Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Some Like It Hot

London is not for everyone, granted, but I reckon if you can't handle the heat, stay out of the city. There is nothing worse than a neo-countryite taking a day-trip to town and then complaining about the cost and the crowds and the buses. They're our buses and only we can complain about them, we know they're too hot and too crowded and we hate the bendy-buses but they do, eventually, take us to some of the world's greatest galleries and museums, theatres and restaurants (even if they are prohibitively expensive). Plus, if I want to go kick coloured leaves in the autumn sunshine, I can in Regents Park, or Hyde Park or on the glorious Hampstead Heath. I can row boats on the Serpentine and eat ice cream on the South Bank, all within spitting distance of obscure Oriental underground films, cutting-edge, prize-winning art and every variety of Balsamic vinegar known to man. I live here despite the hardships and expense because, right now, there's nowhere else in England I want to live. And the onset of middle age has done nothing to change that. However, I know a number of people who have made the momentous decision to up sticks and move to .....the sticks. And well done, good for you, hurrah there's more room on the god-awful bendy bus, I applaud your choice. But, I do not need to be told every ten minutes why it was the best thing you ever did, should have done it sooner, and oh what a dark dangerous place London is. Because actually it's not. You know you'd be back in the city in a hot second given half the chance.

I never have to bang on and on about how wonderful the place I live in is because it's very name carries sufficient cache without any embellishments, as in Paris, New York, Rome, we all know what's missing. I think the older I get the more the city has to offer. I may have made room at the bar but there's still plenty to do out there that doesn't involve an illicit deal and a glow stick. Neither do I feel the need to slag off Brighton, or diss Diss, or go on endlessly about the joy of Gloucestershire's Daylesford Organic farm shop. . . . .and anyway, I can buy muddied vegetables every weekend in a school playground only 5 minutes walking distance from my graffiti tagged doorstep. No, I respect anyone's decision to call it a day, cancel the subscription to Time Out, give up their Oyster pass and go native, just please don't feel the need to share it with the rest of us. To misquote Samuel Johnson; when you are too old for London......

Top tip: Check out the website for The Union Chapel for an excellent London night out.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Art of Drinking

Old age and alcohol can be a tricky mix, hangovers become more painful, the recovery period longer and longer, but the need to celebrate to the sound of corks popping, and the desire to curl up on a cold evening with a glass of red, does not diminish. So now I try to think before I drink. The consumption of vast quantities of water is a must and headache pills are popped before bed, a necessity to ward off certain misery in the morning. But, with the passing of the years, like most things that were once fun inebriation holds less and less appeal. However, I did get drunk twice this week, once by accident and once to celebrate a birthday, one resulted in the loss of my reading glasses, the other in buying a Tracey Emin print.

The pale pink lychee martini seemed such a good idea at the time, sat as we were in the winter sunshine on the roof terrace of a fashionable members club. Indeed, what better way to say 'happy birthday', and they were delicious. Then it was off to the Zoo Art Fair, billed as 'a considered introduction the next generation of art professionals' and the Eastend's answer to the Frieze. Now, it just so happened that only last week I was bemoaning the fact that despite going to art college, and being a keen visitor to galleries and exhibitions, I didn't own a piece of original art. I would turn 50 without owning a piece of original art and that was just wrong, and what I'd really like to own was something by Tracey Emin, whom I love, but that could never happen now because it would just by way too expensive. And then I saw it, on the White Cube stand, a Tracey Emin print nestled between an Anthony Gormley and a Gary Hume, we weren't even going to ask the price, safe in the knowledge that whatever it was it would be too much. But, fuelled with the near neat alcohol, we did. '£300' came the reply, at which point I said, 'Really?' and the chap said yes, so I said it again...... and again, and I think he was about to call security when me and my friend whipped out our credit cards and bought one each. Apparently Tracey, top woman that she is, wanted to do something at a price people like me could afford. So, while Damian, Gary, Gavin etc were all on offer with a few extra naughts, there was our Tracey, up for grabs.

So, becareful what you wish, I bought number 50 of 200, a sort of early birthday present to myself and now I carry a postcard of my new purchase, proudly showing it to family and friends. Now if I could just find my glasses.....

Top Tip: Jo Malone's divine bath oils work really well as 'perfume', last for ages and are much cheaper.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Tune In, Drop Out

It's official, I'm addicted to Treatment and when it finishes I'll need treatment to get over it. I speak of course about the brilliant new TV series on Sky Arts 1, In Treatment, with the delicious Gabriel Byrne dolling out a daily helping of therapy finishing up on Fridays with himself on the couch, while the divine Dianne Wiest, who incidentally seems to have taken the road less travelled where nips and tucks are concerned and looks all the better for it, nods, smiles and raises the odd eyebrow with ease, in a face devoid of botox, as she tries to help Paul deal with the unwanted love of a patient. There was certainly a bit of erotic transference going on, on my sofa, have you seen Gabriel Byrne recently? He just gets better with age. Which is great, who needs to go out when you can snuggle up on the couch with Byrne as your virtual boyfriend? Because despite the yoga and the green tea and the goji berries, with age comes exhaustion. It seems like only yesturday that the daylight hours where just a prelude to going out time, but not anymore, it takes a real effort and to be quite honest going out on a cold, wet night holds little allure especially when the weekends are dominated by the 24-hour party people hell-bent on hell-raising. It's as if there's a forty-something curfew round my way, the old folk over 39 are rounded up and herded off the streets to make way for the fun. 

However, last week, despite a plethora of top telly, I made a lot of effort and went out quite a bit on the more age-appropriate nights. So, on forty-something friendly Tuesday, I went to the book launch of a friend of a friend I didn't know. An ideal opportunity, I thought, to down a couple of free glasses of wine and mix and mingle with total strangers, you never know who you might meet. Unfortunately, I met a woman I hadn't seen for years, and with good reason. She is not what you'd call 'a girl's girl', talking to her is not conversation, it's the divulging of information, she fixes you with her beady blue eyes and extracts facts that may be taken down and used against you at a later date. I didn't want to talk to her so pretended I hadn't seen her but it was too late. She came through the crowd like an Exocet, despite being 10 years older than me age cannot whither her, whippet thin she moved at speed. With nowhere to run to and nowhere to hide, there was nothing for it but to throw back my head and whoop in surprise, fling my arms around her and exclaim 'wow!' Where upon she took off her coat and announced she'd be staying longer in order to interrogate me about my life and loves and the state of everyone else we had in common. And she wouldn't let me go which meant I had to stop making eyes at a wine stained dandy I'd quite fancied, a sort of cross between Hugh Grant and Boris Johnson called Willy, which, with hindsight, probably wasn't a very good idea. So perhaps I should be grateful that I didn't succumb to a third glass of wine where upon I would undoubtedly become a social embarrassment.
But, despite my abundance of nightlife, I missed none of my favourite TV shows because of the joy of Sky Plus, where with the aid of one button even I can ensure entire series are gaily recorded without fear. However, with new technology comes new problems, and I've now developed Sky Plus anxiety, an excessive amount of pre-recoreded programs I'm unlikely to ever get through, causing panic and stress and resulting in the need for therapy.  Thankfully I'm already in Treatment with Gabriel Byrne. 

Top tip: Body brushing, it takes a few minutes a day and the results are amazing, banish bing-wings forever!!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Zen and the Art of body Maintenance

My body is not working quite the way it used to, subtle changes have been occurring over the last decade..... or two. Age creeps up on one slowly and not just from behind, unfortunately, there are things that have gone south for the winter that are never coming back. Plus, there's the softening of the jaw-line, a sagging of the elbow, the creeks and groans that accompany most movement and which make one sound like a Spanish galleon about to set sail every time one tries to leave the sofa. So, with the on set of winter and the long, drawn out evenings with nowhere to go but the kitchen for a fatal forage in the fridge, I have become increasingly concerned about health and safety on the body front. It's all about maintenance now. Like an old car, you need to tinker constantly with what you've got because if something falls off you're in big trouble, they don't make body parts like these anymore. And so, I've gone back to yoga. This summer I packed the sarong and headed to Ibiza, not to dance in the foam, but to do the downward dog with a back-drop of Benares beach and the rock of good vibes, under the instruction of the whippet-thin 53 year old, Kahti, which was quite brilliant and inspired me to want to do more.
Then, when I got back to the smoke, full of bliss, I bumped into a delightful woman of 68 who I used to see at a class I went to 20 odd years ago (note: the universe will provide....) We talked of tans and yoga and she said about half a dozen from the old class were still standing on their heads, at the teachers house, and I should come along. So I did. Our teacher, The Zen mother, is now 70 and looks amazing, the others range from 53 to 86 and so I am, as they like to call me, still the 'baby of the class', which suits me absolutely fine.........I thought it would be fairly low key with quite a lot of relaxation, but no, it's really hard and right now my bum may look smaller in this, but it hurts. They're hilarious and inspiring in equal measures and have been doing their weekly class together for over 30 years, swapping funny stories and tales of their children and grand-children between postures. They really are quite brilliant, and bendy, and I want some of that.

So, a feeling of well being is hovering about me which, on a day as dull as today, is just what you need. I really can't see myself sitting out my dotage on this damp island, not when there is much better weather to be had elsewhere. My son's father is currently residing in Barcelona where apparently, it's really hot. Living somewhere 'really hot' seems like a jolly good idea right now and if it wasn't for the fact that The Son, who has finally returned to higher education (hurrah!) is living with me, then I might go somewhere really hot too. But for now, Pranayama anybody?? 

Top tip: Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter makes a brilliant night cream when used a couple of times a week.