Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Truth About Flowers

Men, listen up.  Ladies too.

Flowers suck as gifts.

No, I’m not bah-humbugging Valentine’s Day.  I’m just setting the record straight.

Sure, flowers are pretty.  Sure, they smell nice.  And yes, there’s the whole romantic headiness of a barely-open blossom tinged with the melancholy of impending decay…  It's damn fine poetic stuff.  But they still suck as gifts.

You see, when I buy flowers for myself, which I do from time to time, I buy them knowing that the lilies I choose are a perfect fit for my tall square vase or that two-dozen tulips will look great in my black ceramic jug.  When I get home I grab the appropriate vessel, just add water and voila; happy flowers, happy me.  One of life’s simple pleasures, as flowers are meant to be.

But that simple pleasure gets shot to hell when given as a gift.  Picture the moment when a dinner party guest arrives bearing an enormous arrangement, all fancily wrapped in tissue and cellophane and reams of raffia.  The hostess’ “Aren’t they gorgeous!” is code for “Aren’t you a bitch.”.

Because now, instead of joining her guests on the sofa with much-needed cocktail, she’s stuck searching for an outsize vase; a search which involves step-stools, dark corners and possibly cobwebs.  The arrangement then has to be unwrapped, producing more waste-paper than Christmas with the Brady Bunch.  Wayward leaves get everywhere, a few of which have to be fished out of the soup.  Stems need to be snipped.  And ouch, this sucker’s got thorns.

15 minutes of hard labor later, the slightly disheveled if not actually bleeding hostess walks into the living room carrying a heavy, water-sloshed vessel brimming with those blasted blooms - and nobody even notices because they’re already two drinks in.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day, when millions of men around the world seek to say it with flowers. But unless that ginormous bunch of long-stems comes suitably contained, he might as well have gift-wrapped a vacuum cleaner because the message is the same: Here dear; now get to work.

So pardon me for saying so, but thanks a fucking bunch.

fig. 1

Style File Followers Take Note:

1. While flowers suck as gifts, flowers in vases do not suck as gifts.  In fact, they make fabulous gifts. They show foresight on the gift-giver’s behalf - and the vase will come in handy when the next asshole shows up with a random bouquet. 

2. To be honest, “just add vodka” is probably more likely to make me happy.

3. Nope.  Come to think of it, not vodka.  Champagne.  Specifically Pink Champagne and if you want to put a name to it, Billecart Salmon Brut RosĂ©.

4. Which is what you should bring to my next dinner party.

fig. 1 ~ The perils of receiving a mega-huge floral arrangement without an appropriate vase.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Cooking for Your Dog

According to The New York Times, Cooking for Your Dog was one of the most shared topics of 2014.   This intrigues me because I've just started preparing home-made meals for my dog and was completely oblivious to being so spectacularly “on trend”.   In my life and career I have always had a knack for predicting fashions and trends (and fyi, you too will be riding a tandem bicycle in a couple of years’ time) but I hadn’t registered the whole cooking-for-Fido thing.

Well, meet my Fido, aka Archie Lewoof.

Archie is a 6 year old border terrier and the love of my life.  (Don’t tell the guy we live with.)  He was recently diagnosed with a pretty nasty illness known as Spike’s Disease and although there’s no scientific evidence to back it up, all the bumf on the Internet points to it being best “managed” through diet.  A gluten-free diet, no less.  When he had a bad allergic reaction to the organic, gluten-free, designer kibble that I’d bought for the price of a small country, I decided to take a DIY approach to Archie’s nourishment needs.

Something you should know about Archie:  He loves to hunt rabbits.  The Bois de Boulogne is full of them (and prostitutes) and on most weekends you can find Archie in the park's thicket chasing wascally ones (not prostitutes) but ever failing to catch one.  While I’m secretly pleased by his lack of success (that’s a mess I’d rather not clean up) I do feel kinda sorry for the little guy, so…

What French supermarkets lack in curly kale and chia seeds they make up for in varieties of meat.   And what better meat to home-cook for Archie than rabbit!  Or so I thought.

With apologies to the squeamish, but if you’ve ever eaten rabbit you’ll know that they’ve got all sorts of extra little bones that presumably give the little critters added bounce.  These need to be removed before being served to your own little critter, which, as I discovered, is no walk in the Bois.  Nearly an hour into the unpleasant process I conceded that de-boning raw meat is best left to butchers and decided to speed things up by boiling those bunnies before adding them to the stew.  

After nearly 2 hours of a kitchen nightmare, the (finally) boneless rabbit meat was mixed with some beef, carrots, green beans and rosemary (apparently high in iron, calcium and vitamin B6 - who knew?) to produce a home-cooked dog food worthy of my four-legged pride and joy.

Even if this pet-foodie fashion becomes just a fad, I've decided to continue home-cooking for Archie:  He loves it and I'm certain it's healthier than processed foods.  And in case you're wondering if rabbit will stay on the menu, the answer is yes - I'm very happy to serve them stuffed.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. It may have been The Guardian.  Or the Huffington Post.  Sometimes when it’s late at night all my news-source apps blur into a single liberal fog.
2. Or should I say, border terrorist, because that’s more accurate.
3. Archie inherited Spike’s - or Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome - from his sire.  He must have picked-up the gluten-free thing from pasta-averse me.
4. When I last lived in North America, Chia was a pet.
5. And that would be the distant sound of an ex-boyfriend sniggering “You see?”.

Monday, 19 January 2015

A Diamand's Just a Stone

It’s official.

I look like Emma Stone.

Don’t believe me?

Have a look at these “Celebrity Look-a-like” time-wasters that I did via facebook few years ago.

Oprah Winfrey was patently obvious.  But Emma Stone is nowhere to be seen.  (Never mind that she hadn’t been born.) So, no, I don’t believe it either.  Yet I swear I look like Emma Stone.  And it’s official.

The first unofficial inkling came two years ago when a friend’s teenage daughter mentioned it at a dinner. I (think I) managed to mask my spontaneous “Who?” by spluttering “How cool!” as my thumbs got to work Googling under the table.  Maybe it was the tiny Blackberry screen or the shadow cast by the tablecloth, but I didn’t see it.

Fast forward to this autumn when Magic in the Moonlight thrust me squarely into the Stone age.  I had been invited to attend the film’s European premier and found myself accosted by comparisons as we left the cinema.  "How cool!" was the most I could muster.

As the movie gained traction (for reasons that I’ll never understand) more and more conversations began with the phrase “I saw the new Woody Allen film and you know who you look like?”.   Whether the context was private or professional, people seemed keen to share their personal eureka of having discovered my alleged doppelgänger.  This included a renown cardiologist who launched into a very self-amused “What’s it like to work with Woody?” disquisition while I huffed and puffed on a treadmill during my annual physical's stress-test.

Yet even faced with such compelling medical evidence, I still shrugged it off.  To me, having red hair simply blinds erstwhile intelligent people to other more obvious features like, oh, you know, bone structure.  Had Ronald McDonald been in a recent cinema release, the comparison could have gone that way too.

At least that’s what I thought until yesterday.

Yesterday was a girlfriend’s birthday - and not just any girlfriend.  This girlfriend has known me forever and has enjoyed an enviable editing career for the likes of Vogue and the new uber-Vogue, Porter.  She is a woman of influence.  She is a woman who knows.

And when I called to wish her many happy returns, do you know what she said?

It’s official.

I look like Emma Stone.

Style File Followers Take Note:
1. Just for the record, I came first. Emma Stone looks like me.
2. It would seem that April 6, 2007 was a spectacularly productive day.
3. Who's Kimberley Williams anyway?
4. So there I was, in underwear and electrodes, being given the whole Emma Stone schtick.  Talk about a stress test.
5. You have to admit, the power of suggestion is pretty darn strong.