Friday, December 29


In Britain:

Every two seconds 94 Kit Kats are purchased, or 1.5 billion a year

Every three seconds, the British eat 18 chicken sandwiches
Every ten seconds, someone buys Premium Bonds, a customer switches to broadband, and there is an accident on the road

Every 20 seconds a cleavage-enhancing Wonderbra is sold on the high street

Every 30 seconds, 8,333 packets of crisps are consumed (1 million per hour)
Every minute an immigrant arrives, the police receive a '999' call about domestic violence, and 100,000 text messages are sent. A person dies.

Every one and a half minutes a plane takes off from Heathrow Airport.
Every three minutes a married couple is divorced
Every five minutes a UK citizen emigrates
Every six minutes a driver is caught speeding

Every ten minutes: 15.38 million litres of water used, and a bottle of San Tropez fake tan is sold
Every 30 minutes: 4.1 million cups of tea are drunk, or 80,000 per person per year. Speed cameras issue 30,000 speeding tickets
Every 45 minutes: 98.2 tons of chips eaten. 873,288 eggs fried-up.

Every hour, over 41 smokers quit, a London house goes up £3.7 in value, 150,000 passengers enter the Underground and 14,500 pass through Heathrow Airport, 47,965 tons of solid waste is produced (enough to fill the Albert Hall), 110,000 kilos of chocolate eaten, 74 babies born, 20 tonnes of sausage consumed, £9,000 gambled away, 58,000 litres of alcohol drunk, 23 book titles published and more than 208,333 custommers served at the UK's 1,200 McDonald's.

And there you have it.
(list mostly from the Daily Mail)

Wednesday, December 27


Today I go into the office to organise myself for the New Year. This includes wrapping up Industry Ventures, which has raised their Fund IV at $107 million. Kicking off January 1st is Astorg Partners in Paris, who will also raise a fourth fund, targeting €800 million. With my partner Giuseppe Ciardi, we invested in Astorg III in March 2005, which as been an above average performer, returning capital and marked up over 2X. Sonnet to the V&A next week, but not before East Anglia.

I'm not sure what is on Madeleine's mind in the photo, but she is working something out, that is clear. Madeleine provides good camera fodder unless I push her too far, then she switches off. It may also be her age, her personality or the fact that she is still under-exposed compared to Eitan but regardless, I'm having fun snapping away.

Sonnet takes down the Christmas tree: b-r-u-t-a-l. Rather than deposit the Holy in the street depressing anybody who walks by, the thing is hauled off to the backyard where it will probably stay until January 1.

Madeleine Sees The World

Madeleine's drawing from The Art Yard, a favorite day for her creative nature (the picture's orientation, according to her, is correct BTW). Yesterday, Boxing Day, we spend the afternoon with Dana and Nathan in Primrose Hill. Dakota, no longer a baby at one year, is cute as a button. She's also walking. Nathan works his magic with our kids, but especially Eitan - it is a boy thing. Nathan's energy enraptures Eitan and Madeleine as we play footie, race up Primrose Hill, and run about with the joy of loving youth. Afterwards Dana has prepared brownies and clotted cream. Eitan and Madeleine pass out in the car on the drive home and we expect an early evening from them. Ha! - Madeleine still afraid of nightmares from Scooby Doo eventually bunks in Eitan's bed and we find them sound asleep, heads at opposite corners.

Tuesday, December 26

Merry Old England

Sonnet's 20 pound goose cooked to perfection. The weather cold and grey. London shut down - even public transpo. The kids bloated on television, peanut brittle and our attention go to bed after 2100. Sonnet and I organise the house. I, along with every other British father not skiing in the Alps or lying on a beach somewhere, cannot wait to get back to work.

Monday, December 25

Christmas Day Swim

Christmas morning and the kids are up at .... 0845? A strange start for presents, but likely due to a relaxed curfew and restless night (Madeleine: "How is fat Santa going to make it down the chimney?"). This morning she rushes into our bedroom ecstatic with a new set of finger rings: "It's just what I ordered!" We put on our swim suits and head for the "Hampton Heated Open Air Pool," somehow open 365 days a year, and where it is "a tropical 82 degrees." This burns off some energy and prepares everybody for an otherwise indoor day with lots of television. Gifts come from around the world, and we are grateful to everybody- thank you. They are opened in less than five minutes. Sonnet prepares coffee cake and everybody happy to be home for the holidays.

Merry Christmas


Sunday, December 24

Christmas Bird

Eitan, who has accompanied me the past three years to pick up the Christmas Goose at local butchery R. Chubb & Son, flat out refuses this morning. He's no dummy, and knows that we will stand in line for at least an hour with the other Men Of The Community freezing our asses off. I offer the tradition to Madeleine, and sweeten the deal with a treat from the nearby newsagent. She demures, on a razor's edge: to leave the warmth of our house and her pajama's or brave the winter outside for a candy? Finally she asks: "even chocolate?" and I know that I have her.

Madeleine, at the butcher's, points to the hanging carcasses: "Those are decorations, dad. They are just visiting."

Saturday, December 23


Madeleine, with empty box: "Dad! do you want to see a magic trick? Ok, close your eyes. Now stick your fingers in your ears." She runs into the other room, returns with empy hands. "See Dad - Magic!"

We have dinner with local friends Steve and Louisa and their children twins Daniela and Sophia and Tobias. Eitan and Sophia are in the same school class. Also with us tonight is Sarah, pregnant with her fourth and so on permanent leave from teaching philosphy at St. Paul's. Not joining us is Sarah's husband Simon, who is a forensic examiner for the Home Office - there are only 37 actives in the UK. Before turning CSI, Simon was a doctor for the NHS, but decided it was more interesting to deal with (or not) dead people. His team covers London and so is responsible for the Putney Murder (women found chopped up in a suitcase), Ipswitch serial killer, and most famously the Litvinenkco case where the former KGB agent was poisened to death by plutonium 210. Interesting work, no doubt. Fired up by this, I watch The Descent when we get home.

Friday, December 22

Jingle Kids

Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells!
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun
It is to ride
on a one horse open slay

Jingle Bells
Batman Smells
Robin flew away
He landed in the football pitch
and didn't know how to play

Jingle bells
Batman smells
Robin flew away
Uncle Billie
Lost his willie
On the motor way

Thumb's UP

This is Mike Gridley, a partner at Industry Ventures in San Francisco. My photograph taken in October before an investor presentation to Robeco. I told Mike that I would put him on my blog if he raised $100 million - so here he is.

Eitan and Madeleine are today at the Art Yard, where they will make artsy crafty sorts of things for their pleasure, some of which will be sent to the grandparents no doubt. London remains covered by a Jack-The-Ripper fog, without let-up for four days. Heathrow has cancelled 600 flights stranding 200,000 passengers. We are grateful not to be travelling by airplane this season.

Thursday, December 21

I'm with the kids today. The morning starts at Yoga-Bugs where they stretch, meditate, and work themselves out. Aftewards, I take the Little Shakespeares to lunch at... wait for it.... McDonald's! Who says you can't buy love? Afterwards we shop in Richmond. I try on a sweater and ask Madeleine what she thinks. She, with zero interest rolling her eyes: "It's sooo cool dad." Man, she's going to be a great teenager. From here Eitan goes to Bertie's birthday party and Madeleine and I will do something special, tbd. This evening: "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" while Sonnet is out for cocktails with her girlfriends Dana and Rana.

Wednesday, December 20

Blue Sky

Things are beginning to slow down for Christmas, and this is a Catholic country. Eitan and Madeleine had their last day of school yesterday, and Sonnet greets them with a trip to Richmond Park where Eitan works his bicycle machine. After the Merry, we will head for East Anglia and the town of Holt, not far from the seaside in the county Norfolk. Everbody warns that it is flat and the weather dreadful but the scenery splendid. I plan to re-engage my Pentax SuperME and take some black & whites. I also intend to to catch-up on some reading, including favorite trash mags Hello, Esquire, and Paris Match.

This photograph taken above the Rio Grande.

Tuesday, December 19


I have lunch today at a local caf (sic), that takes its street cred from the construction and working set who gulp black coffee and smoke cigarettes while eating chips, baked beans, sausages and other disgusting over-the-counter fair. It amazes me how this country excites itself over the bubbling sizzle of animal oil where just about anything is dumped for culinary "preparation." A delicacy in Scotland, for instance, is the deep fried candy bar - most famously for us Americans, a Snickers. Yes, sadly, Britain is catching up to the USA in weight - nearly 25% of these Brits are now considered clinically obese (1980: less than 10%) making us the fattest country in Europe. Worse, child obesity and related diabetes is growing even faster. The British goverment has responded with a tepid publicity campaign to no effect. A better result comes from celeb chef Jamie Oliver, who shamed Tony Blair into giving him $500 million and responsibility for 20,000 public schools in England, where he now prepares healthy and tasty lunches. An individual can make a difference, now if only the fat would follow.

Sunday, December 17


Richmond Park currently sustains 300 Red Deer and 350 Fallow. The general trend over recent years has been to reduce the total herd from numbers that peaked in 1985 at just under 1,000 but suffered a significant die off over the severe winter (approximately 40 Red and 50 Fallow). Even with a smaller herd and plenty of warning notices around the park, road traffic accidents still take 30 deer each year. The deer became the determining factor upon the park’s landscape as soon as Charles I compulsorily, but supposedly at a fair price, purchased the land in 1637 and emparked it with eight miles of wall (now Grade 1 Listed and on the English Heritage register). Charles moved his court here to avoid plague. Today, the deer are free to roam wherever. For this reason plantations are deerfenced as it generally takes 40 to 50 years before an oak may be able to stand unprotected. One hundred and fifty trees are planted each year in open areas of the park and with time may come to match the old oak pollards in the Highwood area of the Park which are 700 to 800 years old. Apparently trees in the 400 to 500 year old bracket are relatively common. Not surprisingly it is the Red deer, standing taller than Fallow, which determine the Park’s browse lines. There are many traditional rutting stands around Richmond Park, most notably Spankers Hill which is important for Fallow.

I took this photograph in the late afternoon at Spanker's Hill wood.

Eitan rides

Eitan has been jonesing about his birthday bike, which has remained unused since October. Today we make the quick drive to Richmond Park, which offers a number of tarmacs for walkers and cyclist - perfect for his two wheeler. This is the boy's first time without training wheels, so Sonnet and I hold him up as he works for balance. Madeleine runs behind shouting her enouragement: "Come on Eitan! You can do it!" To our great surprise he goes! I remember Eitan's first steps following 18 months (and some anxiety): one morning, arms out wide, he simply hydro-planes, never to revisit his hands and knees again. The same is today, as Eitan bikes well outside our of our eyesight pushing yet another set of bounderies between him and us.

My photo taken at the the White Lodge, nearby the Duchess Wood.

Madeleine's Life

Favorite food: Sweeties. Any kind
Favorite dinner: Pizza
Vegetable: None
Color: Purple
Cartoon: Bart Simpson
Teacher: Liz (Montessori) and Ms. Sedan (reception teacher)
Best friend: The two Nicholases
Vacation: Colorado and California, especially California to see Sweetie Pie (Gracie Moe's cat)
Day of the week: Sunday and Friday
Movie: Monsters Inc and Tarzan
Summer or Christmas? Christmas
Boats or trains? Trains
Cars or planes? Planes
Pony tail or pig tail? Pony tail
Bed-time or morning? Bed-time
Ice cream or cake? "That's a both one"
Cats or dogs? Both
Smooches or hugs? "That's a both one."
Letters or numbers? Numbers
Books or stories? "Books, because they are longer then stories."
Sport: Football
Sandwich: Salami
Drink: Apple-mango-lime
Biggest wish: "I can't tell you because then it won't come true."

I pick up Madeleine this evening from Katie's birthday party. A clown gives out lolly-pops and Madeleine asks for two - the second for Eitan. On the car-ride home:
Madeleine: "Dad, do you remember the time Eitan said he didn't like lollies?"
Me: No
She: Well, it's true. He said he liked ice cream more than lollies.
Me: Ok
She, after a pause: Dad, I would hate to waste this lolly.
Me: Well, Madeleine, it's yours to give to Eitan.
She: I'm going to eat it.
Me: It's your decision honey.
She: Thanks Dad. Just don't tell him I ate it, OK?

Eitan Weighs In

Favorite food: Chicken nuggets and chips. And spaghetti
Color: Red
Toy: Manga Men
Super-hero: Hulk and Spider Man
Teacher: Ms. Reynolds (school, year 1) and Ms. Adams (reception)
Vacation spot: California mountains
Best friend: Imogen and Harry
Desert: Chocolate ice cream
Trains or planes? Planes
Cars or boats? boats
Cartoon? Simpsons
Football team: England
Football club: Chelsea, Manchester United
Football star: Ronaldino

Friday, December 15

School portrait

Ah, who can forget the school photograph, tucked away somewhere in the closet alongside the many other treasured images not to see the light of day? Here, the kids captured on their schoold grounds, and Eitan's hair even combed (mine always displayed a handsome, upward pointing calic along with a dazed look). Fulfilling our parental duty, Sonnet orders the comprehensive set with big, medium and wallet-sized pics - to be dispersed to family and the photo box for future generations and posterity.

Aggie puts the tired kids, somewhat confused, to bed early last night at 6:30PM. Madeleine greets my arrival home: "Dad, I'm sooo awake." This morning for once she is up before us- and bounces into our room to make a "family sandwich." Eitan also joins in, at which point I bail out to go running. Aggie leaves for Poland tomorrow, where she will celebrate the holidays with her family. Tonight she takes the kids to dinner - tbd - and then movies at home. With the weather so warm, it doesn't yet feel like the holidays. Sonnet bought a tree, which we will decorate tomorrow. Birthday parties and trips to the Kew gardens are also planned for the weekend.

Thursday, December 14


Could Eitan have the makings of a rock star? This photograph taken over the summer after I have clearly taken too many.

Madeleine in bed crying.
Me (sternly), from downstairs: "Madeleine: enough with the tears."
She cries.
Me "One! Two! Three!"
She cries.
Me: OK, that's it. no TV!
She, thoughtful pause: Forever?

Eitan, over breakfast this morning, boasts about having the last bagel. Madeleine, indignant, counters that she has the last croissant. "Don't care!"
Madeleine: Dad can I have some cereal?

Wednesday, December 13


Sonnet and I watch "Pretty In Pink" last night. If I recall correctly, I saw the film for the first time with my mom at the Oak's theatre on Solano Avenue, Berkeley, in 1986. Molly Ringwald was at the peak of her teen powers with films like 16 Candles, Breakfast Club, P-I-P and Fresh Horses. And I of course was a teenager. The film has dated mostly well, and niceley captures the cliquishness, and stereotyping, of a big public high school (could have been Berkeley High School, for sure). The clothes are a hoot (especially Molly's prom git-up - fantabulous), and James Spader's Seth a wonderful rich slime-ball. In all, on the 20th anniversary viewing of the film, I feel much older then then, and ready to revisit other temporal classics like Say Anything, The Sure Thing, About Last Night, and St. Elmo's Fire. Who says we cannot live youth again?