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A R T / s t y l e / S P O R T / F I L M / T rav e l

ST E PH E N B Ay L E Y p.53 Why the internet costs the earth

A L E X A N DE R M c C A L L S M I T H p.46 The water of life


MELANIE M c d O N AG H p.42 Extreme fitness for Christmas










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rom hot dogs to pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, this issue of Spectator Life celebrates American institutions. On our cover Alec Baldwin says goodbye to 30 Rock, reveals his obsession with the Leveson inquiry and teases us all with the prospect of a possible Baldwin campaign to be mayor of New York. One thing is for sure, he’d make the campaign trail a whole lot more entertaining. That said, who says entertainment itself can’t be political: if like us you’ve seen and loved Ben Affleck’s film Argo, you’ll get a kick out of reading the film’s real-life inspiration Tony Mendez. While you might think they have better things to do, the CIA even had to cast their beady eye over his article. In answer to those who ask what it’s like at the Spectator Life office in Westminster… on some days, it’s exactly like an episode of Homeland. Whether December involves earnest hedonism, whisky at all hours, home comforts or indeed a 12 Days of Christmas extreme pretox (is there anything worse than having to be good in January?) we’ve got it covered. Or if you take inspiration from our travel section and escape, perhaps to a discreet Swiss chalet or a small Brazilian fishing village, watch out for Taki and Jeremy Clarke, and don’t forget to pack your Spectator Life. Happy holidays…

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SINCE 1905

Francesca Zampi Hammerstein started her career in London, working for the Royal Court theatre. She has produced events for The Box all over the world, making her more than qualified to give us the best strategies for holiday bad behaviour. And she has just executive produced her first film, Oblivion.

William Boyd is the executive producer of Restless, which he adapted from his 2006 novel. His most recent books are Ordinary Thunderstorms and Waiting for Sunrise. He has just finished a new James Bond novel, commissioned by the Fleming family and due out next year. In One to Watch he explains why Hayley Atwell is his perfect heroine.

Tom Teodorczuk Spectator Life’s Englishman in New York is an arts and business writer living in Manhattan. For our cover story Tom interviewed Alec Baldwin, who he regards as the quintessential New Yorker, ‘talented, energetic, entertaining and contentious’. He has also written his first play, a satire set in the corporate values business.

Alexander McCall Smith, who writes on whisky, is the creator of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and 44 Scotland Street books, where there’s always some of the good stuff close to hand. Trains and Lovers: The Heart’s Journey has just been published, and he’s at work on a book titled What W.H. Auden Can Do For You: ‘I happen to think a lot!’

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17 57 33 73 C U LT U R E




14. The Index Where to go and what to see in January, February and March

48. Hedonist or homebody? Toby Young and Francesca Zampi Hammerstein

17. Hot dots Louisa Buck takes a closer look at Roy Lichtenstein

53. The net vs the planet Stephen Bayley considers the web’s hidden costs

22. My secret life Tony Mendez on Argo and true tales of the CIA

57. Cross dressing Pandora Sykes on raiding boys’ wardrobes

26. Interview: Sam Waley-Cohen The high-achieving amateur jockey tells Freddy Gray what it takes to beat the professionals

61. His nibs James Delingpole celebrates the fountain pen 63. Tick tock vroom vroom Simon de Burton on watches for car aficionados

30. Spitting out the Pips Olivia Cole on why we can’t leave Great Expectations alone

66. Motoring Alan Judd on Jaguar’s new F-Type

33. Don’t call it junk David Blackburn tries a heavily hyped hotdog

68. The Wish List 36. Interview: Alec Baldwin The politically vocal star talks to Tom Teodorczuk about marriage, Michael Bloomberg and what comes after 30 Rock

73. Shelter from the storm Not even a hurricane can put Jeremy Clarke off Brazil

42. Extreme fitness for Christmas Melanie McDonagh on how to pretox before the parties start

76. Snow way Camilla Swift’s guide to Switzerland, and Taki talks Gstaad

45. Investment Christopher Silvester on rare earth metals

80. Globe trotting New hotels for your address book

46. The Water of Life Alexander McCall Smith raises a glass to Scotch

82. One to Watch William Boyd on Hayley Atwell 13

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Jose p h C a lleja RFH, 11 January The Maltese tenor isn’t often in Britain: this is his first time at the Royal Festival Hall. He’ll sing Verdi, Puccini and Bizet.

T he C a p ta in of Kop enick National Theatre, from 29 January Is there still life in a satire of Prussian militarism? When Adrian Noble is directing, and Antony Sher starring, yes.

Dja ng o Unch a ined Various cinemas, 18 January Quentin Tarantino takes on the Western. Might be good. Might be bad. Might even be ugly. But people will definitely be talking about it.

T H E V I EW F ROM T H E SH AR D London Bridge, from 1 February

M a net – Port r aying L ife RA, 26 January – 14 April Yet another Impressionist blockbuster: this one has more than 50 paintings, including many from private collections, and focuses on Manet’s way with people, both in portraits and in his path-breaking outdoor scenes. F u e r z a bru ta Roundhouse, From 27 December Few spaces are better than the Roundhouse for a theatrical ‘happening’, and there are few more spectacular than Fuerzabruta, with its hair-raising stunts and pounding soundtrack. You may get wet.

Ja mes Ac a ste r Soho Theatre, from 31 January Edinburgh Comedy Awardnominated stand-up with the talent to make whimsical material sing.

J u e rgen T elle r ICA, from 23 January A retrospective from the wilder side of fashion photography; subjects include Kate Moss, Victoria Beckham and Bjork.

A Life of Galileo Swan Theatre, from 31 January A Brecht classic translated for the RSC by Mark ‘Shopping and…’ Ravenhill.

A high-speed lift journey to the 72nd floor costs £24.95, but the panorama may well be worth that. For a start, it’s now about the only view in London not to include the Shard. Six Nations rugby Various venues, from 2 February Will Wales make it two Grand Slams in a row? Or can England show that they really are on the road to recovery?


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E uge n e O n e gi n ROH, from 4 February A big moment for Covent Garden this: Kasper Holten’s debut production as artistic director.

F r igh t e n e d R a bbi t Various venues, from 8 February

Fuerzabruta Getty; Manet National Gallery of Art, Washington; Harry Hill Getty; Barocci ‘La Madonna del Gatto’, about 1575© The National Gallery, London; Life and Death Getty

The highly rated Scottish indie band tour England from Norwich to Gateshead, calling at several nice smallish venues — the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, for instance.


Robo t & F r a n k Various cinemas, from 8 March This unconventional buddy movie was a hit at the London Film Festival. ‘Frank’ is Frank Langella, playing an elderly former jewel thief; ‘Robot’ is a robot butler bought for him by his son. The words ‘one last job’ spring to mind.

H a r ry H i l l Various venues, from 8 February

C h e lt e n h a m F e s t i va l Cheltenham Racecourse, 12-15 March You don’t have to be Irish to attend the highlight of the jump-racing season, but it certainly helps. Kauto Star might have retired but the race for the Gold Cup will be as exciting as ever.

The big-collared comedian’s first proper tour since TV Burp took off.

L o s A nge l e s P h i l h a r mo n ic Barbican, 14-17 March LA is where the Venezuelan prodigy Gustavo Dudamel went next; in this short residency, he’s conducting pieces by John Adams, Debussy and Stravinsky.

T r ew l a n y of t h e W e l l s

M at i l da Shubert Theatre, Broadway, from 4 March Tim Minchin’s megahit heads to Broadway.

Donmar Warehouse, from 15 February Joe Wright — more famous as a film director — revives Arthur Wing Pinero’s neglected but wonderful comedy.

T h e A nge l o f t h e Odd Musée d’Orsay, from 5 March Dark romanticism explored through paintings by Goya, Füssli, Max Ernst and more.

Ba ro cc i : Br i l l i a nc e a n d Gr ac e National Gallery, from 27 February Altar-pieces, devotional paintings and preparatory sketches by the 16th-century Italian master, many of which have never been seen outside his homeland.

Sigu r Ro s Brixton Academy, 7-9 March Icelandic post-rock might not sound like much fun, but Sigur Rós are masters of their classically influenced ambient art.

L i f e a n d De at h British Museum, from 28 March Nearly 2,000 years after Vesuvius erupted, they’re still digging up amazing things at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Many of  them are in this show.


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‘Blue Nude’, 1995

HOT DOT S Private Collection © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2012

Looking forward to a retrospective of the artist fascinated by how we look Louisa Buck


oy Lichtenstein, the man who brought the comic strip into the art gallery, is renowned as one of the definitive artists of pop. His persona is not as familiar as the conspicuously selfcaricaturing Warhol, but Lichtenstein’s explosions, consumer goods and comic-

book couples, rendered in his trademark harsh outlines, primary colour palette and Ben-Day dot shadings are as recognisable as any Warholian soup can, Brillo box or Marilyn, and their influence on subsequent generations of artists has arguably been as great.

For, as Tate Modern’s forthcoming Lichtenstein retrospective demonstrates, there is much more to this thoughtful, complex figure than the brief explosion of Pop. Underpinning the brash cartoonish immediacy of his works are profound conceptual concerns and a deep preoccupation with


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CULTURE art history that have played a major part in their enduring impact. There is no denying the storm of controversy that greeted many of the paintings — which have since become familiar pop art classics — when they received their first full-scale airing at Leo Castelli’s New York gallery in 1962. Howls of outrage accompanied these vulgar, everyday images of fast food, washing machines and comics, rendered in the harsh style of crude mass-production: they seemed to be violating the sacred sanctum of high art. ‘The art galleries are being invaded by the pin-headed and contemptible style of gum-chewers, bobby soxers and worse, delinquents,’ fulminated the critic Max Kozloff, while art guru Clement Greenberg declared — in a judgment that would come back to haunt him — that Lichtenstein would be forgot-

Collection Simonyi © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2012

With characteristic ambiguity, Lichtenstein’s painstakingly handexecuted rendering of major cultural icons as enlarged cartoons was as much an act of homage as critique

ten within ten years. Two years later, the debate still burned when Life magazine, parodying an earlier paean to Jackson Pollock, which had questioned whether he was ‘the greatest artist in the United States’, ran an article on Lichtenstein’s work beneath the headline, ‘Is he the worst artist in the US?’ For his part, Lichtenstein wanted to produce art that ‘looked out into the world’, stating: ‘Art since Cezanne has become extremely romantic and unrealistic… it is utopian.’ Certainly, in the face of these deadpan, mechanically impersonal renditions of crass consumerism, even such recent forays into Americana as Jasper Johns’ flags and Robert Rauschenberg’s 18

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The Art Institute of Chicago, Barbara Neff Smith and Solomon Byron Smith Purchase Fund © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein/DACS 2012

Above: ‘Brushstroke with Spatter’, 1966 Left: ‘Oh Jeff, I love you too but’, 1964

urban detritus looked hopelessly old-fashioned and handmade, while the boiling abstract expressionist brushstrokes of Pollock et al appeared positively antique. But Lichtenstein’s desire to engage with the world around him is only part of the story. Many of his paintings may reflect a world filled with ‘gas pumps… signs and comic strips’, but they also reflect serious and abiding concerns about the role and relevance of painting, the authenticity of the art experience and how a contemporary artist can engage with art history. The 37-year-old New Jersey art teacher had been searching for a relevant and personal artistic style for more than two decades when he painted ‘Look Mickey’ (1961), the work depicting Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck which he considered to be his first Pop painting. (Legend has it that one of Lichtenstein’s children pointed to a comic book and challenged him to make a better drawing, whereupon he dashed off America’s favourite rodent and found his eureka moment in the process.) While there is no doubt that Lichtenstein’s adoption of a commercial style provided a way out of a paint-splattered abstract expressionist cul-de-sac to an art that could express the crude commercial reality of late Fifties’ American life, his response to that reality was ambivalent and far from celebratory. As early as 1963, he had declared that his new style and subject matter marked ‘an involvement with what I think to be the most brazen and threatening characteristics of our culture, things we hate but which are pow-


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erful in their impingement on us’. He later declared that the purpose of his pop art works was to ‘show… the capitalist system in an ironic way’. The Tate exhibition also confirms that Lichtenstein’s classic Pop works form a fraction of an output which was more devoted to the art of the past than the consumer culture of the present. Even though he had stopped painting in a Picasso-esque style by the early Fifties, throughout his life Lichtenstein openly acknowledged him as his main artistic inspiration, saying in an interview just before his death in 1997: ‘I don’t think I am over his influence.’ Within a year of entering his Pop phase, Lichtenstein had also used his new language to paint a cartoon-style version of Picasso’s ‘Femme au Chapeau’, and went on to make innumerable paintings based

on the Spanish master’s work, culminating in 1996’s ‘Mickasso’, a drawing and a collage which presents a comic-strip version of Picasso’s classic cubist ‘Harlequin with Guitar’, in which a Mickey Mouse hand plucks the strings. Lichtenstein also responded to Picasso’s dialogue with, and reworking of, masterpieces from art history, and made many series of paintings that reproduced the imagery of major figures, ranging from Matisse to Mondrian, Monet and Jackson Pollock, as well as creating his own flattened and codified distillations of abstract expressionism, art deco and Impressionism. This paved the way for what would later be dubbed appropriation art. With characteristic ambiguity, just as Lichtenstein’s meticulously planned and painstakingly hand-executed paintings 20

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mimicked mechanical processes while being quite the opposite, so his rendering of major cultural icons as enlarged cartoons was as much an act of homage as critique. ‘The things I have apparently parodied I actually admire,’ he admitted. His art of flatness and façade was not so much an attack on painting as an analysis of its impact and power, which at the same time acted as a sharp reminder that the way we see most of our imagery, artistic and otherwise, is via second-hand reproductions rather than the real thing. In the art of Roy Lichtenstein, seemingly ironic detachment was a subtle mask for a lifelong and passionate engagement with what we look at and how we look at it. As he said: ‘My work isn’t about form, it’s about seeing.’ Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, Tate Modern, 21 February–27 May 2013

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Lichtenstein (1923 –1997) in front his painting ‘Whaam!’ at the Tate Gallery, London, 1964

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The Washington Post / Getty Images

Tony Mendez, who as a CIA agent led the operation that extracted six American diplomats from Iran, at home in Maryland earlier this year


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Pi n ba l l w i z ar dry and o t h e r ad v e n t u r e s The true story of the agent behind the Argo operation Tony Mendez


our office (an office that closely resembled the ‘Q’ laboratory in the James Bond movies). It was indicated as an imaginative approach to problem-solving. Presidents, secretaries of state and visiting foreign dignitaries were all given the chance to admire it. I have always been something of an outlier. I used the tactics of the rough streets where I grew up in the boardrooms and the senior executive service of the CIA. Even when I was promoted to higher levels of responsibility, I insisted on keeping my hand in, and it was working in the field and dealing with the human elements that made CIA work so compelling. If I miss anything about the work, it is that. Throughout my career I always referred to those negotiations required to move the mission along as ‘pinball’. It was all about getting the ball up on the table and seeing how high a score you could rack up. Whether scrapping for a budget for a new programme or trying to recruit new talent to run my projects, I was always playing pinball. And I often won. Family life, lived in a world where part of you is often under cover, can be complicated, awkward and confusing. When you have constantly to lie to your neighbours and friends, you can end up feeling very isolated. It is one of the reasons why so many of my colleagues tended to marry within the CIA. It was an advantage to family life when your other half understood your business and why you couldn’t discuss the details. My first wife, Karen, did not work at the CIA, but she understood nevertheless that some things couldn’t be shared. Years later, after her death, I married Jonna, a woman I had worked with for 20 years. We had worked together on many operations, and on others I sent her into some of the most dangerous places on the planet (at least if you were a CIA officer). Even today we are almost joined at the hip; we have been through so much together that we can communicate without words. It does speed things along. When I first saw Argo, with Ben Affleck’s face on a 30ft-high screen saying, ‘My name is Tony Mendez…’, I got the chills. Actual chills. It was an extraordinary experience. This story was so closely held that a year after it happened, when I wrote it up for an inhouse CIA publication, classified ‘Confidential’, the CIA deemed it too sensitive even to be circulated internally. My true identity was also classified. So, at the risk of repeating myself, to see Ben on the screen saying my name was a bit overwhelming. I have since

grew up poor and somewhat isolated in the searing desert heat of Nevada. Perhaps because of this early childhood experience I have always felt that my imagination was almost on fire. My mother gave me a watercolours set when I was about eight and told me I was going to be an artist. And so it came to be. The CIA hired me because of my artistic skills, but what they asked me to do with them is where the story gets interesting. Pretty pictures were never on the schedule. Forgeries and counterfeits were more the order of the day. Argo, the new film by Ben Affleck, deals with a CIA operation for which I invented a somewhat unorthodox solution, turning six Americans on the run in Tehran into a Hollywood location scouting party for a fake movie, the original movie called ‘Argo’, which was never intended to be made. Never, that is, until now, in 2012. But this is not the only undertaking at the CIA where I used my overactive imagination. In the 1970s I had two groups of people working with me and they were at war with each other. One group were the blue-collar worker types who ran our pressroom. Most people wouldn’t imagine that the CIA has a pressroom, but we did and it was mammoth. The other group was comprised of the founding members of the CIA’s new cyber-capability, who tweaked gleaming new computers and spoke in a jargon that most people, especially the pressmen, couldn’t understand. And so the scene was set. A large room in our building had recently become available and both groups wanted to expand into that space. A sporadic internal war flared in the corridors, with disparaging comments echoing down the halls. As a manager, it was my responsibility to solve the problem. I called in my executive officer, Mary, and ordered up a new management-training device for use in enhancing the performance of employees. It was installed in the empty room, the object of the dispute, and I insisted that the two sides met in that room for one hour each day to iron out their differences. The ‘training device’ was an old-fashioned pinball machine. Probably the only pinball machine ever bought with US taxpayer funds. At least I hope so… After several weeks the enemies had transferred their aggression to the pinball competition, had become friends, and the real-estate problem was quickly resolved. The pinball machine outsurvived me at CIA HQ and was pointed out when VIPs toured 23

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CULTURE Public identity: Mendez’s Tehran embassy badge

got over the shock, but I like to remind everyone I meet that actually Ben is not good-looking enough to play me! At the CIA you never expect to receive credit for what you do. When we delivered the six American hostages to State Department Security on the tarmac at Zurich airport, they herded them away without so much as a hello or a thank you. That is how it is supposed to be. As my character says in the movie: ‘If we wanted applause, we would have joined the circus.’ I thought I would go to my grave with this story, and others. But the CIA had other ideas.

Secret handshake: Meeting President Carter at the White House

In 1997 the Agency was 50 years old. In the peaceful interlude before 9/11 it was decided that it would celebrate that anniversary by holding a competition for the top 50 CIA officers in its first 50 years. Amazingly, I was chosen as one. Some of the officers named had already died (Allen Dulles) and others had such narrow specialities that there was little public interest. But my job history was chock-a-block with tales of espionage operations involving real spies and real drama. When I was invited to tell the Argo story, I initially balked. Why would we give away one of our best stories? But George Tenet, then director of the CIA, was adamant. And so we did. I have no souvenirs from my mission to Iran. I did have a very large caviar tin that was given to me by Joe and Kathy Stafford, two of the rescued embassy workers… but it seems that my wife has thrown it out. I don’t need any souvenirs, actually. I see the people we rescued occasionally and we laugh and compare stories. That is more than I would usually expect. It is nice to check in on their lives occasionally. That is a souvenir in itself. Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History, by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio, is published by Penguin.

When I first saw Argo, with Ben Affleck’s face on a 30ft-high screen saying, ‘My name is Tony Mendez...’, I got the chills. It was an extraordinary experience. This story was so closely held that the CIA deemed it too sensitive even to be circulated internally


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AMAT EUR HOUR The jockey Sam Waley-Cohen on what it takes to beat the pros Freddy Gray

you, who has to live his life. Five days before this interview, for instance, Sam had a nasty fall at Ascot and broke two ribs. (‘I got crushed,’ he says, like a public schoolboy recalling a heavy night out.) Come Monday, however, he was back at his day job as chief executive of a chain of dental practices, which he started from scratch and which now employs some 300 people. Because of his work, Sam only has time for 30 to 40 races a year. Professional jockeys ride anything up to a thousand. And yet he wins. How does he do it? ‘It’s rarely me as the jockey that makes the key difference,’ he begins, modestly. ‘The horse has to win the race. The truth is, I’m an amateur in name but

Getty Images

It would be easy to resent Sam Waley-Cohen. He is a rich boy from a well-known racing family who runs his own successful business. In his spare time, what little he has, he rides his father’s horses in the world’s biggest jump races. He’s won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and King George VI Chase, and finished second in the Grand National. Alfred Dunhill, the British luxury men’s brand, is so impressed by his achievements on and off the turf that they’ve brought out a documentary film about him, called For The Love. But we shouldn’t be bitter. When you realise what it takes to do what he does, jealousy gives way to admiration, and a sense of relief, actually, that it’s Sam, not

Sam Waley-Cohen, riding Long Run, wins the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase at Cheltenham racecourse on 18 March 2011


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ise called Libertine. Libertine’s trainer wanted to race him at the Cheltenham Festival, but the jockey whom the trainer wanted to use refused to ride such an inexperienced youngster for fear of injuring himself. ‘So Dad said, “Sam will ride him.” And I was like, OK! I had to lose quite a bit of weight, but I went out and rode her and she won. It was then that I was, like, “Wow, I’ve won a race against professionals on a professional course and that was like, boom.”’ It’s on Libertine’s brother, Long Run, that Sam has enjoyed his most famous wins. Sam and his father are hoping for more: Long Run is favourite to triumph again in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, and expected to challenge once more for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. Sam’s eager not to look ahead, though. ‘One of the bits we try very hard to do is to concentrate on the journey. If you pin everything on the outcome, you’re going to turn into a rigid brick.’ It’s lucky that the ‘journey’, the process, is what Sam seems to relish most. ‘I just love riding Long Run. It’s a five o’clock start, driving an hour and a quarter to freeze my balls off in darkest Berkshire. But once I get on the horse it’s like, “Yes, that’s why!” The sun comes up and you’re on a great horse and it’s just such

I don’t take a very amateurish approach. If you are going to ride against professionals, you are going to be judged against them, and so you need to be in a position where you feel you can compete, which means making sacrifices.’ Sam doesn’t have much room for a social life. He trains for at least an hour every day of the working week. Because of the handicapping system, he has to put on and lose weight like a prizefighter. Before his last race, he shed nine pounds in a week. Where does he find the motivation? ‘Well, my mother says I have always been completely bloody-minded,’ he laughs. There’s something else, though: Sam’s younger brother Thomas died of cancer at the age of 20. Sam says the courage with which Thomas faced death has inspired him ‘just never to be lazy and to enjoy everything’. ‘Thomas’s approach to it was “OK, I’m just going to enjoy everything and do everything I possibly can do.” That’s had a massive impact on the way I live my life.’ Sam has been racing horses since before he can remember. As a young man he won point-to-points, but it took an odd twist of fate to throw him into the big time. His father had bought a horse with raw prom-


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CULTURE a great, romantic experience. It is such a nice contrast between the cut and thrust of business and day-to-day life.’ Sam’s married now — his wife is expecting their first child — and he concedes that establishing a work/racing-life balance can prove difficult. ‘My wife says, “You never fucking listen!” I’ve got part of my brain thinking about teeth, part of my brain thinking about racing, another part thinking about talking to journalists, and I’ve got her saying, “Put the orange juice back in the fridge”, and if you don’t you get bollocked.’ It must put him at a competitive disadvantage.

But he insists that being an amateur is also a boon. ‘I don’t have that psychological pressure of “If I don’t ride this week, or I get injured, I won’t get paid, or if I ride a bad race, I won’t get another ride and what the hell am I going to do? I might not be able to feed my kids.” The difference between electing to do something and it being an obligation is huge.’ Don’t the other jockeys envy his freedom? ‘You’d guess they must think, “Oh, this posh boy turns up on the weekend to ride.” But the truth is when you are down at the start, none of that matters. There’s a camaraderie. It doesn’t matter what your background is, it still hurts when you’re battered and bruised.’ Sam, bold to his bootstraps, clearly revels in the

‘You’d guess they must think, “Oh, this posh boy turns up on the weekend to ride.” But the truth is, when you’re down there at the start, none of that matters’

Phil Fisk / The Guardian

sheer bloody masochism of his sport. ‘If you said to most people who go riding, you’ll fall once in every eight or nine times you race, they’d say you’re nuts, I’m not going! You have to be crazy.’ Is it, then, the thrill of fear that drives him? For his holidays, he likes to go bungee-jumping and hang-gliding. Yet perhaps pain is his spur — the pain of training, of losing, of falling. ‘When I fall, my first thought is “Shit, I could have won that!” But then you bounce — you literally bounce! — off the ground, and you get this amazing adrenaline kick.’ Even winning involves suffering. ‘Actually if you win,’ he says, ‘it can be a nightmare because then you’ve done it. And you think “Now what?” I would love to talk to some of the athletes who won gold at the Olympics and ask, “You put everything into it, you’ve done it — great. What are you going to do next?” You’ve just got to push yourself higher.’ ‘Oh God,’ he adds, turning self-conscious. ‘I must sound like American Psycho! Put it this way, if I’d won the Grand National in the same year as the Gold Cup, I’d have been a real prick!’ For The Love can be viewed in full at com/AlfredDunhill 28

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A PAR ADE OF PIP S The latest film of Great Expectations testifies to the book’s enduring appeal Olivia Cole

Johan Persson


Guinea, trying to teach Great Expectations. It’s an almost absurd yet deeply affecting story of how Dickens’s classic is taken to heart by the community in the midst of the brutal civil war (which Jones covered as a correspondent in the 1990s). The book is carried like a talisman into a world as violent as that depicted in its pages. The story works not just as an attempt to retell Great Expectations, but as a touching reminder of why the original continues to exert such power. To these spin-offs, we can now add Havisham, by Ronald Frame, a Scottish novelist and screenwriter who won the Betty Trask prize for his first novel Winter Journey. With more than a small debt to Carey, he tells the story of the young Catherine Havisham, who falls for a conman only to be abandoned at twenty to nine on the morning of her wedding. In Great Expectations, of course, the clocks have all been stopped and Satis House has become a rotting shrine to Miss Havisham’s wedding breakfast, with mice clambering over the cake. On reading the original book, it’s impossible to forget the candlelit gothic oddity of Miss Havisham’s scenario. One of the delights of Helena Bonham Carter in Newell’s film is her wittiness — commanding Pip and Estella to play, she herself is at her own twisted kind of play. The casting is perfect — British cinema’s classic costume-drama virgin, who in her most famous roles has found herself transformed by love and sex, is here configured into literature’s ultimate frustrated virgin who endures life in a terrible stasis. Ronald Frame tries to present Miss Havisham’s destructive behaviour as something epic, even feminist: an attempt to turn herself into a mythical heroine. He gives her a good education and an interest in the great scorned women of history, such as Dido, abandoned by Aeneas. ‘At interludes I had dwelt among legends, in the knowledge of mythical beings. . . I matched my

ilm financiers justify putting money into adaptations of Charles Dickens because he is both ‘classic’ and ‘literary’ yet also (kill me now) ‘relevant’. It makes one long for more adaptations of ‘irrelevant’ books. Even Ralph Fiennes, who turns in a superb Oscar-bait performance as Magwitch in Mike Newell’s just-released film of Great Expectations, had recourse to the dreaded word ‘relevant’ when asked on the red carpet at Toronto Film Festival why anyone should want to make a film of such A Very Old Book. Great Expectations, 1860-61, is A Very Old Book indeed, a book by a man who lived Over A Hundred Years Ago, as people insist on reminding us during his bicentenary, but it’s also the ultimate coming-of-age novel. In his fantasy of advancement from blacksmith’s apprentice to gentleman, Pip Pirrip may remind us of the young Dickens himself — yanked out of school and sent to work in a blacking factory as a result of his father’s debts. From the classic film by David Lean to Alfonso Cuarón’s deeply strange New York update — it’s an irony that a novel so powerfully concerned with the development of a reliable sense of self should inspire so many to retell its story. The bicentenary has seen a near festival of Expectations. Mike Newell’s new bigscreen version follows hot on the heels of the BBC1 serialisation. Writers as well as film-makers see Great Expectations as a book that can be used as a jumping-off point. There is Peter Carey’s tricksy post-colonial recalibration, Jack Maggs, which sees Magwitch, the convict exiled to Australia, as the novel’s centre. Lloyd Jones’s 2007 novel Mister Pip has now been made into a film by Andrew Adamson, to be released next year. It finds an English teacher, Mr Watts (played by Hugh Laurie), on the island of Bougainville in Papua New 30

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To hit home the point that Victorians had libido, Havisham strays dangerously close to Fifty Shades territory

Helena Bonham Carter as literature’s ultimate frustrated virgin in Mike Newell’s Great Expectations

fate to theirs.’ Less successful is the elaboration on her physical fixation with her cad. To hit home the point that Victorians had libido, it strays dangerously close to Fifty Shades territory. ‘Spasms of excitement connected to feelings I couldn’t fully articulate. . . He had me on a chain. No: on a silken halter.’ It should have been a shoo-in for a bad sex in fiction nomination. To get beyond the mythologising is a worthy enterprise and one that unifies the best of the novel’s contemporary re-imaginings. The strongest versions are those that are deeply eccentric. Mister Pip, for example, has fun with the imagination of the brightest student, Matilda, who becomes so obsessed with the book that she imagines her own way into the story, conversing with a Pip who exists in her head. Jack Maggs, too, is utterly audacious and tricksy, building into the story an encounter with Dickens himself.

darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. . . ’. You can fall in love with a book as well as with a person. The fact that Great Expectations is still being retold is testament to its incomparable power to get under the reader’s skin. Next time anyone asks you why you think Dickens matters, just quote a chunk of this. It’s pure poetry. . . and it sure beats ‘relevant’.


reat Expectations is such a humane novel because it’s a labyrinth of visceral feelings. As Pip tells us of his love for Estella, ‘I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. . . I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.’ Whether on the page or on the screen, the best of the tributes to Great Expectations get you reaching for your own dog-eared copy of the original. The author of One Day, David Nicholls, wrote the screenplay for Mike Newell’s film, and he has done an admirable job. Happily, Pip’s most lyrical lines to Estella make it onto the screen virtually unchanged: ‘You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read. . . You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since — on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the 31

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JUNK The rise and ri se of glorified fast food

Illustrations by Nathalie Lees

David Blackburn


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ow long would you queue for a hotdog? You must answer this question if you are planning to go to Bubbledogs on ­C harlotte Street, one of the ‘recession-proof’ luxury fast food restaurants to have opened in London since 2008. Each is defined by its ‘food concept’. Spud in Covent Garden bakes potatoes and ­c overs them in toppings ‘guaranteed’ to cause ‘serious food envy’. Bubbledogs’s USP is ­pairing champagne with hotdogs. Bubbledogs overcomes some serious obstacles to success, foremost of which is the outright incompatibility of champagne and hotdogs. Yet the queue is worthwhile, unless it exceeds the hour mark. B ­ ubbledogs is a stylish, buzzing and ­unexpectedly romantic spot. Even the ­f loozie enjoyed being taken out for a hotdog.

later when she brought the main courses. There was a cacophony of fumbling as she began to clear away the used plates while clinging to the laden fresh ones. Miraculously, the only casualty was a fork, although the carafe  of  pinot noir from the Chapel Down vineyard in Kent flirted briefly with catastrophe. Soon we were three drinks up. I mention this because the meat was so dry that it had to be washed down or else it stuck in your gullet. My pork chop did not so much recall Merrie England as the Harvester at Morden circa 1983. The floozie asked for and was promised medium rare lamb; but she got a piece of leathery matter instead. The vegetables were cold, which is unforgivable. Pudding was no better; the retro arctic roll belonged in the discount bin at Iceland. My English whisky, ordered more in hope than expectation by this late stage, was undrinkable (which was a first); but the floozie saved Jamie’s nostalgic venture with a dash of Chaucerian honeydew wine. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that Mr Oliver intended to go back quite so far in time. Union Jacks was disappointing, but not wholly surprising: some chains smell of mediocrity when you cross the threshold. Pizza Express has nothing to fear from Union Jacks. The meal was a waste of £77. In comparison, the £74 for a hotdog and two glasses of bubbly apiece was an easy spend. Mark Hix’s Tramshed should worry someone, only I can’t think of an exact rival. Its unprepossessing name refers to the fact that it is situated in an old tram shed in Rivington Street, Shoreditch. The vast space is dominated by a Damien Hirst sculpture of a cockerel seemingly nailed to the back of a bull preserved in formaldehyde. The witty, self-deprecating piece expresses the twinkle that pervades Hix’s restaurant. This glamour comes at a cost: you’ll be lucky to get a table without a reservation. One reason for this is the reasonably priced menu: starters are £7.95 and main courses range from £9.95 to £20. Hix’s guiding principle is to deny his diners choice except over the wine. If you want a

The next luxury fast-food contender was Union Jacks, Jamie Oliver’s infant chain. It attempts to unite Oliver’s idea of classic British fare and Hollywood’s idea of an American diner. But the novelty of eating potted shrimps on the set of Grease is short-lived if the shrimps taste like they were served at Abigail’s Party. The saving grace of Union Jacks in St Giles is the service, and even that is charming in a lackadaisical way rather than serene. Our waitress was a shy rose rather than one of the fearsome tribe who demand that you ‘enjoy’ everything from the breaking of the bread to the signing of the bill. Her timidity was her downfall. It was Friday night. We were two drinks up and debating whether Poirot was superior to Marple. The waitress loitered somewhere behind my shoulder, presumably to clear away the shrimps and whatever misfortune had befallen my companion. Guided perhaps by the rule of service which dictates that the only sin is intrusion, she decided not to interrupt our absurd set-to. Her error became apparent five minutes


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starter, you are given three English tapas dishes. The trio changes each day; we shared a Yorkshire pudding with cauliflower puree, haddock croquettes with a garnish to savour and an array of marinated tomatoes of different varieties accompanied by soft blue cheese. You then have a choice of sirloin steak, roast chicken and two salads. Naturally, everything apart from the salads comes with chips. I once ate chicken and chips on a beach in Marbella. The chef who ran that dive would have benefited from a trip to Tramshed. Each dish is presented with humour — bird on a stick, haunch on a slab, that kind of thing. More importantly, though, the simple cooking of quality produce is well executed. If you order medium rare, you get medium rare. The floozie’s beef was perfect; my chicken was succulent. The vegetables benefited from having been prepared with care. The chips were not semi-submerged in fat, like logs in a swamp. Best of all, the sauces showed that the chefs possess flair: creamed garlic and herbs dressed the chicken and a light béarnaise accompanied the beef. Tramshed is a proper restaurant masquerading as a fast-food joint. Burger & Lobster is another famous name in this mould. Predictably, Burger & Lobster sells burger and lobster. Unpredictably, it prices them at £20 each. I was sceptical. Twenty pounds for a burger? Lobster for only £20? But my scepticism was misplaced. It was an actual lobster. It was big, too, having been imported from Nova Scotia. Crucially, it had been well cooked. It retained its moisture and therefore its elastic texture and delicate flavour. Not every London restaurant can do this. The burgers are all meat and no filling, which is good. The meat comes from Irish and American cattle fed respectively on a diet of grass and corn. (You’ll have noticed that this is not an environmentally friendly restaurant.) I don’t care if the beef was hand-reared by God and slaughtered by St Peter — £20 for a burger (even a very good one) is pushing it. But £20 for a lobster of such quality is a bargain. Burger & Lobster and Tramshed are famous for being recession-proof. I’ll wager that both will be boomproof.

My scepticism was misplaced. It was an actual lobster. It was big, having been imported from Nova Scotia. And crucially, it had been well cooked. Not every restaurant, recession-proof or otherwise, can manage that


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22/11/12 12:59:50



next steps

After six years of 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin is ready for a fresh challenge. Several fresh challenges, in fact… Tom Teodorczuk

‘There’s a new chapter in my life,’ declares Alec Baldwin. That means his personal life — he recently married Spanish yoga instructor Hilaria Thomas — and his professional life: 30 Rock, the critically acclaimed television comedy series that raised and redefined his reputation as an actor, is coming to an end this month after seven seasons. As we’ll see, it might also mean his political life. Baldwin is a famously vocal Democrat, and an increasingly active one; during the recent election, he recorded an advert for Obama — not just some misty endorsement, but an attack against Mitt Romney’s stance on the automobile bailout. Might this new chapter include more time in Britain? Baldwin’s an Anglophile — ‘I love London and am always happy when I’m there,’ he says. He loves English comedy: ‘The most successful comedies in the US seem to be rather simple and one-note… British comedy just seems more subtle and layered.’ And he’s acted notably in plays by English writers, Caryl Churchill and Joe Orton included. So why, I ask, has he never appeared in the West End? He had discussions, he tells me, in the days before 30 Rock: Donmar Warehouse, National Theatre, Royal Court. Nothing quite came of it. ‘There’s a real consideration lifestyle-wise. Would I like to do that? Yes. But it’s not easy to do. I just got re-married and my wife is settling into living in New York. The show is being produced by a new producer.’ Hilaria, he emphasises, makes him happy. As I speak to Baldwin over the phone, we’re interrupted by Hilaria engaging in an animated conversation in Spanish. He’s intense, assertive and articulate, and although he has a politician’s habit of answering several questions of his choosing before he gets to the one he’s been asked, he can be open and reflective. Here he is, for instance, on his doubts about acting as a career: ‘There’s a big part of me that wishes I hadn’t done this and I had done something else. Sure, I’m very torn about that but the business is filled with people that way. There’s always something else people want to do that is more substantial.’ If you really want to get Alec Baldwin talking,

the subject to choose is politics. We have discussions either side of the election. When I first bring up the ­subject, his reply is an abbreviated US political history of the last 20 years. It is worth quoting in full. ‘Americans are no different to people in other countries. They’re always responding to existing conditions. I remember Clinton being portrayed in the media as very shrewd, very Machiavellian, very ­c unning. Some people thought he was morally doubtful. His opponents or people who were undecided about him got Clinton fatigue. This teed up the ball for the ­opposite of Clinton, a guy who was an intellectually incurious born-again Christian moral absolutist. Bush makes a catastrophic mess of everything and people want to believe in someone who is doing the job to be of service to their country and not necessarily be a corporate shill and they go as far out on a limb as they ever had. Will they now want a fund-manager-in-chief?’ He meant Mitt Romney, who reminded him of New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg: ‘a bean counter, a guy who is all about numbers and money ledgers’. ‘The reason Bloomberg succeeded and got away with it is because New York is overwhelmingly controlled by wealthy people. The middle class has been pretty muted. The poor have always been muted. Bloomberg is not a particularly inspirational guy, not a particularly moving speaker. His ideas are not all that soaring.’ Much to Baldwin’s relief, the fund-manager-in-chief didn’t make it. He is a left-wing Democrat, though not an unthinkingly party-line one — he criticised Obama over the BP oil spill — and his response after the victory is not to bask in euphoria but to set out his hoped-for agenda. ‘I feel like we have a real chance at least to get started on facing those four or five things staring us in the face that will determine if the US standard of living has even a remote chance of sustaining. Environmental protection, infrastructure rebuilding, energy independence, proper regulation of financial markets, and investing in education. I had little hope for any of those if Romney won because they require amendments in current tax policy.’ Alec is on a roll. When I ask how his own political 36

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views have evolved since the 1970s, when he majored in political science at George Washington University, he responds with a lengthy evaluation of US drone attacks in the Middle East versus the effects of full-scale military invasion and ends by revealing his apocalyptic fears for his country: ‘The US is competing with other parts of the world for its resources and military intervention is probably going to be a part of our lives forever. You just don’t see that economic forces are going to allow this change that we need. If I look at US history the way it’s always been, then these kinds of military interventions are never going to end. We’re going to live this way until the country no longer exists whenever that happens.’ And on the Westminster stage, what does he think about David Cameron’s coalition? ‘The thing I follow most closely there is the Leveson inquiry, anything about Rebekah Brooks and Murdoch.’ Baldwin makes it clear he would like a Leveson inquiry in the US. ‘If they were doing that over there, you have every reason to believe they were doing that here as well. There is no market that is bigger for media outlets in terms of the tabloids and generating trash than the US. It’s a reasonable question to ask if they were doing that here and to look into it. But I’m sure during that time there were people out there shredding documents, deleting the emails and doing things behind the scenes.’ He’s not opposed to the government and the fourth estate having a relationship, he stresses. ‘The idea that the press and government officials have a cosy relationship wasn’t invented by Murdoch and Cameron. I’m not opposed to the press being invited to have a drink every now and then with them [political leaders] but to become more consistently compromised? That’s what I object to.’ It’s clear Rupert Murdoch is not on Baldwin’s Christmas card list. He has previously called the News Corporation owner a ‘cryptofascist’, having long been a target of the Murdoch-owned New York Post, and sees him as a malign influence on the papers he doesn’t own, too. ‘The New York Daily News always had a gossip column but they were genteel compared to the Post.

Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Contour by Getty Images

‘There’s a big part of me that wishes I hadn’t done acting. But then the business is filled with people who feel that way’


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Now the Daily News has hired someone from London who worked for Murdoch [Colin Myler]. ­Editors are competing with each other on that level and they’re getting the Brits to do it.’ Baldwin’s political stance has shaped his movie career. He once said: ‘I don’t give a shit what [powerful Hollywood agent] Mike Ovitz thinks of me. I care what Mike Ovitz’s gardener thinks of me.’ After a decade in TV soaps and supporting roles, he made his name in the early 1990s in films such as The Hunt for Red October and Malice. But the leading man cloak never quite fitted and a fiery marriage to the actress Kim Basinger, which ended in divorce in 2002, didn’t help his career. (The story of their divorce is recounted in his 2007 book A Promise to Ourselves with a confessional frankness unusual in a celebrity memoir. Sample line: ‘The child actually believes the alienated parent is comparable to Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein.’) Baldwin can often be seen on Turner Classic Movies talking fondly about old films and it contrasts with his feelings about his own cinematic canon. ‘I  have always had a rather uneven experience making films,’ he admits. ‘However, Turner Classics helped me to get back to touching the world of cinema in a way that I am abundantly comfortable with: as a viewer and a fan.’ He likes to work with up-and-coming directors, and his enthusiasm for them shows in his performances. Acting may have started as just the best way to earn a living, but it’s more than that now. ‘The opportunity to get into the business presented itself and it was on a very small scale. I didn’t become a movie star when I was 18 years old. It was an incremental process and presented me with economic opportunities to help my

family. I started very small and I built my way up but along the way I grew to love it.’ The passing of his matinee-idol phase came with the compensation of some substantive roles: a supporting part in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed; an Oscarnominated performance as a casino owner in The Cooler. Then came 30 Rock in 2006. The role of the brash television mogul Jack Donaghy — a powerful rogue dispensing witty put-downs — was tailor-made for Baldwin. It revitalised his acting career, winning him Emmy and Golden Globe awards. But although he says the show was the most enjoyable thing he’s ever done, he’s at peace with it coming to an end. ‘I used to think I would miss it a lot. I think everybody was so happy that the show was so clever. With any decent actor, the material is primary and this was very good material. But I’m now very glad that it’s over and excited to work on other things. I’ve got the radio show I’ve been doing’ — Here’s The Thing, a podcast interview series — ‘and I am going to write another book and to continue making films.’ The book, he says, is ‘a fictional memoir about my life’. There’s another potential role I have to ask about, especially given his comments on Bloomberg. People have spoken of Baldwin as a potential candidate for New York mayor, or for governor of the state. And it’s certainly not something he rushes to rule out. ‘I have no idea right now how that would work out but it’s something I think about. It’s finding what I would do.’ Don’t expect the campaign website to go live tomorrow, but Alec Baldwin has never done things by the book, and a political career would be the role of a lifetime.

NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Above: Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell and Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock


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There’s one sure way to avoid a miserable January: get your masochism over with in early December. Are you ready to pretox? Melanie McDonagh

Illustration by James Graham


e all know about detoxing, right? Old-style detoxing is about laying off the toxins after the party season; the pretox is all about laying up merit so as to eat, drink and loaf around for the Twelve Days of Christmas. Detoxing is a dreary affair which casts a blight over the new year; pretoxing is all about anticipation — cleansing the system before you hit the champagne, a quick hit of exercise, healthy eating and abstinence before the pudding and port. The first step is cleansing from the inside. ‘What you’ve got to do,’ a girlfriend told me, ‘is get Teapigs’ Matcha Green Tea. It’s amazing. It gets your metabolism going and your skin looks really good and you lose weight.’ This wonderproduct is actually a little box of light green powdered tea. You mix a tiny spoonful with liquid and drink. It’s tasteless, £25, and an easy-peasy way to get your system going. Next I got on to Pure Package, the company that takes the choice out of dieting by delivering your day’s food to your very door. I tried it for five days. It’s good stuff: three balanced meals a day and a couple of snacks including a substantial salad and a bit of fruit. You need, however, to have the minimal self-restraint to space out your quota. Reader: I ate my breakfast, lunch and both snacks by 9.45 a.m. on the first day. It worked, though. I lost three pounds in five days.

Bodyism at the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge is where fat cats go to become sleeker, leaner cats. It’s the baby of James Duigan, an Australian fitness and diet expert whose best-known client is Elle ‘the Body’ Macpherson. The going rate is £1,500 for a week’s package that includes spa treatments and training sessions. I went twice. As Nathalie, the lovely Swedish girl who put me through my paces, remarked, the cost means ‘our clients are very, very motivated’. Exercise is part of the system, a manageable eight minutes a day, but diet is the big element. So, sugar’s out; so are refined carbs (white bread and pasta) and, um, alcohol, though it took me half a minute to spot that James prefers white spirits and red wine to other drink, if you really must. Organic everything, full-fat everything, and avocados at every opportunity. It’s really very sensible. Oh — his other tip is to take a bath with Epsom salts twice a week. That’s right, Epsom salts. Pretoxing, like most things, starts in the mind, and my mind, frankly, is that of a greedy and slothful piglet. So I took myself off to Susan Hepburn, the Harley Street hypnotherapist who specialises in weight loss. Forget everything you’ve ever heard about hypnosis. She’s friendly and down to earth and can sort out most errant eaters in three sessions. Does it work? All I can say is, after my first session, I spent the best part of a week in the same house as an almond and raspberry cake and didn’t touch it. 42

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London at present is blessed with some brilliant new LA-style fitness centres — gym is too coarse a word. There’s been endless hype about Equinox in Kensington and it took one visit to see why. The trainers go to enormous trouble to test your fitness, fatness and flexibility before you even start. Nick, a nice Californian, measured everything from my gait to my blood pressure before he started the workout and when he did, it was geared to what I could do and wanted to do. It sounds obvious but not everyone does it. Barry’s Bootcamp is a Hollywood favourite and opens in London in the new year. I got a preview session from Olly Truelove, one of the instructors. It’s famous for burning about 1,000 calories an hour and by God you can see how. Classes consist of 20 to 40 people, there’s a mixture of loud music, cardio exercise and weights, and you get a trainer bellowing at you throughout. Sounds awful? Stars from Katie Holmes to Sandra Bullock are queuing up to do it. The thing is, each spurt of exercise lasts only a minute or two, which makes it somehow do-able. My half-hour session nearly killed me but as Olly says, ‘after a Barry’s workout you can eat anything’. Yay! But if you want to sub-contract out the whole business of pretoxing to the experts, let me recommend La Réserve in Geneva, a fab hotelcum-spa ten minutes from the airport, which does it all for you. For £3,620 for the four-day detox you get a doctor’s and osteopath’s assessment, diet advice, personal training and an apparently endless

succession of very good spa treatments: the three-in-one targets cellulite the way a vacuum cleaner targets dust. But obviously, there’s a sybaritic element to the pretox. Espa has a very good range of pretox/detox products. The mineral salt scrub is lovely and so is the seaweedy Detox Bath. In fact, I had an entire Espa detox treatment at the Bulgari spa, including an algae wrap which sent me straight off. But the best therapeutic treatments to get rid of toxins in the body involve no unguents at all. It’s manual lymphatic drainage, or MLD, which works through gentle massage to stimulate the body’s own mechanism for shifting toxins, the lymph system. I swear, it can make you look like you’ve been on holiday. So there you go: a pretox in a fortnight. I’m five pounds thinner, a partydress-fit New Woman and my toxins are on the run. So energised and cleansed, it’s time to party. Gangway for the pudding! Bring on the eggnog! Pure Package,; Bodyism at the Bulgari, pre-Christmas Clean and Lean spa day, £380, or a week for £1,500, 020 7151 1055;­ Equinox, Kensington, 020 7666 6000,; Barry’s Bootcamp, 020 7387 7001,; La Réserve Geneva, £3,620 for four-day detox programme, reservationsgeneve@, 0041 22 959 5959; MLD — see for list of practitioners. 43

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RARE O P P OR T U N I T y For the first time, you have the chance to invest in rare earth metals. But should you? Christopher Silvester What the hell are you talking about? These 17 chemical elements, with names such as neodymium, dysprosium and europium, are used in the manufacture of objects ranging from lasers, aerospace components and nuclear batteries to camera lenses, energy-efficient light bulbs and self-cleaning ovens. Where do they come from? Today 95 per cent of the world’s supply comes from China. Deposits are dwindling fast and unless new sources are discovered, global demand will drastically exceed supply. California used to produce a fair amount, but closed its Mountain Pass mine because the Chinese undercut prices. Production has resumed there, but the Chinese still call the shots. Why haven’t I heard of anyone investing in rare earth metals before? Until last year, there was no investment market in rare earth metals. Manufacturers bought these substances directly from suppliers, meaning that rare earths represented a pure commodity play based on supply and demand.

issue about how stable that market is. If Denver Trading were to go out of business, you could be left with bags of rare earth metals sitting in a bonded warehouse, and no easy way to liquidate your holding. Denver’s agents want a minimum investment of £3,000 to £5,000 and recommend holding deposits for around five years. How do Denver Trading and its agents make money? Denver Trading holds stocks of rare earth metals — an expensive business — which it later sells at a profit. In a rising market Denver Trading buys back your rare earths at a discount to the market price. In a falling market investors have nowhere to go other than to Denver Trading. What else should I worry about? The Chinese might release stockpiles into the market, thus depressing prices, or countries other than China might develop new sources of supply (Vietnam, for example). And another thing: existing manufacturers are seeking new methods of production that will no longer require rare earths. What’s your advice? Never invest through companies that do not list the names and backgrounds of their principal executives on their websites. Other than that: fasten your seatbelts, you’re in for a bumpy ride.

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What has changed? Denver Trading, which acts as a broker to the industrial sector, decided to create a new business model for retail investors, licensing companies that it describes as ‘agents’ to sell small amounts of rare earths and arranging for them to be stored in bonded warehouses in London or Zurich. Purchases are certified as genuine by independent third-party experts. How many companies are offering this service? About 20 so far. If your email address is registered with any financial websites you’re bound to have received several enticing messages by now. How are the prices of rare earth metals performing? Well, some prices have risen dramatically, mainly because the Chinese have been curbing exports of rare earths and stockpiling them. This is the eye-catching part of the pitch. Who wouldn’t want to profit by 500 or 1,000 per cent? But prices have fallen of late — volatility goes with the territory.

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How does the business model work? Given that just about all the companies selling rare earth metals to investors are ‘agents’ of Denver Trading, there is an 45

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22/11/12 12:20:45


Z e n and the a r t of S c o t c h For many people, only one whisky will do Alexander McCall Smith


iranda Grant is enthusiastic ab out wh i sk y. At la st December’s whisky auction in Edinburgh, a bottle of 55-year-old Glenfiddich was sold for just under £47,000. For Miranda, who runs Bonhams auction house in Edinburgh, it was very satisfactory. She enjoys a dram as much as the next Scotswoman, but she did not taste that particular whisky. However, the price pointed to the extraordinary rise in Scotch whisky connoisseurship that now embraces not only the traditional markets of the United Kingdom and western Europe, but India, China and elsewhere in the Far East. Russia is joining in, with Moscow and St Petersburg becoming increasingly important cities on the world whisky map. What is about Scotch that makes it so special? To some extent, the answer is the same as the answer to the question of what makes champagne stand out among other wines. Scotch is special because of its name. It is, as the expression goes, the real McCoy. Other countries can produce whisky, and even England has now got in on the act, making a product that has been fairly favourably received by whisky enthusiasts. But it is not Scotch, just as the excellent sparkling wines that Australia and the south of England produce are not champagne. What they lack is mystique, and that also plays a major part in Scotch whisky’s reputation. That mystique is also sufficiently important to keep a team of Edinburgh lawyers busy, ready to sue anyone, anywhere in the world, who starts to deck their South American or Indian whisky in tartan or call it a Scottish-sounding name. Of course, it is not all smoke and mirrors. Scotch whisky has a particular taste and nose that makes it readily distinguishable

from other whiskies. The origin of these qualities is one that is the subject of constant debate among connoisseurs. It is not just the water — indeed, there is a view that the water does not play a major part. Certainly, the water used to make Scotch, taken from Highland burns, is unsullied by the sort of pollution that one might find in rivers running through more heavily populated places, but that is not in itself enough to give a whisky its distinctive taste. The real flavours come in at the stage of maturation of the spirits in the wooden casks that must, by law, be made of oak. These will have once been used for the making of bourbon or sherry and will impart flavour to the maturing Scotch. During that stage, though, other factors will play a part, including even the air of the place in which the whisky is being stored. As anyone who has visited the Highlands will know, there is a particular quality to the air. It has the sea in its breath, and seaweed, and heather, and the coconut smell of gorse, and sometimes a hint of peat smoke. All of that counts just as much, perhaps, as the shape of the great copper stills in which whisky is  distilled, or the quality of the barley used in its manufacture. At the end of this process, Scotch whisky will be taken from the casks, bottled, and given a name. Most of it will be sold in a blended form, in which whisky from several distilleries is mixed. These are the whiskies that are known not by the name of their distillery but by some sort of trade name. These can be general, knockabout whiskies sold in bars, but they can also be very good, and expensive — Johnnie Walker’s Jubilee Blend will cost you over £100,000 a bottle. The precise mixture is important, and the person in charge of keeping it consistent is called the blender or, better yet, the nose.

Noses ensure that a brand keeps its taste over the years, by remembering its characteristics and, importantly, remembering how to achieve them. Another sort of nose is the expert who conducts whisky nosings, the equivalent of wine tasting. The doyen of these experts is Charles Maclean, an award-winning whisky writer who travels all over the world talking about his passion for Scotch. In a warm and accessible manner, Charlie exemplifies the difference between the world of whisky connoisseurship and its wine equivalent. Wine enthusiasts tend to resent accusations of snobbery — and one can sympathise with them in that — but there still seems to hang about the wine world a whiff of pretension and exclusivity. An agreeable little wine, with a strong note of blackberries, long in the finish etc may be a parody of wine language, but it does exist and it is sometimes difficult to listen to such descriptions with an entirely straight face. In contrast, the language that Charlie, like other whisky noses, uses is robust. I have been at nosings conducted by him where he described the whisky as tasting of  wet straw or, on one memorable occasion, having notes that should remind one of the inside of one’s grandfather’s old Rover. That is a long way from the language used in a refined wine tasting. Sometimes, of course, the Zen of Scotch simply requires silence, as no words will suffice to describe its beatific effect. The robust nature of the world of Scotch whisky is also underlined by Charlie’s openness to different ways of enjoying the drink. He stresses that there are rules for appreciating the subtlety of whisky, but  for personal appreciation ‘do what you like’ is the gist. You can add water and ice to your heart’s content, although Charlie will point out that this changes the drinking experience. Water brings out different features of a whisky, and ice may close down its taste a little. But if that’s what you want, then that’s what you should do. And if you want to add CocaCola, as some people have been known to do? Charlie’s moustache bristles, but only slightly. Once again, it’s up to you. I wouldn’t be inclined to suggest that at a wine tasting, of course. That, I think, would be disagreeable and would lead, one might imagine, to a distinctly short finish.


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t w o wa y s Ch rist m as



Homebodies vs party animals

A Season for families Toby Young


hristmas is a bit like Marmite: you either love it or hate it. But the problem with loving the idea of it — as I do — is that the reality never lives up to your expectations. Or maybe that’s not a problem. Maybe that’s what I like about it. I think my deep affection for the period is linked to the Christmas television schedule. As a child, I had no sources of electronic entertainment apart from the telly. No video games, no DVDs, no satellite channels — nothing. And the programmes on the three terrestrial channels weren’t simply better at Christmas, they were miles better. Christmas officially began when I turned to the back page of the Radio Times in mid-December and saw a picture of the cover of the next edition and read a brief description of the delights that were in store. I’m not just talking about things like the Porridge Christmas special — though I loved that, obviously — but the films, too. BBC2 screened a cornucopia of black-andwhite classics. Those were the gifts that Santa brought me every year and they rarely disappointed. As a grown-up, my warm feelings about Christmas have taken on a more literary tone. I now have a sort of Dickensian image in my mind, with friends and family gathered round a fire, accompanied by much drinking and merriment. In this picture, I’m the Scrooge figure — at the end of A Christmas Carol, not the beginning — bursting in with a sack of presents and an enormous turkey and prompting a round of applause. My children all behave like Tiny Tim, weeping with gratitude as I hand them inexpensive wooden toys. The reality is nothing like this, not least because

my children are glued to the television set on Christmas Day and are reluctant to be prised away from it — just as I was. When they’re forced to turn it off and exchange pleasantries with ageing relatives, they’re stilted, unable to conceal their displeasure. They’re not interested in the elaborate Christmas lunch my wife has spent the past 48 hours preparing. They just want to eat the chocolates hanging from the tree. And the present-giving ritual always exposes them in the worst possible light as they tear through wrapping paper and disdainfully toss aside whatever gift has been carefully chosen for them in search of something better. I’m exaggerating slightly. Occasionally, something goes well. Sharing a bottle of Montrachet Premier Cru with my wine-snob brother-in-law, for instance, or dancing to Neil Diamond with my children after lunch. My youngest, four-year-old Charlie, might even play for five minutes with an inexpensive wooden toy. But these moments tend to fade into the background as a mood of sourness descends on me. It’s as though I begin actively looking for reasons to be disappointed — the celebratory glass of champagne is half-empty rather than half-full. I’m the Scrooge figure, all right — but the one before the moral awakening. To complicate matters, the more things I find to complain about, the happier I am. There’s something peculiarly British about this, and not easily understood by anyone born outside these islands. In a sense, the perfect British Christmas is a meticulously planned day on which everything goes horribly wrong, involving at least one trip to A&E, and ends with the survivors breaking into a rendition of ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’. I experienced something close to this as a child when my late father failed to turn up for Christmas lunch. Like me, he officially loved Christmas and insisted that all the members of his large and dysfunctional 48

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family gather for a meal. So there we all were, sitting at a large dining table, with a carefully coordinated series of dishes about to appear, but without my father. He was at a cemetery in Bethnal Green. He’d heard about this ritual whereby lonely widows would appear at the gravesides of their departed husbands and share a Christmas cuppa with them by pouring tea into the ground. As a sociologist with a particular interest in the East End, he was determined to see this and he’d disappeared that morning and failed to re-materialise. Evidently, this macabre ritual was more compelling than spending time with his extended family. When he turned up, more than an hour late, we were all furious, particularly my mother, whose lunch was ruined. The atmosphere couldn’t have been more hostile and several of his children (he had six in total from three different marriages) were threatening to leave. To placate us, my father started describing the

women he’d seen at the cemetery. He had a Dickensian gift for evoking pity and painted such a lachrymose portrait of these widows that he soon had us all in tears. Suddenly, we felt ashamed of how ill-tempered we’d been moments earlier and grateful that we at least had each other. We didn’t start singing ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ — we were middle-class, educated and repressed — but our mood changed from bitter frustration to stoical optimism. I’m greatly looking forward to Christmas this year and even fantasising about reading The Hobbit to my children on 24 December, with all of them sitting at my feet in their pyjamas. Won’t happen, of course, and all my hopes of a perfect Christmas Day will be dashed. There may even be a trip to A&E. But by the end, having found lots of reasons to be cross, I will be quietly satisfied. ‘Another bloomin’ Christmas,’ as Raymond Briggs’s Father Christmas is fond of saying.

A Seas on f or he d on i sts Francesca Zampi Hammerstein

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currently live between New York and Las Vegas, but London is where I want to be in the run-up to Christmas. Everybody is full of  boozy good cheer and it’s party mayhem for 25 days straight. If there are two things I’ve learned from my hedonistic life, it’s that the craziest parties are Christmas parties, and that nobody goes for it like the Brits. Until recently my job was fully set up for a life of excess — working at the Box, Soho, where partying was pretty much my profession. And while I witnessed a lot of scandalous behaviour during my Box years, there’s something about the holiday season that makes people particularly naughty.  Fond Christmassy memories from the club include one friend’s very straight, hedge-funder dad drunkenly snogging a transvestite with a huge wig and breast implants, while holding my hand under the table for security. Another night a staff member ended up at a rave in east London in the early hours of a Sunday morning with a famous fashion designer. They danced like mad and then she went to church with him in her full Box regalia — leotard, stockings and six-inch heels — to sing Christmas hymns. Needless to say, I’ve developed several strategies for how to survive the British holiday season intact. First, get a tan. Before heading to London to indulge in all the things I love and can’t find in America (old friends, mince pies, Christmas crackers and binge-drinking), I go and spend a week or two in Miami to work on my winter glow. To take the stress out of consecutive nights in your glad-rags, I advise planning your party outfits in


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LIFE advance. Something in a reflective metallic is unfailingly festive, a winter-white dress à la Celine will be dazzling with or without a tan, while this season’s jewel-toned dresses from Lanvin are Christmas-party perfection. And hurrah — the trouser suit is back this season, which is the Holy Grail of day-to-night dressing. Just switch to stilettos and a different top (or even better, no top) for night-time antics. The fun will also be hampered if you get fat on fun, or sustain disco injuries. Although I don’t believe for a second that ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’, I do know that spending Sundays un-tagging fat Facebook photos is depressing, so avoid champagne and cocktails and drink vodka soda with lots of fresh lime. Save your calories for Christmas dinner, which at least you’ll remember. It is crucial to wear flat footwear during the day in December, to nurse your feet after dancing in preposterously high heels. Now that the platform shoe is officially over, which is aesthetically fortunate, it does mean shoes have become — if possible — more painful, since there is no cushion between the ball of your foot and the pavement. I shuffle around in disgusting

I stopped bothering to get disappointed about New Year’s Eve when I was about 16

Although I love London for pre- Christmas debauchery, I advise getting the hell out of Dodge for New Year’s Eve, which I stopped bothering even to get disappointed about aged 16. Leave town after the 25th. For the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to be on Mustique for the weeks after Christmas. Days there involve yoga on the beach with my bendy instructor Charity Joy (that is her real name), rum punch by the pool, delicious Caribbean dinners and lots of early nights. Highly recommended. This year, however, I’ll be in the mecca for hedonists, Sin City itself, for 31 December. My husband, Simon, recently opened a new club, the Act, at the Palazzo in Las Vegas. The space has winding corridors and various chambers where you can lose the people you came with and find new ones. Anyone who has ever been to his other clubs knows the real party goes on backstage — I have spent many a night squished into the dressing rooms drinking with the performers and friends, so this time he’s designed a dedicated bar backstage where guests can party with the dancers, singers, acrobats and glamorous misfits. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Good will to all men: Marilyn Monroe tries on a Christmas stocking, 1951. Previous page: a family Christmas, 1971

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old Uggs at the weekend (when nobody can see me but my Rottweiler, Eva). Regular reflexology is also part of my crippled-by-vanity prevention programme. Naturally, my hangover routine is pretty refined. My tricks are coconut water before boozing, and then two glasses of water before bed — you’ll need to get up in the night but it’s worth it. More coconut water in the morning consumed while taking a bath of Epsom salts. Antihistamine is another secret weapon — I take a Claritin most mornings as it reduces alcohol-induced face puff. If you wear make-up, I recommend removing it before going to bed. I use Quick Thinking Wipes by No.7. Make-up removal is a relatively new thing for me but my skin and my pillow thank me. You need to be fighting fit to make it through all of December without looking like a crackhead on day two, so this is not the time for slacking with your workout routine. Hire a personal trainer to come to your home (if you’re hungover you’ll never make it to the gym), and keep your immune system in shape with at least two nights of proper sleep a week. Nobody wants to kiss someone under the mistletoe with cold sores.


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T HE DIR TY IN T ERN E T Server farms are costly, inefficient and environmentally destructive, but that’s just business as it has always been Stephen Bayley

A series of tubes: Google’s data centre in Douglas County, Georgia — one of eight in the US, Finland and Belgium

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that powers Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google. James Glanz spent, in tribute to the Grey Lady’s pitiless thoroughness, a year researching a series of five articles which appeared in September. His fact-checked thesis, although he did not put it quite like this, was this: the internet is the work of the Devil. With the help of a report commissioned from the influential McKinsey consultancy, Glanz argued that internet business is dirty and wasteful. Vast resources are employed in pursuit of rubbish. Godless profligacy is endemic in the web. Jeff Bezos is Mephistopheles. The suggestion was, cue echoes of Ruskin’s booming Old Testament cadences, that it threatens the existence of civilisation itself. The reaction from the nerd ’n’ geek community was so ferocious that it sounded very much like protesting too much, the guilty being inclined to flee where the New York Times pursueth. One blogger called Glanz’s meticulously researched articles ‘half guesses, contradictions and flat-out incorrect information’. Another ‘an artful, fact-laden job of telling half a story’. It was left to the laid-

very revolution has its dissenters. And the more interesting the revolution, the more strident the dissent. More than 150 years ago, John Ruskin elected himself Queen Victoria’s moralist and orotundly condemned the railways and every other fruit of mechanical industry. Metal, pistons and steam, in his unblinking view, threatened the existence of civilisation itself. A railway engine promised not an easier commute on velour seats, but a terrible one-way, non-stop journey into inhuman depravity from which the only escape was death or the asylum. In 2012, we have dissenters of our own. The New York Times has elected itself a moral and practical critic of the electronic revolution that pings so oppressively around us. Never mind that the Grey Lady, so-called because of its preference for dense, text-heavy stories, is dangerously threatened by rapidly improving online content and comment, the paper (and how quaint a term that already sounds!) has published an astonishing attack on the technology 53

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LIFE back New York magazine to establish a sensible balance: ‘the idea that Facebook is destroying the environment in order to give you 24-7…. access to stupid cat videos is simply too pat’. Where you stand in the debate I am about to explain describes not just your attitude to computers — which are no more intrinsically interesting than a pencil — but to the thrust and dynamic of our culture. There is, Glanz rightly suggested, a generalised misunderstanding that the internet is clean, free and efficient with energy. Your brand-new, glistening, vitreous, Platonically-inspired tablet encourages this happy delusion. How could something so physically perfect be supported by any flawed infrastructure? Yes, with a few touchscreen clicks you have immediRight: Google’s data ate frictionless access to the world’s inforcentre in Hamina, mation and, if you hold on for guaranteed Finland. next-day delivery, very rapid access to its Below: Citi Data goods as well. This must be good! Centre, Frankfurt But this miracle has a dirty secret that is not so little. All high-traffic internet businesses depend on vast server farms which are the filthy coal mines of our day. That brilliant ‘free’ information Google brings you is bought at a cost. At any moment of night or day, Google has a continuous draw-down of 260 million watts. ‘The Cloud’ makes it sound soft, fluffy, clean and virtuous. The reality of The Cloud is

UIG via Getty Images; Connie Zhou/AP/Press Association Images

acres of vast sheds full of very hot computers which suck power from the grid and, additionally, demand continuous cooling. Which sucks yet more power out of the grid. And so twitched are the robber barons of the digital era by the damage to their reputations that a power outage and down-time would cause, that they have gigantic diesel generators as back-up. The only cloud you will see around, say, the Microsoft server farm at Quincy, Washington, is a cumulus of burnt diesel and carcinogenic particulates. Worse, according to The New York Times/ McKinsey information, these server farms are only doing useful work for 6-12 per cent of the time, but are kept running to feed the


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ronmental depravity of server farms may have been overstated, so too have the democratic benefits of the businesses they support. Far from being communes of zoned-out, salad-munching hippies, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon (‘notoriously opaque’, according to the Financial Times) all tend towards the manipulative behaviour established by Carnegie and Vanderbilt and perfected by General Motors and Dow Chemical. For example, Google and Amazon are not democratising literature, they are acquiring a sinister monopoly. Right now, Amazon is buying markets and makes very modest profits. That will change when it dominates global distribution and its prices rise. Even Apple, everyone’s favourite business, is not immune to criticism. Tim Cook, the new CEO, is not a luminescent world-improving visionary, but a hard-calculating supplychain manager. Supply-chain is to us what a production line was to them. And while only the dullest person would not be excited by Apple’s beautiful and useful products, are not the new product announcements, made ever more frequent by greedy investors elbowing for  volume, identical to the planned obsolescence of the old industrial culture? They used to call it Detroit Machiavellismus when General Motors introduced a new product every year… whether it was needed or not. Market-leader Chevrolet’s factories were surrounded by sulphurous smokestacks and poisoned rivers. But the customers were happy. Sometimes, I think we have not experienced a revolution. Sometimes, I think nothing has changed.

global addiction to rapid response. Even worse, in one instance, and to avoid a $210,000 penalty for under-estimating its power requirements, Microsoft deliberately wasted millions of watts of electricity. It actually burnt its fine. Imagine this and an image comes to mind that’s a metaphor for modern cupidity and sin: in a windowless box, on desecrated agricultural land, a sinister webocracy wilfully destroys resources to save a few wretched dollars. As sin goes, it might not be original, but it is nonetheless impressive. But since the Devil has the best iTunes, the countervailing argument is a powerful one: of course the web needs power, but its abuse is wildly exaggerated. Besides, it’s a dynamic technology and new solutions will readily be found to, for example, the problem of cooling server farms. Moreoever, total appetite for energy from all the web businesses combined is less than 2 per cent of what’s available and this is disproportionately small if you consider their economic impact. In any case, the argument continues, when you click at home and the message goes to the Amazon warehouse at Marston Gate, near Brogborough, Bedfordshire, you are excluding a wasteful old bookshop or hardware store and, all grossed-up, have saved resources rather than squandered them. You can feel good about this. You can feel even better that, if Amazon gets its way and we all have Kindle readers embedded at birth, we will soon do without paper altogether. Once, the printing press was an agent of change. Now, its destruction has assumed the same role. These arguments are finely balanced : it’s a classic case study of progress and reaction, of revolution and dissent. While the envi-

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Katharine Hepburn dressed as a boy in the movie Sylvia Scarlett, 1935

SO MACHO Androgyny is back, so it’s time to beg, borrow or buy your other half’s wardrobe

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STYLE In an interview last year, the actress Tilda Swinton remembered, as a child, seeing her mother and father (an Army major-general) going out for dinner, and recalled thinking, ‘I’d rather be handsome, as he is, for an hour, than pretty [like her mother] for a week’. Swinton found fame playing the title role in the film of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando — the ultimate gender-bender in that s/he literally changes from male to female halfway through. But the actress has retained an androgynous, starkly ethereal look and, with her fierce crop, aversion to make-up and austere clothes, she embodies the truth that a masculine style has always been appealing for many women. In the 1930s, screen sirens such as Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and the fashion designer Coco Chanel donned trousers and mannish suits to assert their independence. Meanwhile, Amelia Earhart’s leather aviator jacket and silk tie complemented her delicate, heart-shaped face. Several decades on, a woman in man’s clothing still had a unique power. Who can forget that seminal scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), when Audrey Hepburn opens the door in a white men’s dress shirt? And when Yves Saint Laurent unveiled his trail-blazing ‘Le Smoking’ tuxedo jacket to the fashion elite in 1966, there was an audible intake of breath. A few years back, we went through a fashion ‘moment’ where the notion was that girls raided their men’s wardrobes. There was the oversized white shirt, worn with mussed-up post-coital hair, the pilfered cashmere jumper, the cut of jeans marketed as ‘Boyfriend’. Now it’s all gone a bit Annie Hall. The man-towoman repertoire includes Church’s brogues (worn battered, with punky smudged eyeliner, if you’re Coco Sumner, or polished, with cropped jeans, if you’re glossy style expert Olivia Palermo), the Crombie coat, lumberjack and denim shirts and duffel coats. The classic theft of recent years has to be the leather biker jacket, as feminised by Alexa Chung. This season, we also have the Letterman, or ‘varsity’, jacket (as seen on the supermodel Cara Delevingne), cotton Oxford shirts and men’s pyjama shirts. Accessory-wise, we’ve nabbed the fedora (still risky), the beanie hat (positively pedestrian), smoking slippers (brightly monogrammed is best), Chelsea boots (again) and lace-up workman boots — as loved by coal miners, Colin Farrell and, er, teenage girls. A shirt, a blazer and a pair of Chelsea boots, teamed with leather trousers, is the classic look for Gallic style icons such as Vogue’s Emmanuelle Alt and the actress Clémence Poésy. From the male rocker influence at Rick Owens, to the tomboyish off-duty model vibe at Alexander Wang, to the slim-cut suits at Stella McCartney and J Crew, every contemporary womenswear label has raided male sartorial style. At American Apparel, the high-

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street hipsters’ hangout, most of their stock comes with the label ‘unisex’. The A-list stars of the Twilight franchise, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, seem to share all their clothes: their style is a compilation of baseball caps, skinny jeans, tennis shoes, hoodies and ‘wife-beater’ T-shirts. Sharing a wardrobe can be useful, after all. If you happen to date a man with a slender 14.5-inch neck and a fondness for brushed cotton shirts, as I do, then you find yourself with a lot of shirts at your disposal. During the last London Fashion Week, I snaffled a vintage burgundy shirt of his simply because it matched my lipstick. Unlike Dietrich et al, we are now so emancipated that we reach for the XXL tee as readily as the pencil skirt. In a nod to Coco, Chanel recently cast Brad Pitt as the first male face of their signature fragrance, Chanel No. 5. But it cuts both ways, and women who are averse to the floral pungency of many fragrances are increasingly using male or unisex grooming products. Kiehl’s Facial Fuel, with its clean menthol smell, is bought by almost as many women as men. Me, I rarely stray from Acqua di Gio for Men, which I fell in love with a decade ago when I bought some for an ex-boyfriend. The boyfriend and I split before I could give the present — and ten years on, it remains my signature smell.

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05/10/12 15:25 9/10/12 15:52:02

A pen is for life, not just for Christmas James Delingpole

Handwriting by Paul Antonio


ere’s what you should get your loved one for Christmas. 1. A nice fountain pen. 2. Philip Hensher’s The Missing Ink. You need to buy 2. — especially if the recipient is male — in order to make him properly appreciate the point of 1. Otherwise your generosity might well be wasted. This is what happened many, many years ago when my girlfriend of the time bought me a handsome antique pen. As I unwrapped it, she studied me carefully for my reaction. ‘It was very expensive. You’d better like it,’ she warned. ‘Oh great. A bloody pen,’ I thought. But obviously I didn’t say that. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I love it!’ But I didn’t. Just the other day, I was cleaning out the pen holder one of the kids — possibly even dating as far back as the Rat — had made me out of bog roll and wrapping paper. And I found the antique pen, snapped in half. Tragically, I don’t think I used it even once, which makes me feel both sad and guilty. If only I’d known then what I know now. What I know now is that pens are bloody great. They’re not — as I imagined in my wasted middle youth — a fogeyish affectation, but one of the essential tools of a civilised existence. You need one first and foremost, of course, in order to be able to write comfortably and legibly. For me, ballpoints just won’t do because they only work at a nearvertical angle, which constricts my flow and makes it harder to form my letters and

renders the physical business of writing a painful chore. Owning a really nice, expensive pen, on the other hand, makes writing feel like more of a pleasure than a duty. Thank-you letters, for example, become not a begrudged necessity but a delightful opportunity to play with your shiny toy and also to gratify the person who gave it to you by being seen to use it. But there’s another reason, at least as compelling as any of the ones above: you need a pen because it’s an essential weapon in the culture wars. After 9/11, I started taking my kids to church, not just for the obvious reasons, but also because I believe that in the great clash of civilisations there can be no room for casual bystanders. The fountain pen — though not, perhaps, on such a global, apocalyptic scale — serves in the similar struggle to preserve lovely old-school values from horrid, smelly new ones. Which is where Philip Hensher’s The Missing Ink comes in. Here, Hensher elegantly and wittily spells out what we’ve all probably noticed but would prefer not to admit: that the age of writing by hand is coming very rapidly to an end. He notes: ‘At some point, the ordinary pleasures and dignity of handwriting are going to be replaced permanently. What is going to replace them is a man in a well-connected electric room, waving frantically at a screen and saying, to nobody in particular, “Why won’t this effing thing work?” ’ No more can we stop this revolution than

writers of illustrated manuscripts could hold back typeset print. What we can do is at least strive to guarantee that the pleasures of writing continue to be enjoyed in our lifetimes and in those of our children. And the way to do this is a) to arm ourselves with the right weaponry (as it happens, William & Son, who kindly lent me some exquisite examples, also make shotguns) and b) to remind ourselves what it is that makes the art of writing so cherishable and special. Hensher offers lots of examples: that masochistically satisfying little groove you wear down in the flesh of your middle finger from repeated pen use; the nostalgic bliss of soaping and scrubbing the morning’s accreted ink from your fingers; the fun of flicking ink — either to get it flowing through the nib, or just for the hell of it. Preceding all this, of course, is the bizarre experience of learning to write in the first place, which tends to happen so early in our lives it feels more like a dream than something that actually happened to us. We know it must have done, though. At some stage, for example, I will have noted someone crossing their sevens in the continental style, and thought to myself: ‘That’s exotic and sophisticated. I’m going to copy that.’ (‘Your hand is formed by aspiration to others,’ Hensher sagely notes). During the war, this would have marked me out as suspect. In the film Went the Day Well?, it’s how the Nazi spies give themselves away. Then there’s vexed issue of what ink colour to use — and what it says about you. Hensher reckons it has to be black or blueblack if you want to be taken seriously. He’s right: royal-blue is babyish and first-yearish (because it’s washable); green means you’re mad; red is psychotic; although I did very much enjoy my turquoise period. Your writing style is similarly instructive. Hensher, like most of us, has firm views on this. ‘Someone who uses the Greek E probably had an early homosexual experience’, ‘Anyone who writes a circle or a heart over their i’s is a moron.’ And it all starts with the pen. My kids swear by their Lamys, but when we’re older we deserve to treat ourselves to something with a bit more heft, a bit more polish, a bit more gold and silver. I can’t be doing with watches. Can’t see the point. But a superposh pen, now that I really covet.


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22/11/12 12:32:01

ANANTA. More than 30 years ago, a SEIKO engineer dreamed of a new kind of watch that would reflect the true, continuous flow of time. 28 years of R&D later, Spring Drive was born, the only watch in the world with hands that move with no tick and no noise, in perfect glide motion. Today, the Spring Drive Chronograph sets a new standard in luxury chronographs, capturing the exact elapsed time, not just to the nearest fraction, with an accuracy five times greater than any mechanical chronometer. With a design inspired by Katana, the ancient Japanese art of sword making, the perfect chronograph is no longer a dream.

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Chronographs and motor sport are made for each other Simon de Burton


That same thinking is proving equally successful today as a growing number of watch brands form alliances with car makers. Breitling led the 21st-century race when it joined forces with Bentley a decade ago, since when some 20 different ‘Breitling for Bentley’ models have been produced, ranging from a chronograph to commemorate a world ice speed record to a  couple of one-off pocket watches costing six-figure sums. Another marriage of brands is Aston Martin and JaegerLeCoultre, whose partnership was announced in 2004. The initial fruit of the collaboration was the AMVOX 1 alarm wristwatch which was quickly followed by the AMVOX 2, the first ‘verti-

Rob Walls/Rex Features

t was a watchmaker called George Schaeren who first observed the intimacy between cars and watches. Way back in 1918, he had the idea of making wristwatches shaped like the radiator surrounds of glamorous cars — Bugattis, ­L ancias, Hispano-Suizas — which he sold under the Mido name to members of automobile clubs as a form of membership card. The sales psychology was brilliant. Only extremely wealthy people could afford such cars, meaning Schaeren could attach hefty price-tags to his watches — and the drivers all wanted one because they liked being able to demonstrate that they owned a Bugatti even when they weren’t behind the wheel.

A very valuable wrist: Steve McQueen on the set of Le Mans wearing the Heuer Monaco


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F OU R F OR T H E ROA D Bulgari O cto M aserati Bulgari’s Octo Maserati features retrograde minutes, date and chronograph hands which automatically revert to zero when they reach the end of their range, while the hour is displayed in the aperture below the 12 o’clock position. The centre of the dial resembles a Maserati radiator grille, the transparent case back carries the famous Il Tridente logo and the calfskin strap is redolent of the cars’ upholstery. £20,300.

C hopard Grand P rix de M onaco H istorique Chopard has backed the biennial Grand Prix de Monaco Historique since 2002 and traditionally produces a dedicated, limited-edition chronograph to mark the occasion. This year’s evokes the 1970s with a matte grey dial highlighted with contrasting orange or blue detailing and a distressed, perforated leather strap. The 42mm case can be had in titanium (£4,870), a combination of titanium and rose gold (limited to 500 examples priced at £7,190) or rose gold only (around £12,000, limited to 100).

The Carrera was named after the legendary Carrera Panamericana car race and was worn by racing drivers including Clay Regazzoni and Niki Lauda. This year, the brand created a special edition of the chronograph to mark the 80th birthday of Jack Heuer who created it in 1964. The distinctive, squarecased ­Monaco, meanwhile, was turned into a horological legend when Steve McQueen wore a blue-dialled version for the filming of the 1971 car race movie Le Mans. One of the latest, limited edition versions commemorates the exclusive Automobile Club de Monaco while numerous other variants include models with dials in Gulf Oil livery and two blue- and white-striped ‘Steve McQueen’ ­specials. Another driver’s classic is the legendary Rolex Cosmograph Daytona which was launched in 1963 and became known around the world through the brand’s sponsorship of major automobile events such as the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Legend has it that Paul Newman wore one during the motor race movie Winning. But it’s not a legend, it’s a myth. Newman was, however, subsequently given a Cosmograph Daytona by his wife and regularly wore it (and others) during his secondary career as a racing driver — and now early model Daytonas with so-called ‘Paul Newman’ exotic dials are hugely collectable. The Omega Speedmaster, meanwhile, first appeared in 1957 with a black dial, luminous hands and a chunky 39mm case that made it an instant hit with automobilists. ‘Our picture shows two sports car enthusiasts racing the clock,’ read a contemporary Speedmaster advertisement, ‘the clock being no clock at all but the new Omega high-precision wrist computer. When the co-driver

cal trigger’ chronograph, which is controlled by pushing on the glass rather than the buttons. The latest model, the AMVOX 7, combines the vertical trigger system with the additional complication of a power reserve display. And it goes without saying that Ferrari has been courted by several watch makers over the years, all keen to create the ‘official’ watch of the prancing horse marque. Girard-Perregaux was the first, followed by Panerai, which held the position for little more than three years. Now Hublot, which is also the official watch of Formula 1, is in on the act with its £19,600 Big Bang Ferrari Magic Gold. Other car-watch collaborations include Parmigiani with ­Bugatti, TAG Heuer with McLaren, Ball with BMW and Bulgari with Maserati — while owners of the gorgeous Alfa Romeo 8C supercar are encouraged to buy a complex and imaginative timepiece made especially for them by Manometro, the brand established by the Italian designer Giuliano Mazzuoli. The ‘Contagiri’ watch turns normal timekeeping on its head: its dial was inspired by the 8C’s rev counter and places the numbers one to 12 in a 270-degree arc starting with one at the usual eight o’clock position. The retrograde hour hand is complemented by a digital minute indicator and the watch is wound and set by turning the bezel. But a watch brand need not be directly linked with a car brand to be an automotive success. A case in point is TAG Heuer, which, although it has formed partnerships with Mercedes-Benz and McLaren-Mercedes F1, is historically linked to the motor racing world through two iconic models, the Carrera and the Monaco. 64

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22/11/12 12:34:58

AU DE M A R S P IGU E T ROYA L OA K O F F S H OR E M IC H A E L S C H U M AC H E R Michael Schumacher helped to design this latest version of the famous Royal Oak Offshore. Two blue stars and five red ones between 12 and 1 o’clock on the dial allude to his championship wins with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 and Ferrari from 2000 to 2004; the minute track is decorated with a chequered-flag motif and the hour and minute hands look a bit like the silhouettes of a racing car monocoque. The watch will be limited to 1,000 pieces in titanium at £31,550; 500 in pink gold at £50,470 and 100 in platinum — at £83,590.

AU T O DRO M O M O N O P O S T O Autodromo is a new motoring watch brand launched from New York last year by the industrial designer Bradley Price. The initial, quartz-powered models have now been joined by a 500-piece limited edition called the Monoposto which has a dial inspired by the rev counter of a 1950s Grand Prix car’s rev counter and a leather band with a buckle based on a bonnet strap. $875.

stops the large second hand at the end of the test mile, he reads off at a glance the time as well as the speed, the latter on the tachoproductometer etched into the rim of the case.’ Stirring stuff indeed — and it’s that strong emotional and mechanical tie between automobiles and timekeeping that has made the ‘car watch’ concept a seemingly unstoppable success. Often, people who can only dream of owning a supercar by, for example, Ferrari or McLaren, ‘live the dream’ in a small way by owning the watch that complements them — a Hublot or a TAG Heuer respectively. The most extreme example of this recently emerged in the form of a watch called a Scalfaro GTO 1962 Bizzarrini Edition. It celebrates the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO of the 1960s, one of which recently fetched a staggering $35 million. Most of us sure ain’t going to own one of those (only 39 were built) — but the Scalfaro actually contains metal from the GTO owned by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. So you can, at least, have a little tiny bit of a GTO for a relatively affordable €7,950. Likewise, anyone who has always wanted to compete in the glamorous recreation of the Mille Miglia road race but can’t afford a suitably rare (and expensive) car can, at least, feel closer to the event by buying one of the Chopard limited-edition chronographs created each year to mark the event; in the same vein, Frederique Constant last year produced a limited edition watch to mark the Carrera Panamericana and high-end maker François-Paul Journe this year made a special edition of his ingenious all-aluminium Octa Sport to commemorate the Indianapolis 500. Cars and watches? They go together like a horse and carriage.



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22/11/12 12:35:20



f or Fabu l o u s Jaguar’s new model is a beauty, but will it surpass the E-Type? Alan Judd

Allegedly described by Enzo Ferrari as ‘the most beautiful car ever made’, the E-Type did for Jaguar what Shakespeare did for English verse drama. That is, it was impossible to improve on. The cars that succeeded the E-Type, the XJS and the XK8 and variants, were, wisely, more sports tourers than sports cars. It has taken until now, 51 years after the E-Type was born, for Jaguar to face the challenge head on. Just calling it the F-Type makes that challenge explicit; they’re either very brave or very foolish.

Jaguars must be good-lookers. Sir William Lyons, founder of the marque, had an eye for the sleek and svelte. It is said that he would have his designers build a selection of mock-ups for the next model, walk along the line, point at one with his stick and say: ‘Make that one.’ Then he would point at another and say: ‘With the rear of that one.’ Then he’d go back to his office. And he’d be right. The next must-have Jaguar quality is performance — they’ve got to do the business. They haven’t all done it — the 1960s 2.4 Mk 2, the early 1970s XJ6 2.8, were comparatively sluggish, albeit with looks to die for. The third quality is the interior; it’s got to make you feel special, which they usually do. Sir William demanded that, viewed from the side, seats should not protrude above the bottom of the windscreen. It’s almost impossible to find a car like that now, not least because of compulsory headrests. The final quality is that they must not — as Rolls-Royce used to put it — fail to proceed. Sadly, they haven’t always proceeded reliably, most notably during the dark days of British Leyland ownership in the 1970s. But they improved greatly under John Egan in the 1980s and have gone on doing so ever since. Contemporary surveys consistently place them among the most reliable vehicles on the planet. The problem with any new Jaguar is the heritage — you’ve got to use it and also lose it. If you’re seen as too close — as with the elegant and capable S-Type — you’re dismissed as retro; if you’re not at all retro you’re ‘not a Jaguar’. Under their brilliant design director Ian Callum, they’ve cracked it with the current brace of saloons, the excellent XF and XJ, but the real challenge is the new F-Type two-seater sports car. Its problem is the E-Type.

It sounds as if handling and drive will be all we could hope for — which means the car’s limits will be way beyond most of ours

I think the braves have it. To start with, they’ve got the rear right. The back end is often the most difficult bit in car design, compromised by safety, handling and golfing requirements, but the F-Type’s rear derives from a sensual double curve in the rear wings, which sweeps across the sloping tail, embracing the slender wraparound rear lights (in homage to the E-Type?) on the way. That rearwards slope is all-important, echoing the front-end curve with its sharpened edges and discreet power bulges. The interior is intimate and functional, with about half an acre of leather that

makes the plain old E-Type look about as luxurious as your first bike. Sales start in the middle of next year and, so far, we have only the engineers’ word for how it performs. It sounds as if handling and drive will be all you’d hope for — which means the car’s limits will be way beyond most of ours. There are three engine options, all petrol, two versions of the supercharged 3-litre V6 and one of the 5-litre supercharged V8 (it’s good to see the supercharger making a comeback after decades of turbo dominance). The V8 offers 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds and a licence-losing 186mph top speed. Body and suspension are aluminium and the eight-speed Quickshift gearbox is both manual and auto. But it will cost you. Prices start at £58,500. Traditionally, Lyons built his Jaguars down to a budget, making them good value compared with their premiumclass competition. But that’s also why their metal was thinner, their electrics ancient and their knobs and switches often from the parts bin. Perhaps the F-Type pricing is an assertion by Jaguar that they are truly up with (or beyond) Audi, Mercedes and BMW in status and build quality. They had better be. So what’s the provisional verdict on this as yet un-driven beauty? Firstly, it’s no E-Type. That was something wholly new, like no other road car, an engineer’s evolution of the C- and D-Type Le Mans winners. The F-Type is roughly similar to other quality sports cars, built within the same constraints – but it is more beautiful. Callum’s pen (if he uses one) has traced strong, graceful lines to produce a very desirable car that will go and handle far, far better than the E-Type ever did. They’ve taken 2,000 orders already, so if you’re tempted, go for it now.


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22/11/12 12:36:35

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Photography by Dennis Pedersen


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This page: 12 Diamond ‘Holly Wreath’ necklace, HARRY WINSTON (POA); 13 Chronograph Ocean Sport, £18,600, HARRY WINSTON; 14 Pearl and diamond earrings by Maxim, £27,000, ANNOUSHKA; 15 Platinum fountain pen, £419, GRAF VON FABER-CASTELL; 16 Matterhorn ski goggle cufflinks, £8,250, THEO FENNELL; 17 Aquamarine and diamond ring, £6,450, ROBINSON PELHAM; 18 Fleurette diamond bracelet, £105,300, VAN CLEEF & ARPELS; 19 Quartz white gold, £15,200, VACHERON CONSTANTIN; 20 Caelograph Alpha 30 fountain pen, £3,500, CARAN D’ACHE; 21 Aura Double Halo diamond ring, £6,750, DE BEERS; 22 White gold earrings in titanium set with 380 fancy cut diamonds, ADLER (POA); 23 Fleurier Pershing Chronograph Asteria with diamond and sapphires, £39,000, PARMAGIANI

Previous page: 1 Dew-drop earrings, £170, GEORG JENSEN; 2 Chronomatic J12, from £10,500, CHANEL; 3 St Moritz Big Bang, £9,400, HUBLOT; 4 Move Pave bracelet, £12,300, MESSIKA; 5 Magic Gardens of PIAGET necklace (POA); 6 Tourmaline and diamond earrings, HEMMERLE (POA); 7 Diamond crossover ring, £15,000, WILLIAM & SON; 8 Croc Skin Cuff Bangle (thin), £500, PATRICK MAVROS; 9 Magic ring, £1,225, GEORG JENSEN; 10 CARTIER Calibre de Cartier, £5,375; 11 Arctic Explorer Skull ring, £14,500, THEO FENNELL


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22/11/12 12:39:30

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09/11/2012 13:45 19/11/12 14:28:37

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Trancoso – too much of a very good thing Jeremy Clarke 73

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22/11/12 12:41:38

T R AV E L Jacuzzi in the spa treatment room: a place to relax

The discreet charm of Trancoso


ness, Naomi Campbell, hippy lifestyle, a strange energy, pot. I was booked to stay at the UXUA Casa Hotel. UXUA (pronounced oosh-wa) is the indigenous word for ‘marvellous’. Wilbert Das, the creative director of Italian fashion company Diesel, went to Trancoso for a holiday in 2004 and liked the place so much that he bought a casa on the Quadrado from a couple of Swiss hippies. At the height of his success, he retired from Diesel, bought four more historic local houses and designed several others, including a treehouse, and acquired enough land next to the Quadrado to link them together. The UXUA Casa hotel is the result. ‘Oh-my-God, Jeremy!’ said the PR people, when I said that surely I wasn’t going all that way for just another pretentious, new age, boutique hotel. ‘You’ll die when you see it. And the thing is, the UXUA Casa is completely integrated into the community. Wilbert uses only local materials and employs only local craftsmen, and his staff are all Trancoso people, and he gives them full employment rights, and he just puts back everything that he possibly can. You’ll probably fall in love with him. We all have.’ Fucking Ada, I thought. And that is how I went to Brazil, resentfully, not expecting anything much more than jet lag. When I arrived in Trancoso, the driver deposited me in a muddy lane outside an anonymous door set in a wooden fence. If the front door was anything to go by, I thought, the UXUA Casa hotel is truly unobtrusive. Hotel manager Carlos welcomed me with a bow and led me to my accommodation. Carlos was, on first impressions, profoundly gay. It shone out of him and was a little intimidating. He was outspokenly free from illusion and he spoke to me as though I held as few illusions about life as he did. His time was entirely at my disposal, he said. Might he suggest that I joined him for the capoeira class in the morning? He led me past the indoor capoeira training court and a gym.

nce I’d Googled Trancoso and seen the words ‘boho’ and ‘Naomi Campbell’ attached to it, I didn’t want to go. ‘Jeremy, you’ll love it,’ everyone argued. ‘It’s fabulous. You’re so lucky! Naomi! Mario Testino! They virtually live there. And, oh-my-God, the vibe is just a-maze-ing.’ Sounds like purgatory, I said. And what exactly did they mean by ‘vibe’, anyway? ‘Well, you know, it’s so, like, chilled.’ Trancoso was isolated until a road was built 15 years ago, so none of the locals, bless their cotton socks, would recognise a celebrity if one jumped out and bit them. A few Brazilian hippies discovered the place in the Sixties; Sao Paulo television celebrities started going there in the Seventies; now ‘A’ listers from all over the world are going. And like, everyone smokes dope. It’s so cool. And you’ve got native Indians, and blacks, and hippies, and the international jet set all rubbing shoulders, and everyone is so laid back that they’re horizontal. ‘Equality, multiculturalism and weed: the left-liberal dream fully realised. I can’t wait,’ I said bitterly. ‘Oh, do shut up you miserable sod,’ they said. ‘You’ll love it.’ Trancoso is on the Bahian coast of Brazil, 24 miles south of Porto Seguro (‘safe haven’). In 1500, the Portuguese navigator Pedro Cabral stepped ashore there and claimed everything for his country. Jesuit missionaries arrived in Trancoso in 1583. They cleared the bush and built a church over the native burial ground, then built a settlement of 60 houses in two continuous rows on either side. Church, settlement and the grassy space within is known collectively as the Quadrado. Today, horses graze and children and young men play futbol on this homely green space. Apart perhaps from the useful addition of some huge and venerable shade trees, the scene is little changed since the 16th century. That’s the romantic line adopted by the travel writers, anyway: horses grazing, timeless74

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22/11/12 12:42:00

We then trod a curving wood and earth walkway through a dense, but well-swept rainforest. Other paths veered away to left and right. Tropical birds hopped languidly about. The effect on my mind, deceived as it was by the simple door in a suburban fence, was of walking into a kind of Narnia. Next, we came to a library, pool, bar and dining area. After taking another earthen path through a banana grove, Carlos and I arrived at my accommodation. I was given Wilbert Das’s original casa, which is, in effect, two houses joined by an outdoor kitchen and flower garden, with a back door and seating area on the Quadrado. Seen from there, the façade was merely that of another pretty little house, with a wrought-iron table and chairs in a drift of fallen bougainvillea petals. During my brief stay, the trailing edge of Hurricane Sandy made it too windy to sit on the beach, so every afternoon I sat at this table outside my house in a timeless Trancoso stupor, with my mouth open. Sometimes, a coach party of Brazilian tourists straggled past going to and from the historic church. Occasionally, a smiling couple would ask me if I would photograph them against the background of my bougainvillea. Afterwards, they’d say, in Portuguese, ‘Nice place you have there!’ or something like that, little suspecting that my rooms extended back for about a mile, like a Bond villain’s headquarters, were extravagantly and artistically furnished, and that they led, eventually, to a swimming pool, bar and library in a private rainforest. As his employees said, the UXUA Casa Hotel is as near to perfection as it is possible for a hotel to be, and Wilbert Das is an endearingly self-effacing individual. He eats with his staff because he prefers it and he likes to hear all the gossip. They find it uproariously funny that the tall, softly spoken Dutchman in the sunglasses has the smallest ego of them all, and yet all these famous people and big shots come all the way to their humble village to see him.

Each employee will tell you that their lives have been utterly transformed for the better since Wilbert Das arrived, and his hotel is indeed a showcase of the better kinds of artisanal arts and crafts that Trancoso has to offer. Once I glimpsed him coming out of a potter’s house and making off (with a furtive, fanatical air) with a flower vase to place in some carefully chosen spot in his hotel. American Vogue did a cover-piece about the UXUA Casa this year. The female journalist had such a marvellous time, and wrote such a glowing piece, confided Wilbert, that it was rejected by her editors for being too ridiculously enthusiastic. The high season in Trancoso, when the celebrities go, is November to February. The climate, hurricanes aside, is pleasant all year round, but looking for any sort of action out of season is a waste of time, because there ain’t none. ‘So what’s this bloody vibe everyone keeps talking about, Wilbert?’ I said at breakfast one morning. He considered my question seriously. ‘There really is one here, I think,’ he said. ‘It’s a kind of energy. Some people buckle under it and have to leave. Others are restored or even healed by it.’ ‘Explanation?’ I asked. ‘I am a realist,’ he said. ‘But some say that the church was built on a sacred indigenous burial ground, and I think that maybe this has something to do with it.’ ‘Surely you don’t believe that could have anything to do with anything,’ I said, amazed at such credulousness. Wilbert shrugged and stirred his coffee. ‘As you English say, “Stranger things have happened at sea”,’ he said. Personally, I think it’s just the sea air. But whatever it is about Trancoso, you can certainly relax there. UXUA Casa Hotel in Trancoso, Bahia ( is from £275 per night. Flights to Salvador from London on TAP Portugal ( are from £674 per person including all taxes and surcharges. Further information on Brazil at

All images Fernando Lombardi / UXUA Casa Hotel

Zé e Zilda house with antique wooden ‘oratorio’ typical of Catholic homes


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H I GH Take it from a Norwegian: there’s still nowhere like Switzerland for skiing

samoswalkin /

Camilla Swift


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22/11/12 12:43:45


rettier than the French Alps, closer than the States, credited with being the home of modern slalom skiing, and with some of the best powder and off-piste skiing you can find, it’s easy to see why the Swiss Alps are popular with Brits seeking their annual fix of snow and fondue. I’ve done my fair share of skiing. Having a Norwegian mother, not learning to ski was never an option — it’s often said that Norwegians are born with skis on their feet. My mother can confirm that is not true, but what is true is that some of the best downhill skiing I’ve ever experienced has been in the Swiss Alps. These days, it’s not just about the skiing. Resorts like St Moritz offer everything from ice cricket and skeleton bobsleighs to shopping worthy of Bond Street. Each of the many resorts has its own identity, so it’s worth working out exactly what you want from your holiday before you book. For those of you who want more than just skiing, or are holidaying with non-skiers, St Moritz will be right up your street. The original Alpine resort, which first hosted British visitors in winter in 1864, St Moritz has developed into the winter sports capital of Switzerland. It’s the home of the Cresta Run, and makes the most of its fabulous location on Lake St Moritz by putting the frozen water to unusual use over the winter. In January, it hosts the annual St Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow. The lake also plays host to greyhound racing and cricket, so check to see what’s on when you’re going. St Moritz might have gained a reputation for being pricey, glitzy and full of Russians, but don’t let that put you off. There’s fantastic skiing to be had, particularly if you can drag yourself away from the Corviglia slopes closest to town, and explore Corvatsch or DiavolezzaLagalb, which are often quieter and have better snow. If you’ve managed to make it through the recession with your wallet unharmed, La Marmite is the restaurant of choice on the slopes — the ‘highest European gourmet restaurant’, with caviar and truffles on everything from pizza to mashed potato. Post-ski, Café Hanselmann is the place to rest your weary bones and prepare for another round of champagne and caviar. The most famous hotel is Badrutt’s Palace Hotel — known in the resort simply as ‘The Palace’. It is pricey, but has its own ski school and seven in-house restaurants, including a Nobu. It also owns the popular Chesa Veglia restaurant, whose pizzas are said to be second to none in town. If you have the energy, Dracula Club is the most exclusive place in town, a membersonly establishment founded by Brigitte Bardot’s playboy ex-husband, Gunter Sachs. Alternatively, if you’re a whisky aficionado, try The Devil’s Place, which claims to have the world’s largest collection: more than 2,500 choices. If you’re after something quieter and less flashy, and the words ‘Swiss Alps’ conjure up images of yodelling

goatherds, Klosters is sure to be your cup of glühwein. Despite its visits from Wills and Harry, this laidback alpine village has remained true to its farming roots. Smaller and cosier than neighbouring Davos, Klosters isn’t about five-star hotels — it’s more of a jeans and a jumper place. In terms of skiing, the village is perfectly located at the base of the Parsenn mountain, which offers some of the best slopes in the area. On the other hand, the Madrisa mountain in the Klosters valley boasts great slopes for beginners and children. Klosters also offers plenty of options for eating out on the mountain: Schwendi Ski und Berghaus is just one example, serving delicious traditional Swiss food. If you’re after après-ski, however, be warned — Klosters isn’t a big party town. Gaudy’s Graströchni by the base of the Gotschna cable car is always good for a post-ski beer, while the Casa Antica club is a favourite of the likes of Prince Harry and Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. Popular dinner spots include the Chesa Grischuna or the Steinbock, while the Pizzeria Al Berto is always a favourite, especially with families. For fine dining, your best bet is the Hotel Walserhof, a favourite of Prince Charles, which has just undergone a renovation and is due to reopen in December. It gets booked up early, especially in high season. K losters offers numerous options for hotel


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22/11/12 12:44:12


G L O R I O U S G S TA A D The super-rich haven’t ruined it – yet Taki


learned long ago that the harder it is to arrive at one’s destination, the better the resort. Gstaad is one of the few ultra-chic winter playgrounds where big jets cannot land. Which means that vulgar Russian crooks, horribly mannered sons of the desert and other such riff-raff need to make their way up in cars from Berne or Geneva. The spirit of rugged capitalist individualism that says that the common good is advanced through the struggle of selfish individuals is a theory that finds many disciples among the Gstaad residents. It wasn’t always like this. Fifty-five years ago I made my way up there during a snowstorm just before Christmas. Upon detraining, I thought I had interrupted a movie being filmed. There were horse-driven taxis, men in lederhosen smoking pipes, and the village was permeated by silence and stillness. High up on a hill lay the large chocolate cake of a castle-hotel, favoured by mad King Ludwig of Bavaria. This was and is the Palace hotel, a place I have spent most of my youth, middle and old age in. Even higher up, unseen at night, lies the Eagle Club, a private club which is very inclusive — too inclusive for my taste — and which was started in 1957 by the Earl of Warwick and some friends. The Eagle, it is said, lies on top of the Wassengrat mountain because its members have reached the top of society. If you’re looking for danger and adventure in the slopes, Gstaad is not the place for you. It has some very good runs but also a lot of easy ones. Its strength is its architecture, the wooden chalets that all houses must adhere to, with no high risers, glass or cement permitted. Gstaad’s other attraction is that the village has grown enormously, but still remains under 4,000 people during the high season. Its main street is car-free, its nightlife centred around the Palace, and the greatest threat to its way of life are the ghastly nouveau riche who are slowly but surely discovering the place. Once upon a time the shops that lined the streets of Gstaad were butchers, cheese-makers, fruit markets, hardware stores and peasant cafés and restaurants. No longer. Only luxury goods are sold and every shop is top of the line. Jewellery stores lead the way. I predict that one day soon there will only be shops selling gold and silver trinkets and that we’ll have to travel to Berne or Geneva to find food. Russian and Arab women, however, will love it.

a­ ccommodation, but Hotel Chesa Grischuna offers some of the most traditional Swiss décor — it was built by local craftsmen. If you’re after massages and saunas, the smartest hotel is the Hotel Vereina. For young ’uns who want to party hard by night and ski even harder by day, Verbier is the place. It has retained its reputation for great skiing while developing a vibrant après-ski culture. If you want to stick to the pistes, Verbier probably isn’t for you, but boarders and more experienced skiers will love the challenging couloirs and moguls. On the other hand, if you fancy the challenge of heading off the beaten track for the first time, it’s a great place to start, with helpful classes from several independent ski schools. Try the Warren Smith Ski Academy for your first off-piste experience, or Powder Extreme to step things up a notch. After a hard day on the slopes, head to Pub Mont Fort for the biggest and best après-ski, which serves (relatively) well-priced beer, and hosts all the big parties. The Hotel Farinet bar is another option, guaranteed to be packed and messy any night of the week. When you’ve had enough, check out Verbier’s first pop-up restaurant, the Pot Luck Club, which will be open from December until next April. After that, if you’ve still got the energy, head either to the Casbah, where most après-skiers tend to end up, or the Farm Club, which, despite its prices, has queues around the block on Friday and Saturday nights. A new addition to the scene, opened last season, is an outpost of Chelsea’s infamous club Public. The London version has closed, but the Swiss one is still going strong. Although accommodation is mostly catered chalets, if you’re after a hotel, you can’t do better than the Hotel Nevai. With its modern, fresh interiors and sushi restaurant, it’s a world away from chalet-style kitsch. This year, the Nevai will be opening a sister hotel, the Hotel Cordée des Alpes, which promises a state-of-the-art spa and a ‘boot-room concierge’ who will ensure that you get the perfect fit before hitting the slopes. The latest addition to the Swiss ski scene is Andermatt, nestled in the heart of the Alps and easily accessible from Lucerne and Zurich. A buzzing resort in the Forties and Fifties, it seemed to lose out to larger resorts in the decades that followed, but has retained a number of loyal fans — many of them Swiss city-dwellers up for a weekend on the slopes — who think of Andermatt as something of a hidden gem. Change is afoot in this quiet resort, because an ambitious development is in the works. Six new four- and five-star hotel and apartment properties are being built, the first of which will be the Chedi Andermatt, which opens in December next year. Andermatt has the goods to be the next major resort — the Gemsstock mountain offers fantastic offpiste skiing, large snowfalls and some of the best views in the Alps, making it a resort to keep an eye on.


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GLOBE TROTTING Our new favourite hotels 1



1 — Kurá, Osa / Bahia Ballena A truly spectacular Costa Rican jungle eco-retreat. Hold court from your hammock or look out for whales while you splash around the saltwater infinity pool.

3 — Royal Palm, Mauritius Combine Mauritius with foodie heaven at the Royal Palm where this spring (25–27 March) you can mix up your beach inactivity with a Tom Aikens masterclass.

2 — Delano, Marrakech A sister to South Beach’s temple of minimalism that is a playful riff on Morocco’s colourful architecture. You’ll want to spend a lot of time by one of the three pools.

4 — Andaz, Amsterdam Formerly the Public Library, Andaz Amsterdam has the largest collection of video art of any hotel in the world — reaching into the rooms as well as the public spaces.



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H AY L E Y ATWELL A modern young actress with classic film star appeal


Human Heart) and so when we were thinking who could possibly be Eva Delectorskaya, I had but one thought in my mind. She has to jump out of windows and stab people in the eye with a pencil and seduce American politicians and fall in love with this charismatic spymaster, so it’s an incredible rollercoaster of a journey for her. She’s really versatile as well as having that magnetic factor X that all stars of the screen have to have. Hayley would fit to a T almost any female role I’ve written — she would be a fantastic Hope Clearwater in Brazzaville Beach. Let’s get her fighting some chimpanzees. Restless, based on William Boyd’s novel, is on BBC1 in December.

love actors. My last novel, Waiting for Sunrise, features an actor so I’m deeply curious about the profession and its mysterious lifestyle. The thing I value more than anything else, which I think is the magic of acting, is naturalism. In Restless the actors are pretending to be spies in 1940, saying my lines, yet it looks like they’ve just made up the lines themselves. There’s something about Hayley Atwell — she’s a very beautiful young woman but there’s something about her in that period look of the 1940s that makes her like Vivien Leigh or Ava Gardner — a classic movie star of the past. She’s got that kind of beauty — the severity of the hair and make-up seems to suit her unbelievably well. I was stunned at what a perfect Freya she was (Logan Mountstuart’s wife in Any

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Spectator Life Winter 2012  

Issue 4 of the new magazine from The Spectator

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