Madeleine, without any suggestion from me or anybody, thinks up "Dream Clean", a gardening service, pictured. She sets out to canvas the neighborhood so I join to make sure everything Ok; her pitch perfect : "Hello, I am Madeleine. Me and my friend, Billy, have started a new business, 'Dream Clean.' We rake all the leaves, pull weeds, sweep, clip and tidy up. It is six pounds." Within an hour she has 2 and half customers and I throw in our house so she adds up the maths: "that's £21, Dad!" Eitan sniffs an opportunity and asks to join the business but Madeleine demures - as she should. Her idea, her effort. Why share ?
Saturday, April 30
Friday, April 29
Kate and William take their vows - the first Royal Kiss, pictured (Eitan tells me they kiss twice). The Queen, being The Queen, confers the ancient title of Duke of Cambridge on her Grandson knowing full well that his future is her future and the future of the monarchy. In a flash they are relevant again : this is one heck of a Fairy Tell that us commoners, whoever we are and wherever we may be, can celebrate in full. Not so in '81 BTW in that pre-arranged and gloriously choreographed affair. The British do pomp and circumstance like nobody's business and today The Firm is "on".
Sonnet watches the Big Show and breathlessly notes the dress : Alexander McQueen ! The choice seems unusual since McQueen committed suicide last year but, Sonnet tells me, the McQueen brand important for British fashion : celebrity, creative and avant guard. This is a global niche filled by British design shops - Kate agrees. Of greater importance - she is stunning, as is her sister, Pippa, whose swishing derriere watched by 2 billion people. These gals have been on some kind of training diet, no doubt.
Thursday, April 28
Wednesday, April 27
Sunday, April 24
I love this, and other photos, by Hedi Slimane (born July 5, 1968 in Paris) who is a French fashion designer of Tunisian, Italian-Brazilian origins. Slimane studied political sciences (hypokhâgne prépa Sciences-Po), and Art History at the École du Louvre, and was also educated as a tailor. From 1992 to 1995 he worked for Jean-Jacques Picart, notably on the centenary exhibition of Louis Vuitton's "LV" monogramme label. This has given him access to the great and the good.
Washington Trust helpfully tells us: "Effective financial coordination and management is the ultimate work product of a successful family office. Planning and follow through—short-term and long-term—can improve a family's overall financial legacy and maximize the advantages of its assets." What they are really saying is don't pay taxes.
Saturday, April 23
Sonnet and I to Camden for Airborne Toxic Event. Beforehand we have a drink in Primrose Hill with Dana and Nathan and watch them juggle a whole lot of DNA - youngest Sierra nine months old. Dana walks us across the Regent's Canal, by Kate Moss's house, where we meet Simon and Sabi for the concert. Simon went to Uni nearby and, in his yuf, at Koko (then Camden Palace) every Friday or Saturday - Simon's dad was the CEO of EMI Film and Simon had a cool college job that gave him cred and some dough. He notes that his last time at Koko was '85 so, yes, we are on the older side of the averages but feeling young. After the show we go to a Spanish restaurant whose owner gently asks us to leave as we linger well beyond his last customer. A great evening.
Friday, April 22
Madeleine and I assemble the Semroc "IQSY Tomahawk" which is a "1/10 semi-scale model, historical sounding rocket" which is "fun to build and fly" with "laser cut fins". My foray into rockets started with Berkeley neighbor Todd, four years older, and all that. Todd and I got ourselves into bugs and Star Trek and first-bikes, paper airplanes, tree forts, go-carts and .. model rockets. This would have been '77 or '78. Todd is now a firefighter in Chico and I am thrilled to rediscover an inch of my youth.
Well, be still my beating heart, we are inside one week of the Royal Nuptials. Bunting appears on the High Street; Kate's photo everywhere; the dailies cover the couple doggedly : The guest list! The Wedding Dress! The Final Shopping! The Honeymoon! Thank goodness Kate and Wills attractive since they will be in our house, like, every day for evermore. For all those grumpy anti-Royals, thank goodness Kate is no Fergie or her bug-eyed daughters. Or peaches.
Madeleine and Ava have a number of similarities easily noticed : tom boys, short hair cuts, same colour eyes. Similar disinclination for maths. Same taste in pajamas. Sonnet is Ava's Godmother and treats the crew to the V & A which, Halley whispers to Willem on the telephone: "was better than we expected."
Thursday, April 21
Source: "All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT walker) (Behind the Scenes)" . Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm
"We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace. "
Halley, Zoe and Ava join us for the pre-Easter run-up. Easter a Big Deal in the UK and tomorrow begins a four-day weekend. In fact, we are in "bank holiday" heaven with the next four weeks shortened+a bonus holiday thanks to Kate and Wills, God bless. An economist on Radio 4 tries to dampen our good vibe by suggesting that the lost productivity from not working will not help us reduce our national debt. As if.
Eitan and I dive into veg and watch the hatchlings from seed. With care we transfer the sprouts from their incubator into larger pots protected from the outside, inside. The dog has murdered half our crop but we have hope.
Wednesday, April 20
I'm in Green Park whose green space reduced to a postage stamp in preparation for the Royal Wedding -- as the reception at Buckingham Palace, the festive area will cover The Mall, St Jame's Park and Green Park.
Large white tents, lighting and security installed and there are hundreds of worker bees preparing for the Big Day. Behind all this is, well, Kate Middleton - a "commoner" without aristocratic lineage. I am all for the fairy tale wedding BTW - why not enjoy it?
The country has a reason to celebrate itself and the next Royal couple will provide endless entertainment forevermore. Kate already occupies a small space in our collective waking conscious. She signed on for it.
Tuesday, April 19
We prepare for Passover - Eitan's blazer two inches too short on the sleeve so Madeleine adds it to her costume, which includes Eitan's dress trousers, school shoes and grey-turtle neck. They look like hobos. Just once I would like to see Madeleine in a dress but this has happened just once in the last three years : Diane's wedding. We pick up Sonnet at Hammersmith Station then Chiswick for dinner.
Monday, April 18
Aneta back to Czech for the week and today I am solo with the Shakespeares. It is sunny and warm so everybody in a good mood, 9AM. Eitan wants to go to the outdoor pool but Madeleine, who was on board initially, changes her mind (Madeleine: "I was not on board! I was never on board!"). We weigh the Barnes Wetland Center (Madeleine: "Yea!"; Eitan: "No!"), Kew Gardens (both: "naw"); Snakes and Ladders (Me: veto).
Sunday, April 17
And here we are again - the London Marathon - and trust me I am delighted to be watching the front-runners on the tele with my feet up (Photo from The Telegraph, last year, at Tower Bridge). Recall, Dear Reader, 2009 a disaster when it comes to marathoning : two races, one cow suit and a combined ten miles of soul destroying misery. Of my five races, I have not once finished running. Never say never, but another marathon highly unlikely - these days, seven miles pain-free a luxury.
The inaugural London marathon in'81 had 7,741 entrants, 6,255 of whom completed the race. The first Men's Elite Race was tied between American Dick Beardsley and Norwegian Inge Simonsen, who crossed the finish line holding hands in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 48 seconds. The first Women's Elite Race was won by Briton Joyce Smith in 2:29:57. Last year's race had 35,859 entrants with 35,268 finishing (this does not make me feel especially good as I bonked out at mile 25). This year there are over 37,000 runners.
Saturday, April 16
I take this pic awaiting Sonnet. The V&A's Rotunda, or main entrance, home of the wonderful, 30ft high, blown glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly. After the original dome of the rotunda was reinforced, the chandelier installed in 2000 as the first stage of the V&A's modernisation and redevelopment.
Madeleine's drama class ends this week with a performance of Peter Pan at Putney Arts Theatre. Our hero is an Indian (or "Native American" - but these Brits are not quite up for such a modern expression). Madeleine comfortable with her lines and has a nice stage presence. The 40 or so in the audience give the little dears our cheer. Afterwards Marcus joins us for a sleep-over.
Friday afternoon I pick up Sonnet from Blythe House where much of the V&A's fashion collection will soon be stored. We then get Eitan from football camp in Chiswick, arriving in time to see his team win the final tournament (Eitan jumps in the air, pumps a fist) and an awards ceremony recognising the enthusiastic or better players.
Renzo Piano's "Shard of Glass" at London Bridge will be, when completed in 2012, the tallest building in Europe and the 45th tallest building in the world. It is the second tallest free-standing structure in the UK after the 1,084 ft (330.4m) Emley Moor transmitting station. The building in all its various stages and seen by millions daily, will soon be a fading memory once the project finished.
I am in the City to pick up my camera after droping David off following Friday morning meetings - freedom! It is a sunny day and I am surrounded by tourists. Near the Tower a young man, maybe 30, maybe Danish, asks permission to sit on my bench; he has a brief conversation which, to my eavesdropping, sounds uncomfortable. A few minutes later, a woman arrives with a huge smile and they embrace; she settles on his lap and they make out. Her accent Eastern European from who-knows-where. Since I would seem to be the odd man out, I move along.
Me: "Did you know that there is a prison in the London Tower that fills with water as the Thames rises, killing whoever is inside?"
Friday, April 15
Monday, April 11
(From the FT) The postwar consensus broke down amid the "stagflation" of the mid-1970s, as a full-blow recession, with double-digit rates of inflation, followed the quadrupling of the oil price in 1973. Government economic policy moved towards greater acceptance of market mechanisms.
Photograph: Nils Jorgensen
Saturday, April 9
The kids queue for hours to meet Anthony Horowitz, the author behind "Alex Rider." (Eitan, aware that Horowitz a Chelsea fan, was going to wear his ManU shirt so I am happy to see Sonnet ordered him to take it off). And who is Alex Rider, you might ask, as I once did ? Well, Alex Rider a teenage spy. In Britain. The series aimed primarily at young adults and, with nine novels, one of the most popular of its type. Both Madeleine and Eitan, especially Eitan, devour them.
We take a boat ride by the Château d'If, a fortress (later a prison) located on the island of If, in the Mediterranean Sea about a mile offshore in the Bay of Marseille. It is famous, Dear Reader, from Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo where Le Monsieur de la Count jailed - I read the book a couple of years ago to my great delight. Recall the main character Edmond Dantès(a commoner who later purchases the noble title of Count) and his mentor, Abbé Faria, are imprisoned in If. After fourteen years, Dantès makes a daring escape from the castle, becoming the first person ever to do so and survive. In reality, no one is known to have done this. There is also a 33 Champs-Élysées BTW where Le Count lived in the story.
Astorg out-performs so really their annual general meeting a pretty tame affair. Astorg's Chairman, Xavier, jokes with the owner/manager of the one company whose performance has slipped since last year's review. Otherwise it is mostly good stories and valuation mark-ups. Xavier takes it upon himself to show us the best of his country and this year special as his hometown in nearby Nice. By Thursday all investors to hand and the Astorg team flies in for dinner, which is at Palais du Pharo, built under Louis Napoleon Bonaparte for the Empress Eugenie. Before supper we have a private viewing of La compangnie Julie Lestel's "corps & 'âmes", a modern dance production (pictured) that has received awards around the world and, I might suggest, a bit risqué for the crowd. Unexpected and sublime.
"Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever."
Wednesday, April 6
Eitan promoted to the regional swimming squad, which gets a bashful acknowledgement when Head Coach Mirella and club Chairman Nigel tell him he has earned his place "from hard-work and good progress." The boy now expected to train five or six times a week. We discuss his commitment to sport : swimming, football and cross-country, which he enjoys at school. At some point - not now, but soon - he will most likely have to make a choice between the three but for now, he is boundless energy and not enough hours in the day.
Tuesday, April 5
We have a fairly sharp policy when it comes to media: the less, the better. No Nintendo DS nor Xbox; no boob tubes in the kids' rooms (only one household television); one family computer which the kids use in the kitchen in the presence of an adult. Eitan and Madeleine have 'movie night' Thursdays and one-hour of cartoons Sunday mornings though relaxed around football, which Eitan cannot get enough of (+I enjoy watching with him). Madeleine gets her extra share, too, do not worry Dear Reader. The one exception radio : I have no problem with the wireless which, at least, exercises some imagination. They also go for CD boxsets of Hairy Potter or whatever (I sometimes find one or the other sound asleep with the player going). Sonnet and I figure the Shakespeares will spend half their waking life Facebooking and Twittering . . no need to rush them online when they should be reading and playing in dirt.
(From the FT) This period was one of relative stability for Britain - with generally low inflation, and no significant recessions - and of relative decline, as other nations, in particular the resurgent Germany and Japan, overtook the UK in the international economic pecking order.
Monday, April 4
We host a martini fueled dinner party Saturday which goes until 3AM - 3AM! - which means Sonnet takes Eitan to swimming Sunday morning, 6:30AM. Made worse: Mother's Day. I slink around the house then take the boy to his football match against the Molesley Jrs which is on a lovely pitch next to the Spencer Estate - Spencer being Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, DL wh is a British peer and brother of Diana, Princess of Wales and an "author," "print journalist" and "broadcaster." Yeah, right. KPR lost to Molesley two weeks ago 4-nil without Eitan and yesterday the team gets one back: the blues dominate 6-1 and Eitan scores a hat-trick including a screaming header fed to him on a corner-kick. There are plenty of smiles afterwards.
In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other nonviolent means. By 1968, he had refocused his efforts on ending poverty and stopping the Vietnam War.
Friday, April 1
Me: "Can you believe we ran that race a year ago? The one in Richmond Park?"