Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Poem of the day

Late home for supper
He mustn't seem drunk
"The pob cluck," he begins
And knows he is sunk.

Wendy Cope

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jewellery of the day

The Gem Palace of Jaipur

Monday, March 28, 2011

Street parties

What's your view on street parties? SamCam has applied for a licence to hold one in Downing Street to celebrate the Royal Wedding on 29 April. This seems odd to me, bearing in mind that the residents of that street, the Camerons and the Osbornes, will be going to The Wedding and the first reception anyway. Bearing in mind the large number of visitors expected in London that day, the vast numbers of police on double-pay as it's a Bank Holiday, it seems unreasonable to ask for additional security around Downing Street that afternoon. They could simply have a private party in the garden of number 10. Or do you think that since the police will all the on duty anyway, it's irrelevant?

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Luck of Edenhall

This glass was made in Syria in the thirteenth century and is in the V&A museum. It was owned for many years by the Musgrave family of Edenhall, Cumbria and family myth described it as a cup left behind by fairies attached with the curse that if it were ever broken, the luck of Edenhall would be destroyed. The imagined breaking of the glass was thus described by Longfellow:

As the goblet ringing flies apart,
Suddenly cracks the vaulted hall;
And through the rift the wild flames start;
The guests in dust are scattered all,
With the breaking Luck of Edenhall!
In storms the foe with fire and sword;
He in the night has scaled the wall,
Slain by the sword lies the youthful Lord,
But holds in his hand the crystal tall,
The shattered Luck of Edenhall.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quotation of the day

"Halfway through George Osborne's budget speech, flashed up the sad news that Liz Taylor had died in her sleep. We hadn't expected her to be watching and it seemed an extreme reaction, but you knew what she meant by it." Robert Shrimsley, today's FT.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Short of the day

Trading on the Egyptian market has been suspended on the first day the stock exchange has been open since 27 January. It was down 10% before the halt.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Travellers' tales

So good to be back from rainy Asia to the blossoming spring. I watched the Japanese tsunami on tv in the lounge at Hong Kong airport which was surreal. A colleague of a friend was on a bullet train travelling south from Tokyo at the time. The train slowed gradually, came to a complete halt and there was an announcement, "There has been an earthquake in the north." It then sped on its journey.
The best news while I was away was the dentist's, Sam Waley-Cohen's, victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


A Russian steel tycoon invested in a stockbroking company in Vietnam. "We old Communists must stick together!" he exclaimed. It soon became clear, however, that it was neither Communism nor capitalism which was attracting him: just a useful means of money laundering.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Live to work

I met a man who owns a factory in southern China. There's been much press about wage rises in the coastal areas making factories relocate to the west. I asked the man if he was seeing much wage inflation. "Not really," he replied. "Our workers love our factory as we have air-conditioned dormitories, child care facilities and a cinema. In fact some of our workers who retired and returned back to their villages wrote asking if they could come back to our factory as they were so bored: so they did!"

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Work's a beach

I couldn't access my blog in Hong Kong but fortunately Jakarta is more obliging. A Swiss resident of Hong Kong told me that he was going to the beach one day with his children only to discover around 30 computer monitors washed up on the sand with a number of others floating on the waves. "Surreal!" he said.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Fleury and Winchester

Saturday saw the opening of the first extension to Winchester Cathedral in 500 years: a utility room called the Fleury building on the North Transept. It is so called in recognition of the Benedictine link between the Cathedral and L'Abbaye de St-Benoit-sur-Loire, St Benedict's Abbey of Fleury. The Abbot of Fleury opened the building and he was then installed as the first Honorary Ecumenical Canon of the Cathedral.
Abbot Etienne pointed out that St Oswald had been sent over from England to be a monk at Fleury before going on to be made Bishop of Worcester in 961 and then Archbishop of York 972-992. He said he was honoured to continue Oswald's effort to ensure close spiritual ties between the Abbey and the Cathedral.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Lucrezia Borgia

There's an interesting production of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia at the ENO, directed by Mike Figgis. The opera is about Lucrezia's later life when she finds her son who was given away at birth. He falls in love with her and only discovers that she's his mother when he's been accidentally poisoned by her at the end. Claire Rutter, whom I saw in Tosca at The Grange last year, sings beautifully, as does Michael Fabiano, the tenor who plays her son Gennaro.
What is unusual is Figgis' decision to intersperse four short clips of film during the production to give the audience more colour about Lucrezia's debauched upbringing. The language of the film is Italian, the actors beautiful, the colours vivid, elegantly shot scenes of sex and murder. Not a production one would forget in a hurry.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Illustration of the day

Life in Death by Mervyn Peake. Have you read Gormenghast?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Gentlemen prefer Blondes

RIP Jane Russell