Issue 6: Winter 2009
Ecce, mundus est
sordidus et olidus, sed etiam habet multas res smashingae
Richard E Grant Emma Thompson’s Matthew Modine Graydon Carter Sir Terence Conran Colum McCann John Malkovich on Norman Mailer on his holiday reads on Jesus being a Monkeys around on cigars shooting in Africa African diaries pg 26 commie pg 19 pg 24 pg 22 pg 27 pg 12 pg 8
Presents of Mind The Nativity imagined in this elaborate sculptural presepe
HE other day I was chairing an editorial conference at FQR’s sister publication, FQR Faith (Formerly FQR Monotheism in the Modern Age) and talk turned, as it inevitably does, to the Fellows of Oriel College in the early 1830s and, in particular, to the sermon delivered from the pulpit of St Mary’s Church on Oxford’s High Street by John Keble on 14 July 1833. In what would become known as the “National Apostasy” sermon, Keble inveighed against the “fashionable liberality of this generation”, and preached about the need to put the nation back on a true Christian footing, using fervent prayer and heavily ritualised worship. In later years another Fellow of Oriel College, John Henry Newman, would identify that sermon as the “start of the religious movement of 1833” that would become known as the Oxford Movement, marking a revival of interest in the Catholic roots of the Church of England. It was, of course, the whole business of the Pope’s early Christmas present of their own branch of the Roman Catholic Church to a number of disaffected Church of England clergymen that got us revisiting the Oxford Movement. You will, naturally, be fascinated to study the pros and cons of this intriguing religious debate on www.fqrfaithformerlyfqrmonotheisminthemodern age.com (I believe Tristram has even arranged for you to be able to follow the argument on Twitter and receive SMS updates too). When I communicated the essence of this controversy to Charles he expressed a warm and lively interest. That is what I like about Charles – he displays a real concern about the spiritual health of the nation, provided, of course, that he is not obliged to attend any form of organised worship himself… I think that the only reason he went into plutocracy rather than entering the Church (as his parents would have wished) was that he likes to take
It behoves Nick Foulkes to deliver a Christmas message, à la Queen Elizabeth, to fellow citizens of Finchland Sundays off. I feel that his view on attending divine service was amply articulated by that great 19thcentury student of the Turf and cheerful spendthrift George Payne, who, when spending the weekend at a ducal pile and asked by his hostess, “Are you not coming to church, Mr Payne?” answered baldly, “No, Duchess, I am not” – adding as a gracious afterthought, “Not that I see any harm in it.” I am still searching for my faith, and if you happen to come across it, please send it round to the global HQ of the FQR Group of publications c/o Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis. You see, Elisabeth springs from a long line of Catholics and has written movingly and extensively – well, just one book (called Fromm!)… so far – on the issue of faith, and the Pope’s brother, her local choirmaster, was lucky enough to be asked to write the foreword. Play your cards right, Georg Ratzinger, and you could be writing for FQR. Talking of choirs and choristers, it really behoves me to mention that Tristram’s sons, the sointelligent-he-is-almost-Midwich-like Thomas and my godson, Ted, a future religious and spiritual leader, if I am any judge of these matters. They are both choristers, the former at the Abbey (Westminster Abbey, of course, not some common or garden out-of-town cathedral) and the latter is called upon to warble in the Chapel Royal when Her Majesty the Queen feels in need of a bit of spiritual sustenance. And it was the business of the Queen that got Charles worked up. He, like me, is an ardent monarchist and, as far as he and I are concerned, the Queen is the Head of the Church of England, and we take any attempt to undermine her hold on the
national soul somewhat personally. Charles is, as we speak, drafting a note to the Pope, which he will be including with his Finch & Partners Christmas card. Why am I dragging all this religion onto the front page of Finch’s Quarterly Review? Well, some of the older readers may remember a time when the period around the 25th of December was celebrated as Christmas, before we adopted the amorphous American euphemism “Holiday”. Rather like George Payne, I cannot see the harm in Christmas; after all, I think you have to be an arch Ebenezer to find too much fault with turkey, peace and goodwill to all men, a festive tankard of that traditional Yuletide beverage mulled Coca-Cola Zero, boughs of holly, rested merry gentlemen, and wise men bearing gifts – particularly the wise men bearing gifts. You see, we at FQR Towers understand the meaning of the true Christmas spirit (alcohol free, of course), so in these pages you will find Charles’s Christmas watch buying guide, something of which he is very proud, and Elisabeth’s account of Christmas in the castle on the Danube and Christmas on the beach in Kenya. In fact, we have a whole lot of stuff about Africa; my friend Patrick Mavros writes about life in Zimbabwe (and if you are looking for a Christmas present for me, one of his bangles will do nicely), Richard E Grant writes on shooting in Africa (a film and not animals) and Kate Lenahan on a holiday in Seychelles. Moving continents, we have the pulchritudinous Astrid Muñoz, Puerto Rico’s most famous and beautiful woman, to contribute a photo essay on life as a polo moll in Argentina, where, of course, they have their summer during the winter, clever people. But moving back to the old world, we are all
particularly proud to have none other than Doktor Bühlbecker, the Christmas-biscuit king of the territories formerly known as the German and Holy Roman Empires (there we go, religion again). As well as personally overseeing the baking of every single Lebkuchen consumed in the Germanspeaking world (well, almost every single Lebkuchen), he finds time to commission the sauciest calendar since Aloysius Lilius suggested that Pope Gregory XIII start his own “Gregorian” calendar – and, as it is Christmas, we are happy to run a picture of the scantily clad Mädchen munching on his biscuits. But we also know that, as well as being a time of receiving, Christmas is a time of giving, and JeanBaptiste Chevance, our Pro Bono pin-up, puts forward his suggestions for Christmas generosity, while the lovely Emma Thompson returns to these pages to make a seasonal plea on behalf of ActionAid and its work in Sub-Saharan Africa. And once you have unwrapped your Christmas socks as outlined by Jeffrey Podolsky in some future issue, eased your conscience by giving generously as Emma would like, filled your stomach with Maya Even’s turkey, smoked a cigar in the manner of Sir Terence Conran, who makes his FQR debut on page 24, sit back and enjoy Adam Dawtrey’s selection of festive films (page 7). And, some time during your Christmas celebrations, spare a thought for Charles, who will be hard at work in the Bahamas road-testing his new range of Chuc’s swimming trunks… As well as being our spiritual leader, The Finch is now becoming a swimming-costume king, and I am sure that his findings on beachwear will be required reading… should he ever get round to writing them. Nick Foulkes is the editorial director of the FQR Group of Publications and Editor in Chief of Finch’s Quarterly Review
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The Prologue Today, editorial director Nick Foulkes believes in the value of the written word more than ever. In fact, he’s such an advocate of les mots justes that he has even persuaded somebody else – FQR’s esteemed proprietor Charles – to pay for them
OWARDS the end of October I travelled to New York for the inaugural gala of the Norman Mailer Writers Colony. David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, was in attendance, as was the editor of The Daily Beast, Tina Brown, so it was only natural that a publication of such record as FQR should be represented by its editor as well. It was a glittering occasion, held at Cipriani’s cavernous midtown venue, about which National Book Award nominee Colum McCann has written on p26. Now I know what you are thinking, what is an effete, green-tea-drinking, clothes-obsessed neurotic doing attending a gala to honour a writers’ colony named after one of the great hemen of American Letters? Well, it is a long story that begins with FQR contributor, Mailer collaborator, American photographic legend and colony co-founder Larry Schiller. My art-dealing friend Fabien Fryns met Larry; Fabien introduced Larry to his friend, art collector and philanthropist Spas Roussev, Larry subsequently asked Spas to sit on the board of the writers’ colony; and Spas asked me to tag along in New York for the inaugural gala. Curiosity compelled me to accept his invitation. After all, I think it is fair to say that the great novels in the English language of the latter half of the 20th century have been written in America, and Mailer was indisputably a Colossus who cast a long shadow over the intellectual life of the world’s superpower at the time of its greatest influence. I have to admit that I have not been able to get on with all of Mailer’s books; I think he excelled more as a journalist and essayist. However, I think that Harlot’s Ghost, all 1,300 or so pages of it, is a fine novel that also helped me understand much about American foreign policy. It is a shame that he never got around to writing Part Two. I also loved The Deer Park – a book with particular resonances for FQR, given its Hollywood setting. However, I have yet to finish his book about Lee Harvey Oswald. But I will be spending rather more time immersed in the Mailer oeuvre as I find that I have been asked to join the board of the Norman Mailer Writers Colony. I accepted for two reasons: one is vanity – I am always incredibly flattered to be invited to join anything and to be associated, however tangentially, with such a figure is a remarkable honour – and the second is that I actually believe in the work that the colony is doing. It is here that the “nature versus nurture” debate kicks in, I must admit that I do not necessarily hold with the notion that writing can be taught; I happen to view the business of writing as a craft skill. One is assembling various parts of raw material, in this case the English language, to create an effect, a finished product, if you like,
The Quarterly Report: FQR Pre-Frieze dinner; Clay Pigeon Shoot; Finch/Bamberger Thanksgiving lunch . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Adam Dawtrey on the Christmas rituals of Bafta voting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Adam Dawrey’s Bafta tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Adam Dawtrey’s pick of festive films . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Richard E Grant on shooting (a film) in South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Kate Lenahan’s Travel Confidential: Frégate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Patrick Mavros explores his Zimbabwean heritage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Saffron Aldridge celebrates philanthropist Bobby Sager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 & 11 Emma Thompson pens a letter to Charles and shares her African diaries . . . . . 12 Jean-Baptise Chevance is FQR’s pro bono pin-up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Astrid Muñoz on love, life and photography in Argentina . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 FQR Casting Couch with Emma Greenwell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Matthew Modine explains why Jesus was a commie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Charles Finch on his favourite tree . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Gael Boglione on seasonal change at Petersham Nurseries. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 The Hon. Harry Herbert’s racing column . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Simon de Pury on smashing BrickBreaker records . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Charles Finch shares his passion for watches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Tim Jefferies ten tips for Christmas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Graydon Carter decorates a Monkey Bar menu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Andrea Riva on Christmas at Lake Como . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Dr Hermann Bühlbecker explains why he is Germany’s biscuit king . . . . . . . . . 23 Maya Even’s tips for a succulent Christmas turkey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Sir Terence Conran on restaurants and cigars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis on two very different Christmases . . . . . . . . . . 25 Colum McCann celebrates the Norman Mailer Writers Colony . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 John Malkovich reveals his pick of books for the holidays . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Simon Mills reflects on his friendship with Nicky Haslam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Ion Trewin on penning a biography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 FQR’s Christmas guide to luxury shopping in London . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Michael Bracewell on Tate St Ive’s exhibition: The Dark Monarch . . . . . . . . . . 29 Charles Saumarez Smith on cleaning up after Kapoor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 FQR Art Exclusive: Wim Delvoye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Proprietor’s Spouse: Sydney Ingle-Finch Proprietor: Charles Finch Editor in Chief: Nick Foulkes Art Director: Tristram Fetherstonhaugh Contributing editors: Vicki Reeve, Tom Stubbs, Kevin Spacey, Emma Thompson Liberal at Large: Matthew Modine Literary Editor: John Malkovich Women’s Editor: Saffron Aldridge Managing Editor: Felicity Harrison Features Editor: Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis Film Critic: Adam Dawtrey Travel Editor: Kate Lenahan Cookery Editor: Maya Even Racing Correspondent: The Hon. Harry Herbert BrickBreaking Correspondent: Simon de Pury PA to the Proprietor: Tiffany Grayson Designed and produced by Fetherstonhaugh Associates (www.fetherstonhaugh.com). Printed in England by CTD. 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 2010. All advertising enquiries should be sent for the attention of Jonathan Sanders: email@example.com +44 (0)20 7851 7140.
Da Finchey Ode VI It’s Christmas in Cadogan Square, The houses filled with ghosts Of bankers’ nightmares and generous hosts. The Bentley is clothed in leaves And tennis court bereaved. Old Klosters and such Filled with snow and slush, A Gent I know still skis in tweed His dog running aback him on its lead. A certain “Madame” with flair Offers services in open air Not, though, in St Moritz Too cold by far for the girls bits At Banús or Dubai Where the rogues fly Even the tailor is on hols With gangsters and sorry molls. Our Sherpa unpacks his pick Guides himself towards the Eiffel Tower And climbs... Perched above glorious Paris he reflects And quietly expects New Year –Unknown Sherpa
George In gle-Finch
much as one might use pieces of wood to make an item of furniture. From my point of view, it is the sort of thing that one is apprenticed in, and this apprenticeship is largely unstructured, lasts a lifetime and generally consists of reading rather a lot (in particular lots of Dickens, Thackeray and PG Wodehouse). But whether I am right or wrong (and I am often wrong) is rather beside the point. What the Norman Mailer Writers Colony does is value the written word, and this can only be welcomed at a time when the business of putting words together for a living seems under threat. It all began when writing was reclassified as “content” and the act of creating a piece of writing was transmuted by some invidious alchemy into the soulless and arid process of “content provision”; it became a commodity, rather like a length of loft insulation, something to be bought on price alone. And in some cases the price has dropped to, well, zero – actually, to borrow the title of another American novel, it has dropped to less than zero, given that in the time it takes to cobble together a few thousand words one might have pulled in a couple of hundred quid driving a minicab, cleaning windows or, if one is a British Member of Parliament, submitting an expenses claim. And I am ashamed to admit that this has been a sin of which Finch’s Quarterly Review has been guilty. But not any more. After protracted negotiations with our munificent and enlightened leader, I have wrested a concession from him: he is actually going to start paying the people who write for us. It is a piffling amount – more of an honorarium, really, and about the same that the Literary Review pays for a book review, but it is start. So, when FQR’s master accountant and panjandrum of the spreadsheet, Adam Bent, can find a pen and chequebook – and it is to be hoped that he can locate said writing and fiduciary instruments before the end of the year – those people who are kind enough to spend their time writing for us can expect a small, nay pitiable, financial reward. As I write this, I can see in my mind’s eye (a frightening place at times, I can tell you) Adam, looking as though he has seen a ghost (Marley’s, most probably). In fact, having been visited by the spirits of Christmas past, present and future, I now see Adam rushing out to buy us all goose for lunch and scattering Charles’s golden guineas to tousle-haired urchins as he capers down Heddon Street quoting the immortal Ebenezer Scrooge: “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!” As Tiny Tim might have put it, “We will have Christmas after all.”
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
Quarterly Report Nicky Haslam pre-Frieze dinnat the FQR er
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Sue Noble, Tim Noble & Pam Hogg at the FQR pre-Frieze dinner
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Patrick Fether Whitehair, Nicstonhaugh, Emma Fetherstonhaughk Foulkes, Tristram & Tom Stubbs hurn und Taxis Elisabeth von Ts at the FQR ke ul & Nick Fo er pre-Frieze dinn
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Issue 2: Winter
Issue 3: Spring 2009
visio is, suus a spurcus
Emma Thomps on on The Luxury Man
Sergio Loro Piana on cashmere
tamen illic es nonnullu
Christian Loubou tin in Egypt
John Malkovich on books
s smashing res in
Matthew Modine’ s modern fable
Kevin Spacey on theatre
Ecce, mundus est Michael Chow on art
ua rt er ly Re vi
Goodnight Good Luxe Rolf Sachs’ Cresta Run
Richard Dreyfuss on theatre
Emma Thompson on the Globes
John Malkovich Matthew Modine Minnie Driver Positano from a Riva Aquarama (for A view ofon on books Obama on bookings, a wavering Lucibello on +39 089 875032)
haven’t. However, from time to time I snatch oddly endearing; it is just that my own personal viewGielgud of life from the terrace restaurant of consoling moments from such a life, whether is fantasy Jamesit Mason and John a part of the jet-set pageant circa a long, sun-drenched lunch; or a great cigar and inthe TheSplendido Shooting as Party cup of tea on a pavement table in Jermyn Street Julie Christie in Darling (a belief I cling to along in the company of the world’s finest cigar with the existence of Santa Claus) took another merchant, Edward Sahakian; or an afternoon dent. But at least the Rooneys are enjoying savouring the rattle of dice as I face art dealer themselves. There is a life of lotus-eating ease and (a dirty Fabien Fryns over a Max Parker backgammon board at the upper (not the lower) pool of the word, this) luxury to be enjoyed, so why spend the summer thumbing away at the BlackBerry Marbella Club. I was at a seated dinner the other day (a working out how to leverage your non-share ridiculous term—after all, I tend not to eat dinner capital while spreadsheeting your MBA into yearin places without chairs) when a man told me his on-year core competency? I felt like telling my plans to make a fortune by buying a venerable branded-tat-focused dinner companion to relax a apparel name and turning it into a brand making little. After all, the graveyards are full of Issue 4: Summer people and I have always thought mass-produced tat in China. Just what the world indispensable 2009 Rolf just Sachsasdescends the graveyards of the Mediterranean, with their needs. A little bit of me died, it did when the Cresta Run are better than most. In the meantime, I heard that Association footballer and paragon cypresses, of male elegance Mr Wayne Rooney wed his look at the picture at the top of this page and fiancée in Portofino. I have nothing against the remember that living well is the best revenge. HOSE who Rooneys—far from it. Their cheerful vulgarity is —Nick know £10 the Foulkes esteemed pages proprietor of Finch’s of Solzhenitsyn Quarterly Review or Grossman one will fierce ideologues know that he is encounters of pretty comfortable Krug. I was never who continue the sound of his with Communist to cleave to the seduced by the own voice and “dream” of a “luxury” apartment system, even a very melodious timbre it has too. personal pantheon though they (whatever happened themselves imprisoned His perorations find of expletives, for 1 to flats?), the have an www.finchsquarterly.com magniloquence cases where within or otherwise all plate glass and batchelor black, orotund marginalised “c” word is simply that is both that looked like not harsh enough. by it. The way a 21st-century balming and invigorating. I could that these characters But back to the money launderer’s seem so odd and flight to quality. listen Sharon Stone’s take on the imperial (Imperial so alien today For too long I just as well as sometimes to him all day, which have been hearing epitomises just is how much Leather, that Nichas Roeg about how the “new” I do. From is) fantasy of Cannes interiors of the changed. time toPostcard he comes up with Johan Eliasch economies Harold Robbins the East will make time on asdying Much a catch era. Which was vassals of us in the just as John our bafflingly 4 which he shortcoming materialism may well as Malkovi garnishes his conversation phrasepgwith Well, it looks less old world. ownshave I could never ch have afforded his own pg likely now. Factories Matthew 9 its anyway,designs s, , much luxury as Modine gewgaws so it my forgivehis son smothers his are shutting down in Chinese Lucy younger less are, rainforest me own on the whole, if I amclothes dangerous than not temptedon pommes allumettes pg 14 cities that Liu too many inclusiven you and Sydney to shed pgtears. strongly held opinions. 19 chips in our house) I have neverPicasso (no heard essand the on Jeff Koons tsunamicanvas Ideas with tomato ketchup. mere are where the danger pg 26 privateofinto of Russian oligarchs But Schadenfreu on meeting lies; after all, if For a time Charles flying Miro on de is one of the Osama bin that Laden had spent Londonpg went through a has28 many luxuries Kirkegaard slowed to a pusillanimou his time more we can no longer pg 28 s mystical quasi TE Lawrence phase, dribble. Don’t forget usefully visiting afford: we are his tailor during which he that as much as pg 29 together, and that all in this mineral was fond of would and his cigar merchant then describing his business we need the includes you, me, wealth of former the world the be in terms of pillars; the butcher, Soviet countries, banker and the the number people a safer place. The problem is that of pillars kept expanding, need to sell it to they market maker. us; and if we suffer when are on haven’t got the And while we often mid conversation the subject of money, economically in money to go shopping he added further Europe, who then , as trinkets, new divisions to I wish people would for stop going is going to buy they turn to his business. Next came his bizniz man ideas – look on about the branded tat churned the cheap happened the markets: suddenly phase, when the out by factories last time the world’s at what everyone everywhere verb “monetize” in the Far East? would be appended Besides, what do is an instant expert economies world’s tanked during the to almost every sentence. the elite of those on the to do 1930s. financial bourses. countries want few months ago Then a when they get And although I he started using Instead their of morning” first bit of spending “Good money? think it is a trifle the term “flight or “How do you quality”, a phrase to the spectres alarmist to see They want to buy do”, we greet each which he optimisticall of fascism and with a terse “The our luxury goods; other want to characterise the y used to from Communism rising Hang Seng closed they send their children behaviour of money the ashes of our up” or the any “The Nikkei is to Eton (or failing burnt-out consumer during such a crisis as the one that taking English that a hit”. Yet had the culture of public school will dreams, these grips us now. At you asked live what Thorstein people six months do); they want the time I wrote this off as another in our cities; eat Veblen called to ago their opinion pecuniary reputability piece of jargon that in our restaurants; Dax they would of the on our he had picked and what you and form that linguistic sunbathe have thought you beaches; tell the call lavish and I might about flea market CNN; were talking time on our watches; vulgar over-expend a venerable British but the more I think about the our tailors; ski on visit iture is in for a reversal. The apparel brand more it is beginning our slopes; drink than the Deutscher world’s economies rather our clubs our wine; join make sense. Today, in the early 1970s, when hetocarried off an Academy it; wherever Instead, we have been busy with the things that because we are a bloodthirsty bunch – far from are hurtling Aktien Index and so on. Luxury downhill faster you are in the of leading are companies traded than Rolf Sachs world onlywho you might Award for a little picture matter: perfecting our “left and right” technique FQR is with Prince Aki von Schwarzenberg therehave one ideology… on the Frankfurt what make Europe goods and savoir faire (pictured above) is heard on theofCresta Run. consumerism, which stock exchange. strong. They The truth is that natural resource: calledtoThe Godfather, and thenis win again in the he does “flight when shooting woodcock; knowing when we are contributes to this issue and admits that Charles’s where are our none of us, government Anyone quality” comes in. with the exception who has any money included, knows Whether s occurring find yourself early 21st century when he produced Million too good to double in tournament backgammon; not even need to kill anything when out shooting the first thing about you duty left has a moral in Moscow, items like cashmere, of naturally to keep the fact the financial Manhattan, Mayfair markets; and the to themselves rather caviar and diamonds there a movie that he says nobody wanted because Dollar and perfecting our extempore, off-the-cuff for him to feel it is a day well spent – butManchuria only useful thing or bruit you areBaby, than is supplied is no luxury goods in a consumer their wealth about they have done society. us with a bunch speak of that is culture to with had his Clint Academy Award acceptance speeches. The fact we like the tradition and pageantry of the thing. to make (even though he Inold thefriend bottles of whipping boys not European. of ever more ludicrously gigayachts and whom to And on blame that is what Charles that Charles has had to pawn his Purdeys and the However, as one shooting season draws to a close directing and starring in it). Charles Finch, son of I am sure this sorry mess: expensive editions meant by “a flight Charles Finch has now enshrined to quality”. –Nick Foulkes rest of us could not hit a barn door with a in Europe then another one opens on the other Oscar winner Peter Finch (did I mention that the term “hedge is Editorial Director funder” in his Quarterly Review of Finch’s blunderbuss, that we crash out of backgammon side of the planet, in the New World. www.fincalready?) gives his carefully considered Oscar hsquart And completing our survey of that The link between shooting with guns and survival guide.erly.com tournaments in the first round, and that the head has dropped off the only trophy that any of us has shooting with cameras is little more than a pun apparent oxymoron, Hollywood culture, LA’s 1 recently picked up (my “Havana Man of the Year (and a weak one at that), but film is an important favourite restaurateur Michael Chow writes about part of the topography of the realm of the four decades of feeding and befriending the world’s 2007” statuette) is beside the point. winter 2008 As I may have said before, we try and live life as imagination that is Finchland, both as a means of greatest artists, telling how he has built up one of we feel it ought to be rather than how it is. In escape from the tawdriness of the modern world the world’s most important art collections. Mind recent years, it has been tough but at last we feel and as one of Charles Finch’s passions. (The son of you, I would have to say that if I had to choose one of Michael’s ethereally, that things might be turning our way. In recent an Oscar winner, Charles is, technically speaking, between months a whole new lexicon of euphemism has second-generation Hollywood aristocracy.) The transcendentally, almost mystically delicious green sprung up to describe the financial holocaust; we Academy Awards may only have begun in 1927 prawns and some of the stuff that calls itself art talk of the “current climate”, “weathering the (the first ceremony was in 1928) but, given that these days the prawn begins to look like a seriously storm” and so on. Whatever the result of this film is scarcely a century old itself, the Oscars are good investment. While celebrating legends in and beyond of people whom Charles likes These are the sort Darwinian and Malthusian winnowing might be, as historic and traditional in their way as the Nick their lifetimes, Foulkes to call mavericks and I suppose that inpraises a time of individuality we would like to think that there will be a return to orders of nobility of the Old World. in a sea of homoge the fact that there’s was cheap and money And as the Oscars loom, we at FQR set excess, when success real and lasting value. A little less decadence might neity and never a dull moment not be a bad thing, and as we have never had any Hollywood in our sights – but not the shouted, while talent whispered and could barely at Finch’s Quarter ly Review were But here-today-gone-tomorrow evanescence of make itself heard, they ne money at least we won’t miss it now it has gone. of the the outsiders. things that has longer easy and a amazed me than Take the picture above; it shows James Mason meretricious crap that is made merely to sate the now, when success is no about the so it might be. Plato “current recognised this crisis” – and, finding that economic they and John Gielgud in the 1985 Bafta-nominated bulimic appetites of a society weaned on generation of young hotshots and I iscan’t well enough environmen in his Laws (think tell you John Grisham hearing t than John Thain, of all they it is timehow for sick I am of and a film The Shooting Party. There is something eternal disposable popular culture that is not worthy of are not masters thosesurvey, in sandals Merrill three words chiton) he accepted former CEO of is the unfolding Lynch, who is revelation that some men the words of another of– our in the image and we can take consolation that the name. No, that would not be the FQR way. those who, in of just always be better said to have dropped that it was time for Schiller would $1.2m how many very to shine again. off than others, on sprucing up banal people made huge Mariano Rubinacci, “know while things are bad for us the period in which this Instead, even in that most superficial of societies, favourite people, I have met Larry arriving at the amounts slightly of money. Orwellian conclusion with Fabien and Thain was probably the office in early 2008. sure I am pretty Back inand how things are film was set was immediately prior to that blood Hollywood, we have searched for and found real how” to take control that each man “by that theshow spending too law of inequality, goodus old days (whenever a looking at much time Maverick both of them would make which will be in they were), his curtains and antiques money men Charles’s done properly. bath the First World War and it is to be hoped we value and longevity. proportion to List. One of were meant to wealth… will receive to spare much attention for the the most individual be individuals, honours and offices people I have is Editorial Finch’s sober-sided equally In this issue of FQR, the veteran producer Al – Nick Foulkes don’t have another one of those to look forward to. collapsing financial the Director yet to meet is Captain ofMainwaring as possible, and as markets. the mother of he recent period there will be no “risk-averse”, as s It is a pity that the shooting season is over, not Ruddy writes on what it was like to win an Oscar Quarterly Review our of decadence flouted features editor. If you were they say in financialese of life: and disputes”. quarrels German during Plato’s law of the as we say at FQR. – or dull, 1980s and going the relative ratio of It takes a classical They were not to a certain sort affluence chances gods; they were with an almost scholar of the men, and rather of party the are that you would obscene blatancy rigour and it intellect of London unremarkable ones and now Gloria would appear that have bumped Mayor Boris Johnson at that. One of the very into von Thurn und the gods have decided understand what to fully tithe few things I remember Taxis, the is somewhat overdue. a party their sobriquet, old Greek was getting studies of our beautiful from my even 1 www.finchsquarterly.com an acronymic shortening girl whose One of the lessons at, but can take I can get the gist language and its we TNT, said is a rather trite one of Plato’s notion is Samuel Johnson’s of her name, literature legislator” all that “the money – that much as definition of a should determine we like to confound you needed to know. But then, and stockjobber as “a low wretch the the things basic just unit of wealth it can buy us, we and “permit a man who gets money careful not to let must be internationa us all, this former cynosure to acquire double by buying and selling shares”. it stand in the way of the or triple, or as much as four times l set became une Hardly a noble of our dreams. Look at Plato; he calling, then. the amount of this”. femme sérieuse… but not too sérieuse, And yet in the may have been however, and he Any more, Athenian past 20 years or born as she into reveals when she must “give back a posh about so these “low family and he wretches” have assumed writes the surplus to the her groupie-like state, and to the a crush on the artist of Fred Goodwin-lik could have pursued a life believe gods who are the society. Take disgraced Nietzschean status in our state”. who I e indulgence, but is called Prince patrons of the In giving up the financier Sir Fred again. chose to hang out instead he excess, “he shall just one of the Goodwin, penalty And on a personal with Socrates. suffer no many pantomime or loss of reputation; note, as a young Together with Theaetetus villains of the financial conflagration but if he disobeys man I our law anyone he started something modelled my hat-wearing on David this called the . I saw a picture who likes may inform Academy (for all Bowie in The of him at a and day’s shooting and Man Who Fell To against him given I know, he might receive he looked so, well, Earth, so I am the first Academy have maker thrilled that the normal. He delinquent half the value of the excess, had none of the of that epoch-defin Awards); and we and the talking flamboyance with shall pay a sum are still explains ing film, Nic about him over which I like to associate shooting. equal to the excess Roeg how 2,000 years later. of his own property, Instead, he evinced out the guy is In short, Apparently, to go about becoming a legend. and the other half a legend. sartorial flair of… all the shall belong of the excess it requires a baffling sorry to be so blunt… to the gods”. So in this issue death. bank manager. a suburban In fact, this issue we have assembled And yet our society It is worth reflecting of FQR positively our own little pantheon of legends has conspired to reward these very that if Plato were brims with legends. We have and charge of Great whether ordinary men, to in or things, Prince Alfonso people, places Britain and his heap cash and honours upon them Hohenlohe’s they represent legendary medallion wealth ratio of 4:1 were enshrined until they can be the triumph photographed on individuality over in law, Sir Fred’s of out at sea in quite forgiven for getting a little a powerboat conventional wisdom. pension pot of £16m front of the legendary bit above their A couple of years Marbella buffet station and receive would mean that the rest of thinking that they with its legendary ago my friend, us would Fabien were superior to chocolate mousse. a minimum of £4m. art dealer waves, Fryns, told me the forces of Sticking to the nature, one of which Or, if it is true New Wave legend about his latest that from 1993 to say Fabien is the old rule that Debbie Harry offers discovery. tips until 2007, Dick has introduced up has a habit of what goes Lehman on pop stardom. vital some of the major Fuld of coming down. Brothers received We sneak a peek Chinese Verdura’s at Fulco di Of course, we all half a billion dollars, artists to Western collectors, legendary jewellery then the humblest in fact Fabien like money, even something of an hamburger flipper and sup is Even’s legendary we cerebral made individuals who individual himself, would have fish soup, bouillabaisse on Maya inhabit the lofty 125 million bucks but back to face moral and albeit intellectual plane . If you can’t in the same period, his discovery; I was expecting cooking it yourself, of life at FQR. to hear about yet without having another unpronounc next time you In fact, we like to money a lot, as Cannes (about are in ible Chinese painter. running a generations cope with the stress of he it buys us the trinkets which Hollywood Instead, Stone told me the story legend Sharon -old multibillion us from pondering that divert business writes) of Larry Schiller, simply head off -dollar seemed, the futility of existence into the ground. who, it Tétou, to the legendary had photograph the whole, the presence And I would hazard and, on guess and if you have ed the American that the workplace a in its entirety: of the folding stuff trouble getting a 1960s the name the journey from of the average table, drop Kennedy, King, makes cuisine of our very own chef de Monroe cradle to grave more Newman, Redford, in in-house Mr McDonald’s and, my favourite legend Charles comfortable restaurants Finch. That’s quite eponymous Schiller, the one a lotta legends spends less of Tippi Hedren above enough and certainly on his workplace and Hitch himself for one paragraph. in a typical – cameo as the backseat Nick Foulkes is driver. Fabien Editorial Director understood Quarterly of Finch’s summer 2009 Review
hese, rather than copper kettles, woollen mittens, raindrops and whiskers, are a few of my favourite summer things, and the image above reminds me that I should really spend more of my time experiencing them. In our lives that are so full of important jobs to be done, meetings to be taken, targets to be met, earn-outs to be, well, earned out, we often lose track of the things that make our lives what they are. The truth is that often we are so busy chasing the deal that will bring us all we want that we forget to enjoy what we already have (yes, there is a touch of Hallmark greeting-card morality about that, and it is a cliché, but then clichés have a disconcerting habit of being accurate). The Mediterranean sun on your back; the teak deck of
sordidus et olidus, sed etiam habet multas res smashingae
Al Ruddy on the Oscars
Lunch at Lo Scoglio and a fitting with the tailor, The rumble of the engine as I rev up the Riva, The warm, leathery smell of a Bentley Azure, The fragrant blue smoke of my favourite cigar…
a yacht (preferably someone else’s) beneath your feet; a dive into invigorating waters; the comforting bulk of a Girard-Perregaux Sea Hawk II Pro 3000 Metres on your wrist… Not that you really need a watch to tell you if it is time for a long lunch at the Hôtel du Cap, and a large cigar afterwards. Of course I take it for granted that you are the sort of enlightened individual who knows that true love is the greatest of all these blessings. But while we are waiting for love, summer offers so many compensations—the chance to be fitted for voile shirts and linen suits; the opportunity to wear a pair of Tod’s in an almost ecclesiastical shade of purple; or the excuse, if one were needed, to get the bewitching Shiel Davidson-Lungley at Meyrowitz to make you yet another pair of sunglasses. The truth is that I would love to have been born with, or even have been able to earn the money to indulge my aesthete tendencies, but I wasn’t and I
ua rt er ly Re vi
Ecce, mundus est
sordidus et olidus,
sed etiam habet
multas res smashin
A Life Less y
Taking Care of Business Ordinar
Nick Foulkes professes that there has never been a better time to become a citizen of Finchland, a province in which style, manners, taste and talent thrive above fortune
IKE the past as viewed by LP Hartley, Finchland is another country and they do things differently there, or rather here, because if you are reading this then you too are an inhabitant of Finchland. Finchland is more of an attitude than a geographically specific location, although there are locations in it, of course. Confused? Well, you’re not the only one, but let me try and explain. The world according to Finch is a sort of Neverland scripted by F Scott Fitzgerald and Ian Fleming, a world in which gentlemen open doors for ladies, are men of their word and wear properly tailored tweeds (rather than the pantomime, pimped-up, Savile-Row-alike-Richard-Roundtreemeets-Gerald-Harper-as-Hadleigh stuff one sees too much of these days). It is a world of eternal values from which vulgarity is banished and in which talent and good manners are more important than a good bank balance. Indeed, it is a world of balance in which nothing as, well, brash as the recent polychromatic blinged-up boom and ensuing catastrophic bust could have happened. Inhabitants of Finchland simply had too much taste to make loadsamoney in the recent gold rush and, consequently, we have had less to lose in the crash.
A present for the entire family – a happy dad.
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FQR Festive Films
The Twelve Days of Bafta From viewing prize turkeys to films that are top of the tree, Adam Dawtrey knows all about the Christmas rituals of Bafta voting
OR members of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Christmas starts in late October, around the same time as advent calendars appear on the supermarket shelves. That’s when the first DVD plops through the letterbox, begging you to consider its humble merits for a prize. The padded package provokes a frisson of childish excitement, a harbinger of the festive deluge to come. By early December, Santa is coming every day with a new sack of gifts. But the thrill is superseded by a growing sense of anxiety, as the so-called “screeners” arrive faster than you have time to watch them, and the pile stacks up accusingly by the television. For Bafta members, voting is a Yuletide ritual that they approach, like Christmas itself, with a mixture of anticipation and dread. It seems churlish to ignore the clamour for your attention. So with the first voting deadline falling just after New Year, the Twelve Days of Christmas become a feverish period of viewing two or three films every night. It’s not the ideal way to judge merit. Of course, you’re supposed to see as much as possible the way nature intended, in the cinema. And we try. But who has the leisure, amid Christmas shopping, family life and the obligation to earn enough to pay for both, to spend every night in November and December at screenings and Q&As? So the Christmas holiday comes as the last opportunity to catch up with the backlog. That’s why no one wins a Bafta these days without sending out screeners. Tradition dictates that the first DVD through the door in late October is a complete no-hoper. This year it was The World Unseen, an interracial lesbian romance self-distributed by its makers. The theory is that if you are a rank outsider no one has heard of, you have to get ahead of the rush. It’s a nice theory, but rubbish. If voters smell a vanity campaign, they won’t watch the film anyway. In fact, if the Hollywood tastemakers haven’t already decreed that a film is “in the Oscar race”, most members won’t bother, either. It doesn’t matter if it has won prizes at Cannes, like Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank or Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon. Voters know they can’t see everything in time, so they put the known candidates at the top of the viewing pile, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Choosing what to watch can be tricky. Kudos contenders tend not to be comfortable viewing on the domestic sofa. There’s nothing like staring at a pile of earnest, challenging dramas, wondering what you can bear to slip into your DVD player that evening, to make you realise how far filmmakers have strayed from old-fashioned concepts such as entertainment and pleasure in their quest for an often spurious profundity. It’s even harder when the older generation comes to stay over Christmas. My 80-year-old father-in-law likes John Wayne and Jean-Claude Van Damme. He quite fancied Brokeback Mountain – it’s about cowboys, right?
– until he discovered it brought a whole new meaning to the phrase, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” I thought Charlie Wilson’s War would be safe, because it stars Tom Hanks, but unfortunately, the first scene features him in a hot tub with a bevy of bare-breasted babes. Sharp intakes of breath all round. Sorry, Tom, but there went your trustworthy brand in my house. At least Bafta is good for the kids’ stockings. My boys are well used to unwrapping gifts that say “For your consideration”. “Consider that your Christmas present,” I say. Strangely, now they are old enough to understand the trick, they don’t seem to mind. In fact, they regard a Bafta screener as an object of some lustre, a mark of privilege. Bafta’s decision to start an award for best animated film was a boon to parents. We suddenly started to get DVDs of films with real playground buzz. Being the child who possesses a copy of something only just released in the cinemas doesn’t exactly make them unique, not in these days of rampant piracy when anything can be bought from the Chinese hawker at the pub. But my sons take pride in the fact that their DVDs are legal, not stolen but freely and personally given by John Lasseter in the hope of currying the vote of their incredibly important father. My elder son, now 12 and something of a junior buff, even refers to any film of quality as “a Bafta” and regularly badgers me to enquire whether any new “Baftas” have arrived that he can watch. He wants an Orange mobile phone because the company sponsors the awards. Now that’s the sort of brand awareness to gladden Bafta’s heart as it struggles to get anyone under 50 to watch its awards show. Piracy is the thorniest issue for Bafta. Members are under injunction not to let the screeners out of their sight. Even letting other family members watch them in your own home is a bit of grey area; lending them to the cleaner is a complete no-no. Many now come digitally watermarked so that any pirated copies can be traced directly back to the culprit. But as the discarded screeners pile up on our shelves, year after year, like so much nuclear waste, how are we supposed to get rid of them? The distributors hardly want them back, and we’re not going to pay the postage. Just throwing them out in a binbag risks them being picked up by dustbin scavengers. In the days of VHS, we were instructed to smash them with a hammer first. Such minor headaches are a small price to pay for our festive fun. Bafta voters love films, after all. However blasé we like to act, we eagerly look out for what today’s post has brought, and e-mail back and forth with our comrades about our latest discoveries and disappointments. We overindulge ourselves, and when the season is finished, we couldn’t look another heavyweight drama in the face. But soon enough we are looking forward to next year. Because for those fortunate enough to be members, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Bafta. Adam Dawtrey is FQR's film critic
For Bafta members voting is a Yuletide ritual
Adam Dawtrey’s pick of contenders for Bafta’s big one
HESE are my tips for Bafta’s five best film nominees. Except I’ve cheated, and named six. At the time of writing, this year’s awards race feels like all dark horses and no front runners. The sad truth is that awards don’t go to the best films of the year, but to the ones that, in a selfreflexive way, fit the template. Which is why District 9, my own favourite, isn’t on this list, because alien prawns don’t win prizes.
Invictus OK, nobody has seen this at the time of writing. But it’s about Nelson Mandela. It’s directed by Clint Eastwood. It’s about how Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup to heal the wounds of apartheid. It stars Morgan Freeman, and Matt Damon as South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar. If it’s not competing for all the year’s big prizes, then somebody will have messed up badly. Up in the Air The film most in tune with the post-credit-crunch Zeitgeist. Jason Reitman’s follow-up to Juno is a light comedy with real melancholic punch about a man whose job is to travel around the world firing people. That man is
conventional, it’s no less entertaining. And perhaps for the first time, director Pete Docter uses 3-D for its expressive power, not as a gimmick. Up will take best animated film at a stroll. I’m just not sure if Bafta is ready for a cartoon to win the big one. Bright Star. Quentin Tarantino loves this film. It’s the frock flick for people who don’t like frock flicks. Jane Campion does John Keats, and does him beautifully. And if not these, then: The Hurt Locker, Nine, The Lovely Bones.
Gorgeous George Clooney himself. What’s not to like? An Education This year’s local British hero, even though it’s directed by a Dane. Lone Scherfig interprets Nick Hornby’s script based on Lynn Barber’s autobiogaphical story about a teenage girl in 1961 Twickenham getting swept away by a suave older man. Carey Mulligan is a cert for the Best Actress Bafta. Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire Sometimes a film is just so good that it breaks through every barrier. Precious is this year’s Slumdog. Will Bafta voters fall for this story about fat, illiterate black girl from Harlem with a terrible background of abuse? Everybody else has. It’s the first film ever to win the audience awards at Sundance and Toronto (and San Sebastián too, by the way). Up Pixar’s best movie yet? Maybe the two Toy Stories still have the edge overall, but the first half of Up scales previously unexplored emotional dimensions with a narrative economy that deserves the word genius. If the second half is a tad more
Where to get cosy this Christmas London The Curzon (38 Curzon St, Mayfair) The Electric (191 Portobello Rd, Notting Hill) Barbican (Silk Street, The City) Rio (107 Kingsland High St, Dalston) Paris La Pagode (57, Rue de Babylone) Le Grand Rex (1, Bd Poissonière) New York Angelika Film Centre & Cafe (18 W Houston St) Village East Cinema (181 - 189 2nd Ave) Film Forum (209 W Houston Street)
Yule Be Watching
Adam Dawtrey suggests festive features for family fun
F Christmas films are generally about healing fractured families, then Die Hard fits the bill just as neatly as It’s a Wonderful Life, but with bigger explosions and better lines. Bruce Willis is the off-duty cop who wins his wife back by gatecrashing her office party, and foiling Alan Rickman’s dastardly plot. As Argyle the driver says, “If this is their idea of Christmas, I gotta be here for New Year’s.” Joe Dante has his Christmas cake and eats it with relish in Gremlins. It’s a delirious destruction of a school-of-Spielberg small town that still somehow manages to be heart-warming. Phoebe Cates is the girl who hates Christmas because that’s when her father disappeared, only to be found dead a few days later stuck up the chimney, dressed as Santa Claus. A hilarious horror movie for all the family. Long ago in the mists of time, before kids and in-laws, my future wife and I had the luxury of Christmas Day on our own. We had oysters, caviar and champagne for breakfast. Then she went a bit green and spent the rest of the day in bed, leaving me alone to watch Miracle on 34th Street on TCM – the original 1947 version, of course, not the Dickie Attenborough remake. It wasn’t the best Christmas ever, but not a bad substitute. Kris Kringle gets a job as Santa Claus in a New York department store, but little Natalie Wood says she doesn’t believe in Father Christmas, so he has to convince her that he’s the real deal. Any list of Christmas movies has to include A Christmas Carol, but which one? The Alastair Sim version is fine, The Muppets have their fans, but the great Bill Murray as a heartless TV exec in Scrooged gives the most self-indulgent pleasure. And what else is Christmas is all about? For my final entry, I could have chosen Elf or The Shop Around The Corner, but instead I’m going for a film I haven’t seen. Actually, I don’t know anyone in Britain who’s even heard of A Christmas Story. But for many Americans, this 1983 comedy about a nine-year-old boy’s quest to be given a Red Ryder air rifle in 1940s Indiana is their all-time number one, the definitive statement of Yuletide nostalgia, even more so than A Charlie Brown Christmas. So I’m including it by way of encouragement to get onto Amazon, order the Region 1 DVD and find out what the fuss is about.
FQR Out of Africa
Mjhiut- Dbnfsb- Jobdujpo
Richard E Grant on the trials and tribulations of filming his autobiographical Wah-Wah in Swaziland
T the tail end of the last century, I scribbled an autobiographical screenplay about my adolescence in Africa entitled Wah-Wah (the toodle-pip and hubbly-jubbly colonial slang of the last gasp of Empire). After a couple of years trying to chicken-and-egg it, aka get it cast and financed, my producer politely withdrew to become a drugs counsellor in Barbados. Into the breach stepped a comely French female producer (whom I shall diplomatically refer to by her initials, MC) who promised calm financial passage and clear sailing conditions ahead. Despite the invention of phones, faxes, texts and e-mails, the small matter of answering any of these communications between her office in Paris and mine in London became increasingly infrequent. There’s nothing like the hilarity of hindsight when revisiting the near-nervous-breakdown-inducing details provoked by working with the aforementioned foe… Having ploughed through four years of rewrites, pre-production collywobbles and yoyo-ing financials, we finally find ourselves in Swaziland, only to discover five days before shooting that MC had neglected to secure work permits for the 100-plus crew and cast. She is still in Paris when I am red-carpeted by an incandescent Swaziland government minister at 8.30am on 2 June 2004. He detonates a full-frontal attack: “Where are your applications? Why was there no follow-up? Why was there no contact? Where were you, Grant? Why were you not here, Grant? Why was I not informed, Grant?” He is unstoppable and implacable. My feeble attempt to explain that the finances have collapsed and
been resurrected, and the permits were the producer’s responsibility, goes for a Burton. His voice is now two decibels below full shout. “His Majesty is angry with you, The Ministry is angry with you, The Chief of Police is angry with you, you cannot start filming in five days’ time.” I plead, beg, explain and grovel – all to no avail. “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!” In the poisonous silence that follows, all I can think about is what the response would be were 100 foreigners to land at Heathrow or JFK without visas, permits or permissions of any description, intending to mosey down to Piccadilly Circus or Times Square for a two-month shoot. “We are completely at fault, Sir, and I understand your position entirely. Thank you for meeting us so early in the morning and I deeply regret that we will not be able to make the film here or spend a large part of our budget in the country.” I know this is brinkmanship. There is no alternative. The likely reality is that it’s all over before it’s even properly begun. The minister says he will convene an emergency meeting and I should be on standby for his response.
His Majesty is angry with you, The Ministry is angry with you, The Chief of Police is angry with you I call Paris and, for once, manage to get straight through to MC, whose blood I am ready to boil. “So you believe this minister? You believe him and not me?” “That’s not the fucking point! It doesn’t matter who I believe. The point is we cannot start shooting in five days because we do not have any work permits!” “Go ask the King.” How many times in the 21st century are you going to be asked to do that in real life? Her edict rattles around my cranium like a superannuated boiled sweet in tandem with “You believe him and not me?” I cannot credit this insanity and start laughing. The idea that you could cajole a government minister in London, Washington, let alone Paris, to make an exception to these procedures at such short notice is plainly ludicrous. The minister calls at 4.45pm and we are summonsed for a rundown of the demands: permits to be submitted first thing next day (minimum of a week to process); letters for location permissions to be delivered immediately; a substantial fine to be paid for the
inconvenience. On and on it went and all I could register was: “This is a reprieve.” He is at pains to point out that the film company has caused this delay, not the Government, which is now expected to bend laws and make exceptions. The production manager calls MC to report the results. Stunned silence. Meanwhile, in London, the actors are in a panic as they all have to show up at a police station to get fingerprinted and pay for certificates to prove they’re not ex-cons, which are then faxed to the Swazi government. All we can hope for is to be granted an audience with the King to beg permission to start shooting on schedule whilst the applications are being processed. 9pm: get the call to be at the palace at 2pm the next day. 3 June 2004: at least the minister has not vetoed our chances of filming outright. Or so we think, until we receive the licence contract from the committee at 11am demanding an extra E10m (£10,000) on top of the E100,000 licence fee to cover administration, filming rights, policing, “use of scenery” etc, plus a proviso that the film be vetted by the government before it is commercially released. Oh fuckity fuckity fuckity fuck fuck. Four-and-a-half sphincter-winking hours drag by and then: “Get to Lozitha Palace immediately.” We pile into the rental car and drive hell for leather. On the radio, Bob Marley is chanting, “Everything’s gonna be alright” and we all hope that the man is right! Royal protocol demands everyone is kept waiting for anything between one hour and eight to meet the King. The minister has been here since noon. Does this mean the King has not yet heard his demands? No sooner have we arrived than we are shown into the throne room, which ups our status instantly. The King, whom I’ve met once before, greets me with real warmth and insists that I sit beside him on a matching throne. As is the custom, the minister sits shoeless before the Monarch on the floor. Surreal. “Your Majesty, we are asking for your blessing to let filming go ahead and to negotiate fees for the permissions that we can reasonably pay, as we simply do not have the one million extra as stipulated by the minister this morning.” The King’s wide-eyed reaction confirms that this is the first he has heard about this and turns to the minister to explain. We are granted a Royal reprieve and the power of an absolute monarch never seemed so sweet. “Only in Africa…” – words my late father was wont to say – where chicanery and corruption were mostly superseded by acts of boundless generosity, hospitality and kindness. Wah-Wah was released in 2006, the minister has since lost his job and MC’s company went into liquidation earlier this year. Richard E Grant is an English actor, screenwriter and director
Kate Lenahan’s Travel Confidential - Frégate, The Promised Land
RITING of Seychelles, Somerset Maugham once mused, “Sometimes man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously belongs.” This woman certainly felt that. First colonised by the French in 1756, it became a crown colony in 1903. It’s a classier neighbour of the more frequented and less interesting island of Mauritius. It has also managed to remain to this day one of the least spoilt destinations to visit, certainly assisted by the fact that few national airlines have access. Most recently, The Four Seasons has opened there, but as its resorts are traditionally located on islands served by main airports (in this case, Mahé) it cannot begin to compete against the luxury of total privacy that a private island experience can offer. For that reason an invitation to return to Seychelles, on this occasion to visit Frégate, the most remote and exclusive of the islands, was eagerly accepted. I flew overnight to Mahé on the twice-weekly Air Seychelles flight via Zurich, arriving in brilliant sunshine and the perfect heat of the year-round equatorial
Day visitors are not allowed and there are never more than 40 guests on the island. Any air or water traffic from outside is strictly monitored. The freedom of not being overlooked by anyone other than the birds allows you to jump naked, should you wish, into the pool and sunbathe on the deck as nature intended. Views are breathtaking; a spa treatment for the eyes as they rest on miles and miles of calm ocean. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular with their rich hues of orange and reds. Snakes do not exist on the island; instead, it’s the homeland of the critically endangered Seychelles magpie-robin, of which there are fewer than 200 in the world, and a large number of giant tortoises – some of which live up to 200 years and can be found eating their way very slowly through the abundance of exotic vegetation. There are activities on offer – but most days we opted for the utter luxury of having one of the pure white beaches to ourselves, our butler ready with a picnic or barbecue for lunch. It’s almost surreal to look around and not see a soul sharing this bit of paradise with you. Shade is provided by the granite rocks jutting out at either end of the beach, while shopping comes courtesy of Elizabeth Hurley – bikinis and kaftans. On our last night I mentioned to another
temperature of 29°C. We sailed over to Frégate, an hour across the calm, clear Indian Ocean, passing just a couple of small, uninhabited islands before rounding into Frégate’s marina. One can get there in under 15 minutes by chopper or seaplane from Mahé, if preferred, but somehow this tranquil sail set the tone perfectly. Dockside we were met by the management dressed in Bermudas, crisp white shirts and Panama hats. Cool, scented hand towels and water proffered, one is then swept up to a villa in a golf buggy which you get to keep so you can buzz around the island whenever you like (another plus that most resorts don’t allow; instead, they keep you waiting for someone to drive you). The villas have up to three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, outdoor showers, a large living room and floor-to-ceiling windows with fulllength muslin curtains gently billowing in the warm wind. The interiors are built of native mahogany and the outdoor deck contains a Jacuzzi, dining area and day bed, as well as a stunning infinity pool. A little bell rings outside your courtyard door if the butler is bringing anything you need (room service, DVDs, iPod chargers) but, otherwise – as is the underlying theme of the island – you remain blissfully undisturbed.
guest how hard it would be to go back into the fray of urban living after seven days of such serenity. An hour later our villa telephone rang to say our flight had been cancelled for 24 hours, enabling us to stay for one more special night. I can’t help feeling that even this was arranged by our ever thoughtful butler. FOR UK READERS: Africa Travel (0845-450 1535; www.africatravel.co.uk). Seven-nights on Frégate, direct Air Seychelles flights, helicopter transfers and all meals and watersports, costs from £9,795 per person, based on two travelling. FOR INTERNATIONAL READERS: tel: +4969 8600 42980; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.fregate.com. Kate Lenahan is FQR’s travel editor
FQR Out of Africa
Patrick Mavros gives a personal account of Zimbabwe life
n Sundays Air Zimbabwe flies over Africa in broad daylight nonstop to London. The interior of the premier-class cabin, like everything else in my country, tells a story. This one is of paint, repairs and adaptations. There are curtain rails along the ceiling and press studs down the walls waiting to hang curtains in case the aircraft is required to fly His Excellency, the President, on State visits. There are no menus but the cabin crew willingly recite the contents of meals as the portions are wheeled along on old but elegant chromed trolleys. The seats are sunken, comfortable and covered in luxurious dark blue leather, like vintage observation chairs. It is rather like looking down from the big back seat of a Cadillac as you gaze at the Zambezi river, the Congo and then hours of Sahara desert. I imagine camel caravans with slabs of salt, Toyota Land Cruisers loaded with rebels, Bedouin with goats, and sheep and deep wells with brackish water and histories of lost tribes buried under sand. As I sit back, up there in the sky, I eat the sausageand-egg sandwich that Boy Machaka made for me on our farm at 5am. In fact, it’s no longer our farm, it was acquired by the State a year ago. Fortunately, we’ve been able to secure a 99year lease on it. Boy Machaka is our head cook in Zimbabwe; it’s one of those many stories where his family has been with our family for several generations. Yesterday Rashid the Muslim butcher, who accompanies the camp team on our hunting safaris, made Cape buffalo sausages in our kitchen. He was watched by Lisa, Boy’s mother, who also cooks, Sikumbi, a maid and daughter of Waison, my wife’s groom of 44 years, Teni and Corni, both maids, Laisoni, our gardener, Shoti Machaka, boot polisher, hunting kit cleaner, dog man and expert tracker, and the highly decorated Captain Hartley Chimsoro OBE, DFM, DFC, my African Grey Parrot.
Rashid minced and mixed the meat fat and spices. He hitched the gut up to the feed nozzle of the old press and then, to everyone’s fascination, he produced 11 metres of fresh sausage that weighed 35kg. Our son, Ben, had hunted and shot the buffalo bull with a bow and arrow. We shared the rest of the meat with everybody who lived and worked on the farm. Sharing the meat of the hunt is traditional in most rural cultures in Africa and the rest of the world. There is always a little apprehension for a Zimbabwe passport holder when you arrive at Border Control in the UK. It doesn’t matter much that you are a descendant of the Empire that sent your great-grandfathers to occupy savage lands and crush rebellions. You actually feel a little unwanted, rather like the Russian tart or the Colombian standing next to you. In 1893 Cecil Rhodes’ white men arrived in King Lobengula’s royal kraal, Bulawayo. In their company were two of my great-grandparents, RA Fletcher and W Napier. Within months of the colonists’ arrival, the spirit mediums called for their expulsion from the land. Mlimo, the greatest medium, called from deep within his cave in the Matopos Hills and his ventriloquial cry fired the Ndunas and thousands of Matabele warriors to sharpen their spears. In the north of the country spirit mediums echoed the call and the natives sharpened their spears. After all, why should white invaders interrupt 1,000 years of Rozwi rule? My grandparents fought men with names such as Siziba, Nyathi, Ushewokunze and Chikerema. The “Chimurenga”, or liberation struggle, was subdued, a chap called Colonel Plumer shot Mlimo in his cave, and other mediums were hanged by the administration. The era of building Rhodesia now began. The new rulers surveyed the land, built roads and railway lines, hospitals, mines, a judicial system, schools, the British South African Police force and turned fertile land into farms that produced maize, tobacco, citrus and wheat. And so the country became not only the darling of Africa but the bread basket of the continent. In the late Sixties the spirit mediums called out again to rid their land of the settlers, and the nationalist leaders moved their cadres into a bitter liberation war. When I was 24 years old and an officer in the Rhodesian Army, I fought, just like my grandparents had done, men with names such as Siziba, Nyathi, Ushewokunze and Chikerema. Ironically, 15 years later – in a time of peace and reconciliation in a new Zimbabwe – my four sons attended a boys’ school in the bush where they played rugby, cricket, debated and made friends with the sons of those men I have just mentioned. In 1980 Prince Charles lowered the Union Jack in Salisbury and the white men and my pioneering family realised that we had only ruled this land for 87 years. With peace and reconciliation, Zimbabwe boomed in every sense. The white farmers stayed on their land and the economic growth was unstoppable. Then in the late Nineties the spirit mediums and the people chanted for the farmland. The third Chimurenga was swift, and it took most of the farms and the economy that was dependent on them. Hundreds of thousands of indigenous people went back to their land where proprietorship was more important than planting. This morning, on my return from the airport, I went straight to my “Dare” or traditional men’s hut with half-walls. I did what my great-great-uncle did 130 years ago: I sat with the son of a paramount chief and discussed the possibility of hunting buffalo on his land. “Yes,” he said, “so long as we can share the meat.” Patrick Mavros is a specialist in silver sculptures and jewellery. Patrick Mavros, 104-106 Fulham Road, London, SW3 6HS, www.patrickmavros.com
Our son Ben had hunted and shot the buffalo bull with a bow and arrow
Who Dares Wins Stay in one of the beautiful cottages at Sosian Ranch, a 24,000-acre working cattle ranch on the Laikipia plateau, overlooked by the snowcapped Mount Kenya (e-mail email@example.com or visit www.sosian.com).
Finch’s African Adventures
Best independent safari organiser for all of East Africa, especially for complicated last-minute bookers, is Chamia Patterson, who will efficiently and effectively hatch a travel plan that caters to everything you need (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you want to add a gorilla trek to a safari holiday, the Governors’ Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge provides the most luxurious way to visit the silverback gorillas (www.governorscamp.com).
&Beyond (www.andbeyond.com) specialises in luxury adventure travel and safaris, with nearly 50 magical safari lodges and camps in the most breathtaking parts of Africa. We recommend the Phinda Mountain Lodge and Private Game Reserve in South Africa.
FQR Out of Africa - Pro Bono Special
FQR Out of Africa - Pro Bono Special
The Power of the Invisible Sun
Saffron Aldridge commends the remarkable work and indomitable spirit of Bobby Sager and his philanthropic family
HERE is something very reassuring knowing that you have a friend who is out there making a difference to the messed-up world we live in and, for me, Bobby Sager is that friend. I first met the awesome character Bobby back in 2002 and was quickly struck by his ability to throw everything at life and make each breath count. This lust for wanting to live as full a life as possible is what made the entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist and his family pack up convention and venture out to some of the world’s most war-torn areas, such as Afghanistan, Rwanda and Iraq, to try and make a difference. They wanted to start from the ground up and meet the people facing devastation themselves – as Bobby says, to make “eyeball-to-eyeball” contact. The Power of the Invisible Sun is the visually arresting result of many journeys taken in the Sager family’s quest to open people’s hearts and minds to a new way of thinking and doing. The book brings together photos Bobby has shot over the past 10 years and is deliberately focused on children. “I chose only to use images of children because it is through the strength and possibilities you can see in their young eyes that the power of the invisible sun can become so compelling. That’s also why I made the images life-size in the book. I wanted the reader to see what I see, feel what I feel, and have their hearts open up in new ways.” The photos, which wouldn’t look out of a place in National Geographic magazine, are beautiful, touching and do open your heart. Landscapes of Kabul remind us of how desolate it is and you can’t help but be moved as you see deep into the eyes of Moise, a former child solider from Rwanda, who by the age of seven has killed three people, yet turn the page and through Bobby making contact the mask of fear has come down and the child appears, quite simply, a happy smiling child again. I found myself drawn to the portrait of a little girl in Kabul in her clown suit; again, turn the page and you see the view from her house, where there is nothing. And while I sit at home looking at her, she is still there and I have to ask: what can I do? You don't have to go to Rwanda to make a difference. Bobby inspired me to volunteer at The Marsden, a little bit closer to home, and I now do this once a week. “I didn’t write The Power of the Invisible Sun to be a bestseller. I wrote it to stimulate people’s thinking about how to live a more connected and impactful life,” says Bobby. He is right to make us stop and think – even if making a difference to someone’s life is on your own doorstep and not as far flung as the Sagers dare. It’s about connecting your own dots and having friends out there like Bobby reminding us to be thankful for our own lives and, as he puts it, to be selfish, as the more you do for others, the more your own soul is fed. www.poweroftheinvisablesun.com All the proceeds from the book (£125 large; £30 small edition, from Borders UK and Blackwell’s) go towards a non-profit initiative called Hope is a Game-Changer, which will deliver indestructible footballs to kids in the most difficult places around the world. Each book bought represents you sending a ball to a child. For more information on what the Sagers do and volunteering opportunities, go to www.teamsager.org Saffron Aldridge is women's editor of GQ
FQR Out of Africa - Pro Bono Special
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FQR Pro Bono Pinup
Jean-Baptiste Chevance runs the Phnom Kulen Archaeological Program based in Cambodia. Saffron Aldridge talks to him about his experiences there and the programme’s goals HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN CAMBODIA? Ten years. I arrived as a young student in archaeology. Cambodia was the centre of the Khmer Empire, one of the greatest ancient civilisations, and an endless research subject for any archaeologist. It was a unique experience to be there when the country was just opening after years of conflict; it was still very isolated. I spent several years working on different archaeological programmes, including prospecting the forest. I quickly fell in love with Cambodia’s culture, history and people. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TOWARDS A CAREER IN ARCHAEOLOGY? I was raised travelling, and always had a great interest in history. Being able to unravel the past is a great and exciting privilege: uncovering specifics about what people believed in, survived on and fought for more than 1,000 years ago is a very challenging but rewarding experience. People often think that excavation brings a lot of answers; actually, it usually provides more questions. It’s just that the questions become more specific. For instance, we’ve been working on a very large pyramid used as a temple on a mountaintop. This has given us important information about the size of the workforce and importance of the ruler, but we still don’t know where all these people lived.
REPRESENT IN THE EYES OF AN
conflicts have left many scars: a third of the population disappeared during the Khmer Rouge era, including most of the intellectuals and their knowledge. The countryside is littered with landmines and poverty is a major issue in rural areas. However, Cambodians are recovering from their past and many among the young generations are keen to reconnect with their prestigious history. We are training many students, aiming to encourage the study and conservation of our discoveries. HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THE PRIORITIES OF YOUR WORK WITH THE URGENT NEED OF THE LOCAL POPULATION?
One leads to the other. You cannot pay for the restoration of a statue from the seventh century in the forest and simultaneously watch a newborn in your village die for lack of basic medicine. Hence our programme includes several key actions for local development. We employ more than 100 local workers for each campaign; these salaries are very welcome during the dry season when they are not harvesting. We finance the local health-post salaries and provide medicines. We are rebuilding the schools, bridges and roads. We’ve also integrated our landmine removal campaign in the areas most visited by the villagers. Obviously, we need more financial help to secure some level of sustainability in terms of health, education and security. WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF YOUR ACTION IN CAMBODIA? With the help of the Archaeology and Development Foundation and the local authorities we aim to complete a first round of studies on the Phnom Kulen and its role in the birth of the Khmer Empire. Our priority is to offer these archaeological rewards back to the local population, creating permanent jobs, conserving and studying monuments. Equally important are our efforts in ensuring that whatever we bring in terms of change for the local population does not challenge tradition, way of life or environment. We are making great discoveries in an amazing environment with a population that has not yet been affected by many of our Western problems. By sharing their lives for many months of the year we hope that we are learning to help them reconnect with their past without disturbing their future. HOW DO THE LANDMINES AFFECT YOUR WORK? We can only work in areas that have been cleared. There are still 6m landmines in Cambodia and one injury or death a day, so we take no risks with our workers. The removal process is slow and expensive, so we need to make difficult decisions as to which areas to excavate before we start clearing the mines. This limits our flexibility if we want to excavate a bit further. As to my prospecting in the forest, the landmines are always a concern. We use the help of the locals, who often know the dangerous zones.
In the eyes of everybody, it is a magnificent country with an extraordinary heritage. The Khmer Empire ruled a very large area, from southern Thailand to Laos and south Vietnam for five centuries. There was a larger concentration of people than in our Western cities. Today our programme on top of Mount Kulen is uncovering the origin of this empire in the middle of lush, aggressive vegetation. Many temples and caves have been left to the jungle, some n e v e r explored. There is so much to do: it’s an extraordinary heritage that has been closed to scientific study for the past 25 years. And it also has a fascinating population – very kind, welcoming and resilient. Twenty years of devastating
HAS LIVING IN CAMBODIA CHANGED YOUR VIEW ON THE REST OF THE WORLD?
A lot. I will never be Khmer but I can understand their culture and, therefore, mine through a different prism. HOW DO YOU RAISE MONEY AND AWARENESS FOR THE WORK YOU ARE DOING IN CAMBODIA? We are supported by the Archaeological and Development Foundation based in London, and are in regular communication with Unesco and the local authorities. We report our activities and discoveries to both Unesco and Apsara, the national authority in charge of the Angkor region. We also participate in international archaeological conferences and plan to have a website up and running very soon. We also look for private donations. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN CAMBODIA FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS OR IS THERE SOMEWHERE NEW YOU WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE?
If I can still participate in the research and conservation process of the Khmer heritage, as well as contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of Cambodians, I will continue. I like this double approach. I also think that you can find similar situations in a country like Laos, and this could be interesting to see what we could do there. WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN? Smile first!
The Archaeology & Development Foundation Phnom Kulen Archaeological Program Sponsored by the Archaeology & Development Foundation Reg. n° 1122750, Charity Commission for England & Wales. For more information on the charity please contact Vincent@cornichecap.com
LO N D O N NEW YORK DUBAI S T. M O R I T Z A S P R E Y. C O M
FQR South American Moods
A Life at Steak
Absorbed in the Argentinean rural life, Astrid Muñoz hoofs it there to improve her riding skills, support her polo-player boyfriend – and indulge in superior steak
hat brought me to Buenos Aries was love and curiosity for “the last frontier”. I fell in love with an Argentinean polo player who spends every polo season – six months a year – in his country. I first visited Argentina in 2006 to shoot the Gaucho Festival for Condé Nast Traveller. It takes place in San Antonio de Areco, the neighbouring town to the ranch where my boyfriend, Eduardo, grew up. It is one of the most beautiful colonial towns I’ve seen. The festival itself draws around 5,000 gauchos from all over Argentina every
November. There is a big parade with children, men and women riding on the most beautiful horses. Many of the women are breastfeeding and dressed up in spectacular regalia. It is like looking through a window into the past. What fascinates me most is the land. We spend every weekend in the countryside. I ride, and love feeling so close to nature. To me Argentina is cowboy country; I see the Marlboro Man everywhere. Country life is still very traditional; people live just as they used to 30 years ago, and I love their “rawness”. In contrast, there’s Buenos Aires with its arts and culture. There is something very European about it. It doesn’t surprise me that they call it the “Paris of South America”. I like the fact that you have the best of both worlds but, as I live in London , I tend to stay away from civilisation when in Argentina. What I love most is sitting under the starry sky contemplating the gauchos going about their ritualistic asados. Each one brings along their knife which is indispensable to them as they use it to slice their beef. First, they tear off a piece of bread with their bare hands placing the beef directly from the “parrilla” onto the bread. Then, with the piece of bread and meat in their left and their knife in their right, they cut out chunks of meat and grab it with their teeth directly – the bread acts as their glove, no plates are involved. It’s a special skill that I’ve learnt to master and it was an honour for me to receive my own beautiful silver knife. Spending this much time here has given me an opportunity to improve my riding skills. The biggest encouragement to becoming a good rider
is to earn the right to wear a fabulous pair of riding boots. I’ve always felt that hunting/riding gear should be earned. When I first started riding, I wore my 15-year-old Mexican riding boots. Quite simple and rugged, they were broken in best. As I improved, I looked into acquiring new boots and discovered the most beautiful riding regalia. So, really, my goal of becoming a great rider is all about being able to wear a great colonial riding outfit. I’m determined to get my first proper pair of Argentinean riding boots made before I leave. I have a few weeks left. My ultimate goal, however, is to get a great pair of English riding boots. I have quite a bit more riding to do before that. I’m very passionate about photography. Normally I shoot portraits and fashion stories, mostly for magazines, but when I’m travelling I am interested in the everyday and regular people. Here in the Argentinean countryside I’ve been photographing nature, horses, villagers and gauchos drinking their mate tea. My next project is to start shooting tango in Buenos Aires. While in BA, I met my friend, Sally Potter, who wrote, directed and acted in The Tango Lesson. It’s a beautiful and passionate film. She introduced me to the great contemporary tango dancers including Pablo Verón. My next photo project will be about movement, tango and its characters. Some characters seem to be a hundred years old, with polyester suits and a flower in their lapel. They can barely move but you can see their passion and love for their partner. It brought tears to my eyes! I was keen on taking lessons myself but, after watching Sally’s film, I realise how difficult it
in 1900 they built the first open lunatic asylum there
would be. I also saw how important a role the man plays. He really must lead the woman. Basically, you need to be dancing with a great partner. That’s when I realised I had to forget it; my boyfriend would make me look bad – he has never danced tango, he is the Marlboro Man himself! I would like to split my time between Argentina and England, to always have a base in London, to get my cultural fix. I love coming back to London and seeing my eccentric English friends and being around the art world. Then, when I’m in London I miss the countryside so I try to get as much of that when I’m out here. Here I see the world through the eyes of a child and I’m in awe of everything! I’m amazed by the land, the majestic purple Jacarandas, giant Robles and melancholic weeping willows. I love the countrymen who are simultaneously rough and polite and the kinship they feel towards their horses. I constantly feel like Billy Crystal in City Slickers. UT what would Argentina be without its meat? I love my Asados! I crave meat when I’m here, which is very unlike me. El Chango in a town called Open Door (in 1900 they built the first open-door lunatic asylum there) is one of my favourite meat restaurants in the world. Its main dish is a hunk of bife de lomo (sirloin steak) with homemade French fries. It’s the best I’ve ever tried. Forget Scottish, English or even Japanese Wagyu, this beef melts in your mouth. There is something else I would like to add: the phenomenon of siesta. It is a habit I am now very used to. My body switches to sleep mode as soon as I’m finished with that last morsel of bife. As soon as I put down my fork I need to lie down. I really don’t know how I’ll manage once I’m back in England! Astrid Muñoz is an ex-model, girl about town, adventure lover and photographer
FQR Casting Couch
Up-and-coming actress Emma Greenwell is like a young Jean Shrimpton with a sweet tooth and, reminiscent of another Emma, is already handsome and clever. With her star quality, says Felicity Harrison, she should also soon be rich WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT ACTING? I love telling stories. From a young age I always wanted to be involved in plays for that reason. I got the bug pretty quickly and I just love it. YOU STUDIED AT HURTWOOD HOUSE, WHICH HAS SOME IMPRESSIVE ACTING ALUMNI INCLUDING EMILY BLUNT AND JACK HUSTON. WHAT WAS IT LIKE? I remember on my first day walking around and these two girls said, “When we leave school we’re going to move to Hollywood and become famous and I thought, ‘Where am I?’” Everyone there is a performer so it keeps you on your toes but I liked it. Andrew Johnson, head of drama there, is amazing.
OTHER THAN ACTING, WHAT ARE YOUR PASSIONS? Fashion and food. I used to work for a stylist, which is when I became obsessed with clothes. I don’t like just going into a shop and buying clothes – I like to track things down, trawl through markets and so on. I also love going to the cinema and theatre. When it comes to food, I love sweets, like fizzy laces! And chocolate nemesis. I love cooking, although I am not very good at it but working at The River Café has taught me a bit. I’m always peering over the chef ’s shoulder and asking them what they are doing. I observe, but I don’t know how much I actually take in. ANY TIPS FOR AMATEUR COOKS OUT THERE? Yes, instead of blind baking – when you use those balls to weigh down the pastry – I’ve learned that you can grate thick slices of the pastry, pat it down, and then you don’t have to blind bake. WHO IS THE SEXIEST MAN OF THE MOMENT? I like Guillaume Canet. WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A MAN? Height! And someone who makes me laugh – that’s quite sexy.
HAVE YOU EVER FALLEN FOR A CO-STAR? No. WHO WOULD YOU PICK FOR AN ON-SCREEN ROMANCE.
Ooh, I love Clive Owen. WHAT WAS IT LIKE PERFORMING AT THE EDINBURGH FESTIVAL? There were some quite difficult people in my cast, but the whole experience was really fun. I was 18 and living in this flat with another 18year-old girl and these 40-year-old men, so we did all the cleaning and cooking. My show finished at 8.30pm, so I had the whole evening to go and check out other shows. DO YOU HANG OUT WITH OTHER ACTORS MUCH? Yes, because I went to LAMDA and now I live with another actor. WHICH ACTORS INSPIRE YOU? Kristin Scott Thomas has had a really interesting career, and all her choices in film and theatre are excellent. I would love to be able to do French films because I adore French cinema.
WHAT IS THE NAUGHTIEST THING YOU HAVE DONE? When I was 16 I used to tell my boarding school I had an appointment and tell my parents I was staying in and I’d sneak off to London. I got caught every time and would then get punished both by my parents and school. But I still kept doing it. IF YOU COULD LIVE IN ANY DECADE WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Easy: the Swinging Sixties. AUDITIONS. LOVE THEM OR HATE THEM? I really like them. They’re fun. So far, I’ve had lovely casting directors, which is a little different from auditioning for drama school, where they often try to upset you. I get nervous but I like to pretend to be whoever you want. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY. Waking up with my two cats – Hector and Dante – and then heading up to Hampstead Heath with some friends and having a picnic. WITH A NICE GLASS OF WINE IN HAND? I don’t drink wine or beer. Very antisocial, I know. I have to bring hip flasks of vodka to parties!
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FQR Liberal at Large
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:32-35 NIV) Oh Commie All Ye Faithful perhaps even with a strong eggnog. At the time (do you mind if I give him a hip-hop name?) JC was walking the earth, perhaps barefoot, his kind of thinking would have been unorthodox, subversive and radical to the community in which he grew up and lived – and among the Roman society at large. JC was a cool commie. Not one of the later forms of communist who corrupted the simplicity of the concept. Stalin, Mao and a few of the present-day communists expose one of the simple problems of the communist system: man is greedy and selfish. I guess we could look to Judas for a lesson about that. Sharing and behaving Matthew Modine muses on the the way Christ may have possibility that Jesus was a cool suggested and hoped mankind might is, sadly, commie and what the Yuletide counterintuitive to human might really mean. Merry Xmas nature. It seems we ESUS was a commie. A revolutionary with humans simply don’t like radical views and ideas. He created an being equal or sharing our unprecedented movement, with neither army goods. Luke 14:13 NIV nor weapons, and led a group of young people says, “…when you give a toward progressive and liberal thought at a time banquet, invite the poor, of oppressive empire. A guy who would lead his the crippled, the lame, the generation of followers away from the violent, blind”. Well, ask yourself, intolerable religious and political teachings of the would you? The Brazilian past, toward a philosophy of love and forgiveness. Archbishop Dom Hélder Now, before you start screaming and thinking Câmara lamented the this is an attack on any particular faith, ism, or a situation with these words, comparison to Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx or “When I give food to the Chairman Mao, or even Fidel Castro, it’s not. poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the When I suggest that Jesus was a communist, I poor have no food, they call me a communist.” JC mean that he may have been a supporter of a asked the same question and faced the same socioeconomic structure or a political ideology dilemma, and they responded by killing him. I that promoted a new kind of establishment. An wonder how we’d react to someone like him egalitarian, classless, stateless society based on today? How would popular news shows, especially common ownership of property. I don’t think he right-wing news outlets, react to a young bearded had any ambition or great notion of creating a man in robes praising mercy and rejecting violence new religion either. I do think he’d be horrified at with words like, “Love your enemies and do good the thought of someone killing in his name, or in to them” (Luke 6:35)? The ancient notion that for every wrong done the name of what he imagined God to be. I just know he’d like the idea of families gathering there should be an equal compensation and around a tree and enjoying each other’s company, measure of justice – that is just crazy. We know
that violence begets violence. You throwing a rock – and me throwing one back – is one thing, but in a time of chemical and atomic warfare, that kind of thinking is crazy. It took 2,000 years for a Martin Luther King, Jr – probably inspired by Mahatma Gandhi – to amend the Old Testament’s “an eye for and eye…” adding, “…leaves everyone blind.” This was wisdom for a new age provided at a time of racial violence and nuclear proliferation. Many agreed that killing someone because of their skin colour and the idea of nuclear retaliation, was a surefire means of leaving everyone blind. When I read the things Jesus is supposed to have said, it’s possible for me to believe that had he had a John and Paul – Lennon and McCartney, that is – together they could have written some great Beatle tunes. “All You Need Is Love” – JC must have said this a hundred different ways. In fact, “LOVE, LOVE, LOVE” is the overriding subject and simple message that JC gives over and over again – simple to say, but very hard to follow and live. Another JC favourite of mine is, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Awesome. With this sentence JC reminds us that everybody makes mistakes and fucks up along life’s journey. JC recognises this and awakens discomfort and shame in those of us who punish others for mistakes we ourselves all too often make. Alexander Pope is credited for the saying, “To err is human, to forgive divine.” He was no doubt inspired by the aforementioned stone parable. I think it is prescient to note that Jesus also
How would popular news shows, especially right-wing news outlets, react to a young bearded man in robes praising mercy and rejecting violence with words like, “Love your enemies and do good to them” (Luke 6:35)?
described “money changers”, those engaged in currency exchange, as “thieves”. There’s a great story in which JC is supposed to have flipped over money changers’ tables then chased them out of a temple in Jerusalem because they had turned it into a “den of thieves”. That’s my kind of guy, a real action hero who backs his words with deeds! Imagine if JC were around today to kick the arses of all the money changers, stockbrokers and bank executives who created bad loans and Ponzi schemes. The creeps who traded away thousands of people’s life savings and created a global economic disaster! If you read what JC is supposed to have said, it’s interesting to compare and contrast it with what the Church preaches as doctrine. By comparison, JC appears a logical and reasonable man. The Church almost always favours doctrine that completely subjugates the human mind and alienates and often annihilates reason. CANNOT find any language where JC justifies butchering other humans in any God’s name. JC opposed force and attacks of rage. Using his name to justify violence in the name of some holy spirit is lunacy. JC appears to have lived with his eyes open, believing that there was a force or power or thing greater that exists outside human comprehension. That, whatever that thing is, it has not the slightest influence over human behaviour, human justice, human wars, human pleasure or whatever human ambitions we pursue. When we choose to throw stones, it is our pitiful selves that act alone. I don’t believe that a God helps us to kick a soccer ball well. Or hit a home run. Or make a touchdown. I do believe that when a rare fellow like JC comes along and shows us a new path toward peace, love and understanding, they are punished, shot, murdered, and even crucified. So this year, when you light your Yule log and gather around the Christmas tree (two ancient pagan rituals), take a moment to reflect on all those who live and work to make the world peaceful. Raise your mugs of rum-laced eggnog and say, “Thank you, all!” Matthew Modine is FQR’s Liberal-at-Large
FQR Finch’s World
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The Cornucopia of Life
Natural woman Gael Boglione revels in her rural surroundings and relates the organic growth of Petersham Nurseries
THINK my appreciation for nature stems from my childhood. I grew up in Melbourne where I had a great but simple life that was very much about being outdoors, afternoons playing at the beach or in a park or just the back yard – we were always out in the fresh air. There’s a sense of freedom growing up with so much space – you’re connected to the earth and, from an early age, you learn to respect it. I left Melbourne when I was 17 to pursue modelling in Paris and although I’ve been living in London for the past 25 years, my roots are still very much in Australia. My husband, Francesco, and I enjoy going back there with our family whenever we can. We find it an incredibly relaxing place. When Francesco and I moved to Richmond 12 years ago we certainly didn’t have any grand plan to own a nursery. We’d been living in central London but I’d begun to feel claustrophobic there with four children and all our dogs. We all wanted to relocate somewhere with more space and were lucky enough to find this wonderful 1640s Queen Anne house with a huge garden, which we bought and spent the next five years restoring – it was a real labour of love. Our intention was to bring the house back to its natural beauty and rawness, and let it stand as it should. Six years ago, and not without many second thoughts, we purchased the old nursery at the foot of our garden. Traditionally, the land had always been part of the property but was sold off about 30 years ago and the estate split. When the lovely family who operated the nursery wanted to sell up it was natural that we would be approached to buy it. In a way, our purchase was a defensive measure – we were terrified someone would build on the land. Initially, we didn’t quite know what to do with the nursery; we simply hoped to make it as beautiful as our home. And so began another labour of love. Our preference for natural spaces influenced everything we did. We ripped up no end of concrete and replaced it with hoggin (a mixture of clay, sand and gravel), tossed out all the plastic, and, most importantly, banished harmful, toxic pesticides whilst searching for natural alternatives. We also planted a long cutting garden in the nurseries to provide not only inspiration but our own source of cut flowers. I’ve been passionate about sustainable living and nutritious, delicious food for a really long time, so we felt strongly that the nursery should reflect these values. We’ve been greatly assisted in bringing this philosophy to life by fellow Aussie Wendy Fogarty,
The Richmond Set Petersham Nurseries’ fans include Richard E Grant, Mick Jagger, Cate Blanchett, Sabrina Guinness, Charles Finch
who runs the nurseries and was the driving force behind Slow Food UK. We share a vision, a blueprint for the greening of nurseries. We try to use as many British plant growers as possible – not as easy as one would think, as many have gone out of business. We sell biodegradable coir pots instead of plastic ones and we recycle all possible waste including wine corks from the Café, which we give to customers for use as pot crocs. We try to live in the most eco-friendly way we can but realise there’s still much more to be done. We’re conscious that we can always learn more. Wendy recently developed a travel plan, for which we won an award last year, to encourage customers to visit us on foot, by bicycle, public transport or car sharing whenever possible. Next we want to explore trapping heat in the glasshouse and using it to reduce our energy consumption. The Café and Tea House emerged a few months after we reopened the nursery. The Café is the antithesis of slick city dining with besuited waiters and shiny surfaces. Based in a greenhouse in winter
After the festive season, the winter months are bare but the nursery takes on a stark, raw beauty of its own or in the garden on good summer days, we have dirt floors, tickling ferns and waiters in wellies! I think the intimate setting, with rustic chairs and wooden tables (all recycled antiques), is a wonderful place to eat the fabulous food created by our head chef, Skye Gyngell, another Australian. Eating amongst the plants appears to be a source of inspiration for customers as well as a soothing experience. The kitchen sources its food from over 40 local suppliers, as we believe in sustaining small producers. Given that wasted food is one of the top sources of methane emissions, my chooks also serve an important purpose as they eat all the leftover food from our house. Most of the waste from the nurseries and Café is composted. HE Petersham Nurseries that exists today has been an exciting learning experience for Francesco and me, and I’m proud of what we’ve created. It is labour intensive, but we’re a tight-knit team, and because we enjoy what we do we don’t mind working hard. What’s emerged is a splendid mishmash of rambling, sweet-smelling jasmine, antique zinc tubs filled with dahlias and rust-spotted urns overflowing with English
roses – our hidden-away plant wonderland. Groups of artists come and paint, and schoolchildren come to learn about plants and food. There is a community feel here, and many of the people who work with us are locals. We’ve been rewarded by having incredible support from the community, which has been instrumental in convincing the local council to grant us permission to operate the restaurant. My friends Richard E Grant and his wife, Joan, who live nearby and visit frequently, have been extremely proactive in encouraging us. I love seasonal change and how our space changes with the seasons. I find May, when everything starts budding, a particularly exciting time, Plants shoot up from the dirt and all the colours and smells start to mingle. At Halloween we fill the place with pumpkins and autumnal vegetables. We dress the nursery up to make it more exotic and great fun for children. It’s particularly beautiful here over Christmas. Night falls and the greenhouses are lit up by candles and fairy lights. They turn into fragrant, plant filled Aladdin’s Caves. After the festive season, the winter months are bare but the nursery takes on a stark, raw beauty of its own and the value of evergreen plants becomes impossible to ignore. I think I speak for everyone when I say we all feel so happy and proud to work in such a gorgeous environment. We’re surrounded by the Thames, towpaths, fields with cows, glorious Richmond Park and birds that sing all day. Let’s face it: we’re very lucky! Gael Boglione (with her husband Francesco) owns and runs Petersham Nurseries, 143 Petersham Rd, Richmond, TW10 7AG, www.petershamnurseries.com
FQR Finch’s World
What Makes Charles Tick
A BlackBerry Crush
Charles Finch hands it to Danny Pizzigoni’s Watch Club
BrickBreaker maniac Simon de Pury explains just how important it is that his balls don’t drop…
Y life has been taken over by my BlackBerries, iPhones, iPods, Canon G11 and other totally indispensable gadgets. Despite my very expensive tailor, my suits have alarmingly bulging pockets as I carry all these things with me wherever I go. So much so that they have become extensions of my hands and I cannot imagine how it was possible to live without them. Extreme mobility allows you to push 24/7 that Sisyphos rock of answering the ever-expanding flood of e-mails and text messages. As if that’s not bad enough, a friend of mine recently introduced me to the BrickBreaker game that you find in all BlackBerries. A first attempt at it demonstrated my total ineptitude and, I thought, the total stupidity of the game. My rapid failure at it irritated me and spurred me on to play it over and over again. Consequently, I have reached a level of addiction comparable only to my children’s when they were much smaller and I would fight with them over their Game Boys so that I could satisfy my urge to play Tetris. I now find BrickBreaker a highly sophisticated game that teaches you the lessons of life. You have to catch the balls falling with your cursor on the screen and destroy the bricks that appear on it. If you are good at it you can win extra lives, which allow you to develop your staying power and to score the maximum amount of points. Sitting and waiting in aeroplanes, airport lounges, taxis or restaurants allows you to develop your skills. Being interrupted by a flight attendant or a waiter is infuriating as it is very likely to cause you to drop your ball and therefore miss your new personal record that you worked so hard to achieve. It is then entirely their fault when that happens. Having a few spare lives in hand makes you feel cocky and overconfident and you lose them extra fast during the next game. On the other hand, having only one life left makes you so sharp and attentive that it allows you to postpone ineluctable death for quite a while. You can send your high score to BlackBerry headquarters, which instantly gives you your world ranking. After spending an embarrassing amount of hours at it, I brought my personal record to 31,660 points. Very proudly, I transmitted my score and, very soberingly, my rank came back as 42,137th in the world. I began to imagine a football stadium filled with that amount of BrickBreaking players who were all better than me! That thought in itself is so painful that it will hopefully let me focus on my more productive and pleasurable addictions. Simon de Pury is the chairman of Phillips de Pury & Company
Watches to Own
Reigns at my Parade
Take It from Tim
As racing expert Harry Herbert introduces 14 new “must-have” young horses to potential syndicate owners, he hopes he’s bagged a superstar this year
REMEMBER watching the great Brigadier Gerard winning the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot in 1972, which, for me, was one of those unforgettable sporting moments. Like all racing fans, I have waited many moons since for the second coming of a superstar. Well, at long last, this year he appeared in the perfect shape of Sea The Stars – a horse with impeccable looks and breeding who quite simply took our breath away every time he raced. For a racehorse to start his three-year-old campaign in the 2000 Guineas at the beginning of May and then to run each month at Group 1 level without defeat in distances ranging from one to one-and-a-half miles is nothing short of remarkable. Nashwan was the last to complete the Guineas-Derby double in 1989, but Sea The Stars went on to win the Eclipse in July, the Juddmonte International in August, the Irish Champion in September and then, in his final career start, he demolished a top-class field in the Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe. Anyone who witnessed that performance will be in no doubt that we saw a truly great racehorse still at the top of his form as he brushed aside the opposition to win ‘eased down’ by two lengths. For Sea the Stars a different life now beckons as his owners, the Tsui family from Hong Kong, have decided to retire him following his Arc victory. He will now take up stud duties in Ireland at the Aga Khan’s Gilltown Stud farm, apparently with the Tsuis retaining full ownership of him. His value has soared to a sum exceeding £70m, and all the world’s top breeders are sure to want to send him their best mares. Next year, in his first season, he is likely to cover 120 mares at a cost of £85,000 per cover, thereby creating a tidy annual income of over £10m. His half-brother, Galileo, is one of the leading sires standing at stud in Europe and, as such, commands a fee of around £150,000, which gives you some idea of the extraordinary sums of money that these top-class racehorses can produce once they have ended their racing career. Y brother-in-law, John Warren, and I have just completed our yearling buying and, as usual, it was a marathon session over four weeks of sales with some 3,000 horses inspected. We each look at 100 yearlings a day on the run-up to a sale and then the list is steadily reduced as John culls all but the very best. These in turn have to pass the vet’s test, so the short list consists of only a handful of horses, but ones that are the absolute “must-haves”. We ended up buying 14 yearlings at an average price of about 90,000 guineas for my new Highclere syndicates, and these were paraded recently at Highclere Stud over four days and in front of around 150 people each day. The parades give me a chance to interview John as to what attracted him to each horse and to explain in detail to the audience what he looks for in the perfect yearling. The parades are followed by lunch at Highclere Castle, which is always a very jolly affair as owners compare notes on their new purchases. This year explorer and adventurer Ben Fogle became an owner with us and it was a joy to watch him and his wife Marina’s excited reaction when they saw their two new yearlings for the first time. They have a stunning colt by Cadeaux Genereux, who will be trained by William Haggas, and a charming Danehill Dancer filly, who will be going to Jeremy Noseda. Sir Alex Ferguson is passionate about his racing and has been an owner of ours for a number of years. Sadly, he couldn’t spare the time to come down to this year’s parades but he nonetheless bought shares in a beautifully bred son of Motivator, whose first crop ran with such acclaim this year. By the end of the parades all bar a handful of the shares had been sold, which was a huge relief, but which also showed that, despite the financial gloom, those with a passion for racehorse ownership are determined to continue – especially through syndicates, which make it so much more fun and cost-effective. Needless to say, we are all dreaming that somewhere among the 14 another champion like Sea The Stars lurks!
in the shape of George Kern at IWC, who agreed to meet me after I bombarded him with letters and ideas about how IWC was the Rolex of now and NTIL my late 30s I had only two what a great impact Charles Finch would have on possessions I truly valued: a teddy bear the brand…. Rather gently, George explained to me given to me by my late father, and a Rolex that IWC was doing just fine without me, but like Submariner watch given to me by my mother at the I was with my mother and that first watch, I refused wonderfully outrageous age of 13! The teddy bear to be pacified, and George and I eventually met and you will all approve of as an aide-mémoire of my began a great collaboration, which lasts to this day. rom Rolex and IWC came an awakening of late father, but being given Rolex at such a young the rare or vintage watch market. The age – that’s a different story. What was my mother watches of the connoisseur are often hard to thinking, you might ask? Or how vulgar, those toughies out there might add, and what a spoilt find and mostly unknown to the general public. brat. Those of you who know me must be Brands that are not mass are thus more for the educated watch fanatic or smirking… In my for a very discerning mother’s defence I am individual. Lange & Söhne forced to explain that I from Dresden, for example, made her life completely or the complicated impossible until I Rolex Submariner (Seventies) movements of Jaegerhad this marvel-lous Rolex GMT (Seventies-Eighties) LeCoultre or the Cartier timepiece in my grubby IWC Pilot Tank London, which are hand. I pestered her. I IWC Aquatimer very hard to find and so on. begged her. I bewildered Cartier Tank (any era) I clearly needed guidance her with information A Lange & Söhne World Timer through the dense forest of about why this watch Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classic shimmering wristpieces and was absolutely necessary found Danny Pizzigoni of to my development as a Watch Club, which is man, and she gave me a variety of irritating tasks to be performed before she nestled in the fine Royal Arcade. Danny is, in my would even consider such a costly gift. I washed opinion, the finest purveyor of luxury vintage and cars, took out rubbish and painted the garage. As for rare timepieces in Europe. I have bought and sold my sister, she attempted to strangle me when I finally Danny watches for many years, and we have never disagreed about value. The watch trader knows that received the green Rolex box with my prize in it. At Gordonstoun I wore the watch as a badge of his customer is likely to return many times to build honour. Strutting first into Chapel I would make a collection and thus the key to the relationship is sure it caught the light. Peeking out from my grey trust. Danny will find a watch for you and service it. Watch Club is my Christmas recommendation. uniform shirt the Submariner proclaimed that not all of Finch had been institutionalised. There was still a little of the Côte d’Azur in me, a little glam to fight back at the system and the brutal Scots winters. In moments of sadness at school, I thought of my loving mother when I looked at it, and when she finally passed away many, many years What do you get for later, I was still wearing the Submariner on the man who has it my wrist. I even had it engraved with her all? Tim Jefferies and my initials on the back. When I fell badly on a snow-capped mountain and should know. Here broke a few bones I listened to the gentle are his top 10 tick-tock of the watch as I lay in the freezing Christmas ice until the mountain rescue picked me up. On the blistering beaches of Hopetown, cravings learning to “Surf Life Save” with the enthusiastic Mr Goss, also our 1st XV rugby 1. An IWC Minute Repeater Watch in gold. coach, I didn’t need to take off my watch as “it This is one of the great complications in was made for such hardship”, I told everyone within watchmaking and this particular watch is earshot. It was a great love affair, the Rolex and I. priced at a fraction of comparable watches. The watch was part of my identity and no doubt A great way to ring in the New Year... (See noted by other boys and girls alike. My friend www.iwc.com.) Harry Fane, who has written for FQR before, always 2. Anything from Tom Ford. says a man needs only two watches, a Rolex Sub and 3. A delicious dinner in Paris at La Société (4 a Cartier Tank… Anyway, as we shall see, this was Place Saint-Germain-des Prés, 75006 Paris; not the case when it comes to me. +331-5363 6060), the new Costes restaurant In my mid-30s, when the movie business had lost around the corner from Café de Flore. Very some of its lustre and Hollywood was not as sexy. amusing or challenging to me as it had been, I 4. A pair of Beretta over-and-under 12-bore found myself turning to Europe for business and shotguns (www.beretta.com). Well made and away from the States. Gradually, I migrated my indestructible. Just what I need for the end of work from the movies to more conventional the season. businesses. The great luxury houses of Europe 5. A pair of cuff links from Harry Fane (13 could, I believed, benefit from my rather eclectic Duke Street, London SW1; 020-7930 view of marketing and brand development, as had 8606), the chicest jeweller in London. the Reagan and Clinton White Houses from their 6. A few new clients. association with Hollywood – at least, that was my 7. A Lumix GF1 digital camera(with the white assumption. body) – super cool. Available at Colette, Paris As a movie guy I was also pretty well versed in (213 rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris; promoting every type of movie, and every kind of www.colette.fr). actor – good, bad or indifferent. For my new 8. A copy of SuBo’s new CD, I Dreamed a business I had only one rule or plan; I would work Dream. Her cover of The Rolling Stones’ only with great companies small or large, Wild Horses is magic. which produced things I would myself 9. A quiet cuddle with my wife and our want to watch or own. Thus I daughter, Coco, on Christmas morning turned first to what was already a before all the madness. passion. Watches. 10. Remember you’re a long time dead... Watch brands inhabit a world of Tim Jefferies is the principal of Hamiltons Gallery technical obsession and design passion, in London the very qualities required in making movies. My first real “watch man” came
FQR A Taste of Christmas
HERE may be only a handful of places that can truly be described as New York institutions, and Monkey Bar – which enjoyed its first heyday back in the Thirties – surely must be one them. Since its opening in 1932 it has been frequented by among others F Scott Fitzgerald, Fred Astaire, Dorothy Parker, Ava Gardner and Marlon Brando – some of whom feature in Edward Sorel’s charming Manhattan mural that stretches across the dining room’s walls. Under Graydon Carter’s reign, alongside Jeff Klein and Jeremy King, the refurbed Monkey Bar goes back to its roots of simple elegance and is, once again, a popular place to be (and be seen) today. The menu offers a selection of unpretentious classics such as Nora’s Meatloaf to Graydon’s family recipe – Mrs Carter’s Butter Tart. As Graydon says, “It’s all in the mix!”
A Christmas Card from Como Celebrated restaurateur Andrea Riva shares his Northen Italian Yuletide customs
HRISTMAS for me means being reunited with my family – my two brothers, my sister and all their children. Some of them are involved in the various restaurants we own. Every Christmas we all shut shop and come together at La Felice on Lake Como. La Felice in Pianello Lario in Lombardy, overlooking Lake Como, used to be my grandfather’s house. I remember as a child having to recite a poem to my grandparents upon arriving. I also remember eating a lot of good food. In Italy we have a saying that goes something like, “Christmas with yours, and Easter with whomever you like.” Christmas is imperatively a family reunion for us. When I think back to my earliest Christmases, what I remember most vividly are the presents hidden underneath beds and above cupboards. Then, when I started school, I remember the joy of having a big chunk of holiday ahead of me each time I arrived at La Felice. But what makes La Felice so special today is the tradition of being united as a family and celebrating Christmas together. To me it really is the best time of the year at the lake. It’s the right place to be and remains just as in my childhood memories. It’s a ritual for us, going back to our roots, and keeping the flame of tradition alive. Navigation on the lake stops, there are no boats and all the hotels are shut. I really enjoy having a bit of time for peaceful relaxation. You can go for hour-long walks without encountering a soul. Being Italian and being in the restaurant business means that food, particularly over Christmas, is very important. We try and keep these few days as intimate as possible. Therefore we try and have very few staff in the house. We might have one sous-chef or someone peeling potatoes or cutting up onions but, other than that, my brothers take turns to cook. I am not really a cook; I’m responsible for the wine. At La Felice we have an old wine cellar where we also keep the dried fish, fruit and vegetables. Back in the day, this was the only storage area; there were no fridges, of course. We all bring some specialities to the table. Each year it’s a downright competition to bring the best delicacies. My brother might bring a certain bresaola made from a neighbour’s goat while I might bring my prosciutto. Nowadays I also like to bring Beluga caviar or salmon from Scotland, but that’s not very traditional. Missoltin – dried shad – is one of the region’s typical dishes for winter, when
fresh fish from the lake isn’t available. In the summer, when the fish is caught in abundance, we sun-dry what we can’t eat and then press the fish into a glass and separate each layer with bay leaves and salt. We use bay leaf quite a lot for cooking as it gives off a wild and woody taste, which impregnates the fish. We grill it in a pan and serve with polenta. At La Felice we only ever eat fish from the lake. We also grow our own vegetables and there are a few hens and piglets around. I hope you are not a vegetarian. Lake Como is also very famous for its breads. There is one particular bread with bits of fruit inside that people grab to have with their coffee. Then, of course, there is the well-known panettone, also from the region of Lombardy. Traditionally, panettone is never home-made but bought. When you visit someone, you bring them a panettone and vice versa. In the winter months we make chestnut cakes too, as there are a lot of chestnuts around. Traditionally, we used to have capon, a castrated rooster, for our big Christmas lunch. Now we quite often have goose instead, but we stay away from turkey. A bit later a farmer kills a pig and then either invites us over or gives us some home-made salami. A FELICE is one of those places that never changes, which is why we decided to reopen it in 1995. Until then, my mother lived there in the summer months. My grandfather started the tradition of catering to customers in the summer months, mainly because he liked playing the country gentleman. My brother and I wanted to bring back to life what we remembered so vividly from our childhood. We were fed up with seeing these three-course “menus touristic”, so we thought, “Let’s just give it a try.” We decided to invite or cater for people who understood what we were doing. We have very loyal customers who come every year – quite a few German, English and American clients – but we don’t want to publicise who they are because that’s the beauty of the place. You can water-ski and windsurf on the lake. And we have a beautiful Riva boat – they are made in this region. We don’t consider ourselves as being open to the public because we have the same guests every year. Their children love messing about in the boats. There are beautiful places to visit, such as Bellagio, and visitors can go shopping in Lugano, Como or Milano, and go for lunch in St Moritz. To them, Como is all about the summer. To me, however, the most memorable period at Lake Como is the winter. Andrea Riva is the celebrated restaurateur and proprietor of London’s legendary Riva as well as La Felice on Lake Como
Each year it’s a competition to bring the best delicacies
Menu hand decorated by Graydon Carter, co-owner of Monkey Bar, NY (60E, 54th St; +1212-308 2950)
FQR A Taste of Christmas
The Advent of the
Chocolate Calendar Passionate about confectionery, Dr Hermann Bühlbecker celebrates the sweet success of his family firm Lambertz and the advent of the company’s calendar
AMBERTZ confectionery is one of Germany’s oldest brands and, as such, we have received several awards. We are the proud founders of Aachener Printen, as well as the makers of the renowned Nürnberger Lebkuchen and many other products. My ancestors founded Lambertz 320 years ago and it remains in the family today. It all began as a small, family-run bakery at the House of the Sun in Aachen. Its location made reference to the region’s eminently influential French reigning monarch, Louis XIV. Since that day the sun has been our company’s logo. Back then we were purveyor to the Prussian Court as well as to the Belgian and Dutch Courts. Today we have grown into an international multimillion-dollar company, still maintaining the same integrity, quality and prestige that characterised those early days. When President Kohl went on State visits he always brought along Lambertz cookies. Recently, we even made a special-edition series of biscuits for Princess Gloria, packaged in a uniquely customised box. In short, we try to take our legacy as purveyor to the Court and as ambassadors for quality and tradition into the future. IX years ago this philosophy gave birth to our very first calendar. The idea behind it was a celebration of female beauty and taste. Chocolate’s sensuality to me is perfectly complementary to female sensuality and beauty. At first we produced only very few calendars but we got such good feedback immediately we felt encouraged to continue the following year and so on. When Michel Comte photographed the calendar for us one year it suddenly became Germany’s must-have calendar. We really put a lot of thought into the art direction and production of each of our calendars. Each year has a specific theme and a matching location is chosen accordingly. We have shot in Istanbul as well as other great locations and, I must say, our calendars do turn out to be quite sexy. Only our very important clients and friends receive them as gifts every year. Prince Albert of Monaco keeps his close – in his office, to be precise. Really, the calendar is a homage to beauty and pleasure, which, to me, is really what chocolate and bakery is all about. Our calendar this year was inspired by the legendary Thirties photographer Edward Steichen whose minimalist vision very much influenced the epoch. What made this company was the passion for confectioneries and tradition. I have managed to carry these values into the 21st century and, hopefully, added a little international glitz and glamour to our good old Aachner delights. Dr Hermann Bühlbecker is owner of Germany's oldest biscuit and chocolate brand
FQR A Taste of Christmas
Christmas isn’t Christmas without turkey. And Maya Even knows how to get it just right
HIS year, you say, thinking of last year, we will have goose. Or a nice big ham. Ham can be very nice. Or a lovely side of beef… But it is no use. You might as well suggest a partridge in a pear tree. You are going to have to bite the bullet, and you know it. Christmas is not Christmas without turkey. We have had Christmas without turkey, actually. There was the year the oven set the turkey on fire – and then the turkey set the oven on fire. We gave the (12) firemen all of our Christmas champagne. There was another year when the turkey landed with some force on the dog while my husband was attempting a complicated basting manoeuvre he called his “turkey flip”. What was left of our dog ate what was left of the turkey once we’d gathered the scattered remains. With hindsight, I can see that these were lifeenhancing moments. They offered a blessed escape from the mundane prospect of eating a dry, tasteless, boring bird. They also provided a tremendous incentive to resolve this particular Christmas conundrum. We have a somewhat absurd childhood longing for the sight of a glossily bronzed turkey on our Christmas tables, but the taste almost never lives up to the visual allure. We dine off our nostalgia and embellished memories. I wanted to dine off juicy white meat. My culinary pilgrimage to turkey heaven was strewn with many obstacles. For one thing, a turkey is not just an oversized chicken; its weight and bulk make it an awkward customer. At times I felt I was trying to roast Big Bertha. Mrs Beeton, Brillat Savarin (a famous dindophile), Mayflower descendants… were no help whatsoever. Brining, a recently revived technique, was a near winner but I found the method so beyond the capacity of a normal fridge – what with enormous rubbish bins, coolers and slopping cold liquid everywhere. It was bad enough wrestling with a vast bird, now I had to wrestle with a vast bird in 10 gallons of brine. More to the point, the result, though respectable, was not as perfect as I’d hoped. A ND then, epiphany. Maybe I’d been wrong. Maybe turkeys could be treated like oversized chickens. For some time, I’d been salting chickens
The whole business is surprisingly simple – before cooking them at very high temperatures more a method than a formal recipe. with extraordinarily good results. The wonderful It requires a start three days before you intend Judy Rodgers, at Zuni Café in San Francisco, to roast your turkey, and then a cooking time of employs this technique of salting well in advance approximately two hours, with allowances for a to produce roast chicken of an unbelievable bigger or smaller bird. flavour and succulence. Why couldn’t I just do the You will need a good-quality fine sea salt, a same for my turkey? I tried. It worked. Here is the couple of handfuls of fresh sage leaves (about 30), result. I cannot promise that these next 500 words a large Pyrex or similar dish big enough to hold will improve your life, but I can at least guarantee the turkey or, failing that, a large food-safe plastic that they will improve your turkey. quick preliminary note: I am simplifying bag. Obviously, you will need a turkey, but I am your Christmas routine even further by leaving it to you to choose your bird. If you have removing two complications from the a splendid bronze, organic free-range bird, procedure – the stuffing and the congratulations. But if you have gravy. It is inconceivable one you’ve just plucked Cuban cigars are to have turkey off a supermarket my absolute passion. The more you learn without stuffing shelf, well, that’s about their method of manufacture, the more – I would just fine too. interesting they become. sooner On trips to Cuba I have been lucky enough to see the care that is taken in have the growing of the tobacco leaves and their subsequent drying and then how they are matured and selected before being dispatched to the rolling rooms, where hundreds of men and women are arranged on benches, supervised by a schoolmaster or mistress who gives advice and reads to the workers. One room with 200 or 300 rollers, each with carefully selected piles of mature leaves, will roll a particular brand, so you could get Romeo y Julieta being made next to Hoyo de Monterrey – made from different leaves for different flavours. The rolling is very complex and, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with upper thighs, only very well-developed manual dexterity. Then follows the trimming of the cigars, testing for “smokability” and, after that, the branding with paper bands and the boxing in those wonderful cedar boxes with the exciting, rather Victorian graphics that give cigar smokers such pleasure. A range of different boxes in a large humidor is a visual This delight and looks generous and luxurious, I always think. recipe stuffing It’s only when you have seen and smelt the full lifecycle of a makes the without cigar that you understand why they are so wonderful most of any turkey, if truth and expensive. turkey – and will be told – but I make noticeably improve the it beforehand, as with the flavour and texture of even a gravy, which gets both out of frozen bird. My cooking times are the way and means the turkey for a turkey of about 5-6kg or 11cooks more quickly and Roll on, says Sir 13lb. Your turkey may well be predictably. The recipes for Terence Conran, as he larger, and I suggest you arm explains his keen appetite my stuffing and gravy can yourself with a standard cooking for Cuban cigars easily be found on the FQR thermometer to check doneness. website. You will need ¾tsp of salt for Maya Even is FQR's gastronome every pound of turkey or 10g per kg.
Wash and dry the bird very well, inside and out. Very gently, lift the skin from the flesh, making every effort not to tear it, and slide in the sage leaves everywhere you can. Slip some in the cavity. Pat dry again. Now, rub all the salt into the turkey, on top of the skin, with your fingers, as if you are massaging the bird, concentrating on the fleshiest parts and turning the bird as you work. Sprinkle a bit inside the cavity as well. Place in the dish, cover loosely with clingfilm (or place in the plastic bag, press the air out and seal) and refrigerate for three days, breast side facing up for two days, breast side down for the last. The night before you cook it, remove all plastic wrapping and turn the turkey breast side up again, still in the fridge. An hour before roasting, preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F. Take your turkey out of the fridge and pat dry with paper towels. Half an hour before roasting, put your empty roasting tin in the oven to heat. Adjust the shelf or tin so that the top of the turkey won’t sit too close to the ceiling of the oven. Pat dry again – the bird must be as dry as possible when it goes in the oven to stop it from steaming and from sticking to the pan. Now remove the empty pan from the oven and place the turkey inside, breast side up. Return to oven. The skin should soon start to blister up and brown, but shouldn’t blacken. If it does, reduce the heat a bit. If the skin doesn’t brown after 20 minutes, turn up the heat to 240°C/470°F or even 250°C/500°F to get the deep colour you want. You can also lift the shelf or pan closer to the top of the oven. Roast for about 40 minutes. Turn the turkey over and turn the heat down to about 220°C/425°F. Flip back after about another 40 minutes, sliding a spatula under the turkey breast first to make certain the skin is not sticking to the pan. Reduce the heat to 190°C/375°F. After another 30-40 minutes, skewer the fattest part of the thigh behind the knee joint – the juices should run clear when ready. Otherwise, stick your thermometer into the thickest part of the breast but do not let it touch the bone. If it stands at 153°F or 67°C, it is done. Take out and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes (but up to an hour if you need to), covering with some foil to keep warm.
LOVE going to restaurants, cafés and brasseries and usually enjoy the experience, even if can ruin your evening, however good the food and wine. The design of the space from the waiter’s it’s bad, since I learn from it. I love starting my own restaurants and don’t want to make point of view is vitally important so that they can serve the food and collect the dishes efficiently. other people’s mistakes. The sommelier also needs space to uncork, decant and keep white wine and water on ice, as well as Looking for the right site is fundamentally important when establishing a new restaurant. space for a supply of different shapes of wine glasses. Ideally, I’m looking for a place that can get a good lunch and evening Then there is the customer comfort – and this is where ergonomics trade or, if that’s not possible, a reasonable lunch and a terrific evening. come in. So many restaurants are designed and decorated by people who I’m also looking for a building with character that is convertible into a know nothing about dimensions and who tend to get the height of the restaurant – and that is not easy. Councils, reasonably, do not want to chair, banquette and table wrong. give planning permission to properties in densely populated residential Well, at last I’m settled into my restaurant seat. I’m pleasantly warm areas as the coming and going of deliveries, rubbish collection and and I even see a wood fire at one end of the restaurant, which is very customers can disturb a peaceful neighbourhood. Equally, converting comforting. I hope they use it as a rotisserie. I look at the menu and it’s the building so you can receive deliveries and get rid of large quantities a reasonable size, plenty to choose from. I am always cautious about of rubbish, some of it smelly, is not at all easy. menus with an enormous number of choices as I know it can’t all be fresh Then you come to the problems of extraction of heat from the stoves or freshly prepared. I was given some langoustines that had been frozen and ovens, and the cooking smell that goes with it, plus the air the other day and they were like cold, watery cotton wool – what a waste! conditioning, which is important to most restaurants (there are miles I like a decent number of first courses so I can choose two if I’m not of essential trunking and the plant has to sit on the building’s roof ). feeling very hungry. Le Café Anglais in Queensway, London, has done a Then there’s the number of lavatories required, including one for the particularly fine job with its list of hors d’oeuvre. disabled, if you are going to stand a chance of acquiring a liquor licence. I do like to see the ballet of my food being prepared: the flash of flame Plus disabled access for customers. All this has to be considered and as my steak goes on the grill or the turning of lines of little birds rotating costed. and cooking gently against the soft wall of flames on the rotisserie. The These are most of the tiresome negatives that have to be resolved white clothes of the kitchen staff bent over their benches hard at work before you have fun deciding what type of restaurant it will be, the type chopping, slicing, stirring, makes a happy background to my meal, and of food you’ll serve and what sort of price range. This may be I also think that if I were a cook, I’d really like to see my customers and determined by a chef – or cook, as I prefer to call them – whom you see them receiving my work with pleasure. I don’t want to listen to an may have already selected, and the sort of food that is their speciality. angry opera from the kitchen. Sir Terence Conran has all the Again, the neighbourhood is relevant as you have to consider what sort ll this activity with a space full of people enjoying their food and secret ingredients for the perfect, of food the locals will like and what sort of price range will appeal to wine gives a comfortable buzz to a restaurant, which is indicative them both at lunch and dinner. of success. To me, one of the great sadnesses of restaurants the buzzing restaurant. Now if only he I always think you have to consider your menu before you design world over is that I can no longer enjoy a Havana cigar with a glass of eau could enjoy a cigar in one… the restaurant and, most certainly, the kitchen. Ideally, your cook de vie unless the restaurant has an outdoor terrace or a rooftop. Certainly, should be involved in the (very expensive) project of designing the smoking a cigar at the end of a good meal is, or used to be, one of the kitchen and the washing-up and storage areas because, if they don’t world’s greatest pleasures. You can always stay at home, but there is work well, he/she has always got somebody else to blame for second-rate food. It is always the kitchen’s something magical and sociable about restaurants, their staff and their surroundings that even the best staff at home with a very fine cook cannot replicate. fault. Long live restaurants, the cigars and great wine lists. Down with the M&S £10-for-two-dinner offers The restaurant, or front of house, as restaurateurs call it, also has to work efficiently; getting your food in front of you whilst it is still hot and well arranged is a considerable logistical task. Sauce slopped over – you still have to do the washing-up! And where is the maître d’, the smiling cook – and that buzz? the rim of the plate will not do, and if the customer is not comfortably warm and well lit, sloppy service Terence Conran is a restaurateur and iconic designer
My Restaurant Rules
FQR A Taste of Christmas
From Bavaria to the Beach
Bavaria’s Top Processed Meat Products
Regensburger Knacker – fat, short and pinkish – must be eaten “with all” in a bun with sweet mustard, horseradish and pickles. Nürnberger Rostbratwürst – slim and barbecued to a chocolate brown perfection – eaten in a bun with hot mustard only. Weiss Würst – the classic hangover brunch, eaten with sweet mustard and a pretzel before noon, if you want to be old school. (Don’t forget to skin them to avoid being branded a Weiss Würst virgin!) Landjäger – dry and herbie sausage eaten pure. Geräucherter Schinken – aged smoked ham sliced thinly and eaten on a freshly baked buttered bun for breakfast or on its own as a snack.
From the great Christmas countdown to the Weihnachtsmarkt and its sugary treats in the courtyard, Yuletide in Bavaria is almost unbeatable, says Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis
T’S pretty hard to compete with a Bavarian Christmas. I’m not sure whether this is because of its Catholic roots, which immerse it in tradition, or whether it is pure love for rituals surrounding the festive season. Perhaps it’s both. I have yet to come across a match in terms of cosiness, culinary delights and sensuality. As children we anticipated the Advent leading up to Christmas Eve like no other period of the year. Four weeks of sugary delights, carol singing and little surprises lay ahead of us. Come Christmas I would be dreading having to wait a whole year till the next one. Each year our wreath was identical to the last. Made of freshly cut branches of pine tree, it had four chunky candles stuck inside patiently waiting to be lit – at long last. Even after a couple of weeks of sitting in our kitchen, its piney smell of forest still filled the room. The joy we felt on that first Sunday, when finally we were allowed to spark up that very first candle whilst devouring Lebkuchen and buttery homemade biscuits, is beyond measure. The Christmas countdown could now begin. There is something else that sticks out like a twig in the thicket of my memory: the yearly Christmas Market, aka the Chriskindl Markt, that sweetened our pre-Christmas dry stretch. Nothing compares to this local treat nestled in the centre of our small town. Back then, on rare occasions we were wrapped up warmly and taken into town by our nannies. I remember it being almost unbearably cold but the smell
It took Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis a while to warm to the idea of Christmas under the sun. Now she can’t wait to sing carols in Kenya
HE contrast between our pre-Christmas extravaganza and our actual Christmas in the sun could not be starker. The first time we spent Christmas in Kenya was a bit of a shock to the system. Then, of course, we were much younger and the Christmas paraphernalia, ie the tree, the biscuits, the cold, were more essential still. Although my aunt brought along a hideous artificial tree that neatly folded into her suitcase, Christmas under the African sun felt a lifetime away from our usual festivities. Today I love it. Getting away from the freezing cold, the vast family reunion (which always ends in tears) and the compulsive feasting is a blessing undisguised. We’re normally quite an untraditional bunch anyway. Few things ever remain the same in our household. Christmas was probably the one constant in our lives: carol singing, an abundance of food, Midnight Mass and a proper family fight being the norm. On Christmas Eve, dressed to the nines, we would all meet in the old playroom and gather around a piano for our carol singing. When we were much younger and still obliged to take piano lessons, we were made to perform all the painfully rehearsed
of barbecued sausages, sugar-coated roasted almonds and the sweet odour of Glühwein entranced me, numbing any remaining pain. The best of these outings were accompanied by my mother. She always charmed her way into the hearts of the local merry-go-round owner, which meant that, unlike the other kids, we could remain on our favourite horses until green in the face. ater, when I was a teenager, my classmates and I would go to the market after school to hang out, drinking Glühwein. This boiling brew of pure alcohol and sugar-infested fruit flavour was the standard. Having anything else would have been beyond uncool. Although I never really liked its aggressive taste there was something tantalising about sipping the bitter-sweet brew in the blistering cold. Long after my siblings and I had spread out into the big wide world, our childhood dream finally came true. We got our very own Christmas market just outside our house – in the courtyard, to be precise. Of course, it isn’t really “our” market. Rather, it’s open to the public and a real happening as such. Nevertheless, when sitting in our kitchen I am literally a mere few footsteps (not counting the internal trek down the never-ending staircase) away from that next bite of sausage roll. The culinary experiences are beyond measure: Hungarian cinnamon buns, chocolate-covered fruit, kebabs, exceptionally doughie custard-covered calorie bombs – and on goes the list.
Christmas evergreens while the rest of the family would scream along next to us. Kenya put somewhat of a halt to the embarrassment. Even the traditional family argument is no longer as turbulent as it was back home in Germany. Instead of dressing up and gathering around a piano, we sit comfortably – and in very few clothes – on the terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean for a bit of carol singing. Instead of the very long Midnight Mass at the cathedral, in Kenya our Christmas Eve mass is celebrated on the terrace of our house. My mother’s well-trained staff act as choir instead of the renowned choirboys at home, the Domspatzen, singing at the cathedral. Of course, musically it is not quite as big a feast, but the African enthusiasm makes up for it. There is something to say about standing barefoot under the Kenyan sky, listening to a beautifully grounding sermon by the local priest. Somehow, in its simplicity, it is a very spiritual experience (minus the dogs barking hysterically at the monkeys hopping
During our shooting weekend in December the market has almost become the key attraction to our guests. I remember vividly the first time I took a bunch of my girlfriends over from Paris for our shoot. As cosmopolitan girls about town they hunted for their shooting regalia on the current autumn/winter runways rather than in the usual outdoor stores. Decked out in an array of furs that would have made Peta activists squirm, we ate our way thorough the market on a mission to try every single delicacy on offer. I’m not quite sure who perceived the spectacle as a greater attraction, the band of longhaired beauties or the locals gawking at the girls. side from the yumminess factor, the market offers quite a few more traditional delights. Christmas stories are read from one of the balconies overlooking the courtyard every evening by an overgrown baby Jesus/Angel. On occasion my mother, aka Queen Mum herself, takes over and reads. There are lots of different stands with hand-made delights from carpentry to natural brushes, hats or sheepskin slippers. Open fires sizzle into the night making the little outing even more scenic. It’s almost too picture perfect. On occasion it snows and the postcard scenario leaves you with a saccharine-infused taste even before you have indulged in a toffee apple. But no matter how pampered and blasé one is, I assure you everyone succumbs to this market���s charm. Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis is FQR’s features editor
through the surrounding trees). Munching on a plentiful spread of grilled fish and lobster, I sheepishly think back to the days of bellyaches after our far too big and formal Christmas Eve dinners. The best thing about Christmas in Kenya, however, is that instead of the postChristmas-food hangover, I wake up, slip into a bikini and spend all day kitesurfing. Beat that tradition!
FQR Arts et Lettres
Norman’s Conquest Norman Mailer and Norris Church in 1977. Photograph: Frank Delia
National Book Award Winner Colum McCann celebrates the style of the multifaceted Norman Mailer, and praises Larry Schiller for setting up a Writers Colony in his late, great friend’s name
F IT’S true, as Ralph Waldo Emerson says, that all history can be resolved in the biography of a few stout and earnest people, then surely the writer Norman Mailer would be a candidate, even if an unwilling one. Mailer was witness, creator, participant, author and all-round handyman of so much of the mechanics of the 20th century. It was the most and least human of times, and Mailer oversaw it with a jacked-up eye. He participated in, and mediated over, so much of the glory and the shabby horror, from the Second World War to the Apollo moonshot to the depths of the Cold War to the execution of Gary Gilmore to the sad derailing of Marilyn Monroe. If ever there was a man with his finger on the pulse, it was Mailer, pushing the wrong way through swinging doors. He wrote as if his very life depended on it, and often it did. He wanted to be at the heart of whatever was important and, as such, he knew his own importance. Like many great men and women, there was a simultaneous selfishness and selflessness at the core of what Mailer was doing as he stepped into everybody else’s world, then back to his own, which he had often shattered. But through it all Mailer had style – maybe not a strict sartorial style, but a style of language, a style of living, a style of seeing and, ultimately, a style of giving. Mailer was known as one of the most generous writers of his time: he
would write long letters to unknown writers who wanted advice on the smallest of details, he held people up to prevent them falling, he scaffolded, he encouraged, and even on his deathbed he is rumoured to have edited manuscripts for strangers. Mailer kept himself in the world. Maybe part of it was because he needed to be loved, but a deeper part of it was that he loved the world. It was, after all, the only one he had and, goddammit, he might as well enjoy it. Part of the echo of Mailer’s charisma was on display in New York in October on the occasion of the gala benefit for the newly created Norman Mailer Writers Colony, the brainchild of Larry Schiller, Mailer’s longtime friend and collaborator. Schiller is a Renaissance man – photographer, producer, director, renowned interviewer – and he used his considerable skills and charm to pull together a who’s who of the New York literary world in the fancy midtown restaurant Cipriani. The occasion was graced by Norris Church Mailer and all of the extended Mailer clan. Tina Brown and David Remnick hosted, two great brains clicking together to celebrate the panoply of lives that Mailer influenced, while Calvin Trillin was MC for the night, backed up by Doris Kearns Goodwin. In the course of the evening, Toni Morrison stepped up to receive a lifetime achievement award, and Jean Halberstam, wife of the late David Halberstam, received an award on her late husband’s behalf. Don DeLillo was there, within a stone’s throw of Salman Rushdie, Joan Didion, Jhumpa Lahiri, William Kennedy, Gay Talese,
Michael Cunningham, Francine Prose, Jeffrey Eugenides, Oliver Stone, John Waters and countless others from the literary world. The essence of Schiller’s mission is not just to celebrate the flash and dash, or the hyper-hyphens of Mailer’s life. He has opened the Mailer house in Provincetown, Massachusetts, to aspiring and talented writers and scholars from all over the world. He has also set up a series of national awards for college and high-school students. The $5,000 high-school award went to a young writer from Alabama, Emily Swanagin, who was charmingly elegant and nervous as she announced that she had never had “this much attention before”. The $10,000 college writing award went to John Gilmore, a senior at Utah State University. A shiver went through the crowd as the award was announced, with some people wondering if he was perhaps related to Gary Gilmore of Executioner’s Song fame. It turned out that he wasn’t, but nothing would have surprised the audience, given that the ghost of Mailer was hanging around, knocking over the bellinis and looking for a serious Scotch. The aim of it all is that, by keeping Mailer alive, you can preserve an endangered species: the art of writing. In this sense, the project gets to the essence of great storytelling, which Mailer knew was one of the last few democratic dignities. Everyone has a story and everyone can tell one. And then the stories themselves can transform us, taking us into another day, another time, another place. Mailer was aware that allowing a voice to rise up from the
By keeping Mailer alive, you can preserve an endangered species: the art of writing
dark was the freshest difference that the novelist or the poet or the playwright could make, allowing for stories to move on and for life to become, in fact, endless. CHILLER’S idea is to be kaleidoscopic in using the Mailer name. It comes quickly on the heels of Mailer’s death, while his presence still hovers, so it seems as if the New Jersey-born boy is everywhere. It could be considered vain, or sentimental, or “in your face”, but Schiller wants to make us witness to the many facets of Mailer since he knows that without witness there is not very much. By opening up Mailer’s name, he brings it out from the realm of the gone but at the same time he gives the name to others. Schiller knows that a whole generation of new writers – ones who push the edge, and perhaps even become the edge – will emerge from the Mailer awards. The best way to keep a name alive is to allow the name to keep changing. It’s a strange and vibrantly optimistic idea, especially in today’s economy, but appropriate for a writer as deeply layered as any in recent times. Mailer is out there. His books are coming alive again. His house doors are open. He is digging in his pockets to help out younger writers. He is lending his name to the name of others. He is brash and brazen and renewed. He was even hanging around at the end of the New York gig, wondering why it all finished so early and nudging up towards the bar to refresh his glass, while at the same time he was in the car back to Provincetown, while at the same time he was running off down 42nd Street at a clip, while yet another Norman was deep in his Brooklyn study, ignoring all the hullabaloo, getting the real work done. Irish writer Colum McCann won the National Book Award with his novel Let The Great World Spin (Bloomsbury, £14.24)
FQR Christmas Books
? e r e h t r e v o n a m t a h t e Se Simon Mills recalls his outings That’s Hitler’s cousin with Nicky Haslam on the London social circuit
T All is Calm...
John Malkovich settles down with an unsettling selection of Christmas reads Roberto Saviano’s Gomorrah is a fantastic read. It’s a gruelling account of the dire situation in Naples and all along the Neapolitan coast, thanks to the Mafia’s large international reach and stake in construction, high fashion, illicit drugs, and toxicwaste disposal. I think the author will be in hiding for quite a while to come. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Elective Affinities is a book you should read if you will be spending the next six months in hospital… Just kidding; I haven’t actually started it yet but, knowing Goethe, it will be quite a heavy read. I’m looking forward to reading it during my Christmas break, nevertheless. It’s about a young aristocratic couple’s disturbance when their peaceful and conventional life is challenged by the introduction of two fresh new faces. Really, it’s quite autobiographical: Goethe lived with Christiane Vulpius for 18 years before finally marrying her. Then, less than two years into the marriage, he fell in love with a much younger woman.
HE first time we went out together Nicky Haslam confided to me that he had just had a facelift. “Promise you won’t tell anyone, will you?” I swore his secret was safe(ish) with me. Of course, afterwards, when we attended a fashion party together, Nicky went round the room telling everyone about his triumphant nipping and tucking. I did the same, naturally, almost falling over myself to get people’s ears before Nicky did. This was our first outing as a gossiping duo. Soon, Mimi Spencer, then editor of the Evening Standard’s ES Magazine, saw our journalistic potential and gifted us a weekly column, “Dish”, at the front of the supplement. And, boy, did we have fun with it. Nicky immediately hired a Jag and a driver and went at the collective hard-card avalanche with gusto. I was just along for the ride, really, knocking together the copy while he went off to Janet de Botton’s for a long weekend. It worked out just fine. On one memorable night we attended nine different parties. During the next two years we encountered a stellar cast of characters but, for me, it was always Nicky who was the star of the show. And the stuff he came out with was just choke-on-yourMelontini wonderful. “See that man over there? That’s Hitler’s cousin.” “Barbara Windsor, meet Charles Windsor,” he said, introducing the future king to the Carry On actress. It was one of his best moments. “Oh look, it’s Elizabeth Taylor,” he said when we were at some posh Aids charity bash. “I haven’t seen her since I was Joan Crawford’s date at the premiere of Cleopatra. I wonder if she will remember me?” This was 2000. Cleopatra was
Living Another Life
Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 is probably one of his best works. It’s set on the US-Mexican border and follows the lives of an array of fictional characters and how many of their lives strangely merge with each other. Another one of his books that I highly recommend is The Savage Detectives.
FQR's selection of the seasons's books
Coco Chanel, Justine Picardie River Café Classic Italian, Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers No Invitation Required: The Pelham Cottage Years, Lady Annabel Goldsmith The Making of the British Army, Allan Mallinson The Great Silence, Juliet Nicolson The Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk Ransom, David Malouf Life's too Short to Drink Bad Wine, Simon Hoggart Country Diaries, various - selection of England's greatest diarists
Ion Trewin on the perils of penning an authorised biography
O BIOGRAPHERS the dreaded word, the venal sin, is hagiography. Originally, it had to do with writing the lives of saints, now it means any work that idolises its subject. And biography, surely, is about getting at the truth. This autumn two biographies have raised the question. William Shawcross’s official life of the Queen Mother (Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: The Official Biography; Macmillan, £25) was authorised. So, too, was my life of the politician and diarist, Alan Clark (Alan Clark: The Biography; Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £25). To both of us on publication was flung the allegation that “authorisation” means control by the subject’s heirs and executors. It follows, therefore, as a supplementary comment that no such biography can possibly be objective. To which one replies with a single word – tosh! The Queen Mother was much written about in her lifetime. Indeed, you could hardly have more varied or distinguished biographers than Penelope Mortimer (anti) and Hugo Vickers (both pro). But although each had their contacts and their informants to provide the inside knowledge that’s
Nicky and Moi by Simon Mills released in 1963. Liz remembered him, of course. I was reliably amazed at Nicky’s extraordinary range of friends but his cool nonchalance towards them was even more impressive. Once, after making an introductory speech at the premiere of the Mick Jagger-produced Enigma movie (about the Bletchley code-crackers during World War II), Prince Charles walked down the central aisle at the Leicester Square Odeon and, while the projectionist nervously waited for his cue, stopped dead by Nicky’s seat. “Oh hello, Nicky,” said a clearly star-struck Charlie. “I’m so glad you could come.” I was flabbergasted. Nicky, cool as you like, barely flinched. To get the column in shape, I would phone up Nicky at home on a Thursday morning so we could compare notes. But there was really no comparison between his extraordinary agenda and little old mine. For example: “Thursday night? I went to a party for the New Topman collection, then cocktails at Sally Greene’s house and dinner at The Ivy with Paris Hilton, Rupert Everett, Lucian Freud and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Then I
so essential to any biographer, they lacked untrammelled access to the heart of their subject: not only to the Queen Mother’s papers – her diaries, her letters – but also to her family. To be able to question princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses, earls and countesses, private secretaries, racing managers, butlers and the like can, in the proper hands, produce veins of gold. Having no access to Alan Clark’s widow, Jane, or to the contents of Saltwood Castle – home of the Clarks from the early 1950s, when it was bought by his father – would have ensured one of two things: either a scissors-and-paste job based mainly on published sources (augmented, if one were lucky, by a few interviews), or a project stillborn through frustration at not being able to quote more from his papers, not least his magnificent diaries. Quite apart from access, the most potent hold a family has over an unwanted biographer is copyright. I can’t speak for Shawcross’s arrangements with the Queen Mother’s heirs, but Jane Clark made things absolutely clear not long after her husband’s death. A writer asked his agent to circulate a proposal to publishers for a life of Alan Clark. Its contents were a confection of published material glossed by the author’s opinions. Jane Clark was not amused: for a start, she was appalled by the writer’s lack of manners in not approaching her first. She also thought it far too early. But she had the confidence in giving a flat refusal by being able to deny the use of any of her late husband’s writings. The proposal died on the vine. HEN Jane approached me I had already quarried deep in the Saltwood archives. After Alan’s death I helped his estate fulfil two contractual obligations: to transcribe and edit further volumes of diaries, one a prequel to the Thatcher years, the other the period after he first retired from parliament in 1992 and which ended with his death in 1999. Not only did I have to learn how to read Alan’s at times appalling handwriting, but information for footnotes meant trawling widely in the castle, where papers were often abandoned with little thought of future need. Nothing appeared ever to have been thrown away. Old four-drawer steel filing cabinets were sited in unlikely locations: one
took Cilla Black to The Shadow Lounge and ended up at some fantastic club in Clerkenwell until 4am… Friday? I felt rather shattered so I spent the weekend chilling out at Highgrove.” We got on well most of the time, and Nicky only ever got snippy when my lack of aristogenealogy knowledge became evident. He would hate it – really, really hate it – if I didn’t understand the cachet (and then, ended up not mentioning) various Lowensteins, Wellesleys or (forgive me, Elisabeth) von Thurn und Taxis. “God, don’t you know anything? Her family owns half of New York!” he would bellow in disgust. Another time, I made the heinous mistake of describing Nicky as having a meal with Gore Vidal. Nicky was outraged at this particular vignette and I presumed it was because he didn’t want his friendship with the great Mr Vidal publicised. Silly me. “A meal? A MEAL?” he roared. “I’ve never had a meal in my life. I eat lunch, dinner, supper and breakfast. Meal is something you give to cattle.” How common, I agreed. For many years Simon Mills wrote a weekly gossip column with Nicky Haslam. He is not mentioned in Nicky’s memoirs, Redeeming Features (Jonathan Cape, £25)
undercover (just) in the backyard; another in a battlements archive room required a jemmy to prize open the top drawer (which yielded a valuable but unsent letter to an early and pregnant girlfriend about why she should agree to an abortion). I had got on well with Alan as his editor and publisher in his lifetime. Now that I was learning more about him, uncovering his secrets, did my view change? Yes, but any reservations I have were more than outweighed by an understanding of an emotionally deprived childhood, which he never talked about in his lifetime, but which undoubtedly coloured his adult life. As Alan Clark’s authorised biographer, I had free run of Saltwood. Jane pointed me in invaluable directions. One ministerial box, when opened, contained a note to Jane from Alan: Darling, please don’t rootle here. There are papers that might upset you even tho referring to matters now long past Love That, too, was about a girl. UTHORISATION, however, is not necessarily straightforward. After Rudyard Kipling’s death his only daughter worked her way through three well-known biographers, one of whom – Lord Birkenhead – even completed the work. But the terms and conditions were extraordinarily tough. On delivery he was informed that his script was unacceptable, although no explanation was forthcoming. Birkenhead was eventually offered financial compensation, and the biography was only published after the daughter’s death. Presumably, William Shawcross had royal readers in advance of publication. If there were matters of delicacy that do not appear in the finished book, we are not told. In Alan Clark’s case, my agreement with Jane was spelt out in advance. She had the right to read and give her opinion, but the book and the decision as to what went into it remained mine. No hagiography here. Ion Trewin is literary director of the Man Booker Prize and author of Alan Clark: The Biography
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FQR’s Christmas Guide
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FQR Supernatural Arts
The Great Unknown Michael Bracewell lets us in on the otherworldly and preternatural secrets of Tate St Ives’ current exhibition, The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art
HE abbreviated features of the small stone mask are crude yet beguiling; their simplicity bestows an inscrutability that is at once impassive and sinister – eloquent of ritual and guardian spirits. At a glance, it might easily appear that this discreet but visually forceful – and unsettling – object was the creation of an ancient and arcane civilisation. In fact, it was made in 1928, is titled Mask and is the work of Henry Moore – perhaps the leading British modernist sculptor of the 20th century, and better known for his vast public bronzes and serene reclining figures. In its dual relationship to modernist refinement and the temper of occultist strangeness, however, Mask sits precisely within the subject area essayed by The Dark Monarch – an exhibition that derives both its name and sensibility from the title and temper of the infamous novel by Sven Berlin, published – and almost immediately withdrawn – in 1962. Berlin’s description of the Cornish landscape at the beginning of his book (many of the characters in which were based upon members of the St Ives artistic community, who subsequently took legal action against the author) and, more specifically, the twilit oddness and lurid poetry of his prose style, provides an astute summary of British modern-ism’s heady but often arthistorically overlooked fascination with matters magical and supernatural. The Dark Monarch, therefore, explores the shadow of modernism through a selection of works, books (the witch and surrealist Ithell Colquhoun’s “magic library”, for example) and publications dating from a small drawing made by Paul Nash in 1910, to a newly commissioned wall painting executed in the gallery’s main stairwell by the contemporary artist Simon Periton. The thesis of the exhibition begins with 20thcentury British art’s engagement with the land as both primal geology and as the bearer of the imprint of pre-Christian settlements and pagan magic; landscape perceived as both a “stone tape” (to borrow Nigel Kneale’s evocative term for the capacity of ancient buildings to function as psychic tape recorders) and as a venue, latterly abandoned or otherwise, for the activities of nature spirits, ghosts and folkloric presences. At the same time, there is a quality of science fiction to this vision, and of the past as a portal to the future. Sven Berlin captures the mood and slippery logic of such a position precisely: “This was a terrible landscape, where the paramours of evil walked on the bare hills, lichen-haired, hands twisted like old thorn trees and the smouldering dull red of dead fern burning in their hearts; hearts
that had known the bombardment of radium for centuries...” Such a passage might have directly inspired Graham Sutherland’s brooding masterpiece, Black Landscape, a painting made between 1939 and 1940, in which the play of blood-red light upon a stark, foreboding hillside evokes an acute sense of both the prehistoric past and a portentous awareness of the World War that was then gathering pace. As one of the Neo-Romantic British artists – a loose-knit and somewhat haphazard grouping of painters who were working in Britain between 1935 and 1955, and whose small number would include John Piper, John Craxton, Michael Ayrton, Leslie Hurry and Paul Nash – Graham Sutherland sought out a kind of super-Wordsworthian experience of nature in which the sense of place became so acute that it proposed a very fine – if not broken – line between the natural and the supernatural worlds. In his classic study of the Neo-Romantic artists, The Spirit of Place, historian Malcolm Yorke recounts how, “Sutherland, as Keith Vaughan noted, had ‘destroyed perspective’ in order to enhance the disquiet he sensed in all about him. Sutherland wanted to paint precise forms but evoke imprecise connotations and cited poetry as a precedent: ‘Coleridge said that poetry gives most pleasure when generally and not perfectly understood... So in painting it might be argued that its very obscurity preserves a magical and mysterious purpose.’” Opposing the Francophile tendency that had prevailed in British art throughout much of the Twenties, the Neo-Romantic artists turned instead for inspiration to the works of Samuel Palmer and William Blake – identifying once again the relationship between nature and visionary or mystical experience. Such a tendency, for artists coming to stylistic maturity during the years building up to World War II, would produce a sensibility in which magical thinking – an openness to the mysterious and the unseen presence – would become a mirror to the acceleration of a volatile and threatening age. It is an art that chimes precisely with the inauguration, during the darkest days of total war, of an official psychic warfare and espionage unit: a belief that beneath and beyond the new technologies of warfare and industrialised society there lay older magical systems, the agencies of which in the modern age were a deeply felt experience of landscape and history. It is a subtle reconfiguration of attitude, well summarised by the critic Myfanwy Piper writing in Axis magazine in 1937, with reference to the work of Paul Nash: there was “...no interest in the past as past, but in the accumulated intenseness of the past as present”. As tracked by the works in The Dark Monarch, the gaping jaws of Michael Ayrton’s melodramatic yet terrifying painting Skull Vision of 1943 can be seen to open on a modern history of art that would maintain and develop an intense investigation of the magical and the occult. The linking figure, generationally, between contemporary British art and mid-20th-century modernism would be the artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman, for whom the processes of film were “alchemical”, and whose first edition of the Occult Philosophy of Cornelius Agrippa, would be used as a prop in his film adaptation of The Tempest. Jarman would be equally fascinated by the figure of Queen Elizabeth I’s court
magician/adviser John Dee, and in his uneasy fantasy of punk London, Jubilee, would have the Virgin Queen transported from the 16th century to the end of the 20th, courtesy of his skills. Contemporary artists such as Cerith Wyn Evans (who, during the Eighties, was an assistant director on Jarman’s films), Goshka Macuga and Clare Woods all make direct engagement with the shadow world of sigils, enchantment and that intense spirit of place that Paul Nash described in an article for Country Life magazine in 1937 as “the living inanimate”. Indeed, both Clare Woods and Goshka Macuga have made works that reference, directly, Paul Nash’s photographic studies of rocks and uprooted trees, which to him were “an embodiment, and most surely possesses power”. T is tempting, in our Information Age of saturation media and cultural materialism, to believe that the concerns of The Dark Monarch – and, specifically, operational magic, such as that practised by the artists Ithell Colquhoun and Austin Osman Spare – are today of simply quaint or merely scholarly interest. Such a view is confounded, however, by the work created for the exhibition by Turner Prizeshortlisted artist Mark Titchner, whose sculpture – garlanded with magical herbs – provides a psychic safe zone in which to take refuge from that which might seek to harm you. The idea in art that one’s potential assailants may not, necessarily, be visible, remains unsettling.
its very obscurity preserves a magical and mysterious purpose
MAKERS S P O RT I N G G U N S
Writer and novelist Michael Bracewell is co-curator of The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity In British Art at Tate St Ives until 10 January 2010 bottom left:Untitled, John Russell 2009 above:The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Linder 2007
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Cleaning up after Kapoor
The Royal Academy of Arts’ boss Charles Saumarez Smith waxes lyrical about the intense impact of the Anish Kapoor exhibition
T HAS been a strange and rather magical few weeks, enjoying the extraordinary success of the Anish Kapoor exhibition, which has filled the main floor galleries of the Royal Academy so beautifully, so movingly, and with such childlike, but perfect emotion. Oddly, I hadn’t expected it to be like this as we laboured over many months with the arrangements for its installation and how on earth we were going to pay for it. We had tricky discussions in the aftermath of the downturn when it became clear that none of the big banks was going to sponsor it. In the end, it was made possible only by the intervention of a few generous friends of the Royal Academy, who recognised that it was a project worth supporting. These included my old friends at Louis Vuitton, who staged one of their ultraglamorous art talks in which Anish Kapoor was lightly quizzed by Hans Ulrich Obrist in front of an audience of art-world glitterati, after which we dined off tables that were designed by Anish himself (my invitation must have got lost in the post - ed). We always knew that Svayambh, the great, big, red wax train, which squeezes its way right through the main run of display galleries, would be a success. I had seen it in Munich, where it was installed in the Haus der Kunst – the building that Herr Hitler opened in 1933 for the display of Nazi-approved art. There it had unequivocal Holocaust overtones, as any slow-moving train in Germany is necessarily evocative of the trains that bore human cargo to the death camps. But this is not the case in London. Boris Johnson thought it was emblematic of the travails of London transport. Having stood at the end of the line watching as it comes through the last arch, I think that most people assume that it is sexual. It is certainly hypnotising to watch its slow movement, just at the threshold of visibility, apparently speeding up as it goes through an arch, but this is only an optical illusion as it becomes possible to measure its pace. I have noticed that nearly everyone is intrigued by the simple optical illusion of the wax on the walls on either side of the doors, as if the wax has been displaced by the effort of getting through. And we expected the gun to be a success, firing off a great big glob of red wax from the Large Weston Room straight through the door into the Small Weston Room, where the wax piles up into an increasingly impressive lava mountain. But what I hadn’t anticipated was the build-up of collective emotion as the audience waits for it to be fired and as the tall attendant dressed in black – behaving, as Brian Sewell correctly observed, like an altar boy – appears from behind the piles of wax canisters to twiddle the levers that build up the power of compressed air, and the incredible release of collective emotion when the gun is fired, making it a nearly transcendent experience, rather than just a party trick. Neither had I anticipated the magic of the other rooms and the emotional intensity of going from one to the next, each room demonstrating a different visual effect, as if Anish has been determined to demonstrate the various ways that art can transform the experience of 19th-century classical spaces. One day Paul Boateng stopped me on Piccadilly to say that the exhibition was the most exciting thing he had seen since Peter Brook’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1970. I think that this is exactly the right reference to an innocence of 1960s dreaming and to the crossover between art and performance. One morning, not long before the exhibition opened, I arrived early in the entrance courtyard of the Royal Academy and there was Anish standing in the far left-hand corner contemplating the column of stainless steel bubbles, which had just arrived from New Zealand. Eventually, after looking at it for a while, we admitted to one another that it was slightly smaller than we had expected. But this was before the extra balls had been attached, transforming it into a magical whorl, belying and undermining the physicality of its appearance. I use the word magic again and again because there is such an obvious alchemy in the art: it’s innocent and beautiful and captures a sense of childlike intensity in the experience of art, which nearly everyone who has come to the Royal Academy has recognised. It is as if you can be transported from the quotidian experience of London and the recession into a fantastic world where colour and shape and space rule. I never expected to admire it so much. Now all that remains is to clear it up. I am astonished by the number of people who ask how this is to be done, nervous on behalf of the Royal Academy at the possibility of long-term damage. I am still myself a tiny bit worried about the little pellets of wax that spray out when the gun is fired, some of which are now lodged in the upper frieze of Norman Shaw’s plasterwork decoration. But I have been assured that they scrape off quite easily and the plasterwork can presumably be repainted without long-lasting damage. What is obvious is that the Royal Academy will never be the same again. Anish has shown that a Royal Academician can exploit the great spaces of the Summer Exhibition in a singular, adventurous and highly original way. It only remains to be seen if we can exploit these new possibilities again in the future. Charles Saumarez Smith is Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy
FQR Art Exclusive
IM Delvoye is one of the most diverse contemporary artists, his work ranging from sculpture to drawing, film and photography. He is a factory rather than a sole individual artist, and his work is deeply immersed
and embedded in popular culture and the commercial and involves strikingly unconventional media. His meticulously delicate large-scale steel sculptures are found in some of the most important contemporary collections worldwide, while at the same time he famously owns an “Art Farm” in China where he breeds pigs before tattooing their backs and selling them on as living artworks. This practice reached an apotheosis of sorts in the
Virgin-Mary-et-al tattoo which spreads majestically across the entire back of our friend and human canvas Tim Steiner (a back which has now been sold in what is one of the art-world’s more unusual deals). The drawing above, an original from the tattoo series, depicts an array of traditional symbols and figures from popular culture - the recurrent Virgin Mary is surrounded by demons as well as Mickey Mouse. In fact, Walt Disney’s famous characters, as
well as the logos of some of fashion’s biggest names, are favourite motifs of the artist. Delvoye - who lives between Wervik in his native Belgium and the farm in China - consistently produces work which manages to wander along a sharp ledge, choreographing a balancing act between childish playfulness and disturbing crudeness. Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis with Patrick Fetherstonhaugh