Archive for June, 2013|Monthly archive page

Eight pairs of shoes…?

In Actors, Celebrities, Shoes on June 28, 2013 at 7:13 pm


I was gripped by an item I saw this week on the Daily Mail’s website in which Emma Watson says she has only eight pairs of shoes. Eight!

The comment was inspired by her glimpse into Paris Hilton’s actual wardrobe, which the heiress allowed Sofia Coppola to use in her film The Bling Ring, starring Watson and based on the real-life spate of robberies of Hilton and other young LA celebrities, by a group of spoilt teenagers.

Despite being in command of her own £26 million fortune, Watson was astonished by the sheer volume of designer gear Hilton had – much of it unworn, tags intact.

It’s ‘consumerism as a form of kleptomania,’ said Ms Watson, who is clearly as smart as someone accepted by both Brown and Oxford universities should be. Almost as smart as Hermione Granger.

But back to the eight pairs of shoes… EIGHT?!?! I’ve taken that many on holiday with me – and then I bought two more while I was there.

I’ve got so many pairs of shoes I honestly don’t have a clue how many there are in total. I think I will count them, out of interest, but not right now – I’ll get back to you with that number. Meanwhile I’m doing a mental tally, to see how I square up with Hermion-emma.


Quite a lot of my shoes are in permanent storage on top of a cupboard. There are at least six pairs of really old vintage treasures up there – the oldest from the 1920s – which I bought at jumble sales in the 1970s. Haven’t worn them for thirty years, but can’t part with them. Too special.

There’s also quite a collection of really fabulous (and generally rather camp…) serious designer shoes that I don’t wear any more, but which – along with the vintage ones – I’m saving for my daughter (probably condemning her to size 12 feet in the process).

And out of for nostalgia. I don’t want to forget the season of the Prada d’Orsay pump…oh, happy days in Milano. I bought two pairs. Impossible to walk in, but such things of loveliness.


The next level in my shoe hierarchy are the ones I wear occasionally and like to keep around, just in case and because they’re also beautiful objects to look at. But when I do a rigorous inventory of the shoes I really wear, it comes down to just over twenty pairs, which quite surprises me.

So then I start to wonder, when Emma W. said ‘shoes’, did she mean absolutely every pair of foot covering items she owns, or just ‘proper’ shoes?

Was she discounting her practical utility footwear which, in my case, includes Havaianas, Converse, Nike neoprene mesh trainers, Ugg boots, Hunter wellies, snow boots and espadrilles? Some of them in more than one colourway. Well, all of them actually, except the snow boots.


Then there are my two most-worn  pairs – the annual Birkenstoks (this year’s are apple green patent) and my 20-year old conker brown RM Williams riding boots – which both sit somewhere between utility and proper shoes. Do they count by the Hermion-emma standard?


And how about my Sperry deck shoes and purple suede Fairmount driving shoes? Cowboy boots?

I don’t think any of them can be classed as ‘shoes’, as in feature accessories. They are necessary life aids and iconic items which everyone should have acquired by my age. So if we agree on that, this leaves two more categories of real shoes: day wear and evening. Both of which are subject to seasonal adjustment.

For winter day I’ve got my 15-year old Paraboot brogues, navy brothel creepers, patent loafers, black RM cuban heels, black brogue ballerinas and pointy black Prada pumps.


For summer day it’s Sambag snakeskin ballerinas, smart espadrille wedges and red patent glamour slides.


For evening and best I have vintage croc pointy pumps, very special woven leather Prada pointy pumps, gold Prada sandals and glittery Repetto tango shoes. I’m not showing off, I’ve had all of them for yonks. I look after my footwear diligently, with shoe trees, re-heeling, toe taps etc and they pay me back in years of wear.


So now I’m thinking, did Emma Watson really mean she only has eight pairs of shoes for this season? As in the fashion season.

Working on the latter calculation, I’ve only got one pair of shoes I bought for this summer: divine lilac Sperry nubuck oxfords with fluoro pink and rope sandwich soles.


I feel better about that now.

How many pairs of shoes do you have?

Nothing else matters

In Rock 'n' roll on June 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm


I’ve loved reading about all your shiver songs – and was thrilled to find out that Jimmy Webb wrote the amazing Galveston, as well as Wichita Lineman. Which all makes sense now, as it has the same sketchy outline that tells you so much.

‘I clean my gun…’ What a legend.

But enough of the welling up already. It’s Friday and time to share another of my guilty pleasures. Let’s roooocccccccccccckkkkkk!

I’m absolutely mad about Metallica. Oh yeah. But from what I know of my regular readers, I’m not sure all of you will be fully familiar with these TITANS of heavy metal. Well, let it be my pleasure to introduce you to them – with particular reference to the front man, James Hetfield.

Oh my sweet lord. You like Eric the Vampire? He’s a pussy for James Hetfield. The man is a VIKING of ROCK. The hilarious rock god axe (guitar). The stance. The weird beard. The tats. The shoulders.

But let me say no more. Just watch and marvel. This was a concert they did in Moscow in the early 90s, when it was a very big deal to have American rock legends playing there. This adds another level to my watching joy. The soldiers.

One more thing: please note what James Hetfield and co do with their hair. When I’m very properly drunk at parties I do that (and my neck really hurts the next morning).

Did you enjoy that? No? Well, there’s more to James Hetfield than gloriously crashing guitar played with the legs wide apart (axe clearly balanced on his mighty …).

He has a sensitive side too. Here he is singing their legendary metal ballad, Nothing Else Matters (with the San Fran Symphony Orchestra). It’s a karaoke favourite of mine.

Now tell me – who is your rock god?


Still on the line…

In Uncategorized on June 20, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Lineman Working on Utility Pole

As I was driving to collect my daughter from school today Wichita Lineman came on the radio. As shivers ran over my scalp, I felt like I’d been given an unexpected gift.

It doesn’t matter how many times I hear Glenn Campbell sing that song – and it’s been one of my very favourites, since I first heard it as a child – it always moves me nearly to tears.

It’s like an abstract painting the way with a few brushstrokes it creates a whole world of wanting and yearning.

We are given so little to go on – it’s not one of those songs which tells a whole story, like The Ode to Billie Jo (another long-time favourite…) – but I can’t think of many where you experience the emotions of the character so intensely.

It makes me feel like my heart is being squeezed, the way it does when you’re in unrequited, or in some way, unfulfilled love.

Just as in a Shakespearian sonnet, there are only 14 lines (with the last verse then repeated) , yet we know what he does for a living, we know where he is – up a telegraph pole in the middle of Kansas – and we know what he’s thinking about. Her. Her. Her.

Just the barest of sketches and somehow it seems like one of the greatest love stories ever told. It’s up there with Anna Karenina for me.

I think there’s something about him being a blue collar working man – I always picture his Timberland boots – that gives it such power. And the little off hand detail about ‘that stretch down south’ that won’t take the strain if it snows, that greatly increases the impact of his concurrent longing for the mysterious woman.

It’s how we think, our mind jumping from the job in hand, to the object of our obsession. And then it comes back to those lines, among the most beautiful ever written in popular music:

And I need you more than want you
And I want you for all time…

Here’s the maestro singing it, in all his dimple-chinned, polo-necked glory.

Which songs give you the shivers?


Rebel, Rebel

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm


A word of explanation is necessary about my column, The Rules, as it appeared in Melbourne’s Age newspaper this Sunday on the subject of the marvellous Rebel Wilson (and which I’ve run in full below).

The M section does a lovely job each week, splashing my column with the celebrity picture and then supporting it with some pics of suggested merchandise to get the look.

These items are sourced and selected by the excellent stylist Erin Munro, who does a brilliant job, with a very short deadline from getting my copy, to when she has to supply the pictures to the paper.

It’s a tricky ask, because the merchandise pictures not only have to be right for what I’ve written, they have be a specific format – flat photos of the garment, not on models – so that the page can maintain its design cohesion from week to week. And the stuff has to be in stock in the shops the day the newspaper comes out.

The thing is, not all brands supply these pictures – and as it turned out this week, it was impossible for her to get a suitable shot from any company that makes dresses over a size 14…

So to all the readers who have protested about us using a picture of a dress that doesn’t go beyond this limited size to illustrate a column about a fabulous woman who is definitely bigger than that – we can only agree and apologise.

And if any of you are connected with Australian fashion retailers which sell larger sizes and have flat lay photographs available at short notice for editorial use – please get in touch.

Now, here’s the column – which runs every Sunday in the Age and the Sun Herald and which you can read online each week here

The Rules by Maggie Alderson


Rule: to thyself be true

How much do I love Rebel Wilson? Words fail me, that’s how much. But I know someone who loves her just as much, if not more: Rebel Wilson. And I mean that in a good way.

I’m not saying she’s a moi, moi, moi and did I mention? moi kind of a girl, but that she’s a grown woman with a healthy regard for herself. She has what we all want for our daughters – high self-esteem, meaning that she holds herself in high esteem. No wonder she was the first actor to be cast in Pitch Perfect – as in the box office name, who would bring the punters in.

From her first moment in the film, when she turns up in front of the stand for the all-girl a cappella group at the freshman activities fair at Barden College, she owns the screen, because she owns the body she’s standing in. No apologies.

She was hilarious in Bridesmaids too – and that was up against fellow funny fatty Melissa McCarthy and she was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA for her performance in that film.

What’s that I hear? Was it the rustle of garments as people flinch in shock because I used the word ‘fatty’? Well, fatty fatty fatty FATTY.

Because that’s what’s so beautiful about these women, they wouldn’t give a flying pork chop to be called that. Wilson is called Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect and doesn’t look she minds any more than the character does.

She and McCarthy own their size, they’re happy with it and if anyone else thinks it’s funny – great. Laugh with me and then hand over that Oscar, thank you. And it is laugh with me. That’s the difference these brilliant, funny, fat women are making.

There has been a long tradition of plus-sized comedic actresses – Hattie Jacques (the matron in Carry On Doctor…) being a particular favourite of mine – but they were more figures of fun, to be laughed at for their body shapes.
Rebel and Melissa – and blazing a trail before them, Magda Szubanski and Dawn French – are in on the joke.

In fact, they’re making the jokes. And by owning the word fat, laughing about it, making it a ‘thing’, they’re taking the hurt out of it. Just as gay men took back ‘queer’ and black hip hop stars claimed the N-word, taking over its power, by making it OK to say – but only for them.

If fat stops being a taboo word, that must be a good step along the road to changing our ridiculously rigid ideas about body shape.

Now I do know Ms Wilson was for a while the spokesperson for a certain prominent ‘weight loss and nutrition’ company, which was a bit disappointing in light of all the above.

But she gave up the – no doubt, lucrative – contract, not long after signing for Pitch Perfect, as part of that deal was that she didn’t lose any weight. They wanted Fat Amy, not Slightly Rounded Amy, or If I Could Just Lose the Last Five Kilos Amy.

She hasn’t shown any sign of losing weight since, but it wouldn’t matter if she did. While no one should be judged for the weight they are, if they want to change it that’s fine too. It doesn’t make them a better or worse person. Just a different dress size.

Dawn French lost seven stone, a couple of years ago, has now put two back on and says she was happy with her body at all the weights. She’s just conscious of keeping an eye on it as she gets older for the undeniable health implications.

So how does Rebel Wilson look in her outfit for the Glamour magazine Awards? Exactly that. Glamorous. She’s working Adele style in a high-waisted Marina Rinaldi dress and updo hair, set off by a very cute pair of pointy pumps which perfectly show case her well-turned ankles.

The only thing I would change is to slightly stronger make up. She’s got the mouth for a pop-out red lippie and I’d like to see a smokier eye against her creamy skin and blonde hair too.

So she looks great – and even better at the end of the evening, when the outfit was accessorised with her Glamour Award for Film Actress. Next, I want to see her on the magazine’s cover.

PS And now look what I’ve found. She is on the cover of Glamour magazine’s July edition. Bloody brilliant!


Tom Ford haunts my dreams

In Designers on June 9, 2013 at 10:10 pm


It won’t be news to anyone who ever read my newspaper reports from the European fashion shows, to hear I’m absolutely mad about Tom Ford. I love, admire, respect and generally adore him. He’s one of my all-time heroes.

Going to his Gucci – and then Yves Saint Laurent – fashion shows in Milan and Paris was always a highlight of the bi-annual fashion show season for me. Every tiny detail was always perfect and there was a consistency to them. Always the same venue, the same invitations, the same cocktails and even the same flowers.

The shows varied, of course, although I generally loved them and then the great treat at the end, when he would come out, immaculate, gorgeous, the white shirt always open one button too many. I don’t normally have impure thoughts about gay men – out of respect for their preferences – but Tom gives the impression he wants to be fancied, so I’m willing to go along with it.

Then a couple of days later, I’d go to the showroom to look at the collection up close and be blown away by the quality of the materials and the exquisite details. I remember a navy cashmere coat of the most impeccable cut that had pockets lined with kid leather. The feeling of putting your hand in was delectable. It was one of those few moments in my life when I’ve wished I was stupidly rich, so I could have a coat with kid leather pocket linings.


Anyway, last night I couldn’t sleep (it’s mid-summer in the UK and it starts to get light again at 4am…) so I decided to watch some telly. To my great joy I was just in time to watch this brilliant documentary about Tom Ford, which I didn’t even know about.

It’s great. He’s so candid, so intelligent and – as I always thought he would be – so funny. It also has footage of his first women’s wear show under his own name after leaving Gucci, which is thrilling. He has so many of my favourite women modelling: Beyoncé, Julianne Moore and the wonderful Lauren Hutton, to name a few.

One word of warning: the sound and vision are not in synch on this Youtube version for some reason, so I hope that won’t put you off too much.

One thing I really loved in this docco was hearing him talk about A Single Man, which is one of my all-time favourite films. He’s completely honest about how he took liberties with Christopher Ishwerwood’s novella and the Colin Firth character is really him, recovering from the shock of leaving Gucci. The two dogs in it are his dogs.

Some people dismissed the film as looking like a two hour Gucci ad. Why is that a problem exactly? It’s one of the most beautiful films ever, the costumes and the interiors are so perfect. Do you remember the scene in the bank? Everything grey and this one little girl in a bright blue dress. And the hustler standing against the bright pink LA pollution sun set. Ravishing. But I also find it profoundly moving. And funny.

Here’s a clip of one of my favourite scenes from it.

Oh, I can’t resist it. Here’s the bit where Julianne Moore is chatting to Colin Firth on the phone and doing her 60s eye make make up.

And if, like me, you can always take a little bit more of Tom, here’s a link to a great interview with him. It’s pretty much what he says in the documentary, but interesting to see it written down, as you can consider it more.

Fasting tips

In Diets, Fasting on June 3, 2013 at 7:10 pm


People have been asking for an update on the Fast Diet, so here we go.

I’m still on it, although I did have another break (after the infuriating illness and antibiotic induced one) when I went to New York for two weeks. I’m not that strong…

And then there was another week when I had lots of people to stay in succession and there just wasn’t a day when I could eat – and drink – nothing. Or so I told myself, ahem.

But I’ve made a decision to stopping and starting like that, because it’s making the weight loss too slow.

In this, as in any diet, the facts are simple: if you stop, you put the weight back on. So I’m determined not to have one more break until I’m down to my goal – and then I’m going to commit to fasting one day a week for life, to keep it off.

In the meantime I’m sticking to the regime I described in my earlier post Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! where I eat nothing at all until dinner time and only 300 calories a day in total– which allows me not to count every drop of milk I have in tea or the odd half apple (40 calories) if I’m desperate. Link to that post here

I found that when I budgeted 500 calories exactly I often ended up eating slightly more by accident and it’s really not worth the torture of eating nothing all day only to blow your weight loss on a cream cracker. Aiming for 300 just gives you that little bit of wriggle room.

I still find that I’m weirdly not hungry when I wake up the morning after fast day. I’ll even feel slightly disgusted at the thought of food – having planned a massive fry up as I went to sleep the night before. But if I then skip breakfast, I’m cave man ravenous by 11am and could eat a whole packet of bagels with cream cheese, so I have a light breakfast at the normal time.

I do worry that I’m eating more than before starting the diet on my non-fast days as there is rather a sense of having to cram it in while I can. I certainly found I was eating more chocolate bars than I used to in a ‘because I can…’ spirit, so I’ve cut those out.

But while I do tend to reach for the crackers – crunch is what I miss on fast days – I’m not sure feeling very full after normal dinners is because I’m eating more. I think it might be that my stomach is shrinking and I feel much fuller on the same amount of food.

I know people who are doing no carb on the other five days, as well as the fasting and losing a lot more weight, but I think that’s making it too hard. I know I wouldn’t be able to sustain it. I’d rather lose weight slowly and lose all the weight I want to lose, than give up after five pounds.

So I’m sticking to the diet as outlined in Dr Mosley and Mimi Spencer’s book. Find link here

Other things which are still helping me are:

Black coffee at the 11am snack twinge moment

Lots of water

Diet Coke

Diet ginger beer (in a nice glass, with ice, it’s my fast day ‘cocktail’…)

As many packs of sugar free gum as I need to get through the late afternoon (just finished my second pack of the day). I mix it up between mint and fruity flavours. I’m krazee, me!

Don’t even think about ‘spending’ 60 calories on 50ml (a pub single) of gin with a Slimline Tonic. It made me ravenous and it was torture not eating anything after it.

Don’t go near a supermarket on a fast day. It’s torture and you will buy everything in the shop and then have to drive home with it taunting you from the boot of the car.

Don’t fast on a Friday. The Thank God It’s Friday effect is just too great to resist – and that’s how I ended up having that foolish gin and tonic last week.

Take aerobic exercise, if you can bear it, and you will lose more quickly. With no concerted exercise I lose one pound (half a kilo) a week. With exercise it’s usually double that.

I still sincerely believe that this diet is the Answer – the one we’ve all been searching for and I’m committed to it.

But I’m not going to blog about it again until I reach my goal – which is getting back in a particular pair of trousers I haven’t been able to wear for two and a half years..

At my current weight loss rate that should happen some where around the middle of August… which puts me on the spot.

How are you doing on it? Got any tips for me?

Fragrant Cloud

I think in perfume

Style Notes

Style Notes

The Grooming Guru

An Expert's Guide To Midlife Male Grooming

Mad About The House

The sourcebook for modern living is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

by Hannah Rochell

slow comfortable style

North/South Food

Eating across the North/South divide

Jack Monroe

The #1 budget recipe website

Liberty London Girl

Just another site

The Selvedge Yard

A historical record of artistry, anarchy, alchemy & authenticity.

Cattle & Cane

Country Chronicles News

The latest news on and the WordPress community.