Monday, 27 January 2014


27th  January
The Tiniest Trefusis has taken to having breakfast in character: we can't have porridge unless she becomes Baby Bear and I, Mummy Bear. The porridge is sometimes too hot, or too cold, but fortunately Goldilocks has yet to make an appearance, Possibly because no one's in the mood for a walk in the woods at seven am. Also, the woods proper are a bit far from West London. Occasionally, The Tiniest T likes breakfast in the character of Blue Kangaroo - this means she has to sit on my lap to eat, and I must regularly say 'I love you, Blue Kangaroo'. I do love blue kangaroo,  I love baby bear and most of all I love The Tiniest T but is it churlish of me to say that I find breakfast time a little early to get into imaginative role-play?
'Yes,' said Dr Russo when we met for lunch, doing that steepling thing with his hands that all expensive Harley Street types seem to when offering you their considered opinion, 'I think it is good'.

I think 'it' - my face, or rather, the results of his handiwork on my face - is good too. The Fraxel (Dual for those who like specifics) has given me back that much vaunted 'even skin-tone', promised but rarely delivered by upscale serums and creams. The signs of sun damage - brown spots where my freckles had joined the dots - have gone, and with them my freckles, no loss to me,  and the fine lines at the side of my mouth and between my eyebrows have disappeared. 

It's a subtle effect - British women like subtlety, I am told, unlike Russians who require perfection - but it has given me a clearer, fresher, brighter, complexion which no longer requires foundation, just concealer for the shadows under my eyes. 

Another session will yield even more pleasing results, apparently, but I need to gird my loins for this, because although the treatment is rapid and doesn't hurt in the slightest, if you're as fair as me, you look as if you've fallen asleep in the midday sun afterwards, and skin is hot, tight, red and swollen, very like sunburn, albeit without the pain. For a cosmetic procedure with this kind of effectiveness, the 'downtime' is minimal, but really, it is three days before one really wants to show one's face to strangers. However, after three days, one is simply a bit peely, and with makeup, perfectly presentable. 

Is it worth the effort? Absolutely, but do leave a week between treatment and going anywhere you might expect to be photographed. 

Anyway, so that's Fraxel - brilliant for removing the ageing effects of past sun damage, and also brilliant for acne scarring, if one is unfortunate enough to have suffered that as a teenager. 

I spent the rest of lunch quizzing him about celebrities - who has had work and who hasn't, that kind of thing. Apparently, there is absolutely no reason at all nowadays to have a facelift - it can all be done, and much better, with the non-invasive stuff. Madonna - no surgery, no matter what one reads in Grazia. Nigella, absolutely the result of an expert hand with the injectable a and nothing more, 'Though of course,' Says Dr Russo, ''She is part Italian: of course she looks marvellous.' 

(The other thing that Dr Russo is find of saying is that 80% of ageing is preventable ... It's caused by the sun so wear a very high factor sun cream every day, even in London. This is particularly important after Fraxel - there's no point going to the bother of having sun damage removed if one only let's it happen again. The other thing he told me was - with some tact - to lose weight: the choosing of the face over the bottom thing, attributed to Catherine Deneuve, is a myth. I have obediently lost 8lbs - I'll let you know if I think he's right) Dr Luca Russo, 102 Harley Street Clinic
London, W1G 7JB

Sunday, 26 January 2014


Trefusis Minor is an enthusiastic writer of stories - I invited him to publish his latest - One Key That Aligns Them All - on my blog. Like many great authors, TM prefers to write long hand - I have typed it up for him and corrected the very few spelling mistakes, but it is in all other ways entirely unedited.

It was another day in my old life...or so I thought.

My father, Percy Jackson, sadly was a medic in the war. Good old man, he was, he had a coal black beard and a smile that filled you with joy. But on a dark, grim day, he got shot and was rushed back to London to get advanced medical care. No matter how much they tried, they could not save him, so with respect, all of his family gathered round my father's death bed and we said our goodbyes.

After a while, the family left, apart from one and that one was me, sobbing by my father's side until he took me by the arm and handed me something rather heavy. It was his notebook. It belonged to his father and his father before that. But it came with something a bit smaller; a key.

To describe in the best of words what the notebook looked like, it was a dark brown colour with metal branches and leaves as decoration, though it also had a piece of old parcel string wrapped around the middle. However, the key was an object rather different. It looked like some old golden church key hanging from a bright copper chain.
'Protect these with your life.' he said, and breathed his last.

Then my mother came in and told me it was time for me to go to bed. So she and I went to my bedroom. She blew out the candles, and left the room. A few minutes later, I jumped out of bed and threw open the curtains revealing the glowing moon. Then I swept across the room and grasped the notebook and turned to the front page. There was a line of thick black letters spelling,

'My name shall be your start:
I am a void, from which flows
Life, drop a copper into my head
And from there shall your wish be bred?'

That question was extremely challenging but thanks to my father's several riddles that he told when I was young, it was a breeze.

'The old wishing well, down at Old Sarum!' I cried with joy. So there I scurried as fast as I possibly could. When I arrived there, I ran straight to the old well and turned the page of the notebook. I leaned against the stone bricks and then I thought I saw a dark figure in the distance but I bet i imagined it. So I turned back and started reading again.

The next thing I knew, I had been pushed straight into the well. 'I can't go up, 'cause I'll just get shoved back in again. I can't go to my left or my right, so I shall have to go down.' I thought to myself.

So, there I went, I went deeper and deeper, darker and darker until, as if it were magic, the water finally ended and I found myself in deep undergrowth. So I went on, but then came from nowhere a dead end.

I sat down in despair, though just when my backside touched the ground, I heard a slight creak. It was a trapdoor! With a keyhole and everything.

I thought I'd try the key [which I had hung] around my neck but it had no use. Then I thought I saw something gleaming in the distance. I went to see what it could be - it couldn't hurt, could it? There I went, and what a coincidence, it was a lock-pick and bolt. I took them over to the trapdoor, because my father had shown me how to pick locks when once I was stuck in the downstairs kitchen.

It took several tries to pick the lock but at long last the trapdoor was open. Without looking, I jumped down and landed in something vine-like and smelling of dirt, but these were vines with a mangrove tree in the middle. I thought I was completely alone until I heard a deep croaky voice. I looked around to see who might be there. I could not see anyone so I asked a simple question: 'Who's there?' But this time the voice came directly from the tree so I went to have a look.

There was was no one to be seen. I asked one more time who was there but it was obvious now it was the tree who spoke. The vines grew around me; one already pinned me down. The tree spoke again, 'It is I who spoke, and I shall devour you.'

'Please, let's be reasonable,' I pleaded.

'Yes, of course, we will ask each other riddles. If you get one wrong, I will demolish you. If I get one wrong, I will let you live.'

So there we were, asking each other questions until he asked me a riddle I had never heard before;

'I devour trees, rocks, mountains, cities. I destroy planets. I crush humans and all other beings. What am I?'

It took several minutes and then the tree started growing its vines towards me. I tried to shout, 'Give me time!' but all that I could blurt out was 'Time! Time!'. The tree pulled back its vines and said 'Clever boy you are.'

'But....b... b...but,' I stammered, 'But - of course!'

'What do you mean? but of course?' He asked, 'Well, I guess it is none of my business. I have my duty to let you pass through the door as once I let another being.'

Before I could finish my investigations, the mangrove tree split into four wooden planks, one of which was booming down, throwing itself across the cave. Then there was oblivion.

When I got up, there was a nearly blinding light from the middle of the swampy cavern, gleaming like it was about to explode into a frenzy of flames. But as I got up, it started to slowly fade away into nearly complete darkness!

Though I hadn't noticed it before, I was lying on a bony corpse! I threw myself away in disgust and saw there was more to the corpse than there seemed. There were several pellets and a gun beside him, lying there, stiff and peaceful...

[Arrgghh - just as things were getting even more exciting, it appears Trefusis Minor has gone off for his sleepover with Les Jumeaux, neglecting to give me the remaining pages. I will collar him as soon as he is back and type up the rest. So, One Key That Aligns Them All is to be serialised, it seems, on Mrs Trefusis, rather than published in its entirety.....]

26th January: Greatly encouraged by being told he has 'great story-telling' and is reminiscent of the great Rider Haggard (which TM found immensely flattering once I'd reminded him who Rider Haggard was), we have Part Two, which I am instructed to write up below]

.... I slipped the pellets into my pocket and grabbed the gun by the sling and threw it over my back. As I turned, I saw a beautiful stone, covered in amazingly colourful gems. I approached it with astonishment, and there it was again, the nearly blinding light, this time coming from the face of the stone.

I walked towards it with extreme caution, then seeing, unlike the other parts of the stone, a smooth, dark key-hole, inside a golden slab, nestling in its centre. I took the key from around my neck and tried it in the lock. Miraculously, the key fitted and slid effortlessly in, but the moment it turned, I heard a slight crack and then a thunderous rumble of stones falling down from either side of the gloomy underworld. Dozens of mythical beasts jumped from the dark, shadowy tunnels made by the crumbling rocks and leapt towards me.

I gripped the musket I had taken from the skeleton and loaded it with the pellets. I pulled my penknife from my pocket and flicked out the blade. I stabbed a minotaur straight in the stomach as it was rushing towards me wielding a giant battle-axe. I shot a harpy right in the middle of her terrifying forehead with a pellet from the musket. She went howling across the undergrowth, knocking my musket straight out of my fist.

I had only two weapons left: my penknife and my lock-pickers bolt. Another minotaur galloped at me. I reached for him and ripped the ring from its nose but he hit me back with his huge fists, kocking me to the ground, jumping on me until he stopped; I had stabbed him straight in the lungs. I ran up, finding an orc swinging his hammer to knock me senseless, I leaped onto his back and gouged my bolt straight into his gullet, killing him instantly.

I saw my chance; a crack had appeared in the cave wall. I rushed towards it, leaving everything behind except the key clutched in my hand. Slipping straight through the crack, I heard an exploding boom from the cave behind me - but I did not want to turn back to that terrifying place.

I collapsed, exhausted, onto the ground, but at that moment, I found it was not solid rock beneath me but grass. It seemed almost impossible to finally breath fresh, frosty air; I was in a garden, but something seemed to me suspicious.....[to be continued...]

Friday, 24 January 2014

24th January. 30 Red Lipsticks. Bobbi Brown.

24th January
I have what has been unkindly described as an obsessive compulsive thing for red lipstick - when last I wrote about it I had fifteen, two years later a quick count suggests the total is now twenty-seven. 

It's so hard with red lipstick - they're so nuanced, and at least half the lipstick proliferation is down to the different colours my hair has been lately - what works as a Hitchcock blonde doesn't work when Julie-Anne Moore red.... Tom Ford's Wilful has been a recent favourite - sheer yet deeply pigmented which seems quite a feat, and I like the intensity and silkiness of the newish Lipstick Queen Velvet Rope range. 

Anyway, today, twenty-seven became thirty, with the addition of three delicious Bobbi Brown lipsticks in promisingly glamorous shades: Hollywood Red, Old Hollywood & Burnt Red (very promising shade - not too blue).

I'm going to wear red lipstick every day next week and see if it causes comment. 

I apologise as usual for the iPhone camera, though please give me points for attempting to arrange them. I know, Alexey Brodovich it ain't.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Restaurants. The Man of Property. Dr Luca Russo.

21st January

Managing to limp through January without The Wolseley, closed for a refurb of the kitchens. Now it's closed, I can't think of anywhere else to eat that I like,  a bit like when you know you have vegetarians coming to dinner and you can't for the life of you think of anything to cook that doesn't involve meat. I like the simple predictability of The Wolseley, its excellent coffee and the way there is always someone interesting to look at (I'm not talking about celebrities). I find I'm rather conservative in my choice of restaurants- I hate anywhere too cheffy, or where the food wears a tin hat and has a poem read to it by a waiter before you're permitted to eat it. Perhaps I'm like old James Forsyte in Galsworthy's The Man of Property -

In the upper room at french's, where a Forsyte could still get heavy English food, James and his son were sitting down to lunch.  Of all eating places, James liked best to come here.  There was something unpretentious, well-flavoured and filling about it and, though he had been to a certain extent corrupted by the necessity of being fashionable, and the trend of habits keeping pace with an income that would increase, he still hankered in quiet city moments after the tasty fleshpots of his earlier days.

I'm reading The Man of Property now - it's the first book I remember seeing at my parent's house, and I can't think why it's taken me this long to pick it up, it's utterly marvellous. Galsworthy is such a deft plotter and so precise with character. Within the first couple of hundred words, someone remarks - a propos of nothing - that she believes Irene has asked Soames for separate rooms, and immediately you know this is a marriage in trouble. Soames, the Man of Property, holds possessions dear - like all Forsytes, ownership is the central tenet of his life - he thinks Irene is his property, but realises the futility of trying to possess her. What is masterly is Galsworthy's resistance to offering the reader anything other than a Forsyte point of view, and it's this and its satire that makes it so compelling and thoughtful.  Is Galsworthy - a Nobel prize winner - now a much underrated and neglected writer? It seems to me that if you're neither a Victorian realist nor a Modernist, you get trapped in the cracks of The Canon - Ford Maddox Ford is another such, and he is brilliant - Parade's End quite the best book I've ever read.

22nd January

I visit Graham the hair God for re-blonding. He took me back to my natural auburn at my urging last year but Mr Trefusis loathed it, only ever having known me as a blonde, and didn't hesitate to tell me so. At first, everytime he said he hated it, I would have it dyed a more vivid red to provoke him, but that stopped being fun, so I'm bowing to pressure and Graham will have to start again. He has done, as ever, a tremendous job - I'm now a kind of Venetian blonde - there's enough red in there to remind me of what I once was, but it's blonde enough to appease Mr Trefusis.

23rd January

Horribly late as ever. I have a busy day, but am lunching - at a fashionable restaurant rather than a tasty fleshpot unfortunately - with the inestimable Dr Luca Russo, so he can inspect his work on my face (a little Botox which I think is way too subtle for my liking) and the effects of the fraxel (fresher, I think). I hope he pronounces me 'marvellous'.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


6th January
I sign on for Dry January, like much of my office, but feel it really must be cheating, since I'm quite sure drinking has given me up, rather than vice versa. I find it has reduced my enthusiasm for parties, of course, and London Collections: Men (as men's fashion week is called) is really appallingly timed, beginning the very second one returns properly after the break. I decide to miss the Esquire party at the new Rosemount Hotel, even though Boy George is the star turn (DJ-ing, not singing, of course), and at ten thirty I'm tucked up in bed, watching the party unfold on twitter, without one whit of regret. I fear I may be middle aged.

7th January
I am ambivalent about having missed the party. Firstly, it looked like jolly good fun, and secondly, it seemed - in retrospect - a little mimsy skipping a party simply because it was on a Monday night. I resolve to go to the second of the two Esquire parties this week - it's at BAFTA, after one of the men's shows, and I assume it will be a more sedate affair: cocktails, rather than all night jumping around in front of Boy George's decks. I am mistaken - it's in some basement space at BAFTA, which is full of special effects smokey mist and lots and lots of red laser beams, a kind of cross between Lear's heath and Mission Impossible's jewel robbery scene. Everyone is clustered in one corner near the bar as if trying to escape and the sound system is pounding out dirty house.
'Is that the fire alarm?' asks my guest
'What?' It is, of course, impossible to hear anyone say anything over the throb and bang of the music.
'I said: Is that odd beeping sound the fire alarm?'
'No, I wouldn't have thought so. Isn't it the music?'

But it is the fire alarm, and the rest of the party is herded away from the bar and up the stairs onto Piccadilly, where we gather to thank the Lord it's the first night in weeks it hasn't been pouring down and shiver away the minutes until the fire brigade arrive.
The culprit, it transpires, is the smoke machines - they pumped out so much artificial atmosphere they excited the smoke detectors into believing it was real.

8th/9th January
Whether or not it's the thirty minutes I spent without a coat outside party, or a new onslaught of germs from the tube (plague pits, that's what I say), I seem to be hatching a bug. I soldier on til mid morning the following day, then take to my bed, and make short work of the first week back at work by sleeping through the rest of it.

Friday, 3 January 2014


The Infant Trefusii are of great good cheer at the news they may stay up to see the New Year in. The TT puts a lot of time into choosing a suitable New Year's Eve outfit - at six she has more costume changes than Marie Antoinette, the clothes she is dressed in at her Levée are, it seems, rarely suitable for a whole day in her demanding social life. Trefusis Minor's party preparation involves cramming a few more Minecraft videos on Youtube. 

I'm in the bathroom struggling to attach false eyelashes when I hear the TT chirruping to herself, dancing around the landing, & singing 'Moves like Jagger'.

'Do you even know who Jagger is?' Calls Trefusis Minor to her from the laptop, in a most superior tone.

The TT is forced to admit she does not.

'Oh, you know nothing, do you,' says Trefusis Minor, dismissively, 'Nick [sic] Jagger was in a boy band in the olden days.'

New Year passed in a civilised blur of dinner and lunch parties, and the children were predictably vile to each other, having had no sleep at all. I escape to work where the vast pile of Things To Do has not evaporated as hoped, but has sat glowering on my desk over the holidays like an angry cat. I am in the kitchen making another cup of procrastination when the iphone buzzes with a text from Mr Trefusis. He is home alone with the Infant Trefusii and greatly amused by the TT's take on the Facts of Life:  'it's very hard to have a baby because you have to hold your breath while you squeeze it out of your bottom.'

Trefusis Minor is given to pontificating whilst in the bath - on cats being the living proof of the non-existence of reincarnation, on the weather in heaven (probably not too bad),  on the pointlessness of buying diamond jewellery, and so on. This evening's pensées are about wealth, career and class. 

He doesn't think he will be rich, because the only way to get rich is to own property (where does he get this stuff from?) and he will have to earn his own living. Perhaps as a doctor - do they earn proper money? On learning that doctors can take a decent salary, he decides medicine might be a possible career, but you have to try to get someone to stand in for you in the holidays and would that be a problem He'd rather be an inventor, but success would depend on a company wanting his invention, so there's a risk. The wealth creation business seems fraught with difficulty.

'But what would you do if you were rich?' I ask.

'I wouldn't buy a Ferarri, probably a Range Rover. We're not rich, are we, Mummy? If we're not rich, what class are we? Are we Second Class?'