Monday, July 31, 2006

She's got it

1 Tuna and Sweetcorn
1 Pack Marlboro (Reds)
1 Six Pack Stella Artois

Kate Moss caught in a London supermarket at the weekend and buying food. Two improbable images of the world's greatest supermodel: shopping anywhere 'normal' and eating (anything but cigarettes). And Kate is certainly the greatest; as defined by the fashion world, and me and most women. For the men to whom this remains a curiosity, let me explain. Kate is it, for three reasons:

1 - She is simply the best, better than all the rest. Kate has become the fashion icon for our times. Beyond the limits of our physical fascination with her is the substantial hold her personal style has over many women. She wears it, and we want it. Every outfit - even those damned skinny jeans- she wears inspires a mini-trend on its own. Some inspire jealousy, some admiration. But all inspire.

2 - She remains elusive, yet few of us can claim we're not a little interested by her. Others will admit to full-blown obsession. All over a woman who has been carefully choreographed to never utter a mutter in public. And yet I, and others, consider Kate a friend. Due to obsessional media coverage, I know more about her drug habits and relationship woes than I do many of my, let's call them, closer friends. And with her looks, her style, her money, many of us would...well, we would choose to be Kate. Suffice it to say, she inspires many an alter ego.

3- Kate exudes crazed coolness. She represents the maximum in recognition with the minimum effort. She bought the celebrity Wonka bar with the golden ticket to a life of doing whatever you want. Kate officially embodies all kinds of newsworthy qualities: danger, sleaze-edged glamour, decadence, sex, corrupted youth and ineffable beauty, addiction, money and fashion. Think Princess Diana with a rockstar grouppie edge. Now that is inspirational.

So there we have why women are led by Kate. But why doesn't she stir the same following amongst men? Let's return to the three key aspects of Kate's appeal: being the best, being elusive and being crazed. It takes most men many years to accept even one of those qualities in a woman. But Kate doesn't wait around for anybody. And, that above all, is truly inspired.

Still unconvinced:
Addicted to Love: The Kate Moss Story by Fred Vermorel, from £7.91, Vermorel tries to unravel Kate Moss the fiction from Kate Moss the reality. Since she nevers interviews, it feels a bit voyeuresqe.

Also unconvinced about former beau Pete Doherty, or just like British music:
The Libertines Bound Together: The Story of Peter Doherty and Carl Barat and How They Changed British Music by Anthony Thornton and Roger Sargent,from £10.15, So is Pete Doherty just a druggie fame-seeker who happened to go out with Kate Moss? An honest account of The Libertines, and an insight into the wider movement of disaffected youth of which they were a part.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Weekend laws of motion

We are talking Newton's Laws here not Kylie's Locomotion, although on closer consideration they are not mutually exclusive. Newton defined gravity, Kylie defied it. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And we couldn't agree more. The laws of motion, as we define them, start today. So c'mon baby let's give it a chance now. Here we have the first edition of City Slicker's
'Week's action, Weekend reaction'.

And in no particular order, other than importance and interest:

1) Whilst sleeping atop the covers, face down, limbs positioned like a snow angel every night had its novelty, it has long since worn off. React to the heat by finally getting a fan. Insomnia does not a martyr make. The American Fan Company ( 0870 803 4895 does retro chic designs. And they are portable so even if you get kicked from bed to sofa, you can stay cool, £125.

2) But if you really have given up on sleep, react by staying up all night at the Serpentine Gallery Marathon, Hyde Park. Not a rave, rather all-night architecture talks. Calling all urbanites, leave Wallpaper magazine behind and head to the 24-hour thinking man's chin-wag. You will be in good company, Damien Hirst and Ken Loach are set to attend. Fri 6PM-Sat 6PM. £15 entry.

3) The Bush-Blair Love Affair. Will it ever end? React by reading Toby Young's newest memoir The Sound of No Hands Clapping Price £7.91 from ( Having failed as a Brit in Manhattan, Toby heads to Los Angeles. When the truth of US-UK relations is too much to bear, we turn to fictional ones.

4) Fed up with the endless mystery surrounding Tom Cruise's baby? React by heading to Marc Salem's ESP show On Second Thoughts at the Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn. Salem is an American mind-reader who will awestruck even the most cynical. He can tell you where you last went on holiday, and what number your bank account balance begins with. Surely he must know if Suri exists. Until 5th August. Tickets £11-£18.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Making friends with film

For many of us life in London involves a conscious trolling of social and cultural offerings; with take-up often limited by budget, time or just lack of will. Nightclubs are often resisted because of work drudgery, and films are often left as stand-by plans at the weekend. We are not Paris Hilton nor Harvey Weinstein, most nights we accept our limitations.

But what if along came a free mid-week film event, made up of film industry people (draw your on stereotypes), held monthly at one of London's still hot nightclubs, and where the drinks were charged at regular pub prices. It has. And it likely offers a better shot at meeting a like mind than the speed dating circuit. Okay, unless you are after another Star Wars obsessive. In which case try a Trekkie convention, not Mayfair.

In the intimate surroundings of The Parlour in Sketch on Conduit Street, W1, Film Friends Forever holds a monthly evening (usually last Wednesday of the month) for industry professionals (and us, random gate crashers) to come and show their work, have a drink, and mingle in a room akin in grandeur to the parlours of Mansion House.

Last night the Film Friends Forever event was a series of short films, none lasting longer than 10 minutes, and largely entertaining. I drank some lovely Rosé, picked up a bit of new vocabulary - open movie (which are closed?), VJ set (no not a typo), dubstep (like the lindy hop?), amongst others - and generally revelled in the novelty of free fun. In between films were the Karminsky Experience DJs, playing from their recently released debut album. These raving scensters can also be found at the Bethnal Green Working Mens Club on the last Friday of the month (so tomorrow).

All perhaps a bit too 'right on' eh, good thing you missed the short called War Photographer complete with vikings, rock-and-roll and robot battleships. Not quite your average visual intake. I understood not one minute of it. But the majority were interesting and provoking. My favourite was called 72 Hours From Now about a girl awakening in a post-apocalyptic world. Please don't read too much into that. I was just hoping for her sake it was after this heat wave and air conditioned.

So there you have it. A true underground secret just made public. I almost feel dirty now. But somebody's gotta do it.

Subscribe at:

Next event is a Summer Boat Party on Sat 19th August with films and music on deck.
Next monthly event at Parlour expected Wed 30th August.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

From the source

As if being hot, bothered, and in desperate need of a holiday wasn't bad enough; today's news has Blair berating us for being fat and lazy. Nearly ready to dig our own grave, we are told. Obesity is threatening to be the largest global killer by the year 2020 says the UN. 'We know, we know' we cry out, and when in doubt we blame the U.S. We were all fit and healthy before Krispy Kreme came across.

And the incriminations don't stop there. Yesterday's Guardian told us that the much touted detox superstar, soya milk, is now deemed toxic. Sound preposterous? It gets worse, the evidence has been around for years- some 4000 odd apparently. Soya was made back in China but 'not to drink, except in times of famine'. It is linked to a host of nasty illnesses and diseases including male infertility. So put down those soya frappe lattes.

Enough horror stories of what we eat being not what we thought. Not that we really ever took much notice to the Daily Mail scare mongering until the Cadbury salmonella scandal broke. But now we have had enough. If we are going to get the next E-coli strain, we at least want to be able to trace it back to the source. No more nameless, faceless flirtations with our health anymore. Well, at least our gastronomical health.

Luckily in London we are well supplied with 12 Farmer's Markets, and it is them in particular that we are after. Borough, Spitalfields and Portobello Road are food markets, not farmer's markets. The difference is that farmer's markets don't allow middleman, it has to be the real deal. And that is more than we can say about some of Blair's supposed 'free' trade agreements.

And you thought you could just go around calling us fat and lazy. Right back at ya Tony.

For a full list of London's farmer's markets check out:

The Marylebone market is London's largest. It is centrally located and open Sundays from 10-2. Perfect for the trimmings to a Sunday roast when you had better things to shop for on Saturday. And if you get there and think this all too David Cameron eco-friendly, head to the Ginger Pig, around the corner at 8-10 Moxon Street, W1. Still not mass-market, and one of the most respected meat producers in England.

Oh, and Liam Gallagher was lurking around the Marylebone market last Sunday. To be expected really, he does have a pad around the corner. But we already knew that Marylebone was London's celeb Oasis.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Waxing nativity

Opening up the Metro this morning to find David Beckham lounging in tight white speedos on a yacht in the Italian Riviera, didn't evoke the expected female response. (Although it did occur to me that he bears a striking resemblance to The David). But more digressive than that, I wondered if Posh and Becks get waxed together. Never a spokesperson for the Menaissance, Beckham looked particularly shorn.

Whilst I am still disheartened by how he played in the World Cup, this morning I gained a new respect for Becks. Waxing, after all, involves gluing your hairs to a piece of fabric, and then ripping the fabric from your skin. If this is your idea of a good time, go and have a smear test. Or try a sliding tackle on astroturf.

Today Becks unknowingly showed us that the feminist struggle has not all been in vain afterall. Becks not only feels our pain, he shares in it. Women, saddled with society's constructs of beauty (if you need proof read Naomi Wolf's, The Beauty Myth) have been voluntarily getting things waxed for years. The beauty industry even constructs euphemisms such as a 'Brazilian' or a 'Hollywood' to describe a total stranger bearing a pot of wax heated to boiling point coming near your private parts. The ultimate dignity freefall.

And why you ask, do women do this? Apparently it is because men see actresses in films (not the Disney variety, mind you) and find it attractive. Hence, the reference to Brazil and Hollywood, the two lands of bodied babes. So society encourages us women to endure pain and discomfort, that we have to pay for, in order to look like strippers. Just when we thought the 'Brazilian' was as authentic as fancy football and caiprinhas.

So you see, by Beckham going for the 'sac, back, and crack wax' (beauty industry jargon) he is making the ultimate statement of relationship parity to Posh. After all, we know she has endured her fair share of nips, pulls, and tucks. But, then again, they have always been a more modern couple than most; I doubt she earns two-thirds less than him to start. No, with Posh and Becks, it's share, and share alike. Like wife, like husband. Now isn't that beautiful?

For the real deal:

Otylia Roberts Beauty Centre at Greenhouse, 142 Wigmore Street, London W1U 3SH (020 7486 5537). Waxist to Posh herself, Otylia's Brazilian hot waxes are legendary - and there are no strips involved. Hot wax is smeared thickly over the area, left for a few seconds and then swiftly ripped off by hand. Ask for Cassie. Costs £49.

For a less intimate setting, but more reasonable price list head east on Wigmore Street to Depilex Health Studios. 45-47 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 1PS. (0207 486 0852)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Watch this space

Nothing good ever comes free. Or so I thought of free summer music gigs. Any Peter, Paul or Mary can lay claim to a bandshell. Somehow just by being outdoors expectations are lowered, our critical faculties become dwarfed. How many summer concerts are spent consumed by drink and chat, with the music a token notch of culture to abet guilt-free idleness. What Summer's veil of frivolity is all about, afterall.

So when you end up at a free gig where you actually do listen to the music, you know the company you are keeping is either that bad or the music that good. Unless you score other means of 'enhanced' inspiration. Such was the case this past Saturday (high standards, that is) at the Watch This Space Festival (, outside the National Theatre (NT). Part of the festival (which runs to 2nd Sept) are free evening jazz and world music gigs in the large temporary space on the NT's uber-prime spot of the Southbank.

Saturday's late night session (10:15pm) featured Badmarsh & Shri, which to me sounded more like a hip Japanese clothes designer than a music band. I was told they played Asian Underground fusion music. Whatever that meant. But the NT stage was suitably grand, and from the first song Badmarsh & Suri filled it both with presence and performance.

To a virgin of the world music scene, Badmarsh & Shri could most accessibly be described as a mixture of techno, electronica, funk, and pop all combined in one enjoyable concert. A blending of Eastern and Western influences with an obvious Indian footprint. The best part came with Shri who coerces haunting and funky sounds from his bass. Better than any songs off the Buddha Bar CDs that I could remember.

The evening well exceeded the expectations of a free Summer's Saturday entertainment in London, and the NT is pulling out all the stops this Summer. Once the show winds up, there is free entry to the NT's late night Late Lounge ( which is open until 1am (Fri-Sat) and where everyone is invited to bring albums for a bit of DIY disco. It feels like you are crashing somebodies wedding party. But before the line dancing kicks off, don't worry.

The NT is definitely where London is at this Summer.

If also a virgin (to Asian Underground music):

A few to get you started (all which can be found on and most high street music retailers.

Signs, Badmarsh & Shri

Beyond Skin, Nitin Sawhney (a classic)

Ok, Talvin Singh

Star Rise: Remixes, Various (an excellent sampling, for those who can't commit to one artist)

Friday, July 21, 2006

The cooler option

With heat lethargy spreading like wildfire across London, we haven't 'bovvered' much with weekend plans. But surely what we all need is a few hours in a dark, air conditioned room to lift the week's caustic air. Temperature controlled entertainment to reinvigorate our sweat dripping, Tube trodden lives. Unless seeing your colleague swap his suit for a Friday dress down, 'crusty-goes-to-Goa' look, is enough for you. In which case, raise 'em standards.

Weekend film choices (with unofficial target markets):

Heading South. Haiti, 1970. Middle-aged American women on holiday find romance with young locals. Should appeal to single women over 30 hoping for their own summer holiday lovin'. Also, for single men under 30 curious about the global toy boy industry. Or whom still fancy their mum's friend.

The Break Up. Chicago, 2006. War of the Roses for the Friends generation. Vince Vaughn, spokesman for the 'Menaissance', and Jennifer Aniston in a relationship doomed by cohabitation. We hope their on screen fireworks leave Mr. and Mrs. Smith in a pyre. Just may prove a bit touchy for couples recently rowing in Foxtons.

Little Fish. Sydney, 2006. Cate Blanchett as a reformed druggie with a dysfunctional family. Should appeal to those drawn in by star reviews from the Venice, Cannes, Toronto festivals. That is not to say that review snobs are dysfunctional addicts themselves. I don't think.

Regular Lovers. Paris, 1968. Like The Dreamers but with self conscious intellectualism. Should appeal to anyone pining after poetry reading, opium smoking, revolutionary Frenchmen. And thankfully no Gérard Depardieu.

Taxi Driver. New York, 1976. Re-released in celebration of its 30th birthday. Scorcese's take on urban alienation. A psychotic, insomniac fuelled portrayal of New York at the helm of De Niro's taxi. The film buff's riposte to Superman Returns. It doesn't get any better (but I may be biased).

Oh, and remember, to avoid the excructiating Orange Film Board ads arrive 15 minutes late.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thou shalt not wear socks

It is set to remain warm, if not roasting, over the next few weeks despite rumours that we have hit the crest of the heat wave. And there is no clearer sign that this weather is unusual for Britain, than the current fashion on London's streets.

There is a collective national problem: how to not let dress sense melt in the heat. It is quite understandable given the limited days of sunshine it gets a year. But whilst the English are not expected to set the international standard for shorts wearing (that was lost along with the Empire), they shouldn't be relieved of all obligation to consider issues such as style, proportion or coordination.

And if you have no interest in fashion whatsoever, this should apply to your mating instincts. Men, in case you are wondering why, come summer, women find it particularly hard to take you seriously, look no further than your Scoutmaster shorts. Women, if you are wondering why you haven't met his family yet, your Ann Summers corset tops may play a part, save them for indoors.

So in the interests of summer lovin' a few tips on what to wear so if not to attract, you cease to repel, the opposite sex in heat, sorry in the heat.

Take One. 'You Jane, Me Tarzan' meets London's urban jungle:

Shorts Jane, shorter is usually better. Even if our legs are more Jade Goody than Kate Moss. Diesel hot pants are all the rage (£90), found in the huge, new flagship store at 130 Bond Street, W1 ( Tarzan, 3/4 length must be avoided at all cost (the 90s still has that to answer for.) Same goes for sports shorts. They are vulgar unless actually doing sport. And combat shorts with bulging pockets are starting to look dated. Shorts have gone the way of the rest of fashion - tailored and smart.

Sandals. Jane, almost anything goes. Except Teva's, why? How many puddles did you wade through today? Tarzan, sandals are the Menaissance (see yesterday) kiss of death. What sort of hunting, gathering, chasing, or fighting can be down with exposed feet? And flip flops you dare ask? They turn your already crusty feet black. What woman will let that into bed? So, we don't even need to broach socks, sandals are over. (Still need proof? check out But, if you absolutely must, the new Wish Cast model (£39.99)from Clarks ( with closed toes is borderline acceptable.

Tops. Jane, do we need the Suffolk police to remind us that white shirts = nude bra? And if you still can't conceal those bra straps, try Because we are not male peacocks. Only you should know the colour of your bra. Tarzan, resist pictures of naked women on t-shirts. Makes us think you still read cartoons. Never a turn on. But, still marginally better than nothing. Shirts ON, please. There is only one real jungle boy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Who's the Man?

Metrosexuals are out, we are now in the middle of a 'Menaissance'. Or so is the rhetoric sweeping across America. Fuelling this supposed resurgence in manliness is a recent flurry of academic books on the importance of real men, with the A to Z of Manliness, currently number two on the New York Times best-seller list.

Forget years of feminist struggle for the equality of gender roles, it's all about the caveman again. Quite a contrast to the polished, waxed, and groomed metrosexuals of recent years. But American culture insists that the spotlight is shifting back to the man's man. No longer complacent with wondering 'Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?', Americans have taken to hunting them down.

The leader of this crusade is widely held to be the staunch neoconservative Harvey Mansfield, a Harvard professor of government whose book, Manliness, laments the decline of clearly defined gender roles, and who believes manliness is defined by confidence in a situation of risk. Mansfield holds that a manly man has to know what he is doing. An academic twist on the 'man with a plan' adage.

I could be convinced of the renewed popularity manliness could have in the U.S. The beer guzzling, gun toting, fraternising bloke who changes his own oil, gets his hair cut at the barbers, and thinks the only thing you wax is a car. Translated to more familiar territory; he certainly wouldn't spend over £10 on a haircut, own anything from Paul Smith, or read the Styles section of the Sunday Times.

So can we see a Menaissance taking off in the UK? I am reminded of Homer Simpson's line, "I like my beer cold, my TV loud and my homosexuals flaming". A manliness renaissance is all about liking our men manly. It is hard to see how this ever went out of style with the Yanks given their allegiance to Superman, Arnie Schwartnegger and the former mayor Rudy Guiliani. Quite different to cultural icons in England. Which leads me to:

The Top 3 Hints a UK Menaissance is Unlikely:

1) David Beckham. A sarong-clad, cry baby. Not to mention neurotically self aware.

2) David Cameron. The definitional wimp. Finds chocolate oranges and trucks evil.

3) Orlando Bloom. The ultimate she-boy. Too invertebrate as a pirate, and too pretty.

And then I realised what the whole Menaissance thing is really about. It is not as Mansfield would suggest about gender roles or stereotypes. Rather, it's about substance over style. That's what really matters. That's where you find out who really is The Man.

And for those still unconvinced:

There is now Coke Zero, or 'Bloke Coke.' It's Diet but without the taboo word, and in black packaging so as to appear more masculine.

Because to some, style will still matter more than substance.

Free samples at King's Cross, Victoria, and London Bridge Tube stations today.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A River Runs By It

As the temperatures peak in London to a good 10°C hotter than Istanbul, the last thing you want to do after work is rush onto a furnace-like Tube carriage, open the Evening Standard, and rage with jealousy over the montage of people taking sickies on the beaches of Brighton. No, too familiar, and you know what that they say about familiarity.

Instead, empower the urban warrier in you and let the others fight off the contempt. And since Brighton is not a weekday option, why not head with other landlocked Londoners to the Southbank, too often overlooked by those North of the river. It was as if a bridge divided the two, or something.

In search of a peaceful refuge to wile away a roasting Monday evening, it was with smug delight that I came across Tamesa@oxo last night. It occupies one of those sites that should work like a dream - a long room a couple of floors below the Oxo Tower Restaurant and sharing the same river frontage. So it's little surprise that despite opening just a few months ago, the bar is already abuzz.

The setting and view is better than any I could think of in London (and that was before three glasses of Pinot Grigio). The bar area is intimate yet open. There are orange banquets, next to open windows that face directly onto the river, as well as a circular bar. The staircase entrance at one end makes the whole experience feel rather grand - like the Titanic (if you are an imaginative drunk). And the view is magnificent - looking out beneath low-browed lintels at St Paul's and Blackfriar's Bridge alongside a stunning vantage of the North bank. It certainly more than makes up for missing Turner, Whistler, Monet at the Tate.

The location was so breathtaking we ended up having many an 'I Love London' moment, which took on unbridled enthusiasm after a few rounds. As such we failed to eat, but it is one of those places where the food isn't really the point - and that is not meant to be damning, rather its meant as a form of praise.

I can't think of a more romantic place to unwind on a hot summer's evening. But it was Monday, he was just a friend, and there were feral children on BBC2 to get depressed over. As the English would say, 'Nevermind.'

Where to find Tamesa@oxo:

2nd Floor, Oxo Tower Wharf, Barge House St
Waterloo Tube
020 7633 0088
bar open until 11:30

Perfect for a post National Theatre or NFT night cap (if you need an excuse).

What to drink:
They specialise in cocktails and menus can be found online at:

Best value for wines can be found with:
White - South African Flagstone 'Spinnaker' at £3.75/glass
Red - Sequit Tempranillo, Spain at £3.75/glass

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sesame Street 'Rated R'

Theatre typically starts in the West End and transfers to Broadway. This summer sees a welcome reversal with the import of Avenue Q, the Tony award-winning musical commonly dubbed 'Sesame Street for Grown-ups'.

To start with, we are no longer on 123 Sesame Street, but have moved to Avenue Q a fictional street in an unspecified New York borough. The cast is made up of imaginary disillusioned twenty and thirty something New Yorkers - some people, others puppets manipulated by actors who double as puppeteers.

Each of the characters is acting out their individual 'quarter-life' crisis with the topics of failure, sex and life's general pettiness uniting the play. In ways similar to Rent, Avenue Q is pitched at the non traditional theatre audience, the over 13s and under 40s. It is accessible to the generation that learned off a television screen and can remember teachers like Cookie Monster and Big Bird. Except on Avenue Q they talk about commitment and one night stands, the grown up version of your ABCs and 123s.

The lead character, Princeton, opens the show with a song, "It Sucks To Be Me," lamenting the uselessness of his recently acquired B.A. Other humans include Brian, an unemployed aspiring comedic and his exaggeratedly Japanese therapist fiancée called Christmas Eve. The puppet characters are as varied with the most personable being Kate Monster, an aspiring teacher who falls for Princeton. There is also Rod, an investment banker and closet gay; and Lady T. Slut, a Mae West-like jezebel, amongst others.

The show is not for the easily offended and often veers on X rated puppetry. There are tongue in cheek references to most topics deemed offensive including: racism (song: "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist"), homosexuality, and obsession with porn (song: "Internet is for Porn"). Songs that Sesame could never do, but here are disgustingly irresistible.

The show is clever, if but in a sophomoric way, notwithstanding moments of aged genius. There is a scene when Kate Monster in a state of despair over her unrequited crush on Princeton seeks advice from therapist, Christmas Eve. In a heartbreaking alto, Christmas Eve sings, “The more you love someone / The more you wishing him dead / Sometime you look at him and only see fat and lazy / And wanting baseball bat for hitting him on his head.”

In her own way, Christmas Eve has accomplished what hours of analysis couldn’t: the disagreeable task of accepting another person, on or off Avenue Q, and accepting, too, the ordinariness that lies at the core of passion. It's no wonder she has a hard time finding patients. People don't pay therapists to hear the truth.

All in all, it's an ingenious combination of The Real World and Sesame Street, with a cast that is something both more and less than Friends. Like a trip to the East Village for a night out, but in London and with hilarity.

Ticket tip:

Seats range from £17.50-£47.50 (weekday); £20-£50 (weekend)
Booking until 30th Sept, 2006

£17.50 are for last row of Stalls and Upper Balcony. Request last row of Stalls, Row T and move forward to any middle section open seats (i.e. the £50 ones) as the curtain goes up. That is savings of £30 a ticket. And don't be shy, it is common practice. You will see others follow suit. But book early, the closer it gets to the end of the run the less likely you are to find empty seats. Just don't let the secret out.

Noel Coward Theatre, St Martin's Lane
0870 850 9175

Friday, July 14, 2006

Personal and Political

So here we are a week on from the 7/7 anniversary and London is going strong. So far the summer has brought us a good share of sun, most of us managed to get our hands on the £10 polka dot dress at Primark (90,000 of us to be exact), the World Cup provided a distraction from doing any work, and we remain optimistic that Johnny Depp dressed as a pirate is worth an £8 ticket, despite the reviews. That is London's personal life.

How about London's political life? Well, we have had a week of Cameron's 'hug a hoodie' nonsense (which you couldn't make up). Who votes Right for nice? Ken has threatened the local Chelsea Tractor driving WAGs where it hurts, their Louis Vuitton wallets. And marrying up the two are rumours that Nick Boles (pictured here), better known as the Director of the policy think tank, Policy Exchange, is the favourite Tory to contest Ken's mayoral seat in 18 months time.

Now, I am not going to get into much detail, it is Friday afterall. But I did want to fuel you with some hot gossip for your happy hour pint, or Saturday night dinner party. The latter a rather flippant throw away, who actually gets invited to dinner parties?

Ah, that is where Nick Boles comes in. As a card carrying member of the Notting Hill set (which is chaired by crunchy man Cameron), I imagine Nick goes to many a dinner party. A bit of West Wing meets West London. Not hard to imagine really. He has the softness of face, and the preternatural absence of stubble, that render certain members of the British upper classes oddly ageless (he is 40 apparently) - characteristics that fit perfectly with having graduated from Oxford to the dinner party circuit.

His latest gig was standing as the Conservative Party candidate for the Labour seat of Hove back in May 2005. I imagine he thought as an openly gay Conservative candidate, that Brighton was as good a shot as any. But he proved unsuccessful in Hove and is now hotly rumoured (or so I was told last night in the pub next to City Hall) to be the pretty, sorry I mean, the golden boy candidate for the general mayoral election 18 months from now.

Unsure what to think? Would it help if I told you he wants more visible police and supports fox hunting?

Thankfully, London has lots going on before 2008.

Starting with this weekend:

See: Undercover Surrealism at the Hayward Gallery, SE1. Because we still have yet to make it the V&A, and we never will. So let's switch galleries, and try again. Both Undercover Surrealism and Modernism at the V&A close 30th July.

Watch: The Romanian film, The Death of Mr Lazarescu, opens today in cinemas across London. A black comedy about death. ER meets Black Adder, Romanian style. We are there.

Listen: Rough Trade Folk Weekender (Fri-Sat), Neal's Yard, Covent Garden. Two-day evening festival of acoustic music, featuring up and coming Rough Trade bands and DJ in the courtyard. Free, 6-10PM

Buy: The new canvas totes from Gap from £35-£40. If you missed last month's straw tote bag, not to worry, this week's cream and brown canvas one is even better. But we have been singing the praises of Gap for weeks now.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Creole in Camden

Camden is having a comeback. And why shouldn't it? It's home to the world famous Camden Market and Camden Lock, Dingwalls, the Barfly, and now the £30 million newly restored Roundhouse, just to name a few. And many of the venues are contained within well-restored industrial buildings from the canal and steam train ages. What Hoxton would call inspired.

Most of us think of Camden when going shopping for a fifties style toaster, a blow up chair, or just a new diamond nose stud. It isn't typically top of mind when all we are after is a good meal in a restaurant that is fun, value for pound and where 'everybody knows your name', or will do by the time you stumble home.

Well, what if I told you that there is a new creole restaurant in Camden called Kaz Kreol that is funky yet homely, good value, and will leave you feeling a bit closer to the Seychelles islands. Just don't drive your Chelsea Tractor there, Ken's proposed C charge could be more than the bill. And that means you and your Lexus truck, David Cameron. We know you love your 'hoodies' and all, but Camden's more goth than toff. And we'd like to keep it that way.

Kaz Kreol is the only Seychelles restaurant in London, and the owner and chef was born and bred on the islands. Seafood is the house specialty and the grilled sea bass was supurb - grilled and lightly veiled in a ginger, chili and tomato sauce. Starters include mussels with chillies, prawns in garlic sauce, and smoked kingfish fillets. For mains there are crab and octopus curries, French inspired beef sautés, as well as less spicy options. All are served with lentils and steamed rice. Vegetarians are likely to be disappointed though - there is not much beyond vegetable curry.

The restaurant looks like a traditional boozer from the outside, but inside is bright and modern. The pub-style French windows open up to let the restaurant open up onto the street which is buzzy on warm evenings. Located in an area surprisingly bereft of decent restaurants, you can see this place breaming with locals.

Ah yes, locals, that reminds me. If you have yet to be convinced of yesterday's Just Say No campaign, don't dismiss the concept entirely. There is definitely a DIY (do it yourself) quality to Camden fashion. Many an element that shouts of stunted punk roots left over from the 80s: safety pins, mohawks, spikes and harshly dyed hair, filthy tennis-shoes and pointy Beatle boots.

But I am in no position to comment anymore, I noticed this morning that my suit jacket has shoulder pads.

Kaz Kreol details:

35 Pratt St
Camden (Camden Town tube)
020 7485 4747

Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-3.30pm,7-11pm
Meal for two with wine and service: around £50. Lunchtime buffet £7.99 (three courses)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Just Say No

It is hard to walk five minutes on the streets of London without being visually accosted by women as diverse as a Benetton ad, wearing leggings under summer dresses. Now we knew dresses were in this summer, and assumed that was practical given the temperatures on the Tube and the one-piece ease. But who decided that either of those rationales would be complemented by adding an additional layer?

Cold legs? Think tights. Or even trousers. Or, my personal choice, suffering. Please don't take this as an affront on high fashion. I read Grazia and TopShop nearly has a restraining order on my switch card, for goodness sake. I just don't think "trendy" has to equal "ugly". It is a truism that bad fashion ideas never die, they just lie dormant, like zombies waiting to rise, terrifyingly to walk the earth again. But leggings, people. Leggings.

Please do not take this obscenity onto the public streets of London. Leggings should not be worn inside the house, much less outside. If we allow leggings under a dress to go by unnoticed, it is a slippery slope to pairing them with a giant neon tee shirt with an iron-on of Bon Jovi. And then the next thing, we are listening to Debbie Gibson, and nobody wants that.

There is nothing you can do to make leggings flattering. We tried in the Eighties by pairing them with high heels. The effect was dismal. A Lycraclad leg finishing in a foot stuffed into a white stiletto was horribly close to a boiled pig's trotter. They are just universally unflattering. They expose not only calf and knee, but thighs and bottom as well. Everybody looks shorter and fatter. Like in a carnival fun house mirror. They don't even do Sienna's pipe-cleaner legs any favours. She looks faintly bandy in them.

As if this wasn't enough, peculiarly for a fashion trend that depends on dispensing with clothes, i.e. ditching the skirt or trousers, leggings are not popular with men. Magnify that by a hundred when worn under a dress, the one item of clothing men used to get excited about us wearing.

And therein lies the ultimate Just Say No campaign, unless you are after a fashion inspired means of birth control. Leggings act as a protective layer whilst also repelling the opposite sex. It's a shame the 80s were so caught up with fighting drugs, I say we wage a new campaign here. Just Say No to leggings.

Fight the leggings, hipsters. Fight them. Tights are just as comfortable, leave Madonna to relive her Desperately Seeking Susan days. Stay strong. Stay free of leggings.

But if you are after the birth control option:

Best value leggings or "footless tights" are made by Falke.
Available in most hosiery departments.
Circa £5-£7

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rai·son d'ê·tre

The Season has kicked off and you can't get a seat in any of the Euros favourite hang outs - Ciprianis, Harry's Bar, or San Lorenzo - those Euros love their pasta. The start of Wimbledon heralded their arrival and they have been scattered about since. Until tonight, when the crème de la crème are on full display with the highlight of the Season, by which I mean social season daaarling do keep up, at the Serpentine Gallery Summer Party, Hyde Park. The reason Tatler magazine exists, if there ever was to be one.

No one that is not a Hilton, McCartney, or Jagger goes to these parties. That would ruin many a rai·son d'ê·tre. Strict guest rules are not only necessary, but crucial, when it comes to preserving façades at events of tonight's order.

Just think of it on a different level. You have just splurged on a new outfit which you are convinced is pretty fashionable. You save it's first outing for Saturday's party when you meet some friends and can show it off, with discretion of course. Only to find the person standing next to you wearing a nicer version. And they are taller and thinner so naturally it looks better. Rather deflating.

Transpose such a Saturday night fall from vanity, to a crowd whose very job is to impress. The stakes become much higher then because there is a collective will to keep everybody employed. Which is why the so called 'IT' circle rarely widens beyond a ring or two at most. Musicians marry models, who marry actors, who marry musicians, and so it goes. It is important that it stays that way, for employment figures remember.

If you cast open the net too wide, not only may you get dregs but you are likely to get bigger species of fish. And we don't want Rod ditching Penny for a new genus of woman, do we? There are bra contracts to think about.

And therein, Darwin, lies the preservation of species: a small net.

And for what else is going on at the Serpentine Gallery:

Inside the gallery itself, it is rather ironic that the current Thomas Demand exhibit is about illusion and deception. The German photographer focuses on images of rooms and spaces that initially look real but are, in fact, photographs of three-dimensional models, constructed entirely from paper and cardboard. Closer inspection reveals a lack of detail and the artifice becomes apparent.

The exhibition reconsiders the traditional notion of photography as a faithful record of reality. We wonder what Hello and OK! would have to say about that.

A pleasant diversion to a Sunday stroll through Hyde Park. Admission is always free.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Ciao bella!

A small apology for today's subject, but to pretend that this weekend was about anything but sport would be giving my birthday and Billy Piper's leaving do from Dr. Who an over blown sense of importance. No, this weekend saw the Wimbledon climax and the World Cup, or rather Gastro Cup final: bouilibaisse or bolognese, Chablis or Chianti?

With England out, many fans last night pinned allegiance to one team over another partly based on culinary preferences, partly on historical allegiances (Allied vs Axis powers), and partly on holiday preferences (Nice vs Naples). Those with blood ties to either Italy or France, no doubt supported with blind allegiance the team that could lay claim to representing a bit of who they are.

Staunch team allegiance is quite similar to the ritual of getting older. You find that with every year that passes you become less concerned about what others think, and more defined by a sense of personal conviction. Just as blindly supporting a team can make you question your resolve at points of pressure, only to leave you ultimately loyal despite the result, so does growing a year older. That must be why people calm with age. They realise life is fickle, but they are not.

I propose that the RTY years (thiRTY and fouRTY) be reclassified as shorthand for the R eali TY years. The carefree, impulsive, insecurity of the twenties is cast off and you start to take life on in the reality of its consequences. They must also be the best years to be a woman.

Afterall, we finally become honest. In your twenties, you will sit around watching a match about a sport you could care less about and a team you have never heard of, to pretend to share interests. In your RTYs you certainly have better things to do, or you find some. In your RTY's, you aren't scared to say if your partner has upset you, because you no longer fear them getting mad and leaving you. And once you reach RTY something, men no longer have to confess if messing around, somehow you already know. We also become psychic with age.

I exhibited staunch allegiance last night by joining other paesani at an Italian bar in Little Venice. I sat there a year older, supporting Italy, chanting "Ole, Ole, Ole" with chain smoking, passion enthused Italians in evening sunglass wear. But I was there for me, and we were collectively there for a sense of vicarious Italian nationalism.

Well, that and the promise by the bar man of free grappa if we won. But it never came. Just an example of how Italian men get you with charm. They learn from an early age to love women, starting with mamma. When an Italian man meets you for the first time he hones in on one attribute and applauds it as though he were the first to do so. Italian men try and make women love themselves as much as they love them. And that appeals at any age.

Ciao Bella!

Celebrate like the Italians:
Rosé is being celebrated as the wine of the summer after years of being out of vogue. The most common are from the Provence region of France. But in the spirit of Forza Italia try Fiordaliso Pinot Grigio, a blush. It's from Venice, is not too dry, but very soft and fruity. You will thank me and at £5.99/bottle you can take home 3 for 2 at Thresher's for £12. We love a sale. Que bellissima!

Or for the culture vultures, the Modigliani and his models exhibit opened on Saturday at the Royal Academy. His classic nudes should stir some Italian passion. Remember, Friday nights are extended gallery hours until 10PM.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Rock n' roll

Not to worry, I am not going to waste much time on Pete Doherty, he gets enough air time as it is. But a few unavoidable things whilst on the subject, such as his uncanny resemblance to Cherie Blair. Or, is it just me?

If you're not convinced there is an opportunity to take a closer look tonight on the Jonathan Ross show. David Cameron last week, Doherty this week. I guess that justifies Ross's £18 million contract with the BBC. The most obvious sign that Ross's show is on a roll though, is the lack of David Blaine and Ricky Gervais guest appearances. They must be the talk show circuit's equivalent of the contract heave-ho.

But back to Doherty, briefly. I was having a few drinks at 3 Kingly Street last night and counted at least five androgynous blokes walk past in drain pipe jeans (ok, so far not so abnormal for Soho). But they were all donning Doherty style porkpie hats, you know the ones. Now I know these hats were popular in the 40s and 50s with artists, musicians and forward fashion men. I can remember Johnny Depp bringing them back in Benny and Joon, and in between times they must have come and gone.

But the real point is how it's a shame that fashion statement hats on men in reality scream insecurity, whilst on screen or on stage they scream just the opposite. It is one of life's harsh realities, but statement making hats are definitely best left to the Charlie Chaplins, the John Waynes, and dare I say even the Pete Dohertys. These men make the hat, they aren't looking for the hat to make them. And that's why it works.

In any case, that is all a distraction from what is really on my mind today: my birthday this weekend. And whilst I have never been one of those "celebrate me because I am worth it" types, I do feel the urge to commemorate its arrival. But the quality of the celebration is no longer directly correlated with how late the drinking lasts. This is definitely an age related phenomenon. It starts when your weekends shift from revolving around where to go out Saturday night, to getting as much as you can out of SaturDAY. This doesn't have to be a zero sum game, unless of course you also need your beauty sleep. Just don't lose perspective, age does come before beauty.

Thankfully, there is still some rock n' roll left in all of us.

Rockstar (esqe) things to do this weekend:

Modernism exhibit at the V&A is only until 23rd July and it should be uplifting as it charts the visions that inspired modern architecture and design after WW1. Order out of chaos, a very appropriate theme for any weekend.

Capote newly out on DVD. Because racing out to Pirates 2 on the first weekend reminds us of the kids with obviously new outfits on the first day of school. Way too keen. Save it for later.

Gilgamesh, no not the one in Mesopotomia, although the setting next to the tattooed skip of Camden is bizarrely Babylonian. It is the new pan-Asian restaurant boasting the longest bar in Europe. Address: Camden Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, NW1, 020 7482 5757

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Flat footed

As I ran out the door this morning, I paused, went back inside and swapped shoes. On the face of it, an innocuous female bout of indecision. That's what I thought too, until I gave it closer consideration en route to the tube (my Ipod was out of power so I had to think for a change).

In taking off my uncomfortable - to the point they make a dentist's drill orgasmic in comparison - heels and putting on flats, I was adjusting my behaviour in response to having lived in New York and London during terrorist attacks. Somewhere in the eternal sunshine of my far from spotless mind, I was preparing for the eventuality of another attack. In which case I wanted to be able to escape quickly and with ease. Hence, the relationship between terrorists and comfortable shoes.

I will refrain from any emotional homage to tomorrow's anniversary because I am still not psychologically able to deal with the first one. I realised this when I walked into the local Odeon last weekend to see United 93 and walked out 5 minutes later. It's definitely too early for a film like that.

What I have learned from both though is the importance of comfortable footwear when living in a City. This applies to commuters universal. Cyclists need clip on gadgets which would certainly scuff a pair of brogues. Have you ever tried to drive wearing stilettos? You can't. And we need not worry about walkers, they are typically sensible people to begin with. But for the majority of us Transport for London sufferers, no journey is predictable and that doesn't account for disasters where the City becomes stranded in unity.

Moreover, it is empowering to wear comfortable shoes. The day has so much more possibility in a 'get up and go' way, not in a look like a starlet way. As a woman you feel instantly less attractive and often invisible. Men must notice shoes more then they are conscious of. I suspect flats interfere with clear mating signals by transmitting 'today I can hunt and gather for myself, I am no longer weak and encumbered by sore feet.' I am surprised the feminist revolution didn't make more of this point.

So show your resolve, your defiance, and your courage tomorrow by going flat footed. Come Autumn it's back to Chinese foot binding.

Trend tip:
In a season of femininity, is it any wonder that the ballerina flat is one of the trendiest shoes going. But channelling your inner Audrey Hepburn can come with big price tags. As an alternative, you can find hundreds of real ballet flats at traditional ballet shoe suppliers like French Sole, Their store is at 6 Ellis Street, Sloane Square, Chelsea. Tel: 020 7730 3771. Or next day delivery from the web. Princess Diana loved these shoes.

Oh, and today's G2 section of the Guardian has an article from the author of the book about using animal techniques to train men. We talked about this last week. But it doesn't mention anything about male behaviour towards women in flat shoes. We discovered this today.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

More London

There is something about summer music festivals that makes me feel inadequate. I have never been to Glastonbury, Woodstock - well I have an excuse for that one- Isle of Wight, never mind anything in Leeds, Reading or sponsored by Carling.

It is a shame really because I enjoy music, especially live, I like camping (you get used to it illegally subletting bedsits), and I am enticed by the aura of opportunity summer music festivals give for blacking out the whole experience afterwards. Must be how Kate Moss ended up waking up next to Pete Doherty. But really, who wouldn't enjoy an excuse to smoke (cigarettes, of course), wear wellies, and stomp around in old trampled muddy fields?

Moreover, I want to understand what Jarvis Cocker of Pulp meant when he sang "Mother, I can never come home again,'cause I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere, somewhere in a field in Hampshire." Most of you probably already do, because the summer music festival is such a popular British tradition it is practically a rite of passage. Somewhere on the timeline between Blackpool as a kid and Centre Parks as a parent.

But to those of us who have never been, summer festivals seem to come and go, before we get our act together. By the time us non-MySpace users hear about them, the tickets are usually gone.

But the times they are a changin':

There is a free and very hip concert offering this summer, right in London, right on the river. That's right free and unticketed, so no excuses...

The Scoop Live Music Festival started yesterday and runs through 28th July with free lunchtime and evening concerts. The Scoop is a large, open air, sunken amphitheatre at More London, between London Bridge and Tower Bridge on the Southbank. It can seat 1000 and gets very buzzy when the weather is good.

It's smack between City Hall and Ernst & Young, so if you are looking to schmooze you should find a mixture of civil servants and accountants to choose from.

Tonight's offer:

The Band of Britain final is happening tonight where six finalists compete. Top industry judges and some of the best unsigned talent in the UK. This is where its at. Like the X Factor, but live, and instead of just Shayne, you get a full band.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Colonial revolt

It is not everyday that I remind myself of my American heritage. On most days it is quite the opposite. I hide under the veil of anonymity, until my accent belies the undeniable. When questioned I utter something about not being here on any expat package, and then proclaim to be a political asylum seeker. Which usually works. They either think I am barking mad or serious; neither being very appealing and I am left in peace.

That is, until the Fourth of July rolls around and Americans again become a subject (pun much intended), of ridicule or revere, often hard to tell with the English. Intent on making you feel at home, they issue many genuine happy Fourth of July wishes. It is all very kind and well meaning, but you can't help but wonder if they think it is as big as Christmas or Thanksgiving. The latter, by the way, the English have some confused notion is more important than Christmas in America. Probably because they quite understandably can't imagine Americans putting anything, even the birth of Christ, ahead of gluttony.

But what the English and others don't realise is that every time they refer to the US as the quaint sounding 'America' they are also indirectly saying happy independence. To Americans, the term 'America' conjures up images of pilgrims, the Mayflower, and colonial revolt. Americans rarely say 'America' anymore, outside of national songs. I imagine in an act of repatriation after the Civil War that the term 'America' was substituted for the United States which, unfortunately, conjures up less puritanical images.

And so here we are on 'America's' birthday, and I can feel a faint pang of nationalism. What am I saying, that is a lie, those pangs are just from nicotine withdrawal. Yes even after 10 months, don't believe Alan Carr.

For those with real pangs, a few ideas for this evening:

check out James Brown in concert tonight at the Tower Bridge Musical Festival, Tower of London, starts 8PM. Because the Godfather of Soul is 'so good, so good'. Prices £35-65,

or head to the Big Easy, the official nickname of the big party town New Orleans, at 332-334 King Road, Chelsea. Informal but authentic (read gigantic) American portions of seafood, steak, and barbeque. The Surf & Turf is excellent and comes with delicious garlic prawns. Add a couple of ice cold Coronas with lime and you can't go wrong. And at night there is country and blues music after 10 PM which gets the place going. But we like a bit of a swing.

So does Prince William apparently, they say he visits often.
Average cost £24/per person

Monday, July 03, 2006

Reasons to be cheerful

Okay, so it hasn't worked yet. We professed to wake up this morning, put the depression of Saturday's misfortunes behind, and be happy that we no longer have to care about what happens in Baden-Baden, wherever the heck that was. It always sounded too much like Bin Laden to not bring up sinister connotations. So we are lucky to have escaped really.

But, that aside, there is still widespread national depression so I propose we wallow in it briefly, and then find 3 reasons to be cheerful. Three because its 3rd July, not because there aren't more. Geez, we really are miserable today...

So here for the collective moan. It's Monday. It was too hot to sleep last night. We can't stop thinking about sleazy Ronaldo's wink. Saturday's match meant we missed sales shopping. Our summer holiday is still not booked. We think maybe this is the year to finally go to Ibiza and party like its 1999 because we were too scared about the Millenium Bug to do anything back then. We check Easyjet to find prices are over £400 and remember that we're broke and want a new job. Oh, and then there's that smarmy David Cameron making headway with his eco muesli offensive. But surely smiling your way through stupidity isn't enough to get you very far? Don't answer that...more on George Bush later.

Right, happy now? Whinging is officially over.

3 Reasons to be cheerful today (remember one day at a time) :

1) You are not a WAG. Just imagine what that 70 minute flight back from Germany was like next to a self pitying, inconsolable, ego scarred, withering excuse of the man you hunted down for the kill back in that seedy footballer grouppies nightclub in Essex. Just don't ask Colleen. She got a different flight, apparently.

2) H&M bikini's from £9.99 are the best of the High Street this year again. And once you find your size, you never have to try one on again. H&M designs never change, just the colours. So no more trips to the changing room only to come out feeling fat and depressed. Now that should cheer us up.

3) Captain Jack is back. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest's European premiere is in town at Leicester Square tonight. Opens for the rest of us across London this Thursday 6th July. Which is also George Bush's 60th birthday and 'one day closer to his death' (to paraphrase the line from Billy Elliott about Maggie). And that thought has to make the whole world a more cheerful place.