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How not to interview

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Radio 4 is killing comedy

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Tamara Rojo, English National Ballet’s principal dancer and artistic director, on what it takes to run the show COVER_Spectator LIFE Sept 13_Spectator Supplements 210x260_

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S I N G L E E STAT E S P I R IT S

E DI T OR ’S L E T T E R

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ucky enough to be backstage for a moment after a performance of Tamara Rojo’s Ecstasy and Death, I was lost for words. ‘Well done’ and ‘bravo’ don’t really cut it for Rojo, the English National Ballet’s formidable artistic director and electrifying lead principal dancer. In our cover story, Rojo shows Louise Levene why’s she’s a woman to strike fear into the heart of the Culture Secretary. Elsewhere, our columnist Sam Neill recalls his worst experiences in the interview chair and offers pointers for his fellow actor Rhys Ifans, who recently had a memorably grumpy encounter with the Times. In this issue, Sam has interviewed himself. It doesn’t go well. Another man skilled in the ways of publicity is John Prendergast, the former adviser to President Clinton who has done much to interest Hollywood in the cause of human rights in Africa. He makes the case for celebrity aid. Reading our autumn Style section, you could be tempted by a new suit from Huntsman… unless you’re a politician heading to conference, and your get-up must be demonstrably cheap. At Tory party conference you are meant to drink your champagne from a wine glass, but shouldn’t Team Miliband be equally wary of exposing their expensive tastes? We have a guide to Labour’s wealthier acolytes. Enjoy the issue.

Spectator Life www.spectatorlife.com Twitter @Spectator_LIFE Supplied free with the 21 September 2013 issue of The Spectator 22 Old Queen Street, London, SW1H 9HP Telephone 020 7961 0200 www.spectator.co.uk ISSN: 2050-2192 Chairman Andrew Neil Editor Olivia Cole Deputy Editor Danielle Wall Columnists Oscar Humphries, Sam Neill, Harry Cole Features Assistants Will Gore, Carola Binney Sub-editors Peter Robins, Victoria Lane, Andrew Petrie, Katherine Whitbourn Design & Art Direction Design by St www.designbyst.com Client services director Melissa McAdden: melissa@spectator.co.uk Client services executive Emily Glazebrook: emilyg@spectator.co.uk Cover Image Charlie Gray / Contour by Getty Images

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C ON T R I B U T OR S Louise Levene joined the Sunday Telegraph in 1998 after ten years as a dance columnist for the Independent. Her first novel, A Vision of Loveliness, was a Radio 4 Book at Bedtime. Her third, The Following Girls, will be published by Bloomsbury next February.

Liam Mullone is a libertarian stand-up comedian and writer.

SAVOIR BEDS SINCE 1905

Justin Cartwright has written 13 novels and two non-fiction books, and has won many awards. His latest is Lion Heart.

Jason Atherton is executive chef at the Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social in Mayfair. Before starting his own restaurant company in 2010, he ran Maze, the most successful brand in the Gordon Ramsay Group. He started taking the initiative early, running away to London when he was 16 while his parents were on holiday. Earlier this month he was named GQ chef of the year.

Spend a third of your life in first class savoirbeds.co.uk

Clover Stroud writes regurlarly for the Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph. She loves being a journalist, but secretly she’d much rather be Dolly Parton.

7 Wigmore Street, London W1 Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1 Plaza, 535 King’s Road, London SW10 +44 (0)20 7493 4444 London

Paris

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New York

Berlin

Stockholm

Shanghai

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CONTENTS

19 49 33 59 C U LT U R E

STYLE

LIFE

T R AV E L

16. The Index Where to go and what to see in October, November and December

44. The African connection Britt Collins asks John Prendergast why war zones need celebrities

19. Unseen JFK Thomasina Lowe on her father’s photographs of off-duty Camelot

46. How fake is Made in Chelsea? Very, says Harry Cole

22. Diva with a difference Louise Levene meets Tamara Rojo, Spanish firecracker, lead principal dancer and artistic director of the English National Ballet

49. Smarty pants Pandora Sykes visits Savile Row to explore the Huntsman archives

26. How not to interview Actor Sam Neill on the horrors of the press junket

52. Sentimental value Clover Stroud on the emotional power of jewellery

28. Gagging orders Radio 4 is ‘the home of radio comedy’. But where did all the laughs go, asks stand-up comedian Liam Mullone

54. Cosy in cashmere David Blackburn goes sailing with an Italian fashion house 56. The Wish List

30. Inside the bubble Oscar Humphries on the compulsion to collect

59. Travel: Kenya Jochen Zeitz’s Kenyan estate is a scene from Out of Africa

33. Labour’s closet millionaires Harry Cole presents a guide to the wealthiest Miliband acolytes

62. Travel: Franschhoek Justin Cartwright on a corner of France in South Africa

38. Tall stories Mark Mason asks architect Rafael Vinoly about changing the face of London and New York

64. Globe Trotting 66. One to watch Jason Atherton on his star chef

42. Driving forces Joshi Herrmann on the hidden costs of smartphone chauffeurs 15

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THE INDEX R u ssell B r a nd On tour from 7 October His wit and quickness of mind are more vivid live; you already know whether you can put up with his other character traits.

OCT

NOV

B e y o nd el  D o r a d o British Museum, 17 October to 23 March The BM goes for gold — lots of it — in its latest civilisationin-a-show, this one dedicated to the wealth, glory and strangeness of pre-Columbus Colombia.

N a ti o n a l P o et r y D a y Various venues, 3 October This year’s theme is water: poets are out on narrowboats even now seeking inspiration. There’ll be Betjeman readings at St Pancras, and lots of other events including a beano at the Royal Festival Hall. Cheltenh a m L ite r a t u r e Festi va l Various venues, 4–13 October It’s not Hay (that’s part of the appeal) but it is big. A.S. Byatt, Alan Johnson and Ian Rankin are among this year’s guests.

C a pt a in P hillips In cinemas from 18 October Tom Hanks. Paul Greengrass. Somali pirates. What could possibly go wrong?

F a c in g the M o de r n National Gallery, from 9 October Klimt is probably the headline act in this blockbuster show of portraits from early 20th-century Vienna; Schiele and Kokoschka are also on the bill.

N i c k C av e a nd the B a d S eeds On tour from 24 October Age hasn’t withered the ferocity of the bass-voiced singer-songwriter’s live shows. He’s passing through Brighton, Manchester and London before heading off to the Continent. N o M a n ’ s L a nd / W a itin g f o r Godot Cort Theatre, New York, from 26 October Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart reunite for a Broadway run of their acclaimed version of Godot and a revival of one of Pinter’s finest.

P a u l Klee Tate Modern, from 16 October Tate Modern’s big autumn show charts the career of this master of abstraction from the first world war to the Bauhaus and beyond.

A T P W o r ld T o u r Fin a ls O2 Arena, 4–11 November The pro tennis season ends in the Dome. But will it finish with victory for Andy Murray?

P h a ed r a Barbican, 6–9 November The Britten Sinfonia provides the cantata; the Richard Alston Dance Company offer two new dances.

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Facing the Modern: Silvia Koller with a bird cage, 1907-8, Broncia Koller, Eisenberger Collection; LTROI: Annabl Moeller; Parsifal: ROH/AKA; Miami: Kolkoz, Lunapark from Miami Sky, Galerie Perrotin

L o n do n J a z z F e s t i val 15–24 November Gigs everywhere from the Amersham Arms to Ziggy’s World Jazz Club, via the Royal Opera House and the Southbank Centre. Watch out for Sonny Rollins, Madeleine Peyroux and Wayne Shorter.

A rt B a s e l Miami Beach, 5–8 December More money than sense is sure to be on show as collectors from around the world descend on Miami for the huge annual art fair.

L e t th e R i ght One In Royal Court, from 29 November National Theatre of Scotland takes on the Swedish vampire story filmed memorably by Tomas Alfredson.

DEC

ARTPOP On sale 11 November Lady Gaga’s third album references Japanese pop and Princess Diana.

T h e N u tcrac k e r Coliseum, from 11 December A perfect Christmas offering from the English National Ballet.

B ob D y la n UK dates from 18 November Dylan’s live shows can make grown men weep — and sometimes in a good way. He’s in Glasgow and Blackpool before the Royal Albert Hall.

H e n ry V Noël Coward Theatre, from 23 November Jude Law leads you once more unto the breach, and Michael Grandage directs.

A m e r i ca n P s y cho Almeida, from 3 December This is a musical version — though sadly it doesn’t seem to be based around the songs of Huey Lewis and Phil Collins. Rupert Goold and Headlong are involved, which should make the critics pause before wielding their cleavers. St e ph e n W ard Aldwych Theatre, from 3 December Lord Lloyd-Webber, meanwhile, is setting the Profumo affair to music.

P ar s i fal Royal Opera House, from 30 November Yes, Wagner is still 200. This is a new production, directed by Stephen Langridge.

W olf H all a n d B r i n g Up T h e B od i e s Swan Theatre, from 11 December Hilary Mantel’s doubleBooker-winning series gets the RSC treatment. A n chorma n 2: The Legend Continues In cinemas from 20 December Will Ferrell dons the chest wig once again as newsreader extraordinaire Ron Burgundy. G e org e VI C ha s e Kempton Park, 26 December One of the highlights of the National Hunt season.

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CULTURE

JA C K A N D JA C Q U E S Jacques Lowe was John F. Kennedy’s personal photographer. His priceless archive of negatives was lost on 9/11, three months after his death. His daughter Thomasina tells us about a new exhibition of his work Olivia Cole

In our more cynical age, 50 years after the assassination of JFK, why do you think that period still has such a hold on our imagination? It was an era of a great deal of promise, I think. There was the promise of being able to make a difference. Also, because of how they died, they’ve become mythical characters. How have you been able to make Jacques Lowe’s work live on? My father kept a lot of his original fine art prints in his loft, which is just a few blocks away from the World Trade Center, so thankfully we had a small collection of a couple of hundred prints and his contact sheets that were safe in the loft. For a man who had escaped from Nazi Germany, do you think the idealism of the Kennedy administration held an extra power? My father was an only child and he grew up in Cologne, Germany. He was forced into hiding in the countryside during the war and survived. Being

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CULTURE

invited to be a part of what was a very big family would have felt quite unique for him. My dad was one of that generation who really believed that America was his freedom. He was 19 when he immigrated in 1949 and he met Bobby Kennedy six years after arriving in America. It’s like a fairy tale. Your father said that his best times photographing JFK were at night. Why? The way my father talked about Jack Kennedy was that he was very down to earth. He wasn’t official, in a kind of presidential way, with him. He could just move around, and do whatever he wanted in terms of taking photographs. So maybe once the chaos of the day had settled down he enjoyed a relaxing time with someone who had been his friend before he became President. Much more is known today about the darker side of Camelot. Does that alter the way you look at some of these photographs? Regarding his womanising, my dad used to talk about it in a very tongue-in-cheek kind of a way. It didn’t alter what he felt about the man, his political beliefs and what he felt he’d done for the country.

Previous page: Omaha Profile, Nebraska, autumn 1959 Above: The Kennedy backyard, Georgetown, spring 1959

The way my father talked about Jack Kennedy was that he was very down to earth. He wasn’t official, in a kind of presidential way, with him. He could just move around, and do whatever he wanted in terms of taking photographs. He enjoyed relaxing with someone who had been his friend before he became President

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Left: Leaving for the Senate, Georgetown, summer 1959

My Kennedy Years: A Memoir by Jacques Lowe, published by Thames & Hudson on 23 September at £ 24.95. Jacques Lowe: My Kennedy Years, Proud Chelsea, 26th September–24th November 2013. www.proud.co.uk

All images: Estate of Jacques Lowe

Above: In the ‘Caroline’, over West Virginia, March 1960

My dad was a fairly modern open-minded man and certainly wouldn’t have minded if he did some of the things people said he did. The difficulties are evident in many of the portraits. Did your father think Kennedy enjoyed being President? Absolutely. He was at times in excruciating pain but he just carried on, he didn’t let it stop him doing what he had to do… They used to go on these teeny planes during the campaign and fly in all weathers and while everyone else was praying that they would make it to their destination and he sat there revising a speech. He had a very strong resolve. After photographing the campaign, your father wanted to be President Kennedy’s personal photographer, not the official White House photographer. (He was offered that role.) How do you think the official role would have changed the way in which he photographed the first family? He knew that by accepting it he would be suddenly constrained in what he could photograph. On the campaign trail he was very much left to his own devices… There were no restrictions and nothing was set up. Usually he’d send off some contact sheets to Jack Kennedy when he was on the campaign trail and Jack would select the images that he wanted. What did your dad make of the relationship between the sons, and their father Joe? The first time my dad met Jack Kennedy was a shoot that his father had set up, without really telling him. Joe Kennedy had received photographs of Bobby Kennedy that he [Bobby] had had made for him as a birthday present. Joe Kennedy rang my dad and invited him to come and meet his ‘other son’. My dad’s impression was that he hadn’t even told Jack that there was going to be a photographer. He was there at his summer, weekend home, hoping to have a bit of a break and there was this photographer. I don’t think Jack Kennedy had much choice in the matter. I don’t think it was an easy relationship. Jacques Lowe died in May 2001. In some ways are you glad that he didn’t live to see his negatives destroyed? I imagine if he had been alive on September the 11th he would have just run down there and risked his life to try to save them. He was a very young 72. He had lots of things that he still wanted to do but I think that loss would have been unbearable for him.

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Jeff Gilbert

CULTURE

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Viva la diva As both artistic director and lead principal dancer of English National Ballet, Tamara Rojo has set herself a punishing schedule. But with the help of a 90-minute pre-breakfast workout – and a little relaxing reality TV – she’s taking it in her stride Louise Levene Tamara Rojo has been enjoying a very high profile during her first year as player-manager of English National Ballet. Photogenic, gifted and passionately articulate, the ballerina has revealed an unsuspected genius for publicity — her own Sky Arts documentary, a Lexus car commercial and, most recently, a set of ‘Ballet is like porn’ headlines (actually a twisted summary of her perfectly reasonable remarks on the gender imbalance among ballet choreographers). The 39-year-old Spanish star sits curled up in a chair in her sunny Kensington headquarters, swathed in a hideous brown onesie that will keep her muscles warm between the rigours of morning class and an afternoon of rehearsals. Her dual role, as artistic director and lead principal dancer, has added massively to her workload, but Rojo’s perfectionism has made the burden heavier still. ‘I realised that to keep the same level of fitness I needed to put in a little bit of extra work in my personal time.’ This ‘little bit extra’ turns out to be 90 pre-breakfast minutes with a personal trainer. She has been so pleased with the results that she has hired the company’s first ever full-time sports scientist. ‘It’s

very helpful for the rehabilitation of dancers and the prevention of injury,’ she says. ‘The sports world has a lot of money to invest in research and we can reap the benefits. We expect more versatility from dancers today: classical, neo-classical and contemporary.’ She will be calling on all their strength and versatility for the 2013/2014 season with a repertoire that combines the classicism of Le Corsaire and Coppelia with new works at London’s Barbican, including commissions from hip and happening dancemakers Russell Maliphant and Akram Khan. Both men have a strong personal fan base, but one wonders how ENB’s core audience will react to such a fiercely contemporary programme. Rojo is optimistic. ‘I’m trying to bring people that might want to watch contemporary to see something more classical and to bring those who like classical to see something more contemporary. Greedy? Yes I’m greedy. I want everything. Always.’ This determination to widen ENB’s audience base is exemplified in the groovy new marketing campaign dressed by Vivienne Westwood, which replaced the usual production stills with a series of inky tableaux featuring ENB dancers in goth-punk drag that challenge ballet’s ‘fluffy’ image. This costly makeover earned acres of coverage in the fashion magazines and played well with the graphic design gurus (who loved the new fonts). But while it was clearly never intended as a granny magnet there’s little evidence that this bold new concept has delivered at the box office. A spring revival of Derek Deane’s 60-swan Swan Lake at the Albert Hall brought welcome revenue but neither April’s Ecstasy and Death programme nor

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CULTURE July’s Nureyev tribute at the London Coliseum were big sellers — especially disappointing given an 18 per cent cut in ENB’s Arts Council grant. Culture minister Maria Miller’s emphasis on ‘economic impact’ has meant that Tamara Rojo’s arguments are as well rehearsed and as neatly turned as one of her own solos. ‘Not only do the arts generate £2 for every pound invested, but we generate a huge amount of parallel industries: tourism, food, transport, all kinds of things that give jobs to the nation.’ And don’t even get her started on the idea that ballet is only of interest to a tiny elite: ‘I don’t think it’s elitist at all! Neither the people that do it nor the people that watch it. We have thousands of tickets every year at only £10. When I go on tour I see very normal people sitting in the audience and although eventually, through training, the dancers acquire an elegance that makes them look like they are from a different class, they all come from very working-class backgrounds.’ Does she have any sympathy with the view that the arts might be considered a luxury in a time of austerity? ‘The arts are not a luxury!’ she asserts. ‘The arts are a necessity. It’s not just about eating and sleeping.

I’m trying to bring people that might want to watch contemporary to see something more classical and to bring those who like classical to see something more contemporary. Greedy? Yes I’m greedy. I want everything. Always We need to use our imaginations. It gives us hope. It makes us learn about existential questions that are intrinsic to human beings. ‘We want to know who we are, where we are going, why we are here. The only place where you can find some answers is not in the market, it is in the arts.’ Le Corsaire — the navel-jewelled tale of an oriental beauty rescued from slavery by her pirate lover — may leave a few of those existential questions unanswered. ENB’s new £700,000 production, which begins its national tour on 17 October, is packed with tutus and toe-dancing, but you wouldn’t know it from the publicity material, which features three topless hunks on a life raft. Rojo makes no apology for her highrisk strategy: ‘Ballet isn’t only for grandmothers with granddaughters. They are important, but there are also young people, gay men, single women — lots of single women — and men themselves. And that’s exactly why I chose an image with men — not only because Le Corsaire has five principal male roles, but also because

it tells everyone that this is a different classical ballet: it’s about power, strength, masculinity.’ Rojo, who shares the lead in Corsaire with Daria Klimentova and Royal Ballet defector Alina Cojocaru, will have hardly a spare moment this autumn. Although she admits to a tiny weakness for reality television — ‘Gypsies, bridal shows, cookery programmes. It’s just a way of not thinking’ — what little leisure time remains is devoted to relentless personal growth. ‘This job is very intense, very time-consuming: lots of meetings, lots of dinners, lots of interviews’ (a patient smile). ‘It’s a long day and it takes a lot of effort to go out afterwards. I’ve got tickets to go and see Othello [at the National Theatre] and I know when the day comes the last thing I will want to do is go somewhere. But once I’m there I’ll enjoy every minute of it. What is not a night off is going to see another ballet company. Then I am really analysing everything — their programme, their curtain calls, the marketing they use, everything.’ Another winning smile. ‘I still have a lot to learn.’

Above: Tamara Rojo in (from top) The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake

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9/9/13 15:51:28


CULTURE

SAM NEILL

Since no one’s available to interview me, I’ll have to do it myself

When Sam met Sam Recently, the Welsh actor Rhys Ifans made headlines by walking out of an excruciating interview with the Times. Every actor who has ever spoken to the press had a secret frisson of empathy for Ifans. Every journalist who has had to talk to a showbiz personality experienced a twinge of sympathy for the unfortunate woman who copped a generous portion of abuse from Ifans. An interview given to promote a movie or TV show can be a grisly business for all concerned. My personal record is 82 television interviews in one day. You try keeping the jokes alive even after ten. Your brain has turned to mush by lunchtime. The most dispiriting thing at a press junket is the ‘round table’; here you are placed at a table of ten or so journalists, and are expected chirpily to respond to the same old questions as if you have never heard them before — ‘Tell us about working with soand-so’, ‘Tell us about your character in this movie’. It is difficult not to scream sometimes. Or tell an enormous lie, just to see if anyone’s still awake: ‘Dickie Attenborough is an absolute bastard and is never less than roaring pissed’ — something like that. Mind you, you can get a tad compassionate when you look around the vacant faces at the table, knowing you are perhaps the 15th thespian they have had to hear droning on about boring crap that day. They wear the same look of resigned despair I remember seeing on my classmates’ faces in fourth-form Latin. Nowadays I take a bag of sweets to the table and award one to anyone who asks something I’ve never heard before. Amazing how well this works. The very first interview I remember giving was somewhat inauspicious. I was sent

to Australia to publicise my first movie, Sleeping Dogs. Only one journalist turned up at the press conference, and he was there by mistake. Turned out he was a sports journalist and thought I was a rugby player. Since it was late in the day, we repaired to the bar, and got fairly hammered at the distributor’s expense. Nothing was written. I am working in Australia now as it happens, so I probably will be unable to attend junkets for a couple of things I have coming out soon — A Long Way Down for the big screen and The Peaky Blinders for BBC2. Quel dommage. However, doing what I can to help, I thought I could interview myself, there being no one on hand from Speccie Life to do the job. Let us hope it goes better than Rhys’s Times jobbie. Interviewer: So, er… [checks name on paper]… Sam, tell me about this new show Peaky Blunders. Sam Neill: Blinders, mate, Blinders. Well, it’s Birmingham 1919, gang violence is rampant, and one gang in particular is in the ascendant — the Peaky Blinders. Cillian Murphy plays the boss and Helen McCrory the matriarch. My character is a tough Ulster cop with a mission from Churchill, and possibly from God as well, to clean up the place. It’s epic. And very cool. Interviewer: Nice suite, by the way. Mind if I raid your mini-bar? I loved you in The Matrix, I have to say. Sam Neill: That was Hugo Weaving.

I give a sweet to anyone who asks a question I’ve never heard before

Interviewer: You’re kidding? No way. The elf? Never mind — Peaky Blinders. I thought you were brilliant in this. You always are. And what a fascinating role. Sam Neill: Thanks very much. Yes, I was pretty pleased with how it went. It’s much easier if you have great direction and fab actors to work with. Interviewer: I thought you knocked it out of the park. Your performance has Bafta written all over it. Any chance of a free case of your wine, by the way? Sam Neill: Well, um, that probably wouldn’t be altogether ethical, would it? I mean, integrity of the British press and all that. Interviewer: Oy, what’s up you? Mate, I just made that up. Got it off the press release. To be honest I’ve never heard of you. Sam Neill: Are you telling me you haven’t actually bothered to see the show? Interviewer: Nah, couldn’t be arsed. It’s your job to talk up the show, not mine. And frankly I’m pissed off they didn’t give me someone interesting to talk to. Like Stephen Fry. But listen, are you on antibiotics? I only ask because you seem to be slurring. And you’ve gone a funny red colour. Sam Neill: . . . [walks out swearing] Never talking to him again. Oh, and before I forget — A Long Way Down was a lot of fun. Some of my favourite people are in it, like Toni Collette, Pierce Brosnan, Aaron Paul (from Breaking Bad) and Imogen Poots. And is she fab! Take it from me, you are going to see a lot more of her. I bet she gives a good interview too. Sam Neill is both an actor and vigneron at Two Paddocks Vineyards.

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9/9/13 15:53:47


CULTURE

For British comics today, all roads to success run through BBC Radio 4. Perhaps that’s why so much of our comedy is bland and samey Liam Mullone

Gagging Orders The formats of BBC radio comedy seem stuck in the past. A comedian takes a sideways look at something. A panel of halffamous people rummage about in the news, with a funny song at the end. Then a sitcom where everyone is either clipped home counties or foreign. The foreign accents usually range between hammy and borderline offensive. And then it’s time for The Archers. Many comedians find Radio 4 exasperating, but we don’t say anything because radio is such a crucial rung on the ascent of any professional joker. Radio 4 and 4 Extra now control pretty much all radio comedy. Only the most exalted of alternative comics, Stewart Lee, has dared to mock the station’s cadences: ‘Radio 4 comedy, where every joke goes up at the start of the sentence and then down at the end. Where pitch and rhythm are regarded as acceptable substitutes for content and wit.’ About half of Radio 4’s output is produced in-house, much using writers and

directors with long track records. But comedy needs to renew itself constantly to find an alternative to last year’s alternative. For this reason the BBC were in force once again at the Edinburgh Fringe, the annual comedy trade show that leaves behind a city full of flyers, ticket stubs and broken dreams. There were 947 comedy shows this year, more than ever before. Most of these played 24-day runs across the city, and those in ticketed venues stood to lose between £3,000 and £10,000 for the privilege. The possibility of being noticed makes the cost worth it. There’s just a chance that one of Auntie’s producers will walk into your Stygian pit and see something they like. Yet for all the BBC drinks at this creative wellspring, it never seems refreshed. The writer James Cary, whose TV credits include Miranda and Bluestone 42, told me: ‘The BBC is desperate for new comedy voices. That’s why it returns to the Fringe each year. But because getting on to Radio 4 is an achievable aim

for a Fringe performer, many shows, perhaps subconsciously, are written for radio. They’re made to be picked up and slotted in without anyone having to rethink them. So a lot of things sound like Radio 4 even before they get aired.’ This isn’t the whole story, of course. Radio 4 sounds the way it does because it is well aware of its main demographic: affluent fiftysomething white folk in the southern shires who dislike swearing or blasphemy. It seems perverse that Radio 4 should depend on the creativity of so many sweary left-wing atheists, and that it is now the only conduit for comedy. Does not comedy, as the fool that speaks truth to power, need to challenge and provoke? Alas, it seems that the comedy industry has itself become like Radio 4 — leftleaning and agnostic and unable to run any sort of flag up a mast. Of those 947 Fringe shows, only 29 promised any kind of political comment; about a third of this number billed themselves as satire. Most of the Fringe is, to quote the Canadian surrealist Tony Law, ‘young guys noticing things’. Most comics have a pop or two at Cameron or religious belief, based on the received wisdom that these things are inherently wrong. Few ever feel a need even to explain that point of view the way, say, the young Ben Elton or any of the church-baiting US comics like George Carlin once did. They’re not engaged with these things because they don’t feel there’s any argument to be had. The Guardian’s Brian Logan, while admiring the talent on offer this year, lamented a lack of ‘shows and gags taking on austerity, or the hollowing-out of the state, or the corporate capture of politics’. Personally I’d liked to have seen some contrarians championing austerity — maybe in an arch, Swiftian way. Or suggesting that we do away with the state, as the US comic Doug Stanhope does. I also wondered why, when comedians in Egypt and Burma risk death and torture to expose the state’s corruption and incompetence, hardly anyone at Edinburgh has taken a stab at the wretched city bureaucrats who, with their trams and their bylaws, have made parts of the city uninhabitable for three years. I mean, there were 947 shows — there should have been a furious buffet of ideas.

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Most of the 947 comedy shows at Edinburgh this year will have lost between £3,000 and £10,000. But the small chance of being spotted by a Beeb producer makes it worth it

What remains is the paradox of ardent youth talking about itself, then being raked over by well-meaning thirtysomething socialists who live in corridors full of buzzword-covered whiteboards to see if there’s anything there to appeal to people in contented middle age. ‘And everyone’s terrified of being fired,’ says James. ‘So nobody wants to shake things up much.’ Radio 4 does well to make anything at all in such circumstances. In lieu of a revolution, comedy needs a bigger crucible: Radio 1 gave us brave things like The Mary Whitehouse Experience and the sketchwriter’s nursery The Milk Run. The politically incorrect Henning Knows Best, which the German comic Henning Wehn wrote with myself and Kent Valentine, was the last thing BBC Radio 2 made before losing its comedy budget. In the current climate we can probably expect more pitch and rhythm. And young guys noticing things. Liam Mullone is a comedian and writer.

Illustration by Marcus Butt

But comedy has stopped being about change, or society. Orwell was wrong. In any case, the Beeb is not shopping for passion. John Cleese has blamed the ‘executive class’ that now runs the BBC for the narrowing of comedy horizons — the desk jockeys who have never produced or directed comedy but deal in abstract nouns and negatives. Some commissioning rounds don’t want anything set in the near past. Or anything set in an office. I once worked on a script that was rejected because they didn’t want ‘anything cvonceptual’. I remarked to James Cary that his play about a vicar and a scientist would make a great sitcom. ‘No,’ he replied. ‘Rev was about a vicar, so there’s no room for vicars on TV. And Radio 4 won’t have religion in its comedy.’ Comedy must be ‘dippable’, too: anything that doesn’t make sense when the listener tunes in halfway through is out. For this reason we lost Bigipedia in 2011, a sort of surreal aural Wikipedia that was both very funny and very different.

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CULTURE

OSCAR HUMPHRIES

On the meaning of Frieze, and the collecting instinct

Inside the bubble The Frieze Art Fair, its offspring Frieze Masters, and the various exhibitions that open at the same time, send us a clear message. ‘Buy new.’ New art, that is. Even while Frieze Masters promotes what I’ve heard referred to by an American dealer as ‘second-hand art’, it does so though the lens of the modern — old-master paintings made palatable with the hundreds-and-thousands of contemporary art. It is this veneer which leads international collectors, who have the attention spans of microbes, to the fair. The art market is sound, booming even, but this boom is restricted to young up-and-comers and 20th-century old masters like Andy Warhol — who in the pantheon of recent art history sits, at the end of the alphabet, after Picasso and Rothko. Art market commentators and those few dealers willing to speak to the press tell us two things. The first thing is that the market for items of great quality is robust. ‘The problem now is finding good material,’ they say. The second thing — the consensus even among gallerists working in the field — is that the market for contemporary art cannot stay at its current heady levels. We are playing a game of musical chairs to a deafening and seductive Kraftwerk soundtrack that at some point — tomorrow, next year, or later — will abruptly end. When it does, half of the art world will be left naked holding their iPads and wondering how to sell an installation or video piece when the collective attention has refocused on art of real value and cultural worth. However, as I mentioned in my last column, there is little point being morose. If we fail to connect to contemporary art we

are missing out — if only on the chance to laugh at ourselves. Silly much contemporary art may be, but it is the art of our times and we are connected to it for the ages. We will be remembered, if at all, for unmade beds, pickled fish and Banksy’s graffiti. Collectors, I have always maintained, are defined by a common instinct, whatever their focus might be. We all have a bit of the stamp fetishist in us. The book dealer Ed Maggs told me that all dealers are part therapist. They have a unique understanding of that private obsession that drives the market for, say, antique model trains just as it does that for Renaissance prints. It was my father who got me into book collecting. A man possessed of 40,000 books has a bibliophile’s lust in his DNA. From him I have inherited my cheekbones, eyes, certain moles, an aversion to Chinese opera and a love of books. My library is a very junior version of his and predictably a little more modern. Collecting books, whether they be photo-books or books on art or first editions of books that you love is as rewarding for me as the pursuit of works of art, if not more so. In a world in which much of what we read, listen to, and watch is disappearing into the cloud, books, espe-

The things that we collect form a portrait of ourselves — they reveal how we wish to be perceived

cially old ones, tether us to the real. The things that we collect form a portrait of ourselves — they reveal how we wish to be perceived. A Picasso says we’re rich, cultured, and modern. The objects that surround us tell their own and our stories. My books are my autobiography: they expose my pretentions and my vulnerabilities. The gap between the books we have bought but haven’t read and those we have read is the difference between what we are and what we want to be. We might read trash, but our shelves describe a very different person — high-minded and studious. Larry Gagosian knows how, through art, to give a Texas billionaire exactly what he wants — sex appeal, the appearance of taste, a history though art history — and book dealers deliver a similar elixir. What we buy, rather like what we google, defines us. On a recent trip to Paris I stopped by a shop in the 6th specialising in 18th-century medical texts. ‘Monsieur Humphries,’ they said, ‘we have something that might interest you.’ I was led by the furtive shop assistant to a back room where, presumably, they keep the strong stuff, and shown an innocent-looking book illustrating cases of latestage venereal disease. I was shocked. Why did they think this would appeal to me? What had I bought that would make them think I’d want something so weird and macabre? It was rather like being tripped up by a questionable Google search: they had my number. But just because I have books on STDs, that doesn’t mean I actually have one — despite what I said about our books defining who we are. I feigned shock and passed on the book. I didn’t tell them it was because I already had it.

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LIFE

so cial ist c l i m bi ng

Not a day goes by without some second-tier shadow minister squawking about the ‘cabinet of millionaires’. Under the new politics that Ed Miliband heralded when he won the Labour leadership, the backgrounds of David Cameron and his posho chums are fair game. Some on the red side are a little quieter on the topic of dosh and background, though. Thanks to a complex web of companies, foundations and trusts, no one knows exactly how much money Tony Blair has made since he left office, but it’s safe to say it’s a bucketload. The earning capacity of other architects of New Labour — Lord Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, for instance — is well documented. And things aren’t exactly grim for the colleagues they left behind at the coalface. In the Miliband ranks there are some spectacularly rich individuals: gold-plated MPs, millionaire spin doctors and property-tycoon donors. Milibandism is awash with money.

Despite the class-war rhetoric, Labour’s elite is still intensely comfortable with being filthy rich — and it’s becoming ever more so Harry Cole

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LIFE Politicians’ wealth and background is an obvious line of attack for any Labour team, especially one as left of centre as Miliband’s, yet you might think Ed would have a look around his own back yard first. Perhaps he could start in his actual back garden; he has acknowledged that his house, valued at £2.3 million, would be subject to the sort of mansion tax he wants to introduce. It’s in Dartmouth Park, a leafy corner of north London that’s a favourite with Labour’s current ruling class — nice schools, a low crime rate and not too many poor people. Miliband played the market well, selling flats and  a house in Hampstead as well as employing some rather nifty accounting with his brother and mother in what appears to be a very efficient reaction to their inheritance from his late father. Add to that a house in Doncaster, his £139,000 salary and his wife’s reported income of £200,000 at the Bar, and life is pretty rosy for the Labour leader. He is in good ­company, too. On the Labour benches, the steel heiress Margaret Hodge’s millions are an obvious example. Steel giants Stemcor have made the Oppenheimers more than £190 million and their daughter Margaret, with her £18 million slice, is the richest woman in Parliament. Hodge and her brother own 9 per cent of the

company, though Hodge describes this as ‘tiny’. And who could forget Shaun Woodward, who married a Sainsbury’s heiress and declares property in ‘France, New York State and the West Indies from which rental income is received’? With a good claim to being the richest man in Westminster, the former Northern Ireland Secretary has done well out of property, selling a St James’s Park townhouse to Sting for £5.7 million, making about £3 million on the deal and ploughing the cash back into other properties. In 2011 it was reported that Woodward sold his palatial Hamptons retreat for £11.5 million, leaving he and his wife with just half a dozen properties.

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Woodward sold Sarsden House, his Oxfordshire pile, in 2006 for £24 million. It is not known whether he retained the services of its famous butler. While Ed’s focus groups tell him to whack the government as ‘out of touch’ Etonian toffs, you will not hear Harriet Harman having a dig at Osborne for going to St Paul’s. The Labour deputy leader is a niece of the Earl of Longford, has a Suffolk estate, and an is Old Paulina herself. Not content with her bumper government pension, she managed to get hubby a seat on the gravy train too. Old-timer socialist Michael Meacher could help solve the housing shortage by flogging one of the ten homes that make up his extensive property portfolio. You don’t hear shadow international development secretary Hilary Benn saying much about Dave and co having big houses either. Along with a £2 million pad in Chiswick, Benn does not like to mention the family estate. While his old man gave up his titles to become an MP, the Benns were a little more reluctant to lose all those acres of Essex. Across town in Islington, shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry has a growing property empire. She, Blair and Margaret Hodge were all neighbours on the same street once, with homes that would not leave you much change from a couple of million.

Old-timer socialist Michael Meacher could help solve the current housing shortage by flogging one of his ten homes Some of Ed’s troops worked hard for their money, though. Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Liam Byrne used to work for those well-known progressives Rothschilds. It’s unlikely he walked out short-changed when he left — and that’s before years of ministerial pay and the pension pot it brings. It’s not just the bankers, property speculators and inherited blue-blood brigade that are kings of the one per cent. The professional politicians are not doing too badly either. Looking at shadow health sec-

retary Andy Burnham and his man-of-the-people, football-loving, one-of-the-lads-drinking-bitter patter, he hardly screams Riviera chic. His wife, however, can be found tweeting about hosting drinks ‘on our boat in Cannes harbour’. The Balls family have gone from wonks to millionaires entirely out of the public purse. The power couple had a joint income of almost £300,000 per annum for the half a decade during which both public schoolboy Ed and Yvette held high office. After years of jumbo expense claims, ‘flipping’ their main home not once but three times, you can see why the Ballses managed to collect properties worth well over a million. They have some work to do, though, if they are to become the true red king and queen of getting mega-rich on the taxpayer. That title remains firmly with the Kinnock family via the millions they have squeezed out of the European Union; between them the couple are eligible for an estimated £12 million of pay and allowances from the EU, including six-figure pensions. So whose brainwave were these whack-the-Tories tactics? Step forward grumpy spinner Tom Baldwin, who joined Ed’s side from the Murdoch empire. The former Times hack dresses like a tramp and has the chippy socialist look down to a tee. He was in David Cameron’s year at Oxford; they even did the same degree. Baldwin may accuse the Tories of being out-of-touch rich boys, but he’s laughing all the way to the bank. M rs Baldwin is the granddaughter of Vita Sackville-West and was raised in the tough surroundings of Sissinghurst Castle in Kent. Rebecca Baldwin is the ex-wife of the 4th Baron Milford, who has earned herself the nickname ‘Just 16’ after it was alleged that was her answer to a question about how many millions she had inherited. When Baldwin is up late plotting new attacks on Tory toffs, he can do so from his £4 million villa overlooking Highbury Fields. Cruel former colleagues in newspaperland still fondly remember Tom loudly declaring after his wedding, ‘I’m on the deeds, I’m on the deeds.’ While Ed’s relationship with his union donors has caused him the most grief, he has not been afraid of sur-

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LIFE

grounds. Mills’s donation was given in shares, which led the Tories to ask an obvious question: why? Despite attacking the government for stuffing the House of Lords with rich donors, Ed nominated Willie Haughey, the Glasgow ‘fridge magnate’, for a peerage last month. The former professional poker player and Scottish businessman had donated £1.3 million. Sir Charles Allen also made that list, under his guise as chairman of the Labour party’s executive board. The soon-to-be lord also works as an adviser to Goldman Sachs. Ed is always keen to impress his friends with deep pockets; he was left very red-faced when photographed in 2011 attending a football match in the Rolls-Royce of Assem Allam, another millionaire property developer and chairman of Hull City Football Club. It would not have been much of a story had Miliband not cancelled an appearance at an NHS rally earlier that day due to illness. It came as no surprise that Allam, nicknamed ‘The Pharaoh’, had slipped the party £100,000. And it’s not just the donors Ed courts; leaked emails revealed that global spin merchant and Labour cheerleader Roland Rudd has organised a series of dinners at his house to introduce the Labour leader to business types. Despite promises, the names of those with whom Ed broke foccacia are so far unreleased. As Ed pledges to tackle his relationship with the union barons once and for all, his reliance on private wealth is only set to increase. Surely he’s not ashamed of his new-found friends? It’s not as if he’s unused to being surrounded by them.

Illustrations by Marcus Butt

rounding himself with some of London’s most loaded lefties. Andrew Rosenfeld has donated more than half a million since Ed took over, and has pledged to pour a million into party coffers before the next election. Ed turned a blind eye to the fact the property developer has spent the best part of the past decade living in a tax haven in Geneva. He’s back now, and planning permission documents lodged with Haringey council last summer reveal he wants to tear down his ‘rather ordinary’ £8.5 million house in Highgate and replace it with a rather naff 16,000 square foot, ten-bedroom ‘faux Jacobean villa’ with a cinema, gym and art gallery. Local opposition, including that expressed by Labour councillors, meant plans for a tennis court were shelved. Yet it is not all bad news for Ed’s money man; in the same summer his grateful leader gave him an official party role. And where did he get the money for such a grand redesign? Rosenfeld sold his Swiss home to the family of Islam Karimov, the Uzbekistan president. Human Rights Watch has accused Karimov’s regime of boiling political opponents alive. Given that Rosenfeld bought the house for £9 million and sold it for £30 million, you can see why he might be feeling generous. Rosenfeld is not the only controversial millionaire from whom Ed has gratefully received donations. This year he took £1.6 million from John Mills, the brother of former minister Tessa Jowell’s husband David, whose conviction for accepting a bribe in Italy has reassuringly been overturned on statute-of-limitations

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LIFE

HOW H IGH ? Is the City of London really turning into Manhattan? Mark Mason

The Square Mile is turning cubic. The sky above London’s financial district has already been scraped by Tower 42, the Gherkin and the Heron, while next year the Cheesegrater and the Walkie Talkie should be completed. There’s also the temporarily stalled Pinnacle, the yet-tobe-started 100 Bishopsgate and, staring at the City from across the river, the Shard. It’s easy to see why some people are calling the capital a new Manhattan — but is this accurate? How do London and New York compare in their versions of the vertical? One man well-placed to answer the question is Rafael Vinoly, architect of not only the Walkie Talkie but also 432 Park Avenue in Manhattan, a residential tower which in 2015 will become New York’s tallest building. How has he found it, having

a skyscraper in each camp? ‘Verticality is in Manhattan’s DNA,’ he tells me. ‘Being an island, it was always going to build tall. Whereas London is by tradition a horizontal city. What I’ve been fascinated by is the way its planning process engages much more actively with the idea of urban form.’ In New York a building’s design is governed by zoning regulations, which dictate height, shape and so on, producing largely formulaic results. London, on the other hand, encourages the unusual. So for Vinoly ‘The idea was “how can you make a vertical building that’s totally site-specific?” Something that wasn’t just an abstract Platonic form you could land in London or Barcelona or anywhere else.’ Hence the ‘widening out at the top’ concept that has given 20 Fenchurch Street its nickname

of Walkie Talkie. (Since we spoke, its curved, reflective front is also alleged to have melted the interior of a parked car.) Not all architects welcome irreverent monickers (don’t say the word ‘Gherkin’ around Norman Forster, for instance), but Vinoly embraces it. ‘It’s part of the game in London. Every building has a nickname. That doesn’t happen in New York. It reflects a very British quality, a nonchalant aspect to the drama of how London’s skyline is changing. It’s a little bit retro, too — I remember those first walkie-talkies in the 1970s.’ The man behind the City’s individualistic approach to skyscrapers is its chief planning officer, Peter Rees. ‘Everything is much more standardised in New York,’ he says. ‘Not just the zoning regulations, but even components — they’ll only have three types of door you can use, or two types of urinal or whatever. Over here an architect will design his own.’ Rees also points out that London has been around for 2,000 years. ‘So it has a tradition of throwing different designs together — a Victorian office block next to an Elizabethan hall next to a 20th-century bank next to a Wren church. These new tall buildings are just the next chapter in that story. They fit within it.’ In fact it’s Wren’s most famous church that

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every 12 floors allowing the wind to blow through. This will aid the building’s stability, an important factor when you’re nearly 1,400 feet in the air. In case you were interested in the penthouse apartment, by the way, bad luck: the sale has already been agreed. You could try gazumping them, but you’d have to beat $95 million. London and Manhattan might have different approaches to the skyscraper, but according to Peter Rees they have the same reason for building tall in the first place: they’ve run out of land. ‘That’s the only good reason for doing it,’ he says. ‘As opposed to Dubai, who are building tall just because they want to show off. Skyscrapers have traditionally been a sign of a successful city. But it has to be that way round — you can’t make yourself successful by building skyscrapers.’ David Starkey has called this the ‘bankers’ cock’ theory of tall buildings. London’s genuine need for the Cheesegrater and the Walkie Talkie is shown by the fact that they’re both already half-let, even in a time of economic uncertainty. Back in 1931 the Empire State Building wasn’t so lucky, opening just as the Great Depression took hold; for its first few years it was known as the Empty State Building. (Inci-

dentally, one of the ironies of going vertical to cope with land shortage is that it gives you slightly more land. All the earth excavated to create Manhattan’s skyscrapers is tipped into the Hudson and East Rivers; look at photos of the island over the decades and you’ll see how its southern tip has widened.) It goes without saying that New York and London are both fantastic places. Fans of one tend to be fans of the other, hence the acronym ‘Nylon’, expressing the idea that the two cities are almost one and the same. Received wisdom has it that London wins on history, Manhattan on energy. But walking around the Square Mile, where hard hats mingle with pinstripes, you can’t help feeling that even the second quality is in greater supply over here. No longer able to contain its life force at ground level, London is reaching for the clouds. The same dynamism that powered its financial dominance 300 years ago is still driving change. Then it was Edward Lloyd’s coffee house on Lombard Street, now it’s a row of skyscrapers a few yards to the east. Yet again London is mastering the one trick Manhattan never has: reinvention. You can’t keep a great city — or its skyline — down.

Vladimir Zakharov

helped dictate the Cheese­g rater’s sloping design: if the sides had been parallel they would have filled too much of the sky behind St Paul’s, as seen from Fleet Street. Even as far away as Richmond Park there is a particular bush which by law has to be kept trimmed to preserve a sightline to the famous dome. The Walkie Talkie will be topped by a three-storey ‘Sky Garden’, complete with real trees which are currently being nurtured in the West Country prior to their elevation 38 floors into the sky, where they’ll be watered by a sophisticated ‘misting’ system. The Sky Garden will house a champagne bar, a brasserie and a seafood restaurant, but the public will also be allowed free access simply to enjoy the view. ‘That’s a crucial part of the project,’ says Rafael Vinoly. ‘When you ride in the London Eye you’re in a capsule with a few other people. Here, because of the size of the floors at that level of the building, you’ll be able to wander around and view the city with lots of other people. The view will be complemented by the civic nature of the place.’ In Manhattan, meanwhile, 432 Park Avenue, although a more conventionally shaped skyscraper, will feature a gap

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A DV E RT I SE M E N T F E AT U R E

ta k e s ome time out Switzerland isn’t all about efficiency, says Gabriella Sharp. A break in one of its beautiful cities can be as action-packed as the plot of an Ian Fleming novel

object lessons in quality of life, these towns are delightfully compact, culturally rich and gastronomically diverse, and they simply work beautifully. (Lausanne, population 130,000, is the smallest city in the world to have a metro system: there are 28 stations. It goes without saying that the trains run on time.) With backdrops of reflective lakes, sinuous rivers and magnificent, soaring mountains, the elegant urban areas of Bern, Basel (below), Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne,

Switzerland’s reputation for efficiency precedes it. Notably, one of English literature’s most precision-engineered characters is actually Swiss: Ian Fleming made James Bond’s birthplace Zürich, and the idea that Bond ranks with Swiss exports such as timepieces accurate to the nearest nanosecond, on-the-money banking, high-tech research (Cern), and multi-purpose pocket knives makes him even more of a man-machine. Of course, Bond would have come from a Swiss city:

Lugano and Zürich are beautiful, too — and packed with a wealth of history, art, architecture and design. It’s almost as if they were designed for chic mini-breaks. No one would argue with the inclusion of the medieval city of Bern (opposite) on the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites: its narrow cobbled streets, tall 15th-century buildings and pretty arcades glow with expert restoration, while the Aare river sweeps dramatically around the peninsula on which it’s located. Time’s march can seem frozen here: venture into the Restaurant Kornhauskeller and you will descend the steps to find yourself in a vast underground late-Baroque dining hall reminiscent of a church, built between 1711 and 1718. Maybe Einstein, arguably Bern’s most famous resident, ate here during 1905, the ‘annus mirabilis’ when he altered our idea of the spacetime continuum for ever. Certainly he cited Bern’s famous astronomical clock, the Zytglogge, in his explanation of his theory of relativity; and Einstein’s house, open to the public and preserved as he

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Once you’ve been round the galleries, you can sip a cocktail while looking down on three countries

art collection, and a treasure trove of Holbeins. When you’ve done all that, go to the Bar Rouge on the 31st floor of the 105-metre Messeturm, or Trade Fair Tower, where you can sip a cocktail while looking down on three countries.  For more literal piano renditions, the splendid lakeside setting of Lucerne in November is the place to go. The piano festival is the youngest of the city’s music gatherings, held annually since 1998. But ever since 1938 this gorgeous old town has been host to globally renowned orchestras, conductors and soloists. Not forgetting, of course, their appreciative audiences, who head to the chic bar at the Schweizerhof (familyowned for five generations) for the interval and beyond. An excursion to Mount Rigi is a must for those who have time: take the boat to Vitznau, and the cog railway up to the summit for a breathtaking view across the Alps.  While Switzerland may be known for its industriousness, residents also know how to relax. Both extremes can be seen in the banking capital, Zürich. Professional-level chilling out can be done at the thermal baths and spa, where

would have lived in it, is 200 metres away. But there are strikingly modern things here, too. The building that houses works by the painter Paul Klee, another famous son of Bern, is by Renzo Piano — perhaps with a nod to Einstein’s gravitational theory, in the shape of a wave.  As Bern is only an hour from Basel by train, Renzo Piano fans and art buffs would be mad not to visit both cities. For when not hosting the world’s oldest and most influential contemporary art fair, Basel boasts the Foundation Beyeler in the suburb of Riehen, also designed by Piano. It’s regarded as one of the world’s most important art museums, home to around 200 masterpieces of the 20th century: Van Gogh, Picasso, Seurat, Bacon, Rousseau, Bonnard, Miro, Monet, Kandinsky. And there’s more: at the Kunstmuseum in central Basel you will find the world’s oldest public

it’s possible to swim through the 100-yearold stone vaults of the former Hürlimann brewery, or bathe in the open-air rooftop pool, from where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city. And if you still want to get high in Switzerland, a visit to the country’s tallest building, Prime Tower, is in order. A sparkling, glass-clad construction soaring 105.5 metres above the fashionable Zürich West district, Clouds restaurant, which also serves exceptional cocktails, is on the 35th floor. Just make sure you order a martini — shaken, not stirred. For more information, please visit MySwitzerland.com/cities Win a stay at a design & lifestyle hotel. Two nights for two at the 4-star superior Hotel Allegro in Bern including breakfast and a three-course evening meal. Enter at MySwitzerland.com/spectator

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LIFE

REIN VEN TING THE WHEEL Apps have revolutionised cab hire – but not everyone’s celebrating Joshi Herrmann

private hire boom. ‘I don’t know many people who have full-time drivers any more,’ says Clementine Churchill from concierge giant Quintessentially — quite a statement given the company’s famously ostentatious membership. ‘It increasingly makes sense for people to book on demand when they need a car, and if our members are looking to get from A to B, they will use Addison Lee and Uber.’ They are very different companies — one a massive London minicab firm founded in 1975, the other a San Francisco start-up which has proved popular in cities like LA with unreliable or nonexistent taxi service and is now spreading around the world at a rate of knots — but what they and others like ethical taxi company Green Tomato have in common is tech. The new private hire trend has come about because of the convenience of well-made apps that magic cars out of thin air and sophisticated in-car systems that email you your journey particulars as soon as you finish. Green Tomato, who do big business for the BBC and whose cars are Prius hybrids, boast that the average time between booking on their app and collection is just under 12 minutes, while Addison Lee says ten and Uber says seven, ‘and four minutes in Mayfair’. It is Uber’s prices that are London’s best-kept secret: a trip from Kensington to Soho in one of their cheaper cars is about £2 cheaper than a black cab, although many suspect their prices will rise when they become established. Addison Lee cars cost at least a few pounds more for a journey like that but begin to make financial sense with slightly longer trips where you don’t pay to sit in traffic. Last year their app generated more than £50 million worth of business. The fashion editor recalls seeing models ‘discreetly planning their exit from boring parties’ by tapping away at their phones on the dinner table and making their excuses minutes later. Among Uber’s early adopters since it launched in the UK in July last year have been the Made In Chelsea gang, who use its Uber X serv-

Until recently, leaving a big London party or a Mayfair club at closing time meant joining a forest of waving arms: fellow departees jostling for the attention of passing cabs and watching with envy as the guests with private drivers fled the scene. Not any more. Step out of a glamorous fundraiser or launch party now and you will be met by tens of low-key cars, one of which knows your name and your destination. ‘You come out of something like a Burberry dinner, and it’s like a black sea of Addison Lee,’ as one fashion editor puts it. This is how smart London gets around nowadays — in the back of app-summoned cars with well-dressed drivers, and all at short notice. Movers, shakers, models and socialites don’t need private drivers any more, and they certainly don’t want to stand waving on street corners: they just need their smartphones. Tech-savvy companies like Addison Lee, Green Tomato and Uber are employing algorithms and glossy apps to deliver cheap, flexible urban transport that appeals to the Cara Delevingne set and City types alike. Less rosy is the picture for some of the drivers, who are working longer hours than ever and say they aren’t getting a fair deal in the

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ice (Audi A6s, Priuses and the like — many owned by the drivers) for daytime trips and its Uber Lux service (BMW 7 series, Mercedes S-Class) for nights out. The now widespread use of Addison Lee, Uber and Green Tomato by film sets, fashion shows and record labels means ‘You wouldn't believe who I had in my car’ stories are more believable than ever. While Uber drivers tend to juggle several driving jobs, with membership giving them an easy opportunity to make some extra cash, they are a cheery exception. In general the drivers commanded effortlessly with three swipes of your finger don’t always seem as enamoured with their side of the bargain. Everyone has a story about private hire drivers slamming boot doors or losing their temper, but given their worsening financial lot and lengthening hours we probably shouldn’t be surprised. Addison Lee drivers rent their cars for £150 per week — and £350 for an executive car — from a company called Eventech Ltd, which shares an office with the firm and has the same owners. The more journeys they do, the less they pay Eventech. Once the additional £40 weekly insurance and £12 car wash are added up, drivers can face a struggle to make a decent living. One Addison Lee driver, who works six days a week, told Spectator Life: ‘If you really want to make ends meet with these people [Addison Lee], you have to work at least 12 hours a day.’ Another told us: ‘The turnover of drivers is absolutely astronomical, just because people can’t earn a living here. I’m earning £500 less than I was ten years ago.’ Uber’s drivers are a mix of full-timers and chauffeurs who take work from the app when their oligarch is on holiday — and, crucially, many own their cars. An Addison Lee Executive driver (they have 250 Mercedes E and S-Class cars on top of their 4,000 people carriers) says the company’s new-found fan base among London’s movers and shakers hasn’t led to earnings trickling down. Account jobs (a staggering 73 of the FTSE 100 have accounts with them and many private individuals do too, and one driver estimates than 90 per cent of jobs are now on account) only make the drivers a fraction of the money from cash jobs and often involve more waiting time. ‘On some jobs, they take 60 per cent,’ he driver says. To add minor insult to injury, when picking up executives and stars for Sony, a message pops up on drivers’ screens warning them not to

Illustrations by Marcus Butt

ask for autographs or pictures. Interestingly, the firm’s £300 million takeover by the Carlyle Group in April seems to be having an effect. Usually the points targets that drivers have to hit to lower the cost of their vehicle hire are slightly reduced during the summer while business is slow. ‘Carlyle haven’t done that this summer,’ one driver told us. Addison Lee told us: ‘While times have been more difficult for drivers and the industry over the recession, drivers representing Addison Lee are making more than they were last year. Consistent with previous years, our driver scheme takes into account seasonal fluctuations in demand.’ The company added that it had seen no increase in driver turnover. As well as getting Harry Styles from A to B and ferrying most of the nightly visitors to clubs like Soho House and the Arts Club (both of whom are partnered with Uber), the technology fosters the illusion that everyone has a chauffeur. The tagline on Uber’s app is ‘Everyone’s Private Driver’, and the company avoids any branding on cars in order to maintain that illusion. The investment that firms like Uber, Green Tomato and Addison Lee are making in their mobile technology should help them sustain London’s love affair with app-booked private hire: the latter employs 24 programmers. Whether either the success of black cab hailing app Hailo or worsening driver morale will undermine them, only time will tell. For now though, London is enjoying having a private driver at its fingertips.

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LIFE

T h e A f r ica n c on n e c t ion Who sets celebrities on their human rights crusades? Often, John Prendergast Britt Collins It’s Prendergast whom Darfur can thank for bringing them George Clooney and to whom Sudan owes the pleasure of the company of Angelina Jolie — and the ensuing blitzkrieg of coverage. After meeting Jolie at a congressional event where she spoke about her visit to a Congolese refugee camp in Tanzania, Prendergast suggested she would have greater impact by going directly to the Democratic Republic of Congo for a glimpse of the mass atrocities. An online photo diary of their trip was so popular that it crashed the server.   It’s hard not to be cynical about whether all the photo-worthy efforts have brought any meaningful change besides making these actors who are earning millions look good. Even Clooney isn’t convinced. He has been quoted wondering if the attention he’s

Blame Princess Diana and the landmines. Blame Bob Geldof and Ethiopia, or go back further and blame Audrey Hepburn, Unicef’s stellar goodwill ambassador (the first was Danny Kaye in 1954). Hepburn was appointed in 1989 and spent her later years visiting stricken communities in Ethiopia, Honduras, Guatemala, Vietnam and Somalia. Her legacy endures to the extent that the conventional wisdom today is that if you are starving, fleeing your home or residing in a warzone, life will be immeasurably improved by a fleeting visit from Planet Celebrity. In recent years, the man behind many of these headlines is John Prendergast, a self-styled peacemaker and networker on a truly global scale who has worked for the UN, Human Rights Watch and Unicef, and who served as President Clinton’s Africa adviser.

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a scene straight out of Lord of War or Blood Diamond.) ‘After they let me go, the big rebel leader told me, “You keep mouthing off about us and I’ll send you back to that hole.” There were moments that I didn’t think I’d survive but I have never thought of quitting. ‘I was damaged goods for a long time,’ he adds. But he rejects the idea that it’s the risks that have got him hooked. As he points out, you won’t find him bungee-jumping or hang-gliding. ‘I’ve had a number of near misses during my travels that in retrospect seem of greater concern than they did at the time. I guess that is what happens with age,’ he reflects.    Prendergast’s life has gained some semblance of calm since meeting his wife Sia Sanneh, a law professor at Yale. He divides his time between his writing and film projects and his day job in Washington, working on his Enough Project, which is dedicated to resolving conflicts. It played a significant role in the struggle against Joseph Kony, after the 20-year reign of terror from his brutal Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. It also helped create the Raise Hope for Congo campaign, highlighting the global trade in ‘conflict minerals’ used to make mobile phones, laptops and iPods that help fuel the wars in the area. Having worked closely with Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Prendergast is a strong believer in American influence in Africa. ‘In Congo, the US is crucial because the conflict minerals helping to fuel the war there end up in electronics products for which the world’s biggest market is the US,’ he maintains. ‘In the battle

brought to Darfur may have been more damaging than helpful: ‘You dig a well or build a healthcare facility and they’re a target for somebody. A lot more people know about Darfur, but absolutely nothing is different.’ I ask Prendergast what he makes of Clooney’s comments. ‘I think George would agree that hundreds of thousands of people are alive today in Darfur due to the massive international public response to the genocide,’ he argues. ‘There isn’t one celebrity I’ve worked with who doesn’t have major doubts about what impact they are having,’ he adds. ‘I am glad when they question the impact, because it shows they are based firmly in the reality that peacemaking isn’t the same as changing a streetlight or distributing mosquito nets.’ At the moment he is also working with Ryan Gosling on a project based around Sudan.  To those who balk at tearful film stars marauding around Africa in expensive sunglasses, he has a ruthless defence. Stars are powerful forces to be ‘deployed’ (his word). ‘Celebrities, when deployed effectively,’ he has said, ‘can get tens or hundreds of thousands of new eyes on the issue that otherwise wouldn’t be there.’ In fact, Prendergast (JP to his friends) has himself become a bit of a celebrity, a fact that doesn’t always wash well. He has spent his adult life journeying around the most lawless regions of Africa, negotiating with international warlords and rebels. He’s not without his detractors. He has been accused of  ‘selective outrage’ and of being a poster boy for Africa’s larger problems.  ‘White supremacy is a big part of the African puzzle,’ the genocide investigator and journalist Keith Harman Snow has written. ‘John is the great white hero in Africa, and Africa is his playground. But it’s really about the power of whiteness.’ Prendergast grew up in a Catholic family in Berwyn, Illinois, a comics-obsessed kid. His father was a frozen food salesman and his mother a social worker. He dropped out of Georgetown University and threw himself into mentoring at-risk youths, taking in three children between the ages of seven and nine, and forgoing the usual twentysomething pursuits. The experience was documented in his book Unlikely Brothers.    For all the fame, his career in Africa began inauspiciously. At around the time of Live Aid he scraped together enough money to buy a flight to Ethiopia but couldn’t get a visa to enter the country, so started work in  neighbouring Mali. The dangers of this are not to be underestimated. After he was banned from entering Zimbabwe he used to visit illegally. He once risked flying out: ‘The customs officer immediately identified me and I was taken into a dark room in the back of the airport. Two intelligence officers visited me and demanded all my contacts and information on the people I was working with in Zimbabwe. When I refused, they worked me over a bit, very professionally so there were no visible scars, and then deported me.  But I felt that beating for weeks.’ Like a dysfunctional war correspondent, you wonder if he has an addiction to danger. He has survived mortar fire in Somalia, landmine explosions in Angola, attempted kidnappings in Congo and merciless beatings in Rwanda. ‘They stuck me in a concrete cell in 120-degree heat for three days,’ he says of his imprisonment in southern Sudan (describing

Like a dysfunctional war correspondent, you wonder if he has an addiction to danger. He has survived mortar fire in Somalia, landmine explosions in Angola and merciless beatings in Rwanda against Joseph Kony and the LRA, the US has deployed military advisers. The US remains very relevant to Africa’s future.’ The sad fact, though, is that the LRA is more decentralised now and has spread across central Africa like a virus. War economies like Congo and Sudan are nice little earners in arms deals and the like for America (not to mention China). The continuing violence, political instability and the lowest economic growth rate worldwide are arguably fuelled by US desire to control Africa’s resource-rich regions, delaying any peaceful resolutions indefinitely. And then there is Prendergast, who takes the more hopeful view. ‘More wars have ended during the past few decades than continued,’ he says. ‘Think about the decades-long campaign that finally led to the end of apartheid in South Africa. Or the decadeslong battle against the trade in blood diamonds, which helped lead to peace in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Angola.’ Talking to him, you somehow want to be seduced by his optimism and belief in what his book The Enough Moment terms being an ‘upstander’ can achieve. It might not be perfect, but it surely beats sitting around doing nothing? For more details, visit enoughproject.org 45

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LIFE

HARRY COLE

Unlike its Tyneside and Essex counterparts, Channel 4’s King’s Road reality show is anything but

Faked in Chelsea For those lucky enough not have witnessed the latest cruel twist in the world of reality television, I recommend Geordie Shore. The show follows a dozen drunken louts through their various escapades and love affairs on Tyneside. The cameras go everywhere, and the ‘cast’, who simply play themselves, bare everything from their bottoms to their souls. You can’t escape it. These shows are everywhere. The obsession with this genre of pseudo-reality, unscripted peep show seems unstoppable. While Geordie Shore is meant to shine a light on the nightlife of Newcastle, The Only Way is Essex lifts the lid on the world of wannabe Wags and preened lads of that upwardly mobile, though often horizontal, part of England's south-east. Stateside we are treated to The Hills and Jersey Shore — that is, the original franchise and the tackiest one. None, though, jar quite so much as Channel 4’s Made In Chelsea. We are invited to believe that a well-schooled, but poorly educated, bunch of loaded twentysomethings represent the new generation of Sloane Rangers. If this is really true, come back the 1980s. All is forgiven. Jamie Laing could well be the wealthiest of the gang, but ‘posh’ is a push. Heir to the McVitie’s millions, he last hit the headlines after his girlfriend posted pictures of him masturbating online. A model of class. Francis Boulle dropped out of university to be an ‘entrepreneur’ and uses catchphrases like ‘business is the warfare of the modern age and I am a general’ — though the family diamond mine must help. Then there is Ollie Lock, a vacuous perma-tanned George of the Jungle lookalike,

if George was an amateur drag queen of no discernable sex. And who could forget the one called Binky, who I’d say was cast as the stupid one — but that would be unduly complimentary toward her co-stars. People watch soaps like EastEnders or Corrie for a mixture of escapism and to relate to the problems the plotline presents. Yet the makers of this show must think the pseudo-allure of pissing money away on the King’s Road is something to aspire to, because that’s all the characters do. Oh, and they ‘date’ each other and occasionally go clay pigeon shooting. Not a pheasant in sight. What is billed as a glimpse into the lives of upper-class, well-bred Chelsea residents should be pilloried for false advertising. While the stars of The Only Way is Essex, the slightly chavvier cousin of Made in Chelsea, flaunt their booze-fuelled, plastic, footballers’ wives lifestyle, at least it’s all as obviously fake as their tits and tans. SW1’s answer is just as shallow, though. In case the producers had not noticed, all the Sloane Rangers were priced out of Chelsea years ago. If you want to see tweed jackets at a weekend and girls in pearls, the only way is Battersea these days. And of the characters’ nocturnal

We are invited to believe that a well-schooled, but poorly educated, bunch of loaded twentysomethings are the new generation of Sloane Rangers

activity? Surely you don’t have to fake a night out? Well, there was a big hoohah when regulars of KR nightspot Raffles saw their favourite dive featured on the show and complained that membership standards were slipping. The club went to great lengths to assure members that they would ‘never allow filming to take place for real. All the scenes were set up.’ The real Chelsea scene has kicked back and the most exclusive venues, especially those frequented by the royals, would never dream of opening their doors to any cameras. While it would be the kiss of death for Chelsea staples like Maggie’s, Barts and Beaufort House to be featured on the show, other less exclusive venues have seen the pound signs. One pub featured in the show, The Phene, will even make you a Made in Chelsea cocktail. Everyone’s lives are interesting in theory — even this lot, perhaps. Yet the show is neither an accurate reflection of reality nor an interesting, scripted, study of the human psyche. Instead it manages to flop limply somewhere between the two. The acting, simply put, is terrible, though even that is not the biggest flaw in the show. The format works; the stars of Geordie Shore are not trying to be somebody else. They do not need to act. The entertainment there is that they are not pretending. In Made in Chelsea, the fact that it’s all a total sham performed by charlatans renders the format pointless. Just give it a proper script and be done with it. You may recognise the accents, locations, the streets and even the bars, but it is a world away from anything you might describe as reality.

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ST I T CH I NG F OR T H E STAR S How was it that Huntsman, the great English tailor, was adopted by the crème de la crème of 1950s Hollywood? Pandora Sykes

Though the firm was established in 1849, H. Huntsman & Sons’ most famous clients are from the Hollywod golden age: Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Paul Newman and Gregory Peck (whom cutters recall to this day as a real gent) and our very own Laurence Olivier and Dirk Bogarde. Bogarde’s orders were sober but suave (along the lines of brown cord waistcoats and suits), while Olivier’s taste was more outré: black-and-white checked trousers, for instance, and a checked postboy waistcoat. Olivier’s tailor also had to disguise the actor’s rather sloping shoulders. These stars bolstered Huntsman’s cachet, but ‘the Hollywood influence was two-way’, says Huntsman’s archivist, Andrea Tanner. ‘Studios sent their stars to Huntsman to gentrify them, but the need for the garments to photograph well influenced the Huntsman style profoundly.’

Getty

STYLE

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STYLE It was not just male icons who loved Huntsman. Marlene Dietrich was a fan, as was Katharine Hepburn; both bought bespoke blouses, suits, cashmere sweaters and wide-legged trousers (which Hepburn ordered three sizes too wide, because she believed that ‘those damn dry-cleaners in America’ shrank them). Womenswear couturiers such as Hardy Amies, Ralph Lauren, Hubert de Givenchy, Norman Hartnell and Bill Blass all admired Huntsman’s meticulously detailed suits. In his autobiography, Bare Blass, Blass speaks of Huntsman as the pinnacle of tailoring. ‘Up and up I went, until I finally hit London, Savile Row, H. Huntsman — and, my God, if a man doesn’t have his insecurities knocked out of him by that point, there’s no hope for him.’ The brand has clothed statesmen — Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan — and artists and photographers such as Cecil Beaton and Lucian Freud (who often painted in a Huntsman grey flannel suit). The composer Benjamin Britten’s suits had extra-loose armholes so that when he was conducting his movements were not restricted. Huntsman made headlines when it was bought earlier this year by the financier Pierre Lagrange together with his partner Roubi L’Roubi, an elegant Sudaneseborn designer who is now the brand’s creative director.

Katharine Hepburn ordered her wide-legged trousers to be three times as wide as normal, because she thought ‘those damn drycleaners in America’ shrunk them

REX / Everett Collection

L’Roubi, who has previously worked at Joseph, Henry Poole and Holland & Holland, as well as his own atelier, is quick to defend himself against accusations that Huntsman is a vanity project: ‘My role is about focusing on the DNA of the Huntsman brand, the heritage of Huntsman values.’ Neither L’Roubi nor Huntsman are interested in fads. Exquisite tailoring is always in vogue. At Huntsman, a bespoke suit with ermazine lining (silk wears easily) starts at £4,600 and takes 80 hours to make. There are more than 3,000 materials to choose from, including every permutation of fabric weight and design. Clients are assigned a tailor for life, to ensure that the tension of stitching remains consistent. It’s appropriate, given L’Roubi’s background, that he has already begun to expand Huntsman’s womenswear division, where bright furs and tweeds pay mild homage to Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel and Fendi. He has also introduced a ready-to-wear line. For Huntsman, off-the-peg may be a compromise, but the concessions to modernity have proved fruitful. Earlier this year, Huntsman’s first ever line of jeans (price tag £150) 50

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sold out almost instantly. The revamped website even allows you to browse pieces worn by Hollywood legends and order your own version. Despite the Huntsman shop’s newly unveiled refurbishment, it remains pleasingly old-fashioned in character. The giant stag heads above the fireplace remain — a customer left them in 1921 while he went for lunch and never returned to collect them — and propped outside is a shiny red Pashley bike, ready to deliver suits. Deliveries are mostly to foreign clients at Claridge’s, who don’t want to wait until Huntsman’s next bi-annual trunk show around the States. About their present famous customers, Huntsman keeps schtum, although they are known to include British actors such as Colin Firth (who was dressed by Huntsman for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), Hugh Bonneville (ditto in Downton Abbey) and Mark Strong, as well as another former prime minister, Tony Blair. With a new wave of dashing young British actors such as Max Irons, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth and Nicholas Hoult imprinting themselves on the Hollywood scene, no doubt Huntsman will have plans in place to resume its close relationship with Hollywood, while of course staying true to its great tradition of English tailoring. L’Roubi, a member of the Costume Guild of Hollywood, is sanguine when I ask how he’s going to do it. ‘They are all very talented,’ he merely observes, smoothly. Watch this space.

Left: Gregory Peck leaving H. Huntsman & Sons Above: Patterns for Rex Harrison, Peter Sellers, Gregory Peck and Benny Goodman

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STYLE

RO C K S OF AGE S

ed band my great-aunt gave me before she died, sitting beside my mother’s thick wedding ring, as strong and bold as she was. There’s a silver band a friend gave me which had belonged to his sister, a close friend who died. And I always wear the big garnet ring my mother was wearing the day she had the riding accident that destroyed her life, 22 years ago. None of these rings are exceptionally valuable, although their emotional significance to me is without bounds. But it’s only as I’ve got older, with two marriages and three children, and a great lump of tragedy behind me, that I’ve understood the emotional power of jewellery. As a teenager my relationship with it was capricious, as I clutched at the instant, cheap sparkle of bright diamante and cut glass, with the odd semiprecious brooch given to me by a godparent kept in a special box on my dressing table. I changed and lost my necklaces as fast and thoughtlessly as I changed my boyfriends. They didn’t matter. But then I got married, and my first wedding ring showed me how potent the emotional investment in jewellery really can be, even when they are not valuable diamonds, sapphires or emeralds. But this marriage didn’t last long, and when my decree nisi arrived I took my ring off, and immediately knew it had to be replaced with a different piece of jewellery to mark

We wear our lives on our fingers and around our necks – the emotional power of jewellery Clover Stroud As I sit at the computer with my fingers dancing across the keys, the monotony of their black squares and white letters is broken by a flash of rose gold and the beady eyes of rubies winking memories at me. These metals and stones are the eight rings I wear double stacked across four fingers. My left hand holds my own history. My wedding ring from my second marriage hugs the cluster of rubies of my engagement ring. A ring of opals and pearls marks the birth of my third child, beside a gold ring shaped like a medieval crown — the first present my husband ever gave me, which told me this was more than a passing fling. The rings on my right hand trace the lives of other people I love that I want to carry with me. A gold plait52

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diamond, the ‘sickly radiance’ of an emerald and the ‘heaven-hued sapphire’ — with human longing and regret, where ‘each several stone/With wit well blazoned, smiled, or made moan’. Normally associated with high romance, jewellery can also be used to express something more threatening and sinister. In ‘A Game of Chess’, T.S. Eliot describes the ‘troubled, confused’ synthetic beauty of his intoxicating Cleopatra on her burnished throne with ‘the glitter of her jewels’. And Ted Hughes mixes memory of sex with a woman’s dreams of death as symbolised by her locket: Smiling, you’d hold it up. You’d swing it on its chain, to ease life. It lent you uncanny power. A secret, blueish, Demonic flash When you smiled and gently bit the locket. The stories my own rings carry are perhaps more prosaic, since they’re the stuff of normal life — marriage, children, the passing of the people we love — but this sense of the ordinary, the everyday, symbolised in a sliver of gold and the glint of a stone, is why I love them so much. They might look like little objects, but to me they represent the most precious fragments of time which make up my life.

Illustration by Martina Flor

this next stage in my life. I was a single mother, with two small children to support, so spending £400 on a heavy silver chain for myself when I could barely afford groceries felt extravagant, almost reckless, but it was my talisman. I wore it every day, even at night, sometimes clutching it alone in the darkness because it felt strong and constant, something I needed to be for my children. It was only after I met my second husband I stopped wearing it so much. I didn’t panic if I put my hand to my throat and it wasn’t there. And as my husband slipped rings on my fingers it was as though the necklace lost some of its potency, because now my husband and I were sharing an emotional journey. He became the strength and constancy that I felt my necklace had given me. Both compact and beautifully formed, the emotional significance of jewellery lends itself well to the form of a poem. Some of the most lovely poems about this are collected in a new anthology called Strings of Pearls (Lautus Press). There’s the rich, allegorical mystery of the medieval elegy, ‘Pearl’, in which the unknown author describes a ‘Pearl maiden’ gloriously bedecked in pearls ‘so perfect, so faultless, so pale’ that she’s associated with the Lamb of Christ. In ‘A Lover’s Complaint’ Shakespeare invests precious stones themselves — a ‘beautiful and hard’ 53

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STYLE

MAK I NG WAV E S

Drake, I imagined to myself in jet-lagged reverie, would recognise the British Virgin Islands today. Townships dot the coastline but for the most part the islands are dominated by scrubby mangroves that roll into the sea. A smattering of villas suggests luxury but, other than that, the Virgins remain as pure as Columbus found them in 1493. Odd how a place that bears little mark of history can exude such a sense of the past. My guidebooks said that Drake left nothing here when he navigated this channel in 1585, on his way to biff some Spaniards at nearby Santa Domingo. The rocks, though, seemed to have long memories. The sun certainly connected us through time. After five minutes on the open sea, my neck had burnt to Englishman’s Pink. What I would have given for Shaq’s silly hat. My visit coincided with Spring Break; the water was full of American students messing about in their parents’ boats. These gilded, badly dressed libertines were of little interest to us. Somewhere in this archipelago, sailors were racing the world’s best superyachts, courtesy of the Italian clothier Loro Piana. What’s the connection between a sixth-generation Italian fashion house specialising in cashmere and a Caribbean regatta? The family business started as a wool merchants in the 1800s; in 1924 the ‘modern’ company was founded by Pietro Loro Piana, and

Racing super-yachts in the Virgin Islands with the Italian fashion house Loro Piana is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it David Blackburn

Shaq looked lackadaisical; but really he was very precise. Action betrayed him. He tightened the toggle on his old straw hat. He put his feet on the bar under the driver’s seat, and inched them into the right position. He placed his left hand on the steering wheel. He paused to examine the controls. Transformed from Caribbean cabin boy into Captain Shaq, he fired the speedboat’s engine. It was in rude health. Shaq smiled as he listened to its cadence. ‘Cooper Island,’ he said. He didn’t wait for my response, but signalled the dock hand to slip the rope. And off we went, drawing out into Sir Francis Drake Channel.

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in the 1940s it moved into international fashion. In July of this year it sold an 80 per cent stake to LVMH for €2 billion, but the company will still be overseen by the Loro Piana brothers, Sergio and Pier Luigi. And it is these brothers whose marketing philosophy is to nurture their relationship with their clients by holding a regatta on the other side of the world. How better to get a feel for a princess’s tastes than to invite her to the Virgin Islands? Away from the thrill of the race, she might peruse the array of clothes and fabrics that lie about the place, and imagine them in her home. Loro Piana manufactures weird and wonderful cloths: the finest cashmeres from Outer Mongolia, rare vicuna from Peru, lotus-flower fibres from Burma. That the company does business in these awkward climes is testament to its diplomacy and it’s justly proud of its hardest fought success: the decade it took to convince Hircus goat breeders in Mongolia and China to provide enough yarn for a line in coveted baby cashmere. These delicate materials must withstand the salt of the sea and the soot of the city. An elegant shawl of Merino wool from Down Under is not much use if it disintegrates in steady Milanese drizzle. The brothers think that the events they sponsor must allow them to enhance their textiles. They say that ‘bombers, vests, jackets, trousers, shirts and polo shirts’ have stemmed

from experiments in the great outdoors. So there we were, tearing around the Virgin Islands in pursuit of Cape Arrow, the yacht chartered by Pier Luigi for the occasion, all in the name of science. Vest technology aside, Pier Luigi’s love of sailing was obvious when he was at the helm of Cape Arrow. It is a classic yacht — tall masts, navy blue hull and varnished decks. It spent most of the race in second place. Hunter and hunted, it was the best boat to watch. Up close, a yacht is a machine that responds to each action of the crew. To stand on deck as Cape Arrow turned about, the wind beating at your back, was a unique sensation. The acceleration was as fierce as that of a high-performance car, but smoother. From a distance, yachts look ethereal — a cloud of canvas guided by invisible hands. On the final afternoon of the race, I stood on top of an island where the placid Caribbean meets the rough Atlantic. The racing flotilla rounded the headland several hundred feet below me and a mile out to sea, beyond the surf that suggested rocks lay beneath. The skippers unfurled their spinnakers, the giant sails at the front of the boat. This manoeuvre would decide the race. The yachts tore across the ocean, far away into the haze to the southeast. They were soon out of sight, but not out of mind. Drake’s ships would have been similarly dazzling.

G i r a ff e i n S t e r l i n g S i l v e r, For Adventurous Homes...

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STYLE

THE WI SH LIST

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Photography by Arthur Woodcroft Set design by Kerry Hughes

Left to right: diamond and citrine in yellow gold basket ring, £3,500, Annoushka; Sevillana ring in 18k gold with lapis lazuli by Elsa Peretti, £1,875, Tiffany & Co.; pave button ring with pink sapphires in 18k gold, £1,595, Carolina Bucci; Savoy pink tourmaline rose gold ring with diamonds, £2,750, Boodles; mandarin garnet cabochon ring in 18k gold, £12,180, De Vroomen; Rouge Passion ring in rose gold with synthetic ruby, £690, Pomellato; Murano ring, £1,970, Marco Bicego; love ring in pink gold with pink sapphire, blue sapphire, yellow sapphire, green garnet, orange garnet and amethyst, £1,900, Cartier; gold and emerald wing ring by Jasmine Alexander, £33,000, Gemfields/CoutureLab

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U N DER A F R ICA N SK I E S

Straight off the night flight to Nairobi, redeyed, your clothes like a second skin, you are greeted in the clammy arrivals hall by a beaming long-lashed giraffe. ‘Smile, you’re in Kenya!’ says the poster. For this traveller, it was at first smiling through gritted teeth — after a small plane and Nanuki airstrip, the final part of my journey was to be by helicopter. I’m a bit scared of ­helicopters. We were head i ng nor t h to Segera, in the heart of Laikipia, a wildlife migration corridor consisting of 50,000 acres of protected land. Nothing prepares you for floating a few hundred feet over the plains. There are heartstoppingly beautiful groups of giraffes (a ‘tower’ when they are still, a ‘journey’

An irresistible eco-resort in remotest Kenya Olivia Cole

Michael Poliza

TRAVEL

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T RAV E L

when they are on the move) and skittering zebras with flirty striped bottoms. Karen Blixen described the sensation in Out of Africa: you feel towards the animals ‘as God did when he had just created them, and before he commissioned Adam to give them names’. One minute I was a committed helicopter-phobic, moments later I couldn’t get enough of being Icarus. Later in the week I was even tempted to take up my host Jochen Zeitz’s offer of a spin in his tiny plane to take another look. Nipping up into the stratosphere is the kind of thing Zeitz does in his spare time. For 18 years until 2010, he was the CEO of Puma. There he developed the world’s first biodegradable trainer and did the first deal in which an international sports brand sponsored an African footballer, the ­striker Samuel Eto’o. He also cofounded the B Team, a group of investors who want to demonstrate that profits and

­ethics don’t have to be mutually exclusive. His latest project is Segera, an old ranch that over eight years has been coaxed into new life as an eco-resort. Given how remote it is, that seems almost a miracle. From the air the handful of guest cottages and the colours of the garden look as though someone has spilled a paintbox. Eco-entrepreneurs are a breed I’m inclined to meet with scepticism. But with his business credentials, German pragmatism and a far-from-humourless twinkle in his eye, Zeitz is something out of the ordinary. He and his partner, film producer Andrea Barron, are not primarily interested in tourism: Segera is a way to get a message across. ‘I think a place like this is a great starting point to get people excited about sustainability,’ he says. It’s hard to imagine a more appealing place for a spot of gentle brainwashing. My cottage, which ran on solar power and

rainwater, had an outdoor bath in which I could lie listening to the birds, looking out for monkeys. If you struggle to get out of a hot bath in a hurry, try doing so as the stars come out over the acacia trees. There is, of course, something profoundly romantic — even Romantic — about all of this. But Zeitz rejects the idea that he’s under some kind of dreamy spell. ‘When you read Out of Africa,’ he says, ‘there is a pretty sad story underlying it. It’s a tough, tough life and lots of challenges around the corner, around every bush.’ From the moment you go onto Segera’s website, you’re reading about what Zeitz and his foundation call the four Cs: conservation, community, culture and commerce. They want guests to experience these in practical ways, whether by looking at Zeitz’s collection of contemporary African art or visiting the local school they’ve built. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to struggle to know what to say when

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Left: game drives in Segera, where you can also explore with guides on foot. Top right: the pool and spectacular gardens of Zeitz's Segera Retreat

the children ask if you are going to visit again tomorrow. Before we headed out on game drives, breakfast came out of a WonderBag, a lowenergy cooking gadget patented in South Africa that Zeitz’s foundation is beginning to make and sell locally. You just bring food to the boil and then put it in the insulated bag, where it carries on cooking for hours. It sounds simple, but in a place where many girls are kept home from school to cook, ‘wonder’ may not be too strong a word. Eating my oats as the sun came up over Mount Kenya, or watching ostriches like gangly ballerinas wearing tutus rollerskating through the mist, are completely intoxicating experiences. If there’s a worry, it’s that Segera is perhaps too perfect. I dread the day some Russian turns his nose up at their vast collection of African wine and demands to know why they don’t stock Pétrus. For the sake of the bigger picture, it’s a

My cottage had an outdoor bath in which I could lie listening to the birds, looking out for monkeys. If you struggle to get out of a hot bath in a hurry, try doing so as the stars come out over the acacia trees

risk that Zeitz is willing to take. He’s looking forward to Segera welcoming ‘people that get it… and get inspired. I’m sure there will be some there that don’t care, but that’s fine too.’ Vivienne Westwood stayed recently and has funded the building of a library space at the school. Now all they need is the books. Guests who want to visit the school have to bring something to help. You can guess where this literary journalist’s overspill of books will be heading… Back home, I wear my beautiful bracelets made by Satubo Women’s Beading Project with pride. If I look like an overgrown gap year tragedy, so be it. It’s never too late for a reality check. Africa Travel (www.africatravel.co.uk, 020 7843 3500) arranges tailor-made holidays. A short break to Kenya, staying for four nights on safari at Wilderness Collection’s Segera Retreat costs from £3,875 per person,all-inclusive. www.segera.com

David Crookes; Michael Poliza

Bottom right: one of many contemporary African sculptures housed at the property

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THE NEW OL D WOR L D A corner of South Africa’s Cape that wants to be forever France Justin Cartwright

Franschhoek — French Corner — is a place which serves South Africans as a kind of sophisticated fantasy, an alternative version of what life could be. The small town is enclosed by wild mountains, at this time of year blue and dusty green. Shy leopards live up there. Vines climb the mountains, some of the oldest and most beautiful Cape Dutch houses in the country stand in the vineyards, olive trees suggest Provence,

the hotels and guest houses are beautiful and immaculate, and the restaurants are among the best in South Africa. Franschhoek valley was in recent memory a simple place with some notable vineyards and two or three streets of Victorian cottages and a few older, thatched houses. The valley was settled early in the 1680s by Huguenots fleeing repression. At that time the valley was called Olifantshoek,

(Elephants’ Corner) and the last elephant, legend has it, left the valley in the mid-19th century. The steep pass out of Franschhoek, a wonderful drive, was apparently once an elephant track. I have seen the track down to the bottom of Ngorogoro crater, still used by elephants, so it is at least a plausible story. Not so long ago, the town rebranded itself as French, and now virtually every­ thing has a Gallic monicker, including La Laundry (sic). Although none of the local people speak French, many do have Huguenot names like De Villiers or Du Plessis or Marais. I love Franschhoek, and straight off the plane I went to the incomparable Quartier Français, on the main street, for breakfast. This small hotel and restaurant is regularly near the top of every poll for best hotel and restaurant in Africa. But if Franschhoek has a fault, it is in the lavish refurbishment of wine farms and estates which has reached absurd proportions. Some, like Graf Delaire Estate, are brand new, with jewellery shops, indoor streams and very high-end lodges for rent

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The salads are truly wonderful, and come themed by colour. Artichokes and figs and beetroot are often pressed into service

Below: Wine cellar, Grape harvest, Cape Wine Route, Franschhoek

den stretching at least 250 metres, planted with espaliered fruit trees, vegetable and herb gardens, chamomile lawns, parterres, walks shaded by vines, a berry arbour, a spreading indigenous tree providing a cool resting point, and even a few hen and duck houses tucked away. The paths were strewn with something crunchy, which on inspection was revealed to be dried peach pips. Little channels of water ran throughout the garden. To one side was a stream trickling down from the mountains, bordered by indigenous trees, loud with birds. Underneath the trees and all along a path were great drifts of clivia, a Cape plant, rather like an amaryllis, with lovely yellow to red flowers. The produce from this astonishing plot is used in the restaurant and in the Glass House café at the far end of the garden. The salads are truly wonderful, and come themed by colour. Artichokes and figs and beetroot are often pressed into service. Refreshing drinks of improbable blends of vegetable and fruit juices are delicious. The restaurant also does steak and chops and fruit sorbets on a stick and, I heard too late, fantastic breakfasts. The puddings use the homegrown apricots and peaches and

lemons: the apricot tart with ricotta and crème pâtissière will linger in my memory for ever. The coffee, by the way, is excellent — the coffee revolution having finally hit this part of the world. There are eight very luxurious cottages, built in the Cape Dutch style, with a contemporary version of the farm dam as a swimming pool. These cottages combine traditional architecture with glass walls and eclectic modern furniture. But what to my mind is unique about Babylonstoren is the impression you get of the history of the Cape. The garden recalls the Dutch East India Company’s Gardens in Cape Town, and the deceptively simple buildings and yard have captured exactly and artfully the sense of deep quiet and isolation that the first settlers perforce experienced. This really is an enchanting place. I had to come back for the breakfast a few days later, and it was the best I have ever had, with a heart-stopping view of the mountains, beyond the poached eggs with paprika-flavoured hollandaise. Babylonstoren, Simondium Road, Klapmuts, Paarl, 7646, Western Cape, South Africa. www.babylonstoren.com

Jaap-Willem Kleijwegt; UIG via Getty Images

at prices not many South Africans can afford. Grande Provence and La Motte have also had spectacular makeovers, with restaurants and shops selling olive oil and wine, art galleries and plush tasting rooms offering their wines. What is being lost is the sense of what these places were once like, with a dusty farmyard — werf in Afrikaans — surrounded by low, whitewashed walls. But I had heard great things of a old farm not far from Franschhoek, called Babylonstoren (Tower of Babel). It was taken over by a very wealthy Afrikaans family, and what they have wrought there, I was told, is truly miraculous. As I approached on a dirt road I got a glimpse, first of a conical hill, which reminded the early Dutch settlers of the Tower of Babel, and then of the old farmhouse of 1777, standing at the end of the road, surrounded by its werf, where turkeys, chickens and donkeys wandered amiably. A farm shop, a restaurant, a bakery and a butcher are all in the old farm buildings, although the restaurant has a glass wall opening onto a courtyard, which was once the pig and sheep pens. But the true revelation is an immense kitchen gar-

Opposite: Vineyard in Franschhoek

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T R AV E L

GLOBE TROTTING Our latest travel favourites

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1 — The Surin, Phuket You’re too old or spoilt to backpack but you still love Phuket. Pack your copy of The Beach and check in to the Surin to do Thailand in style. You won’t ever want to leave. www.thesurinphuket.com

3 — Sofitel Arc de Triomphe, Paris Just off the Champs-Élysées, the Haussmann exterior now has a new Studio Putman interior which makes a chic room here a great base for Paris, work or play. www.sofitel.com

2 —The Berkeley Hotel, London The rooftop pool makes the Berkeley an urban oasis, but it just got even more inviting with the opening of a new Bamford Haybarn Spa. Form a queue. www.the-berkeley.co.uk

4 — The Romanos, Costa Navarino With the unspoilt Peloponnese now more accessible by air, this familyfriendly hotel is perfect whether you want the golf course, the spa or a spot to do as little as possible. www.romanoscostanavarino.com

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O N E T O WA T C H

PAU L HO OD A dedicated young chef with an eye for the details Jason Atherton

Paul works extremely hard. In this industry, you only get out what you put in. If you work at a million miles an hour, if you work super-hard and you’re superdedicated to making sure your clients feel welcome in your restaurant and you never take anything for granted, you’ll succeed. And Paul has all that: he has the natural talent and he also has attention to detail, which you need. Any top job is pressurised — whether you’re a Formula 1 driver or playing in the premiership or a top chef, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is how you deal with that pressure on a daily basis. That’s what makes the man, that’s how you show people that you’re mature, that you’re growing up, that you can deal with situations. For the first two or three years, you need to get your head down. You have to make sure that you’re working superhard, that you build a fantastically loyal clientele within your restaurant. Don’t think about being a international restaurateur. Think about being a local neighbourhood restaurant. You do that and all the neighbourhood people follow your restaurant. That’s how we started Pollen Street, that’s how we started Maze [where Atherton worked with Gordon Ramsay]. Paul’s doing exactly the same with the Social Eating House, just building a really cool, local restaurant in Soho. In three years’ time we’ll sit down, take stock and say hey,

do we want to put a Social Eating House in New York? Do we want to have one in Singapore? But for now, it’s heads down, making sure it’s a massive success. My favou r ite d ish by Pau l is h is duck ‘ham, egg and chips’. I have it every time I go.

Jason Atherton owns the Michelin-starred Pollen Street Social, Little Social and the Social Eating House, where Paul Hood is his head chef. Jason is taking part in London Restaurant Festival in partnership with American Express. For more information visit: londonrestaurantfestival.com

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Spectator Life Autumn 2013  

Issue 7

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