Thursday, April 30

Who's On First

Madeleine: "I'm going to Southside tomorrow."
Sonnet: "With whom?"
Madeleine: "Izzy, Izzy and Lizzy."
Me: "Izzy and Izzy?"
Madeleine: "And Lizzy."
Me: ""Is it Izzy or is it Lizzy?"
Madeleine: "It's Izzy, Izzy and Lizzy Dad."
Me: "Lizzy Izzy?"
Madeleine: "No, Lizzy, Izzy and Izzy."
Sonnet: "Can you stop that now?"

Late Night

Eitan competes in the Oxford Relays notable for the return trip which takes six hours following an overturned cement lorrie on the M25. Home at 3:30AM.

Me: "So if you don't call it a 'play date' what do you call it ?"
Eitan: "I don't know. Just a sleepover."
Me: "Well, aren't you playing ?"
Me: "What are you doing then? Hanging out? Chillaxing?"
Madeleine, giggling: "Yeah, 'chillaxing'"
Eitan: "That is so like 1990s."
Me: "That is so like post 2000."
Eitan: "It's all the same before 2005."
Me: "Touchee."

South Ken

I join Sonnet on the steps of the V&A for a cupper.

Following an initial round of competition, Madeleine is chosen as one of three finalists from her school year to compete in the "book quiz".
Sonnet: "Did they quiz you on 'Harry Potter' ?"
Me: "I played that one already."
Sonnet: "Well what books did you get quizzed on?"
Madeleine: "Tom Sawyer and Watership Down." [Dad's note, I have been trying to get the kids to read Watership Down for years and it has become a family inside joke]
Me: "You're kidding. See?"
Sonnet: "Madeleine you are so well read."
Me: "Its all about the rabbits."

Eitan: "Today we cut up pigs' hearts.  In class I mean."
Me: "They go well with mint jelly."
Madeleine: "Dad!"
Me: "Sucks to be a vegetarian. All that hard work then you learn your brother is killing pigs in school."
Me: "I'm just saying, Sonnet."

Sunday, April 26

Marathon Day

Four Kenyons at the Embankment
In an always inspiring London Marathon, Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge (white T) wins the men's race in 2.04.42 from Wilson Kipsang (2.04.47, second from right) clocking a 4:33 mile 25 to open the race open. Both men are wonderful ambassadors for the sport, Wilson noting his delight for his friend Eliud's victory and satisfaction with his own race; Eliud thanking the spectators for seeing him through the last miles. Everybody a winer today. (My photo from the TV)

Ethiopia's Tigust Tufa wins the women's race in 2.23.32, sprinting to the endline. 

Paula Radcliffe runs her last marathon, age 42, in 2:36.55. I remember watching her set the World Record of 2:15.25 in London in 2003. Her record may stand another ten or 15 years, one of the greatest athletic performances of our era. Unfortunately Radcliffe does not get the credit she deserves as one of Britain's greatest athletes of all time given her Olympic disappointments, which dragged the country along with her. She is a national treasure.

Four British men under 2:20. Scott Overall the fastest Brit taking 13th place with a time of 2:12.

Me: "What do you think of the marathon?"
Madeleine: "It looks incredibly painful. Hard. And long."
Me: "Yep."

Tomato Time

Madeleine tills the soil
Every year in early April or so I start in on my tomatoes. This springtime no different only my seeds are German, purchased during Eitan's football camp in Bitburg (I've already killed the tadpoles). Maybe I'll feed them beer and Sauerkraut dressed in Dirndles and Lederhosen with Krafwerk and Rammstein playing in the background.

I've been told to brush the stalks with my hand as it strengthens them for the outdoors and they like the human touch.

I drive Madeleine, Willoughby and Jake home Friday, 10:30PM.  It's a good crew and I keep quiet as the trio chat away about people, candy, school and other things of equal importance. There is a lot of giggling and laughter.

Madeleine: "Do you like cream soda?"
Me: "Cream soda?"
Madeleine: "Yeah, cream soda. Do you like it?"
Me: "I'm not sure, I guess so. I can't remember the last time I had a cream soda. I think it's a Midwest thing." 
Madeleine: "Yeah."
Me: "Why do you ask?"
Madeleine: "Just curious."

Saturday, April 25


St Paul's Cathedral
I join about 80 Columbia Business School alum at the London Stock Exchange to honor Massimo Tosato '80, Executive Vice Chairman of Schroders. I have known him as a friend for 12 years whom I met when I was President of the business school's London club from 2002-04. Massimo a worthy recipient of recognition who brings charm and style to the evening.

The London Stock Exchange located in Paternoster Square next to the St Paul's Cathedral. When we arrived in London it was still a bombed out neighborhood which couldn't fill its leases. Now it is a smart part of town, owned by Mitsubishi Estate, who have redeveloped it to sparkle yet now without any charm. Lots of young men in ties and women with heels. It was more interesting the old way but that's progress.

Gallipoli Remembered

131,000 died in the doomed campaign.

The Gallipoli campaign in World War I took place on the Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey, in the Ottoman Empire from April 1915 to January 1916. We mark the 100 year remembrance. 

The peninsula forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, a straight that provided a sea route to the Russian Empire, one of the Allied powers during the war. Intending to secure it, Russia's allies Britain and France launched a naval attack followed by an amphibius landing on the peninsula, with the aim of capturing the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (Istanbul). It failed disastrously.

The campaign was one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war. In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the nation's history : a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. 

The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of independence and the declaration of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who first rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli. 

The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand.
(source: Wiki and others)

Sunday, April 19

Homework, Dude

Plugged in
Madeleine, on her initiative during the half-term break, organises Marcus and together they head for South Kensington, on their own, then a kick around Hyde Park. Sonnet learns of their adventure post pacto.

It makes me think of lazy weekend mornings, age 11 or 12, walking across the UC campus on a lazy summer morning, nothing to do but jingle a few coins in my pocket, hit the comic book stores  (two of them) on Telegraph then a slice at Blondie's pizza washed down by a coke and maybe a candy bar on the walk home.

We host a BBQ on a sunny Saturday afternoon - 20 friends+three dogs - followed by a walk in Richmond Park. Catch as catch can.

Saturday, April 18


Eitan works on a school project during the half-term break. He has chosen Martin Luther King and the project meant to relate to MLK's beliefs on non-violence. Eitan says, "Um, the five topics I'm covering are a summary of his life, the way that he resisted oppression in the United States, his beliefs on non violence, how religion shaped his beliefs. And an opinion on him."

I'm impressed by Eitan's presentation which includes quotes, facts, photographs and his thinking on the man and those times.  It seems in line with what I did in college.

"MLK was an independent thinker. I thought it impressive how he was a leader at such a young age. His speeches affected everyone. He had a really big impact on his era. His legacy is huge."

Photo from

Monday, April 13

The Last Lion

Churchill in Paris
Like many young men in America, I went through a serious Second World War interest and read Churchill's six volumes over the course of 1992-94 (Moe read them in one month, he once told me). The drama reads better than fiction and, while I won't go into detail on this blog, my general knowledge on the war, held idle for so long, revitalised in Normandy and having a captive audience, poor kids.

Another epic read from that period was William Manchester's 'The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill', a three volume trilogy covering Churchill's life from the early days ("Visions of Glory, 1874-1932"), to his political isolation and triumphant return ("Alone, 1932-1940") and finally the master-work to never be, "Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965" which Manchester unable to complete prior to his death, at 82, in 2004, leaving tens of thousands of loyal readers on the edge of their seat awaiting the final victorious turn of events that sealed the world's future.

Madeleine's time of 2:31.57 yesterday's 800 puts her in the UK Top 100 ranking for girls 15 and under.

Sunday, April 12

Race Day

600 of 800
We spend the day, a glorious one at that, in Wimbledon Park as Eitan and Madeleine compete in the Hercules Wimbledon Young Athletes track meet, the first racing of the outdoor season.

Eitan goes for the 1500, clocking a 4:47, placing him 7th in the U15s.

Madeleine competes the 800 and takes off like a rocket, forcing her heat to go with her. At the 3/4 point it is a close back and forth until both gals nipped by the outside lane, who passes them on the final 20m, our gal taking 3rd. She runs a gutsy race.

I change into a running shirt in front of some spectators.
Eitan: "Oh my God, Dad. Do you have to do that?"
Me: "Do what?"
Eitan: "Do you have to change here, in front of everybody?"
Me: "How about if I practise my break-dancing ?"
Me: "Definitely. Check this move out."
Me: "Well, off for my run now."

Klára Departs

Klára has been part of our family for the last 12 months or so and now she has moved on to the next thing: her own flat, working at one of London's cool restaurants Yauatcha.

I recover from New York with a five mile loop in Richmond Park including 2 miles at race pace against an equally paced runner; we nod at each other as we separate (me, holding it together). I then sleep the better half of Saturday, waking to a brilliant afternoon late sunset, dog walk and family dinner. What more could I wish?

The 79th Masters golf tournament televised from Augustus. I could care less but curious to see all the white people watching the old white men trying to put a little white ball into a small white hole.

Romeo And A Pair Ducks

Romeo Gili
Romeo Gili's velvet menswear ensemble ca. 1990 on display in Portland, Oregon, as part of the Glamour of Italian Fashion. One of my favorites.

From the V&A staff web noticeboard (filed under 'Only In Britain'):

"A number of colleagues have been in touch with both the Visitor Experience and Security teams to notify us of the pair of ducks who have been spending a lot of time in the Museum Garden recently. We have discovered that the female duck has laid two eggs, and have sought advice from the RSPB as to what steps we should be taking.

"Due to the legal protection ducks and their nests receive in all parts of the UK, we are legally obliged to not interfere with the birds and their eggs, so please do not be tempted to chase away the ducks or move the eggs. The RSPB have advised that if the breeding pair have decided to nest here we should leave them alone, and that they expect that if the family is successful they would expect them to leave the Museum quite quickly to find a larger body of water.

"We will be putting barriers up in the area, and ask that any colleagues passing through the garden are aware of the situation.

Head of Visitor Experience


Ca 200 million years old
Madeleine finds an ammonite on a Normandy beach, now on her windowsill next to a crab claw and a few rocks.

Originating from within the bacritoid nautiloids, the ammonoid cephalopods first appeared in the Devonian (circa 400 million years ago) and became extinct at the close of the Cretaceous along with the dinosaurs. The classification of ammonoids is based in part on the ornamentation and structure of the septa comprising their shells' gas chambers. While nearly all nautiloids show gently curving sutures, the ammonoid suture line (the intersection of the septum with the outer shell) is variably folded, forming saddles (or peaks) and lobes (or valleys). Source: Wiki.

Saturday, April 11

Upper East Side

57 and Park
Thierry and I have nine meetings in 2.5 days.  Efficient describes it. Exhausting, too. I'm up at 4AM and on the treadmill by 4:30 with all the other poor slobs as jet lagged as me. There is some camaraderie, I suppose, but mainly we just work off the stress of the time zone. More interestingly, Thierry and I go to Le Marais on 46th St, a Kosher steak house, famous to the Jewish community. No reservations so we wait 45 minutes for a table and worth it.

Katie joins us for a drink at the Four Seasons then we have dinner afterwards. It's great to have a sister in New York and one as cool as her. Do note the 80s gold disco jacket.

Eitan: "Can we go to 'Pickle and Rye?" [Dad's note: Pickle and Rye a sandwich shop in Mortlake, near the train station]
Me: "Do you have any money?"
Eitan: "I have a couple of pounds."
Me: "And you used to be the one who was the saver. Now it is Madeleine who is stowing away her dough." [Dad's note #2: Madeleine is saving her money to buy a plane ticket to America, possibly one-way]
Madeleine: "I don't 'stowe' money. I save it."
Me: "Isn't that the same thing?"
Madeleine: "Stowing sounds like hiding."
Me: "Makes sense."

Eric En Route

With Normandy a distant memory and on my way to Manhattan, I re route to Boston for a late meeting with the Mass state pension plan (ca. $80bn under mgmt).  I leave the kids with instructions to water the front yard and sweep out the back. There is resistance.

Incredibly it snows in Boston - a storm, it seems, that has not abated since my last time on the East Coast. A record winter for snow. The mood is .. claustrophobic.

Eric is free for lunch and we catch up on work, kids and life. An excellent unanticipated bonus. Eric's work office comprises of a number of jerry-rigged computers that serve as his coding palette, filled with language as foreign to me as Sanskrit. He has a standing work station surrounded by books, a few bones, a chalkboard with more software script and other various nick-nacks that capture my interest. Today he is testing his work before it goes live and, he notes, 'buggy.'

Monday, April 6

Side Road

Madeleine: "Can I have a sip of your wine?"
Me: "Sure."
Madeleine drinks a half a glass of wine in one go.
Me: "Madeleine!"
Madeleine, giggling: "What?"
Me: "Did I tell you about the first time I got drunk?"
Eitan: "Was that the time with the vodka?"
Me: "It was after league championships. Kristen, Jana and I went to Hillside Park with a bottle of Champagne."
Madeleine: "How old were you?"
Me: "16. I'd never really had alcohol before. A bottle of Champagne didn't really do anything so we went to Jana's house and got a bottle of vodka."
Madeleine: "So you are saying you stole a bottle of vodka?"
Me: "When I got home I was like, 'hi Mom and Dad, I'm home' then went into my bedroom. Everything started spinning around."
Madeleine: "Were you dizzy? From all that drinking?"
Me: "It's the worst feeling in the world. Just awful."
Eitan: "Did you get sick?"
Me: "I barely made it to the bathroom. Then Moe and Grace came in, they couldn't believe it. Katie thought it was hilarious though."
Madeleine: "Did you get into trouble?"
Me: "No. As parents, you expect your kids to do something stupid now and then. Like what I did."
Eitan, Madeleine:
Me: "Just don't do it twice."

Reading Room

I surprise the kids - they're reading! - but in fairness they have been disciplined about their revisions and each day put in a couple hours of work though here it is for pleasure: Madeleine "Roots" and Eitan "The Two Of Us."

This morning Madeleine and I power-walk in the fresh countryside air. We pass by two 30-foot long stone ramps equally separated with blocks every seven feet or so. Eitan puzzles on it for several days but Madeleine gets it right away: a ramp to raise a car or tractor so the mechanic can work underneath.

We've been sleeping until 10AM with lunch around 3PM or 4PM. Since the sun sets at 9PM, our days have been thoroughly thrown off kilter. We are loving it.

Tomorrow back to London.

Sunday, April 5

Passover Run

I go for a 13 or 14 mile run, something I haven't done in ages, and it feels great.  The first 30 minutes achy and stiff but then the old body warms up and I cruise along the seaside feeling like a million bucks. Or 17 (much more valuable).

Madeleine cranks away on her religious studies : "I'm doing stuff about Jesus, and the Old Testament and the New Testament. And the Pharisees (Me: Who are the Pharisees? Madeleine: "I have no idea. That's why I'm revising").

I chop off the chicken's head. Sonnet: "Don't tell Madeleine."
Sonnet: "We don't need a vegetarian in our house."

Saturday, April 4

Bayeux Tapestry

Morningtime. Sonnet and Madeleine go for a 5 mile run
We take a break from the Second World War to visit the Bayeux Tapestries.  Madeleine explains:

"The tapestry describes the Battle of Hastings in 1066. King Edward (of England) was going to die, and so he told he nephew Harold to make peace with William, Duke of Normandy. Harold set out to Normandy to pledge his loyalty but ended up in Picardy and was taken hostage by Guy (Count du Ponthieu). Then William arrives, there's a small fight between William and the Picardy people, and William frees Harold. Harold then swears his allegiance to William should Edward die.

"Harold goes back to England and King Edward dies. Then Harold becomes King and breaks his promise with William. In England, people see Haley's comment and get nervous. William gets really really mad, and starts building boats. He puts armour, horses, swords, supplies and people onto the boats and sales to England.

"The men and horses get off the boats and the battle between William Duke of Normandy and King Harold begins.

"It is a 14 hour long battle and the first few hours many people die on both sides. Before the end of the battle, William's soldiers think he is dead. But William is not dead and he lifts up his visor to rally his troops.  Then an arrow, shot by one of William's archers, hits King Harold in the eye and he is killed.

"The battle finishes and William's name is changed from 'William The Bastard' to 'William The Conqueror.' "