I’m a big fan of polka dots –the more the merrier. Last week, I wore black trousers covered in white dots with a white blouse splattered with blue and orange ones to my pottery class. Coincidentally, I had decided to glaze a pinch pot with blue polka dots. “She’s the polka dot girl,” called out our teacher, Celia, in her thick Brazilian accent. I’m delighted by the nickname, and I’ve since covered two more pots in big blue splodges.
It’s at this time of year that the wisteria starts to tumble over from our neighbour’s garden signalling summer is almost here. Only this year, there are only two or three of the pretty lilac vines. As though to compensate for the lack of wisteria, our peony bush has decided to produce three buds, two more than last year, which I couldn’t be more excited about. For a girl who grew up in a garden of magnolias, peonies and roses, it’s only now in adult life that I truly appreciate their blooms.
This morning, my friend and fellow textile fanatic, Alison and I went to the Textile Museum‘s annual summer sale to rummage through bolts, boxes and bins of fabric. “Are you looking for something in particular?” asked her friend Dori as we stood in line outside Artscape. “No, but I’ll know when I see it!” I couldn’t resist a bolt of coral fabric covered in tropical birds and flowers, and at $2 a piece, the Navajo inspired cushion fabrics in pinks and blues had to be mine. My favourite find was metres of heavy white satin decorated with butterflies, ladybirds and bumbles bees, perfect for dresses for the girls or a ballgown for me! Alison snapped up a few metres of pale blue toile, and a gorgeous print of aqua florals for her home in Nova Scotia. All so beautiful, and so much fun. Next year, I’ll bring a bigger bag.
When my Dad came to visit me in Florence, he bought me plants for my tiny studio flat from a stall near Piazza della Signoria. He also bought me a pair of Gucci loafers. Guess which ones I took better care of? I’ve never been one for plants at home, (pink thumbed, yes –– green thumbed, non) but I do love the spaces featured in Greenterior. The book spotlights 18 interiors from Antwerp to New York, designed by creative people with a passion for plants. I don’t know that I could live in this jungle of print and colour, but I do love how the plants merge harmoniously into their surroundings.
Jib doors, once used to hide entrances to service quarters, are so amusing to me. We have one that’s built in to a paneled wall below our staircase that I like to tell people is the trap door to the dungeon. I find them so quirky, and there are so many playful ways to hide them, whether it be with paint, paper or a faux bookshelf. The Queen has her own jib door, in the White Drawing Room, that leads to official rooms from her own private quarters. I wonder if hers is covered in De Gournay paper? I hope so.
Nothing brings people together like a game of a footie. One of my favourite films, Joyeux Noël, tells the story of how British and German soldiers in the First World War called a truce on Christmas day to kick-about a ball in no-man’s land. A few years after the film came out, I bought Jason a photograph of young boys playing football on a dirt field in Sierra Leone shot by Canadian photojournalist, Dominic Nahr. Both the film and the photograph speak to me about optimism and hope. There’s something in the universal appeal of football, that people all around the world love and play the game –– and that all it takes is a bunch of kids with a couple of sticks and plastic ball –– that makes the sport so accessible, so exciting, and so beautiful to me.
I can’t imagine a more enchanting evening than the opening of Sofia Coppola’s La Traviata at the Rome Opera House last night. Monica Bellucci, Bianca Brandolini D’Adda, Delfina Delettrez et. al. gathered to celebrate Coppola’s foray into opera direction. “In my life I have always dreamed of doing a new version of La Traviata” said Valentino Garavani, who designed costumes for Violetta and Flora.“The great masters, from Visconti to Zeffirelli, from Callas to Piero Tosi have inspired me in my new endeavour.” Coppola, dressed in a floor length black lace Valentino, reminiscent of one of Flora’s gowns, has said that her Italian heritage provided inspiration throughout the process. “I wanted to bring out the personal side of the French courtesan –– the party girl used to the social scene. It’s a very feminine world that I love.”
Who wouldn’t want a pied-a-terre in Paris –– a place to host salons for Parisians from all corners of the globe. There would be potent drinks and dresses that sparkle, and an enormous paella on the stove. Conversations would flit from the ridiculous to the sublime. With its high ceilings and beautiful parquet de Versailles floors, this grand apartment in St Germain is just the place for our soirées.
I love to watch the blooming of Spring flowers –– the lilacs, the magnolias and the cherry blossoms –– that bring life and colour to our city. London is so beautiful in the Spring, but I never really noticed until I moved to Toronto. There’s nothing like living in a cold, concrete city for months at a time to make one appreciate the greens, pinks and warmth of a new season.
With one Malboro Light between us, I had my first drag of a cigarette in the garden of my Dad’s house at age fourteen. Cass had smoked before, (she was first to try everything) so she showed us girls how to inhale. On the exhale she’d blow out a line of smoke rings before passing the cigarette to the next girl in the circle. About a month later, I smoked a Malboro in my room and had to call my freind Luisa because I thought I was dying. “That’s a head rush, you nincompoop,” she said giggling down the phone. Within 6-months or so, we were all smokers. We’d nick a packet from our parents, or buy one from the corner shop, and meet in the alley after school for a cigarette or ten. In those days, you could smoke in cafes, so sometimes we’d pile into the basement of the local KFC and smoke through our lunch break. I don’t think I ever enjoyed it, but it was something to do. And it felt cool. At home, I used to smoke the odd sneaky cigarette in my room, until the day my Mum discovered the eavestroughs clogged with butts. I was 16 by then. “If you’re going to smoke, don’t burn the house down,” she said handing me an ashtray. Through university, and way into my 20s I was a smoker. I smoked on planes and boats and on the backs of bikes; I smoked on the streets of Hanoi and in piazzas in Florence; I smoked in the morning with coffee, and in the evening with wine. I loved every drag of my gloriously disgusting smoking life. Until I stopped loving it. In Toronto, I had few friends that smoked, so I started to feel like a pariah. I sat in revolting cafes and in freezing cold bus shelters lamenting that first Malboro Light. About a year before I stopped, my grandmother, who had smoked long, skinny cigarettes all her life and was battling cancer said to me, “the time will come when you won’t want to smoke anymore. You’ll quit when you’re ready. “I stopped smoking a few moths after she died and I haven’t had a cigarette since. I sit as close as possible to my smoking friends, relishing in the vicarious pleasure of the odd ciggy when the mood strikes. Maybe I’ll join them one day. And maybe I won’t.