Monday, May 21, 2007

Hicks from the sticks

David Hicks has been released from Guantanamo Bay and has returned to Australia to serve out his sentence. The South China today describes him, not unkindly, as "a former kangaroo skinner". This reminded me of the heartbreaking description of a girl who was murdered in Edinburgh in the 1990s and ended up being wrapped in a carpet and dumped in a drain in the common garden area of a block of flats in Newington - which incidentally was also my brother's back garden, shared with another 400 flats. Police posters asking for information described her as "an enthusiastic karaoke performer".

As someone who could legitimately be described as "a former hospital skivvy" and "a former pizza waitress", I'd better watch my step.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Blow by blow

Isabella Blow, avante-garde dresser and English eccentric, died last week in an extraordinarily dramatic fashion: by drinking paraquat - the weedkiller beloved of garden nihilists everywhere (not least by Jim, our next door neighbour when I was a kid. Jim had his own supply and a natty little spray canister device to boot. It had its own strap which looped over the wearer's shoulder, allowing easy access to the toxic nozzle. When he got bored of walking around other people's cars kicking desultorily at the tyres, or listening to the collected works of Jim Reeves, or shouting at the neighbours' children, or eating mince and tatties in his cabbage-smelling house, or just needed a pick-me-up, he'd liberally spray paraquat hither and thither). Paraquat has a unique and quite disgusting smell - the strength of will required to drink it would be quite considerable.

She deserves to be remembered, amongst other things, for sporting a lobster hat (everyone said it wouldn't work!) and for wearing a Joan of Arc dress complete with heavy, oily chain (for that added authenticity!) which she dragged across the pristine white carpet of Jean Paul Gaultier's apartment ("Sacre bleu! C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre!", he may have cried at the sight).

True originals are doomed never to be part of the mainstream and she was reportedly disheartened by the fact that despite having brokered Alexander McQueen's highly lucrative contract with Gucci, she got "nothing but a dress" out of the deal; but she also had a particularly nasty form of cancer. She told the assembled party at her husband's country house (and you could take another fascinating detour around the family history of her husband, Detmar Blow) that she was going shopping, but instead she stayed home and drank her poison.

Russian droll

Two things to remember about Boris Yeltsin.

Boris was asked by a BBC journalist to describe the Russian economy in one word.

He said: "Good".

The journalist then asked him to describe it in two words.

He said: "Not good".

After Boris's death, his former deputy was asked to sum up the Yeltsin era. He said: "We hoped for the best, but it all turned out as usual."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Pear down

I'm in Singapore airport, about to leave, having just tried some Absolut Pears, which was so good I had to buy a bottle. Pears and vodka, who'd have thought?

I was only in Singapore three days, but this was long enough to be caught in one of the extraordinarily fierce downpours that proliferate this time of year. Huge fat pear shaped rain drops hurled with vigour from the ethereal sky and bounced up inside my umbrella.

I managed to get to my favourite bar in Asia, CitySpace at the top of Singapore's tallest hotel. They serve perfect apple martinis and you can see what seems like the whole of the city laid out like a map - though not one I can follow: small as Singapore is, I'm still confused.