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MIKHAIL B A R Y S H N I K OV P.17 What’s next for ballet’s Mr Big?

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Making memories in India

N I GH Y ’ S T I M E

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Bill Nighy on David Hare, luck and fear of failure

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A

head of the Scottish referendum in September, and as the country prepares for the Commonwealth Games, Spectator Life caught up with a new generation of fine Scottish actors who seem destined for Hollywood, from Joanna Vanderham, star of The Paradise, to Laura Fraser of Breaking Bad and Richard Madden and Rose Leslie, who you may recognise from Game of Thrones. We also took the chance to canvass their views on independence. Speaking of new talent, I’m delighted to feature the novel Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler, a midwestern story of family, fame and friends. It’s one of my favourites in a long time, and if you are packing for a beach or, like Melissa Kite, a yoga retreat, it’s a must to squeeze into your bag. On our cover is a man who if it wouldn’t be likely to make him cringe, I would describe as a national treasure: Bill Nighy. The BBC’s Johnny Worricker trilogy, in which he plays a modern spy, is one of the best things to have been made for British TV in recent years and the new production of Skylight, one of David Hare’s three brilliant plays about love, in which he will also star, is set to be the hot ticket of the summer. There aren’t many people who provide as much entertainment when they are off duty as when they are performing, but I’m happy to report that Nighy is one such rarity. Enjoy the issue.

Chairman Andrew Neil Editor Olivia Cole Deputy Editor Danielle Wall Columnists Oscar Humphries, Sam Neill, Harry Cole Features Assistant Will Gore Sub-editors Peter Robins, Victoria Lane, John Honderich, Katherine Whitbourn Design & Art Direction Design by St www.designbyst.com Deputy Director of Client Sales Tom Shepherd: tshepherd@spectator.co.uk Luxury Sales Manager Emily Glazebrook: emily@spectator.co.uk Cover image Harry Borden Stylist Joanne Black Grooming Mira using Creme de la Mer Location The Connaught www.the-connaught.co.uk

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C ON T R I B U T OR S Harry Borden Our cover photographer’s career highlights include two World Press Awards and a solo exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. He is working on a series of portraits of single-parent dads and a book on Holocaust survivors. His work can be seen at harryborden.co.uk

— William Peers Carving in Marble

Melissa Kite The Spectator’s ‘Real life’ columnist enjoys unreal luxury in Jaipur.

21 March – 26 April

toronto star via getty images

Anna Mikhailova writes for the Sunday Times. The first time she met Mikhail Baryshnikov she was treated to an impromptu piano recital at his home in New York.

Matthew Quick left his job as an English teacher in New Jersey to write his debut novel The Silver Linings Playbook, which was adapted into an Oscar-winning film by David O. Russell starring Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro. The author of three novels for young adults, his next book for grown-ups, The Good Luck of Now, will be published by Picador in November.

Revel, 2013, portuguese marble, height 120 cms. Catalogue on Request

Sam Neill’s new film A Long Way Down is out now. ‘Working with Poots, Pike, Paul, Collette, Brosnan et al was like a swimming in the best company in a warm spring,’ he says.

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CONTENTS

17 49 37 61 C U LT U R E

STYLE

LIFE

T R AV E L

14. The Index Where to go and what to see in April, May and June

44. Harry Cole Whatever happened to the boozy lunch?

17. Next step Anna Mikhailova finds ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov on the hunt for a fresh challenge

47. Family cases Henry Jeffreys has a drink with his dad 49. Redecoration rescue Rachel Johnson calls in Nicky Haslam

20. Hot Scots Meet Scotlandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rising generation of actors

52. Oscar Humphries Why perfumes are like time capsules

28. Cover interview: Bill Nighy Olivia Cole pays close attention

54. Turbocharged tailoring Simon de Burton on cars made to measure

34. Chris Coy Cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy declines to discuss Scottish independence with Freddy Gray

56. The Wish List Our pick of bejewelled cuffs and cufflinks

37. The banality of bankers Tom Teodorczuk seeks intelligent life on Wall Street

61. Travel: India Melissa Kite meets Melissa the elephant

40. Sam Neill Of dogs and men

64. Globe Trotting Great escapes, from Malta to Jamaica

42. The great Oscar race issue Jonathan Foreman on the Academyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s covert conservatism

66. One to watch Matthew Quick introduces author Nickolas Butler

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THE INDEX

MAY

M a ni c St r eet P r e a c he r s Until 12 April, Various venues The last album, Rewind the Film, was rather good; go and you’ll hear.

APR

C r a f ted : ­M a k e r s o f the E x c epti o n a l  From 2 April, Royal Academy of Arts Crafts from ­jewellery to ­taxidermy, with live demos. Entry is free.

H en r i M a ti s s e : T H E C U T- O U T S From 17 April, Tate Modern Scissors, paper, genius.

B i r dl a nd From 3 April, Royal Court Simon Stephens seems to have a new play on every week (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, among many other things). This one is about a rock star’s doubts.

o the r de s e r t c itie s From 1 April, The Old Vic Jon Robin Baitz’s ­scathing tale of ­family secrets in ­California was a Broadway hit and landed a bunch of Tony nominations. The London cast includes Sinéad Cusack and Martha Plimpton.

Sigm a r P o l k e : Alibi s 1 9 6 3 – 2 0 1 0 From 19 April, Museum of Modern Art, New York The first major ­retrospective of work by the inventor of capitalist realism includes paintings, films, ­photography and sculpture.

G a me o f T h r o ne s From 7 April, Sky Atlantic A fourth series of grand, gory, brainy fantasy. There will be blood, among other fluids.

Sund a n c e ­L o nd o n 25–27 April, O2 Arena North Greenwich may not be as sunny a place to see the best new independent films as Park City, Utah, but then you can’t get to Utah on the ­Jubilee Line.

T he W inte r ’ s T a le From 10 April, Royal Opera House Ever seen a ballet dancer exit pursued by a bear?

T he T e s t a ment of M a ry 1–25 May, Barbican Colm Tóibín’s novella is given voice by Fiona Shaw, with Deborah Warner directing. N eil Finn 3 May, Royal Festival Hall The former Crowded House front man will play tracks from his new record, Dizzy Heights, along with songs from his back catalogue.

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Cannes Film ­F e s t i va l 14–25 May, Various venues The most glamorous film ­festival on the planet will open this year with an ­appropriately glitzy biopic of Princess Grace of Monaco, starring Nicole Kidman.

RHS C h e l s e a F l ow e r S h ow 20–24 May, Royal Hospital Chelsea This year’s edition brings new scientific exhibits, ­colour from Thailand and a commemoration of the first world war by — who else? — Birmingham city council.

A Mi l l io n Way s t o D i e in the West In cinemas from 6 June Who’d want to get into a comedy shoot-out with Mel Brooks? Seth Family Guy MacFarlane, apparently, who trespasses here on Blazing Saddles territory.

JUN

henri matisse, the snail 1953, tate
©succession henri matisse; cannes: stone angels/julien panie; godzilla: kimberley french; george smart, goose woman c 1840, courtesy of tunbridge wels museum and art gallery; getty images

Incognito From 14 May, Bush Theatre Nick Payne took the West End by storm with his string theory-inspired tragicomedy Constellations. This one has someone stealing Einstein’s brain.

H a y F e s t i va l From 22 May, various venues The heavyweight champion of literary festivals returns with speakers due to include Judi Dench, Toni Morrison and Stephen Fry.

British Folk Art From 10 June, Tate Britain Almost certainly your only chance to see toby jugs  at the Tate.

K h at i a ­ u n i at ish v i l i B 4 June, Queen Elizabeth Hall The prodigiously talented young Georgian pianist brings a ­programme that includes pieces by Brahms, Chopin and Stravinsky.

God z i l l a In cinemas from 16 May Gareth Edwards is the clever British director who made Monsters. And this monster is his reward from Hollywood. With Bryan Cranston (above).

Fat h e r s a n d So n s From 5 June, Donmar Warehouse Turgenev by way of Brian Friel.

French Open From 26 May, Paris If Rafael Nadal stays fit, he wins. If he doesn’t, who knows what might happen?

  Gl a s t on bu ry F e s t i va l 25–29 June, Pilton This year they have Arcade Fire and Dolly Parton, although of course the tickets sold out long before anyone knew that.

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From the Kirov to the American avant garde, from Sex and the City to stage acting — what’s next for Mikhail Baryshnikov? Anna Mikhailova

jennifer s altman / contour by get ty images

DA N C I N G ON T H E E D GE

Mikhail Baryshnikov is annoyed with himself. When we meet, it’s at the world premiere of his play The Old Woman, an adaptation of a short story by the Soviet surrealist writer Daniil Kharms. He can still hear the applause as he sits in front of his dressing-room mirror, slowly scraping off the thick layer of kabuki-style white makeup on his face. Tonight is only the first show of a lengthy tour and yet he is already thinking: ‘What next?’ Seriously? ‘As soon as I have performed it once, my immediate response is to plan the next project.’ This relentless drive must be what has pushed Baryshnikov to reinvent himself so many times. As a soloist for the Kirov (now Mariinsky) ballet, he was hailed as the greatest dancer of all time. Then, aged 26, on tour with the company in Canada, he ran away. 17

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CULTURE

More than politics, it was his desire to experiment with new styles of dance that led to his dramatic defection. In Toronto in 1974, he slipped through a crowd surrounding the Bolshoi’s bus and ran three blocks to a waiting car. It was one of the most electrifying episodes in the cultural history of the Cold War. In New York, where he settled, he pushed himself to the limit with contemporary choreographers such as George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp and Jerome Robbins, risking serious damage to his extraordinary body. He then went on to run the American Ballet Theatre for nine years. Even the greatest dancers have a shelf life. But at 66, Baryshnikov shows no sign of stopping. He has turned from ballet to acting, which he describes as ‘jumping from one mountain to another’. As a result, there was that infamous turn as Carrie Bradshaw’s Mr Wrong, the tortured artist Alexander Petrovsky, in Sex and the City. It was a piece of

casting perhaps inspired by Baryshnikov’s own somewhat legendary reputation with the opposite sex. Now happily married to the former ballerina Lisa Rinehart (they have three grown-up children), he was previously linked to sirens such as Natalia Makorova, his partner on stage, Isabella Rossellini and Ursula Andress. His eldest daughter, Alexsandra, is from a relationship with the actress Jessica Lange. He is a world away from the self-obsessed egoism of his Sex and the City character. His manner is personable and his talk is peppered with dry humour and the odd melancholic Russian expression. ‘Davno i ne pravda: it was so many years ago that it is not true,’ is his reply to one question about his past. Perhaps it is this attitude that pushes him to reinvent himself every few years, to create a new story. He prefers practising to performing. ‘Rudi wanted to be on stage every day,’ he says of Nureyev, whose abilities Baryshnikov arguably equalled. ‘I like the

Above: in Prodigal Son with the New York City ballet, 2004 Right: as Carrie Bradshaw’s Mr Wrong, Alexander Petrovsky, in Sex and the City Previous page: Baryshnikov still does daily ballet practice, using his grand piano as a barre

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process of planning, knowing you start rehearsing tomorrow and wondering who will be your partner, who will design the piece.’ His blue eyes are lit up. He picks his projects carefully, and needs to develop trust with someone before he agrees to work with them. ‘It’s like the beginning of dating,’ he says matter of factly. In case you’re wondering, for him this means eye contact, a ‘tremor’ in the conversation and a certain ‘vibe’. He doesn’t need a second date to know if something will work — ‘I have pretty good instincts.’ He probably knows what he’s talking about. He has usually met his collaborators socially, first — ‘You hang out and figure out what this person is about. I have never approached anyone I didn’t know about a project.’ And he has quite a contacts book to plunder. The story of his defection, combined with his roguish charm, captivated the cultured classes. He soon counted Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci and Christopher Walken among his friends: ‘I met that group kind of by chance in my first few days in New York,’ he remembers. ‘We used to hang out in the same place, the old Mayflower Hotel, round the corner from the Lincoln Centre [the home of the New York City Ballet]. We would have dinner, go see the shows, horse around and have fun. That was actually a big comfort in the beginning.’ He has stayed in touch with them — he co-owned a restaurant with De Niro. He’s always been almost more comfortable with actors than dancers, though he was close to the great

Dance Project — a roving troupe of stars with no permanent base. A psychologist might delve for reasons behind all this questing for the next project, but Baryshnikov has little truck with such indulgences; despite the many years in the US, he remains profoundly Russian. Never­t heless, there was a formative tragedy in his childhood: his mother killed herself when he was 11. In the past he has spoken illuminatingly about her death: ‘All the sentiment about, you know, children losing their parents for one reason or another, it’s a very North American kind of psychology. I accept it as rules of life. And I survived, and that’s what’s the most important. I adored my mother, and I will always have extraordinary memories about her and remember her, and she opened the doors for me to appreciate arts.’ After the European tour, The Old Woman will move to New York, where Baryshnikov still lives. It will no doubt come as a relief, since he hates being on the road: ‘I get homesick, I want to see my children,

choreographer Merce Cunningham, who died in 2009. He stays in touch with Alexei Ratmansky, the former artistic director of the Bolshoi, and was pleased when he left the company and its difficult politics behind. Ratmansky’s successor, Sergei Filin, was the victim of a vicious acid attack last year — Baryshnikov describes it as ‘ghastly vaudeville’. Ratmansky has since joined the American Ballet Theatre, where Baryshnikov was principal dancer and then artistic director during the 1980s. Baryshnikov tried to make changes to the company, to rely less on guest stars and more on American talent. He hated the business side of the job, however — ‘There is so much focus on getting the money on the table. It’s pretty ugly,’ he recalls. So after quitting his ABT post a year before his tenyear tenure ran out, he threw himself back into what he calls the ‘guts’ of the creative process. With the choreographer Mark Morris, he founded the White Oak

my wife.’ At home, he still does daily ballet training, using his grand piano as a barre, and loves relaxing in the bath listening to the World Service: ‘The English tell it like it is,’ he says. When he is not touring, his nine-to-five job is at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, a not-for-profit organisation he founded to provide affordable performance space. Thanks to his Sex and the City role, he has connected with a whole new generation of potential arts philanthropists. He also put his own money into it, selling part of his collection of paintings to raise it. ‘Old art should make new art,’ he says. Joseph Brodsky, the great Russian poet, once observed of his fellow émigré and friend: ‘The boy got lucky.’ As anyone who has seen Baryshnikov on stage will testify, his luck is ours too. The Old Woman is at the Brooklyn Academy of Music from 22 to 29 June (www.bam.org).

everett collection/rex; hbo/everett/rex

Despite the many years he has lived in America, Baryshnikov remains profoundly Russian

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CULTURE

Rose L e sl i e

Though the housemaid she played in Downton Abbey left to become a secretary during the first series, Rose Leslie remains a Downton addict and cried her eyes out at the demise of Matthew Crawley. ‘I had no idea that it was coming and I was screaming at the TV,’ she says. Now best known as Ygritte in HBO’s Game of Thrones, Rose trained at Lamda and has already won a Scottish Bafta for

her part in the TV film New Town. She grew up in remote Aberdeenshire, loves her lace trousers by Alice + Olivia and says her guilty pleasure is slapstick. In Game of Thrones she plays a Wildling, one of the ‘free folk’. In real life she’s a Scot through and through: ‘First and foremost, Scotland is my home and I do consider myself Scottish but I also feel very British and I hope that Scotland stays within the Union. I have a real concern about independence and actually, frankly, if we are going to be dictated to by anyone, I would prefer it to be Westminster rather than Brussels.’ One day Rose would love to work with her favourite playwright, Martin McDonagh. ‘I love reading his plays, I love watching his films,’ she says. ‘I think he has a very cruel, dark, harsh sense of humour but it is a sense of humour nonetheless.’

Rose Leslie

Hot Scots There’s an exciting new generation of actors coming from north of the border Olivia Cole and Will Gore 20

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‘I have a real concern about independence. If we are going to be dictated to by anyone, then frankly I’d prefer it to be Westminster rather than Brussels’

As a Glaswegian in London, Richard Madden still misses the city where he grew up; ‘Being able to go out to the supermarket and see the hills. . . there is something deeply uplifting when you can see the horizon rather than buildings in front of you all the time.’ The 27-year-old was another of the Scottish contingent from Game of Thrones: he played Robb Stark, who was brutally slayed in series three, traumatising his fans. ‘It crushed me as well!’ he jokes. ‘It was five years of my life that I

rebecca miller/contour by getty images; richard saker/rex

R ic h a r d M a dden

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C U L T URE was part of that show.’ On a day off you’ll find him either with his nose in his book or tearing around on a motorbike. A graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, he made a name for himself playing Romeo at the Globe and will soon be taking on another of the world’s most famous pin-ups, Prince Charming in Disney’s popcorn fairytale Cinderella directed by Kenneth Branagh alongside a cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgård and Helena Bonham Carter. Cinderella will be out next year. Before that, you can catch him in Ridley Scott’s gold rush series Klondike. It looks as if Hollywood will continue to demand his services. At least there are plenty of hills there. . . Above right: Richard Madden in Ridley Scott’s Klondike

Below: Laura Fraser in Breaking Bad

L au r a F r a ser

She played a key role in the final ­season of Breaking Bad as the drug-dealing, neoNazi-befriending lunatic Lydia RodarteQuayle. This was, Laura says, the best

everett collection/rex; amc/everett collection/rex

‘I don’t know if I’ll ever feel comfortable doing huge-budget American shows. I’m more used to no-money BBC productions with everyone sharing a crappy room at the back of a pub as a dressing room’

character she has ever played. ‘She was stressful to portray because she was so tightly wound and corrupt, but she was also so much fun, an absolute hoot.’ Laura is currently filming a new US TV series, The Black Box. ‘Doing huge-budget American shows is overwhelming, strange and quite surreal,’ she says. ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever feel entirely comfortable doing them. I’m more used to no-money BBC productions with everyone sharing a crappy room at the back of a pub for the dressing room.’ Fraser lives a few hours outside New York with her husband and daughter. It’s hard to find ‘crap Scottish food’ there, she reports — no ‘things from the chip shop and Cadbury’s chocolate’.

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D AV I D C L U L O W. C O M

D AV I D C L U L O W O P T I C I A N S . G R E AT E R L O N D O N : B I S H O P S G AT E . C A N A R Y W H A R F . C O R N H I L L . C O V E N T G A R D E N . C H E L S E A K I N G S R O A D . E A L I N G . K I N G S T O N . H A M M E R S M I T H H A M P S T E A D . I S L I N G T O N . K E N S I N G T O N H I G H S T R E E T . L O N D O N WA L L . M AY FA I R W I G M O R E S T R E E T . R I C H M O N D . S O H O . S U R R E Y Q U AY S . V I C T O R I A P L A C E . V I C T O R I A S T R E E T . W I M B L E D O N S O U T H : B A S I N G S T O K E . B L U E WAT E R . B R I G H T O N . B R I S T O L . C A M B R I D G E . C H E LT E N H A M . C O B H A M . C R O U C H E N D . G U I L D F O R D . L O U G H T O N . M A R L O W . N E W B U RY . O X F O R D . R E A D I N G . WAT F O R D

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C UL T URE

‘Someone in the audience came up after the show and said, “I think it’s so brave of you to do a Glaswegian accent.” I thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard’

Em u n El l ioT t

Above: Emun Elliott (centre) stars alongside James McAvoy and Jamie Bell in Irvine Welsh’s Filth

Jam e s M c A r dl e The 24-year-old Glaswegian actor has more reason than most to be mulling over questions of identity. As well as a great run of TV roles out this year, including 37 Days, the first world war BBC drama, and David Hare’s Worricker trilogy (see Bill Nighy interview, p. 28) he has been cast as James I in the first of three history plays jointly commissioned by the National Theatre and National Theatre of Scotland. These have plenty to say about his homeland: ‘The plays are holding a mirror up to Scotland and its identity,’ he explains. ‘They give a full representation of what it would be like for Scottish people to run Scotland.’ That said, thanks to Rada, he can play a convincing Englishman too. He recalls that after a screening of the 2013 sitcom Love and Marriage, someone in the audience came up to him and proclaimed: ‘I think it’s so brave of you to do a Glaswegian accent.’ ‘I thought it was the funniest thing I’ve ever heard,’ he recalls. ‘My speech teacher at Rada said, “James, must you go home for Christmas?” When I said yes she said, “Then do listen to Radio 4.” ’ What would Alex Salmond say about that?

Last December, Chloe Pirrie won the Br itish I ndependent Fi l m Awa rds’ most promising newcomer prize for her haunting performance in the Highland indie drama Shell. She can next be seen alongside the Scottish acting legend Brian Cox in the BBC’s new 1970s spy drama The Game. To celebrate all this, the 26-year-old Guildhall graduate recently marked Burns Night by cracking open the magnum of Moët that came with the Bifa gong. ‘I got my friends round to my house for haggis and champagne. A lot of people were having haggis for the first time, but everyone cleaned their plates, so I was thrilled.’ The champagne bottle had her name spelled out on it in diamante — we say she’s going to get plenty of opportunity to sparkle in future.

snap stills/rex; bbc/hardy; getty images/2013 dave j hogan

Edinburgh’s Emun Elliott is best known for his stint starring in the Sunday night BBC  series The Paradise. You’ll also know his face from Games of Thrones and last year’s adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Filth, a job that brought him very close to one of his teenage heroes. ‘When I was 14, I remember my parents seeing Trainspotting at the cinema and my mum having the novel. I snuck into her bedroom and borrowed it. I read specific chapters under my duvet with a little torch and was filled with this morbid fascination, thinking, is this what’s going on around me in Edinburgh?’ Next up, he’ll be on stage at the Young Vic in April appearing in Arthur ­M iller’s A View From the Bridge and on screen in Ridley Scott’s biblical epic Exodus alongside Christian Bale and Sir Ben Kingsley. He also appeared in Scott’s Prometheus, but is far from blasé. ‘I remember going in on the first day of Exodus and being sat in the make-up chair next to Batman and Gandhi,’ he says. ‘It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life.’

C h l oe Pi r r i e

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C U L TURE

K ev i n Gu t h r i e

Last year the Glaswegian Kevin Guthrie, 25, starred in the Scottish film Sunshine on Leith, a big-screen musical based on the songs of The Proclaimers. His next movie is another high-profile Scottish production, Terence Davies’s adaptation of Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Now a London resident, Guthrie regularly teams up with his fellow Scot James McAvoy — with whom he appeared in Macbeth in the West End — in a five-a-side football team. Who is the better player? ‘James is good, but I’d say we’re about level. If you come from the area of Glasgow that we do, you have to know what you’re doing on the pitch.’

Joa n na Va n der h am

Joanna Vanderham, 21, made her film debut in What Maisie Knew alongside Steve Coogan and Julianne Moore. ‘I think

I was thrown in at the deep end in terms of trying not to be starstruck,’ she says. ‘I turned up on set and we had been filming for a couple of weeks before Julianne was scheduled, and I wasn’t expecting her to be there. The director said, “Oh have you not met Julie yet?” She treated me as if I was just as entitled to be there as she was, which was just incredible. I was like a little sponge around her.’ Vanderham, who grew up in Scone, Perth, says she will definitely be going home to cast her vote against independence: ‘I think it would be a big mistake if Scotland left the United Kingdom.’

Acting in BBC1’s period drama The Paradise allowed her to wear some fabulous costumes. Off camera, she loves layers — ‘If I’m ever on the red carpet I just have to pray that the adrenaline keeps me warm because my stylist will never give me a coat. By the end of the night, when you’ve been standing on your Louboutins for hours and you don’t have a jacket and you just want a cab home, it’s slightly less glamorous. You all forget that we have to leave at the end of the night as well as arrive!’ To judge by her work to date, she’s going to have to get used to the experience. . .

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‘If you come from the area of Glasgow that James McAvoy and I do, you have to know what you’re doing on the football pitch. We’re about equal’

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CULTURE

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In Page Eight, the sophisticated 2011 spy drama written by David Hare, the MI5 agent Johnny Worricker — played by Bill Nighy — had to contend not only with national security risks but with his overly attached next-door neighbour, Rachel Weisz. ‘David has this expression where he says, “Johnny Worricker” and he always laughs, he can never get through the sentence without laughing . . . He says, “Johnny Worricker is susceptible to women.”’ Nighy can’t get the sentence out either. In the second film in the Johnny Worricker trilogy, Turks & Caicos, Worricker, on the run in the Caribbean has to deal with his ex, played by Helena Bonham Carter, and provide a shoulder to cry on for Winona Ryder. It’s tough work, but somebody’s got to do it. When we meet, shooting Spectator Life’s cover in a suite at the Connaught, Nighy is mainlining caffeine. He’s on Jaipur time because he has been filming the sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. But no matter how jetlagged he gets, after working with everyone from Pinter to Stoppard and Hare, he never stops considering himself lucky. ‘I sometimes think maybe when I was sleeping I did a deal with the devil,’ he jokes.

On screen, of course, he is also a frequent collaborator with Richard Curtis, most famously in Love Actually, the film which in 2003, along with State of Play, made him a household name at 53. His close creative relationship with David Hare goes back to Nighy’s first TV role in 1980, in a Hare ‘Play for Today’ called Dreams of Leaving, and the original National Theatre productions of A Map of the World and Pravda. In June, he will be starring in a revival of Hare’s Skylight, opposite Carey Mulligan. Despite continually being cast as the love interest of beautiful  women, and having been the partner in real life of the ­spectacularly beautiful Diana Quick, Nighy can’t quite see his own appeal. Hare once said that Nighy’s skill as an actor ‘is to know on some level he’s a joke — a joke that he shares with the audience’. Some might take this as a seriously ego-damaging assertion but after a few hours in Nighy’s company, I start to see what Hare means. In person, he’s elegant with the slightly donnish air he has brought to films like Notes on a Scandal (2006), and just as well dressed as I’d been led to expect, but he won’t be photo-

‘Sometimes I think

I must have done a deal with the devil’ Bill Nighy on hard work, luck, success and the fear of failure Interview by Olivia Cole, portrait by Harry Borden

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CULTURE graphed as anything other than a clown. He says matter-of-factly that he’d rather look ridiculous than as if he takes himself seriously. A mirror in which he can see what’s unfolding brings him far too close for comfort to seeing one of his own performances, and he spends a long time sorting out some Van ­Morrison (Astral Weeks live at the Hollywood Bowl) to entertain himself and the ­assembled Life crew and take his mind off the horror in hand. As a performer, Nighy has a finely tuned sense of irony, and in real life that’s applied, almost to the point of diffidence, to himself. As a much younger man, he had a chronic drink problem which arguably speaks of a more serious issue with self-worth. He’s been sober for many years and it’s a subject that understandably off­limits these days, other than the memorable observation he once made that ‘I used to drink and it was absolutely terrible, and now I don’t drink and it’s absolutely marvellous.’ Meeting him today, his ability to self-deprecate would be almost nihilistic if it weren’t so very funny. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind if he did look serious in our pictures

He made it to grammar school, but flunked and took himself off to Paris with the idea of being some kind of Hemingway figure

bbc/carnival film & television ltd/david appleby

— he’s one of the cleverest actors I’ve ever interviewed. As a literary critic he’s astute when he observes of David Hare, ‘He writes some of my favourite jokes.’ It’s not a trivial point either: ‘He makes me laugh, and in the theatre when people actually laugh when you’re speaking, it’s a quite rare and delicious thing — and they are proper grown-up laughs.’ The Vertical Hour, the last play they did together, back in 2006, with Nighy opposite Julianne Moore, allowed the Broadway audience the theatrical therapy of laughing about George W. Bush. Hare and Nighy’s latest collaboration is heavy with symbolism, being set on the Caribbean tax haven of Turks and Caicos, where

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Previous page: Bill Nighy on the set of Turks & Caicos with writer and director David Hare; and with Winona Ryder

his job. I ask Nighy if this is something he identifies with. ‘I am accused occasionally of being a workaholic,’ he says drily. ‘I don’t mind but I always go slightly on the defensive, which would suggest that they’re right.’ In fact, Nighy was effectively married for a long time — he and Diana Quick, who split up in 2008, were together for 27 years and have a daughter, Mary, who is now also working in film both behind and in front of the camera. He has little time for the idea that actors have more problems with relationships: ‘I think biochemists probably have as many problems in that area as anyone else. Or airline pilots.’ And work-obsessed or no, he has a highly ambivalent relationship with his craft. ‘I do love what I do some of the time. Some of the time, it’s made me so unhappy I can’t tell you, [for] long periods of my life. ‘When I was young, I found it so alarming and didn’t dare stop because I didn’t want to be seen as someone who had failed. I could have had a much easier and gentle and probably satisfying life if I’d found something that I did feel confident about and that gave me a reasonable amount of time off and I could have lived in a beautiful part of the country, but everyone thinks that. We could all go and live on an island off the west coast of Scotland and wrap up warm and keep dogs.’ In passing, he says that once playing with Radiohead is ‘probably the coolest thing about me’ and says he struggles to use the word ‘creative’ in a sentence about himself. If there’s anything worse than being photographed, it’s seeing one of his own films or reading a profile piece, so there’s no embarrassment for me in saying that having the obsessive Nighy go through my iPad to try and find the best Bob Dylan tracks for our shoot is probably one of my cooler moments in the name of work. If — as David Hare has it — Bill Nighy thinks he’s a joke, he’s a very good one. One of the best.

dubious financiers and politicians don’t need to abide by the rules. ‘This tiny sliver of the human race,’ says Hare, ‘are living a different parallel life. They are simply disengaged from the rest of us and they live in a completely different way and it seemed to me a wonderful subject.’ Money, in fact, has always been a wonderful subject for Hare’s talents. As Nighy would say, it’s one of those serious subjects about which he is very funny indeed: think of Amy’s View (1997), and the broker so stupid ‘not even Lloyd’s would have him’, or the wealthy restaurateur Tom in Skylight (1995), whose perspective on the world and his ex- lover is coloured by his own success in it. (That’s Nighy’s role in the revival.) It’s more than just liking his jokes, though: Nighy’s world view fits well with Hare’s. He campaigns for the Robin Hood Tax, a 50p levy on bank-to-bank transactions of over £1,000; and in the face of what happens on the ground in India where he has been filming, he can’t fathom why they have a space programme. His own background was resolutely unactorly and ordinary. His dad ran a garage and his mother, who was Irish but born in Glasgow, worked as a psychiatric nurse. On Desert Island Discs he recounted the (typically) painfully funny story of his teachers at his junior school in Caterham, Surrey, attempting to coax him over the eleven-plus borderline. To help his case, they asked him to bring in to school something from home that might show signs of intellectual promise. As he recalled, his dad suggested he take in a Painting by Numbers he’d done. Despite making it to the grammar school, in his words Nighy ‘flunked’ and took himself off to Paris with the idea of being some kind of Hemingway figure. Drama school a few years later was a happy accident. ‘It was just a gamble,’ he recalls. ‘I met this girl and she said, “you could be an actor” and I would have done anything she said frankly at that point, because she was the first girl who paid any attention to me.’ Describing their relationship in Turks & Caicos, Helena Bonham Carter has said that the spy Worricker is married to

Turks & Caicos and Salting the Battlefield are on BBC iPlayer. Skylight is at Wyndham’s Theatre from 6 June to 23 August.

bbc/carnival film & television ltd/david appleby

Right: Helena Bonham Carter alongside Bill Nighy in Salting the Battlefield, the third part in the Johnny Worricker trilogy

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C u lt u r e

LIFE CYC L E Sir Chris Hoy talks bikes, cars, thighs and books — but he’s keeping quiet about Scottish independence Freddy Gray

‘As a heads up,’ says Sir Chris Hoy’s PR lady in that breezy-yet-bossy voice that is public relations, ‘Chris doesn’t answer questions that relate to politics or Scottish independence.’ Very well, I reply. ‘Can you confirm that you will not ask Chris any politics-related questions?’ she insists. I promise I won’t, but my fingers are crossed. For goodness sake — 2014 is the year of the referendum on Scottish independence; this is a Scottish special edition of Spectator Life; Chris Hoy is our nation’s greatest Olympian, a man who won six cycling gold medals for Team GB and who just happens to be as Scottish as a lorne sausage. He’s been quoted in support of the union on the ‘Better Together’ website. It would be a dereliction of duty not to ask him. So, four questions into our interview: can he be persuaded to come out in favour of Great Britain? ‘Sorry,’ he replies, laughing. ‘It’s something I’m steering well clear of at the moment.’ At the moment,

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Those mega-thighs are a source of enduring interest. They have three Twitter accounts named after them, and Hoy has become a cult figure among the gay and weight-lifting communities. ‘It’s a bit weird,’ he says. ‘If I were a female, I’m not sure people would be so obvious about wanting to touch a part of my body, but because I’m bloke I get it all the time.’ Hang on, do people come and ask if they can touch his legs? ‘Quite often they touch them without asking!’ he replies. ‘I’ll just be standing in a queue or whatever and I’ll feel a hand on me. It’s odd in a way, but it’s all right.’ Being fondled in public is not the only downside of his celebrity. He doesn’t like being dragged into political debates — like, er, the independence question — or being asked about issues he feels insufficiently expert to comment on. ‘I’ll fight for the things that I’m into, like cycling, or making cycling safer or more popular,

or just getting kids involved in sport, but I don’t have any plans or ambitions to get into politics at all.’ Still, his reluctance to discuss the fate of his country is intriguing, since everything about Chris Hoy seems so very Scottish. His childhood heroes were Scots: the cyclist Graham Obree, the racing driver Colin McRae and the rugby player Gavin Hastings. He’s a ‘massive fan’ of Andy Murray and his favourite novelist is Iain Banks. ‘When he died last year, it was a real shock. I’ve got his last book, and I almost don’t want to read it, because once I do, it’ll be like he’s really gone.’ Hoy has a typically Midlothian character too — unpretentious and sensitive, steely yet anxious on behalf of others. As we wrap up, he seems concerned that I didn’t catch everything he said. Don’t worry, I tell him, we definitely got the bit where you made an impassioned defence of the union. ‘Oh, very good,’ he says, and gives another nervous laugh.

getty images

Above: Sir Chris Hoy prepares to race in Rotterdam last year. Right: in his 2012 Olympic uniform

I repeat back to him: so is he keeping his powder dry for an explosive late intervention? ‘Sorry,’ he repeats, not laughing. ‘I’m keeping well out of any political debates on the referendum.’ I press on. David Bowie has just come out and urged the Scots to stay, would he . . . ‘I’m not getting involved in either side,’ he says, this time with real firmness. He doesn’t sound annoyed, exactly, but there’s a resolve in his voice — the sort of resolve that pushes a man to Olympic glory again and again — that tells me he’s not about to give in. He’d rather talk about his new business venture, Hoy Bikes. ‘I just wanted to demystify the bike-buying experience,’ he says, sounding very much like an entrant on Dragons’ Den. ‘You sometimes see people on bikes that must have cost them thousands and thousands of pounds, but have been very poorly set up — you know, saddle too high, saddle too low. That not only means you might get injured, it just spoils the whole enjoyment of riding a good bike. So all our bikes come with a Fit Kit, which sounds obvious I know, but you’d be amazed how many people need it.’ It’s hard not to be moved by Hoy’s enthusiasm for cycling, even when he is just plugging his latest product range. The sport has dominated his life and he is positively evangelical about it. He first felt the excitement of ‘going somewhere under your own steam’ at the age of about seven or eight, cycling with his father by an old railway track in Edinburgh. The thrill never left him. ‘For me, getting to turn that childhood excitement into hobby and then into my whole career was just an amazing thing.’ I suggest that he probably doesn’t cycle much for pleasure these days; it must be all celebrity appearance rides and charity events. ‘No, no, no,’ he replies, ‘I still cycle — probably four or five times a week. At this time of year, with the weather not being great, I might go on a static bike. But I find the time, because it’s been a part of my life for so long and I’d miss it if I didn’t.’ He pauses for a moment to catch his breath. ‘I just love riding my bike.’ Having retired from international cycling, Hoy has transferred his competitive impulse into car racing. Last year, he competed in the SR1 Cup, a championship for fanatical novice motorcar drivers. On his debut he finished fifth. Does he find it difficult not being the best? ‘Do you know what, no. For so long in cycling I was just working in fractions — training so many hours just to improve by a half-second or something. With the cars, in the space of just three or four weeks, I can look back and see how much I’ve climbed up the ladder, so that’s really fun for me.’ Is it true he had to have his racing car adjusted to make room for his enormous thighs? ‘Well, yes,’ he says, a little reluctantly, ‘I had to get a smaller steering wheel because the one I was racing in last year was so small I was catching my hands on my legs when I was changing gear and braking.’ 35

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Forget charismatic devils like Jordan Belfort and Sherman McCoy — in New York, the real masters of the financial universe are dull and growing ever duller Tom Teodorczuk

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BOR E STR EE T

I blame Tom Wolfe. Reading the Man in the White Suit’s epic 1980s boom-and-bust novel The Bonfire of the Vanities as an impressionable teenager etched in my mind the image of the banker as entertaining, sophisticated buccaneer. There was never any thought of a career in the Square Mile — my in­ability to comprehend complex transactions and a talent for losing money instead of acquiring it would have put paid to that — but Wolfe’s account of the Manhattan bonds trader Sherman McCoy (one of Wall Street’s ‘Masters of the Universe’) made me defend financiers when writer friends dismissed them as spivs and shysters. When, in 2007, my wife’s job relocated to the States and I moved to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, 37

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LIFE

I have to say that I was looking forward to spending some fun times in the company of bankers. But as capitalism came under pressure after the crisis of 2008, so did my view of capitalists. Never mind the cost of the crunch (about $14 trillion, according to economists from the Dallas Federal Reserve); spend enough time being bored rigid by bankers at benefits, suppers and parties in Manhattan, and Marxism begins to look almost appealing. The truth is that their jobs are so all-consuming that many bankers are simply unable to take any interest in anything outside their profession. When The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese’s epoch-defining film depicting the excesses of Jordan Belfort and his penny stockbroking firm, was released in the UK, friends in London who had just seen it kept asking me the same questions. Is banking really awash with sybaritic blondes and huge amounts of cocaine and Quaaludes? They are disappointed when I tell them that most financiers I know don’t even have time to see the film — let alone live it. Jonah Hill, who plays Donnie Azoff, told me at a lunch for the film, ‘It’s a representation of Donnie and Jordan at a specific point in time, not of the culture in general. The excess is too much.’ The movie’s scriptwriter Terence Winter, who worked in Wall Street at the time of the 1987 crash, said: ‘Back then the drugs made traders work harder and dial the phone faster. It’s a different world now.’ It certainly is. Take one American friend I have known since childhood, who is now the vice president of an investment bank and lives on the Upper East Side. We’ll call him Brad. Our children are a similar age and we see each other fairly often. Yet Brad was much more interesting in 1986, when he was 14 and living as an expat in London. I was six years younger and he would enthuse at length on the merits of Top Gun. Culture for Brad these days seems to revolve around admiring the decor of the steakhouses he visits a couple of times a month. His idea of good conversation is to discuss his French clients in terms that make the average Ukip activist seem like Henry James in comparison; or to boast how his connections got his daughter into an exclusive nursery school even though she behaved unspeakably badly during the interview. Get us back to those childhood ruminations on Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell’s need for speed. Brad is one of the more charming bankers I know. I don’t know what happened to the idea that Wall Street should represent the brightest brains. In fact it is a black

hole of cultural ignorance. When one banker told me his brother had been diagnosed as bipolar, I made a reference to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in the context of mood disorder. He replied, ‘Who are they?’ William D. Cohan, author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World and a former managing director of JP Morgan Chase, concurs. ‘Sherman McCoy was a wonderful fiction,’ he says. ‘They get paid way too much money but it’s not the most wonderful or glamorous life. There’s a lot of travel, late hours and deals that don’t necessarily happen so there’s not a lot of satisfaction. There’s a lot of crazy internal politics, alpha-male behaviour and jockeying for position. It can be downright unpleasant.’ One veteran tells me things are getting worse: ‘Many 38

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of the new breed have lost all confidence. They’re afraid to speak because of the stigma of being a banker that has grown in the last decade. The ones who stand up for themselves end up being obnoxious.’ Of course there are exceptions. Euan Rellie, the British senior managing director at Business Development Asia, is one. His presence on the social circuit is so assured that during my first year in New York, I thought he was a full-time man of leisure. He’s a rare example. Recently a banking acquaintance of mine was at a benefit auction and won supper with a director and an actress from Sex and the City. He paid more than ten thousand dollars but was so boorish about his intentions in regards to the actress that his winning bid was withdrawn and the prize was reauctioned. At parties where I know that the denizens of Wall Street will be present, I’ve learned to make sure I’m acquainted about that day’s goings-on on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq to ensure we have something to talk about. And if I’m at a children’s

old daughter when she was visiting our apartment for a playdate. ‘Your father is really amusing,’ I said, playing devil’s advocate. ‘No, he’s not,’ she replied. ‘What does he like doing?’ I asked. ‘Eating chocolate,’ she replied. I shut up at that point. The problems bankers have with interacting with their offspring in any meaningful way was encapsulated when one guy said to me, regarding a school concert he was going to that evening: ‘Don’t you just dread having to attend these things?’ The problem is so bad that investment banks have recently resorted to becoming corporate social workers, pushing fathers to spend time with their children by holding family parties and the like. After a recent New York family benefit for children of investment bankers at the New York Public Library, Bloomberg News reported: ‘Boaz Weinstein, founder of Saba Capital Management LP, carried his youngest girl to meet a mermaid princess. And Tim Brien, president at Cliffside Capital, worked on a coral reef made of paper plates with his son Tristan.’ Well, you’ve got to start somewhere.

You might think family would give them a sense of perspective. But to see how little time many of the bankers I know spend with their kids has sometimes made me feel like Dad of the Year

party on Park Avenue, I make a point of gravitating to the grandparents. They are likely to be more wellrounded and au fait with culture and society than their son or daughter. Many younger financiers live in downtown Manhattan in blocks of luxury flats, moving uptown when they have families. While you might think that the life change would give them a sense of perspective and put some balance into their routines, to see how little time many of the bankers I know spend with their kids has sometimes made me feel like Dad of the Year. The worst banker I’ve ever met is the father of one of my daughter’s friends — let’s call him William. He is a monosyllabic bore of the highest order. I once struck up a conversation with his charming five-year39

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LIFE

SAM NEILL

Canines I have loved and canines I have lost

her with another Staffy. I wasn’t at all sure about that, but found myself north of Sydney at an institution that rescues Staffordshire terriers. You should know that this is a most delightful breed, kind and gentle, great with kids, but they get a lot of bad publicity. Erroneously, they are depicted as vicious killers, but the truth is that any aggression against humans was bred out of them hundreds of years ago. Nevertheless, there are those who want a vicious dog for whatever reason: these are the people who abandon Staffies when it becomes clear they’d just lick a burglar’s face. So there we were, surrounded by about 50 dogs, all desperate for a good home, when this ginger creature looked pleadingly into my eyes. I fell for it. After a few shots from the vet, he was flying at great expense to New Zealand. Honestly, he’s a nice enough dog, but we never bonded. What rankled with me is that whenever I took him for a walk, he’d either go straight back into the house before you could get away, with a look that clearly said, ‘No thanks, I just can’t be arsed.’ Or if you were actually on a walk, he’d slip away and vanish. What’s the use of a dog that won’t bloody well walk with you? Anyway, he’s found a great pal in Simon, who works for me in the vineyard; they’re thick as thieves. And we’ve all just had to accept that he’s moved on. And don’t tell anyone, but I don’t miss him at all. Nevertheless, a house without a dog is oddly empty. I grew up with dogs. My mother was horsey and English, and my father wasn’t far off it (Harrow and Sandhurst), so their dogs got any physical affection that was going, while their children got almost none. Before I got on the train to

Last week, my dog left me. Walked out. Gone and left me for another man. I knew what had happened when I returned to the vineyard after a week or two abroad. As soon as I got out of my truck, there he was, running right past me without so much as a how d’you do. I couldn’t help it — I’m afraid I yelled after him, ‘Listen, you little shit, I saved your life! One day from death row you were, and this is what I get?’ I suppose you think I should be heartbroken. I’m not really. Truth is, I liked him well enough, but I never really loved him. That’s hard to admit; you are meant to love your pets unreservedly. My last dog, a brindle Staffordshire bull terrier, I loved more than I can say. She was a very young dog when she came to stay for a few weeks while a friend of ours was recovering from an illness. She never left — our friend luckily recognised she was happier with us. She was called Fire, who knows why. It was awkward because if you had to find her in a park, for instance, mothers of small children would become alarmed at the sight of a scruffy man running about yelling ‘Fire!’ She became my closest ally: affectionate, fun, full of life. But also, curiously soulful. I couldn’t bear to part from her. The feeling was mutual — the sound of a suitcase coming out of the attic would plunge her into despair. The look on her face would make you weep. When you returned home, she’d pretend that you were quite beneath her dignity. It wouldn’t last — soon she’d come bounding up, leaping in sheer delight that you were back. The best of dogs. Anyway, about three years ago, very old and almost blind, she died. I haven’t really recovered. It was my wife’s idea to replace

boarding school, my father would give me a firm handshake (‘Goodbye old boy, work hard’) — this from a man who’d happily pat his labrador all day. Just as well, probably; much as I loved my father, a hug would have been mortifying, I suspect. We had a succession of corgis, and I was very fond of them. My brother, a distinguished academic, somehow retains that affection, and keeps them to this day. All of his have been most disagreeable, and one had a nasty habit in tutorials of exploding like a vicious orange missile from under his desk at girls in sandals. Plus corgis are incessant yappers. I suspect all those whispers about the Queen’s dogs being a tad horrid are well founded. My sister, on the other hand, has a knack for choosing dogs of no known provenance who turn out to be the sort that will mount anything: other dogs, bitches, grandmothers, plumbers. Speaking of which, some family friends had a particularly disgusting smelly spaniel, who always seemed dead in a heap by the fire until his ancient ears detected a woman wearing stockings. Just the rustle of nylon, and vile Humphrey would leap up, seize the stockinged leg and commence a frenzied humping. Not so long ago I was in a film about all this — dogs, fathers, sons, errant behaviour and so on. It’s called Dean Spanley and I recommend it. And not least because it is one of the great Peter O’Toole’s last films. I don’t think he himself cared for dogs much, but by God, he’s fantastic in the movie. Heartbreaking in fact. Sam Neill is an actor, and the vigneron at Two Paddocks Wines.

illustration by david sparshott

Dog tales

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LIFE

O S CAR AND T H E OPPR E S S OR S Hollywood loves a social conscience picture, but its own culture is more conservative than it looks Jonathan Foreman

As the host Ellen DeGeneres joked at the Academy Awards, there were two outcomes that night: ‘Possibility number one: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. And possibility two: you’re all racists.’ There is little question that 12 Years a Slave is a well-made, powerful and important film which deserves the plaudits it has won. But the sometimes disingenuous ways it was marketed raise questions about the different forms political correctness takes on both sides of the ­Atlantic. As someone who grew up in the film industry (my dad was Carl Foreman, screenwriter of films such as High Noon, The Bridge on the River Kwai and The Guns of Navarone), I’m a seasoned if often exasperated Oscar watcher. My first job was as a production assistant to Sidney Poitier, who this year presented Alfonso Cuaron with the award for Best Director, pointedly reminding viewers of the racial barrier that was smashed in 1963 when he won Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field. Less comforting is the fact that only three African-American actors have won Best Actor since then (Denzel Washington for Training Day in 2002, Jamie Foxx for Ray in 2005 and Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland in 2007). Halle Berry remains the only African-American to have won Best Actress (Monster’s Ball, 2002). In winning Best Picture (though losing out on Best Director), 12 Years a Slave is the first film directed by a black man ever to have taken the Academy’s highest award in its 83-year history. Academy voters care very much about the image of their community, and so like to reward conventionally liberal-minded movies which show the film world’s concern about social issues. Its 6,000-plus members (drawn from all the industry’s disciplines) may be politically liberal, but artistically they’re quite conservative. Certain subject matters invariably press their buttons. It was inevitable, for example, that the 1993 Aids film Philadelphia would win at least one major award (in the event it won two — Best Actor for Tom Hanks and Best Song for Bruce Springsteen). Similarly Paul Haggis’s Crash was one of those films that made Academy members feel noble for feeling bad about racism; it won three Oscars, including Best Picture.  An exhaustive 2012 study by the LA Times found

that Oscar voters are 94 per cent Caucasian and 77 per cent male. Under-50s comprise only 14 per cent of the membership — arguably this limits the appeal of a film like The Social Network, which lost in 2011 to The King’s Speech. The median age is 62, which can perhaps explain the absence of votes for the brilliant but explicit The Wolf of Wall Street, as well as the total absence of nominations for Steve McQueen’s last film, Shame, a graphic depiction of the life of a sex addict (despite a concerted Oscars campaign by Fox Searchlight). The publicity strategy for 12 Years a Slave made much of Hollywood’s supposed failures when it comes to race and slavery. Steve McQueen gave the impression in interviews that until he came along, Hollywood had ‘ignored’ or sugarcoated slavery. The slogan ‘It’s time …’ was used, implying not only ‘… to tell this story’ but also ‘… to rectify past Academy failures by making this movie Best Picture’. But is this fair? It’s true that Hollywood has made few films which centre on slavery (especially if you exclude films about the American Civil War like Glory and Lincoln) — but the subject

Above: Director Steve McQueen with Chiwetel Ejiofor on the set of 12 Years a Slave

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Above, right: Sidney Poitier celebrates his Oscar for Best Actor in 1963

cal slave but one of a tiny number of kidnapped free blacks who were rescued from bondage before the Civil War. Both characters are outliers, with stories that end in triumph. This makes it possible for viewers to bear the unbearable. 12 Years a Slave has given a boost to a slavery reparations drive that is largely a scam pushed by greedy lawyers and activists, predicated on a dishonest or ignorantly selective approach to history. Only this month 14 Caribbean countries announced plans to sue Britain. Why aren’t campaigners demanding apologies and money from the descendants of the West African kings and gen-

12 Years a Slave — that Hollywood habitually depicts happy slaves on elegant plantations in the manner of Gone with the Wind — is rubbish. The fact is that feature films are primarily designed for entertainment; it is hard to make the spectacle of mass suffering bearable, let alone entertaining. McQueen also alleged that Hollywood preferred to make films about the Holocaust, but this too is questionable. Until relatively recently, the list of Holocaust films was quite short (Life Is Beautiful and The Reader have added to the number). In both good and bad ways, 12 Years a Slave is the Schindler’s List of its time and its subject. It makes the compromises necessary to represent a huge historical horror in a film which people will be willing to watch — such as basing the film on a character who is essentially untypical of that horror’s myriad victims. Schindler’s List views the Holocaust from the point of view of a German witness turned rescuer, a category that in real life was extremely small and unrepresentative, but one with which audiences can identify more comfortably. Similarly, Solomon Northup is not a typi-

erals who sold their defeated enemies to slave traders? Their calls ignore Britain’s unique and costly efforts to stamp out slavery. Rather than reparations for the past, if 12 Years a Slave can have an impact beyond the confines of the cinema, surely it should be in thinking about slavery today. In fairness to McQueen, he more than made up for his initial marketing strategies when at both the Baftas and the Oscars he made appeals on behalf of the 21 million people trapped in modern-day slavery in the Gulf, in Asia and even in Europe. Perhaps the real lesson of the success of 12 Years a Slave, and of this year’s Oscars more generally, is that what people call ‘Hollywood’ is more than ever a joint British-Australian-American industry, and is all the better for it. It’s diversification of a sort, if not quite the kind that the film industry still yearns for . . . Jonathan Foreman has worked as everything from a production assistant to a foreign correspondent, film critic for the New York Post and chairman of the New York Film Critics Circle.

regency enterprises; selznick/mgm:the kobal collection; getty images

Above: Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel with Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind

hasn’t been suppressed. Richard Fleischer’s compelling ­Mandingo (1975) is at least as brutal as 12 Years a Slave in its depiction of slavery. Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1997) makes no bones about the murderous brutality of the Middle Passage (the Africa-to-America leg of the triangular trade route). Even before the 1970s, slavery’s sinister afterglow was the context of any number of films: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Defiant Ones, Home of the Brave. And also, of course, In the Heat of the Night, in which Sidney Poitier famously demands to be called ‘Mister Tibbs’. The idea which floated around the early publicity of

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LIFE

HARRY COLE

This insidious tendency to forego alcohol in the middle of the day must be stamped out

I kept my order simple: ‘The crab and the wine list, please.’ Catching up with an old comrade last year in one of Washington’s better restaurants, the look in his eye said ‘sorry’ before I had even realised my face had fallen. Everyone was dry, just iced tea and Diet Coke. Everywhere. The senator and the lobbyist: dry. The wonks were on the water and even the gentleman from the Times of London six tables away was letting his country down. ‘The wine list is at the front of the menu, sir,’ said the polite Southern waiter, pointing me to a choice of two reds and two whites by the glass. All American, obviously. ‘Fine, I’ll have a Bloody Mary instead please.’ My lunch companion cracked up when the waiter innocently asked if I would like vodka in that. Welcome to America, land of the free, where the boozy lunch goes to die. Fast forward a year to London and this barbaric phenomenon is ruining every great trade. The City has been suffering under this tedious American tendency for the best part of a decade now, but it’s spreading like the pox. It makes it much harder to stagger in after a three-hour lunch and gently snooze through till teatime under the beady gaze of your boss or rival colleagues in a big open-plan office. ‘The demise of the boozy lunch can be linked to the rise of the mobile phone,’ Simon Walker from the Institute of Directors tells me. ‘It was far easier to order that second bottle of claret when you didn’t have two smartphones on the table blinking away at you, reminding you of your impending 3 p.m. meeting.’ As the partitions came down and the chinos came in, American bank practices

have spread from the City, down Fleet Street and have even reached Westminster. As politics and journalism have become more of a profession than an art form, the rules of the game have got tighter. With hacks and flacks tied to the internet, just like in the City, it’s harder to escape. Walker is spot on about the mobile phone reining in fun, but it’s not just that. With the constant news cycle, the twittering and the death of proper deadlines, it’s increasingly difficult to disappear for the middle of the day. ‘When I arrived in Westminster in 2001 it was not unusual to sink half a bottle over lunch every day,’ says the new Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman. ‘For Sunday scribes a “three-bottler” was far from unusual.’ Was it the boring right-on Labour years that ruined everything, then? ‘Many blame the decline of Westminster drinking on the tofu-eaters of New Labour, but I always found them willing to quaff. The bigger cultural change has taken place with the new intakers of 2010 keener on penning policy papers than sinking a gallon of Gavi.’ Money is tighter too, says Shipman: ‘Just as big a problem is the dwindling size of Fleet Street expense accounts. Many newspapers now impose a £100 limit, which makes it difficult to afford a bottle in many

‘It was far easier to order that second bottle of claret when you didn’t have a smartphone blinking away, reminding you of your 3 o’clock meeting’

Westminster hostelries. But there are ways around it. At the Sunday Express I was limited to £80. On one memorable occasion my guest and I ate steak and chips at £4.99 apiece with a £70 bottle of Gevrey Chambertin to liven things up.’ With every decline, there are those who will fight back. There are still well-known faces who it is best to call after lunch if you’re after gossip, and it’s always fun to spot news channel correspondents sinking one or two at lunch only to belch their way over to the studio when something breaks. But Shipman is right — frankly the vast majority of career politicians are boring. At least until the sun has gone down. It’s got so bad that even Nigel Farage is slowing down. I remember — well in fact it’s hazy — a lunch with the Ukip leader a few years back that started with two Bloody Marys, a bottle of white, two bottles of red and a cheeky port. While Nigel, toking on a Rothmans, walked off in a dead straight line to appear on the BBC, I contemplated a nap on the steps outside the now defunct Shepherd’s. Perhaps the most disturbing twist in the never-ending saga that is Ukip came when Farage was recently spotted sipping sparkling water at a lunch. It’s not yet as dire over here as it is in America, but something horribly depressing has happened while nobody was looking — drinking at lunchtime has been almost obliterated. The lunchtime jollies have turned into coffee without biscuits; the stories dreamt up over that fourth one for the road have been replaced by 24-hour news cycles and retweeting. Those of us remaining must fight back. If it gets any worse, we will have to go work in insurance.

illustration by david sparshott

Save the boozy lunch

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FA M I LY CA S E S

in my father. He took a more sedate route for his wine education, however, by joining his local wine club in Amersham. Wine was always something considered important in our family, though no one seemed to know why. My father didn’t know that much about it, his father even less: he just liked the stuff and knew that it was something an Englishman should be interested in. My father’s family have a slightly second-hand grasp of Englishness which I think comes from being Jewish. We began to attend tastings together. One of the first was a 1985 Bordeaux horizontal, the wine provided by one of the members of his club. I remember being transfixed by the Pichon-Longueville Baron, but more than this I remember seeing my father for the first time as a human being rather than a distant bearded figure like an Old Testament prophet. I had left the wine trade by this point but read and tasted voraciously. I joined the Wine Society and we began to attend their tastings together. No matter which region we

How discovering wine brought me closer to my father Henry Jeffreys

I remember being transfixed by the Pichon-Longueville Baron, but more than this I remember seeing my father for the first time as a human being rather than a distant bearded figure like an Old Testament prophet

Many men really can only communicate through sport. It provides a ritualised way to argue, to become passionate and to bond without having to talk about awkward things such as feelings. This is never truer than of father-and-son relationships. But my father and I never had this common ground. He was a brilliant sportsman as a schoolboy and as an adult a keen golfer and rugby player. I, on the other hand, combined a scrawny physique with physical cowardice and an extraordinary lack of co-ordination. My brothers weren’t much better but at least they were interested in watching sport and would accompany him to Lord’s and Twickenham. I envied their ease around him. To give him credit, he did try to find things that we were both interested in. There was motor racing: he couldn’t stand the noise so had to buy headphones, at which point he fell asleep. And then there was the theatre. For years we went to highly lauded productions such as Diana Rigg in Medea or Michael Gambon in Beckett’s Endgame. On arrival my father would take his seat, mutter something about how he loved Euripides and then, just after the curtain came up, fall asleep. I would sit out of my mind with boredom wishing I was at home with a book. After a particularly bad run of plays, I finally admitted to him that I didn’t really enjoy the theatre. He was disappointed but I think relieved. It looked as if we were destined to go through life treating each other with complete bafflement until in 1999 I started work at Oddbins. I’d been spending an increasing amount of time in the Headingley branch after my graduation, so it seemed a good idea to get a job there. It was a glorious time. I caught the end of Oddbins’ crazy years before they were swallowed up by Castel. We supplied most of the bars and restaurants in Leeds. A night out would be somewhat like that bit in Goodfellas when the Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco characters go to the Copacabana club. We went straight to the front of the queue and often drank on the house all night. I embarked on a crash course in wine appreciation at the hands of Yorkshire’s rowdiest wine merchants — enlivened, it has to be said, with quite a bit of cocaine. I’m not sure Michael Broadbent would have approved. There’s nothing quite like drinking a 1976 von Buhl Forster Jesuit­garten Spatlese and watching the sun rise over Harrogate. My sudden interest in wine sparked a similar awakening

were tasting, my father would mutter ‘Mmm, nice and smooth’ or ‘I don’t like a wine that’s too smooth.’ I never knew which it was. Despite his refusal to analyse what we were drinking, he has unerringly good taste. If he rates a wine, it’s normally very good. But of course, we weren’t just there for the wine. Having this thing that we did together enabled us to talk like we never could do before. We did sometimes invite my brothers or my wife but the dynamic didn’t work so now we keep it exclusively for us. Apart from helping me get to know my father, this joint interest in wine has a happy symbiosis in that I would read about and try lots of wine and my father, being a successful businessman, would buy it. He now has stocks of Bordeaux, Rhône, Burgundy and some German stuff in storage. I’ve tried to do my bit by buying him cases of wine for his birthday. We’re currently working our way through a case of Bandol Pradeaux ’05 that I bought him for his 65th. By 2009 I was in the odd position of having an all-consuming passion that I could only share on occasional nights out with my father. Most of my friends were of the three-bottles-for-£10 school of wine buying. What I needed was an outlet for all this accumulated knowledge. First, I tried writing a book on the history of wine, which never saw the light of day. More successfully, I began a blog which led to paid writing work. One day I was summoned for tea with Rachel Johnson and she asked me to become wine columnist of The Lady. I accepted of course and immediately called my father to tell him the good news. I’ve never heard him sound so proud; it may have made up for a lifetime of sporting ineptitude. 47

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How Nicky Haslam rescued my sitting-room refurbishment project Rachel Johnson

illustrations by paul blow

E S CAPE FROM DE C O H E L L

When the ceiling in our sitting room fell down last month, we descended with the thudding plaster and the lathe into that place anyone who has ever had cause to ‘do up’ a room or a house will know all too well: the World of Interiors, a parallel universe that is not so much Elle Deco, as Deco Hell. Suddenly whole days go by in emporia with names like ‘Knobs and Knockers’, where you argue bitterly over little brass cupboard handles. The shop assistants in lighting showrooms know your children’s names. In my case, you become bizarrely obsessed with proper plasterwork cornices, and order samples that arrive in toothpasty white chunks, like offcuts from the Elgin marbles. You live on websites devoted to sandblasting iron radiators, and yet the paradox

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STYLE

remains: the longer you spend in Deco Hell, the more impossible any decision-making becomes. ‘We spent at least five years arguing what sofa to buy,’ says documentary maker Philippa Walker, who lives with her husband Alan Yentob in Notting Hill. ‘Until finally, at last, we found one we both liked. It was from B&B Italia and cost [she named a sum and asked me not to put it in] but we bought it anyway.’ Chez nous, the party line is that my husband has good taste, while I have actively bad taste. This means we fight like cat and dog over everything house and garden, and are still both recovering from an epic ‘shared experience’ redoing a small nursery bathroom last year. We spent so long a year ago arguing over the tiles that our builder went away, had a baby, and came back to find us still debating whether the washbasin should have a pedestal or not. So when it came to the imploded sitting room, we didn’t want the ordeal to send us both to the brink again. So we worked out some basics. We decided where we were going to put lights, and bookcases. Instead of downlighters, we decided to install a ceiling rose and

centre light as well as side lights, and decided that the cornice belonged to the walls and should therefore be the same colour, to add height to the room. It was all going almost smoothly, until we had to decide the paint colour. Weeks began to slip by in a kaleidoscope of swatches and sample pots. We went to Farrow & Ball, even though we had vowed never to use their paints again, as they are very expensive and don’t actually do the job (after a few months, the paint starts peeling off, leaving your walls pockmarked). Even so, decision ­eluded us. I wanted green. He wanted pink. So I texted Nicky Haslam, the legendary interior decorator, and begged him to ‘pop over for five minutes’ and help. If anyone knows what is common and comme il faut, it is Nicky. London’s premier arbiter elegantiarum arrived wearing baseball boots, a leather jacket and a baker boy cap like Marlon Brando, smoking cigarillos. He marched into the sitting room, where the carpenter and electrician and cornice-man were hard at it, as if invading a small country. His eagle eye fell on the

Nicky looked at me in silence, then handed me a section of Elastoplast. ‘This is the colour for your walls,’ he said. ‘The whole point of rooms is to make people look prettier! Green makes people look ill!’

bespoke ceiling rose that was about to go up, and ‘Take it away,’ he snapped. ‘No overhead lighting!’ I had to move him on. ‘Nicky, what about the colour?’ I asked, ‘I’m thinking green. Like Gilbert & George’s house in Spitalfields.’ Nicky looked at me in silence then handed me a section of Elastoplast. ‘THIS is the colour,’ he said. ‘The whole point of rooms is to make people look prettier! Green makes people look ill. Gilbert & George want to look ill!’ Then he looked around the shell of the room. ‘What you really want to do,’ he said, ‘Is close off this door and knock through THIS wall HERE,’ he rapped on it with his knuckles. ‘Otherwise you have no room,’ he frowned, ‘for a CONSOLE table.’ 50

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I distracted him by showing him our extant furniture. ‘Those library chairs are impossible,’ he said. ‘They look like Mars Bars. All shiny, all wrong. They should look like this.’ He stroked his soft worn leather bag, like something that was used to carry cartridges in the trenches. ‘You have a house in the country, they belong in the country,’ he decided. ‘What about the George Smith sofa?’ I asked. ‘Straight to Lots Road,’ he ordered. ‘Should have a straight back, to go against the wall!’ At this point I was starting to panic. I told him I’d interviewed Annabel Astor, doyenne of OKA, and she’d said that the rule was there were no rules. You could even have tartan south of the border! ‘There are some rules and not all are made to be broken,’ Nicky corrected Lady A. So here, for free, are just some of his rules. When it comes to paint, the rule is two coats and a glaze. ‘If you just slap it on it looks like Horlicks.’ And the cornice does not belong to the walls at all. ‘A cornice has to be Dirty Grey.’

When it comes to floors, rush matting or sea-grass is always nice, and so is stone but never on an upper floor, as it’s nouveau to put stone upstairs. And carpet in a bathroom is cosy and ‘sexy too’. When it comes to colour schemes, never try to match anything. ‘If anything, clash!’ Otherwise your house looks hotel-y. When it comes to lighting, ‘LED lighting is vile’ and so is most overhead lighting apart from ­chandeliers sometimes. When it comes to furniture, don’t be frightened of putting a large piece in a small room as it makes the space look bigger. But it was Nicky’s next suggestion that really shocked me. He wanted me to marble-effect my fireplace and put down a cheap white Flokati rug in front of it, or even consider nylon carpet. ‘I love nylon ­carpet!’ So there you have it. What is common is nice, and what is nice is often common. Just fancy. I do hope that Nicky’s top tips will spare you months of domestic agony in Deco Hell and always remember: a mirror makes a room sparkle!

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STYLE

OSCAR HUMPHRIES

Put on the first perfume you ever wore, and suddenly you’re a teenager again

I long ago gave up trying be a proper journalist. Yes, I’ve written on Syria, but I did so for Tatler. ‘I enjoyed your article,’ an academic said to me the other day. She was Spanish and worked for an auction house and I was pretending to know more than I do about Goya’s late paintings. ‘Which article?’ I asked. Of course she meant the Spectator Life one on lingerie. Gone was the facade of the art historian, the trivial sleaze exposed. Again. When we buy a new piece of clothing or a new perfume we hope, on some subconscious level, that these items will give us something that’s missing. They promise more than warmth or rain resistance or a pleasant smell. That pretty jumper says ‘Buy me and that vague anxiety will lessen’ and for a moment it often does. For a moment we don’t want anything else. We are at peace. Then, of course, need kicks in again. Retailers know that the decisions shoppers make are emotional, or relate to vanity or a desire to be someone else. Memory plays its part as well, and perfume makers are adept at distilling it. Memory is a funny thing. We can dip in and out of it. And it can surprise us. We reach into the past to pull out what we want now: snapshots of a trip to the beach or of a childhood nursery or of a hotel room. We hide what we don’t want to remember in the mind’s attic, make it hard to get at. There, with the cobwebs and dust, lie childhood traumas and all those what-ifs. In my attic lives the girl I should have kissed but didn’t, the girl I should never have kissed, and the huge flat in Notting Hill I didn’t buy because at £400,000 it was too expensive. I try to lock these things away. Songs

can unlock memory, as can photographs, but it is smell more than anything else that trails behind it tethered histories. Try putting on the first perfume you ever wore. It will transform you once more into an adolescent: you’ll remember fretting about your O-levels and you might want a cigarette, even if you gave up years ago. My generation grew up with sexually ambiguous scents such as CK One and Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey. They are both now out of fashion but you can still encounter them from time to time. They are time capsules and, for me at least, open the box marked ‘boarding school’. Those subtly androgynous fragrances of the 1990s have been replaced with more overtly masculine or feminine creations — or by scents marketed by pop stars. Often, in my experience, we like to think of ourselves as having a signature scent, something people might associate with us. Forget Bieber or Britney, the more discerning scent consumer is attempting to create an intimate personal brand. Nureyev, at the end of a day’s practice, would rub the shirt he’d wear out that night over his sweaty body. Most of us lack his bravado. The language of scent is so specific. ‘Sexy, carefree and light’ will appeal to the overworked secretary who spends most of her time in a basement office. This fragrance will no doubt contain ‘white moon-

Whatever I wear is masked, no doubt, by the smell of cigarettes and coffee

berries’ or some such ingredient you’ve never heard of. It promises a new life, for 40 quid duty free. By the same token, aftershave marketed as ‘powerful, self-assured and risk-taking’ is bound to appeal to the man who has never taken a risk. The delicate cocktail of top and bottom notes that make up the formula of a perfume are more science than art. Created by Grasse-trained noses, they change with fashion. What we think smells nice, however, despite subtle shifts, remains largely unchanged. Chanel No. 5 is a mid-20th century creation that is still popular, as is its minimal but unmistakable branding. For many buyers, the smell is secondary to the image of themselves they’d like to create with these shiny magic potions. Tom Ford ma kes h is l iv i ng sel l i ng a contemporary kind of luxury. His perfumes contain ingredients that are and smell expensive. Musk, truffle and saffron form part of his portfolio. In my experience, it’s hard to stick with one smell — like a favourite song or jumper, we use it over and over and become sick of it. I grew out of Issey Miyake, and now I change scents nearly every day. Maybe that’s because I can’t decide who I want to be, or maybe it’s because I want the scent to deliver something that it can’t. In winter I’ll wear something summery that smells faintly of sun cream — it will work for an hour and them seem old and sad and incongruous with a northern European March day. And whatever I wear is masked, no doubt, by the smell of cigarettes and coffee. This is surely my true signature scent — it may not be for everyone, but nor is Ms Spears’s ‘Curious’.

illustration by david sparshott

The scent of a memory

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STYLE

m a k e r ’ s MAR Q U ES Six routes for drivers prepared to pay dearly for a car like no one else’s Simon de Burton

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A ston M a rti n ‘Q Design’

R A NGE ROV ER Engineered to order

ROL L S -ROYC E Bespoke Collection

The Range Rover has been regarded as an ideal blank canvas for experiments in luxury since the original version was launched in 1970, soon after which specialist firms began turning them in to convertibles, limousines and even six-wheelers. This potential was further realised in 1980 when Vogue magazine requested a customised one-off for a photo shoot — resulting in numerous requests for replicas and leading to the launch of the ‘In Vogue’ model. Victoria Beckham, a longtime Range Rover driver, collaborated with the brand in 2012 to launch an Evoque Special Edition in what she described as ‘the perfect collaboration’. The ultimate factory-built Range Rovers are now known as ‘Autobiography’ models because, essentially, the owner writes the specification. The latest, the Autobiography Black, is the plushest Rangie ever made and comes from the marque’s exclusive ‘engineered to order’ (ETO) department. Special features include a redesigned grille and body vents, special rear lights, unique ‘Autobiography Black’ seat covers and a rear centre console housing electrically deployable aircraft-style tables. There’s also a drinks chiller, a concealed ski hatch and ten-colour ‘mood lighting.’ All absolutely essential when towing a horse box across a ploughed field.

The fabled British sports car maker quietly announced its ‘Q Design’ service at the Geneva Motor Show in 2011, since when it has chiefly publicised it by word of mouth. Its purpose is to transform ‘standard’ Astons into unique editions. About 200 cars were given the Q treatment in 2012, with each project being carried out by a dedicated team of ten or so people, including colour experts, engineers and interior specialists. The basic service involves creating bespoke upholstery and special body finishes. A particularly wealthy (and anonymous) customer’s request for Q Design to create an entirely new car for him resulted in the futuristic CC100 opentopped speedster that was seen out and about during the marque’s centenary celebrations last year. It is said to have cost a seven-figure sum.

One woman wanted her car painted the precise hue of her Irish Setter

Rolls-Royce recently announced that close to 95 per cent of the cars it sold in 2013 were, in one way or another, personalised to the owner’s specification. In addition to adapting its cars to the requirements of individual buyers, Rolls-Royce also offers a range of vehicles under the ‘Bespoke Collection’ title, with recent models being a Ghost based on the car which won the gruelling Alpine trial of 1913, and the ‘Celestial Phantom’ which was unveiled last year to mark a decade since the opening of the Goodwood factory. The Celestial’s special features include a head lining fitted with hundreds of LEDs to replicate the stars, ‘Night Sky’ paintwork featuring tiny glass particles, a picnic set with handengraved glassware and an uplit bonnet mascot. It is relatively common, we’re told, for female buyers to request a colour exactly the same as a favourite lipstick or nail varnish. One woman wanted her car to be painted the precise hue of her Irish Setter. The dog was persuaded to sit still and be scanned and, within minutes, its colouring was ­reproduced in paint.

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Back in the pre-war era, cars were invariably bought in the form of a naked chassis for which a specialist coach builder would be commissioned to make the bodywork. After that, the owner could set to with an accessories catalogue­such as the 800-page 1920s tome produced by Dunhill  to advertise its ‘Motorites’ and choose

all the necessary add-ons to complete the car. Everything was available, from headlamps to horns and from upholstery to luggage. The result was, effectively, entirely bespoke. Today’s manufacturing methods and safety constraints generally make it impractical for customers to have quite such a free

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JAGUA R Engineered to order

P OR SC H E Exclusive

BEN T L EY Mulliner

Porsche not posh enough? Not to worry — just ask your dealer for a one-to-one ‘personalisation consultation’ and a world of bespoke opportunities will be unveiled. The Porsche Exclusive service allows buyers to mix and match materials used across the range, choose from a special selection of ‘Exclusive’ options or specify unique alterations — provided, of course, that they don’t compromise a car’s performance or safety. Currently there’s a craze among buyers of the marque’s legendary 911 cars to specify paint jobs redolent of the groovier years of the 1970s. Turbo Lime Gold Metallic is apparently especially popular, especially when complemented with an interior of agate grey and limegold leather. Guards Red — the favoured 911 colour from the ‘loadsamoney’ days of the 1980s — is also back, along with trendy again Grand Prix White.

Jaguar launched its ‘engineered to order’ service in 2012 to create concept cars, limited-edition versions of its regular range and, of course, one-offs for well-heeled customers. They have already produced several memorable road-burners, including the supercharged 550-horsepower XKR-S. One of the first to buy an XKR-S was Iron Maiden’s drummer, Nicko McBrain, who asked for his to be made a little more exclusive through the addition of door sills engraved with his name, ‘Supercharged’ bonnet badges in the Iron Maiden font and a red-and-black interior. There are custom goods to put inside your Jag, too: the venerable French luggage maker Moynat has designed a bespoke motoring trunk to fit the F-Type’s decidedly bijou boot. The only downside is that, while you can buy an F-Type convertible for around £60,000, the trunk, made from the finest saddle leather, costs another £42,000 — although you do get a folding scooter thrown in.

Special features include a console housing electrically deployable aircraft-style tables. There’s also a drinks chiller, a ski hatch and 10-colour ‘mood lighting.’ All absolutely essential when towing a horse box across a ploughed field

hand in the creation of their new wheels — although it’s surprising just how accommodating the luxury marques can be when it comes to making a car. Here are some examples of what can be done by the top manufacturers if your wallet is generous enough and you’re happy to let your imagination go into overdrive.

Bentley’s ‘Mulliner’ department, which evolved from a coach-­building firm, operates from the marque’s Crewe headquarters and exists to pander to sir and madam’s every motoring whim. That includes giving the car a unique outward appearance, making it bulletproof, having the family crest stitched into the headrests or even kitting it out as a mobile office. There are few requests which cannot be accommodated. Mulliner has fitted Bentleys with drawers to hold paintings for an art dealer, concealed security safes beneath carpets, and built in-car vanity tables complete with solid silver mirror, brush and comb from the royal jeweller Asprey. One American customer even paid handsomely for the design and construction of a bespoke petrol cap — which spends most of the time hidden beneath a hinged flap.

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STYLE

THE WI SH LIST

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Photography by Arthur Woodcroft Set design by Kerry Hughes

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STYLE Previous page, from left: My Dior cuff bracelet in yellow gold with gemstones including diamonds and sapphires, £POA, Dior Joaillerie; Bouquet of Dreams Diva bangle, £770, Freywille; Ruby and diamond set handcuffs by Kutchinsky to be sold at auction, estimate £5,000– £10,000, Woolley and Wallis; Ruby and diamond 18k white gold cuff, £POA, Nourbel & Le Cavelier; Cabochon bangle, £565, Montblanc.

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Clockwise from top left: Bee cufflinks, £2,250, Theo Fennell; Frog Prince cufflinks, £295, William & Son; Bug cufflinks, £350, Kiki McDonough; Snail cufflinks, £6,700, David Marshall; Turtle silver cufflinks, £140, Patrick Mavros.

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A tour where everyone — elephants included — is steadfastly determined to please Melissa Kite

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MELI S SA AND ME

As I sink into my four-poster bed at the Oberoi Rajvilas hotel in Jaipur, I find an array of little notes and gifts on the pillow including a pillow menu. It informs me that I am lying on duck down but I can have buckwheat, memory foam or ‘dual zone hypoallergenic’, if I so desire. This says everything about the attention to detail I have quickly come to expect from the Oberoi group, which offers luxury and indulgence on a truly grand scale. On arrival in India a few days earlier, I overnighted on the 20th floor of the magnificent Oberoi, ­Mumbai, where my enormous silk-draped bed stood in front of a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall window overlooking the Arabian sea at Nariman Point. The entire window was filled with ocean and skyline, so that 61

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T RAV E L called Melissa. I feel slightly guilty that my namesake has to walk up and down a steep hill for a living, even though the elephant rider informs me the animals are all well rested. As an alternative, you can drive up by Jeep to see the palace, a blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture affording stunning views. Then it is on to the hustle of Jaipur’s thriving bazaars and ancient monuments, including the strange collection of giant sun dials at the Jantar Mantar observatory. I only manage a few hours in the ‘pink city’, so called because it was repainted entirely in pink,

the impression was of going to sleep on a high-rise cruise liner. I had arrived on an incredibly comfortable flight with Jet Airways, whose new premiere business class bed is as good as a first-class seat on many airlines. The stars projected on to the cabin during sleep times and the popcorn brought round when you are watching a movie were typical of the meticulous ­service. If I was still a little weary after the long haul, the Oberoi, Mumbai, put paid to it. A butler appeared as if by magic every time I so much as brushed against the telephone. I enjoyed a swim in the oncoming first monsoon winds, a soothing Balinese massage and a delicious meal — the work of Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia, the brains behind my favourite restaurant in Chelsea, the classy Rasoi Vineet Bhatia. After this brief but refreshing sojourn, I am bound with my small Jetair Tours group for Rajasthan — a short domestic flight away and then an hour-long drive into the countryside of princes. The first treat is an elephant ride to the Amber Palace, ten miles from Jaipur. Again, with a knack for hospitality that goes above and beyond the call of duty, the guide manages to install me on top of an elephant

the traditional colour of welcome, in 1853 for a visit by Prince Albert. After that, I gratefully retreat from the heat and dust to the oasis of calm that is the Oberoi Rajvilas, 15 minutes away. When I arrive at my villa in the grounds, someone has spelt the word ‘Welcome’ on the doorstep in pink petals and candles. It is here I sink on to the bed in the colonial-styled room and find the note about my pillow choices. A huge sunken bath looks out over its own private courtyard garden. A walk-in glass shower makes you feel like you are showering outside among the exotic plants. The only quibble I can come up with is the noise of the frogs on the lawn outside. I don’t say anything to the staff, however, because they are so fixated on making sure I have everything I desire that I fear the frogs might be evicted if I express displeasure. The Oberoi Rajvilas is a complex of rooms, villas and tents in a fort-like setting, situated on 32 acres of lush gardens. Jasmine trees scent the air, kingfishers flutter between branches, peacocks — and frogs — roam the lawns. Every now and then there is an incongruous hooting or ribbeting sound: in truth, it is uniquely atmospheric.

Previous page: An ancient stepwell in Jaipur. Above: A ­welcoming elephant in Jaipur and, right, women at work on restorations to the Amber Fort

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allow it — but you can sense it is there, like a still, silent presence in the night. The next evening we make our way to see it. Along with hundreds of other pilgrims we walk mesmerised, never taking our eyes off its marble walls, tinged a little pink in the sunset, for the 40 minutes it takes to make the distance from the ticket gate to the foot of the monument. We stop at the place where Princess Diana sat on that bench and queue up for our ‘Diana picture’ alongside Indian girls. Everyone tries to do the pose, but none of us gets it quite right. Later, at the table next to us at dinner, there are two Japanese ladies who cannot stop giggling with excitement. I know how they feel. It is a privilege to be here, and just a little overwhelming. Like everywhere I have encountered on this all too brief luxurious tour of India. Oberoi Mumbai from £282 a night; Oberoi Rajvilas and Oberoi Amarvilas from £474 a night; see www. oberoihotels.com. Jet Airways offers flights to Mumbai from £548 return and flights from Mumbai to Jaipur from £47. See www.jetairways.com. For Jetair Tours, see www.jetairtoursindia.com

Above: Elephant ride to the Amber Fort

eric meola; awl images / getty images

As well as a spa where you can enjoy Ayurvedic treatments, the hotel has a 260-year-old restored Shiva temple where you can meditate or do yoga. I could have stayed for an eternity, never mind two days, but we are on a whistle-stop tour. However sad I am to leave the Rajvilas, I am not disappointed when I get to our next destination: the Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, 600 metres from the Taj Mahal. All the rooms in this elegant, Moorish-style hotel face the great monument to love. When I get inside mine, I gasp as I realise how perfect a private view I have of one of the wonders of the world. The Taj Mahal is so near, so precisely framed by the open patio door of my balcony, I feel like I can reach out and touch it as I sip a glass of fizzy water from the mini-bar. Here, as elsewhere, the combination of ethereal beauty, spirituality and sheer luxury is an odd but wonderful one. At night, as our group nibble canapés and sip champagne on a terrace overlooking the hotel’s magnificent pool area, the haunting sound of the call to prayer from the nearby town of Agra drifts through the dark sky. The Taj Mahal is not lit — the authorities won’t

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T R AV E L

GLOBE TROTTING Our latest travel favourites 1

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STOCKISTS

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David Marshall www.davidmarshalllondon.com 020 7495 6378 Dior www.dior.com 020 7172 0172 Freywille www.freywille.com 020 7235 1388 Kiki McDonough www.kiki.co.uk 020 7730 3323 Montblanc www.montblanc.com 020 8332 4552 Nourbel Le Cavelier www.nourbel-lecavelier.com 020 7409 0110

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Patrick Mavros www.patrickmavros.com 020 7052 0001 Theo Fennell www.theofennell.com 020 7591 5000 William & Son www.williamandson.com 020 7493 8385

1 — Pine Cliffs, Algarve Perched on beautiful red cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, Pine Cliffs is the perfect family escape with its exclusive Scott Dunn Explorers children’s club. www.scottdunn.com; 020 8682 5040

3 — Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France, West Indies Each month a different champagne house hosts a pop-up bar next to the freshwater swimming pool. Spectacular views. www.isle-de-france.com

2 — Fortina Spa Resort, Malta Stunning scenery and the world’s first therapeutic spa bedrooms, which have private seawater pools and detox machines; one treatment is the equivalent of a 3km run. www.fortinasparesort.com

4 — Jakes, Jamaica Salman Rushdie, Paul Muldoon and Zadie Smith headline the Calabash literary festival (30 May–1 June) at this magical spot on Treasure Beach. www.jakeshotel.com

Woolley and Wallis www.woolleyandwallis.co.uk 01722 424 595

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O N E T O WA T C H

N IC KOL A S BU T L E R

I took Shotgun Lovesongs with me to Florida after the Oscars last year, with no intention of actually reading it. I was so exhausted from the media tour and all of that and I just cracked open the spine and gave it a shot, and I was hooked, almost immediately, by the quiet and simple prose. It seemed so honest, it seemed so real. It wasn’t trying too hard. Before I knew it I had fallen in love with all of these characters. I read it on a beach, I read it straight through in one day — I just couldn’t stop. I had just attended the Oscars and it was a very heady experience for me, not that I had the type of fame that the character, Lee (or Bon Iver) has. There were moments at the Oscars when I watched celebrities on the red carpet play a role and then as soon as the cameras were off they became somebody else entirely, in front of my eyes. The way Lee just craves normalcy, that was something that I felt was brilliant. The idea of fame was something that at that point, I was thinking about for the first time. It was wonderful to go to the Oscars and go to the parties and stand at the bar next to Quentin Tarantino, but there was part of me that just wanted to return home and write the next novel. So the idea of balancing those two things — you know, when you make art and you have success and you’re thrust into the limelight, trying to return to where your heart is, where the art comes from — I think I could relate to that. I always say to young novelists that the best thing you can do, if you can find it, is to present an authentic version of who you really are. I think that we all have

stories to tell and part of writing is coming to terms with what type of storyteller you are going to be. That’s one of the things that really struck me about Shotgun Lovesongs. I have never met Nickolas but after reading his book I felt like I knew him. When I read his book it just seemed so authentic. I wasn’t surprised to find out later about all the time that he spent driving around that area, and living in that area. I’ve never been to Wisconsin but I write about Philadelphia, which is where I grew up. I have a love for Philly, but it’s also sometimes hard for me to be there, it’s sometimes hard for me to write there — and when I go back home, it doesn’t always match my memory of being home. I think that’s exactly what happens with the characters in this book. Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler is published by Picador.

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Matthew Quick, whose novel was made into the Oscar-winning film Silver Linings Playbook, introduces his fellow writer Nickolas Butler. Butler’s first novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, is set in smalltown Wisconsin and is partly inspired by his high-school friend Justin Vernon, lead singer of the indie band Bon Iver

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Spectator Life Spring 2014