Thursday 26 April 2012

Film: films I didn't see the first time around- Infamous

You know when two films with the same (or sameish) story come out and one always wins the VHS betamax battle? It seems to be me that the film that does less well isn't necessarily the inferior film, it can be an accident of timing, or a victory for stars or marketing that one film hits and another doesn't quite. The prime example, although perhaps not very high brow, example is perhaps Armageddon versus Deep Impact.

I'm sure you remember the film Capote, with an oscar winning performance from the excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman. Do you remember a film called Infamous? It too was about Capote, when he was reseraching In Cold Blood. It too features a brilliant performance of the famous writer this time from brilliant Toby Jones. It also features the very good Sandra Bullock- who is always excellent but often in films that are not so excellent. Happily this one is very good and Sandra is just right as Harper Lee, hero writer of a book that even people who don't like books love, To Kill A Mocking Bird.

Infamous is a really good film, the watching equivalent of a book you can't put down. The kind of film you find on at 11.50pm on a Tuesday and know you shouldn't stay up to watch but you do. It's probably not the best film of all time but it really does deserve to be seen- partly for the afore mentioned rare Sandra in good film thing- also because Toby Jones is alway brilliant- and Daniel Craig is very good in a before he was Bond but why he became him performance as the man on death row who isn't what he seems. Infamous is about horrible things that happen and trying very hard to understand them and make sure they don't happen again- and it's about writers and how they behave, the solitude of Lee but her need for her true friend- the insecurity of artists and of people who cannot be themselves. It's just good, if it hadn't come out when it did I'm sure far more people would have seen it. So if your love film (or insert other film rental method) is feeling a bit gappy and you fancy something thoughtful then queue this one- you'll like it- though you won't like Sandra's Harper hair.

Monday 23 April 2012


Did you watch the documentary about Elizabeth Taylor and her jewellery? I adored every minute of it- and rewatched some of it this weekend. If I had Elizabeth Taylor's intergalactic star quality I would have been just like her- when it came to beauty- though perhaps not marriage. I cannot resist jewellery, it has fascinated me since I was a tiny girl, not in the way it fascinates all women- it's more than that- I can stand entranced in front of a jewellers window- the Burlington Arcade is my idea of a lost paradise and I could walk up and down happily looking at the diamonds, emeralds and sapphires forever.

I suspect if Elizabeth Taylor hadn't been Elizabeth Taylor she would still have cherished the pieces of jewellery she did have- as do I.

I've long been interested in the lesser known stones, the not so valuable but equally fascinating and captivating stones like turquoise and lapis.

Moonstones too can be quite lovely. I found this ring by Monica Vinader and it just said- I am meant for you. Now a lot of rings do say this to me, it's a problem, I am a kind of Dr Doolittle for precious stones. This seems special though, it's not too expensive but it gleams and sparkles and would go with everything. Moonstones are meant to be comforting to nervous souls, like me and I thought it might protect me from some of the less sensitive people I sometimes come across (make of this what you will, I am being deliberately oblique).

So if I can get through the next few days this ring will be mine. I shall have a gold band because I am over that phase of thinking only white metal is sophisticated and I think gold shines like the sun in bad times.

So next time you are jewellery shopping, think about the unusual stones- they are just as prescious, if not just as valueable.

More on moonstones.

And a a brilliant book called Jewels by Victoria Finlay which teaches everything you could want to know about all kinds of jewel stones- the intergalactic and the not so.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Something's Gotta Give interiors- or heaven

Picture the scene, it's a sunny but very cold Saturday afternoon and this blogger's real world life has tired them to the bone.

I know some of you manage sixty hour weeks and then hop up at 7am on Saturdays and do 3 hours of Bikram followed by knitting your own jumpers and cooking a three course lunch but me? This week I'm going to be honest, it's been more wake, drink pot of tea, have a bath, want to go back to bed.

Blogs are aspirational aren't they? They are a five minute escape into how we'd like things to be. Well sometimes this blogger needs to escape.

The television couldn't offer many options but the planner had Something's Gotta Give Something's Gotta Give hiding in a corner. My brain had obviously thought, lovely film the dvd of which you have *somewhere* in storage (many of my possessions are somewhere, somewhere is a very nice chic spot but I can't always find it). So my brain had recorded this for a metaphorical rainy day.

I like this film, it's about older people and love later in life. So it's not anything I know anything about but there is great acting and, if I'm honest, I'm really mostly interested in Diane Keaton's character's house in the film. As many a blogger before me has pointed out this house is the dream house. So chic yet livable that you literally want to jump into the telly box and snap the keys from Keaton's hands.

Here are some stills to feast on, in case you also need a pick me up.

PS. More film interiors so good you will watch the whole movie for them: here (I am also particularly obsessed with Rose cottage in The Holiday).

Monday 9 April 2012

Book treasure

Do other people have wish lists on Amazon that are over ten pages long, or is it just me?

The wishes are actually not so long for financial reasons, I always consider books to be money well spent anyway. No the list is extensive partly because I like to catalogue everything I read about and want to go back to, I use it as a backup plan when my memory fails (which is often). It's also so long because some of the books are not easy ones to find and while I'd love to be the kind of person who has the time to rummage around second hand book shops for afternoons on end, I am not. So... I went to wonderful Windsor, which is around forty minutes on the train from London but feels about a hundred years away in some ways. It has lots of nice places to eat and drink, some nice walking along the river, a big castle you might have heard of to admire (or go into) and as this is England, shops.

One of my favourite shops there isn't the kind I usually talk about- little boutiques with nice shoes, or prints or perfume. It's a discount book shop and I LOVE delving into the store and finding treasure. Often I come away with cook books (hello Wagamama cook book for £5) other time coffee table books (hello film poster book). For reasons unknown I hadn't really looked at the fiction. Last weekend I did and I found a book that has been on my wish list for about 3 years and that I though was out of print- I literally danced a little jig.

Dodie Smith is the writer of two of the most beloved books in my life. The first: 101 Dalmatians, which as a child and adult I find endlessly comforting and joyful. The second: I Capture the Castle, a book I discovered via the film and as a grown- up, which I wish and wish I'd read as a teenager and which I return to again and again for more wistful reasons than the Dalmatians, to remind me to stay true to my course and to re centre me I think.

So to find Town in Bloom and another Dodie which I didn't even know about was so exciting. I grabbed a third book (Petite Anglaise- a blog I loved) and took my treasure- 3 books for 5 pounds- back to London (skipping).

If you go to Windsor, visit the works on the cobbled main street- I can't promise treasure but it's always worth looking.

Thursday 5 April 2012

Barbour and Liberty

At the weekend I went for a delicious roast in gorgeous Greenwich. We went to Davy's which is a wine merchants in a fabulous old building. Roast beef and sticky toffee pudding is obviously the perfect accompaniment to fun company and the Argentinian Malbec we washed everything down with had me wanting to move into the cellar.

One of our party arrived in a Barbour, so far so Sunday afternoon. Imagine then when I saw the lining was made of nothing other than beautiful, heritage, Liberty print.

I came home and had to find the jacket- for me the rose print Barbour is, of course, the one.

PS. I loved Mary Portas' visit to the Barbour factory in her latest programme- it was wonderful to hear these classic coats are still made in South Shields by happy and highly skilled British workers. Yay Barbour.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Jeeves and Wooster

Whenever I turn on the TV and find an episode of Jeeves and Wooster I drop everything to spend some time with Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and most importantly Macintosh, a very troublesome hound (well terrier actually).

There is of course also the little matter of the Art Deco interiors, particularly Bertie's London flat- which I would move into tomorrow if I could.

I'm a long- time admirer of all things Art Deco, the architecture, the interiors and the jewellery. I think it's very sad that so much British Art Deco building has been lost or remodelled. The lack of exteriors also means that art deco interiors are perhaps not as much of a constant as they might be- which is madness as the cleanness is endlessly modern and very livable with.

So until I can get that 1920s apartment, like Bertie or Poirot, with lots of mirrored furniture and black and white tiles, I will just have to keep hoping to come across episodes on satellite TV.

St John Bread and Wine- Spitalfields

So I finally went to St John Bread and Wine in Spitalfields and it was, of course, as everyone says, a mazing. I know this is a bit like saying so I visited New York and I loved it- of course I loved St John- but you can't take away someone's first trip to New York from them however much they've read about it or seen it in films- and you can't take someone's first St John pate on toast away from them either.

Oh and the puddings- no one tells you about the puddings. The rhubarb Eton mess is a thing of beauty and delight that I would travel for. I'd be down there right now really if I could. I'd be down there every day.

So thanks to my lovely friend S for the treat and thanks to St John, for being as good as it says in the reviews.

Images from the St John Bread and Wine website.