Friday, September 10, 2010

More Ways To Spend It

The last time I wrote about the How To Spend It supplement in Mrs. Pop’s Financial Times, I made a predictable assault on the easy target of high-end luxury goods. Clearly the editors read this blog, as they seem to have stopped aiming the glossy sheet merely at multi-millionaires, and have factored in the ridiculously rich as well. Several items featured in today’s edition will cost you less than four figures (the Gentlemen’s Tonic Mayfair Shaving Set is just £150, for example), and the cost of telling the time is down too – while last December’s featured timepieces showcased a £1.6 million wristwatch from Jaeger-LeCoultre, this month’s Bell & Ross rose gold Power Reserve Watch (on an alligator strap – this watch was hunted) is almost given away at £14,300.

Help for those burdened by cash
But what the September issue lacks in preposterously lavish material goods, it more than makes up for with unblushing pretension. First up is a Q&A interview under the moniker The Aesthete, with literary and talent agent Caroline Michel, whose “clients include Jeanette Winterson and Simon Schama”. Impressed? I was, once I’d googled the latter and found out who he was. You don’t know? He’s a university professor of art history and history, you moron.

What was the last thing that Ms Michel bought and loved? “A pair of early-19th-century French naïve flower paintings, after being driven mad by the desire to own a Van Gogh when I was at the recent exhibition at the Royal Academy.” One does get driven mad by the desire to own a Van Gogh, doesn’t one? Drives one absolutely fucking crazy.

And the last meal that “truly impressed” Mr. Schama’s representative? Well, funny story. Caroline “was at the top of a mountain in Méribel [don’t tell me - you don’t know where Méribel is. I give up, I really do], in the Three Valleys [ha ha, now you’re going to tell me you don’t know where that is either, aren’t you? You pathetic, lost pleb], with visibility down to less than a foot and the snow driving across the mountain. A sudden light appeared and there it was… La Folie Douce restaurant.” As if sent by the heavens. How marvellous.

There’s a piece about roof gardens. Artist Brad Lochore has one in Shoreditch (so much for a freezing, empty garret in Paris). As he and his wife, Eden (no kidding), both work from home, “we get together for lunch and maybe have a salad on the terrace. It offers a respite from work, which is very important.” Isn’t it just? Not to mention a daily opportunity to look down smugly on the world around you. But heed the words of architect Soraya Khan and make sure that when you design a roof garden, “a substantial part of the home” opens directly onto the garden. “It just doesn’t work when you have to go up through a roof hatch,” he points out, no doubt with an expression of severe distaste at the very thought.

On to Paris, where “a clutch of cocktail bars combining old-school service with new-school mixology is redefining how Parisians drink”. You can almost feel the entire population of the French capital being existentially re-molded, at least the ones who can afford €10-12 for a drink. Drunkenly onward to Berlin, where art collector Christian Boros admits that as a boy he “wanted to understand the world, to explore it and embrace it, mostly through my possessions.” I know the feeling, mate. That’s why I have so many Subbuteo teams clogging up my cupboards.

Next, great news for bike-riders. Apparently, “design-literate urbanites who never saw themselves as cyclists are now being seduced by the elegant simplicity of the classic upright bike”. At last! Because for well over a century now bicycle seats have been craving close contact with the arse-cheeks of the design literati, and if you have £699 to spare, you can buy “a latte-coloured Bianchi Pista via Brera with cork grips and a praline-toned suede saddle,” reports Mark C. O’Flaherty. “It’s simple, slightly retro and so beautiful that it stops passing foot traffic.” Especially when they’re trying to cross the road and some design-literate twat comes barrelling towards them with the added weight of so much self-entitlement.

Communists smoke the darndest things...
And finally, the thoughts of Chairman Stadler, that of course being Rupert Stadler, chairman of Audi AG, who has overseen a 23.3 per cent rise in the company’s first quarter revenue to €8.26 billion. Three ecstatic cheers for Rupert. But it’s not all money, money, money - Rupie knows how to chillax  too. “I lived in Barcelona for three years,” he tells us, “and learnt there the importance of not being in a hurry, the pleasure of enjoying a good dinner and then savouring an excellent brandy and a Cuban cigar.” Funnily enough, if you flip back to The Aesthete, Caroline Michel also bought home “two boxes of Cohiba cigars from the Partagas cigar factory” last time she popped by the cradle of communism. “My sons have had cigars clamped in their mouths ever since,” she adds. Probably a welcome change from silver spoons.


Gorilla Bananas said...

There's no need to be jealous of those plutocrats, their delight in such trinkets is a reflection of their barren souls. Besides, you can get excellent imitation designer stuff in Thailand, which might be a good destination for your next holiday.

No Good Boyo said...

Moreover, there's something distinctly plutocratic about Fidel Castro's Embattled Communist Cuba (c).

Family succession - ✓
Low wages, company-run "unions" - ✓
Farmers tied to the land, no freedom of movement without the boss's say-so - ✓

There are some perks, like decent healthcare. But then bosses since Bismarck have understood that it's worth keeping your peons fit for work - unlike real communists Stalin and Mao, who worked theirs to death.

Perhaps this remarkable mag could interview Fidel about his favourite stogies.

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

No envy involved at all, GB, I'm just staggered they say these things and then don't seem to care that they'll be published in a national newspaper available to anyone.

Boyo, I'd love to see the FT send Tarquin or Giles over to meet Mr Castro and write a piece about The Smoky Side of Communist Chic. They could take a few design-literate urbanites along to cycle them around the island.

Nathan said...

Hey Ian -

Not to sound too snobbish, but I do know who Simon Schama is. Simon Schama's Power Of Art on PBS is terrific. I met Jeanette Winterson at a reading once, great writer, but that was not so terrific.