cat – they do give joy. I think laughter is maybe a good way to share and help spread the message… I don’t know. I’m sure a lot of serious zoologists would disagree, but my ignorance is all I have going for me. Martin Clunes is an actor and supporter of the Born Free Foundation (www.bornfree.com)
FQR Liberal at Large
y son works for a certain computer company (the one named after a fruit). My son was telling me about a virus. No, no, not one he contracted! My son was telling me about a computer virus. A very clever virus, it seems. As he spoke, I found myself being led into a world of science fiction, of movies such as The Matrix and The Terminator. A brave new world where a virus can develop and evolve a type of awareness. Well, biological viruses can already do that. But this was an electronic virus existing inside the “mind” of a computer! My son explained that this virus knows when antivirus software is coming to attack it and has developed a survival instinct to defend its existence! What?! A new super-virus that has developed a consciousness? Could it be? “Yes! And here is the kicker, Pa: computer techs and programmers are building a kind of ‘electronic sword’ to cut off the virus’s head. But once a ‘head is cut off ’ the virus acknowledges the decapitation and the ‘tail’ or the ‘body’ hides, goes to sleep – plays dead – until it feels it’s safe to ‘wake up’. And now, having identified what the sword looks like and how it functions, the virus disguises its old self so it can move freely and avoid the antivirus ‘sword’. The virus has ‘learned’ how to evade the sword. The virus has become, or evolved, like a cockroach that develops a resistance to the poisons designed to kill it. They have become superroaches.” My son said they call the virus a “worm”. He told me that the worm was crawling through the worldwide web, burying itself in computer soft- and hardware and, once it is embedded, it begins turning everything topsy-turvey. He explained how everything in the computer is simply binary code, the combination of ones and zeros. A gazillion combinations of ones and zeros. Black or white. On or off. A light switch. My son said that the computer people, those people that create and write programs and make computers for everything we seem to touch today, are very aware of the danger of this worm. And they are very scared… y son further pointed out how desperately attached our lives have become to computers. These millions of computers around the world are handling millions of decisions and actions. The industrial, economic and military world is literally run by computers. Every bank transaction, buying and selling everything from corn to pork belly, from gold to oil, is made over the worldwide web on millions of computers. The worm can make all those transactions flipflop. But that’s nothing. What’s really scary is that all the atomic missiles, the launch systems, and all of the nuclear power stations around the world are vulnerable to the whims of this worm. So what’s the good news, son? “Well, I got a new job. Now I have two. And the job at (fruit company) gave me a raise! But I don’t think it matters.” “Why?” I said, “That’s all great news!” “Well, have you seen the images of UFOs from China? The lights in the sky around Iceland? And now Dubai, too? And then the whole Mayan calendar deal? 2012 – end of the world. I don’t think the world is coming to an end, but I think we are in for a much bigger surprise: a magnetic polar shift. I think the magnetic poles are about to change – north will become south and south will become north. The whole world will spin really violently, changing the face of the whole world.” My son took a bite of his roll and sipped his coffee. “And the good news..?” I ask. “I’ll be home for Christmas.” FQR’s liberal-at-large Matthew Modine is the founder of Card Carrying Liberal (www.cardcarryingliberal.org)
T’Plan 9 From Outer Space’, Vampira, 1959/ Everett Collection/Rex Features
The (Prosperous New) Year of the Caan From finance to philanthropy, James Caan looks back at 2010
he global economy has been growing since the second quarter of 2009. There is an obvious shift from the trading might of the US towards the East, and we’re essentially living through a second industrial revolution. Industrial growth in the East is outstripping growth in Western countries. Businesses in the West must innovate and employ the cost-effective manufacturing base in the East to develop original, high-tech products and the markets for them. In the UK, the economy is obviously in a very difficult position, but I believe we can recover. There will certainly be dampeners on economic growth from the Government’s fiscal tightening and consumer spending not recovering as quickly as we’d like. Despite that, Britain’s GDP is expected to increase at 1.7% this year, according to the IMF. For the coming year, even though I feel the expected GDP growth will undershoot, the economy should still grow, albeit at a slower pace. The Government must encourage the banks to lend to small- and mediumsized businesses. If that happens there will always be opportunities in the market, and business can grow and carry our economy
along with it. As the banks start making credit more available this should bolster consumer spending confidence. The current environment has made businesses leaner and more robust. In the long term that will lead to a more sustainable growth as it will be led by business investment and exports, rather than public spending. Aside from business, the flood disaster in Pakistan – the worst natural disaster ever known – has become a big part of my life this year. An area the size of the UK has been flooded and about 20m people have had their lives destroyed. I was prompted to make the first journey out of the sheer frustration I felt sitting in London watching the news and reading the papers. I’d been fundraising for Unicef but didn’t feel that was enough. Initially, I took supplies to the affected areas myself and witnessed the devastation first hand. I’ve been out to Pakistan since and established a major project for the James Caan Foundation’s relief effort, focused on rebuilding a village. The objective is to provide the local people with homes and all the equipment they need to restart their lives. Working with The Big Issue has also been challenging, exciting and enlightening. It’s an outstanding example of social enterprise, and a national institution. Most businesses focus solely on profit, but society is now realising that you
can make a profit whilst considering people or the environment. Social enterprise is a step beyond the traditional charity model, and can have a bigger impact. The Big Issue is a successful business, but puts its profits back into supporting homeless people, encouraging them to be entrepreneurs and giving them self-worth. The magazine circulates over 147,000 copies a week nationally and last year put over £8m into the pockets of vendors. James Caan is the founder and CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw and appears in the popular BBC TV series Dragons’ Den James Caan’s top five tips for presenting a business proposal: 1. Understand your audience Know the backgrounds and motivations of prospective investors so you can engage with them on a personal level. 2. Make the journey compelling Pitch with conviction. 3. It’s not just the idea I’ve always been passionate about investing in people. 4. Know your numbers Prepare and ensure your facts are realistic. 5. Practice Preparation for the pitch is key to its success.
Da Finchey Ode X “I am a man of mission,” he said, “Set to cross the sea. I am,” he said, “a man of mission.” Instead, Right to her room he’d head, “A special mission, mine,” he claimed, “…of adventure, of dread!” It’s twisted round his balls, this vision, this fantasy of duress. Made marbles of his brain, Caused his family great distress, The in-laws shame – Ambition, naturally, to blame. He uses but two initials now, Like that fellow from The Times Reviewing restaurants and wine. Yet of triumph he can but think As to the boudoir he climbs To lofty heights sublime, Of exquisite excess In carnal bliss, To forget all but now, To forego the future and the past In an instant gone, like shattered glass. He must not stop To consider Or ponder, or dither. His children scattered like wind-blown seeds Around the planet, His offspring far away and lonely – To his Sherpa it’s all barmy Called now the family for Christmas they are – Back to Blighty For egg nog And a snog ❄ With a pleasing cowgirl, perhaps, As the old bugger frolics in the ives dancing over messy lives… Christmas, but a jolly time – save for the turkeys, For the sad and friendless, For the less fortunate, The feckless. They gather to shoot a giant stag With antlers like a bendy bus. They climb up jagged crag. The great beast looks on in pity At his killers. “Climb on, you lot, For on this hill I’m King – No boardroom here Or lawyers to fear. I will run swift as the wind to the finish The bog rising to my knees Until my heart bursts I will dream and curse The small men and their schemes. And when I am fallen, Rolling in the heather, The touch of glacial Highland water, My lips tight in grimace, I will know that for a dream lived I And clasped her by her tails. “I am a man of mission,” he said, Bending down his head. “A mission,” he gasped… And lay there, dead. The Sherpa lifted up the poor old sod And drank a dram to him, And down the hill together they went As alone they had come.
❄ FQR’s Festive Favourite
When I hear the term “eco Christmas”, which I hear more every year, the first thing I think is, “Eco, as opposed to what?” I prefer to define it as “romantic” versus “consumerist” or, better still, “romantic” versus “mad”. Because looking around at the plastic, the packaging and the commercialism, it’s easy to conclude that we’ve lost the plot. The most romantic, magical way of celebrating the festive season is naturally eco, predicated on reusing and recycling. It begins when you dig those treasured decorations out of the loft. My favourite children’s books are Shirley Hughes’s wonderful Alfie books, charting the lives of Alfie and Annie Rose. I’ve always imagined what Alfie and Annie Rose’s Christmas would have been like. Hey, a fictional template is as good as any! So Alfie and Annie Rose’s mother would have gone to the loft, taken down a box filled with magical Christmas-tree decorations – some of them would be handmade, some from grandparents, some might have been new, but they are all special and all wrapped carefully and kept for years and years and part of the family tradition. I am pretty sure that Father Christmas only brings Alfie and Annie Rose a couple of presents rather than a truckload – that’s what I tell my children anyway! They are special gifts, made properly (by which I mean built to last by producers and craftspeople paid a living wage) and which they will play with for years to come. I don’t think we should take a hair-shirt approach to Christmas even if we are trying to save the planet, so I’ll allow Alfie, Annie Rose and the rest of us fairy lights. It’s just that, rather than mainstream fairy lights, they are strings of lights containing LED light bulbs – these last many times longer than incandescent bulbs and produce less heat, meaning less energy is used, saving money and causing less environmental impact. Switch them off overnight, too. I could go on forever in this dreamy way. My point is that it is really about recapturing the magic. For a variety of reasons, the past two decades have turned Christmas from a treasured family event into a stressful time. Here are some top tips for returning the magic, which also immediately decrease the stress and make it “eco” too. Christmas cards Be very selective about these; the environmental impact of all that paper and all those inks is huge. Each year Christmas generates some 1bn waste cards. Send them only to very close family members or those who won’t understand a Christmas without them. Send everyone else a festive e-mail or even a text. If you are sending cards, buy recycled paper and or FSC certified. Afterwards, recycle using The Woodland Trust bins that are usually in supermarkets and mainstream stores. Decorations If you don’t have a wonderful box of family decorations in the loft, invest in the heirloom decorations of the future by buying handmade, artisan decorations. At Eco Age we are stocking magical decorations made by Lucinda Ganderton. Christmas trees Our real, potted tree has been around for the past five years. It lives in the garden all year around and then comes inside to star in the living room during Christmas. Perhaps we’ve been lucky or are unknowingly green-fingered, as potted trees can be hard to keep going – the trick is to get one with a good root system in tact from a knowledgeable seller. The Elveden Estate sells organic trees (they are Soil Association certified; www.elveden.com) or if you’re going for a cut tree the Danish grower Bols Forstplanteskole offers Fairtrade trees (www.fairtrees.co.uk). This is important as the Georgian pickers and growers (responsible for most imported fir trees) get a very unfair deal
The First Eco Noël Having an “eco” Christmas comes naturally to Livia Firth
MAKERS S P O RT I N G G U N S
and work in extremely poor conditions. Presents As for gifts, there is one big rule: only buy presents made sustainably, beautifully and fairly. Here’s a bit of brazen promotion – if you come to my shop we’ll show you a world of possibility! Wrapping The amount of wrapping paper used at Christmas in the UK is equivalent to the use of around 50,000 trees – and let’s not even get started on all the inks etc. Look for alternative papers that are made sustainably or include pre- or postconsumer waste. Paperchase does some good lines, but I’m rather a fan of brown paper (it always looks stylish), accessorised with reclaimed ribbon. I’ve also been known to use newspaper and unwanted wallpaper. Food Last As my friend Anna Getty writes in her book, I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas, “a great path to a greener holiday runs right through your kitchen”. Christmas dinner should, by rights, be one of the most low-carbon meals of the year – traditional meats, vegetables and even pudding are used precisely because they are seasonal! Buy organic, seasonal and local. You see, an eco Christmas isn’t rocket science, it’s just natural! Livia, wife of the actor Colin Firth, is the creative director of Eco Age (www.eco-age.com) – a store, showroom, consultancy and green hub for those who want to lead a greener and more energy-efficient life
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This Month I will be Killing The Bet Mostly… Collector
Harry Herbert hopes British racing Reza Rashidian has to put in a lot of effort to get this particular type of horn can clear its the economic hurdles
hen one speaks of big game hunting, the most immediate image conjured up in the average person’s mind is that of an African safari. Although Africa is incomparable to any other continent in terms of the staggering cornucopia of flora and fauna that inhabit its many and varied habitats, there are three animals that I feel represent African hunting as the highest form of challenge to the sportsman, animals that belong to the category of the spiral-horned antelope: namely, the bongo, the mountain nyala and the Lord Derby or giant eland. This is because one cannot hunt these animals without a great deal of effort and guile, due to both their secretive and hyper-vigilant nature, and to their natural habitat. The range of the bongo – a 400lb antelope that lives deep in the rainforests of Central Africa – extends from Kenya to the west coast of Africa. In order to hunt these secretive antelopes, one employs local trackers to literally follow the bongo’s every footstep in the thickest jungle imaginable. I found that the pygmies we had enlisted in Cameroon had a distinct advantage in making their way through the dense foliage. The shooting range is usually no more than 20 yards, owing to the lack of visibility. To get to within that range of a wild animal whilst making one’s way through thick forest plainly demonstrates the challenge of bagging a bongo. The giant eland inhabits the savannahs of Central Africa. They are the largest antelope in the world, weighing up to 2,000lb and standing almost six feet tall at the shoulder. Although one is not dealing with thick bush, tracking these animals is an exercise in patience and perseverance. Eland are herd animals, and unless you luck out and can get a
clean shot at the bull when you first gain sight of the group you are tracking, the many eyes that are normally watching within the herd will at some point get nervous, and the wary eland then start a very methodical trot away from you. Which they can keep up for hours. They repeat this again and again – to the hunter’s great dismay. I managed to bag mine after six days of tracking in the Central African Republic. It was 45° in the shade, and I was at the end of my tether when we finally shot the magnificent bull I was looking for. ountain nyala are indigenous exclusively to the highlands of Ethiopia. They are an extraordinary animal and live in an environment not dissimilar to Scotland on steroids. The heather that grows in these highlands is tall enough to swallow a grown man standing. The 600lb nyala, who tend to be active at first and last light, giving the hunter only a small window to spot the animal and take a shot. Finding the mountain nyala requires a good pair of legs and lungs to deal with the altitude (up to 14,000ft) and an even better pair of eyes and binoculars. It took me two 21-day safaris to finally spot a mature bull and be presented with a chance for a shot. The emotions that flowed after having got my mountain nyala are indescribable. Unlike any other sport, there are no rules in hunting big game. Rather, it is left to the individual hunter, and to a certain extent his guiding entourage, to establish an ethical attitude that relies on a rigorously selective form of harvesting wildlife. That principled approach necessitates hard work, diligence and a degree of noblesse. And that is what makes the difference between being a true hunter and a mere killer of animals. Reza Rashidian is Finch’s Quarterly Review’s hunting and shooting correspondent
there are no rules in hunting big game
ight now, British racing – which gave the world Royal Ascot and the Derby – is flirting with the knacker’s yard. It currently costs £25,000-plus to get horse and jockey to the track, and racing’s rulers say that it needs upwards of £130m for prize money, security and veterinary research. The money arrives through the annual Levy from bookmakers, who pay a percentage of their profits. The problem, however, is that their calculations are running at half the demand and, as a result, it will be the government that decides how much racing gets. The arbiter will be Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport. And in these austere times, it is hard to anticipate Hunt filling racing’s begging bowl. When the Levy was set up in 1961, the only alternative to backing horses was the grimy betting shop. Bookmakers’ emporiums are far more salubrious places nowadays, but more popular still is the online betting exchange Betfair. Founded in 2000, and offering Stock Exchange-type markets on anything from the Derby to The
X Factor, Betfair is 21st-century gambling. Bookmakers have moved to the rocky remnants of the Empire – Gibraltar and Malta – from where their businesses blow raspberries to our taxman. Betfair is also threatening to go offshore, which sends an icy chill down the racing world’s spine. These, then, are challenging times for the racing industry and its leaders, and there is even talk – from the Racehorse Owners Association president Paul Dixon – of owners being asked to strike. Dixon exhorts his members to inflict “maximum harm” on bookmakers by withdrawing their horses – under the erroneous impression that bookies need racing more than racing needs them. Personally, I believe that striking is a non-starter, and it seems that racing generally is running out of inspiration. The amazing thing is that, despite all the economic woes affecting the sport, yearling markets held up remarkably well and here at Highclere we have sold all of our shares in the new syndicates, which suggests that there is still a healthy appetite for involvement in the sport of kings. Syndicates, at least, make it so much more affordable – and with Harbinger being rated the best horse in the world, it proves that sharing doesn’t preclude you from competing at the highest level. Despite racing ills, my cup is still definitely half full. Harry Herbert is FQR’s racing correspondent
James & The Giant Polo Extravaganza James McBride writes of a unique experience – taking part in a match that saw the official renaissance of polo in Mongolia
Polo Calendar January 2011 27th to 30th: Saint Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow, St. Moritz Polo Club. 20th to 23rd: Berenberg Snow Polo, Alpine Polo Club Klosters, Switzerland. 5th to 23rd: Joe Barry Memorial Cup (20 Goal) International Polo Club, Florida. February 2011 12th to 27th: C.V. Whitney Cup (26 Goal) International Polo Club, Florida February. 20th to 26th: Audi Cortina Winter Polo on Snow, Italy. 24th February to 20th March: Piaget Gold Cup (26 Goal) International Polo Club, Florida.
have played polo all over the world – Hawaii, Aspen, Rio de Janeiro and on the Mall in front of the White House in Washington DC, which was a pretty unique experience. But generally, in all of these places, the set-up, people and atmosphere are pretty much the same. It is just the location that differs. However, there is one place I played this season that was very different: Mongolia. It was unlike playing polo anywhere else. It was the same in terms of the boots you were wearing, the four-legged creature you rode, but that’s it, I assure you. It was the Shanghai Tang Polo Cup held back in August, and I was invited to play by Raphael le Masne de Chermont, executive chairman of Shanghai Tang. Polo has not been played in Mongolia since Genghis Khan trained his warrior cavalry to play during the 13th century. But, in 1998 Christopher Giercke, a German filmmaker, made it his
quest to reintroduce polo into Mongolia and set up the Genghis Khan Polo Club. It’s really in the middle of nowhere – the closest road is 16km away and it’s 380km from Ulaanbataar, the Mongolian capital. Wild Mongolian horses are caught by Mongolians, who train them to be polo ponies. Christopher also teaches locals the game, and his aim is to train world-class players to compete at an international level. This was the first major event they have hosted. The three-day experience included not just polo but wrestling, archery and horseracing. Then in the evenings we ate the local cuisines and delicacies such as the Mongolian boodog barbecue, cooked using hot stones. They killed goats, and we had yak’s milk and were entertained by Mongolian Khuumii singers. We rode ponies that were much smaller than our usual polo ponies, some just a bit bigger than a Shetland and would stick
and ball with monks in full garb – in fact, you could stick and ball for 10 miles straight, that’s how open the countryside is there. This was one of the most unique experiences I have ever hade. n the final day, we played the Shanghai Tang Polo Cup – the experienced international players against a team of skilled Mongol horsemen who had been introduced to and trained in the game at the Genghis Khan Polo Club. The international team I played with were demolished by the Mongolians 8-2. The locals are completely fearless and far more agile, and had much better control of the ponies and a better feel for the environment. It was an amazing experience and there was a sense that we had witnessed something special together – the renaissance of polo in Mongolia. James McBride is President of YTL Hotels, based in Singapore (www.ytlhotels.com) and FQR’s Polo Correspondent
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LAMB AND CRISPY RICE Ingredients For The Lamb (810 servings)
1 shoulder of lamb (around 3kg), bone in ~ 15g whole cumin seeds ~ 15g whole fennel seeds ~ 15g whole coriander seeds ~ 1 head of garlic – cloves peeled ~ 1 flat tsp whole black peppercorns ~ 4 small dried chilli peppers (each about 1in long) ~ 2 heaped tsps good sea salt ~ Olive oil
Wash and dry the shoulder very well. Set aside, covered in paper towels. To make what is essentially a dry marinade, pummel together the seeds and spices with a mortar and pestle to crumble. Then add the garlic cloves and salt and pummel again till you have achieved a rough mash. If this all becomes too much for your arm and your patience, put it in a Magimix or blender and pulse – but do not pulverise – it. The mix should remain coarse. Uncover the lamb and rub this mash into the shoulder everywhere. Then wrap the whole thing – seeds and all – tightly in clingfilm or a (clean) plastic bag, place in a dish or something to catch any leakages, and refrigerate for as long as you have – at least 8 hours and up to three days. Turn the beast over in the dish once or twice. When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F, adjusting the shelf so that the meat will eventually sit about two-thirds the way up –
though safely clear of the grill. Take the lamb out of the fridge, unwrap it, sluice off the marinade with your hands into a clean dish and keep this mix to one side – you will use it again. Put the meat into a heavy roasting tin and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes on each side to brown. Take it out of the oven. Turn the heat right down to 110°C/200°F and lower the oven shelf by one notch. With a wooden spoon, spread the marinade on the lamb again, and drizzle over a little olive oil. Return it to the oven. Now leave the lamb in the oven at this temperature for anywhere between 8 and 15 hours, depending on the timing of your lunch or dinner. I am happy with the result after about 12 hours, but this recipe is extremely forgiving. If, for example, I have a Sunday lunch, I put it in late the night before. If it is for a dinner, I’ll start the cooking at nine that morning. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil once in a while and turn over a couple of times through the cooking if you have a chance – it will help keep the lamb moist and evenly roasted, but it is not absolutely essential. The lamb is ready when it falls off the bone with a prod of the fork. The meat will resist even slicing – and looks better in chunks anyway. The bone is delicious – and I have to fight with guests to let our poor dog have his due. Serve (the lamb, not the dog) with crispy rice.
his dish derives its name from the glorious golden-brown crust that forms on the bottom of the rice in your cooking pot. Some of you might be thinking that this is similar to the rice the Persians call Tadeeq, which, in fact,
is a Farsi word for bottom. You would be correct. I rather love the Persian name – almost comically unvarnished for so voluptuous a dish. My own version of Tadeeq has no claims to authenticity (even though there seem as many versions as Persians) but it does produce the most delicious bottom you are ever likely to encounter.
Ingredients For Rice
500g white Basmati rice ~ 2 rounded tbsps of Maldon or other good sea salt ~ 200g unsalted butter cut into eight pieces. ~ 10 whole cardamom pods
To prepare this rice, you will need a heavy pot or pan, about 12in/30cm in diameter and with sides at least 3in/7cm high, and a tight-fitting lid. If you don’t have such a thing, use a regular pot. You will still get a crispy bottom on your rice, but there will just be less of it, as you will see. Measure out the rice and put it in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water, swish the rice around to remove the starch, which will billow out into the water. Let it sit for a few minutes and then tip into a strainer and rinse the rice under the cold-water tap. Set the strainer atop the bowl to drain and then tip the rice into the pan you will use to cook it, spreading the grains around the bottom. Set this on your widest burner. Take a large measuring cup, and fill with 750ml of cold water. Start to pour this water into the pan, until the level of the water comes to about an inch/2.5cm above the rice. You may not need all the water, or you may need a bit more (though I doubt it). Add one tbsp of salt and stir gently and
briefly, resettling the rice evenly when you have finished stirring. Distribute the chunks of butter round the top of the rice. Cover the pan with its lid and turn on the burner to medium-high. You must stay close to the rice during this initial cooking, lifting the lid every few minutes to check that the water is not about to boil over. When the rice and water start to seethe and bubble gently, stir carefully with a wooden spoon, incorporating the melting butter into the rice. When this is done, taste a teaspoonful of the water. If it seems too bland, add up to another tablespoonful of salt, stirring to distribute. Dot the 10 cardamom pods about the surface of the watery rice. This will be the last time you stir the mix until you are ready to serve it. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Cover the rice again. Check after another 5-10 minutes. By this time, there should not be any water remaining on the surface. Cut a piece of baking parchment roughly to fit the circumference of the pan. Lay it on top of the rice and press it down lightly so it touches the surface. This will help the rice cook and help you resist any impulse to stir it. Replace the lid and every 10 minutes or so, shift the pan around the burner to ensure that the bottom is browning evenly. After about half an hour to 45 minutes, your rice should be done. Fluff the grains with a fork, leaving intact the brown crust on the bottom of the pot. In a large shallow serving bowl, tip out this loose top layer of rice. With a metal spatula, gently prise free the bottom crust, which should come out in one or two tectonic slabs. Turn these over on top of the loose rice, and break them up or leave your guests to do this. Maya Even is Finch’s Quarterly Review’s Cookery Editor
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In December, Richard Eyre will direct John Mortimer’s version of Georges Feydeau’s 1907 classic farce A Flea in Her Ear, originally performed on The Old Vic stage by the National Theatre in 1966
A Flea in Her Ear is a high-speed comedy of errors written by the French playwright Georges Feydeau, who is remembered for his many lively farces. The play is set in Belle Epoque Paris and revolves around the story of a wife, Raymonde Chandebise, who suspects her husband, Victor Emmanuel, of having an affair. In order to determine her husband’s infidelity, she enlists the help of a friend and they concoct a plan to entrap him. Of course, the plan misfires and absolute chaos ensues. In a nutshell, the play is a classic marital farce about supposed infidelity, jealousy and marital problems. Like all Feydeau plays, it is based on plausible people and the action grows by multiplying the possibilities of misunderstandings between them. It’s very hard to talk about laughter because everybody’s idea of what is funny is slightly different or, in some cases, extremely different. I wanted to direct the play because I love farce, and all farce depends on having a conventional social order turned upside down. What makes me laugh is partly the situations the characters find themselves in and partly the characters themselves - a prim businessman, a drunk porter, a nosy butler, an insanely jealous Spanish aristocrat, a saucy maid ❄, an incomprehensible German hotel guest, an obsessional seducer, an ex-sergeantmajor, an ex-prostitute and so on. When the characters collide, they do so in a wonderfully satisfying way. I wanted actors for the production who have inherent
What A Feeling!
Tom Hedley, writer of the massive hit movie Flashdance, tells how he has finally brought the production to the stage
his autumn was the 27th anniversary of Flashdance, and marked our West End premiere. Twenty-seven years – it all seems both long ago and only yesterday. Allow me to tell you how I came to write the movie in the first place… In 1981 my friend Robert Markle (a painter who understood the power of the female figure) had become disenchanted with the static nature of nude-figure studies. He wanted figures that moved. His father, a Mohawk Indian, was a legendary high-steel worker, and like his father, Markle had an unshakable, romantic attachment to blue-collar life. Back then, Markle found his “moving figures” on the runways of a working-men’s bar in Toronto and another in nearby Buffalo, New York. He had happened upon a fleeting but vibrant subculture of fresh young amateur dancers who put together their own shows. These fantastic girls had no small amount of sexual glamour. The dance acts were produced by the girls themselves. They were their own choreographers, music directors, stylists and make-up artists – whatever it took. One Latin Chiquita had designed a pair of pumps with see-through high heels that contained live goldfish swimming in aquamarine water. They had some truly great ideas… and could they dance! Markle would sketch quietly behind a pitcher of beer as they moved electrically, sometimes outrageously, on the runway across from him. Once in a while he’d glance my way and say, “This is my Sistine Chapel, pal.” A painter’s parade of gorgeous flesh tones in various hues; this was Markle’s found art. He saw the dancers as local heroines, and I could see why. They were true originals, wildly alive, and they danced for each other, not the men in the room. They couldn’t tolerate stripping and would tell you so – though
wit. Tom Hollander is one of these actors, and he plays Victor Chandebise, the businessman, and his double, Poche, the hotel porter. Lisa Dillon plays Chandebise’s suspicious wife, Raymonde. Oliver Cotton, Jonathan Cake, Fiona Glascott, John Marquez and Freddie Fox play some of the other parts. When I was auditioning some of the actors who I met couldn’t make head nor tail of what was happening in the script because it’s written like a musical score the mechanism of the comedy is extraordinarily detailed and complex. To put it in perspective, there are something like 250 openings and closings of doors in the play. With all this physical complexity, staging the play is a challenge, but an alluring one. You have to approach the direction of a farce in quite a scientific way - the detail of every moment has to be examined, the intentions have to be analysed, the physical movement choreographed. You have to apply reason and order to comic chaos in order to find ways of bringing it to life that are both plausible and funny. The version of the play that we’re doing was written by the late, great, John Mortimer, and originally performed by the National Theatre at The Old Vic in 1966, when it starred Albert Finney. John was a very good friend of mine and I was very sad when he died last year. I think his version of the play is by far the best English translation. This was another reason why I decided to direct the play: in remembrance of John. I’ll certainly be lifting a glass of champagne to him on the opening night. Sir Richard Eyre is an English director of film, theatre, television and opera. A Flea in Her Ear is on at The Old Vic from 4 December to 5 March (www.oldvictheatre.com) were narrative in nature, Tickets: 0844 871 7628 little stories that created a ❄FQR’sFestive Favourite complete style by merging, sensationally. All at once, in a flash, music, dance and fashion. I called the style “Flashdance”. And here it is with us once again, but this time live on stage where it started in the first place. Flashdance the movie was made in 1983, against all odds, at a time when Hollywood had decided the musical genre was dead. It was precisely because of this studio prejudice that they had no problems I conceived Flashdance as a movie musical where no one sang to the taking their clothes off if “it made sense for the act”. camera. Though the screenplay was musically structured and driven The girls seemed completely natural, projecting not one ounce of by dance production numbers, I was careful to play scenes “real” and prurience. They were supremely confident under the skin. In the never have a character sing out loud. There was plenty of resistance dressing room, with no clothes on, their bodies were so perfect they to this concept and at first we found directors weren’t interested. Fifteen in a row said, “No, thanks.” After passing at least once Adrian looked dressed. Markle’s muses liked to parody themselves with outsize burlesque Lyne agreed to take the job. And he directed it beautifully – without names such as Gina Gina The Sex Machina, Tine Tech or Muscles Adrian, the movie probably wouldn’t have worked. The first director to turn down my script was the master himself, Marinara. Behind the bravado they were mostly nice Catholic girls from a working-class neighbourhood. They were desperate to be Bob Fosse. I met with Fosse in his sparse, gloomy apartment across outlaws for a moment in time – to make something dramatic out from the Plaza Hotel in New York. The maestro had a cold but, of themselves before life’s realities closed in and they ended up nonetheless, was chain-smoking. He sat in a worn leather chair under a torn Sweet Charity poster. He’d cough and, from time to time, in the growing darkness and as if choreographed, I would hear a female cough in a distant bedroom. osse was tough-minded but generous both with his time and surprisingly detailed notes. He had obviously spent a lot of time studying the script. He loved the Flashdance girl but thought the script had a central flaw. He didn’t believe a movie could marrying the pipe fitter down the street. be built simply on single choreography to camera. As far as he was Even back then there was an underlying dread of an unstable concerned, without ensemble choreography a musical just couldn’t future. It was understood that the outsourcing trend of the so- work. I argued that my girls were pure rock’n’roll – they had to be called new economy would threaten job security, even close the seen as if they were performing to a mirror. Fosse didn’t buy that. mill towns and ultimately destroy the blue-collar dream. Life was a He was an old jazz guy who had little patience for rock’n’roll, in any ticking clock. Reaganomics built the coffin in the early 1980s and case. “Look, it’s not a movie,” he said at his apartment door while George W Bush hammered in the final nail a few decades later. shaking my hand. “If it’s anything, it’s a musical for the stage…” As I look back I now realise these dancers didn’t exist in a “Trouble is, I’m making a movie,” I replied sheepishly. vacuum. They were part of an emerging Zeitgeist. In a sense, they “If you change your mind,” the maestro said, looking bonewere the first MTV girls – even though MTV was very much in its weary, “you have my number… With work, your Flashdance might infancy back then. They had their own fashion sense: part dancer- make a hell of a Broadway show.” drag, part industrial-drag. There was something very sexy about From your lips to God’s ears, Mr Fosse. Let’s hope you’re right. If blue-collar girls who were competent in men’s jobs. Eventually, you’re still up there, maybe you could put in a good word for me. the flashdancers were instinctively making their own living videos, Tom Hedley is a British writer, editor, producer and publisher born in whether they realised it or not. The performances in the corner bars Sevenoaks, Kent
Behind the bravado they were mostly nice Catholic girls
HIMSELF UP Panto Special
Who’s our favourite pantomime dame? It’s Christopher Biggins. Oh yes, it is!
anto? Me? How dare you!” It was 1974. I’d just been offered Mother Goose at Darlington’s Civic Theatre and I can’t say I took it very well. Trust me, I had nothing against Darlington. Nor did I look down on panto like some of the theatrical crowd. No, the problem was my age. I was only 26 – and every pantomime dame I’d ever seen had been an old man. “The whole idea is ridiculous,” I told my agent. “Get them to ask me again in 30 years.” Thankfully, the show’s producers asked me again in about 30 minutes. We started playing a lovely little game in which I kept on saying “No” and they kept on increasing the money. When they reached £1,000 a week I finally said, “Yes” – and it wasn’t just my bank manager who cracked open the champagne. It turned out that I adored panto. I adored all the costumes. I adored coming up with great catchphrases for all the kids – and with some very naughty lines for all the adults. Most of all, I adored the noise the audiences made. Forget a ripple of polite applause in the classics. When I came on stage for the curtain calls at Mother Goose there were so many cheers I felt like a rock star. By the end of the run, I was hooked. So in 1975 I didn’t think twice when I was offered Dick Whittington. It was more a case of, “Another panto? Where do I sign?” It was the same for my third year in Darlington when we had a sold-out run of Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s been the same every year since. To this day I want to thank my original producers Dougie Squires, Peter Todd and Jamie Phillips for putting me on the panto ladder. So it was no surprise that, as early as September, I was already looking forward to this season’s panto – my 36th, if I’m counting right! I’m playing the wonderful Widow Twankey in Aladdin at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton. I always say pantomime dames should be as daft as your aunty and as warm as your granny. I’m going to be dafter than ever this
year – and thanks to Velcro, I’m planning to do a ridiculous number of costume changes as well. What else do I love about panto? I love the fact that the producers are constantly on the lookout for the next big thing. You’ll see things in panto you don’t see in any other theatres – and I don’t just mean my luminous bloomers or my Susan Boyle impression. I hooted with laughter the first time we had 3-D special effects in Aladdin – and I’m looking forward to having more fun with it this season. I also love the fact that I don’t get told off for ad-libbing. I’d get the occasional stern note from the producers if I went off the script in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium. I get positively encouraged when I do it in panto. Ad-libbing is how we get some of the biggest laughs of the night. It’s essential when you’re doing the song sheet with the kids and you don’t know if they’re going to chat away, clam up or, as one poor boy did, throw up all over the footlights. Twice. Finally, I love the good old-fashioned camaraderie you get backstage. Panto is one of those jobs where you’re thrown together for a short, intense period and everyone has to get along. With a few notable exceptions I’ve tried to forget, we always do. It’s not a job for the faint-hearted, though. My dear friend Joan Collins is making her ❄ panto début just along the road from me in Birmingham this season, and I’m glad she’s in such good shape. Doing 12 shows a week for eight or more weeks takes a lot of stamina. I start a mini-fitness routine every November (don’t laugh), I have my flu jab every year and I take so many vitamins I rattle. What I don’t intend to do is to give up. Yes, it took some persuading to get me to do a panto at 26. How extraordinary that in a few years’ time I might still be doing them at 66! In the meantime, I’ve got Widow Twankey to prepare for. “Go along and sing along” is my advice to anyone who’s never tried panto before. But watch out – you might get hooked the way I did back in 1974. If you’re the right age you and your family might end up coming back for the next 36 years as well. Roll on, opening night! Christopher Biggins will be starring as Widow Twankey in Aladdin at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from 11 December to 30 January 2011. ❄ FQR’s Festive Favourite
You’ll see things in panto you don’t see in any other theatres – and I don’t just mean my luminous bloomers
How The Finch Secured Christmas Production: Scenes from Cinderella: A thoroughly modern pantomime Writer: Kinvara Balfour Cast (in order of appearance)The Hon Cressida Crowsfeet: One hell of an ugly sister. Acne-prone. Brays loudly when excited. The Hon Penelope Pimpleton: An even uglier sister. Silicone-enhanced. Partial to the odd Krispy Kreme (or five). Avid reader of US Weekly.Gaylord Stardust: Stylist to the stars. Fond of leather. And Justin Timberlake. Plans to change the world one sequin at a time.Cinderella: Supermodel slave with doe eyes, coltish limbs, silky gold tresses and sugarplum lips. Conscientious. 100% natural. Fairy Felicity Fantabulous: Exceedingly generous quadragenarian. Keen on all things pink. Vacations in Florida. Insatiable appetite for Barbara Cartland novels. BF with Oprah.
Act I, Scene 3: The Ugly Sisters Prepare for The Ball Whilst a plethora of clothes, shoes and accessories fly about the room, Gaylord Stardust assists the Ugly Sisters as they dress for Prince Charming’s much-anticipated ball. Cressida Crowsfeet: (reads invitation) “His Royal Highness Prince Charlie Charming of Charmsworth, Charmington, invites The Honourables Cressida Crowsfeet and Penelope Pimpleton to the opening of The Bang Bang Room, a nifty new nightclub set inside the Royal Palace. Cocktails by Mother Goose vodka. Live music by Snowy White and The Dwarfettes. Dress: Fancy.”(hugs invitation to her voluminous breast) OMG, I’m, like, majorly excited! Penelope Pimpleton: This is the party of the year. We’re going to have a ball! Cressida Crowsfeet: I simply have to look hotter than hot. Prince Charlie Charming is just too winsome for words. Hair extensions: check. Acrylic nails: check. Fake tan: check. Spanx Power Pants: check. And I’ve just bleached my moustache. Who are you texting? Penelope Pimpleton: (taps busily on her iPhone) Jack the Beanstalker. He’s so persistent. He keeps poking me on Facebook. He claims to have been up all night – Gaylord Stardust: That’ll be those magic beans. They sure make one feel like a giant.
Penelope Pimpleton: – but he’s game for another major bender. Gaylord Stardust: (aside) Aren’t we all? Penelope Pimpleton: Tweet alert: Romance Aladdinovich will be there! He says he’s planning to sweep me off my feet. Cressida Crowsfeet: Oh please; he has had everyone on that carpet. Penelope Pimpleton: Oh no he hasn’t! Cressida Crowsfeet: Oh yes he has! Gaylord Stardust: Come, ladies: if you want to frock around the clock, we have work to do! I’m thinking minimal baroque meets flirties chic: lashings of lace, ounces of flounces and swathes of brocade. I want glitter, sequins, buttons and bows. And diamonds! Veritable clusters of the things. We’ll make sure you’re the hottest babes in this ’hood. Penelope Pimpleton: I want the Westwood corset dress. Cressida Crowsfeet: Hands off, Pinchface. it’s mine! Penelope Pimpleton: Oh no it isn’t, Crowdedcrotch! Cressida Crowsfeet: Oh yes it is. I’m teaming it with a Judith Leiber clutch, some jazzy Cheryl Cole tights and a pair of patent Louboutin thigh-highs. Gaylord Stardust: Talk about a puss in boots! I’m so behind you! Cressida Crowsfeet: He’s behind me! Penelope Pimpleton: Well, then, I get the
McQueenadillos and the Cavalli pantsuit. Gaylord Stardust: (aside) Fee-fi-fo-fum, how will that fit her bum? Penelope Pimpleton: And I want a headdress. If D-Guinn can do antlers and P-Faith can pull off vegetables, I’m sure as hell piling some fancy goods on my head. What do we think: tropical fruits or a sirloin steak? Gaylord Stardust: Oh, the steak is killer! To die for! (slaps his thigh) After struggling with various zips, buttons and hooks (many of which will not do up, despite their best efforts), the Ugly Sisters are complete in their garish attire. Penelope Pimpleton: How do we look? Gaylord Stardust: Totally gagaween! Just to DIE. Ladies, you’re going to have a ball! Penelope Pimpleton: Cinderella! Cinderella! Come upstairs at once and admire us in our finery. We’re off to mingle with the stars. Cinderella enters. Dressed in a tattered smock, she rocks the vintage rag look. Cressida Crowsfeet: Read all about it and weep, Cinders. It’s going to be the party of the year and you’re not coming. The only tiles you’ll be spending the night on are those on the kitchen floor! Gaylord Stardust: Hurry, ladies, we must be on our way. I’ve got a hot date with Slick Whittington and a bottle of baby oil and if
I don’t come he’ll be most disappointed. (Aside) As will I. Oh, how I hope for a happy ending! With much faffing, primping and preening, the Ugly Sisters and Gaylord Stardust exit. Cinderella stifles a yawn. She’s about to make a pot of tea when Bam! Ker-pow! Crash! Cymbals clash, drums roll and triangles tinkle: Fairy Felicity Fantabulous enters – a vision in pink – with a thousand sparkling stars in her wake. Fairy Felicity Fantabulous: Fear not! I come in friendship. I am here to relieve your woes, my child. Cinderella: Are you the manicurist? Fairy Felicity Fantabulous: Nay, I am your fairy godmother. I can grant you any wish your heart desires. You want to go to the ball? It can be arranged. Need something to wear? I can conjure up a splendiferous Chanel confection in seconds. When it comes to transport I can do carriages, stretch limos or pretty much any classic car you want. Picture this: as you arrive, paps pap and onlookers gasp. You’re wearing more rocks than a Russian who’s raided Bond Street: Damiani, de Grisogono, Cartier – you’re laden with the stuff. Prince Charming of Charmsworth will be charmed with your charms and will propose to you under the stars. I can even ensure you evade the curse
of Hello! And all with the mere flick of a wand. Weep not, my child! You shall go to the ball! Cinderella: To be honest, Fairy Fantabulous, I think I’ll pass. I’m not up for the rent-a-crowd thing tonight. I’m sure to hear all about in on Gawker, I can check out the photos on Facebook and it’ll be in all the daily rags tomorrow. I’d much rather put my feet up in front of the telly. Buttons has lent me his Mad Men box set and, besides, there’s a Mulberry handbag I want to bid for on eBay. Fancy a cup of tea? Fairy Felicity Fantabulous: Oh, don’t mind if I do, dear; I’ve had one hell of a day. My feet are throbbing like Santa’s head on Christmas Eve and this crown weighs a ton. I started with Barack Obama this morning – now that squire really is in need of a bag of gold – I went on to Gordon Ramsay – what a fiery dragon – and finished with Mel Gibson. I’m pooped. The pair flop onto the sofa with mugs of tea and a packet of HobNobs. The mice under the floorboards are also secretly relieved about such a plan. Kinvara Balfour is a playwright. Her first play ‘Dazed & Abused’ showed in Edinburgh, London and New York. She has just finished writing her second drama which she hopes will enjoy the same success.
FQR Christmas Books
Ion Trewin reviews a smorgasbord of memoirs – and an author-revealing cookbook
ust listing some of the names – Porter, Gershwin (George and Ira), Hart, Rodgers, Loesser, Hammerstein, Lerner, Loewe – has me humming their tunes, singing their songs. Their astonishing output tumbles forth years, decades, even generations after they were at work. The 20th-century musical, whether on Broadway or in Hollywood, proved a genre so rich in talent. And then there was Stephen Sondheim. And today it is no exaggeration to say that, even at the age of 80, he still has the American musical in his hands. His Stephen Sondheim: Finishing the Hat (Virgin Books) is a treasure trove. This first volume of collected lyrics from 1954 (his first and little-known musical comedy called Saturday Night) to 1981’s Merrily We Roll Along, a failure on Broadway, but finally a hit in revised form in, of all unlikely places, Leicester, middle England, where Sondheim thinks he and his lyricist George Furth finally got it right. It is also a musical memoir, as unflinchingly honest as one expects from a man who has always eschewed sentimentality in his work. Looking back at his second show, the wonderful West Side Story (1957), where he wrote the lyrics to Leonard Bernstein’s music, the book by Arthur Laurents and choreography by Jerome Robbins, he now criticises himself for writing for Maria, a lower-class Puerto Rican brought up on street argot, “It’s alarming/How charming/I feel”. These “smoothly rhymed and coyly elegant phrases” are, he says, more suited to “a character from a Noël Coward operetta because the lyricist wants to show off his rhyming skills”. Coward, he adds in a footnote, is a writer whose lyrics he “cordially but intensely dislikes”. Sondheim was brought up for five years, in his teens, in the home of Oscar Hammerstein, who understood that lyrics are not poetry; they are not there to be read on the page or spoken aloud. Sondheim cites Hammerstein’s “plainer and flatter lyric”, giving as an example the opening of Oklahoma! where “Oh, what a beautiful mornin’” “soars poetically when infused with music”.
Here is Sondheim laid bare – by himself. Relying on the William Faulkner observation that a writer needs experience, observation and imagination, he is not shy of seeking out someone else’s experience to fill a void in his own life. When writing Company (1970) he needed to know about marriage, so interviewed Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard Rodgers), who had just begun “her second attempt – she knew enough to know what she didn’t know, which made her comments fresh, personal discoveries rather than pre-digested truisms”. And that sums up this
marvellous book: it is Sondheim’s search for the truth in himself, but seen essentially through his work. He worries that often a song of his he quotes loses much of its tone and subtext when disconnected from its context, yet he need not have worried. I only had to start reading “I’m Still Here” from Follies, which begins “Good times and bum times/I’ve seen them all and, my dear/I’m still here”, and the tune came straight into my mind – and I was singing. Andrew Motion said in his Man Booker Prize speech when revealing that Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)
Found In Translation Next year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Tim Brearly says it will continue to be read in our digital age
he first review was not encouraging. “Tell His Majesty,” wrote Hugh Broughton, foremost scholar of Hebrew in Jacobean England, “that I had rather be rent in pieces by wild horses than that any such translation should be urged upon poor churches. The new edition crosseth me. I require it to be burnt”. The King James Bible escaped the flames to become the bestselling book of all time, but Broughton highlights the controversy faced by all Bible translators. The King James Bible is famous as “the only decent thing done by a committee”, although the 54 men chosen by the King could draw on the genius of William Tyndale – the first to translate scripture into English from the original Hebrew and Greek. They had the sense to follow his great insight that Hebrew was more suited to translation into English than into Latin, and to translate not idiomatically but syntax for syntax, as in the opening of The Song of Solomon: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine…”
Matthew 2.11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. King James Bible καὶ ἐλθόντες εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν εἶδον τὸ παιδίον μετὰ Μαρίας τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ, καὶ πεσόντες προσεκύνησαν αὐτῷ καὶ ἀνοίξαντες τοὺς θησαυροὺς αὐτῶν προσήνεγκαν αὐτῷ δῶρα, χρυσὸν καὶ λίβανον καὶ σμύρναν. The Greek New Testament et intrant
The tautology is arresting. What else can you es domum invenerunt puerum cum Maria kiss with – unless you live in the rougher streets matre eius et prociof Glasgow? Yet by following the original Hebrew dentes adoraverunt eum almost word for word, we are left in no doubt of et apertis thesauris suis the nature of that kiss. When a modern translation obtulerunt ei munera ❄ chooses the idiomatic alternative of “smother me aurum tus et murram. Vulgate with kisses”, the mysteriously erotic is transformed into the camp of a Valentine’s card. Whereas Tyndale’s translation was meant for ❄ FQR’s Festive private study, the men of 1611 designed their Favourite translation to be read aloud from the pulpit, yet the distinctive cadence of the King James is never achieved at the expense of simplicity. This is their rendering of King David’s grief when he learns that his rebellious son, Absalom, has been killed in battle:
was this year’s winner that it was a vintage year for fiction. Surely, this is true for memoirs such as Sondheim’s, which elegantly reveal the talent of the author. Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home (Chatto & Windus) is another. It is not simply a cookbook. Kitchens, she says, are “where I feel most at home”. And she adds: “For me the kitchen is not a place I want to escape from, but to escape to” and yet she confesses that there are “times when the idea of cooking doesn’t fill me with joy or make me radiate enthusiasm”. Her new book is the best part of 500 pages of recipes, but it also tells us much about the author, in the way that Nigel Slater’s cookery books do. Like Delia Smith, Lawson is not shy of shortcuts and buying readymade ingredients. Watching her demonstrate dishes on television, it is the joy on the faces of her guests as she slips her Mexican lasagne, say, onto a crowded table that says it all. Her Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home should make even the most reluctant cook (such as Stephen Sondheim, incidentally) go straight to the kitchen to “have a go”. hen I saw that Michael Caine had written The Elephant to Hollywood: The Autobiography, I immediately wondered what he could possibly add to his 1992 memoir What’s It All About? He addresses the question on page one: he thought that book would round off his professional life but, as we all know, the Michael Caine of Alfie, Zulu, Get Carter and The Italian Job matured into an actor cast by Woody Allen in Hannah and Her Sisters or by Lasse Hallström in his version of John Irving’s The Cider House Rules. Here again you not only learn what he’s been doing, but you can hear that inimitable voice. I never thought I’d write this, but The Elephant to Hollywood (Hodder & Stoughton) is even better than What’s It All About? Whether you think of her as the Duchess of Devonshire (in fact, she is now the Dowager Duchess) or Debo (which is how even those she has never met often address her), or now, as she calls herself, Deborah Devonshire, the essence of her life, in her delightful, page-turning memoir Wait for Me! is in the subtitle Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister (John Murray Publishers). Guided by her editor, Charlotte Mosley, who married one of her nephews and has since gone on to edit (brilliantly) volumes of the Mitford sisters’ letters, she recounts her life in a deceptively simple manner. Begin at the beginning is good advice, and she does so with the immortal Farve and Muv. They may be familiar to us from other Mitford books, but in Wait for Me! they come across freshly minted. Her siblings – Nancy, Diana, Unity, Jessica, Pamela – and brother Tom are all here. And that title: as the youngest with, as she admits, “short, fat legs”, she simply could not keep up. Yet today, even at 90, she leaves people struggling to keep up with her. I watched her at the annual Cheltenham Literature Festival where she attracted a book-signing queue so long that it streaked down the aisles and out of the book tent. Inimitable! Ion Trewin is the Literary Director of the Man Booker Prize and author of Alan Clark: The Biography
“And the King was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said. O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Forty-six words, of which three are the proper name, and two – “moved” and “chamber” – are disyllabic Latin/French. But the remaining 41 words are all Anglo-Saxon monosyllables: utterly simple, yet profoundly moving. f course there are obscure – even comic – passages. But those who reject the King James as old-fashioned miss the point. It always was. The translators ignored the linguistic innovation of their great contemporary, William Shakespeare, and instead pitched their work in the register of three generations before – an inspired marketing ploy, since the controversial new Bible felt as if it had been around forever. By ignoring fashion, they achieved their great aim of creating a work that would be timeless, and succeeded in ways they could never have imagined. When the Apollo 8 astronauts became the first humans to see the Earth as a tiny opalescent jewel in the vast darkness of space, they groped for appropriate words and settled on those crafted by the King James committee in their version of Genesis. Frank Borman famously concluded the reading: “‘And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.’ And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the ‘Good Earth’.” With 450,000 people around the world entering the search string “King+James+Bible” into the Google search engine every month, the words of the King James look set to live on into the digital age. Tim Brearly is a Director of The King James Bible Trust. The Trust is running a competition inviting young composers to write a song or anthem. For more information visit: www.kingjamesbibletrust.org
On the Coffee Table this Quarter
CAFÉ SOCIETY Socialites, Patrons, and Artists: 1920 to 1960 By Thierry Coudert (Published by Flammarion) Café Society documents the habitués and frequenters of Parisian café society, both the patrons who galvanized some of the greatest creative talents of the 20th century and the talents themselves including painters, fashion designers, choreographers, and musicians.
The magnificent and increasingly famous Ai Weiwei is the name on every art-lover’s lips – but, says Fabien Fryns, there are younger Chinese artists about to hit the big time
Image Courtesy of Tate Modern
here is little doubt that the highlight of the art week that took London by storm in mid-October was the opening of the long-awaited installation by Ai Weiwei at Tate Modern. The Chinese artist had prepared well for the Unilever Series commission; he employed 1,600 workers for over two years to complete 100m (yes, million!) individually hand-painted ceramic sunflower seeds to form a 3in thick carpet on the 10,700sq ft floor of the Turbine Hall. For those of you who have been on another planet for the past two years, Ai Weiwei (born 1957, Beijing) is possibly best known as the mastermind behind the design of the Beijing Olympic Stadium, aka the Bird’s Nest. Besides providing the guiding inspiration to Herzog & de Meuron, he is a leading Chinese artist, curator, designer, filmmaker, cultural and social activist and human rights advocate. For 25 years Ai Weiwei has consistently been one of the most pioneering figures in China’s art world. He helped direct the course of Chinese art, not only through his own artistic creation, but also through his curatorial, editorial and design projects.
When Ai Weiwei was only one year old, his father, Ai Qing, one of China’s best-known poets, was denounced by the central government and the entire family was expelled from the capital and sent into a military r e education labour camp in Xinjiang province, close to the Gobi desert. The exile lasted nearly 20 years. The Ai family – parents and three children – lived in a room dug out of the earth. Ai Qing, by then nearly 60, was forced to scrub lavatories at the camp every day and was subjected to frequent beatings. In 1976, at the end of the Cultural Revolution the Ai family was allowed to move back to Beijing. Soon after, Ai Weiwei enrolled in the Beijing Film Institute. While attending the film school, Ai eagerly participated in the controversial, mostly underground, art movements in Beijing. Ai Weiwei and many other artists and writers who aspired to a more democratic society and more freedom in artistic expression, formed the infamous Stars Group, mounting several “guerrilla” experimental exhibitions throughout the city. In 1981, he moved to New York City, where he studied briefly at the Parsons School of Design and the
Art Students League before quitting the school and settling in the East Village as a struggling artist. In 1993, when his father became fatally ill, Ai
decided to move back to Beijing. The experiences of exile, relocation and reconciliation profoundly shaped Ai’s artistic trajectories in the 1990s. His Han Dynasty Urn With Coca-Cola Logo (1994) and his famous photo triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995) are both metaphorical and dramatic. His philosophical view of constructing the new through destruction of the old is a recurring theme in his work thereafter. While there is no doubt that Ai Weiwei is a crucial figure in the contemporary art world (as a matter of fact, he was named the world’s number-one most influential contemporary artist by Artreview magazine last month ahead of Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and the like), I would like to draw attention to some young artists working in China today who are producing
very exciting work that is still affordable for novice collectors. Xu Zhen might be the next big thing. The Shanghai-based artist (b1977) recently ceased to work under his name and now creates for MadeIn, a company of which he is CEO. MadeIn employs dozens of workers and its CEO oversees artistic creation, productivity and branding. His goal is to eventually erase an artist’s identity altogether and to replace it with a brand name, taking the entire concept of a “Factory” à la Warhol to an entirely new level. Qiu Xiaofei (b1977) presented his recent body of work at Boers-Li Gallery in Beijing last September and the show almost sold out. Entitled Point of No Return, the mostly largescale paintings in this series evaluate the artist’s own artistic evolution and investigate the spiritual consciousness of the Chinese people in the rapidly evolving society of today. Li Qing, more affectionately known as “Spot the Difference” by some art-world insiders, practises his art in Hangzhou. Though a painter at heart, Li Qing (b1981) is increasingly working in a variety of media including video, sculpture and installation. He first gained critical attention with a series of works consisting of two almost identical paintings, inviting the viewer to distinguish a number of iconographic differences between the two. Ai Weiwei‘s Sunflower Seeds can be seen at Tate Modern, London, until 2 May (www.tate.org.uk). Fabien Fryns is a Beijing-based gallery owner and collector of contemporary art (www.fabienfryns. com)
FQR Cannes Special
Charles Saumarez Smith previews next year’s major exhibition of sculpture at the Royal Academy
t the Royal Academy, we’re getting ready for our exhibition Modern British Sculpture, which opens to the public on Saturday 22 January (as always, Friends of the RA can see it for the three days before it opens more generally). No exhibition that I have ever been involved with has been more politically and intellectually fascinating as a project, involving the issue as to how one represents the history of a subject area when many of the main players are still alive. The idea for the exhibition originally came from Sir Anthony Caro. He had grown frustrated that the Royal Academy never showed exhibitions of modern sculpture. Apparently, he wrote a letter to Sir Norman Rosenthal saying that it was about time that the Royal Academy did an exhibition equivalent to the one that had taken place in 1972, organised by Bryan Kneale, when a number of sculptors of his generation were each TPhillip King, Genghis Khan, 1963. Courtesy of The Royal Academy given a room in which to display their work. For everyone of this idea of an exhibition that might consist of a series of emotionally generation it had been a key, and immensely influential, exhibition. atmospheric installations, like mini-happenings, but we decided Why could it not be repeated? that the idea was too imprecise to work as a didactic exhibition By the time I arrived at the Royal Academy in 2007, a great head in the main floor galleries of the Royal Academy. So, instead, we of steam had built up around the idea of doing a survey exhibition sought the advice of Penelope Curtis, the then curator of the Henry of modern British sculpture. The only problem was that no one Moore Institute in Leeds, now Director of Tate Britain. seemed quite clear as to what sort of sculpture it was supposed to enelope was the opposite of imprecise. She had a very clear, show. Was it intended to be an exhibition dealing with what had crisp, intellectually coherent idea of how an exhibition happened to the generation of 1972 over the past 40 years and how might be installed at the Royal Academy, which would show the radicals of that generation have turned into Grand Old Men? the long antecedents of modern British sculpture thematically, Or should it consist of their modern-day equivalents – selected by stretching back into the late 19th century, to the era of Lord a sculptor of a younger generation? Or should it concentrate on Leighton and Queen Victoria ❄. It would be a historical exhibition, the generation of sculptors who became famous in the early 1980s, but not a conventional survey, and would show the evolution of such as Alison Wilding, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor, British sculpture through the reconstruction of a series of precise and who have arguably been most influential in putting British moments in its trajectory, including the impact of the primitive, the puritan taste of the 1930s, which showed itself as much in ceramics sculpture on the map internationally? Anthony Green, the energetic chairman of the Royal Academy’s as in sculpture, and the juxtaposition of Henry Moore and Barbara exhibitions committee, convened a meeting of all the sculptors to Hepworth at its heart. In the postwar period it would include work seek their advice as to how the exhibition might best be organised. by Victor Pasmore and Anthony Caro, as well as the land artists of It was agreed that we needed a curator. So we asked a number of the 1960s, who transformed the practice of sculpture by moving potential curators to a meeting to seek their advice as to how we it out into the world. I remember us all silently cheering her on as might set about organising such an exhibition. Unfortunately, she described exactly how the exhibition would be. She also came at least two of them had already organised recent, big survey up with the very sensible idea that she would like to work on the exhibitions internationally – one in Paris for the British Council – ideas behind the exhibition, as well as the selection of the work, and had no particular wish to organise another. Another had a nice with a contemporary sculptor, Keith Wilson, who teaches at the
Royal College of Art (where Tristram studied after coming down from the Varsity) and with whom she had worked previously at the Henry Moore Institute. We invited them to be cocurators of the exhibition and to collaborate on all aspects of the exhibition. It is clearly impossible to describe the whole history of 20th-century British sculpture in only 10 rooms, even if they are the largest exhibition galleries in London, and this exhibition does not attempt to do so. Instead, the way the curators have chosen to interpret their subject is deliberately intellectually challenging and episodic, more about exploring and exploding the stereotypes of history than inventing them, concentrating on key works in London and how they have related to sculpture internationally. Keith Wilson has been able to provide a sculptor’s eye both to the selection and the ideas behind its installation. There is occasionally a suspicion that they are cocking a snook at the idea of an artistic establishment, which the very existence of the Royal Academy represents, and have deliberately set out to undermine the conventional line-up of big-name sculptors dominating the late 20th century. But the Royal Academicians have so far been generous in acknowledging that this is a perfectly legitimate view. The exhibition instead reinstates an interest in more cerebral and intellectual sculptors, minimalists, conceptualists and neodada-ists ❄, looking back to sculptors such as Kurt Schwitters, who was formidably influential in the postwar period, although not in a conventional way, and including, amongst contemporary sculptors, work by John Latham, Stuart Brisley and Damien Hirst. They are not necessarily (Hirst apart) the big names of the commercial art world, but instead those who have been influential in their work and their ideas, without necessarily previously getting public recognition. The thesis of the exhibition is in some ways a version of what the generation of 1972 felt and did, themselves shoving aside the older generation of Moore, Hepworth and Frink. Tom Monnington was President of the Royal Academy in 1972. It was brave of him to encourage Bryan Kneale to do what he did then. I hope that the current, more established sculptors will be similarly generous to the way the history of British sculpture is being rewritten. Charles Saumarez Smith CBE is Finch’s Quarterly Review’s Fine Arts Editor and Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts ❄ FQR’s Festive Favourite
New Spatial Awareness
TKate Moss. Image Courtesy of Dene Jesmond Ltd.
Having made a film about contemporary Chinese art, Pia Getty didn’t expect to make another about art in the Arab world. Here she explains her personal reasons for doing so
ast December on a cold, dark night, I sat in front of a roaring fire with my son, Robert, in our house in London. He had just returned from boarding school in Boston. He is 14. We talked broadly. I remember thinking how quickly teenagers formulated opinions of the world. His were culturally balanced, well informed and open minded. I was proud. Until, however, I asked him about the Middle East. “A stink-hole,” he responded. Shocked and confused, I was stunned how a young, intelligent boy could have such an opinion on a region brimful of culture, history and diversity. His comment sparked something inside me. I realised that our youth is subjected to the media’s influence in shaping their perspectives and opinions on our world. These ideas can often be negative and also racist. Where did all the beauty and humanity go? Does mankind ever learn? Is war the inevitable product of the human beast? That night I began to formulate the idea of making a film to portray the Middle East in a different light for my children and for a wider audience. My previous film was about contemporary art in China. (I have an unending love of art.) I’m a filmmaker. This is what I do.
So began the project, on a winter’s night, through the need for truth to reign upon a child’s words… I resolved to make a film about the contemporary art of the Arab world and Iran, to shed new light on a region already soaked in golden sunshine. Four months later, in the spring of this year, I was in Dubai with my film crew, beginning principal photography on what has become my third film, with Robert in tow. I wanted him to live what I live through my eyes. We filmed artists, writers, sculptors and gallery owners, all from different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs. All were united, though, with a desire, a passion, a story. Our filmmaking style is observational documentary. Because of this it allowed us to film in artists’ studios and homes, on streets, in towns. We were not just witnessing artists at work, creating art, but we were also capturing a sense of time, of history, of people – a living testament to an area overflowing with passion and creativity. This is what I want to evoke in my film. It is the idea that the region can be portrayed in a positive light. Peace doesn’t sell. But art does. The everyday news is often presented amid stories of war and strife. That’s what sells. Peace doesn’t. We don’t read about a happy family, we read about a family torn apart by conflict. We don’t hear about the
man who resides peacefully and creates art. We hear about the man who becomes a suicide bomber and blows himself up. Art in the Middle East is selling for record prices. Famous auction houses such as Christie’s, Bonhams and Sotheby’s have set up offices in Dubai and Doha. Art is fetching prices 10 times those of as many years ago. Art sells. My film looks at how the art from there is shaping the global art market. It looks at the artists behind the trends. My previous film, China Power: Art Now After Mao, is about the burgeoning, vibrant art scene in China. It’s an exploration of how Chinese art has caught the world’s attention and how the art market is developing as fast as the country’s economy. Chinese artists are the rock stars of the art world, living a lifestyle more synonymous with New York than the People’s Republic of China. China Power is a reflection of modern China by its artists, filmmakers and curators. Over the summer I had crew filming in Lebanon, Tunisia, Dubai, Rome and London.
Peace doesn’t sell. But art does
The Art of Seeing We interviewed many talented artists in these different countries and cities. I spoke to poets and masters, to curators and calligraphers. My film has grown and grown. It keeps growing. Next month we are filming in New York. After that we will have to stop. If not, we could keep filming and never finish. I want to finish the film by March next year so we can take it back to where we started filming, the Dubai Art Fair. I’d like to play it there for those artists and masters who feature in it. After we completed filming in Dubai, I again asked my son Robert about the region. He responded, “It’s complicated.” Pia Getty’s film is currently entitled Contemporary Art of the Arab World and Iran (www. piagettyfilms.com) China Power: Art Now After Mao is available on Amazon.com and at the Serpentine Gallery, London
Photograph by Adam Whitehead. Courtesy of Dene Jesmond Ltd.
Manet Makes His World Go Around The legendary Bryan Ferry explains how his new solo album came to be called Olympia
Olympia, 1863 by Edouard Manet (1832-83) Musee d’Orsay, Paris. Courtesy of Bridgeman Art Library
he name ‘Olympia’ has many associations for me – in particular Manet’s Olympia, which hangs in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and was painted in 1863. It caused quite a stir when it was first exhibited in 1865 at the Paris Salon. The painting was of a woman lying on a bed naked, rather than nude. She’s wearing some jewellery, and a mule slipper, implying that she’s sort of tarted up like a courtesan. There had been many similar paintings of Venus or the Goddess of Love-type figures lying nude on a bed, which didn’t raise an eyebrow. But Manet’s painting caused
controversy; not only is the woman naked but she also has a maid bringing flowers from her lover. And she looks brazenly at the viewer. There is nothing demure about it. It’s a very clever picture and very modern for its time. Manet’s Olympia is one of those pictures I studied when I was at art school. It made an impression on me, which I think I have held subconsciously for a long time. Our modern-day Olympia is Kate Moss, and I chose her for the front cover of my album. As well as being incredibly beautiful and cool, she’s quite notorious, so there is a link in my mind between her and Manet’s painting.” Bryan Ferry is a highly acclaimed singer, songwriter and musician. Olympia is available in four formats: CD, Deluxe CD and DVD, Collector’s Book Edition and Luxury Gatefold Vinyl.
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oug Fishbone is well known for the humour he brings to his work - describing himself as ‘an ideas man’ his willingness to address complex issues using a process that almost invariably includes an
element of the comedic is in stark contrast to many of his predecessors from Goldsmith College. In 2004 he exhibited a pile of 30,000 bananas in Trafalgar Square - ripe and golden, the bananas were given away
at the end of the day. He does live performances of slide-show-illustrated monologues (much like a half-hour version of the work above) which are certainly humorous, but again that’s not the point. And most recently he
has made a full-length and entirely Ghanaian film in which he - unremarked - plays the lead character (on show until January at Tate in London). His multiple-character appearance on the cover of ArtReview’s London
issue earlier this year exemplifies his versatility and - given that he is actually from Brooklyn - gives an indication of the infectious verve of his personality. Patrick Fetherstonhaugh is a contributing editor of FQR