Thursday, January 31

Ray In The NYT

Here is our very own hero Ray Horton pictured in today's New York Times - he is at the back left in the red scarf. The re-union brings 10 curators from New York and around the US plus one from London though not Sonnet - at least not yet. Written in the NYT, the group is the inaugural class of the Center for Curatorial Leadership, a fellowship program founded last year to address what many in the museum world see as a need for curators to become better business people. In part, the goal is that business people — or at least those with far more financial acumen than art training — do not end up running museums. And it is also to help the next generation of museum directors cope with the growing financial pressures on art institutions as they compete for visitors with one another and with the pop-culture industry. The announcement is well timed given the problems facing Los Angeles museum community regarding ethical lapses regarding their collection sourcing. Ray is professor at Columbia Business School with whom Sonnet, Katie and I travelled Pakistan and Western China. I took his Modern Political Economy course, which was a favorite with me and many of my MBA classmates.


Madeleine this morning at the school-drop. She's loaded down with bags and things, and the guitar has begun in earnest with evening practice (I goad them to play "Stairway To Heaven." Note to Moe: this is a famous rock and roll song by Led Zeppelin). It is a good morning and I help Mrs Reynolds in the classroom with administrative work - you know, cutting and pasting plus a little filing. Fun stuff, which allows me to participate in the classroom antics from the sideline. I remember visiting Grace's Montessori school in the '70s and how much fun it was to run around with the squeakers (me being the Big Kid, age 11+). The Montessori was in an Oakland Church and Grace converted the teaching area into a thing of wonder including a outdoor recreational with constructions using old navy piers and other timbers. The vision was hers alone and the kids were loved and worked out.

Otherwise afoot at the school, Music Week begins February 4th including a Jazz Concert, a Baroque to Rock presentation and numerous singing events - all open for the parents on different days. Stay tuned.

When the music changes, so does the dance.
African proverb

Wednesday, January 30


Yaqub Shaw
A Pakistani driver brings me home from the airport and we get to talking. He has four children from teen to six months and has lived in Sussex since age five with the exclusion of several years when he returned to Pakistan to study religion and engineering. He's otherwise 42 or 43 I would guess. We discuss being Muslim in the UK, and he says he is British first - "we all are." He says without question England is the most accepting place in Europe and the least concerned about his religious beliefs: "It is the best place by far." On radicalism and young people, he says the young are easily brain-washed and have nothing else but anger, which they do not understand. "I just want to live my life. I am too old to be angry." 

In the summer of '97 Sonnet, Katie and some friends with Columbia Professor Ray Horten traveled the 1500 kilometer Karakorum Highway connecting Pakistan and China a the Khunjerab pass or 17,500 feet. The road descends into the Taklamaken desert at the base of the T'ien Shan mountains. It was hard to do this trip then, and probably impossible now. My photo of Yaqub Shaw, who provided our security - Yaqub is a retired Lt Colonel in the Army and otherwise presents a menacing, emotionless presence which was used on several occasions beyond Rawalpandi where not a Westerner can be seen. Yaqub owns the Sky Bridge Inn in Sust, the last small village on the KKH before China. It is surrounded by sky touching and jagged mountains. He is proud of his property no doubt, and on this evening we light a bonfire on the roof and a friend plays the flute and chants long ago tribal songs which bounce off mountain walls and back to us.

Tuesday, January 29


Here's another one from this weekend at the Transportation Museum. The lighting represents the London Underground's famous tube map. Very clever. The kids love the up-ramp, where they dash and slide until I holler: "Enough!"

A survey by the Office for National Statistics gives us this data on Britain's consumption, as percentage of weekly expenditure after mortgage or rent:

Fags: 5.6%
Fruit and Veg: 4.5%
Meals out: 3.1%
Alcohol: 2.9%
Bus fares: 2.2%
Biscuits and cakes, 2.0%

That was 1957. And in 2006?

Petrol: 4.0%
Council tax: 3.8%
Meals out: 2.8%
Alcohol: 2.5%
Fruit and Veg: 1.4%
Cigs: 0.9%

Of course, today the British make considerably more money so the significance of petrol, cigarettes and alcohol is understated in the recent data.


Here is Katie with her fabulous crew from Harvard. The East Coast re-union includes almost all her freshmen year roommates or suite mates: Sharon, Steph, Joanna, Rachel, Laura, Gif, Kristin, Mary and me. Plus some random kids thrown into the mix. How interesting to think that I first met this crowd in the fall of 1986 on a college Road Trip with Steve Tapper and Roger Murff. If I dare recall, there was a lot of drinking and cavorting which remains lodged in my memory bank (for the record: we maintained our purity much to my present regret. I mean - why not?). In 1997, Katie, Joanna, Sharon and I travelled the Karakorum Highway connecting Pakistan and China.

Madeleine is doing a good job with Kuman, her maths program that she follows outside the classroom. The daily assignments build confidence and progress at her pace - Madeleine does her homework without cajoling and enjoys it. Today, she traces numbers from top-to-bottom and counts their corresponding objects.

Sunday, January 27

Quattro Torri

Driving home this evening I pull off the A4 in Chelsea to take this photograph of the Battersea Power Station. Planes buzz across the sky to Heathrow leaving their jet tail. The kids remain in the car sleeping; afterwards we return home listening to The Kooks. Sonnet and Rana greet us at arrival - Rana is on her way home from Davos where she has been covering events as Economics Editor for Newsweek. Rana is a dear London friend who moved to Brooklyn's Park Slope last year, so Sonnet is thrilled to see her. On Davos and given the equities melt-down last week, the reunion of the world's economist, politicians and bankers is significant. Rana hangs out with the Good and the Great and is full of interesting stories to pass along to us plebians. The kids weasel some more T.V. and now sit transfixed in front of "Ben 10".

Covent Garden

Here we are looking serious at the Transport Museum in Covent Garden. I learn interesting factoids like the Underground has 276 stations and runs over 243 miles (408 km) of line, making it the longest underground railway in the world, and one of the most served in terms of stations. There are also numerous closed stations. In 2005 971 million passengers used the Underground and for the first time ever in 2007, over one billion passengers were recorded. Today, just over 3 million passengers use the Underground each day, with an average of 3.4 million passengers on weekdays. Swedes Håkan Wolgé and Lars Andersson set the Guinness Book of World Records for visiting each node in 18 hours, 25 minutes and 3 seconds in 2005. It is also a well known fact that the rate of train stoppage is directly correlated to the urgency of your trip.

Eitan enthusiastically relays that in 1890 horses dropped 1,000 tons of poo onto the city streets each day.

Madeleine to Sonnet: "You know, Eitan wants a pet more than he wants you."

Madeleine on growing up: "I want to be a swim-racer. I want to be a book writer. I want to a deep sea diver. I want to be a taxi driver." (she breaks into song)


I take the kids to Covent Garden so Sonnet can have the afternoon to herself. We park off The Strand and walk to Burger Heaven for - yes - burgers. And chips. Eitan follows his strategy of eating his least favorite first than the main event: in this case, the french fries before the hamburger. We discuss transportation as we are heading for the Transport Museum, which opened last year following a two year upgrade. On transportation, the kids belt out: "Subway! Plane! Car. Boat. A horse (Eitan) A snail! (Madeleine). We also discuss what goes on a hamburger and Eitan confides that he hates mayonnaise but loves ketchup, which he spreads everywhere until I stop him. If its green, Madeleine won't touch it.

Madeleine sees two boys on a doorstep: "Look Eitan - orphans!"


Eitan announces to Sonnet that he wants to go to University so: "I can be a footballer. And a paleontologist." Yes, his class is discussing dinosaurs and the boy's imagination is captured. In fact, he wants to practice his new skill in our backyard digging fossils (I put the kabol on this idea). I think every kid imagines himself one day as Indiana Jones searching for some lost arc. I did, anyway, and this led to Godzilla by the first grade. We had a Japanese live-in nanny - Taka - who switched me on to the weirdness of the Japanese including monsters. I surveyed the Sunday TV listings for Friday night's Creature Feature preying Godzilla was on the midnight show. My fascination took us to San Francisco's Japan Town where I would save my coins to buy Japanese action figures and books, which Taka would loving translate (Katie was more interested in calligraphy and other practical matters). So who, or what, is Godzilla? Created in 1954, Godzilla is one of the most recognizable action/fictional symbols of Japanese pop culture. He has been considered a filmographic metaphor for the United States beloved by Brown's semiotics program and other less serious students (ok, an unnecessary jab I agree). The earlier Godzilla, especially the original, attempted to portray him as a frightening, nuclear monster. Godzilla was a representation of the fears that many Japanese held about the nuclear attacks on Hiorshima and Nagaski, as well as the fear of those types of attacks occurring again. As the series progressed, so did Godzilla, changing into a less destructive and more heroic character (who can forget Godzilla Vs. King Kong?) as the films became increasingly geared towards children. And so me. BTW it was Paul Tong who turned all of Washington primary on to our beloved creature.

The gas warning goes off while Sonnet on her way to pick up Madeleine.
Eitan, from the back: "what happens if we run out of gas?"
Sonnet: "We would stop in the middle of the road. But we don't want to be late for pick-up."
Eitan, after some consideration: "It would be sensible, if we do not want to be late, to get gas now."

Saturday, January 26

Dipso, Fatso

Here's the boy at The Bank of England club. He has a goal scored on him during his morning match, and feels rotten only made worse by the sideline who cheers for the scoring kid. Eitan comes off the pitch dejected and tells me "I'm rubbish at goal." Poor guy. Madeleine begins her morning at swim team, then football and finally performance class. She's the energizer bunny and I have to tell the kids to keep their traps shut so Sonnet and I can have an afternoon nap. I'm recovering from my busy last week, which took me to Dublin, Munich, Zurich and Paris. I think it was productive but time will tell. Otherwise this weekend is pretty low-key and without social engagements and thank goodness.

Eitan writes a story, titled "The Dragon's Garden" about a statue that comes to life and befriends a little boy. We await the full action. When I ask Madeleine at dinner if she has a story too, she pauses and then: "well, it is in my head dad." Encouraged to disclose her secret, she describes a girl, who has a watch on her wrist and when twisted, she ends up in somebody else's bed. And she's a boy.... and has a willy. She (or he) longs to see her mother. Then her dead grandmother appears and tells her to take the watch off... but failing this they go to heaven together, where the little girl (or boy?) is given another chance so she goes to the doctor who cuts open her head and takes out her brains and replaces them with the brains of the girl (or boy) in her bed. "there's lots of blood" says Madeleine, matter-of-factly.

Apparently Britain, as a Britain-pride-boosting exercise, is debating a logo. You know, something like a "statement of values" defining what it means to be us - a Declaration of Independence of sorts. My favorite suggestion from the general public is: "Dipso, Fatso, Bingo, Asbo, Tesco" (Asbo stands for "anti-scoial behavior order while Tesco is the ubiquitous supermarket chain). Perfect.

Tuesday, January 22

Beer and . . .

I'm in Munich and this is a land of beer and football for sure. Of course it is also the Octoberfest which lasts sixteen days and draws many tens of thousands to Munich who drink many tens of millions of gallons of beer. The rest of the year these Germans are recovering. Or talking about it. As far as I can tell anyway. Before Munich I was in Dublin for the day which, being Dublin, was cold and grey and of course raining. Despite this, I managed to go jogging between meetings on Marrion Square and the smell of coal burning adds to the distinct cheer of the place. I'm with a number of private investors and pension funds who may be interested in buying Industry Ventures (I am a Venture Partner and helping them raise Fund V). It's a fickle business and today's stock market fall across Asia and Europe muscles its way to the top of any conversation - get out the popcorn, one Limited Partner tells me (we're relieved to see the US exchanges have only a minor declines when they open earlier today). Talking to the kids on the phone, Madeleine asks for a goldfish and Eitan a Nintendo DX. I tell them: no way.

Sunday, January 20


Eitan in motion. During swim practice, I run in Richmond Park with several other dads whose kids are doing the same (swimming, that is). Eitan's coach is pushing for a more advanced group which would require two work-outs a week. He's resisted so far while football remains his main sport (Bonus ! Manchester United won last night in Reading, putting them at the top of the Premiership - Eitan whoops with joy as his heroes Wayne Rooney and Christiano Rinaldo score the winners). We now sit at the breakfast table doing homework and me blogging. Sonnet is at yoga - Bikram BTW or the one where you sweat. This evening my friends from Industry Ventures arrive in London for the beginning of a mad cap across Europe visiting six cities in five days in a schedule which now rolls into the following week. I'm sure that Conde Naste would not approve.

Saturday, January 19


Madeleine and I take a lap in an otherwise unseasonably warm winter - same as it ever was. Taxi drivers tell me 25 years ago London got several feet of snow which would stick. This year we haven't even a dusting - the first time in 11 - though it is only January. School yard Mums are talking early spring and daffodils are poking their heads three months early. This morning, Madeleine tries out for the local swim team and passes with flying colors. Her Saturdays will be loaded: swimming, football and performance class. Phew! We've also signed her up for Kumon, which is a Japanese approach to maths. It requires every-day homework which begins counting dots and continues to calculus building confidence along the way we hope. I've seen in the classroom those kids who are not going with the program - they become bored, distracted and behind. The teachers charge ahead and unless the parents are engaged it's over before it begins.

Eitan purposely scares the bejesus out of Sonnet this morning. Afterwards, he: "Mom, don't think that this is the last time I will be doing that."

Madeleine: "Dad, can I buy some squiggly string at Pandomium?"
Madeleine: "Dad, can I buy some squiggly string at Pandomium?"
Madeleine: "Dad, can I buy some squiggly string at Pandomium?"
Madeleine: "Dad, can I buy some squiggly string at Pandomium?"

Madeleine: "Dad, can I buy some squiggly string at Pandomium?"
Madeleine: "Dad, can I buy some squiggly string at Pandomium?"

Madeleine: "Dad, can I buy some squiggly string at Pandomium?"

Madeleine: "Dad, can I buy some squiggly string at Pandomium?"

Friday, January 18


Lest we forget the cute little sprogue that was Madeleine, here is a shot from early 2002. Many of Madeleine's best qualities were evident early: fearless, demanding, forceful. Of course, at the time these traits were not necessarily viewed with, ahem, our full appreciation. Now they are applied in the classroom where she often has her hand up with the right or wrong, greeting new people sometimes in Spanish, and on the football pitch - when she wants a goal, she brushes the boys back. Without doubt she feels the ever present thumb-on -forehead which is Eitan, but she is also figuring our her interests and this is half the fun (as long as she stays clear of the drums or electric guitar).

Pommes Frites

France attracted a record number of tourists in 2007, with no signs that the euro's strength has deterred outsiders to the euro zone, the Minister for Consumer Affairs and Tourism said yesterday and reported in the IHT. "France is going to set a record in 2007," the minister, Luc Chatel, said on LCI television. "It will pass the 80 million mark for visitors in 2007." France is the world's top travel destination with tourism accounting for about 6.3% of gross domestic product according to data from the Finance Ministry. Not surprisingly, Paris is the most popular city in the world welcoming 30 million foreigners in 2004 (the Big Apple sees 44 million, but this includes foreign and American, according to NYC & Co.). And what is the greatest draw, you may ask? Why Euro-Disney, of course, which receives 12.4 million guests per year, followed by Notre Dame and the Sacre-Coeur basiica with 12 and 8 million respectively. The busiest museum is the Louvre with 8 million culturistas and the beloved Eiffel Tower at 6 million per year (and 200 million since its birth in 1889). Photo from DK Images.

Yesterday evening heading into Mayfair on bus, I find Eitan's teacher Ms Swain on her way to see Kafka at the Lyric Theatre. This gives us a chance to talk outside the schoolyard. This is Ms Swain's first full classroom following several training years and accreditation and her enthusiasm is front and centre. She gushes about her kids and Eitan, who she describes as "a star". We trade a few notes on bands like Wilco and she is impressed that Sonnet and I saw the Chemical Brothers last month. And then it hits me: I am probably 15 years her senior. Woa. I could almost be her dad. And why is this somehow disturbing? Well, teachers and professors have always been statemanly like figures, mature, you know .... older. And here Ms Swain and I trade a generation and I'm on the downhill side.

Wednesday, January 16

Northern Lights

This image of the Northern Lights over Yellowknive, Canada, sent to me by Stan who of course spent many years admiring the phenomenon from Alaska. A sad truth is that during my early courtship of Stan's daughter, Sonnet and I failed to visit her home-state when it would have been convenient, ie, from San Francisco (London it's a 20+ hour indirect voyage + Stan and Silver now live on the Western Slope). As for the mechanism: Auroras are produced by the collision of charged particles, mostly electrons but also protons and heavier particles, from the magnetosphere, with atoms and molecules of the Earth's upper atmosphere (at altitudes above 80 km). Most originate from the sun and arrive at the vicinity of earth in the relatively low-energy solar wind. When the trapped magnetic field of the solar wind is favourably oriented (principally southwards) it reconnects with that of the earth and solar particles then enter the magnetosphere and are swept to the magnetotail. Further magnetic reconnection accelerates the particles towards earth.

The collisions in the atmosphere electronically excite atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere. The excitation energy can be lost by light emission or collisions. Most aurorae are green and red emission from atomic oxygen. Molecular nitrogen and nitrogen ions produce some low level red and very high blue/violet aurorae. Unfortunately, I'm not able to credit the image which is part of an unmarked series.


Madeleine, over breakfast, casually announces that she has mice in her bedroom eliciting an immediate (and gratifying) response from her mother. I decide to probe a little deeper, and learn that the mice have names: Molly, Polly and Jack. They are friendly mice and like to take tea by Madeleine's bed, just before bed-time. Sometimes they sit on her shoulder and talk about "important things." Eitan, of course, is indignant: "You DO NOT have mice!" he says. When I turn to Eitan and ask how he knows if anything is real, let alone mice - he bangs his head against the table and says: "See! It hurts!" And existentialism takes the back seat to the pragmatic. Photo at school this morning before pre-class yoga.

Tuesday, January 15

That Camera

Here is one scanned from Spain several years ago. I'm doing most of my shooting these days with a Canon 400 which I picked up in Montrose over the summer while taking a break from my beloved Pentax SuperMe and Yashica Mat. The sad truth is that digital photography is instantly rewarding compared to the interminable delay of a clumsy SLR. Today, my black and whites are filed away safely and recall the kid's early years (thank goodness I might add). My last lab development was probably a year ago and the time required is prohibitive - minimum four hours (usually twice this) for maybe ten workable prints. But ah the cheer of seeing the end result from snap-shot to shiny glossy. And also while digital cameras are convenient they are not fashionable - as an accoutrement, an old snapper can't be beat. Especially for a Dad with a Fedora and a pipe. And while I have neither, I like to consider the idea of it.


Has Britain become a police state? For certain we can say that she is different from a generation, or even a decade, ago. Our civil liberties, so dear yet taken for granted, have been shaved - nothing dramatic, mind you, but all the same diminished. For instance: The UK has the most comprehensive National DNA Database in the world. It contains information on 5.4 per cent of the population - the next highest national database, in Austria, is 1.04 per cent. And why? Because our Home Secretary Jacqui Smith thinks it necessary to keep the details of people who are arrested but then acquitted or not charged. Action group GeneWatch reports that criminal convictions have shown no significant increase as a result of Smith's policy, and the data has been used for genetic research without consent (GQ, Sunday Times). Combine this with CCTV where Londoners are photographed, on average, 320 times per day, and a proposed National Health Care database and it becomes troublesome. Factor in the Government's ability to lose large chunks of digital data and I'm worried (photo from the

Sunday, January 13


Sonnet and I are in Shoreditch, East London, to celebrate Garath and Richard's civil union (Sonnet wears a sparkly dress designed by Richard). Beforehand we meet Aurial, one of Sonnet's museum colleagues for a martini and chatter - Sonnet and Aurial attended the Courdault Art Institute and both now cover fashion. Shoreditch ten years ago was for students and creative types, with one bar and a lot of dirtiness. Since it was discovered by the queer community, it has blossomed into coolness and Hoxton Square, where we dance and drink at the Underbelly, is filled with sexiness while keeping its urban edge.

We sit around the table this (another) grey morning and the kids do their homework: Madeleine writing and Eitan his maths. Yesterday Eitan and I march to the toy shop to buy Pokemon cards - he dumps 10 pounds in coins on the counter and watches patiently as the cashier adds them up. I lend him 10 pence as he is off the mark by one coin (or two or ten, he points out).


Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919-2008

"We knocked the bastard off.”

(Photo: National Geographic)

Pissed Off Britain

While writing Paris, here's an image from Leon. Back in Britain, us Citizens are feeling ripped off. A Sunday Times/ YouGov poll reports 85 percent of British customers feel they are being ripped off by the energy firms. This compares to 76% who feel they are being ripped off by the railways; 74% by the petrol companies; and 59% by the banks and financial service industry. And what does Gordon Brown do? He hires Stephen Carter his most senior aid and Chief of Strategy, who has been accused of ripping off thousands of shareholders during his former business career as a Senior Executive of NTL's bankrupted American business ("NTHell" chanted customers). Said Carter then: "What I tell them (shareholders, customers) is nine-tenths bullshit and one-tenth selected facts."

Saturday, January 12

Audrey Hepborn

Sonnet at l'église de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondisement. The site was originally home to a Jewish synagogue before Bishop Maurice de Sully seized it in 1182 and duly consecrated it a Church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. In 1722 the thing was annexed to Paris, needing a monument forming a line-of-sight between Gabriel's twin hôtels in the Place de la Corcorde at the newly established Place Louis XV in 1755. Today's massive colonade was finished in 1777. In 1806, Napoleon erected a memorial, a Temple de la Gloire de la Grande Armée. After the fall of Napoleon, with the Catholic reaction during the Restoration, King Louis XVIII determined that the structure would be used as a church, dedicated (again) to Mary Magdalene. And so it goes. Sonnet and I visit Costes to drink martini cocktails before dinner.


I surprise a few workmen requesting a photo of the photographed gentlemen in front of Cartier next to our hotel. We spend the afternoon exploring the marais on the Left Bank. I've not been here for some time despite my visits to Paris - in fact, the last was with Sonnet five years ago. Not much has changed - crowded, beautiful stone buildings, a few small gardens and of course the cafes. We enter the Jewish area and see the Guimard synagogue which was built in 1913 for Russian and Romanian immigrants and designed by Hector Guimard who BTW is most famous for his designs used for Paris’s metro. We buy some perfumes and a few stylish man-shirts for me.

"On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned with a moron."
H.L Mencken (1880-1956)

Friday, January 11

Grande Roule

Paris' "Grande Roule" - or Big Wheel - was built in 1999 as part of the city's Millennium Celebration I learn. With 50,000 individual light bulbs stretching its 200 foot height, the Wheel lit up the skyline like nothing else. Its central location on the Place de la Concorde - between the Champs-Élysées and The Louvre - ensured that all visitors to the city caught a glimpse, if not a ride. It was supposed to be removed in 2000, but due to side agreements, delays, and controversy, it stayed far longer. Finally, after almost three years - and after becoming another landmark of Paris - the Big Wheel was removed in January 2002. But wait! It's up again much to the consternation of most Parisians who, I'm told by my taxi driver, simply hate it. The wheel interrupts the perfect line from the Little Arc to the Arc de Triomphe. Personally I find it rather gaudy but then I felt the same way towards the London Eye which has grown on me. My photo taken from an embankment at Tuileries.

We stay at my favorite hotel - Le Faubourg, which is perfectly situated off rue du Faubourg
Saint-Honoré, which though relatively nondescript (especially in comparison to the
Champs-Élysées), is considered to be one of the most fashionable streets in the world thanks to the presence of virtually every major global fashion house. Number 55 is the Élysée Palace housing the Presidency of the Republic - which would be Sarkozy. And his hot new girl friend who is 12 years his junior. These French know how to keep it interesting, for sure.

Edward Hopper

Sonnet and I head to Paris for brief interlude and to visit some museums and shops. We depart from St Pancras - pictured, the Champagne Bar. The 96 metre space allows a panoramic view of the terminal while making the most of the historic vaulted ceiling - bling! Seating accommodates 110 plus standing room during the rush hour (St Pancras is also a major underground transfer). However, the banquette seating is where the vogue crowd goes: twelve banquettes, seating six people each, line the length of the bar. Flattering light from black shaded Art Deco lamps adds to the cool. As for the wine: 70 champagnes from £40 to £2,700 for a bottle of 1949 Krug.

Back to reality: in the out-lounge, Sonnet bumps into Damien responsible for the VA's public affairs. Damian is on his way to Christian Lacroix and Sonnet is invited to join the Haute Couture. We separate briefly for her fashion, which allows me to ramble around Concorde and Tuileries. Back home the kids are thrilled for Aggie who overnights - she is easy pickings for a movie or cartoons.

Wednesday, January 9

Mary Poppins

Madeleine and I join Paul and Camilla at the Prince Edward theatre for Mary Poppins (photo from DPChallenge). Both the girls are entranced and we recognise the songs thanks to Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke - the conclusion sees Mary swooping over the audience as Madeleine shouts out: "Strings, Dad!" (no fooling this kid). And of course: supercalifragilisticepialidoccious (which surprisingly enough is not recognised by Microsoft's dictionary). Afterwards I carry Madeleine to the car and this morning she is way tired so I join her in class for an hour to see her through.

Eitan shouts "I'm rich!" from downstairs, and I appreciate that he has opened a letter from his grand-parents. Yes, Grace and Moe have sent each kid Chanakuh geld and Eitan bounces around with his "250 quid" which Madeleine BTW refers to as "squid." After the initial shock of such unexpected wealth, Eitan counts the 'tactics and Pokemon cards he will buy ("all of them!"). When I tell him perhaps he would like to put his cash in the bank, he replies: "No Dad! It's way too much money."

I return from Dublin and an Investor meeting yesterday. It is wet, grey and cold - my same-day departure not particularly enjoyable but somehow captures everybody's mood: yes, Sir, the festive season is dead. Long live 2008!

Monday, January 7

Fancy Footwork

The Boy takes his football seriously- here before Saturday's game play. This time Eitan advances the winning goal on a cross-field kick which sales 25 meters before belted into the goal box by a striker (ie, bigger kid). The opportunity follows a pick-and-run manoeuvre which sets up the play. Eitan remains true to his pee-wee league and sometime soon he will have to move up to a club with inter-team and greater competition. For now, he resists and enjoys his friends and his comfort zone.

Led Zeppelin?

The kids get guitars and oh boy. Madeleine asks Eitan if he wants to form a rock band and the two bang away relentlessly. Otherwise, lessons begin this week. Sonnet and I held ground BTW against a drum set or electric anything. Last night we join Tabitha and Dave for Tabitha's 20th Twelfth Night party and our seventh. We visit our old stomping grounds Maida Vale, which looks fabulous with its stately white mansion blocks and unusual Grand Union Canal. Was this where the adventure began - 11 years ago? (and: am I really this old?) We see lots of friendly faces and people we have not been with since last year's party and it is a nice way to put a Wrap on the Festive Season.

Otherwise, 2008 begins in earnest as the kids return to footie, swim team (Eitan) and performance class (Madeleine) plus birthday parties over the weekend and tennis and Spanish during the week. Phew, no wonder Sonnet and I are in bed by 10PM. I am excited about Barack in Iowa and now follow the primaries with enthusiasm - we need this guy in the White House. Cal won their bowl game on the 31st, but that is way last-year. We all look forward to a good one.

Friday, January 4


Here is Sonnet's professional photo - glam gal, for sure (Madeleine asks me yesterday if she is famous). The V&A Museum is the world's largest for decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. Founded in 1852, the V&A has since grown to now cover 12.5 acres and 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, in virtually every medium, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. Sonnet, of course, is the Fashion Curator. It is nice to know when visiting that she owns a part of it.

Thursday, January 3

Happy Happy

Cousin Susan sends me a photo from Charleston - and was their transition to a new city difficult? Joey suggests not at all.

Eitan and Madeleine are up early and excited to see their classroom chums - school returns today. Unlike them, I drag my feet following a late night (ok, 10PM) dinner with neighborhood friends Karen and Andrew, whose oldest is in Madeleine's class and an after-school pal. Over dinner we discuss teachers, birthday parties, play-date strategies and etc. Man, from the outside, it is one dull conversation but for us, nothing could possibly be more interesting. Andrew is an investor with a UK buy-out firm while Karen has recently returned to work, helping her Canadian company establish a UK m&a operation. The temperatures have nose-dived and we expect snow - Richmond has kindly shoveled sand and grit on the streets and sidewalks. Expect chaos.

Madeleine and I agree that she will read books at home with me in return for Carmel Chew Chew ice cream (it's not a bribe - I like to think of it as a reward). This morning she resists before agreeing to "one page. And with mom."

Tuesday, January 1


Madeleine: "Dad, was I actually raised by wolves?"

I ask: "What do you want to do when you are older?"
Madeleine: "I want to see the world because mostly I've been around the block."
Eitan: "I want to explore the jungle - I've never even seen a lion. Like Tarzan."

What do you want to do in the New Year?
Eitan: "Go to Legoland. The Trampoline. Get loads of candy floss"
Madeleine: I want to go to Bath, make New Years decorations with me, daddy and Eitan. Go Roller blading."

Eitan's 2008 goal: "Be as good a footballer as Ronaldo (who plays for Manchester United and one of the best in the world). Or Wayne Rooney. Or Ronaldino. And Scholes.

Eitan to Sonnet, on her second burrito: "Take it easy, mom!"

Eitan, after I prompt him to tell a joke: "You don't think anything funny that I think is funny!"

Eitan: "Daddy, If I hear one more new rule from you, it's banishment!"

Eitan exclaims, when Sonnet asks about bedtime reading

"Listen guys: I.. .. Have . . ... Had... It!"


Eitan, gleefully, with his new "Wacky Carols":
"See- this one stinks!" (shoving card in my face)

Sonnet to Madeleine: "You do not give presents you do not want to your friends."
And further: "You do not ask for a gift nor expect one for giving one."
And Finally: "You do not wrap that toy if it is broken!"