Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Problem of the day

Here's the FT's "Dear Lucy" (Kellaway) problem of the day and one of the solutions:

"To cut costs, more colleagues were last year crammed into the office where I work. The lavatories struggle to cope. Now we learn that these will be further reduced in number to create an "executive washroom" for the exclusive use of top management and their guests. Should I take this as an incentive to claw my way further up the greasy pole so that I can sample its delights, or stage a sit-in to oppose such segregation?"

"Clog up the toilets in the executive lavatory just before the working day begins. Post placards on your lavatories stating 'for exclusive use of staff, no upper management permitted.' Your point will be made."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Zhao Kailin

I also loved the work of Zhao Kailin, another contemporary artist.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Paintings of the day


I saw some paintings of paper brides by the contemporary artist Zeng Chuan Xing at the Lapada art and antiques fair in Berkeley Square. My Taiwanese friend, Charlie Chen, preferred the bride in red as that is the traditional colour for wedding dresses in China. White is worn to funerals

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

English Baccalaureate Certificate?

It is very disappointing, don't you think, that the Department of Education is so lacking in imagination that the name it has come up with for yet another new school qualification is the English Baccalaureate Certificate? Education used to one of the country's centres of excellence. I suppose its current dismal state is in fact personified by this dreary nomenclature by the department. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Paris in the autumn

I had a great day in Paris on Saturday, celebrating Claudia's birthday. We were strolling along the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore in the afternoon and discovered that part of the street was closed off and lined with police cars. Pierre Cardin was on the corner and there was a group of policemen there surrounding a few Muslims who were handcuffed and kneeling on the pavement, praying.
Pierre Cardin had locked its doors but they let us in and we had the whole shop to ourselves. They have some stuuning dresses, similar to the one above, with the body of the dress in black and the circles on the skirt much wider, in brilliant pink, red and yellow. Yours for a mere E4800!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bad joke of the day

A magician worked on a cruise ship. The audience changed every week so the magician performed the same tricks over and over again. There was only one problem: the captain's parrot saw the shows week after week and began to work out how they were done. Once he understood, he'd shout out in the middle of the show, "Look, it's not the same hat!" or "He's hiding the flowers under the table!" or "Hey, why are all the cards the ace of spades?" The magician was furious but could do nothing because the parrot belonged to the captain.
One night the ship was caught in a terrible storm in the Pacific and sank. Many passengers were drowned but the magician was lucky and found a piece of wood to sit on, floating on the sea. As fate would have it, the parrot found the same safe haven. They stared at each other with hatred, not uttering a word.
This went on for a day, two days and three days. On the fourth day, the parrot could stand it no longer: "OK I give up...where's the f****** ship?"

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hero of the century

Hurrah for Andy Murray - the first Brit to win the US Open since Fred Perry in 1936!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chinese proverb of the day

It’s The Tiger Behind The Fox That Possesses The Real Power

This proverb came from the Warring State era of China. During the Chu State’s peak, the Emperor found that most of the smaller states in the North were scared of one of his Generals, Zhao Xi Xu, and could not understand the reason why this was so. A Chancellor subsequently explained it, with the help of a story.  In the jungle, a tiger was wandering around seeking food and captured a fox. The fox said to the tiger that he was sent by God and he bet that the tiger would not dare to eat him. The tiger didn’t believe him and so the fox suggested that he could follow him around the forest and see how the rest of the animals would react. All the animals ran away as they saw the combination come forward and the tiger failed to realise that he himself was the real reason why all the other animals ran away.  He then believed that the fox was something truly special and sent by God. By using this story, the Emperor understood that it was not General Zhao that the smaller states were afraid of, but really, the Emperor himself. Today, the proverb is used to describe ‘small potatoes’ assuming someone else’s (big cheese) fame and power to benefit themselves.

Thursday, September 06, 2012


I was reading an article by Andrew Gimson on the death of the English gentleman. He tries to define the term and one of the examples he gives is Matthew Arnold's description in his poem "Rugby Chapel":

Not like the men of the crowd
Who all round me to-day
Bluster or cringe, and make life
Hideous, and arid, and vile;
But souls tempered with fire,
Fervent, heroic, and good,
Helpers and friends of mankind.

What do you think?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Sporting spots of the day

It was all happening at The Dorchester yesterday where I spotted Chris Eubank, wearing his trademark three-quarter length jacket, blue jeans and pointed shoes,  and Bradley Wiggins (no, they weren't together) in a very smart Prince of Wales check suit with a scarlet handkerchief. I also saw a matte black Lamborghini parked outside which I vaguely coveted...

Monday, September 03, 2012

Nonagenarian update

We went to my father's friend's 90th birthday party yesterday. He's recovering from a heart attack but in good spirits and pleased to receive, amongst other things, a selection of cakes from the Raymond Blanc cafe in Winchester. My father's old colleague who fought in the Battle of Britain came for a sunny lunch in our garden on Saturday. He's been in hospital with pneumonia, has a bad cough, is very hunched over and can hardly walk; nevertheless, he is his usual charming self: "How beautiful you look!" was his greeting to me. My father is virtually blind at the moment, which we hope is temporary. I'm gettting a hearing aid made for him as he used to rely so much on lip reading. We struggle on.