Sunday, January 4

Goal Posts

The kids cooperate on Gracie's holiday present
From one muddy pitch to the next, Eitan plays center mid field against Worster Park on a cold, wet and dark day in a concrete town on the outskirts of London. The morning made worse by the outcome: 4-2 them (Eitan scores one, misses another). It should have been a draw but those are the breaks. Madeleine wisely stays in bed.

Now I am in Paris and despite the date it still feels like Christmas. The lights and ornaments remain along Faubourg St Honoree and carols fill the hotel. Are the retailers trying to eek out a few more holiday sales or the French unwilling to let go? (Sonnet took everything down December 31).

Madeleine, doodling: "It's an animal. And a pineapple."
Me: "Oh?"
Madeleine: "Its a pinanimal."
Madeline: "This one is a Frankenstein dog. A Frankendog."
Me: "Cool."

Saturday, January 3

Surrey Cross Country Championships

 We sit around the kitchen listening to the rain on a dark Saturday morning. The kids running a cross country race. Even Rusty hesitates in these conditions. I have become that parent who talks about walking six miles in the snow to get to school. Well .. my and Katie's swimming galas went from the crack of dawn to late evening or night. Madeleine rolls her eyes.

We arrive at Lloyds Park in the Borough of Croydon (awful, Kate Moss is from here) to find the various clubs doing their pre race preparations and I think: Military. I take the dog for a tour of the course and it is unrunnable in the mud without spikes.

Madeleine's race, 3K, off first - bang! - and the many legged beast heads for the first turn, lost from site over the hill and into the common.  There is a strange loll while the spectators seek a new vantage point (I head towards the finish line) then there they are - at least the front runner, covered in mud grimacing, in effort - racing down the final incline towards the finishing shoot. Madeleine is in hot pursuit, maybe 30 yards outside. She finishes, clutching her inhaler, in 12:25, good enough for a top place.

Final leg
Eitan sits around for 1.5 hours before his starting gun. He competes with the U15s which get an extra kilometre for the 4k race. Cross country new to both kids and Eitan surveys the course beforehand.

Eitan off like a rocket, settles in and finishes in the middle of the pack.

Both kids satisfied/ relieved when it is over. In the car Madeleine devours a 'bacon buddy' and Eitan a muffin and bag of crisps. Bravo.

Me (kids dive into pizza): "Say something about the race."
Sonnet: "Everybody has to have a piece of broccoli!"
Madeleine: "It was very tough."
Eitan: "The puddles made it fun."

Friday, January 2

Napoleon In The House

Napoleon's Coronation, which we saw last month at the Louvre
Sonnet and I begin the New Year with War And Peace, ten hours of it, broadcast on Radio 4 all day, New Year's day. It is a wonderful production, abridged of course, and brings alive the book I read several years ago.

W&P, Vanity Fair and Les Miserables (which I read following our visit to the Paris sewers) each cover the same period of history focusing on Napoleon's failure in Moscow or Waterloo. Tolstoy, Thackery and Hugo create epicness by making the wars a major character in their tails while writing their stories 50 or 60 years after the demise of the French army.  It is a window into a different era that changed the future of Europe.

And Napoleon, for his part, rose from the French Revolution of 1789. He dominated European affairs for two decades, leading France in the  Napoleonic Wars and seizing control of most of continental Europe before Waterloo 1815. One of the greatest commanders in history, his campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide and he remains simultaneously one of the most celebrated and controversial political figures in European history.

In civil affairs Napoloeon put in place many liberal reforms across Europe summarized by British historian Andrew Roberts:

"The ideas that underpin our modern world—meritocracy, equality before the law, property rights, religious toleration, modern secular education, sound finances, and so on—were championed, consolidated, codified and geographically extended by Napoleon. To them he added a rational and efficient local administration, an end to rural banditry, the encouragement of science and the arts, the abolition of feudalism and the greatest codification of laws since the fall of the Roman Empire."

"Imagination rules the world."-Napoleon Bonaparte

Wednesday, December 31

A Lull In The Action

Family Portrait
We enjoy the lull of the holidays, sleeping in, going to yoga and eating cheese and chocolate. Drinking red wine. Reading. But all good things must come to an end and we drop Auntie Katie off at T2. With a hug and a smile she returns to Manhattan.

An add for "Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo" tells us that 2 million bottles sold in Germany last year which makes me wonder: is there a faster way than coffee?

Eitan sells the six antique chairs sitting in the garage on eBay (they were otherwise to the dump). He discovers a new business model and now selling one of my shirts.

Me: "Are you shaving your legs?"
Madeleine: "OMG."

Sonnet: "So what kinds of snacks should I be getting you?"
Eitan: "Cereal."
Sonnet: "Oh? What kind?"
Eitan: "Crave."
Madeleine: "Cheerios."
Sonnet: "Now we're talking."
Eitan: "Wheat-a-bix."
Me, Madeleine:
Sonnet: "He is British."
Me: "Frosted Flakes."
Madeleine: "Lucky Charms. Oh, I love Lucky Charms."
Sonnet: "We are not getting Lucky Charms."
Me: "What's Crave, anyway?"
Eitan: "It's, like, cereal cubes with creamy chocolate inside."
Me: "That's basically candy."
Eitan: "Yes but you can have it for breakfast."

Tuesday, December 30


Camden Market
At Madeleine's request, we spend the day in Camden Town to visit the market, which has been going since 1974 when a small weekly crafts market operated every Sunday near Camden Lock. It eventually developed into a large complex of temporary stalls.  Now it is London's fourth-most popular visitor attraction drawing 100,000 people on the weekend.

Madeleine and Eitan head for the clothing stalls and shoe stores: they each buy a "Vans" sweatshirt (arguing who saw it first) and Eitan gets some fresh Puma's.  They both have an eye for the thing.

Me, wearing a tight cotton turtle neck: "Can you see my nips?"
Madeleine: "Dad!"
Me: "I thought we could talk about anything."
Madeleine: "We can. Just not everything."
Me: "So nips are out. What else?"
Me: "Guys. Can we talk about guys?"
Madeleine: "OMG. This is so embarrassing."
Me: "I'm just trying to understand the boundaries."

Saturday, December 27

Holiday Spirit

Train to Camden
Boxing Day comes and goes. We host a small party for our local friends then wrap up the afternoon in front of a couple of movies: Leon (for me) about an assassin who takes in a 12 year-old Natalie Portman which provides plenty of action and gore, just perfect for the holidays, followed by The Avengers for some more action, though this time mindless. Hollywood's focus on gay comic book heroes has become a bore.

I run the Parkrun 3 mile race in Richmond Park (every Saturday, 9AM) and complete the course in 20:56 or 27 out of 215 runners.  Eitan elects to sleep in, fair enough. The winning time is 17:31 or the difference between me, now, and twenty years.

Photo by Katie.

Thursday, December 25


New puppy slippers and a rooster hat from Auntie Katie.
Christmas Day starts surprisingly late around 10AM. Gone are the days when Eitan and Madeleine up at the crack of dawn pestering us downstairs! Downstairs! Downstairs! Eitan needs his sleep which even trumps presents.

We watch the movie Big which has the the kids' attention, especially the scene where Tom Hanks arrives at the office Christmas party in a white tuxedo then acts like a general weirdo. Eitan: "It's just like a kid acts at a party!"

Madeleine burns a napkin with a table cable, which gets a scolding from Sonnet. Madeleine: "Dad what would happen if I put my iPhone in the fire?"
Me: "You'd be without an iPhone?"
Madeleine: "Would it melt or something?"
Me: "Or it might explode."
Madeleine: "That's what I thought. Just wondering."

Katie: "There are a few things the Brits do better and some things the Americans do better."
Eitan: "I know."
Katie: "The Americans do better teeth. And better skin." 
Katie: "The Brits do better gardens, flowers and tea. And better accents. The Americans have better food."
Me: "I'm not so sure about that."
Katie: "Bangers and mash?"
Me: "I like the French. For food."
Eitan: "The Americans can't play football."
Katie: "We have more land! We have more land!"
Eitan: "You don't have to gloat."

Xmas Eve

Barnes track
We sneak into the Barnes field which used to be not sneaking but now there is a fence and gate which impedes our entry. It has become a Christmas Eve event.  Sonnet prepares gravlax and we have bagels for dinner, as is our custom.

Katie's Op-Ed Project is going great guns. In 2014, she and her colleagues visited seven countries and worked with over 25 universities. She says "Booyah!"

Wednesday, December 24

Des Egouts

Following our visit to the Musee Des Egouts De Paris, also known as the Paris sewer museum, I decide to read Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables."

Paris's first sewer system BTW was built in the 1200's: It consisted of open troughs that ran down the center of each cobblestone road. It was not esp effective and contributed to the spread of the Black Death.

The first underground sewer was built in 1370 beneath the Rue Montmartre, and drained into the Seine. The Sewers were expanded slowly during the next 400 years. However due to a lack of coverage beneath the city and widespread disrepair the sewers remained a problem. ..

Napoleon Bonaparte finally brought the sewers up to speed. In 1805, Bruneseau was commissioned to undertake the building of 182 new miles of sewer:

"The complete visitation of the subterranean sewer system of Paris occupied seven years, from 1805 to 1812. While yet he was performing it, Bruneseau laid out, directed and brought to an end some considerable works; in 1808 he lowered the floor of the Ponceau, and creating new lines everywhere, he extended the sewer... At the same time he disinfected and purified the whole network. (Les Miserables, Jean Valjean; Book II, Ch. 4)"

No other city has a sewer network that that of Paris whose tunnels stretch 2,100 kilometres. It houses, in addition to the drinking and non drinking water mains, telecommunication cables, pneumatic cables and traffic light management cables.  Every day, 1.2 million cubic metres of wastewater have to be collected. Every year, 15,000 cubic metres of solid waste are taken out and disposed of.

Me: "The first line of Les Mis .. ."
Kate: "Which is?"
Me: "In the year 1815 Monseigneur Charles-Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of Digne."
Kate: "That's an auspicious start."

More On Hair

Here’s an advertisement by Oxford BioLabs for hair loss:

“Hair loss can be a nightmare. It can make you look less attractive, and also lead to disadvantages within your career and limit you in your partner choice. It can lead to depression, loss of self-confidence and even identity change.”   

Who knew?

Fortunately my hair has got me to where I wish to be: married, a career of some sort, and male.

Eitan has nothing to worry about as his mother’s father had a full head of thick and heavy hair.  I remember Stan's slicked back pompadour from another era - it was very becoming, esp when perched on a bar stool with drink and fag, animated in some story. Indeed another time.

Monday, December 22

Paris Montage

Madeleine finishes "To Kill A Mocking Bird" while Eitan re reads (perhaps my favorite) "Lonesome Dove." Sonnet attacks four back issues of the New Yorker. I work away on the train trying to finish up various emails and projects by the end of the year.
 Notre Dame
Eitan: "Is that Notre dame?"
Me: "You're killing me. That's like being in California and asking what ocean that is."
Me: "You know it's the Pacific, right?"
Eitan: "Is it a church ?"
Me: "Ug."
 The Marais
Madeleine: "How much would you give me if I jumped in the Seine right now?"
 The Pantheon, 5e
Auntie Katie Arrives
At the Natural History Museum in Paris. Madeleine: "Did they have to kill all these animals to get them here?"
Me:  "Yep. Unless they were road kill."
Madeleine: "This is why I have a problem with natural history museums. It's so unfair."
Me: "Not if you're a taxidermist."
M: "Huh ?"
Me: "Stuffing the animals. It's a pretty good living."
M: "Whatever, Dad."
Me: "It just depends on your perspective. As with most things in life."
 Eiffel Tower
Madeleine sees the Eiffel Tower: "Woa! I didn't realise it was right there."
A Normal Interaction

Sunday, December 14

Last Sighting

That sucker is gone.

Blast Off

Johnny pushes the button
We launch the "The Payloader" 2,000 feet into the windy atmosphere never to be seen again. Well worth it.

Madeleine: "Are you going to Paris this week?"
Me: "Zurich tomorrow. But I'll be home for dinner."
Madeleine: "You're going for one day?"
Me: "Yep."
Madeleine: "What's the point of that?"

It's The Oil, Stupid

Williston Basin, North Dakota

A barrel of oil now goes for 57 bucks or a 40% decline since October. Go figure. A price cut of 25% (if maintained) means that global GDP will be roughly 0.5% higher than it would be otherwise. Some countries of course will gain a lot more than that average - In China, a $1 drop per barrel saves the country $2.1bn. So for instance, the world produces just over 90m b/d of oil. At $115 a barrel, that is worth roughly $3.8 trillion a year; at $85, just $2.8 trillion. Any country or group that consumes more than it produces gains from the $1 trillion transfer—importers, most of all.

For the US it will be a mixed bag because America is simultaneously the world’s largest consumer, importer and producer of oil. On balance cheaper oil will help the average Joe but not as much as it used to. Goldman Sachs reckons that cheaper oil and lower interest rates should add about 0.1 percentage points to growth in 2015. But that will be more than offset by a stronger dollar, slower global growth and weaker stockmarkets.

I started my career in First Boston's natural resources group (NRG) before switching to financial services. The former much more interesting.


A Man In His Prime
We spend the weekend with David and Tabitha and their family.

David's consultancy, Macro Advisory Partners, going great guns with 20 clients including big brands, global companies and a few sovereigns. David does the macro and he is a genius: like no one I know he ties the pieces together: politics, risk, financial markets, currencies, geo political issues .. . money.

Holiday Season

Merry, merry
We get into the Xmas spirit with the countdown less than two weeks. Sonnet puts lights up in front of the house and we decorate the Christmas tree.

Dior uses Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" to promote Dior Homme Fragrance starring Robert Pattison. Initially I was WTF but the uncensored version (youtube) is pretty fabulous. Shake for me baby, I want to be your backdoor man.

Friday, December 12

Bang Bang

And it is Friday. Again.

This week it's the Nordics and I find myself in Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm (Nobel prize being awarded) and Helsinki. It is cold and winter and the sun rises at 9AM and sets by 3PM. Strange life for those who live here yet it is also charming with Christmas lights and storefront candles. I force myself to run in the early darkness and watch the cyclers and commuters brace themselves against the weather. No wonder this part of the world drinks more coffee than anywhere else.

Madeleine: "I love The Kooks."
Me: "Yep."
Madeleine: "Have you heard of the song 'Slim Shady?"
Me: "Of course. That's ancient."
Madeleine: "I was so proud of you when I learned that you knew Eminem."
Me: "Have you heard of the song 'Bang Bang?"
Madeleine: "Of course, Dad."
Me: "What do you think she's singing about?"
Madeleine: "I don't know. Anyway I'm not saying."
Me: "So when she says, 'bang! bang! all over me' what does that mean?"
Me: "Back in my day, we only listened to songs about bunny rabbits. And cats."
Madeleine (under her breath): "Yeah, right."
Me: "Bang bang! the cute little rabbit jumped over a tree."
Madeleine: "Can I be excused now?"

The Big Hole

Our triumph (1975)
Todd (the one on the right) and I neighbours and best of friends until we moved house in 1977 (eventually Todd's family headed for Healdsburg where we would visit - we hunted frogs on the dried out Russian River banks or shot arrows and BB guns).

In this particular photo we dug a hole in Todd's backyard. Who knows why? but it was deep, eventually deep enough to sink the two of us. Our summer days filled with the work. We found all sorts of bugs and critters with jaws that we put into jars or made fight.

When not digging we were building tree forts. Or making go carts. Constructing battleships from planks of wood. Or (my favourite) drawing posters of Star Trek episodes on paper dispatched from Todd's father's printer (the paper had removable ridges on the sides for the printer to "bite" the paper and move it through the gears). We built plastic models of the Starship Enterprise and the Klingon B'Moth or Amar and then melted them during epic laser and photon torpedo space battles. Good times for a kid.

Today Todd lives in Chico with his wife and two boys. He is a retired captain and firefighter.

Madeleine: "Can I ask Gracie and Moe to get me a BB gun for Christmas?"
Me: "Absolutely not."
Madeleine: "But why?"
Me: "Because it's a gun."
Madeleine: "But in 'To Kill A Mockingbird' Atticus bought Jim and Scout a riffle."
Me: "Nice reference but it's still no."
Madeleine: "So unfair."

Saturday, December 6

Father Son Jog

Post Richmond Park 5 mile loop
Me: "You're just lying on the floor?" [Dad's note: Madeleine lies on her bedroom floor texting on her iPhone]
Madeleine: "Yep."
Me: "It's kind of unusual, for us adults, to consider lying on the floor."
Madeleine: "Yeah, I guess."
Me: "Is it comfortable?"
Madeleine: "It's OK."
Me: "I bet."

Sonnet: "We slept until 10AM!"
Eitan: "That's nothing."

Sat UR daY

From Friday to Saturday.

On a freezing morning that takes the car 15 minutes to defrost, I take Eitan to Hampton School where the A Squad takes on the Wilson School ("the Wilsons"), who the boys dispatch 2-1. Eitan guards No. 17 who is signed with Reading FC and does a good job of it though he's turned around as often as not. I warm up with a jog in Bushy Park. Meanwhile Sonnet with Madeleine on the other side of town at Swiss Cottage for Madeleine's weekly drama class.

I spend the afternoon raking leaves followed by the last episode of 'True Detective.' Matthew McConaughey my new favorite actor.

Wednesday, December 3

Ancient Dome

Yes, we visit the other worldly Pantheon whose 4,535 metric tons weight of the Roman concrete dome is concentrated on a ring of voussoirs 9.1 metres in diameter that form the oculus, while the downward thrust of the dome is carried by eight barrel valuts in the 6.4 metres thick drum wall into eight piers. The thickness of the dome varies from 6.4 metres at the base of the dome to 1.2 metres around the oculu.

We visit Tazza D'Oro ("Cup of Gold") for a frozen espresso with whipped cream.

Despite all the washi washa regarding immigration, the UN reports that the percentage of "international immigrants" to the world's population is unchanged since 1960 at 3%.  The real story is urban migration as cities will attract 75% of the world's population by 2100.  Would the Romans have agreed? Probably. 

Rome II

Villa Borghese overlooking the gardends
We have a delightful dinner hosted by Amanda (the Jewellery expert), her husband Octavia (the composer), Enrico (the collector), Paolo (the exhibitor), Heidi (the art historian) and Martin (the photographer). All deeply involved in fashion and the gossips that surround their interest.

Amanda's home overlooks the ancient ruins and situated not far from where Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were thought recovered.

Sonnet furiously edits "Alexander McQueen, Savage Beauty" - 300 pages and due this week. Since it is the final-final version, "only corkers" are allowed to be flagged.

The kids kept to their routine by the fabulous Klara who works double time getting them to school and their various activities.

Tuesday, December 2


The ancient Tiber River
According to legend, the city of Rome was founded in 753 BC on the banks of the Tiber about 16 miles from the sea at Ostia. The island Isola Tiberina (right side of my photo) in the centre of Rome, between Trastevere and the ancient center, was the site of an important ancient ford and was later bridged. Today it hosts a hospital. Legend says Rome's founders, the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, were abandoned on its waters, where they were rescued by the she-wolf, Lupa.

The Tiber was critically important to Roman trade and commerce as ships could reach as far as 60 miles upriver. I've jogged along the bank but it is not particularly pleasant and, in fact, rather dirty with trash and other waste. Rome is a city clean with humanity.

Weirdly the temperatures are in the 70s and it feels like a late summer day despite December. But not much to complain about, really, unless you think the planet is doomed.

Hannibal Tattoo

The tattoo parlour, outside Manuela's apartment, is one of Rome's best.

Bru Re United

Bru and his bike
We spend Sunday with Sonnet's cousin Bru who is a mad genius with near perfect recall applied to art, film, television and anything that grabs him (Bru dropped out and followed the Grateful Dead post high school then applied to Cornell, at 23 or 24, and was accepted). He has lived in Italy over 15 years and his personality somehow suited for here - the gesticulating hand motions, the Italian's love of argument...  Last we saw Bru, he was working in the Vatican and I recall his dark suit and tie, emblazoned with naked erotica, hidden whenever a priest or higher up went by. Oi vey.

Now Bru raises his son, Lucca, a beautiful child interested in football, video games and school.  He is in good hands. I wonder when we will see Bru next? It will likely be a while.


Along with flutes of Champagne and fancy cocktails we and are greeted by a "living art" display of naked women, about 30, covered in pink veils who stair at us directly or distractedly as their pointy breasts and wispy pubic hair draws one's uncomfortable attention. Appetisers are served. Sonnet says hello to Miuccia Prada.

The party filled with major politicos, film stars and (of course) models along with the beautiful people (men) while we are guests of the glamorous Anna Zegna whose company Ermenegildo Zegna is one of the largest fabrics manufactures in the world while producing men's suits for its own label and Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Tom Ford. I am seated next to Francis, Anna's husband, who runs the fabrics business and we compare notes on Tokyo, New York and London and other various places we have been in the last few months. He is elegant in a way somehow unique to Italians - stylish, clever and understated.

"It all started with you."
--Stefano Tonchi, Curator of Belissima, to Sonnet


Coliseum, taken from the taxi. Restoration work funded by Tod's
Sonnet and I to Rome on Saturday to re-connect with a favourite city I have not been to since, gasp, pre-kids without kids (gasp!). Sonnet has been here regularly for her exhibition. Following a day at the National Museum filled with beautiful ancient Roman sculptures, mosaics and frescos, we attend the opening party for "Belissima", an exhibition on .. Italian fashion .. at the Maxxi Museum. 

Friday, November 28

Rough Day

Richmond Park
And it's Friday, another week gone by.

Eitan runs the 3k borough championships, which he has owned for the past four years. Lining up, our hero not 100% with a cold and still catching up from missed training due to osgood schlatter. More so, the curve is catching up: the boys who train are making strides during these all important youthful years.

Eitan finishes 11th after rounding the half-way at fourth. The second loop and a difficult hill does him in. Not a bad result but he's disappointed as the top 9 qualify for counties.

Me: "Do you think I'm bald?"
Me: "Seriously. What do you think."
Madeleine: "Well, um, you're not bald. I mean you have hair."
Me: "But you can see my head."
Madeleine: "It's like 65%. You have 65% hair on your head."
Me: "So 35% bald. I can live with that."

Sunday, November 23

Thanksgiving Sunday

Halley and Sonnet
Willem picks up a 14 lb turkey from an Oxford colleague and professor who, when not on campus, owns a small holding where he raises free range livestock (I love the eccentricity). The bird, named Cyril, arrives frozen and goes straight into the oven for five hours, perfectly done at the end. 

We enjoyed a large American ex pat community in our first years in London - a group now mostly dispersed across the US and around the world. We hosted a number of Thanksgivings for 20 or 25 people in our flat in Maida Vale, crawling under the table to serve people. One thing that has changed: I now watch the Detroit Lions vs. the New England Patriots. I only need to tap my ruby slippers together three times . ..

Eitan's Hampton School A team loses 1-nil to Chigwell School.

It feels like it should be a holiday but back to work tomorrow.

Happy Returns

Halley and Willem
Halley and Sonnet spend the day preparing early Thanksgiving. Big things are happening in their family: Willem is heading up the Oxford's mindfulness center having built up a similar program and first of its kind at Exeter University. He is two weeks on the job. He is also taking up a Chair at the Univ of Oxford as Prof of Clinical Psychology in the Dept of Psychiatry and notes "that I feel like a young Turk again" and one should always feel on the up and up. [Dad's note: One of the major research programs Willem is working on is mindfulness at secondary schools and Hampton School was one of the first to sign on].

Zoe is in her AS levels preparing for her exams and running cross country (she recently won a race in East Devon) while Ava continues to pursue top level football with the Oxford United FA Center of Excellence. Halley keeps it all together and moving forward in a most forceful direction. Halley is also involved with CIC which offers mindfulness courses in Exeter.

Me: "Give me a quote."
Zoe: "Lower your voice and strengthen your argument." 
Willem: "I can respect that."

Christmas At Claridges

I am in Paris this week so Sonnet attends solo the launch of the Dolce & Gabbanna Christmas tree at Claridges with, you know, a lot of models. Sonnet says, "that sucker [ie, the tree] is big, maybe 20 feet high". The kids impressed to learn that 'Made In Chelsea Star' Mark Francis in attendance (Eitan: "Did you get a selfie?")

In Paris the lack of foot traffic on rue de Faubourg St Honoree a marked contrast to year's past. The lack of buzz reflective of France, which is somehow demoralized with its lagging economy, deficits and failure of leadership. Young people in Paris want to be in London and South Kensington now has over 400k of France's brightest. Yet, and despite this, Paris remains the most magical European city and I am lucky to know it.

Sunday, November 16


Sonnet could not possibly be a better mother. She is constantly upbeat and organised around the kids ceaseless various activities and, above all else, she is their champion and confident. She is their role model. Somehow she manages all of this while I am travelling and with a full time job. She is the reason our house is a home. We are blessed.

I find a bottle of Haut-Medoc 2004 in the pantry, opened, and not by me. The wine earned a Bronze medal at the 2006 Decanter World Wine Awards amongst other recognitions. Sonnet used it in a beef bolognese.


So who is the is Benedict Cumberbatch, I wonder, as girls swoon over Sherlock and his long curls? Cumberbatch may be the Sean Cassidy for this generation but even more: He has appeared in such films as Atonement, Star Trek and 12 Years A Slave as well as other BBC dramas like Hawkings.

In life, Cumberbatch attended boarding schools from the age of eight, was educated at Brambletye School  in West Sussex, and was an arts scholar at Harrow School. He was a member of The Rattigan Society, Harrow's principal club for the dramatic arts which was named after Old Harrovian and playwright Terence Rattington. He was involved in numerous Shakespearean works at school and made his acting debut as Titania, Queen of the Fairies, in A Midsummer Night's Dream when he was 12.Cumberbatch's drama teacher, Martin Tyrell, called him "the best schoolboy actor" he had ever worked with. He was also part of the rugby team, and painted in oil while at Harrow.

After leaving Harrow, Cumberbatch took a gap year to volunteer as an English teacher at a Tibetan monastery in Darjeeling. He then attended the Univ of Manchester, where he studied Drama. He continued his training as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art with a degree in Classical Acting.  (source: Wiki)

All this and not even 30. He will be with us for a while which is good news.

Game Off

Sunday morning which means club football and today the boys take on the Met Police. They go down swinging, 3-nil, in a game tied nil-nil at half-time.  It's been a rough season and today's outcome puts the Lions in the bottom half of their league. Still, for the joy of the game.

Sonnet and I out to fun restaurant Pizza East in the edgier part of Notting Hill, an area we are familiar with for many visits to the Portobella Road and market in our early days in London. We are with Natalie and Justin, who has recently been offered the CEO role of a substantial UK business. He is perfectly suited for it.

Saturday, November 15

London Youth Games

Parliament Hill, Hamstead Heath
Madeleine competes in today's London Youth Games representing Richmond borough having qualified several weeks ago when she won the Wandsworth schools championship on the Clapham Common. The course a muddy 2K and begins fast: straight up Parliament Hill. Madeleine in the top 10%, by my judgement, huffing and puffing, but then hardship: she slips and falls on a tight bend and pulls out of the race with 500m to go. I greet our fallen warrior on the course. She is covered in mud and feeling downbeat; we get her patched up at the aid station then cubano sandwiches for lunch from the local farmers market. She's now watching television and feeling better.

Sonnet in Amsterdam to give a lecture. I have lunch at Fortnum And Mason with the Ladies That Lunch. Greg in London for three hours en route to Maryland following an AGM in Barcelona. We catch up.

The Heath

Hamstead Heath
Hamstead Heath is a large, ancient London park covering 790 acres. The Heath is rambling and hilly, perfect for a Sunday stroll or cross country race. The cozy Hamstead village is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations and, perhaps not surprisingly, has the highest concentration of millionaires in London. 

So Sonnet and I split an evening: She to the Italian Ambassador's house to discuss fashion with the Good and the Great and me, to Emanuel school to meet with Madeleine's 14 teachers to get the low-down on her performance. I get the better deal. The feedback is excellent and it is clear that our gal is making her mark. What stands out, in the feedback, is Madeleine's enthusiasm and effort; sure, there are a few minor comments about chitter-chat but overall she is doing tops in her school work. We could not be more proud. [Dad's note: since the parent-teacher evening, we received a letter from Madeleine's form teacher telling us Madeleine scored top 10% in school effort work.

Tuesday, November 11

Early Hours

Sonnet and I up at 5:30AM to jog 4 laps around Palewell Park. Our preferred run is Richmond Park but it is pitch black this time of year and spooky plus the annual deer cull locks the park's morning gates for the next six weeks.  The dog is ever on the ready for exercise and could care less about the hour of the day.

The morning darkness recalls my teenage swimming years, also up around 5:30AM, when I biked to the King Jr high school swimming pool. Berkeley was sound asleep as I cycled from the Northside hills to the flats, passing streetlamps and front lights - sometimes in the rain with my shoes protected by plastic bags. I envied those still asleep. Bill (God bless him) delivered a two-hour workout for me and Katie (we had our own lane) while Moe swam laps with the lap-swimmers. If I recall correctly, Moe swam one length of the 25 yd pool for each year of his age which seemed like a pretty good deal against the 7,000 yards Katie and I put in.

Following our effort this morning, we are rewarded with a beautiful sunrise filled with warm colours; Madeleine wanders down for breakfast and I wake Eitan ("5 more minutes.")

Sunday, November 9


'Controversy' single
Sonnet and I join Emily's birthday party themed "Exposed" where she holds a salon format inviting her interesting friends to offer missives on the subject. A choreographer, for instance, discusses how she feels when her work performed by others. A techie turned designer describes his app that concentrates central and peripheral focus and an entomologist tells how plants offer signals to pollinate them - "a glowing runway".  We conclude the evening with Prince's 1999 - Eitan and Madeleine would have been mortified to see us dance. Ah, well.

Thinking of Prince, I recall West Campus where my class spent the 9th grade while the Berkeley High School C building retrofitted to make earthquake sound in 1982. That year the black girls enthralled by 'Controversy', Prince's break-through album one year before '1999' which became a mainstay on the disco floor and has followed me across .. . 30 years.

'Controversy' was a racy album with song tracks that I am embarrassed to write like 'Private Joy', 'Jack U Off' and 'Do Me, Baby' but I suppose this is now easily eclipsed by the stuff Eitan and Madeleine exposed to in music or online. Back then it was about the funk before the lyrics (though I am sure our parents only heard the lyrics, if they knew of Prince at all).

Today is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and Gorbechav warns of the new Cold War.

Sonnet: "Tell me three careers, if you had to imagine into the future, that you would be interested in doing."
Madeleine: "One, a full time actress. Two, a physical therapist. And three, to work at Google."
Sonnet: "Great ideas. Give me one sentence for each explaining why."
Madeleine: "I think it would be amazing to be in a film. If I was a physical therapist I would make a difference in people's lives. And Google because it is such a cool company."
Sonnet: "Those are excellent explanations."

Friday, November 7

Sunday, November 2

Post Game

Sunday afternoon following two-weeks of half-term break and that can only mean one thing: homework. Eitan must review history and French "and do a bit of writing." Same as it ever was.

Sonnet and I review our last couple of weeks which sees our family in NYC, Minneapolis-St Paul, Madrid and Tokyo. Pretty cool.

Me: "Tell me one thing about the half-term break for the blog."
Eitan: "It was fun."
Me: "Can you do more than that?"
Eitan: "Minneapolis was fun. I got to meet Henry's friends and stuff. And I went to an American football game on Friday night. The home team won. The atmosphere was really good because everyone was supporting the team."
Me: "What do you think of American football?"
Eitan: "It's OK. A bit boring I guess."
Me: "How so?"
Eitan: "I don't know. It's kind of slow. And there is a lot of throwing the ball around."
Me: "I see your point."

Coach's Huddle

"Watch the through balls"
The Sheen Lions battle the Kingstonian Youth to a 3-3 draw which our side equalises with a minute to go on a free kick by Woo from 40 yards out, headed into the net by Luke. Joy! The game notable for the miserable weather and Sonnet and I soaked and cold by half-time. Eitan is selected 'Man Of The Match' (and now happily watches Manchester United vs. Manchester City as I blog). 

Aneta with us for the weekend and we catch up on her summer, spent at a Jewish camp in Western Massachusetts, and her other various travels in the US.  She is as agreeable as ever and always a good vibe to have around.

Sonnet takes Madeleine to the Richmond High Street for some Sunday afternoon shopping. And the passage of time rolls on.