maggiealderson

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Flip over the to new website for all the action

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2015 at 5:08 pm

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Yoohoo! Just a quick reminder that all the action is now on my lovely new website, so please flip over there by clicking here

http://maggiealderson.com/

PS My new book is in shops in Australia NOW and I’ll be in Australia on Thursday. I’m beside myself and currently in the process of breaking the world record for how many navy blue garments you can put in one suitcase. That’s one of them above.

New post up on the website!

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2015 at 10:43 pm

If you’ve subscribed on here, but aren’t getting emails announcing new posts – please pop over here to read it. And please sign up using the widget on the right hand column.

Every subscriber was supposed to have been transferred, but I think some are missing out.

http://maggiealderson.com/2015/04/7-days-of-positive-day-134-wardrobe-changeover/

Testing… one, two…. one two…

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2015 at 8:05 pm

ALbertHello dear friends

I urgently need your help… I’m a bit of a boffin, but not boffin enough for this and my tech genius friend is on a well-deserved holiday.

Can anyone who has subscribed to this blog tell me this: are you getting the new posts I’m putting up on the website?

Everyone who is on here is supposed to still get the email announcing a new post, but on clicking it should take you to maggiealderson.com, rather than here.

I would be so so grateful if you could let me know, on here, on there, or on Twitter (@MaggieA) if the link up is working.

I’m posting all the stuff about my new book on there now and if all my lovely subscribers are missing out on it, that will be bad. Very very bad.

V grateful for any help.

M xxx

Seven Days of Positive – Day 128: Me and Mrs B

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2015 at 9:10 pm

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Twenty five years I was taken out to tea in Paris by the most refined woman I had ever met. It was love at first macaroon.

I was the new editor of British ELLE, she was Joan Burstein, the legendary founder of Browns boutique and she thought we should get to know each other. Angelina’s on the rue de Rivoli was the venue. Where else?

What I didn’t tell her, was that I was almost too awestruck to go. Along with Barbara Hulanicki of Biba, Mrs B – as I already knew to call her, everyone did – had shaped my life and helped to turn me into someone fascinated by every aspect of fashion.

As a child in the early 1970s my mother had told me all about Feathers in Kensington High Street, the boutique before Browns, which wasn’t so much a shop as a club for London’s most glamorous young things. I didn’t get to go there, but I loved hearing about it.

Later I became obsessed with Browns, which always seemed to be the stockist for the clothes I most adored in my mother’s copies of Vogue and Harpers & Queen.

I swooned over the things they stocked, committing to memory the designer’s names – Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Missoni – and when I was old enough to go to London on my own, I finally got my chance to go in for a look. Until then I’d only dared gaze at the windows.

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My entrée came in 1978 when a friend of my mother’s saw a multi-coloured stripe silk blouse in Vogue she wanted to buy, Browns was the stockist. She heard I was going down ‘to town’ gave me a wodge of cash to get it for her.

In I went, clutching the magazine, only to be told it was out of stock, but through the door as a genuine customer, I went through every room of the rambling interjoining shop spaces like a forensic scientist.

It was like a visit to a museum where I could touch everything, although I didn’t have the bottle to try anything on. I remember it was the Perry Ellis womenswear I particularly wanted to see, a New York designer Mrs Burstein had brought to London and I thought was heaven. I loved his oversized coats and chunky knits.

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With Rosita Missoni

A few months later on one of South Molton Street pilgrimages, I saw a sign saying ‘staff wanted’ in the window and walked in to apply for the job. I thought I looked marvellous in my tobacco brown cargo pants and ultra dark brown leather jacket (both by the then ultra hot London label PX) but I didn’t get the gig.

Never mind, my admiration for the store and its brilliant master buyer, who I had read about in magazines, was undiminished, so what a thrill it was, just over ten years later, to meet her and find out that she was one of the most gracious and delightful people you could ever hope to spend time with.

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Mrs B with her daughter Caroline Burstein, creative director of Browns

In all the years since then, I’ve had the pleasure to get to know her – and her daughter Caroline – as more than just fellow travellers in the fashion shipping lanes. I’m proud to call them friends. And in that time I have never heard Mrs B utter an irritable word, whinge, or badmouth anyone.

In one of the world’s most self-obsessed and bitchy milieus, that’s really saying something.

Not to say Mrs B is uptight or goodie goodie, she has a great sense of humour and while she may never utter a catty remark herself, she most certainly appreciates wicked wit in others…

Over that time we’ve shared many lovely dinners, she’s squeezed me into fashion shows when an Australian newspaper was not deemed worthy of an invitation, allowed me to come with her when she was buying from Akira Isogawa one season (a masterclass) – and taught me how a lady handles her gloves…

She doesn’t stuff them in her pockets, as I always did, so they come out like a pair of mangled dead rodents, but lays them neatly on the palm of one hand, while also holding a glass with it, leaving the hand other free to greet people and pick up the odd passing canape… This wasn’t a formal lesson, but my goggle-eyed observation one evening in Paris. I’ve attempted to live up to it since.

So with all that lovely shared history, it was such a pleasure last night to go to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum to listen to Mrs B, now a CBE, being interviewed by Colin McDowell – looking wonderful in a Dries Van Noten dress with pink feathers embroidered on the front (Mrs B, not Colin, he was in a bespoke suit).

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Mrs B with Colin McDowell at the V&A on March 30th, 2015

I already knew about all the amazing fashion names Mrs B brought first to London – Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Azzedine Alaia, Missoni and Rei Kawakubo to mention just a few – and those whose names she made. Most memorably John Galliano, when she bought his entire St Martins degree show and filled the shop’s windows with it.

Every piece sold – ‘I don’t have a single one,’ she said sadly.

But that’s all well documented. What I found really fascinating was hearing how she had started the business with her late husband, Sidney, just after the war.

He’d started out selling hosiery and underwear on a market stall and from there they. working with Sidney’s brother Willy and his wife, built the business up into a chain of thirty five shops called Neataware. They were the first to specialise in the new idea of ‘separates’ – and with their success, she told us, came a lovely lifestyle, with a beautiful house and both her children attending the Lycee school, only to have it all snatched away when the banks suddenly decided to call in their loans.

The shops were all closed, staff laid off, the children taken out of their wonderful school, the house and everything in it, lost.

‘It made me more determined,’ she said, ‘when I felt poor, the humiliation. I could live in one room, if it was lovely, but never anywhere sordid. Someone said to me, “In your position, there isn’t too much choice…” and I decided I never wanted to hear those words again.”

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After that they clawed their way back – with some help from her friend Vidal Sassoon (who did her hair – who else in the 1960s?) who let them have the shop space at the front of his Sloane Square salon, which they made a great success of before opening Feathers.

‘I feel very lucky. I’ve always been supported by friends. There’s luck out there, you just have to recognise it.’

When they got the space for Feathers, right next door to the ultra fashionable Antiquarius market, Mrs B had the vision for it ‘not to look like a shop’, with an interior like no other in London – bamboo fittings and clothes in armoirs. Her idea worked and it immediately took off. Like really immediately:

‘We took £5000 on the first day…’

A huge sum in those days. Manolo Blahnik worked there. Darcy Bussell’s mum was the PR… It must have been a blast.

Finding the iconic premises on South Molton Street was another bit of luck, after her son Simon applied for a Saturday job at the shop that was there before. After opening in 1970, it very quickly became a London fashion institution, with people coming from all over the world to shop there.

Although there are some now, she says, who live very close to the shop, but choose to buy from the on line store so they can try it on at home.

‘I never thought people would buy very expensive things online, because you can’t touch it,’ she said. ‘I like to touch the cloth – is it soft? would it be lovely to wear? I was wrong about that, people do buy the most expensive things online but I couldn’t do that. Fashion is very personal to me.

‘I look at my clothes sometimes and think, aren’t you beautiful?’

Something you could also say about their owner. A paragon of deportment and elegance, a true fashion legend and a wonderful friend.

Seven Days of Positive – Day 127

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2015 at 10:46 pm

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Don’t say you don’t hear it here first… My lovely nutritional coach Amelia Freer is suddenly world famous, now that’s it’s been revealed that she’s behind the recent weight loss of singer Sam Smith.

He used to look like this.

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She’s also helped slim down British comedian James Corden, who has just taken over as host of the very prestigious US TV staple The Late Late Show.

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2962738/New-Late-Late-TV-host-James-Corden-reveals-new-strict-diet-exercise-regime-moving-LA.html

Amelia’s book Eat. Nourish. Glow. is now number one on UK Amazon, and number one in the diet section of the US site. Harper Collins hadn’t even been going to publish it over there, but suddenly it’s very hot property.

She’s got over 40,000 followers on Instagram…

I feel so incredibly lucky that Amelia took me on as a client before her success went global. It’s so deserved because her techniques work, they just do.

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Read all about it here, in this piece by my friend Imogen Edwards-Jones, who very kindly let me in on her diet secret last year (she’s the gorgeous blonde on the left).

http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/the-most-fashionable-nutritionist-in-town-how-amelia-freer-helped-boy-george-james-corden-and-sam-smith-get-slim-10127578.html

I’ve been eating the Amelia Freer way for five months now and it’s become a way of life. Apart from the weekly treat meals, which are mandatory, I’ve only strayed a few times – and when I do (like yesterday) I give myself permission to do so.

Then you don’t feel you’re a hopeless failure, you’ve wrecked the whole thing and you might as well give up because you’re a fat bastard and you don’t deserve any better.

I needed a day off, so I had it.

Maybe I won’t lose any weight this week, as a result, but neither will I give up trying because I can’t bear another moment without eating a chocolate digestive. I had six yesterday. Got over that one.

Unrealistic levels of privation are what makes most diets fail.

I’m so confident I have the tools to keep the weight coming off – including my new enjoyment of exercise – I don’t have that sense of panic any more. With only a couple of kilos left to lose, I know it will happen and if it takes a few more weeks, that’s fine.

Especially as looking at the friends who inspired me to seek Amelia’s help (Imo has looked that good for two years now) – I know I will also learn how to keep it off.

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Seven Days of Positive – Day 121

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2015 at 9:21 pm

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I have a complex relationship with exercise. Put Uptown Funk on loud and I will jump about like a crazed fool, as I often do, in my kitchen. Play good sounds at a party and I will dance like a mad thing for hours in high heels.

But the idea of Doing Exercise in a formal sporty context makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. Or sulk like a fourteen year old, as I did when setting out on a glorious five mile country walk with my husband the other weekend.

‘Oh look,’ I kept saying, ‘another leaf. How fascinating…Oh! And an actual twig, thrilling…’

Several times he lost patience with me and started walking back to the car, then I’d persuade him to continue only to start doing it again (I don’t know how he puts up with me) until finally, when I thought he really was going to bail out, I realised I really did want to do the beautiful walk and shut the fuck up.

By the end, of course, it was me who wanted to go further.

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I don’t know when I got so confused about it. As a child, when the weather was nice I was always outside doing something physical. Charging about on my bike, or my scooter, skipping, banging a tennis ball against the garage door, doing that thing with a tennis ball on a rope with a plastic loop round one leg, hula hooping. In between all that, I went to ballet classes.

But I already hated sport at school. When you are the smallest girl in the class in Primary 3 and no one has ever explained the rules to you, netball is a very hell. From then on, I was the one not chosen.

By secondary school sport was almost a phobia. No one ever told me the rules of anything, which didn’t help. Everyone else seemed to know. I’ve never understood that.

And on top of the nightmare of having to do anything resembling jumping, there were the showers. In the first year of secondary school, they would make us get nude and run through freezing cold, completely open-plan showers.

Half the girls had pubes, half didn’t and it would be hard to say which group was more mortified.

An obedient 11 year old, in a permanent state of bewilderment at suddenly finding myself thrown in with 1200 kids on what was virtually a campus, after a small convent junior school, I had no choice but to endure it.

But by fourteen, double sport over the last two periods on a Thursday afternoon, was an early pass for me.

So easy to turn right instead of left on the way over to the sports hall and I’d read my book as I walked home (memorably walking into a lamp post on one occasion). Oh, the sense of freedom.

Would I feel differently about exercise now if I’d been taught sport better? I think so. I had one term at an all girls school where they really explained hockey to me and even went into some possible tactics – as opposed to thrash or die at the other school.

I remember one game of hockey there when, charging up the middle of the field, with the ball fully under my control before passing it to a goal scorer, I felt the exhilaration of playing a team game for the first – and only – time.

But not long after that the PE teacher caught me reading the Little Red School Book in the changing rooms, when I had pleaded period pains (fictional), gave me a detention and confiscated it. That was the end of my brief engagement with school sport.

I’ve spent my whole life ever since not exercising enough. I love yoga and have done that pretty consistently for thirty years, but the aerobic stuff has been sadly, dangerously lacking.

But I’m trying to engage with it again. I’ve now been to four aerobics classes in ten days, which is a miraculous statistic for me.

I can’t say I love it yet, but I’m trying out different classes at different venues, looking for the one where I won’t feel like a hopeless joke and where I will experience the sense of fun and camaraderie that I know some of my friends enjoy with their exercise groups. I want to feel the fun as well as the burn.

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Today’s class – the appropriately named ‘Body Attack’ – was a bit more challenging than I’d been expecting, with a marine style male teacher and not very friendly participants, but I did my best, getting a short attack of hysterics every time we had to run round the studio in a circle and somehow I was still always at the back.

But I’m not going to give up. What’s hardened my resolve? I’m getting older and I don’t want to get dementia or diabetes. I don’t want to die of heart disease as my darling dad (and both his parents…) did in their early 60s. I want to firm up my jiggly middle.

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Most of all, I want to prove to myself that I can overcome the exercise phobia that has blighted my adult life.

And the other thing which is inspiring me, is this brilliant ad which I saw for the first time in the cinema the other day. This girl can.

Seven Days of Positive – Day 113

In books, Diets, Uncategorized, Weight loss on January 31, 2015 at 9:54 pm

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On the chair in my bedroom is a pile of clothes which keeps getting higher. They’re the ones I can’t wear any more because they are too big.

Too. Big. Oh how I savour those words.

Since starting the plan of my nutrition guru Amelia Freer in October I’ve lost ten kilos – which is over a stone and a half in olde Englishe – and I’m down nearly three jeans sizes.

I say nearly because even the small size 12s are so big I can take them off without undoing them and have to hold them up with a belt, but while I can get into the small size 10s (jeans sizes are so inconsistent, it’s a total joke) they’re just a wee bit too snug to be quite comfortable.

Four years ago they were my go to jeans, comfy enough to wear on the plane from London to Sydney, so that’s where I’m trying to get back to. I reckon another two kilos should do it. Maybe three.

But I’m trying not to obsess on the numbers, what’s far more important is how much better I feel and not just ‘about myself’, in general wellness.

Obviously my self-esteem is boosted, no longer carrying fat bastard failure shame around with me, but I also feel exponentially better in myself.

It’s more than just less tired – although imagine carrying round a ten kilo suitcase all the time, strapped to your body… no wonder I was exhausted. I feel more cheerful, more optimistic and I’m sleeping better than I have for years.

In that regard, I think my adored five or six mugs of strong tea a day were messing me up a lot more than I realised.

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I’m now having just one in the morning and occasionally another with lunch – with milk. I’m not supposed to have milk on the regime, but while I was perfectly happy to drink black coffee in the morning my skin went insane from it.

Coffee seems to be absolutely the one worst thing for rosacea, so I had to can that, but fancy dancy China tea served without milk, while very dainty, doesn’t deliver the caffeine kick I need first thing.

I decided to experiment with the one cup of proper tea with milk (OH JOY) and it hasn’t slowed down my weight loss so I’m sticking with it. Sometimes at 3pm I have to gnaw on my knuckles I want another one so badly, but I don’t give in.

I’ve come way too far to blow it now.

Apart from that I haven’t diverged from the plan at all – because I find it really easy to stick to. If you check back to my original posting on it here you’ll see what the key points are.

https://maggiealdersonstylenotes.wordpress.com/tag/amelia-freer/

I really enjoy my meals. For lunch I had salmon fillet, stir-fried with leftover roasted butternut squash and green beans, with garlic, chili, ginger and coriander for flavour, with a delicious mango for pud. Tonight I had a two-egg omelette with fried courgettes, followed by a baked apple. Over an hour later I’m still absolutely stuffed. There’s no doubt eating fat keeps you fuller.

I have 190g of full fat Greek yogurt for breakfast and it’s so sustaining.

So losing weight feels easy when you’re never hungry, but in the last couple of weeks something else amazing has happened – I’ve got the Amelia Freer glow.

That was the thing that struck me almost more than the weight loss in my friend when I saw her post-Amelia. Her skin just had this radiance that makes her look really beautiful. The slender figure is almost a bonus on top.

George before

You can see it in the pictures of Boy George too. I just about it have it now. My skin is clearer from rosacea than it’s been for years and it’s getting that dewy look which seems to take about ten years off Amelia’s clients.

Changing the way you eat has to be worth it for that.

Quite a few Aussie readers expressed interest in Amelia’s book Eat. Nourish Glow. when I first wrote about it and I’m happy to say it’s now available there.

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Here’s the link to the Harper Collins website with various suggestions where you can click on to buy it. http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780007579907/eat-nourish-glow-10-easy-steps-for-losing-weight-looking-younger-and-feeling-healthier

(I’m not going to advise a particular bookseller – as an author they are ALL my friends – and the other option is to ask your local independent bookshop to order you a copy, if they don’t have any in.)

Seven Days of Positive – Day 98

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2014 at 9:03 pm

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Happy New Year everybody. I hope 2015 will be stonkingly good for you all.

I don’t make resolutions any more (they are a great way to start the year feeling disappointed with yourself), but I do like to reflect a little on the year that’s gone and think about what my goals are for the new one.

2014 got off to a great start for me because it wasn’t 2013. That was one lousy old year. Thirteen has always been my unlucky number me and boy did it beat me up.

So I woke up on January 1st, 2014 punching the air that it was over and it went on to be a much better year in many ways. For one thing, I’m much clearer now about the areas of my life which need some fine tuning.

One of the ways I think about all this kind of stuff is through astrology. Those of you who think it’s crap can tune out now.

I’ve been fascinated by it ever since I started reading Patric Walker’s* horoscopes in my mother’s copies of Harper’s Bazaar when I was a kid.

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Then I pinched my big sister’s copy of Linda Goodman’s wonderful book, Sun Signs, and that was it. There was my entire family, my best friend and my frenemy described perfectly. And I couldn’t help recognising a lot of what she had to say about my own sign, Leo.

I still refer to her advice mentally, reminding myself, when my Sagittarian husband is telling me with great enthusiasm the entire movie plot he’s dreamed up over night and I just want to get on with making breakfast – let him fly his kites.

My favourite astrologer now also happens to be one of my very best friends. And I consider it a very great privilege to be able to say that about Jessica Adams.

She was one of the first people I bonded with when I landed in Sydney in 1993. In my job as acting editor of Cleo (while Lisa Wilkinson had her first baby), I had to ring the magazine’s astrologer.

The minute we started talking, I knew she was a kindred spirit. And not just because she’s another Leo (rooooooaaaaarrrrrr).

Jessica and I have had many adventures together over the years and I’ve so appreciated being a part of her brilliant charity projects for War Child. The Girls Night In and Kids Night In series have raised millions of dollars.

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We also had a very funny time doing the In Bed With book of filthy stories by well-known authors writing under their porn star names (first pet, first street).

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So it is to Jessica’s brilliant website that I will be turning to see what 2015 has in store for me astrologically and how I can work with the opportunities it brings.

You can read a lot of it for nothing, but I’m very happy to pay an annual subscription to get all the exclusive members’ stuff. What I particularly enjoy is Jessica’s analysis of how astrology influences global events.

I will always remember asking her who was going to win the 2000 US Presidential election. To my very great surprise, she replied ‘No one…’

You will remember the Bush-Gore election debacle… Jessica explained it all to me before it even happened, introducing me to the fascinating concept of Mercury Retrograde.

Have a look here at what Jessica predicts for your sign this year.

http://www.jessicaadams.com/category/free-horoscopes/yearly-horoscopes/

* I’ve just remembered that when I was editing ES magazine (the colour supplement of London’s Evening Standard newspaper) I once had to ring Patric Walker up on the Greek island where he lived. He was the newspaper’s astrologer and I wanted him to do a piece for the mag. I was so nervous to do it. Even ringing Greece seemed scary in 1988, but I plunged in and he was so so lovely. I must have a look through my old copies of the magazine and see what the piece was. I know Jessica is a big admirer of Mr Walker and I’m sure she’d like to read it.

Seven Days of Positive – Day 96

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2014 at 4:17 pm

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Snap! And I’m back in the room…

Thank you all so much for your very kind thoughts about my Mum. It was a scary moment, but I went in to her bedroom the next morning to find her sitting up in bed asking what was for breakfast.

Her 92 and a half year old body is pretty worn out but her spirit is indomitable.

Watching your beloved parent fading into very old age is a challenge I hadn’t understood until it started happening.

But I’m learning a lot from it – in fact I’m compiling an action plan of how I’m going to plan for my own old age, because when Peggy is 40, I’ll be 82 (if I make it that far) and I’m every aware she won’t have any siblings to support her through it.

I don’t know how I would have got through this without mine, but I’m hoping Peggy’s crowd of wonderful cousins – eight from my side, one from my husband’s, seven second cousins already and two more on the way – will be there for her.

My brother and sister-in-law have been visiting with two of their sons and it’s been the most brilliant fun. There is something very special about seeing your child connecting with your sibling’s offspring.

Iain and Jonny (above) tease Peggy in that loving way which only very close relatives can and it’s really adorable.

One of the highlights of their visit has been playing silly games after dinner.

We’ve given up on Trivial Pursuit because the original 1970s version might as well be written in Klingon as far as the younger generation is concerned and the new edition seems to be dumbed down to the point of moronic.

Instead, my sister in law has bought a simple book of quiz questions and we had hours of fun with that.

It may not be a lie to say that I get rather, ahem, overexcited and competitive, where general knowledge quizzes are concerned… Picture a six year old, hand in the air, jumping up and down in their seat. Miss! Miss! Miss!

Another favourite is the hat game, where everyone writes the names of famous people on bits of paper, folds them up tight and puts them in a hat.

You then work in pairs with one pulling out a name and describing the person, the other one figuring out who it is – as many as you can in a minute.

I felt slightly hysterical when I pulled out Mick Jagger and said to my team mate, Jonny (aged 20), with great confidence, ‘The lead singer of the Rolling Stones’.

He replied: ‘I know it’s that old bloke, but I don’t know his name…’

Peggy played with Iain and I was very proud when she unfolded the piece of paper, looked at it and said: ‘That cool American black guy. I had a dream…’

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But the hot new game this year has been Bananagrams, which we have re-named Scroggle, because it’s like a cross between Scrabble (you make interconnecting rows of words from letter tiles) and Boggle.

I love it because, like Boggle, it’s fast and furious, with a race to be the first to use up all your letters, with much hysterical shouting of BUNCH! (when you want to trade one crap letter for three unseen alternatives), PEEL! (you’ve used all your letters and need to get another one – and everyone else has to take another one too) and BANANAS! (you’ve finished and therefore, won).

Time pressure and a lot of shouting are the two elements which make games interesting to me – which is probably why I liked working on newspapers so much.

If Scroggle (Bananagrams) ever becomes an Olympic event, my brother Nick will definitely win gold. He’s terrifyingly good at it, to the point where the rest of us thought he should play on his own, to give us a tiny chance.

But in the end everyone won at least once, including Miss Peggy, which makes it the best kind of family game. And unlike, say Monopoly, there was no cause for anyone to kick the board over and stomp off in a temper (usually my role…).

Good times.

Seven Days of Positive – Day 77

In Art, FIlms, Food, Friends, London, Uncategorized on December 5, 2014 at 12:08 am

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I went to London to have lunch and do the Christmas present exchange, with one of my oldest friends. And I don’t say that because she’s 82, but because I’ve known her since 1984.

We met when I was working on as a features writer on a magazine called Women’s World. Barbie was the book reviewer and came into the office about once a week. It didn’t take long for us to bond.

She was formerly a legendary editor, of both Woman and Woman’s Realm, which in her day were the biggest magazines around. My mother used to buy Woman’s Realm in the early 1960s when Barbie was editor. I was a Junior Realmer and had a pen pal.

Barbie had a driver in big black car and wore gloves and a hat into the office every day.

She’s also one of the funniest, wisest people I have ever known, which helped to cement our friendship.

Another thing that joined us at the hip was that she had fairly recently lost her husband and my father had died the year before.

With my new understanding of bereavement, I talked to her about her husband, asked questions about him, rather than pretending the deceased person had never existed – which seems to be the general British approach to avoiding the embarrassment of bereavement.

When we found out that her late husband and my late father shared a birthday, we pretty much became related.

We are both still great friends with another colleague from those days, Ruby, and Barbie calls us the Sticky Buds. She’s Sticky Bud #1.

Back in the days when we worked in the offices in Newman Street, the three of us would go for lunch at the greasy spoon around the corner and it has stayed a tradition with us to meet in those classic London caffs, usually run by Italian proprietors. Formica tables and over-brewed tea the norm.

Barbie always has egg and chips. I have eggs, beans and chips. Ruby prefers a proper meal, meat pie or something.

The only problem is such establishments are becoming rare in London’s West End and we’ve tried several to find our new venue, only to have them close shortly after.

Now we feel we have our new place, The Lido in Great Castle Street, just off Oxford Circus. It’s a bit posher than we’d really like, but the all day breakfast is on the menu and the mugs are big. We’ve decided it’s the one. Barbie is going to bring her own wine next time.

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I was thrilled to see Jelly and Cream featured on the pudding menu. These are the jellies. I couldn’t fit one in today, but I’m sure they’d come with squirty cream. Next time.

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Before I met Barbie, I popped into the National Portrait Gallery to see the exhibition of Grayson Perry’s works from his TV series on identity, ‘Who Are You?’

It’s brilliant and this explanatory plaque at the beginning, next to his work Comfort Blanket, brought tears to my eyes.

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After lunch I headed off to the heaven that is the Ham Yard Hotel, to see a press screening of Cate Blanchett’s new film Cinderella.

I had to sign a confidentiality document before watching it, so I can’t tell you anything about it. But if only I could just… no, I can’t. I’ll have to wait until it comes out.

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What a joy to watch it in that screening theatre. The smell from the rows of seats upholstered in leather the exact shade of Hermès orange is intoxicating and they’re so comfortable.

I could photograph every corner of that hotel – and it has many many corners – and never tire of it. On they way out I noticed the door handle of the Dinosaur Design boutique in the complex. Genius.

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Fragrant Cloud

I think in perfume

Style Notes

Style Notes

Maggie Alderson

author, journalist, fashionist, motherist

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