Tuesday, May 31, 2011


No, it's not Christmas. These are the gifts purchased and wrapped by one of the Moms in my older son's class. Although, it's highly likely that the items - lovely things by the way - were probably wrapped professionally or by staff of some kind. Not to mention the delivery.... which reminds me to tell you this wee anecdote.....a friend of mine's daughter was at school with one of the Real Housewives's daughters. They shared a birthday so my friend arrived at the school on the birthday, with a tupperware full of gorgeous, wonky, home-made cupcakes for all the kids. Of course, she was beaten to it completely by the staff of the Real Housewife and their magnificent selection of Magnolia Bakery fare....

Gone are the days of sending in a scented candle and a thank you note for a job well done! If it was well done. Admittedly, there was a bit of teacher gift hysteria in North London - when my children attended one well-known public school there I was charged with gift-buying one year.  A total nightmare. I had to keep a ledger book of all the money I received and of course, there were those who didn't donate. Oh enough, I'm having a panic attack!!!!!

Back to NY Moms. Can you imagine having to get that little lot of pressies together without staff? I noticed on The Real Housewives of NY last night (I'm still in shock after watching a whole episode by the way) that they all have 'staff', whether they work or not. They have interns, i.e telly wannabes happy to hang around in the hope of getting screen-time, not to mention nannies etc. Now, I am terrified that the Moms at my school are going to ask me to be a class rep next year. Where are all my staff when I need them?!!  I've thanked all this year's reps but had to go into a news/communication blackout until the end of term in case they decide to ask me. Although I think the moms in both my son's years have it all sewn up anyway and the same ladies take on the job every year. Oh I hope sooooo!!!!

and another thing.....
Everything is so OTT here. Sitting in my hairdresser's this morning, a glam lady was seated behind me having her make-up done. When she left I asked my gorgeous hairdresser if she - Make Up Lady, was an actress because she looked familiar. He said "No darling, she is a South American heiress. She used to go out with Prince Charles but she got kicked out of all those castles for snorting too much cocaine - I've seen the pictures, gorgeous!!!!"

Yours Glamourously in an old-fashioned Jet Set kind of way....New York is so Butterfield 8. It's so 1960s/70s on the Riviera that sometimes I hear that old Robin Sarstedt hit going round in my head, 'Where do you go to my lovely?'  A song supposedly written about Sophia Loren, by the way.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Meet Sonja, one of the real, Real Housewives


So tonight, on a rainy bank holiday evening when all the house was sleeping and not making a sound, not even a mouse or however the saying goes...I watched it!! Oh why did I do it to myself? All in the interests of erm, research. After all I named this blog after those evil old bints didn't I? Surely I owe it to us all to actually watch it. OK, so I've seen the odd few minutes here and there but I have never sat through an entire episode.

After a couple of episodes, I feel sick. These women are so horrible to each other. Truly, awfully horrible. They put the female sex to shame. Men would never allow themselves to be portrayed in this way. There are so many things wrong with it which I know, you already know. It's reality TV ferchrissakes! Also, I want to say that I love Betheny Frankel who clearly had the chutzpah to get hersefl out of this nasty mess and onto her own show.

After running round the apartment screaming (again - suck it up neighbours, I can't live in this space and be quiet all the time, I wasn't born here, OK?) I needed oxygen - no, honestly, I was so shocked. How can they be so mean? The Jersey housewives are kind of quaint and funny in their horribleness, ditto the LA ones. The New Yorkers though are bizarre. Is this the core of Upper East Side 'society'? The woman in the above pic, Sonja, pronounced SOnYAAgh!!! has had me in tears twice and she was only being mean on screen. She was married to a Morgan of Morgan Stanley.....bankers.....doncha love 'em? Imagine, a banker married her, he must have been a nice bloke.    (I'm speaking with forked tongue)

SOnYAAgh! is so, so nasty to everyone. She also shows her bottom a lot and it's just horrible. No wonder the programme is so popular,  it must tick all the boxes reality requires. It's the worst.....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eeee pet, who's Le-Ann Rimes? Cheryl doesn't do L.A

I reckon the real reason Cheryl Cole was sacked from X Factor was: she won't know any of the songs.

 In will come a contestant to one of those auditions, he/she will start warbling something chronic-sounding and Chez will ask 'Did ye write that yeself, luv?' of a song that was 3 months number one on the Billboard R&B or Country charts.  My bet is, Cheryl has never even heard of One Republic, never mind any of their hits, or Rob Thomas (love him, Mr Centre of the Highway). Not to mention Rhianna and Jennifer Hudson's album tracks or Carrie Underwood's Cowboys at the Bar classics. Unless she's been doing lots of homework, my guess is Cheryl just hadn't got the foggiest about the American music scene.

There have been lots of emails to-ing and fro-ing today on the topic.......the other thing I think is, Cheryl just lacks the talent of someone like Nicole Sherzinger. Nicole can fling herself around a stage, sing very loudly and hold a tune without a backing tape and is clearly a personality-packed Fiesterella. Cheryl plays the part of the classic, working class Princess. Pretending to be sweet and naive on the surface while slugging it out with toilet attendants and slagging off lovely girls such as Lilly Allen on the sly. Cheryl, come out, introduce us properly to your inner b---hing personality, unplug the backing tape and show us if you can sing and the Americans might give you another chance.....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

American Women.....part 2

The Principle Girls of the USA: Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson (B52s)
Dixie Chicks

Rachel Roy 

Chloe Sevigny

Tina Fey

Condoleezza Rice

Hillary Clinton

Michelle Obama

Frances McDormand

Mary J Blige

JUST TO BE CLEAR......I love so many American women and even though this is a list  of favourites from the Fame-o-sphere, I'm often taking my hat off to the fabulous unfamous and infamous American lady friends I've made, too. I felt like celebrating them ALL today.

It's a warm, sunny day in New York City. Of course,  a wardrobe crisis is in progress. Flat sandals will be best until I've really mastered summer I think.  It's possible to go a bit OTT on the resort-style wedges, flares, long fringey bags etc, etc in the privacy of one's own apartment, only to get outside and discover that everyone else just looks, well, normal. That's the problem with working - and I use that word loosely - from home. Great care and attention must be taken to dress down but not out, to prevent oneself going out looking like an entry from Project Runway. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A little bit country...

Heaven in Connecticut...

This is our weekend place. The snow has gone and I can't wait for the long weekend coming up. It's lovely to escape Gotham for a couple of days and then drive back to the city, over the Harlem Bridge and down the West Side Highway past the GW Bridge.

In the Country, I listen to Country Hits and talk with a twang. When we're up there I pretend we're in the backwoods and call my husband 'Earl'. My kids are Big Junior and Little Junior and we just constantly set fire to everything to try and keep warm.  Earl has now bought us a giant pick-up truck, his dream vehicle. It has 'Metal Mulisha' written across the back of the cab and when I drive it....well I can't drive it, I am too embarrassed.  I will get over myself eventually and by July, you'll find me rattling along them country lanes singin' my heart out to Tim McGraw and the Dixies... ....

Madonna, de-plasticised in face if not spirit....

Madonna at the Oscars in March (top) and the Met Ball (early May)

From the looks of these pictures, Madonna seems to have dumped her cushiony face. Quite where she left it is anyone's guess but at least she has lost that scary, pillowy look. Actually I wonder how she regained her angles? Has she been to see Dr Angle the facial bone-restorer? Gimme his number!!!!!

While it was heartening to hear Madonna 'felt fat' at the Met - 'she's human!!!!' cried the papers, what was less cheery for me was to hear her on Oprah last week. She confessed to Departing Oprah (DO) that she, DO, is the only living woman Madonna admires. Not much of a one for the sisterhood, Madge, she is a typical American woman. I probably shouldn't be saying this but I feel like getting it off my (much bigger than Madonna's) chest. Fact is, as Kelly Valen pointed out in her book, The Twisted Sisterhood, there is a very nasty undertow that drags down the hearts and souls of many American women. On the surface they are smiley cheeseballs but beneath they are as hard as the Black Hills of North Dakota (I just thought of that!) and they bluddy well hate each other.

If you, the Hapless Brit don't have all your cards in a row for a new social meeting with the average American woman you will be stuffed by the competition. Trouble is, I didn't realise it was a competition. I had no idea, until I arrived, that American women are engaged in a Giant Reality TV Show from birth. I don't know what they are competing for but they compete relentlessly throughout their lives. Some fall by the wayside, gaining weight or cats but most maintain the effort. You can see it in the back of their eyes, a sort of edgy, darting fear. They never, ever let their guard down. That is why real humour is so scarce here. Women cannot laugh at themselves in case their school Prom Queen catches them, takes the joke, makes it real and posts it on Facebook. So instead they remain deadly serious all the time, listening out for slights or insults and desperately sniffing out each other's flaws. It's exhausting and painful to watch. Madonna has obviously been hurt so badly by women in the past that she does not afford any living woman, besides DO, one ounce of admiration or respect. There are exceptions to the Competing/Madonna blueprint of course and I have been lucky to meet some of them, thank the Goddess. Also, superficially at least, many women in New York really live the feminist dream.

The DO and Madonna exchange caused me to ponder.. If I asked any of my British friends which living women they most admire, they would reel off a list that might include Viv Westwood, their best friend or indeed, Madonna. There is a generosity of spirit in British women. A willingness to give without getting, to respect and love other women for their sheer womanliness and a shared desire to further the feminine cause, whatever that may be. This joined-up spirit, mutual understanding, patience and respect is what binds British women together, where-ever they are in the world. I was sorry this week not to have been able to extend even a touch of that to another British Housewife of New York, who very awfully committed suicide at the weekend. My heart goes out to her and her family and I wish, if she needed help, I had known her and been able to offer it.

The point is, watching Madonna and Oprah reminded me that the thing I miss most in New York is the convivial, intelligent, raw spirit of the women of Britain. Rule Britannia, dears.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


It's OK I've almost recovered......

Last week I went with my chic friend to meet her dressmaker. I've been contemplating having my very favourite dress copied by someone skillful enough to reproduce it in a few different colours so I thought I might give this guy a whirl. Off we went to Monsieur Le Dressmaker (MLD)'s apartment. We walked in, my friend tanking ahead to greet him and I realised, she was pulling 'be nice' faces to him.  MLD, his little helper and my friend, by the way, are all small people.

 "My!"  cried the dressmaker as I walked in "Isn't she TALL!!!"  "Yes, very TALL" said his little helper. "Oh yes, she's so TALL!!!" said my friend. Now call me paranoid but be assured that in this situation 'TALL!' was a euphemism for 'HUGE' 'ENORMOUS' or 'GARGANTUAN'.

"Oh but very pretty" MLD added, hastily. "Yes" said his helper  "er, pretty..." she said this in such a doubtful tone of voice that silence would have been her safest option. Luckily my friend piped up again "Oh yes,she's sooooooo pretty!!!" It was a bit like that scene from Anne of Green Gables when Anne meets Melissa Cuthbert's friend..except that unlike Anne, I kept silent instead of throwing a huge wobbler.  Frankly,  I was speechless. I don't know what I was expecting. Control I suppose but this is NYC and unless you are super-prepared in every eventuality, someone else is ALWAYS there to boss you around. This, by the way, is freaking me out about living here. In my life I have always been the biggest bossy boots in town, NYC is giving me a severe drubbing but don't worry, I'm working on my come-back. SO back to the dressmaker's, where it gets worse. Next thing I knew, tiny woman was measuring me. She tied a piece of string around where she thought my waist was, below my natural line. "I've got a very long body" I said, "Sorry." I am SO English. Anyway, she measured me while my friend and the dressmaker stood and watched with worried looks on their faces.

Then, for the next hour or so, MLD tried to be nice to me...telling how Mrs ------lestein had spent $500,000 with him already THIS SEASON and how he had dressed one distinguished lady I know of, who is according to him 'an Arkansas shop girl'. Presumably, that's a bad thing. Instead of doing the right thing, leaping to my feet and saying politely and firmly to all   'Sorry everyone, I am in a wrong place/wrong time situation' I stayed in my seat nodding like a nodding poodle on the back window sill of 1966 Morris Minor. Eventually,  realising I was late for a lunch, I stood up abruptly and shouted over the top of MLD's "She's no better than she should be but she spent $250,000" monologue  "SORRY! Must dash!" Phone numbers were swapped and I promised to call. Why did I do that? Now they all think I am actually going to call him and go back. I'm not.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Bowie Bible

Don't you love this pic of Dave 'n' Mick enjoying a delicious, British Rail lunch, circa 1973?

My favourite book of the moment is David Bowie: Any Day Now (The London Years 1947 - 1974). It is a chronological list of anecdotes, dates and quotes about the life of David Bowie, up until he left the UK for good in 1974. I found it in Barney's groovy book department a few weeks ago and finally returned to buy it last Thursday.  Ever since, I am finding it to be almost almanac-like in it's wisdom! Any random page I turn to has a message for me, answering my problem of the day. It is working in a similar way to my I-poddess, in this respect. What should I wear today? There's David in a kaftan top and flares. How shall I tell someone who's annoyed me that I hate them? There's David dressed as a mime artist, lips pursed shut and glued into silence, inspiring me to keep my big-mouthed thoughts to myself.

At the weekend, after half an hour berating my  son for hanging out in his room all weekend, I picked up the book. My eyes went straight to an explanation of how David, at the same age, spent long hours listening to music alone in his bedroom too. He clashed so much with his Mum that he ended up being sent to stay with an Aunt in Ealing. We don't have that luxury. However, I am going to turn to my David-in-his-teens chapters whenever my own infants are vexing me to the point of tears. I might even start leaving a few pairs of spandex leggings around and the odd bit of spare eye-liner. It can't do any harm.

By the way, I once saw Mick Ronson. Not in concert in fact, but through the serving hatch of a kitchen in a council house on the outskirts of Hull (where he was from). He was enjoying a cup of tea and wearing a pair of carpet slippers. That, my friends, is why I love Rock 'n' Rollers. Legendary Gods of the Universe one minute, cheery tea-drinkers the next.