Thursday 31 July 2008

George Orwell's Diaries

I feel a strong affinity with everything George Orwell and we agree on the best way to make a cup of tea so I was thrilled when I read here that his diaries and more of his works were to be available online here.

There is a wealth of George's wisdom available. The more I read the more I like him and think that he will be relevant forever more. We all know how chillingly prophetic 1984 is because we see it everyday but I also love his observations about food and think they are equally wise; particularly his points (in On The Road To Wigan Pier) that the British waste too much food, need to eat more fresh ingredients and more needs to be done to make sure the poor can afford good quality meat and provisions are as relevant, if not more so, in today's Britain as they were in George's.

On a less serious note I think George has lovely floppy hair in the picture above (courtesy of the George Orwell prize website). This got me to think that if I did approve of cloning, which I definitely do not, but if I did, that George Orwell would have been a wonderful candidate (obviously he would have hated the idea). He is so wonderful and we could have had five wise George's working on improving the country or just making marvellously erudite observations and taking tea.

Tuesday 29 July 2008

What perfume do they wear? Eliza Doolittle

Having seen Pygmalion last week (as discussed below) I started to think, as only a perfume obsessive really can, about what fragrance Eliza Doolittle might have worn.

In the film My Fair Lady (which as I'm sure you may know was based on Pygmalion) Eliza is played by Audrey Hepburn. Audrey will forever be associated with Givenchy's L'interdit and for some with Creed's Spring Flower. Both are very nice scents but I don't feel they are right for Eliza. Firstly Pygmalion was written and is set in 1913 when aldehyde's had not been used in scent- so that counts out the Givenchy. Secondly I don't think most people had even seen a melon in London in 1913 let alone the French managed to replicate the scent of a melon which is part of Spring Flower.

Eliza is a poor flower girl when we meet her. I imagine she smells better than many because she is surrounded by flowers all day but given her excitement at bathing in hot water without her clothes on in the play I think we can assume she perhaps doesn't smell superb before she goes to live with Professor Higgins.

However once there I would assume (again as only a perfume obsessive might) that Higgins would have put some thought to her scent because it would in itself tell people a little about her and help him mould her into a lady.

For that reason I would think he would choose something extremely tasteful and fairly subtle that would quietly give off class. Given that we are limited to scents that would have been available in 1913 I thought of a classic cologne type smell, like 4711 initially.

However thinking on it for more time I have decided I would like to think of Eliza wearing Apres L'Ondee by Guerlain. It was released in 1906 so fits with the period very well and Eliza is a very modern girl in 1913 who I think would choose a modern scent. Higgins is well travelled and I think also must have good taste to be able to choose Eliza's clothes and so on so well but also probably doesn't like anything too dull- which Apres L'Ondee certainly isn't.

Eliza being a flower girl should have a quite educated sense of smell when it comes to flowers and I think if she had any choice in the matter she would enjoy the fresh, cool smell of violet and hawthorn the scent gives off. It would be a wonderful antidote in the crowded smoky city and probably like the country paths after the rain that she will never have seen being a London girl born and bred.

Finally the ending of Pygmalion is a little sad and I think the wistful, contemplative nature of Apres L'Ondee matches it very well.

Apres L'Ondee smells as modern to my nose now as I imagine it would have to Eliza and Henry in 1913. It is not widely available but if you find it you must try it.

Old fashioned Apres L'Ondee bottle courtesy of:

Eliza picture courtesy of

My fair lady picture courtesy of:

Friday 25 July 2008


Last night I belatedly went to The Old Vic to see Pygmalion. I had read that George Bernard Shaw's original play was much darker than the My Fair Lady version we all probably know best. However I still found it be an extremely witty, playful and astute play. Much of the social comment is as apt today as it was then- especially the points about people with real class speaking to anyone and also not really being all that bothered by rules and regulations about how to behave.

The play is based on the Pygmalion myth and the 'love' story between Henry Higgins, the sculptor, and Eliza, the sculptee, is extremely well acted. Both performances are very subtle and bring out the aspects of their characters. Higgins particularly must be a difficult part, he is man who is very self sufficient and cannot admit his feelings for Eliza but Tim Piggot Smith manages to make you see why Eliza doesn't want to leave him.

Eliza is a surprisingly modern character, choosing to spend the money she receives on bettering herself through education and seeing that she has to look after her future even if that means making painful choices in the present.

Everything about the production was a joy, from the costumes to the sets to the fine acting from the whole company of actors. I want to go again!

The imdb boards are talking about a remake of My Fair Lady but I think a new film version of Pygmalion would be better- that way they could focus more on the themes and wonderful dialogue and language and less on the songs.

Monday 14 July 2008

Fresh linen

Having recently moved I have a new bed. I decided that a new room deserved new bed linen and am now the proud owner of crisp white and cream sheets.

For some reason I have never been particularly drawn to the cotton/ linen/ fresh/ laundry smells before but since the weather got warmer I have been craving them.

My favourite scents that make you smell like you're wearing the crispest, cleanest clothes even in 100 degree heat on the tube are below.

Estee Lauder were one of the first fragrance houses to have a cloth smell perfume with their original White Linen fragrance. Last year they launched a new variation on the scent to Pure White Linen and this fragrance has since had several special editions. I think this is a very nice, fresh easy to wear scent which is probably the best option for those who want a laundry scent but don't have access to niche brands via shops or don't want to buy fragrance on the internet unsniffed. It is sophisticated but uncomplicated and smells of exactly what it says it does!

My current favourite laundry scent is Clean Fresh Laundry Perfume. All the Clean scents are based around everyday fresh, clean smells as the name implies, Their website says they have a cult celebrity following and I have to say that although I normally wear fragrance to export me to somewhere else or to enhance a mood there is something very relaxing and satisfying about wearing such a delightfully fresh, uncomplicated scent. I have taken to wearing my Clean Fresh Laundry for work wear I don't want to force a strong scent on my colleagues (or want them to force theirs on me...) but where I do want to smell fresh and nice, despite the lack of air conditioning.

Clean perfume bottle picture courtesy of

Pure White Linen bottle picture courtesy of:

First bedroom picture courtesy of:

Second bedroom picture courtesy of:

Saturday 12 July 2008

Wonderous walls

I have just happened upon Lizzie Allen's wallpaper designs and fallen instantly head over heels in love with them.

I am particularly drawn to the mixture of craftsmanship, contemporary but classic design and of course me being me the London scenes (what great detail there is in the London characters too). When I have some walls I defintely need some of this to make them more cheery!

First picture courtesy of:

Second picture coutesy of:

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Wish lists: wishing and hoping and thinking and praying

As discussed on Monday I have been and am trying to spend less and wait for what I want more.

As also alluded to I have never been out of control but I do own lots of things that probably need to be read, worn, sat on etc before I should buy too many more things.

I have always adored the idea of the wish list but in recent months my lists have become more important to me.

I obviously have an Amazon wish list which I must say is long and only seems to get longer. Although I am supposed not to be buying I am going to try to buy a few bits, when they are at a good price, every few months to try and reduce the list a little.

I find my Amazon wish list and my own kept on my computer wish list very comforting. It is a sort of filing exercise of things I would like for me, or to give to others, that I know is organised- which my brain sometimes is not.

I have tried looking for a kind of all encompassing global wish list and have found some but so far they haven't really satisfied my craving for order and ease of use.

I think a wish list is actually one of the best non spending tools as it does provide reassurance; you can go to it and see that the £90 book you want is still available so that when you do have £90 to spend on it it will be there.

The Wimbledon experience

Although this is a little belated I thought Sunday's Wimbledon final was fabulous. We had two players who are true sportsman, gracious whether winning or losing and respectful of each other and the Wimbledon traditions. We had rain, we had sunshine, we had gusts of wind and failing light.

But what I wanted to talk about was the next day and and the feeling of collective consciousness that came from everyone having watched the tennis, whether they initially tuned in for it or wanted to watch Songs of Praise/ Last of the Summer Wine/ George Gently and found themselves screaming at the tennis.

With digital, i-player, Sky plus and dvd box sets it's very rare that you get a real water cooler TV discussion these days. Sure many people will have watched the final Soprano's or the Apprentice but the difference on Sunday was that everyone was watching the tennis at the same time, they didn't save it to the hard drive or wait to buy the dvd.

I am a total box- set and repeat whore but I think it's a real shame that we have lost that collective excitement about a lot of popular culture and really enjoyed my water cooler tennis related chats the next day- the sporting ones with the chaps an the Nadal or Federer ones with the ladies.

Monday 7 July 2008

Everything in moderation

This year I have been trying to put into action something I have been feeling in the back of my mind for many months; that I need to curb my consuming.

The problem is I'm not and never have been someone who bulk buys rubbish and hoards my purchases away in cupboards never to be seen again. I am already someone who loves virtually everything they buy and the only time I don't use something I buy it's likely to be because I love it so much that I have that child like fear of using it.

However although I may be discerning in the sense of only buying what I feel a passion for I am a magpie and feel almost consumed with how lovely some things are and do end up buying my fair share of 'stuff'.

So reigning myself in is a long process and I sometimes lapse.

I have really tried all year to buy less of everything and take time to enjoy what I do have. Also to think that it's okay if something lovely passes me by because I have other lovely pieces.

When I have bought things I have for the most part appreciated them more for the wait or the chase. However I don't think I can honestly say I have bought substantially less for all my efforts. This is because despite what columns in newspapers or magazines might say I do need some of the things I buy and they enrich my life if not my bank balance; I do need books, some magazines, some make- up and some clothes. I am not going to feel bad about that but I am going to keep trying to buy only what I do need and to love and appreciate what I already have. This isn't just for my wallet, bulging cupboards or leaning walls, it's because I want to take time to enjoy what I have.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Summer in the City

Things have been a little bit grumpy here recently so here is my list of fabulous things that make me happy during the hot English summer we're having at the moment. For summer in England can be fleeting and should never be unappreciated.

1) Wimbledon fortnight; everything about it- the fact that the Wimbledon micro city is like England is in your imagination; everyone has wonderful manners, speaks to each other politely, queues patiently and perfectly and there is absolutely no litter, mess or clutter. The only negative I can think of is the highlights programme now being at 8pm instead of 9pm- I don't always get home in time to see it and I can't understand why, when the BBC has so little live sport left to show, they would stop showing the live tennis in favour of highlights of action earlier in the day which they used to show once play had finished. Ah well.

2) Fresh hyacinths in a white ceramic vase making my whole room smell like a dark corner of a forgotten bluebell wood.

3) A long drive through the country with a stack of new Cd's and open roads. Now all I need is the vintage sports car or Morris Minor soft top with up to the minute stereo and I'll be extra happy.

4) Reading indoors in the shade with all the windows open with the curtains billowing and my hot skin getting a little bit cool. This is best with a large bowl of fruit (preferably raspberries) and Elderflower cordial with sparkling water.

5) My toes not having been covered for at least 2 weeks- I love shoes and have well over one hundred pairs but also love to be barefoot and throw my shoes off to walk in the drying grass at every opportunity at the moment.

6) Sleeping without the covers and then waking about 4am and pulling them around me and feeling so cosy- it's like 2 sleeps, a hot tropical one and a cosy, first chill of Autumn one.

7) The natural anti- depressant qualities of the strong sun. I find it like new year when Summer properly arrives, you get that new start feeling and I find I can follow my Midsummer resolutions far better than my New Year Midwinter ones.

8) The fact that everything suddenly looks so beautiful. I suppose it's the change that opens your eyes. I get a little carried away with the intoxicating nature of the lush flowers and new smells. Yesterday I almost took a picture of a wheelie bin with flowers growing around it because it was pretty- can a wheelie bin ever really be pretty?!

9) The fact that I actually want to eat salads rather than feeling obliged to.

10) Being able to crack open the summer fragrances now that the winter ones seem too heavy and heady. It's like rediscovering old friends and certain scents remind me of certain events and places- I appreciate them that much more when they're worn in the weather they suit best. Summer favourites are Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Nil, Diptyque Philosykos (am OBSESSED with this at the moment) and Carthusia Mediterraneo.

Picture courtesy of

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Weekend bliss shattered

I had a wonderful weekend, eating perfect salmon sandwiches in sun drenched Sussex, then having delicious Italian food at a family birthday and then at Wimbledon, with the relaxing popping of tennis balls and clinking of glasses.

Today I have come back into town proper, central London, and found me and the pace of life are not agreeing!

Firstly I had to buy a present with someone for a mutual friend. I love buying presents and enjoy taking time and trouble to find something a person would enjoy. Buying with others can obviously be a bit of a minefield but most of the time people can agree. In this case I know that we are not terribly matched in taste so we went for the acceptable luxury bath line route and chose some Diptyque shower gel. This for a perfume enthusiast who loves Diptyque seemed a good but not controversial idea to me. I was then shoe horned into a change to a nice but fairly generic beaded bag. I was also sent to fetch it missing all of my break and via an unfortunate cone based problem covered in ice cream.