In the past 24 hours we have celebrated two yuful birthdays: Katie yesterday and Eitan, who turns ten, today.
The boy's celebration begins last night as ManU's Javier Hernandez scores a dramatic game-winner against Valenzia in the final minutes of the all important Champions League qualifier. Sonnet, I and Joseph, who is over for dinner, hear him yelp - way past his bedtime, I might point out, but I figure the kid deserves a bone every now and again. He almost loses the privilege on the way to swimming practice as he and Madeleine fight in the back seat (Eitan denies wrong-doing but Nathanial points out helpfully: "You can see the bite marks on Madeleine's arm").
This morning Sonnet, per tradition, makes Eitan breakfast in bed. Beforehand he is in our bedroom as Sonnet readies herself for work and we have a discussion about our favorite books. Since mine may be Churchill's World War II memoirs, whose six volumes I read in two months when I was 24, we discuss Europe - thanks to Churchill, history is more compelling than any fiction I know. Eitan a rapt listener. Madeleine in her bedroom listening to Harry Potter with one thing on her mind. Guess. Tonight, per Eitan's request, we will go to Wagamama's noodle restaurant. He takes his classmates crisps - one bag each. Football slumber party Saturday.
Yep, a good day for us all.
Thursday, September 30
In the past 24 hours we have celebrated two yuful birthdays: Katie yesterday and Eitan, who turns ten, today.
Wednesday, September 29
Tuesday, September 28
Girls just want to have fun. This shot of Catherine and Sonnet taken Thursday, August 24, 1996, at a party hosted by Ivor and Alison before our wedding. Catherine the Maid of Honour (Definition: A Maid of Honour was a maiden, meaning that she was unmarried, and was usually young. Lady Jane Grey, for example, served as a Maid of Honour to Queen Catherine Parr in about 1546-48, when Jane was only about ten to twelve years old). I think Catherine a bit more modern than the day's title suggests.
Monday, September 27
"The main thing about money, Bud, is that it makes you do things you don't want to do."
Sunday, September 26
Saturday, September 25
Saturday early morning, Sonnet takes Madeleine to swimming practice in her black Lycras - tomorrow she will run the Windsor Half Marathon. I fire up my Blackberry and Eitan wanders into the bedroom: "Can I watch football highlights on Sky Sports?" he implores. I suggest he finish his homework since we have an hour before soccer practice and he leaves dejectedly. I find him a few moments later here, at the kitchen table, actually doing his homework. A small victory. I pour myself some cereal and we discuss last night's parents disco party at the school's Tim Bernard Lee hall - he is mortified when I show him a couple of my moves. The thought of adults dancing too much information. We then have a game of humming songs trying to identify the others and finally, I recall, he should be finishing his geometry.
"i said a hip hop the hippie the hippie
to the hip hip hop, a you dont stop
the rock it to the bang bang boogie say up jumped the boogie
to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat
"now what you hear is not a test--i'm rappin to the beat
and me, the groove, and my friends are gonna try to move your feet
see i am wonder mike and i like to say hello
to the black, to the white, the red, and the brown, the purple and yellow
but first i gotta bang bang the boogie to the boogie
say up jump the boogie to the bang bang boogie
let's rock, you dont stop
rock the riddle that will make your body rock
well so far youve heard my voice but i brought two friends along
and next on the mike is my man hank
come on, hank, sing that song "
Friday, September 24
Thursday, September 23
Wednesday, September 22
Katie returns to NYC following a visit to Stanford where her Op-Ed Project has entered a partnership. On her flight are Mike and David on their way to the Big Apple for work. They share a taxi, pictured.
Tuesday, September 21
Monday, September 20
Given these times, we need Hunter S Thompson more than ever. Where is the outrage voiced by my generation? Is there outrage or will that come when the debts come due .. The opening of the "The Great Shark Hunt," published in 1979, one of the most powerful I can recall with Thompson typing on New Year's eve and contemplating jumping from a Midtown skyscraper. He dares us to read. Thompson probably most famous for his "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72" where he skewered the political elite while making it all sound fun, if not surreal, on the edge. He was friends with Allen Ginsberg and William S Boroughs and other Beats; he briefly lived in Aspen and ran for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado, in '70 on the "freak power" ticket which promoted decriminalising drugs and re-naming Aspen "Fat City" (he shaved his head and referred to his opponent as "my long-haired opponent", as the Republican candidate had a crew cut). Thompson created "Gonzo journalism," a style of reporting where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become central figures of their stories. He is also known, of course, for his unrepentant lifelong use of alcohol (morning constitutional: Bloody Mary), LSD, mescaline, and cocaine. He loved firearms. He owned a long-standing hatred of Richard Nixon and, more recently, George W. Bush and the other political riff raff and villains who asserted their dreadfulness on us via government. Thompson was 67 when he took his life.
"Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of 'the rat race' is not yet final."
Sunday, September 19
Natasha and Giuseppe stop by to take the kids for a walk. Alphie joins. Since leaving us when Sonnet began her work sabbatical, Natasha has taken a job working with special needs children at a local school (she has a masters degree in psychology with her thesis published). Giuseppe has recently joined Deutsche Bank in IT. As we know, Madeleine has dogs-on-the-brain and seeing Alphie raises us to Defcon 3.
Last night I return to bed, pitch dark, and hear that horrible sound all eye-glass wearers dread: the crunch underfoot. My '50s style retro tortoise shells irreparably damaged but Madeleine makes an effort to secure the snapped leg with duck-tape, modelled. It don't quite work but I love her for it.
Saturday, September 18
We learn about Zafar, pictured, a handsome young man who represents the Hampton School along with other confident young men and boys. They sure have it on me at their age. Eitan and I tour the Hampton School for secondary which is seventh grade to university. The headmaster tells us that Zafar is a cricket star selected to play for the England U15s and then chosen as Captain of the U16s in 2008. Most recently he joined the England U19s and has been awarded a contract with Surrey County Cricket Club for the remainder of the 2010 season. As well as playing outstanding cricket on the national and county circuits, Zafar has played for the Hampton 1st XI for four years. This year, as School Captain and Captain of the 1st XI he has led the side through a successful season personally scoring over 1,000 runs, including six centuries. I have no idea what this means but it does the trick: the audience oohs and ahs; Eitan at full attention.
Here is Katie, a Berkeley Barracuda, at a swimming meet at King Jr. High School where we spent five hours a day from age 10 or 11. I can just smell the chlorine as I blog. I am guessing the photo from 1979. Following in Auntie Katie's footsteps, Madeleine makes progress in the pool and her coach Cindy chooses Madeleine to demonstrate the proper freestyle technique (my eyebrow raised, dear reader). I think Madeleine, already a strong kid, could also be an excellent butterflier but for now it remains her least favorite stroke. Butterfly the most challenging to master.
Thursday, September 16
Eitan up early to plan is birthday party, which will be an over-night with five friends. On the agenda is make-your-own pizza, the Manchester United-Sunderland match (on television), a conker collection, football play-match at the park and a “midnight feast” which, I suggest, could be McDonald's. He likes that one.
I am in Paris Tuesday afternoon and sit on the steps of Madeleine staring across Place de la Concorde. I people-watch as shoppers on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore march by – this is the stylish 8th Arrondisement and the Parisians are de la mode. The city a bee hive in the autumnal sunshine. From here I meet a new friend Bertrand at Hotel Costes – we sit in the inner courtyard and discuss media and the Internet since he recently sold his company and is now between ventures.
Why does the Pope bother to make his first visit to the UK anyway? Given Benedict's conservative bent (he's no Pope John Paul II), the Catholic church remains in the midst of a never-ending child-abuse scandal and resists outside, transparent, investigation; vocal against gays, abortion and birth control, like condoms, which save millions of lives. Women not allowed in the priesthood and so lesser citizens. This is so not a secularised British society. Unsurprisingly, Benedict's visit fails to fill venues. Sonnet thinks the Pope here on a PR junket to deflect attention from the scandals. I would not disagree – when everything going against you, road trip dude!
Me: “What are you going to do with all those conkers?”
Sonnet: “Eitan, are you going to do something about your hair this morning? I would suggest a comb.”
Tuesday, September 14
Our au pair, Aneta, started yesterday and will live with us while looking after the Shakespeares when they are not in school. This is new for everybody and will take some adjusting to but the kids prove themselves to be the little troopers that they are: tears of protest followed by courteous acceptance tethered by fear (me: "the hand of God shall fall upon thee .. . "). Aneta is 20, from the Czech Republic, and here to learn English and, presumably, to have an adventure or begin anew. It is London, after all. Recalling my 16th year in Geneva, I know how hard a transition can be and, in Aneta's case, she came to Britain before a job and without friends or family. Brave. Aneta allows Sonnet to return to the V&A next week following her sabbatical.
Madeleine writes a story about a toaster whose hero is Sir Kit. Madeleine: "Get it dad? Sir Kit? Circuit?"
Me: "Am I excused now?"
Monday, September 13
Nick Clegg, the British Deputy PM, strolls the sidelines Sunday as his son's team plays KPR's under-nines. Wearing casual clothes, I would not have noticed Clegg if someone had not pointed him out. Yet there he is, the equivalent of the US Vice President, and nobody seems bothered or even to care. Imagine Joe Biden at a soccer match in the suburbs somewhere - it would be hell. Clegg pushes one child in a pram and roots for his son, the goalie. His wife Miriam González Durántez is by his side completing a picture of family harmony. I do not see the secret service but, most likely, that is the point (photo from the web).
The Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a senior member of the British Cabinet. The office of the Deputy Prime Minister is not a permanent position, existing only at the discretion of the Prime Minister, who may appoint to other offices - such as First Secretary of State - to give seniority to a particular Cabinet Minister.
Sunday, September 12
Sonnet and I paint the kitchen and remain on friendly terms. I have not held a paint brush, dear reader, since college and, besides, I only did outside work. An interior job requires greater attention to detail which, we all know, has never been my strongest suit. First Boston proved that beyond a doubt. In college it struck me pretty early on that the only way one made money painting houses was to get the other guy to do the painting. Now I have Sonnet. She puts up with me and we finish the job- and it ain't half bad either. In fact, it is pretty good and saves us a couple hundred pounds to boot. Can wall paper removal be next?
Eitan's KPR back in action and today their first game in Division 1, having been promoted following last season's top finish in Div 2. Anthony joins us for the excitement. Today, the lads play Spelthorne Sports, which is a town about eight miles west of us in the 'burbs. KPR wins 3-2 and outplayed their opponents despite the close outcome - two goals get through in the second half. Jean Luca scores a hat trick while Maxime, our goalie, is heroic - blocking at least two shots that the sidelines thought for sure successful. Maxime's finest moment against a penalty kick inside the box which he judges correctly and blocks fully stretched out. Eitan in the middle of the action setting up two goals with clean passes across the middle. Everybody happy.
Anthony: "Did you have fun in Italy?"
Eitan: "It was sunny and we stayed at a cheep hotel."
Me: "And how do you know that our hotel was cheep?"
Eitan: "Well, we stayed there."
Saturday, September 11
I always mark this time of year with the arrival of spiders which, with football, pumpkins and tree colours, the perfect marker of fall. Here, pictured, we have a common garden spider, which is also the biggest spider in Europe and second in size only to the giant silk spiders of the tropics. Their webs are built by the larger females who usually lie head down on the web waiting for their prey (Madeleine has a hard time choosing sides; last night she was near tears over the water bugs while I was raking the pond). The third pair of legs of garden spiders BTW are specialized for assisting in the spinning of orb webs and also used to move around the web without getting stuck. These legs are useful only in the web; while on the ground, they are of little value. To mate, the smaller male will approach the female cautiously; if not careful, he may end up being eaten by her.
Wednesday, September 8
"Have you ever had one of those moments when you look up and realize that you're one of those people you see on the train talking to themselves?"
-- Marc Maron
Tuesday, September 7
Originating in the Tibetan plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and then enters Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan), flowing through the North in a southerly direction along the entire length of Pakistan, to merge into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi in Sindh. The total length of the river is 3,180 kilometers and it is Pakistan's longest river. The Indus has a total drainage area exceeding 1,165,000 square kilometers. The river's estimated annual flow stands at around 207 cubic kilometers, making it the twenty-first largest river in the world in terms of annual flow. Beginning at the heights of the world with glaciers, the river feeds the ecosystem of temperate forests, plains and arid countryside. Together with the riversChenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Jhelum,Beas and two tributaries from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Afghanistan, the Indus forms the Sapta Sindhu (Seven Rivers) delta of Pakistan. It is the fastest moving body of water on the planet.
Monday, September 6
Sunday, September 5
Friday, September 3
Last night we are at Lars' book launching party on the Strand, pictured. Recall Lars a retired hedge fund manager who wrote an insider's expose on the industry. Until it all ended, money was easy assuming, of course, one could raise it. Hedge fund economics simple: 20% of the upside over a "high water mark" plus a management fee on assets of 1-2% per annum (hedge funds are different from long-only funds as they can "short" stocks or bet on their decline; this allows them to "hedge" their position). Consider a small fund of say $200 million. Should the thing double, the fees to the manager are $40 million paid immediately (private equity, by contrast, must pay back its investors+a preferred dividend of 7-8% before they can take their "carried interest," also 20%. This period rarely less than five-years and more likely seven or more; one advantage private equity enjoys is a "lock" on capital of ten years while hedge funds must return money immediately if "called"). But sweet liquidity: managers that caught the timing made themselves rich, and stayed rich, even when the financial markets crashed and their investors crushed.