Tuesday, May 31

Jelly Beans

One more from bank holiday Monday, this time outside Harrods in Knightsbridge. There is a moment, before lunch, without a plan. This the best part of the day.

Pieter Hugo

We visit the V&A's "Figures & Fictions, Contemporary South African Photography" yesterday. Pieter Hugo's image, pictured, from "The Hyena and Other Men" series extraordinary - "it represents one of the travelling sellers of traditional medicines from Nigeria who tame hyenas for street performances" (the guide tells us).

Hugo born in '76 and began his career as a photojournalist.

Carlie Gidman / LinkedIn IPO

2004 photo of diver Carlie Gidman by Anderson & Low benefitting the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Gidman competed in the Sydney Olympics. Since, she has been a "Senior Account Manager" for a number of Aussie companies including GAS, Q Ltd, and 3D Interactive. From November '10, she chucked all that and now backpacks the world, returning to Sydney in 2012. Good on her. Source: LinkedIn.

So... LinkedIn . . becomes the first social media company to list, which it does 19 May. LinkedIn priced $45 a share by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan Chase , raising $352 M. Trading's first-day sees the stock hit $92 suggesting the underwriters mis-priced the deal. And why care? Founders rich and vc's happy etc. &c. But consider : most IPOs enjoy a modest 15% bump post IPO, according to Richard Green at Carnegie Mellon. LinkedIn could have raised more
money instead of giving it away to day-traders. The company paid 5% of the offering to i banks, afterall - cannot LinkedIn expect a minimum professional expertise ?

And here is the further rub : LinkedIn's IPO created hundreds of millions of dollars for special clients of the banks, who receive allotments of pre-IPO stock . I was gifted these shares back in the day (not enough, never enough) and it is, indeed, a risk-free participation in a hot listing. What's a little dilution among friends ?

The i banks argue that tech cos. difficult to value given the early-ish nature of these businesses but this is their job, to price fairly, and build a book. If Wall Street wants to keep SV it needs to get real. Google took shares strait to the public and I think more similar ballsy moves to come. Hope so.

Monday, May 30

South Ken

We head to Chinatown for dim sum and pig out on all sorts of things I cannot recall. Chinese food, dude. Madeleine wants chicken's feet (which I reject) since I dared the kids to try it a couple years ago now they think it is some kind of delicacy. I think the Chinese are even, like,woa, somebody ordered that shit.

But anyways, here we are, giving each other the Obama rock over our meal , gluttons that we are. After that it is South Kensington and a coffee bar for Dad (pictured) then the V&A where I let the children run the center courtyard+fountain unencumbered.

How lucky Sonnet and I are to share these glorious precious personalities right on the edge of change. We are well aware the teenage years at the next corner and the spirit sooner, still. I dance around subjects which mortify Eitan while Madeleine keen ; better left no surprises nor confusions and I ask Sonnet : What will you divulge of yours? Average age of menstruation in the USA, I read in USA Today, ten-years, seven months. 15% of girls begin puberty age-8. Me, I can't wait for what they become.

Escalator Underground

These kiddos are cool cats, pictured. Did you know under-11s free on the tube? First time I've gotten anything for free in this city.

Madeleine has suggested hints of interest in Justin Bieber and who can blame her? I come down hard on Eitan's snarky remarks "Everybody hates him" and so fair enough. To the boy's credit he can name 3 Bieber songs. Yet it is Madeleine's decision to check out the tweenie heart-throb so I happily buy her Bieber's CD @ HMV Picadilly. I further get on Eitan's case as the boy refuses to visit the impressionists @ the National Gallery choosing, instead, to sit on a bench. Madeleine's mind open , at least, to Bieber and the finest paintings on offer anywhere. My opinion. She and I see van Gogh's "Sunflowers", Monet's "Lilly Pads" and Pissaro's "Paris Street in Winter." I promise to keep the tour to three only but slip in another handful. We walk hand-to-hand through the crowds - mainly, you see, to pull me along.

Me: "There is a reason people from all over the world come here, the National Gallery, to see the paintings."
Eitan: "Yeah well they are boring."
Me: "You haven't even checked them out. How do you know?"
Eitan: "We studied them in school"
Me: "You should appreciate these treasures are right in front of you and for free, for Pete's sake."
Madeleine: "Yeah, Eitan, for Pete's sake."
Eitan: "It's not my fault that I don't find them interesting."
Me: "Well too bad for you."
Madeleine: "Yeah too bad for you."
Me: "Thank you Madeleine but I've got it covered."
Madeleine: "Can I go to the gift shop now?"

Harrods Food Hall

Bank holiday Monday. I drop Sonnet at the V&A, where I park the car, and begin my day with the Shakespeares. All mine. Sonnet prepares for a lecture tomorrow evening then ball gowns and Italy - her next major exhibition which she presents to the museum's Exhibitions Committee in June; the EC headed by new Director Martin Roth who replaces Mark Jones after ten-years. Roth the former Director General of the Dresden state art collections for the past 10-years and Italy will be his first Major expo. Sonnet feels that, word.

The kids want to go to Harrods - specifically, the food hall - double specifically the confectionery hall, pictured. They have been here before, oh boy, and like missiles with a homing system they drage me along. We spend an hour milling around looking at various bon bons, chocolates, jelly beans and so on and so forth. Eitan and Madeleine have some fire-power, too : about seven weeks of unpaid allowance @ £5 a week and believe you me they know the score. Eitan buys himself a double chocolate chip cookie ("oo ooh this is sooo good") and Madeleine goes for a couple of those giant sucker-sticks. All this before 11AM. Off to a good start.

Madeleine: "How much is that water-melon thing?" (sugar glazed water-melon slice in melange of similar sugaries)
Salesclerk: "Why hello there. That one is about six pounds."
Madeleine: "Well, how much is that one. The cherry."
Salesclerk to me: "It is by the weight you know."
Salesclerk: "It is 58p"
Madeleine to me quietly: "Sheesh, Dad, that is an expensive treat."
Me: "You would barely taste it, I bet."
Madeleine: "For that much money? It would be, like, the best cherry I've ever eaten."
Me: "Hope so."
Madeleine: "Know so."

Sunday, May 29

Good, Cod!

Madeleine prepares dinner." I am making baked cod with prosciutto and vegetables and fish kabobs. This is the first proper meal that I have done without help."

I have football coming out my ears. It begins last night with ManU vs. Barcelona in the UEFA Cup Finals which the Red Devils lose 3-1 failing to avenge their 2-nil defeat in '09 that Eitan and I watched at a bar in Greenwich Village, the boy exiting in sobs and me worried about the social services taking us in. This morning, we are at the Carshalton Athletic Tournament (think England, 1960s, blue-collar) where KPR plays five eight-minute games qualifying for the knock-out round where they lose in Round One. Bummer. We then dart across Surrey to Chessington for the Pro-Directory Elite Academy Tournament and another 8 games on astro-turf. Fast and furious. This followed by awards and recognitions and etc. &c. At some point I excuse myself from the sidelines to sit in the car to listen to Radio 4 and fall asleep - who knows how long ?

Rusty eats a half-bag of dog food and Aneta returns home, 4AM, to find him laid out on the kitchen floor requiring four bowls of water. Probably saved his life. Sonnet reports that today he "shits like a sausage factory."

"Woof woof woof woof." [Translation: I feel like hell.]

"Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need."
--Julia Child

Friday, May 27

Thames Facing Barnes

I watch the sun set over the river from the Fulham football stadium, 7:50PM. We and the kids join about 50 neighborhood friends from Madeleine's football group to watch the women's UEFA Cup Championship between Potsdam, GD, and Lyonnais, FR. Craven Cottage, which holds 26,000 maximum, is maybe 2/3's full. Comp this to Saturday's men's final at Wembley Stadium which seats 80,000 : tickets on the open-market no less than £5 grand. Though under appreciated, it is an exciting match that the French win 2-nil. It is worth noting that, despite equally physical play, there is no winging, whining or diving which is prevalent in the men's game (and why most Americans think soccer players wimps); these chicas get on with business. Madeleine and Eitan happy to be with their friends eating (totally gross) burgers and (inedible) hot dogs. Me, I am glad to be sitting next to Sonnet and no rain. One hour ago - hail.

Only In London

Update : My beautiful tomato stalks -->

I meet with a Russian hedge-fund manager (age: 28) connected to a number of the Oligarchs, and his business partner from Dubai, who aim to provide an alternative to Russia's degrading electricy network, which (I learn) over 80% depreciated. From there it's lobster sandwiches at Sotheby's with Jan, my Dutch pal, who is responsible for one of Europe's largest family office investment programs. Then to James who is moving Conde Nast's 118 publications into the digital era (he being C N's youngest Board Member). We discuss how, so. Najib sends me a proposal on a consumer finance play (Najib formerly CEO of GE Credit).

Eitan sits next to me working the Apple. I have resisted this moment for years - I figure the kids will spend their lives hunched over a screen - but now his interest there. And what sparks it? you may ask. Music. He wants it on his ipod.

Thursday, May 26


Madeleine finds use for a garden tool.

Me: "How was school?"
Madeleine: "I dunno."
Me: "Two words. Well done."
Eitan: "Actually it was four."
Madeleine: "I know, I will use 13 words to describe school today and Eitan will use 15. "
Me: "Don't hurt yourself."
Madeleine: "School was very very very very very very very very very very boring."
Madeleine: "Eitan's turn."
Eitan: "Today I went to school. At school I sat at my desk. At my desk I read a book."
Me: "Boy I feel like I was right there with you."
Eitan: "Did you count how many words I used?"
Me: "Hmm can you count the words in 'no dessert'? I count two."
Madeleine: "You are so mean. That is four. I win again."

Wednesday, May 25

Got Kids ?

Think $14.3 T bad? Here is something to consider:
Federal government spending has 2X'd since 2001 to levels unprecedented in the post-WW2 era. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that the official debt (excluding the unfunded liability of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) will exceed 100% of GDP by 2025 and could exceed 180% of GDP by 2035.
Further : the vast majority of future debt driven neither by defense nor discretionary but rather entitlement programs - SS, Medicare and Medicaid - will, by 2050, consume every penny that Uncle Sam raises in taxes. This means, Dear Reader, that everything else the government does, from domestic programs to national defense, including paying interest on the Fed debt, will have to be paid through .. more debt. Raising taxes ain't enough - we could confiscate 100% of the assets of Americans earning $1 M or more (the top 1% btw account for over 95% of tax-dollars) and this covers maybe 1/9 of CBO forecasted 2050 obligations (source : Michael Tanner, Cato Institute) . Barely a dent. As the full burden of entitlements kick in, the US govt will consume over 40% of GDP by the middle of the century.

Now entitlements, unlike the publicly held debt or inter-government transfers, are implicit obligations and not legally binding contracts so, in theory, we can change them .. like moving the retirement age to 69 over 75 years. Oops, tried that. Or index benies to price inflation instead of national wage growth. Doh. Or how about private SS accounts? Drat! shot down by the Democrats.

I have every faith in America to side step calamity but I have less faith in our politicians to do so.


In my skin. Sometimes it feels this way.

So despite the gloom and doom and blah blah, private equity has cashed in a record amount of dough : the value of companies sold by pe firms worldwide reached $85 B since April (data from Preqin) - this exceeds the record deal volume of Q4 2010 when the industry sold out of 325 companies worth $81.3 B. Give or take. The exits driven by European deals, mostly, and the re-emergence of strategic buyouts which bought most of the bigger assets that were up for sale. Exhibit 1. Takeda Phama of Japan buys Nycomed from Noric Capital for $14 B. Exhibit 2. Microsoft buys Skype from Silver Lake for $8.5 B. So what gives ?

Well, firstly, a combo of factors like a greater availability of debt financing and cash-rich strategic buyers. But consider this : most private equity firms avoided fundraising after the collapse of Lehman Bros in '08 since few traditional fund owners had appetite or cash for new commitments. Now managers see their mgmt fees decline after the typical 5-year investment period when they are paid full freight. These guys need to show investors that they can make money if they wish a shot at another partnership. + more fees. And so the exits.

The next five years will see a clearing out of middling managers unable to raise more money. There is already an industry overhang of $500 B of capital ion Europe alone which of course hurts returns. Only the strongest franchises and freaks will survive.

Tuesday, May 24

Brother's In The House

President Obama arrives in London from Dublin, 12 hours ahead of schedule, as the skies cover with volcanic ash. Same as it ever was. Here Obama reacts to Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny's gift of a "Hurley stick" . Obama tells Kenny that the U.S. and Ireland share a "blood link" that extends beyond strategic interests or foreign policy into the hearts of the millions of Irish Americans who still see a homeland here. 40 million in the US call themselves "Irish American" which is interesting as Ireland's population less than 6 million.. and shrinking given Ireland wrecked its economy requiring a bailout by the Germans and yours, truly, a British tax-payer. But let us not dwell on that. Today it is about the Dutch and Dutches of Cambridge then the Queen. Photo from AP.

"A hurley (or camán) is a wooden stick used to hit a sliotar (leather ball) in the Irish sport of hurling. It measures between 70 and 100 cm (28 to 40 inches) long with a flattened, curved end (called the bas) which provides the striking surface. It is also used in camogie, the female equivalent sport."

Any Night Out

Me: "So what do young people wear to the bars these days?"
Aneta: "Young people?"
Me: "Yeah, like the boys. What do they wear?"
Aneta: "There are men. And there are boys. The men wear suits."
Me: "What do the boys wear?"
Aneta: "I don't know. Maybe jeans I think."
Me: "And what do the girls wear? Dresses?"
Eitan, backseat: "Dad!"
Aneta: "They no wear dresses. It more like shirt. Over bottom."
Eitan: "A mini skirt!"
Aneta: "I see no skirt. And high heals - they walk not so well. And lots of make up."
Me: "And how about drinking? Do they drink too much?"
Aneta: "Oh, yes, it horrible. They lie in the street."
Me: "They do?"
Aneta: "Yes, the girls lie in the street. Sometimes boys too. It horrible"

Woody Guthrie

Today is Bob Dylan's 70th - we all know that - so I celebrate his music by listening to folk-singer and political whisperer Woody Guthrie, pictured. Guthrie's music from the first half of the last-century but his influence on the second-half why he is remembered today. Guthrie's musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs and ballads - most famously, "This Land Is My Land Is Your Land." He frequently performed with the slogan "This Machine Kills Fascists" displayed on his guitar. As Cornel would say, "A Berkeley brother." Dylan was listening.

"You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You'll find God in the church of your choice
You'll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

"And though it's only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You'll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
At sundown"
--Boby Dylan, "Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie"

Sunday, May 22

Dad Wigs Out

Sunday. Sonnet off to the museum to research ball room gowns or Italian fashion. I am with the Shakespeares and a bit on the rough w/ the crew I confess, pictured. 

Maybe it is because my day starts with Rusty breaking his lead and bounding across the Upper Richmond Road, which is also the A205 and also the "ring road" , for the Cafe Nero to terrorise staff and customers. I race into Nero to see the dog jumping up and down frantically trying to sink his teeth into an almond croissant. An audience watches me beat the pooch down and drag him yipping onto the sidewalk (Madeleine: "Maybe I will go home now"). Or maybe it is because I have not had coffee this week-end. 

Either way, I find my excuses to Lay Down The Law and show the little monsters who is master of them. I make the kids draft a chores sheet, which Eitan re-writes 2X and Madeleine 3X (He, grudgingly, she despairingly, respectively). They sign and date the document which I counter-sign - it goes on the inside kitchen cupboard next to the dog-pledge. 10-hup!

Sonnet walks in the door as I hear fighting : "Get out of my room!" (Madeleine); "Well then give me my book!" (Eitan). Must .. . show . patience. Must.. not strangle. them.. as . they are. little people . ..


Eitan earns a trophy for most goals scored for KPR this season - 15. The "Player's Player" award to Robert, the hardest working kid on the squad, and Coach's Player goes to Joe - who Eitan and I heartily agree deserves the recognition. Personally I think Maxime The Goalie owed some copper. Without Maxime the lads would have been lost. The kid went horizontal more times than I can recall saving sure-goals and keeping KPR in many a game they shouldinta. While season #2, Div 1, mostly a disappointment - the team in 2nd place until season's end then 6th following a "rough patch" (as Coach says) - today's BBQ wrap-up (with all the KPR squads from under-8s to 18s) w/ free beer and burgers puts everybody in a good vibe. The clouds lofting by spell rain but it does not ruin the afternoon.

Saturday, May 21

Sonnet Turns A Year

Sonnet looks better than the day I met her, June 6, 1993. Seeing that I don't have a birthday gift for her, Madeleine steps in to make things right and buys me a candle; she rolls her eyes in disgust when I refuse to wrap it. Otherwise Sonnet's day spent at yoga and the hairstylist where her gay coiffeur fills our darling in on all the local gossips. Eitan makes a "Happy Birthday Mum" birthday cake, pictured. We now sit around the living room watching a movie - "Julie & Julia" about Julia Childs. Sonnet's pick.

Sonnet says "I've had a great birthday. Thank you family."

Skate Rat

Madeleine adroit with her board, which she has owned for a couple of years.

I hum "Mrs. Robinson."
Sonnet: "Is that my birthday song?"

Eitan makes a birthday cake that doesn't work out.
Me: "I could have used it for bricks in the backyard."
Eitan: "It wasn't that bad, Dad."
Me: "It's a good thing I didn't chip a tooth."
Eitan: "Yeah, well, I ate some of it this morning. It was really good actually."
Me: "Do you have any teeth left?"
Madeleine: "I want to make a cake for mom!"
Eitan: "I am going to make another one. Can we go to the store?"
Madeleine: "You always get to do things! I want to make a cake, too."
Me: "Madeleine, this is the first time you have mentioned baking a cake for today."
Eitan: "Do we have any ricotta cheese?"
Madeleine: "It is so unfair."
Eitan: "Or plain chocolate? What is that - like, not milk chocolate?"
Me: "I don't know. Madeleine I would love for you to cook but today Eitan has the kitchen."
Eitan: "How many eggs?"
Me: "Would you knock it off? Look, you can bake whenever you wish. Let's plan something."
Madeleine: "Ok. Can we go to the High Street so I can get some football boots?"

Friday, May 20

Sonnet Lays One On

Richmond Sunset

And Friday again. Another week under the bridge. And why? Maybe as simple as the pooch - a scratch behind Rusty's ears and it all kinda makes sense.

Me: "What are your goals any way?"
Madeleine: "I don't know."
Me: "Well, what do you enjoy doing?"
Madeleine: "I like looking at bugs."
Me: "I get that, but what excites you? What gets you out of bed in the morning?"
Madeleine: "Well, first I get bored. Then I am hungry."
Me: "We don have to have goals but it sure makes life more interesting. Let's have a think about this for a while and come up with some ideas."
Madeleine: "Ok."

Wednesday, May 18


I pick up Madeleine from school.
Me: "How was your day?"
Madeleine: "Fine."
Me: "More than one word please."
Madeleine: "Very fine."
Me: "What did you do?"
Madeleine: "We had our first day of school council."
Me: "That's cool."
Madeleine: "I proposed to change the school song, which is really boring, to something new."
Me: "Neat. Like what?"
Madeleine: "I don't know. Just something that is not rock and roll because adults don't like it."
Me: "Good idea."
Madeleine: "So I said Elvis Presley"
Me: "Do you think they are going to go for it?"
Madeleine: "Well, Mrs. X looked at me kind of funny. So probably not."

Me: "Do you know what 'sceptical' means?"
Madeleine: "Dad, I am trying to read. Just leave me alone."
Me: "Fine. Just tell me what it means."
Madeleine: "Dad . ."
Me: "It means 'having doubt.'"
Madeleine: "Ok, Dad, now leave me alone."
Me: "Use it in a sentence."
Madeleine: "I am skeptical that you will ever leave me alone."
Me: "Works."

Tuesday, May 17

Life Repeats

1976 - I think. Please note the plaid pants. This puts me about Madeleine's age.

How did that happen ?

Samuel Wanjiru RIP

The world may have lost its greatest marathoner, who you have probably never heard of. Samuel Wanjiru died after a fall from the balcony of his home in Nyahururu, Kenya at 24. Wanjiru the first Kenyan to win a gold in the marathon, which he did in Beijing, in 2:06:32 despite 29C temperatures. Wanjiru also won London (2009, pictured), Chicago (twice) and Fukuoka, Japan. He was the youngest man, at 23, to win four of the world's major marathons and he did it in style : Wanjiru's London time of 2:05:10 suggested that he would one day own the great Haile Gebrselassie's World Record of 2:03:59. Haile 35 when he lined up in Berlin to set the standard, an age, Dear Reader, generally thought to be the peak for long-distance running. In the athletic community, the whisper that Wanjiru might have a legitimate shot at The Holy Grail : sub-2-hours. We shall miss him in London next summer.


Dominique Strauss-Kahn, until yesterday the head of the IMF which, you know, is bailing out Greece as I write this, charged with sexual assault, forcible confinement, and attempted rape of a hotel maid.

Hair Job

Sonnet's morning routine fascinates me - indeed, I live with a woman. She allows me to post this photo btw.

Word on the playground that my vampire a success : "spooky," and "scary" and even "creepy" are the words that get back to me. Sonnet worries that I may have given the children nightmares. Hope so. Eitan informs me that he was embarrassed but then I overhear him tell Auntie Katie that he "was proud" of my story-telling. A high complement. Eitan's teacher asks me to return for an encore.

Monday, May 16

Le Count

So today, a vampire. The kids' school doing "story week" so Eitan's teacher has me in the classroom, little does he know. I'm stumped for an idea until last night then,voila, it strikes me : "Twilight" (even if the little monsters not supposed to see the movie since rated 18 - they have, and Madeleine gives me a "thumbs up"). So I open Party Palace costume store to buy a cape and faux fangs (chewing gum holds them in place) and loosely retell Bram Stoker's tale relocating the plot to the bayou. I use the first-person to suggest that I recount a true thing - kidnapping, bloodletting and etc, all on a business trip to Monsieur de la Bloodfern's Louisiana estate. Half way into the story I pull down the drapes, light a candle, pour red-dyed water into a glass (blood), put on a cape and switch to .. Count Dracula , complete with snarling and hissing. Kids enthralled. Eitan mortified. Eitan's teacher on the edge of his seat. It all works and, once again I think, "I am in the wrong profession."

As an encore, I bring back "Kit Kat Cowboy" who checks in on his cow gals and cow pokes to make sure everybody happy and working hard.

Dear Grace : you would be proud.

Sunday, May 15

The Many Faces Of Dad

Me: "Walk the dog."
Madeleine: "My plan is doing some reading."
Me: "I've walked Rusty twice today. Your turn, kiddo."
Madeleine: "I am supposed to do reading for my school homework. If you give me a lolly I will walk Rusty. And no reading."
Me: "Nicely negotiated. How's this: Walk the dog. Then reading. No lolly, followed by bed."
Madeleine: "That's not a deal, Dad!"
Me: "That is the only deal. Now get going."
Madeleine: "And you say negotiating is supposed to be fair."

M & S


The venerable Marks & Spencer draws complaints for its national campaign, pictured. This one of 8,000 ads over the past three years which have prompted complaints because of their effect on children, says the Advertising Standards Authority.

Self Portrait XVII

While on red . . . .

Madeleine has a hard time with the 7AM Sunday swim-practice. Madeleine likes swimming but is not a morning person which makes me think of our other night owl Katie who somehow endured all those early AM workouts at King pool. Poor kid. Anyways, Sonnet notes age-9 a difficult moment for many future Olympians - the sport's demands increase yet the competitions not for another year or so. Many kids drop out at now - all this work and for what?

Me, I love that Madeleine swims and I know her big, powerful, body will make her competitive. Swimming also one of the few sports in the UK that women may pursue without a ceiling. Exhibit A: football. Our gal has been in the pool since age-3 and the structure has snuck up on her. She has never really decided about it and so she must. But it will not be over Sunday practices. This, Dear Reader, part of the package: swimming and morning workouts like bread and jam.

Saturday, May 14

Red Shirts

Madeleine and I share a goof before going to Stephen and Jennifer's party. Today is Jenn's 40th and their newborn, Sabrina, christianed.

Eitan and I run the Richmond Park 5K. One fella gets a tee-shirt for having completed the race 100 times. Eitan tells me confidently: "I want to be in the top-third" and so we give it a go. Unfortunately my body arthritic from the two marathons in '09 so racing no longer a joy - my Achilles let me know who is boss. I'm still able to keep a step or two ahead of the boy until the final end, when he throws in a gear and races another kid who nips him at the gate. Good lesson. Eitan's time: 21 minutes or 6:45 per mile.

Friday, May 13


Eitan shows off our tomatoes which seem to be doing OK.

Madeleine and I walk the dog in Richmond Park.
Madeleine: "Can I watch a movie that's an 18?"
Me: "You mean rated 18 for 18 year-olds? No."
Madeleine: "That is so unfair. How about 15?"
Me: "No. It's not meant for you."
Madeleine: "Well, I saw Twilight and that was 15."
Me: "Oh, yeah - where?"
Madeleine: "Alex's. Besides, it wasn't even scary. And there was hardly any blood."
Me: "Great."
Madeleine: "I love horror anyways. Can't I watch an 18?"
Me: "No. Besides it's not me, it's the rule."
Madeleine: "Rules are meant to be broken."
Madeleine: "11-year olds can watch the 15s and 15-year olds the 18s."
Me: "So?"
Madeleine. "So I can watch them."
Me: "You are going to be an entrepreneur. A great one - you won't accept 'no' for an answer."

Life's A Ball

Sonnet and Oriel at Blythe house, where the gals have been all week photographing ball gowns.

Last night we dine at St John's with Beth, Sonnet's former colleague at William-Sonoma, and her friend Laurie. They are checking out a few retail businesses while having some fun. I went to college with Beth's brother Doug and, on the lip of the Ngora Ngora crater, in an ancient English bar, there he was. Years later Beth and I re-united on Russian Hill, San Francisco, when I first was dating Sonnet. Since then, Beth has moved up the executive ranks of W-S while Doug to Stanford Business School then bought a company.

At St John's I enjoy a pig's spinal chord on toast with gherkin and red onion for an appetizer and Chitterlings and fava beans for my mains, washed down with a '07 Chianti. Of course. Chitterlings are the intestines of a pig that have been prepared as food.

Thursday, May 12


Nobody loves Rusty like Madeleine loves Rusty. She made the pooch happen.

Tony and I have lunch - Tony returns this evening to Boston's back-bay where he recently returned following ten years in London. Tony buzzy about software company Datanomic which was sold to Oracle realising a serious return for the company's VCs and Tony, who was on the Board and helped turn the business around when they got into trouble two or three years ago. Bravo!


This lovely iris from our backyard having survived Rusty.

Juniper Hall

Madeleine returns from Juniper Hall, which reminds me of Chantilly (or maybe The Shining), and jumps into my arms - so much to tell me ! She shares a room with four girls who keep her up all night "crying and stuff" - our Tom Boy has no problems missing home. The children explore their natural surroundings on guided tours, set worbel traps and examine plants. Madeleine tells me : Photo from a scanned post card.

"In a quiet wooded valley in an unspoilt area of the chal North Downs, Juniper Hall, leased from the National Trust, is a superbe country house dating from the 17th century. It is about 1km from Box Hill and 40km from central London."

Soul Sister

Katie and Cornel @ Princeteon -->

Katie at Princeton for the Op-Ed Project - she recently signed Yale along with Stanford - and re-unites with former think-tank colleague Cornel West. Katie first introduced me to Cornel at the Houses of Parliament when Cornel and she presenting their findings on the labour pool's loss of women and minority talent : "The Hidden Brain Drain." Cornel, who I had not met before, called me his "Berkeley Brother" and Sonnet "my Soul Sister."

Wednesday, May 11

Madeleine Rocks It

Working Hard

Eitan tired and who can blame him : Friday slumber party (four hours sleep), the five-mile "fun" run, homework, chores and, finally, a morning at .. Ham House. Poor kid. We give him an opt-out for Sunday 7AM swim-practice. He takes it.


Morgan and I check out Glasvegas at the Forum in Kentish Town. Awesome photograph of Caroline McKay by Jon Behm. Glasvegas does Indie rock and has a weird, intense and violent energy - perhaps because they are from the East End of Glasgow? Or maybe guitarist Rab Allen enormous and dwarfs his instrument. His brother and lead-singer, James, wears a white sleeveless sequined outfit - and jams. Behind them, "GLASVEGAS" , spelled in large bulbs, flashes. Glasvegas got critical acclaim for their debut album Glasvegas , released in 2008, reaching No. 2 in the UK Album Charts. Their debut album also nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2009. The NME declared, "If The Libertines defined the start of the decade and Arctic Monkeys its middle, then Glasvegas are almost certainly going to define its end and beyond."

After the concert I get a Gyro at Clapham Junction, taxi ride home and a bowl of strawberry ice cream, Rusty on my lap and television until 3AM (the ends of "Aliens" and "The Matrix"). Pretty much perfect.

Tuesday, May 10

Fixing A Head Piece

Sonnet at the V&A's costume storage facility at Blythe House in Olympia, London. Today and this week she is with fashion photographer David Hughes where they set up a make-shift studio to photograph ball gowns for Sonnet's upcoming book and exhibition, both out next year.

Sunday, May 8

Golden Iris

From the gardens at Ham House.

Ham House

My photo facing Ham House northward with the Thames on the opposite side.

From the National Trust brochure :

"A 400-year-old treasure trove waiting to be discovered and one of a series of grand houses and palaces alongside the River Thames. Ham House and Garden is an unusually complete survival of the 17th century that impressed in its day and continues to do so today. Rich in history and atmosphere, Ham is largely the vision of Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart, who was deeply embroiled in the politics of the English Civil War and subsequent restoration of the monarchy. Discover the fine interiors and historic gardens that make Ham an unusual and fascinating place to visit.

The house is said to be haunted by the Duchess of Lauderdale [the Lauderdales owned Ham House and bankrupted themselves with parties and entertaining; the house became dilapidated until revived by the National Trust from 1965] . The house was subject to a year long investigation by the Ghost Club which recorded a number of phenomena that remain 'unexplained'.

Sunday Joy

Since Sunday, the weather fine and Katy here, we motivate to Ham House on the Thames. The Shakespeares mood only worsened when they realise we will have a guided tour of the grounds , 1230PM, sharp. I tell each they must know one thing, and one thing good, which they will tell me afterwards (Madeleine: "Aw, Dad, this is torture.") while Eitan sulks. The old-age pensioner takes it in stride and gives us a lovely overview of the property from gardens to gates, kitchen to ice which, we learn, Queen Victoria had shipped from Norway until she decided America had better ice, then it came from there ("beggars belief" our guide says). Once concluded, Eitan and Madeleine snap-to with Best Behavior, under Sonnet's watchful eye, and all ends up fine.

This morning I look up Ham House's opening times.
Madeleine: "What's that?"
Me: "Ham House."
Madeleine: "What?! We're going there?!"
Me: "Yep."
Madeleine: "Aw, Dad, it's just an old house."

James Will Finish The Iron Man

James awakes 5AM to bike five hours. Here he restocks with a beef burger before running two hours.