Tuesday, January 31

Snake In The Grass

And how far Fred Goodwin has fallen.

The British have been itching to blame the financial mess on somebody, anybody, and so Goodwin stripped of his Knighthood.  Goodwin , of course, the Chief Executive of Royal Bank of Scotland when the shit hit the fan.

From 2000 to 20008, Goodwin grew RBS into the world's largest company with assets of nearly £2 trillion, greater than British GDP.  He did so by aggressive lending and a large exposure to the US sub-prime market. A 2% reduction of the loan portfolio's value brought the house down, ka-BOOM.

In October 2008, Goodwin resigned as Chief Exec - a month before RBS announced a yearly loss of £24.1 billion, the largest annual loss in UK corporate history.  RBS nationalised with £45 billion of taxpayer and my money.  Adding insult to injury, Sir Fred's retirement package : £12 million.  In fairness, he will never work again. One hopes. (In another RBS pr stinker, RBS bankers received £950 million of bonuses in 2011 despite losing £1.1 billion for the year)

Personally , I think Goodwin should be allowed to keep his Knighthood. Goodwin made some bad calls, none worse than buying ABN AMRO at the peak of the market, but he did not break the law. He is not to blame for the UK recession nor the global financial collapse.

Monday, January 30


Alberto Giacometti's 'Walking Man II", 1960, from a post card I pick up at the Kunsthaus in Zurich.

Scholar William Barrett in his book 'Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy' (1962), argues that the attenuated forms of Giacometti's figures reflect the view of 20th century modernism and existentialism that modern life is increasingly empty and devoid of meaning. "All the sculptures of today, like those of the past, will end one day in pieces... So it is important to fashion ones work carefully in its smallest recess and charge every particle of matter with life."

Eric has adopted the habit of our mutual friend Marc, collecting used copies and handing them out to people like Gideon's bibles.

Sunday, January 29


Rusty in the park.

Stephan and Barbara+their three charming kids over for lunch and a (Rusty) walk in Richmond Park .  We catch up since the wedding.

Eitan: "Can I have some crisps?"
Me: "What's for dinner?"
Sonnet: "We're not having dinner. After such a big lunch."
Me: "I'm hungry."
Madeleine: "Me, too."
Sonnet: "How about sardines on toast?"
Eitan: "Blahk. I hate it."
Me: "Madeleine, how about if I give you twenty-pounds and you go to Waitrose and get us something from there."
Madeleine: "Yeah, right, Dad."
Madeleine: "You do owe me £20 you know."

Madeleine: "I cannot eat an entire tin of sardines.  It is disgusting." 

Madeleine: "Eitan!  You ate Uncle Anthony's sweets!"
Eitan: "I did not!"
Me: "It might not have been Eitan."
Madeleine: "Dad, how could you ?!"
Me: "Look - I will get you some more."
Madeleine: "They were my birthday present."
Me: "I'm sorry. They were just sitting there."
Madeleine: "Make it sweets, not chocolate."
Eitan: "Busted, Dad."

Sonnet: "So how was 'Revolution' last night?"
Kamila (our Czech au pair): "It was fine. There were a lot of people there."
Sonnet: "How old are they?"
Kamila: "They are a bit older, maybe 23-years old. .."
Sonnet: "Is that so ?"
Kamila: "There were two older women dancing. They were maybe 50."
Kamila: "It was disgusting."

Saturday, January 28

Three Amigos

Marcus, Alex and Niki.

At the dinner table.
Me: "What did you watch in 'film club' this week?"
Madeleine: "Guess."
Me: "The Bride of Dracula? Godzilla? War Of The Planets?"
Madeleine: "Nope. 'An American In Paris.'"
Sonnet: "I love that movie. It is a classic."
Madeleine: "Accept that there is a lot of snogging."
Eitan: "Why do they have to always do that?"
Me: "Snogging? What's wrong with snogging?"
Eitan: "I am not having this conversation."
Me: "Is it Ok if I 'snog' your mom?"
Eitan, Madeleine: "No!"
Me: "What's wrong with that?"
Madeleine: "Do you even know what snogging is Dad?"
Me: "Um, kissing, isn't it?"
Madeleine: "Not just kissing."
Me: "Oh?"
Madeleine: "It's like long kissing."
 Me: "With tongue and stuff?"
Eitan: "La la la."

Walking to drama class.
Me: "So are there any 'snoggers' in Year Five?"
Madeleine: "No."
Me: "How about Year Six?"
Madeleine: "Huggers, not snoggers."
Me: "What, do they hug behind the bungalows?"
Madeleine: "No, in the middle of the play ground."
Me: "Who is it then?"
Madeleine: "I am only saying in general."
Me: "Were you, like, watching and taking notes?"
Madeleine: "I am not 'Harriet The Spy' Dad."
Madeleine: "Though I would be pretty good at spying if I wanted to."
Me: "I bet."

Pond Dipping

Madeleine's 10th birthday party sees us in Richmond Park for a bit of "pond dipping" and I have to hand it to the kid : she has planned everything from the themed invitation to creature-holding-buckets. Totally inspired.  Uncle Anthony joins us to keep me company.

Joan's Dress

Sonnet's exhibition, Ballgowns, up in May.  On display : 60 ballgowns , red carpet evening dresses and catwalk showstoppers , including Joan Collins' dress, designed for private parties, royal balls, state occasions and opening nights. Photo from the V& A.

We listen to the radio.
Madeleine: "That guy sounds like Woody Allen."
Me: "It is Woody Allen."
Madeleine: "I am amazing!"

Madeleine: "I miss Aneta."
Me: "She had a good year with us."
Madeleine: "I loved throwing water balloons on her when she wasn't looking."

Me: "I can't believe I turn 45 this year."
Madeleine: "Forty-five. Wow-w-w. I cannot  believe I am only turning 10."
Madeleine: "45 is my second luckiest number."
Me: "What's number-one?"
Madeleine: "Ten. I don't know why."
Me: "Those seem like good numbers."
Madeleine: "Yeah. When you add four plus five it is nine."
Me: "Yep."
Madeleine: "My age and your age."
Me: "In June. Let's not rush it kid."
Madeleine: "Will they ever add up? Your numbers and my age?"
Me: "Forty-seven."
Madeleine: "Four plus seven equals eleven."
Me: "That will work I think."
Madeleine: "Yep."

Thursday, January 26

Kunsthaus Zurich

After morning meetings I have the day to my own so visit the Kunsthaus on Justin's recommendation. The museum owns one of the most important collections in Europe, gathered by the local Kunstverein, covering the Middle Ages to contemporary art, with an emphasis on Swiss art (that I mostly ignore). I hang out with Paul Klee, Miro, Georg Baselitz, Calder, Hans Richter, Bruce Naumen, Cy Twombly, Picasso.  Manet, Monet and Degas .. van Gogh. Pierre Bonard, Heinrich Fussli, Nicolae Bercham, Rubens, van Dyke and Edvard Munch and many more.
My favorite : Matisse's four female bronzes , which morph from undefined abstract to muscular high-definition. It takes a moment then, wham : there it is. I find joy in the Monet-Rodin gallery with the famous lily pads+seven-sculptures. Giacometti also in the house : a wing dedicated to his work including 'Walking Man."

While surrounded by it all, a young couple, pictured,  catches my eye : they are nervous and awkward with each other and I think: first-date. He explains to her how the paint is, like, really thick.  Body language offers further suggestions : they lean in to each other then give space. Yep, it's the way it goes.



Zurich this morning, which reminds me of Versoix, 1983-84, catching the 6:14AM train to Geneva where I was picked up by Tony Ulrich, the coach of Geneve Natation, who drove me to Piscine Vernets for morning practice. Standing on the platform in the freezing cold and complete darkness, I watched the overhead Rolex clock . tick.. tick.. .tick the second hand with round red-circle went. 6:12AM,  train arrives. At 6:14AM, train departs.

Zurich a good station, too : cavernous, covering an entire city block, empty in the middle allowing passengers to run for their train or loiter. The best thing the young people : it is not often that I see them in their natural habitat- smoking , laughing, hanging out. Packs of them. Some with dyed or spiked hair; others like 1950s preppies. Piercings. Peg legs and converse or army boots. Always flirting. All good. It reminds me of that time in my life which was never fleeting then but now : is. And gone.

Not far from Zurich is Davos where 47-global leaders and the Good and the Great having a Pow Wow.  David leading several sessions ; unfortunately I cannot join him for dinner.

Tuesday, January 24


I am with VER, also known as the State Pension Fund of Finland - picture taken from a conference window (The pension located at Mikonkatu 15 and I can envision Soviet tanks filling the plaza ; Russia a stone's throw east ). VER is external to the state budget (ie, Govt has no control over their investment decisions) and established in 1990 ; their long-term liabilities are aprox. €90 B while the investment portfolio mkt value is €20B. In short: they need returns, and so have invested with my friends in Paris and why I am with them today.

My driver , Schwarmi, picks me up from Terminal 3 : Radio 4 announces that Salman Rushdie's address to the Indian people, which has become a battle for freedom of speech, cancelled as a small bunch of religious zealots threaten violence. I ask Schwarmi what he thinks : "I am ashamed to be Muslim" he tells me.

Schwarma from Northern Iraq and a Kurd; his father had an import-export business in the 1960s which brought the family to London; Schwarmi immigrated 18-years ago (he is middle-age).  I ask if England racist ? "Never. I have always felt safe here." And : "I will never go back to Iraq. I returned once and it is the end. It is the uneducated who wish violence. It is always them." I ask if Iraqis hate Americans ?  "No. Iraqis love Americans. Northern Iraq is booming, there is lots of businesses. It is because the Americans and the British are there. Some Iraqis want the Americans to leave our country but I say - why? We should let them come here and stay. They have helped us. They have invested in Iraq."

Madeleine , nonchalantly, tells us over dinner that David Cameron at Saturday's paint-ball birthday party (confirmed by Alex's mum). Turns out Cameron's oldest about paint-balling age.

Monday, January 23


Helsinki, for work.  Mikko and I have drinks at Hotel Kämp and, I learn, he and his girlfriend have bought a house.  Usually, as in usually in the UK or the US, one might get married first but "it is perfectly normal" in Finland for couples to extend their relationship into financial obligations before they tie the knot.  It is one of the many things I love about here : despite being a tiny inter-linked community there are freedoms quite different from elsewhere. It is also impossible to get decaffeinated coffee.

Mikko and the city a-buzzing about the Guggenheim's recent decision to build a museum on the Helsinki waterfront (estimated cost: €140M).  The city chosen for its tradition in art and design and its plans to develop the harbour properties. Otherwise, surprisingly, Helsinki lacks a significant modern art collection. The architect has yet to be chosen but I vote for Renzo Piano. 

Sunday, January 22

One From The Sidelines

Phil, pictured, is the father of Alphie, the Elm Grove goal-keeper.  I often hear him growling from the sidelines. When Phil suggests I don't have permission to take his picture, I tell him I will put the photo above my bed.

Sutton United

The boy has had a busy week-end , sitting his final entrance exam - this time for Kings College Wimbledon., a fine looking school with a big church tower in the middle of an immaculate grounds. Given the rake 15 out of 300 testers, the odds against us.

That was Saturday and today it is Elm Grove vs. Sutten, a speedy team in the county Surrey.  They defeat us, 1-nil, but the score secondary to the quality of football : excellent. Elm Grove works together and the play tight and efficient.  Every other action seems to be a long-break off a half-field pass. The ref misses an obvious Sutten foul in our penalty-box and that was probably the difference in the match.  Eitan gets pushed around by the kid , pictured in yellow, who takes a number of cheap shots when the focus elsewhere. Eitan tells me : "I wasn't intimidated or anything. But it made me kinda angry."  That's football.

Madeleine, for her part, at Alex's all-day birthday party followed by a slumber party. Me: "How was the party?" Madeleine: "Fine." Me: "What did you guys do?" Madeleine: "Stuff."  24-hours in two words. And so it goes.

Saturday, January 21

Swedish Connection

Bengt Baron (right) and Par Arvidsson , 1980

Baron a Swede who won the 100 m backstroke at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and a bronze in the 4×100 m freestyle relay in Los Angeles four years later. From 1979 to 1985 he won 33 Swedish titles. Like Arvidsson, he went to Cal to train with Nort Thorton and that is when I met him.

My senior year of high-school I swam with the Bears and, though Baron graduated a year or two before my time, he occasionally showed up for morning practise and we would huddle in the equipment shed dreading the shock of the outdoor pool at 6AM. Like most swimmers, he is tall - maybe 6'4'' and thin (Arvidsson, by contrast, a muscle-man so it takes all types).  Baron's arms hyper-extended at the elbow-joint which allowed him a better "grip" on the water. He was a formidable competitor.

After swimming Baron got an MBA from Berkeley in '88  then went to McKinsey & Co; from there, he joined a bunch of consumer companies including Coca-Cola and Kodak. In 2001, he was named CEO and President of Absolut Vodka.  Baron lived up to, and surpassed, his early promise. Neat guy.

Friday, January 20


Sonnet in '93.

So today (or yesterday, anyway): we are to Paris to join David and Tabitha for a drink at the Bristol then dinner at Alain Passard's three-Michelin star gastronomic mecca : L'Aperge. Beforehand , David spends a few hours with Astorg talking about Europe. Of the many people I know who are invested in this part of the world, David understands it better than most. His access to top political leaders, economists and financiers allows him the complete picture: Wed night, for instance, he visits Francoise Hollande's economics team (Hollande, a socialist, may be the next President of France). Last week, it is Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti. David makes me look like a million bucks with my French friends. And as for Europe's future : it is going to get darker before it gets brighter.

We begin dinner with an egg : de-capped and topped up with a lite foamy cream. Sublime. From there it is nine courses, including the cheeses , which cover langoustine from Loctudy, ormer from Brittany, sautéd soles, butter mousse, truffles, oignon doux gratin, parmigiano reggiano ... sarawak black pepper, beetroot with Guérande grey salt, aceto balsamico 25 years of age, mixed vegetables with herbs, a thousand flavours, Sautéd endive with nuts, bacon from Baden ... and on and on it goes, each plate accompanied by its own wine. Wow.

Madeleine comments on the egg: "Was it, like, rotten?"

Madeleine: "Why were you with David in Paris?"
Me: "He was talking to some friends about the European crisis . .."
Madeleine: "What?! There is a crisis?"
Me: "Yes, for some time now."
Eitan: "We have, like 100-billion pounds of debt. £200 billion, maybe."
Me: "A bit more than that."
Madeleine: "Why don't they just pay it back?"
Me: "It's a good idea but a  bit more complicated unfortunately."
Madeleine: "It's because it has been a failure."
Madeleine: "No offence to them."

Eitan: "Jay oon petty sur."
Eitan: Jay oon petty sur. Don't you know what that is?
Me: "No."
Eitan: "'I have a little sister.' "
Me: "Learning French in school I see."

Wednesday, January 18


John Martin's Arthur and Aegle in the Happy Valley based on an Arthurian legend of Aegle’s last night on earth. Pictured, from the Tate Britain collection.

Today is one of those collectives bummers shared by commuters. I am late from the house and it starts raining  (me, in suit, no umbrella). The train over-crowded and humid so I stand perspiring , jammed against a woman reading Farsi on her phone app, wishing the sweat down my back would go away. Wishing I was anywhere else. Each stop brings more people who implore us to "move in!" or "Move to the middle!" As, if.  I make eye contact with the blond and we are both equally uncomfortable when this happens for the fifth time. No pick-up scene, this. I have seen people yell at each other in similar circumstances.

By Clapham Jnct I consider ditching my first meeting. Vauxhall, where I finally exit , finds a 50-foot line to enter the Underground.  I see not one smiling face. Buying an umbrella at Victoria, I am told that I must spend ten-pounds to use my debit card. The purchase price : $9.75.  We actually discuss this. I add some shoelaces to my purchase. It is not 9AM.

Madeleine: "Did you know that it takes seven red ants to kill a butterfly?"
Me: "That's nice, Dear."

Monday, January 16

Little Red Box

The ubiquitous red booth. How soothing. How British. It is amazing to consider, then, that the first phone kiosks introduced by the Post Office in 1920 made of concrete.  The red telephone booth the result of a 1924 design-competition won by Giles Gilbert Scott , who originally suggested silver, with a "greeny-blue" interior.  By 1925, there were 1,000 red booths in the UK.  At the peak, in the mid-1990s, there were 95,000 red phone boxes.

Today, thanks to mobile phones, there are only 15,000 red kiosks left, of which 946 are in London. 2,400 of the phones are listed as heritage sites and therefore legally protected from removal. BT is the sole company that can provide the Scott phones from an agreement in 1996.

This friendly fellow snapped on Millbank Rd, bordering the north side of the Thames near Vauxhall Bridge.

"Middle age is when you're sitting at home on a Saturday night and the telephone rings and you hope it isn't for you."
--Ogden Nash

Sunday, January 15

John Martin

We meet James and Emily for a late lunch then the Tate Britain to see the 'John Martin: Apocalypse" exhibition. Here is what the brochure says:

"Visionary, eccentric, populist and epic, John Martin was a controversial but key figure in nineteenth century art. Like his canvases, this wildly dramatic artist with his visions of heaven and hell, was larger than life.

"Organised in partnership with the Laing gallery, Newcastle, this is the first major exhibition dedicated to Martin's work in over 30 years. It brings together his most famous paintings of apocalyptic destruction and biblical disaster from collections around the world, as well as previously unseen and newly-restored works.

"Hugely popular in his time, Martin was derided by the Victorian Art establishment as a 'people's painter', for although he excited mass audiences with his astounding scenes of judgement and damnation, to critics it was distasteful. In a sense ahead of this time, his paintings - full of rugged landscapes and grandiose theatrical spectacle - have an enduring influence on today's cinematic and digital fantasy landscapes.

"This exhibition presents a spectacular vision, capturing the full drama and impact of John Martin's paintings as they were originally displayed. Just as in the nineteenth century, these epic and often astounding works must be seen to be believed."
--Tate Britain

Annabel's And Tramps

It is cold morning and the pitches frozen so the Elm Grove v. Suten United cancelled and we get a needed lie-in following a late-night of dining and dancing with Natalie and Justin at Annabel's : think long legs , tarty dresses and hedge fund money.  All good.

Annabel's founded in 1963, when Brit entrepreneur John Birley decided he needed somewhere to party after an evening's gambling. As a result, he turned the basement of Aspinall's casino, the Clermont Club, into a nightclub, and named it after his then wife, Annabel. It was the first of its kind: a member-only nightclub that catered to an exclusive clientele, including The Prince of Wales, Camilla Parker-Bowles, The Princess Anne, Richard Nixon, Aristotle Onassis and Frank Sinatra. Entertainers who have played there include Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross and Lady Gaga. The sumptuous interior was originally designed by Birley and since updated by Birley's daughter India Jane (source: wiki).  Don Draper would be right at home.

Me: "How does it feel to be in the front seat?"
Madeleine: "Ok, I guess. But what if I get killed?"
Me: "Let's hope not."
Madeleine: "I mean by the air bag. Aren't kids supposed to sit in the back so they don't get killed by the air bag ?"
Me: "Your big enough now so I don't think we have to worry."
Me: "Here, help me unload this junk from the back."
Madeleine: "This would be a good place for a tramp."
Me: "Oh?"
Madeleine: "Lots of used mattresses and stuff."
Me: "I suppose you're right."
Madeleine: "Are there lots of tramps ?"
Me: "I don't know. What makes you think of that?"
Madeleine: "I was just thinking it would be lonely to be a tramp and not having a home to go to."
Me: "Probably so."

Saturday, January 14

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Votes

( I was unable to source this photograph ).

Richmond Morning

The moon sets over 'two storm forrest' in Richmond Park near the Sheen Gate entrance. Shot with a Canon 7D, 1:2.8 77m lens.

Madeleine: "Dad can I have some of those Doritos?"
Me: "For breakfast?"
Madeleine: "Yeah, so?"
Me: "What kind of a parent would I be if I let you eat Doritos for breakfast?"
Madeleine: "A good one."

Thursday, January 12

Team Madeleine

Madeleine sits the 10+ exam for the Emmanuel school.  Sonnet drops her off on the way to work.  Madeleine has been working hard and, as I tell her, the results don't matter : it is the preparation that we are proud of (Ps: the results matter).

Wednesday, January 11

The Night Of Long Knives

I am with Astorg last night, treated to a cooking lesson by Alain Ducasse at his culinary master home, Le Parc, in the 16th arrondisment.  Ducasse the first chef to have a Michelin three-star restaurant in three cities : Paris, London and New York .  His restaurant at the Dorchestor the ultimate power play, if you can get a reservation , and willing to pay a couple hundred quid for a meal. We separate into groups with our razor sharpened blades and  slice onions, peel and gut crustaceans, chop onions and prepare a boulibase; the other group responsible for the meats and sauces. We dine on our making with excellent wines, coffees and petit four.

This is my second three-Michelin stars with Astorg in the last ten months : the other being the wonderful "Le Petie Nice" by Gerald Passedat.  How delicatessen.

"The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit."
--Julia Child

Monday, January 9

Early Days, My Love

Sonnet in 1993 at Lake Alpine - we had been dating maybe three months.  How lucky I am to to see her face every day.

Here is what we get on BBC 3 prime time television: "How Sex Works - The First Time.  This episode seeks to understand what's going on in our minds and bodies on the road to losing our virginity and to find out just what happens when we fall in love."  As, if.

Italian near-term bonds at 7.13% when I checked today - above the 7% considered unsustainable leading pundits to squawk : "downward death spiral" !  Compare this to Germany, which sold six-month notes with a yield of minus 0.0122%, the first time a national money-market instrument offered a negative yield.  Think about that one for a moment.

Sunday, January 8

Skype, Dude

Welcome to the 21st Century, about five years late, but hey , here we are, video con-fer-enc-ing. Katie gets us going and takes this photograph.

Sunday Catch Up

Madeleine hides behind the coach. Eitan fixates on Manchester United vs. Manchester City. Sonnet tidies up the kitchen and I blog. Yep, Sunday evening.

It follows a busy day, too : Eitan's Elm Grove draw 1-1 against Kingstonian Youth then we drive madly across Southwest London to join Sonnet and Madeleine at the Surrey swimming championships qualifier.  Eitan picks up the 200m freestyle (2:32) and 50m freestyle (32.36) and Madeleine competes the 200m freestyle in 3:46 and competes in 50m backstroke, 50m breast stroke, 50m freestyle (times to come). Even the dog gets a run in, I am happy to oblige. 

Thursday night sees us at The River Cafe, with Jim and Peri then Bath for Tabitha and David's 12th night party which is a well-oiled machine from the excellent wine to Swedish meatballs. The guests are always entertaining and Sonnet and I stay at Claridges, a local B&B where we have been before.

Man U > Man City, 3-2

Thursday, January 5

Frank Horwill, MBE, 1927-2012

Frank Horwill, who I met on the Battersea track in 1998 preparing for the '98 London Marathon, passed away from stomach cancer on January 1st.   He was a gentle man and remarkable coach - our paths crossed again in '03 and '05 when I was training for various half-marathons. He always had a friendly smile, a few words of advice and a stop watch around his neck.

The Times remarks :  "Horwill played a vital role in the world dominance of British middle-distance running in the 1980s.  In that decade, British athletes held world records from the 800 through to the 5,000 meters and, at one point, claimed every leading global 1,500 metre title.  Sebastian Coe was the Olympic champion, Steve Cram was world champion, Steve Ovett held the European crown and Dave Moorcroft the Commonwealth title.  All were  members of the British Milers' Club, which Horwill founded in 1963 when British middle-distance was in the doldrums."

"We've only just begun to work."
--Frank Horwill

Wednesday, January 4


Katie snaps Madeleine in front of the High St butcher's and instantly I think : "Delicatessen" , which we watch the other night - Katie and me, that is, not Madeleine nor Sonnet who doesn't last beyond the opening credits. In fairness, the opening credits do see the handyman trying to escape from a post-apocalyptic hotel ,  covering himself in newspaper , and hiding in the dumpster, only to be found out by the proprietor who cleaves his head with a meat cutter. The rest equally hilarious including my favourite, the self-sustaining "Frogman" (ie, no cannibalism) as he breeds snails and frogs in his basement flat, complete with brackish water underneath the chair where he sleeps. Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's movie a creative force.

Now , to "The Cook A Thief His Wife & Her Lover" which, when I first saw the film in 1989, forced my then college girlfriend to flee from the theatre in tears .

Both French films a hoot.

Shout Out 2012

Steve and Lucy's holiday card always anticipated and never disappointing, pictured.  Steve and I have known each other from 7th Grade and came up through the Berkeley Unified School Distract before him Cal and me Brown. We were both swimmers but Steve excelled at water polo and played for several seasons with the Bears.  Now he lives in Dallas and a photographer and Lucy a DJ (NB Steve's father founded The Nature Company and Lucy's Dad part of the founding team of EDS with Ross Perot).  The last I saw them at David's wedding in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Monday, January 2

Obama And The Ass

Painting, via Katie, taken at a restaurant in Nairobi. The Kenyans love Obama given Barack Hussein Obama, Sr was a Kenyan senior governmental economist and the father of the President (born in Hawaii, unless you are Donald Trump or a Tea Party nut job who thinks Obama Jr born in Africa).

And speaking of the Pres, today marks the beginning of the 2012 Presidential campaign. First stop : Iowa.

I love that Mitt Romney has spent $3.5 million in Iowa attacking Newt, the latter whining that Romney telling a pack of lies. As if. In '97, eighty-four ethics charges filed against then House speaker Gingrich and Gingrich sanctioned $300,000 by a 395-28 House vote. It was the first time in history a speaker was disciplined for ethical wrongdoing (Said Newt: " In my name and over my signature, inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable statements were given to the committee"). Or that he dumped his first wife Jackie Battley noting, according to his campaign treasurer LH Carter "She's not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the President. And besides, she has cancer."

Then there's his extra-marital affair with staffer Callista Bisek, 23 years his junior during the Lewensky scandal when Gingrich led the Clinton impeachment (Clinton BTW impeached but not convicted). Or the millions of fees he has pocketed the last five years advising Fannie May and Freddie Mac who went spectacularly bust costing tax payers billions and billions (Newt suggests that he was only their official historian and never a lobbyist and, besides, "they [Freddie and Fannie] should have followed" [my advise]. And so it goes.

All In The Family


Bank holiday Monday - will it ever end ? Our trip to the National Gallery foiled by traffic : the Hammersmith Flyover closed for "emergency repairs".  We redirect for the Tate Britain, but the South Circular also jammed. I take us to the Barnes train station (Sonnet's early suggestion ignored by yours, truly) but find a "temporary bus service." We give in and head for Richmond and a walk by the Thames then a late afternoon pub lunch. 

Madeleine's theme for her 10th birthday party: "pond dipping."

Me: "What shall we do today? Sonnet wants to go to the museum in Holland Park."
Sonnet: "Madeleine would like Chinatown for Dim Sum."
Me: "Katie what do you want to do?"
Katie: "How about a long walk in Richmond Park, a museum then Chinatown?"
Me: "We can do one of those things I think."
Sonnet: "Let's do something in town."
Me: "How about if we visit some Impressionisms at the National Gallery then Dim Sum?"
Eitan: "What?! No way. I am not going to a museum."
Sonnet: "It pains me to hear you say these things, Eitan."
Eitan: "Well I don't care. I will stay home instead."
Me: "You do not have a choice, Kiddo."
Eitan: "I am not going."
Me: "Sorry, Eitan, your words just a whisper in the wind."

Table Talk

Eitan goes for the Sunday sports, as he does every week end, to read up on football. He is an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to the Premiere League : top goals, best players, team rankings and so on and so forth. He'll throw it down, too, if somebody takes him on : like the time at Aggie's birthday party when I looked over, aghast , to see him arguing with five dudes, mid-30s, about whether Drogba or Torres the better player. As, if.

Madeleine: "Dad turn sideways."
Madeleine: "Look, Mom, Dad has white hairs."
Me: "Really?"
Madeleine: "Are you going to dye it? Your hair- are you going to dye it?"
Sonnet: "There are only a few, honey."
Madeleine: "You're just getting old. Or maybe they are from Rusty?"
Madeleine: "You and Rusty have white hair."
Sonnet: "Leave your poor dad alone."
Madeleine: "And you have dandruff."
Me: "Enough."
Madeleine: "You don't have to be so grumpy, Okay Dad?"

Sunday, January 1


Happy New Year.

We spend ours with Ada and Shai, who prepares a brick oven pizza from a home recipe, joined by world class wines. Christine and John to our right and left: he, HBS '91 and opened NTL's offices in the UK; now he buys media companies. His wife, formerly Morgan Stanley with Shai, owns a yoga studio and mom of four. Katie makes everybody look good.

Hugh the 16-year old babysitter pockets a hundred.  I wake him up stunned from sleep.