Friday, 30 January 2009

Yves St Laurent and Pierre Berge Collection at Christie's

A superb exhibition of Yves St Laurent and Pierre Berge's art collection was on display at a reception at Christie's given by Vintage Academe, a fashion store and blog specialising in vintage clothes.

Click the heading for some of the paintings on display and here for an article about the collection

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The Joy of Cams

When planning a trip, or when friends are travelling, the best way (unless Freya Stark's been there first) to get a sense of place is by looking at photos that others have taken on Flickr or on a map like Panoramio. But even better are webcams and there are more of them around then ever. When friends went skiiing in the Haute Savoie this week, I could follow them via the webcams at the resort and on the slopes and get a good idea of what they were up to.

Now to get real time video via a 3g mobile!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Aristotle's Views on Money

Thinking about shopping and Ruskin's views on the use of money (see Westfield) Aristotle holds that "There are two sorts of wealth-getting.....; one is a part of household management, the other is retail trade: the former necessary and honorable, while that which consists in exchange is justly censured; for it is unnatural, and a mode by which men gain from one another. The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of all modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural."

Speaking of exchange through money, Aristotle says "it is worthless, and because it is not useful as a means to any of the necessities of life, and, indeed, he who is rich in coin may often be in want of necessary food..." Aristotle says people become avaricious and pursue money for its own end because of a confusion between the instrument of money (in exchange) with things that can actually be used...
"in this art of wealth-getting there is no limit of the end, which is riches of the spurious kind, and the acquisition of wealth. But the art of wealth getting which consists in household management, on the other hand, has a limit..."

Thomas Jefferson was equally prescient

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
Thomas Jefferson 1802

Perhaps my own views on the bonus culture are not out of place here

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Chopin Recital

A brilliant recital of Chopin and other works for the Chopin Society by Nicola Eimer in the lovely Inigo Jones church St Paul's Covent Garden - the 'Actor's Church'.

Click the heading to hear her playing Raindrop.

Saturday, 24 January 2009


Click the heading for more photos of Westfield
The Westfield Shopping Centre that opened last year at Shepherd's Bush is stunning. The largest urban shopping mall in Europe, it covers 43 acres and has 265 shops and 40 places to eat plus two supermarkets, a gym, a spa, a library and a 14 screen cinema (opening in March) plus 4500 parking spaces.

It's beautifully designed and feels light and airy and is very easy to get about. It also has lots of comfortable seating and of course is covered with wi-fi. Favourite shops include Desiguel, Amanda Wakeley, Apple, Donna Ira, Joseph, Links and M&S. Owing to the recession, amazing discounts are available. Donna Ira's superb selection of jeans were 75% off and an Amada Wakeley jacket was reduced by a similar amount, while a pair of Joseph boots was only £85. For those with a bit of money to spend, it's a paradise, but it's also a great place to go for a day out.

When shopping, it's wise to remember two pieces of advice:
Whatever you buy should be 'of good quality, well fitted for its purpose', and John Ruskin's aphorisms -
'A thing is worth what it can do for you, not what you choose to pay for it'.
' There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey.'

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Favourite Poetry - Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey
Click the heading for the whole poem

And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.

William Wordsworth - Tintern Abbey - 1798

Favourite Music

Handel famously composed the Messiah in 24 days. I was lucky enough to be taught to sing it at St Ronan's and still love to hear it. Click here to hear the Hallelujah Chorus from a recent Drapers' City Service and the heading for the first of a complete version on YouTube (it is recorded in seven parts)

Favourite Poetry

The Embankment

(The fantasia of a fallen gentleman on a cold, bitter night)

Once, in finesse of fiddles found I ecstasy,
In the flash of gold heels on the hard pavement.
Now see I
That warmth's the very stuff of poesy.
Oh, God, make small
The old star-eaten blanket of the sky,
That I may fold it round me and in comfort lie.

Thomas Ernest Hulme (1883 – 1917)

Friday, 9 January 2009

The Royal Hospital Chelsea

The Royal Hospital was founded by Charles II in 1682 for the 'succour and relief of veterans broken by age and war' - and continues to provide care and accomodation for retired servicemen today. A new building - the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary - has been erected next to the original Wren buildings and will be completed in 2009.

Click the heading for some more photos. Having become a Friend, we should be allowed inside soon!

The Drapers' New Year's Service

The Drapers' Livery Company holds an annual City New Year's service at their church, St Michael's, Cornhill every January, The Service was taken by the Rev Dr Peter Mullen and the sermon by The Right Reverend Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester

Hymns and anthems on this occasion included 'I Vow to Thee My Country' and 'Jerusalem'. This year the choir also sang the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.

This was one of several beautiful services I have attended recently. Some others are here

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells has been kept at the astonishing library at Trinity College, Dublin since 1661. It is a beautiful illuminated 9th Century manuscript of the four new testament gospels created either at Kells Abbey - or possibly on Iona and taken to Kells to avoid the repeated depradations of the Vikings.

Click the heading for some more photo of Trinity College, the library and the illuminated manuscripts kept there


Click the photos for a better view and the heading for more photos of Lisheen Castle
A lovely week with the family over New Year at Lisheen Castle in Tipperary