Early Pilates with Lucy gets me going. It needs to: around 3am I was startled by flashing red lights and the noise of sirens. The apocalypse? A spaceship? No, two fire engines outside the flats next door. Clearly it was nothing alarming, as they eventually disappeared and I fell back to sleep.
Melanie, returning from a late lunch meeting, suggests going to see Martino Gamper’s window displays at Prada. Martino was one of my “discoveries” from the RCA, alongside Barnaby Barford, now exhibiting with David Gill. I featured the pair in Waste to Taste, an exhibition at Sotheby’s I curated in 2003.
A couple of years later, David and I sponsored Martino’s iconic project 100 Chairs in 100 Days. He is a multitalented designer and also a brilliant cook: we have enjoyed many Christmas dinners in his studio with his wife, artist Francis Upritchard, and assistants, all cooking, serving and joining in the fun.
The Prada windows are cool and understated – “very Martino”. We go inside for a quick look; to quote my friend Victoria, “it would be rude not to”. Melanie buys a cardigan, and some divine cobalt-blue shoes are under consideration. I struggle against temptation; she attends numerous dinners and formal lunches – her wardrobe requirements are greater than mine.
Next stop: Dover Street Market (we have to pass the door… sort of). The new season Comme des Garçons and Junya Watanabe pieces are definitely not designed with either of us in mind. There’s Hello Kitty, fluorescent pink and lime green, lots of net and rather odd plastic adornments. Fortunately, there are also classic Comme items, staples of both our wardrobes for many years. I leave Melanie trying on an elegant dress with an interesting hemline. She looks great. I notice some glorious deep-purple anemones at a flower stall nearby and buy a few bunches. The colour is intense.
It’s my birthday tomorrow, and tonight David and I are going to the River Café with my two sons, my daughter-in-law and cousin. I love the celebratory “day” part of birthdays, but hate the “birth” bit. My friends and family find this a great source of amusement and all my cards read “Happy BLANK Birthday” or similar. I’m thrilled I give them so much to laugh about.
Dinner is perfection. Vashti, the delightful manager, treats us to prosecco and blood-orange juice aperitifs and at the end of the meal presents me with a plate of ice cream with a candle and “HAPPY (UNKNOWN) BIRTHDAY” written in chocolate. We are all happy, especially me.
On Saturday I wake to a pile of gifts from David, beautifully wrapped in Indian papers with gorgeous sparkly ribbons. They are works of art. I received my “big” presents from him at Christmas, but there are wonderful books, music and gorgeous fragrances – perfume, soaps and bath oils from him, friends and family. I am spoilt and indulged.
It’s cold and crisp as I take a brisk walk through Holland Park and Kensington Gardens, ending up at the farmers’ market and Kensington Place Fish shop for some fresh crab and homemade gravlax. The round pond reminds me of Swan Lake, which we are seeing next week in Moscow. We check the forecast every day. The temperature falls daily – but so does the rouble, which makes our ridiculously expensive Bolshoi tickets seem a bargain (almost).
Sotheby’s is open and I share the afternoon with Otis Partridge, who has been assisting me this week. In the evening it’s The Scottsboro Boys, a powerful true story about a travesty of justice in 1930s Alabama. It is brilliantly staged and performed to a packed house and standing ovations.
Sunday is the final day of Originals, the Tord Boontje and Emma Woffenden show I have curated for Sotheby’s. I feel a combination of sadness and relief. Tomorrow everything will be dismantled and crated away. Tord and Emma are delighted with the outcome.
Now my priority is Emile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin for my book club tomorrow night. The book was my suggestion, having read Robert Harris’s An Officer and a Spy about the Dreyfus affair and Zola’s part in it. It’s a great book club, full of interesting, very opinionated men and women (no spouses allowed). We meet every six weeks at someone’s house and over dinner – always delicious – discuss and argue about the book. As I selected Thérèse, I have to introduce it and write the synopsis. We take it very seriously. Although it was my choice, I confess I found the book profoundly depressing, with not one empathetic or redeeming character.
With those thoughts in my mind, I decide to have an early night. It’s been an exhausting week.
Originally posted on the FT – How to Spend It website