It is hard for Sonnet and me to imagine this little creature is now Eitan. We knew Eitan, and Madeleine, special at birth - every parent knows this about their child. And Sonnet sure had to work hard to bring them into this world (esp. Madeleine - a 90-minute delivery without epidural). The first night in the St Mary's maternity ward the doctor told us, gravely, that Eitan's heart valves not sealed and a 'clicking' in his hips. She noted "99% of the time things are fine in 24 hours." Sonnet spent an extra night at the hospital while I went home and worried. We were too stunned by it all to imagine a complication. And the doctor was right - two days later, everything fine.
Tuesday, November 30
Saturday, November 27
I wish Toy Story 3 had the same effect on me. Molly spends the night and the Shakespeares up at the crack of dawn to watch their television. On my side, despite having more choice than ever in my life, I am no longer enthralled by the boob tube. Nor movies - we have not been to a film since I can remember. Sonnet and I once had a weekly date night which usually included some cheap Lebanese then the cinema somewhere in the West End but alas no more. Or when the babes were crawling we rented oldies like "African Queen" or "North By Northwest" Sunday evenings once the monsters down. It was the best couple hours of the week. The only reason, in fact, we pay Rupert Murdoch any money at all (Rupert Murdoch who I cannot stand for destroying the WSJ and hoisting Fox News on a dumbed down nation) is football. He owns the Premiere League when, in 1992, his BSkyB outbid the BBC for exclusive broadcasting rights by paying £302 million - a monstrous amount of money for then; before Rupert, the games were free. Bastard. The boy cannot live without it- heroes and all that.
Eitan I know worships Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and before that, Christiano Rinaldo, before he went to Real Madrid (the tears !). Before that - Spider Man. Madeleine keeps mainly to herself on these things. At least I have not seen any thing or any one. She marches to the beat of her own drum.
Friday, November 26
Madeleine's class assembly yesterday afternoon and Sonnet and I join for the show. The kids belt out some tunes around a plot involving King Henry VIII - Madeleine, indeed, is King Henry. Along with two others. Madeleine also a presenter: "When he died, she married Henry and they had six children however only one survived. Mary ! Please welcome Catherine of Aragon!" Mr H, the Head Teacher, tells the children what a marvelous job they have done and how fabulous they are. And they are.
Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was also Lord of Ireland (later King of Ireland) and claimant to the Kingdom of France. He was the second monarch of the House of Tudor, succeeding his father, Henry VII.
"Henry the 8th he had six wives
Eitan's school team, pictured, with mascot, pre-race. This morning over cereal the boy mumbles that he has a 10AM cross country race and we can watch if we want to. So I do. Ten or so teams compete or 75 in the boys and girls races, which go off separately. The course a 1.5 mile loop around the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park. Mum Karen, who is a professional athlete originally from Iceland, the volunteer coach - God bless her+she is good : Karen the European tri-athlete champion and recently completed the Australian Iron Man finishing 23rd overall. She will probably do Hawaii next year. Companies sponsor her. Karen laments that the boys train only once a week. I am sure with Karen's guidance these ten-year-olds would be doing daily doubles no problemo. Karen's son Trigvy a remarkable athlete himself who plays for the KPR reds (the other under-10 KPR football team) and this morning Trigvy wins the race. Eitan second.
"Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it."
Nutella, which the kids swim in this morning, a hazelnut flavored sweet spread produced by Italian company Ferrero from the end of 1963. The recipe developed from an earlier Ferrero recipe '49. Nutella sold in over 75 countries. Gianduja is a type of chocolate analogue containing approximately 50% almond and hazelnut juice. It was developed in Piedmont, Italy, after taxes on cocoa beans hindered the diffusion of conventional chocolate. Pietro Ferrero, who owned a patisserie in Alba, in the Langhe district of Piedmont, an area known for the production of hazelnuts, sold an initial batch 660 lb of "Pasta Gianduja" in 1946. This was originally a solid block, but in 1949, Pietro started to sell a creamy version in 1951 as "Supercrema". In 1963, Pietro's son Michele revamped Supercrema with the intention of marketing it across Europe. Its composition was modified and it was renamed "Nutella". The first jar of Nutella left the Ferrero factory in Alba on 20 April 1964. The product was an instant success.
These Brits love a spell of foul weather - something to bond over. And heavy snow expected, too, for London and Surrey by Saturday. If so, this will be the earliest snow in seventeen years. This, though, being the second warmest year on record. The kids amped - it wakes them early for an immediate check on the outside. The "arctic storm" will keep things sub-zero for the next ten days or so; the pond froze over last night and frost covers everything. While most think of a white Christmas, I think : transportation chaos. The dog starts yapping at 5AM so Sonnet and I take the pooch for a walk around the block. For a dog, he sure hates it - "Rusty" would rather sit in front of the heater and who can blame him?
Sonnet visits St Catherine's School, a possible school for Madeleine who will enter secondary school in two years. She notes "warm, friendly, all girls. The Head Mistress, a nun, wore a business suit."
Yesterday's Thanksgiving makes for a slow day in the UK - my emails halved. Katie spends the holiday with Aunt Marcia and Larry in Bronxville where the Seabrings host the turkey this year. Four families trade holiday gatherings which has been "going on for some time," Marcia notes. Per tradition, the men put on their aprons and do the dishes afterwards.
Tuesday, November 23
I join college friend Fergal, and HBS grad and 2:28 marathoner+a successful venture capitalist; we discuss the demise of Ireland which is all over the news. Recall that earlier this year, fears of a sovereign debt crisis sparked a euro crisis from profligates Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and our dear Ireland. This led to a confidence crisis as well as the widening of bond yield spreads and risk insurance on credit default swaps between these countries and other EU members, most importantly Germany.Concern about rising government deficits and debt levels across the globe together with a wave of downgrading of European government debt has created alarm in financial markets.
Sunday, November 21
Saturday, November 20
There may be a lot of big games but there is only one Big Game. And that is Cal vs. Stanford. The first Big Game on March 19, 1892 on San Francisco's Haight Street grounds when Stanford beat Cal 14–10. It is the tenth longest rivalry in NCAA Division 1 football. Stanford leads the series record at 55–46–11 (wins–losses–ties). Cal won the most recent Big Game on November 21, 2009 by a score of 34–28. Cal has won seven of the last eight Big Games, following a seven game winning streak by Stanford. The location of the Big Game alternates between the two universities every year. In even-numbered years, the game is played at Berkeley, while in odd-numbered years, it is played at Stanford. There are also other competitions between the schools like "The Big Splash" (water polo), "The Big Spike" (volleyball),"The Big Freeze" (ice hockey), and "The Big Sweep" (Quidditch).
Friday, November 19
Easy material, "Rusty." The dog now sits, lies, waits and follows on command. All for a dog treat. His favorite 30 seconds is, and by far, meal-time, which he enjoys three-times a day. "Rusty" puts his full head into the dish and hoovers away. I scratch him behind an ear which gets a hind leg thumping; Madeleine curls up with the dog. Even Sonnet being won over slowly - she comments on "Rusty's" oversize paws which he has yet to grow into. This morning Eitan and I take the dog to the park and let him run around while Eitan works on his ball skills. It is foggy and soon "Rusty" gone and I spend five minutes searching for him before he turns up across the street in the hands of a nice construction guy who pulls his car over to ensure "Rusty" unhurt.
I tell Eitan he could be in a rock band. He smirks. His hair like the sixth member of the family (including "Rusty"). I join his class for the first time in a few years - in fact, not since I delivered a story about "Kit Kat Cowboy" and Eitan covered his eyes for 20 minutes. It was unnerving. This morning he protests and I take the bait: no embarrassement from me, no Sir (as I drop my trousers and show my stripy pants).
Peter Connelly ("Baby P") was an English 17-month old boy who died in London after suffering more than 50 injuries over an eight-month period, during which he was repeatedly seen by Haringey Children's services and NHS health professionals. The case caused public shock partly because of the magnitude of Peter's injuries and partly because Peter had lived in the London Borough of Haringey, North London, under the same child care authorities that had already failed ten years earlier in the case of Victoria Climbié. A public enquiry resulted in measures to prevent similar cases happening. Peter's mother, Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend, Steven Barker, and Jason Owe were convicted of causing or allowing the death of a child, the mother having pleaded guilty to the charge.
Wednesday, November 17
After nine years, Prince William no dummy. His marriage proposal to Kate Middleton follows ups and downs which have occupied the country and keep Fleet Street humming. God bless. The engagement in a nick of time, too, what with this horrible recession. Entertainment=religion. William does not disappoint either slipping his mother's engagement band on Kate's finger, noting Di won't miss a bit of the action. I feel Di's ever-loving presence upon them smiling her approval and making us all feel special somehow. It is easy to be cynical about these things when divorces and pre-nups the accepted norm in our Western World. There are similarities, too, between Kate and Di : both "common", ie, no Royal pedigree; each tall and beautiful. They have great style and enviable hair. Di 20 when she married Prince Charles and the media exposure killed her. Kate, on the other hand, knows the score and plays it like a pro. Since '07 Kate's privacy respected by the paps whom, she notes, a reason for her break-up with Wills last time. If today's headlines any indication, this will be one of the world's most visible events ever. Game on.
Tuesday, November 16
Geneve Natation 1885, pictured, in 1982 or '83. I trained with this group during my year in Switzerland. Coach Tony Ulrich, in slacks, took an interest in me and, with my parents, made it possible : Tony sorted an exchange family and then again mid-way through the year when Claude turned out to be a dud and returned to his mommy midway through the year. Tony often picked me up at my host parent's flat or the train station for dark morning practices. Asst Ralph, on the far-left, not a great coach but enthusiastic - we travelled Israel for a month for training sessions and competitions. I stayed on a kibbutz and ate cucumbers and lettuce for breakfast. I saw the dome of rock and wailing wall; Jerusalem's Arab markets and where Jesus walked on water. We visited Masada and the Dead Sea and I touched Jordan.
Monday, November 15
As our boiler out and no heat, we take comfort as we can - pictured. Some mornings, like this morning, we can see our breath. In the kitchen. When our plumber installed the radiators he failed to evacuate an air pocket so the pump blades spun in air (instead of water) and overheated. If not for the pressure discharge trip, the sucker would have blown. Do not mess around with a boiler. We now discuss whether his shoddy practices or an old boiler the root of the breakdown. The work-around not cheap. Sonnet buys ten "space heaters" and for Aneta (so miserable at one point I think she might move to the train station for warmth) an electric blanket. The kids have double comforters and Sonnet and I each other. I would like to suggest there is a sense of war-like bunkering-down and family bonding but mostly everybody cranky. We hope to have the problem fixed by Christmas. Suggestion to parents : bring warm clothes for the holidays.
Madeleine not feeling well so I ditch work and she plays hookie. We go to IKEA, pictured, and I tell her that if we are stopped by a truant officer she should tell him she's a run-away. Since today one of those cold, grey Mondays it is quite appropriate to be at an enormous shopping center in Wembley buying .. home goods. I get fired up over a cup of coffee for kitchen towels and other crapola. We are here to buy "Rusty" a dog bed but walk away with a lot of stuff excluding a dog bed. Madeleine tags along dutifully and we practice her maths and spelling. She seems to be feeling much better and watches "Harry P" as I blog.
Sunday, November 14
Eitan, Wills and I drive to Merton to play the Carshalton Dragons. It is cold and damp and we sidliners warm ourselves with white coffee, two sugars. I'm told the largest council estate in Europe just around the corner. I go for a run to get the cold out and return by kick-off. KPR never trail in a 3-2 win. Eitan sets up two goals with cross-passes and scores the winner himself (the boys talk non-stop football in the back seat on the way home).
This brother plays chess. We check him out on Broadway - and a very intense game too. The opponents bang down the time-clock and stair each other down. Make. Your. Move. Katie has to dash back to her apartment to pick up her bag before a train to Philadelphia and I spend the next two hours reading before a taxi to the airport notable as the driver from Haiti and we have an unusual conversation in French covering Haiti's suffering (his family there) and driving a taxi ("it could be worse"). He works 16-17 hours a day, seven days a week he tells me. We listen to French songs on the radio and he sings along - and shakes my hand twice at the Newark Airport, where he drops me off.
Katie and I trip around the Upper West Side first checking out the St John the Divine cathedral at 1047 Amsterdam Ave also known as 113th street. The last time I was here was at some Midnight mass in business school. Or it may have been to watch Nosferatu on a makeshift screen on Hallowe'en, also at Midnight. That was cool.
“Greater love hath no man than to attend the Episcopal Church with his wife.”
Saturday, November 13
New York's temp perfect for a stroll along Broadway before my meeting at 1 CPW. The last time I was inside Lincoln was with the NYC Ballet when Stan and Silver treated us and Katie to a special evening while I in graduate school. I was at a stag party in Philadelphia (Filth-adelphia) the night before. Quite a contrast that.
And here is Lincoln Center: A consortium of civic leaders and others led by, and under the initiative of John D. Rockefeller III, built Lincoln Center as part of the "Lincoln Square Renewal Project" during Robert Moses's program of urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s. Seventeen blocks of ethnic tenement neighborhoods were demolished through eminent domain, forcing out 7,000 families. Respected architects were contacted to design the major buildings on the site, and over the next thirty years the previously blighted area around Lincoln Center became a new cultural hub. Rockefeller was Lincoln Center's inaugural president from 1956 and became its chairman in 1961. He is credited with raising more than half of the $184.5 million in private funds needed to build the complex, including drawing on his own funds; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund also contributed to the project.Avery Fisher Hall, home of the New York Philharmonic in Lincoln Center.The David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, home of the New York City Operaand New York City Ballet.The first structure to be completed and occupied as part of this renewal was the Fordham Law School of Fordham University in 1962.
I fly into Heathrow and drive like mad to join Nat, Justin, Dafna and Charles and Sonnet for LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip - Christian, you get hug props. The concert at Alexandra Palace in N22 on Muswell Hill, which I know of but never here before. There are panaramic views of London. This city sprawls man.
First opened as “The People’s Palace” in 1873, Alexandra Palace gave the Victorians a great to party. But, alas : sixteen days after it’s opening, the Palace, which had already attracted over 120,000 visitors, was destroyed by a fire in the dome. On 1st May 1875, less than 2 years after the destruction of the original building, a new Palace opened. Covering 7 acres, it was centred on the Great Hall (where we are here) home to the mighty Willis Organ which was driven by two steam engines and vast bellows. After financial problems, an Act of Parliament in 1900 created the Alexandra Palace and Park Trust. The Act required the Trustees to maintain the Palace and Park and make them “available for the free use and recreation of the public forever”. In 1935, the BBC leased the eastern part of the building from which the first public television transmissions were made in 1936. Alexandra Palace was the main transmitting centre for the BBC until 1956, when it was used exclusively for news broadcasts. Six months after the transfer of trusteeship to Haringey Council, on 10th July 1980, the Palace caught fire for the second time. An area comprising the Great Hall, Banqueting Suite, and former roller rink together with the theatre dressing rooms was completely destroyed. Only Palm Court and the area occupied by the BBC escaped damage. Development and restoration work began soon after and the Palace was re-opened on 17th March 1988. Today it continues as a Charitable Trust. (source: A P website)
"Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now
Say it, say it, say it, say it, say it, say it, say it now
Say it, say it, say it, say it, say it, say it, say it now
Holly Golightly: "You know those days when you get the mean reds?"
Paul Varjak: "The mean reds, you mean like the blues?"
Holly Golightly: "No. The blues are because you're getting fat and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling? "
Paul Varjak: "Sure."
Holly Golightly: "Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that'd make me feel like Tiffany's, then - then I'd buy some furniture and give the cat a name! "
Monday, November 8
Letter To The PTA and the School Head Teacher
Dear Meat Brigade:
Thank you for your time and hard effort last night.
We may have been pushed to the very edge of our administrative capabilities but thanks to good operations management (thank you Andrew), crack till collection (Terry)+ace delivery (Carl) and some massive throw down capabilities (Simon) we persevered. Another huge shout out goes to Derek's wife who pre-cooked the sausages so nobody sick despite the tremendous pressure to cut corners in the face of Overwhelming Volumes. Safety remains our top priority.
My vote, however, for Man Of The Grill goes to our very own James who, despite two broken ribs and a busted shoulder, flipped paddies like nobody's business. James captures the spirit, indeed the sheer essence, of what we humbly aspire to be : the best darn burger cookers in the SW14.
Yours in faith,
Chief Executive Griller
Sunday, November 7
We have a late dinner with Tony and Susan who are moving to Boston earlier than expected. Tony and Susan have found a flat on the sixth floor of a seven-floor pre-war colonial in Back Bay one block from the Boston Common. I have indicated that I plan to make myself comfortable there whenever in town. Tony has been a friend and mentor from early Trailhead Capital and we share several funds together. He is a self-described "recycled entrepreneur" whose first company, Morris Decision Systems, ranked in the US top-ten for growth during the 1980s before being sold. Today he advises tech companies on strategy and development and serves as an advisor and director to a number of private and public companies including Datanomic and Diamond Wood China, a renewable energy company. He has also invested in a number of the most successful Silicon Valley funds during the golden era of venture capital.
It has been some time since we have lost an important friend to re-location. Four or five years ago many of our dearest American expats returned to the US .. 10 years into "an experimental living" seems to be the make-or-break point on becoming "native." So here we are at 14 - go figure. My dreams of the Pacific or Sierras on hold indefinitely but never say never. Moe once commented: "Not a bad place to be ship wrecked" when I once saw things this way. Now I love London's weather and the excitement of a day trip to a European city, even better if not for work. Or watching Eitan play football and cheering Manchester United or Madeleine's performance class. I am also proud of Sonnet's museum and our friends and so when someone dear departs I am reminded that most things do not last forever.
Saturday, November 6
Say, Candy and Ronnie, have you seen them yet
But they're so spaced out, B-B-B-Bennie and the Jets
Oh but they're weird and they're wonderful
Oh Bennie she's really keen
She's got electric boots a mohair suit
You know I read it in a magazine
B-B-B-Bennie and the Jets