Friday, January 29, 2010

Almost Better Than Polygamy

At character actress Marianne Stone's (above pic) fun and tearful memorial party held at Lauderdale House, I was impressed how Mary Noble's (Marianne's real name) youngest daughter Kara Noble manages to stay best friends with all of her exes.

Although Kara (who now has a Property Empire) emigrated to Los Angeles after her glittering career as a radio presenter came to an abrupt end, she has managed to stay closely in touch with all of her ex UK based husbands.

While she was entwined with Bruce, her current American beau at the bash, she merrily reminisced with three of her ex-husbands: husband number one - Robert Frew (bottom pic - on the right), an antiquarian book seller and father of Kara's son Nick. Husband number two: ex-Capitol Radio producer Simon Booker (pic 6), now a TV writer. Partner number three: advertising guru Nick Fox (bottom pic - on the left), a scion of the Fox's Biscuit Family, and even an old flame whom she dated in her teens: the musician and film composer Nick Laird-Clowes (pic 5) when they both had waist length hair.

What's also amazing is that all of Kara's ex-husbands and partners are all the best of friends. How does she do it?!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Terence Pepper Delivers The 60s

This photo (double click on it) by Natalia Calvocoressi shows Terence Pepper, the Curator of the Beatles to Bowie: The 60s Exposed exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and some of his staff, plus Rootstein models of the 1960s Including: Pattie Boyd in a dress by Ossie Clark with a print by Celia Birtwell, Twiggy and Sandie Shaw in Biba and Jill Kennington (who used to be my favourite model) in Mary Quant. Phew!

When Terence offered to give me a guided tour of his exhibition today, which he devised as well as curated, I jumped at the chance.

'And come and see the two princes,' he said.

At first I thought he was referring to Edward and Richard incarcerated in the Tower before I realised he was referring to the 'historic' portrait of William and Harry by Nicky Philipps in the gallery which is the first one of them together.

After I had curtsied in front of the pic, Terence took me round the exhibition which is one word 'dynamic'. The show comes off on Janaury 24th, but Londoners who missed it will be able to catch it at Newcastle (the Laing Art Gallery) and Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery as part of the tour.

Over 100 of the 150 photos have never been displayed before, and Terence meticulously filled me in on each photograph while we went round the exhibit (there's also an incredible pic of Shirley Bassey by Mary McCartney).

The entire show was like a blast of déjà vu. I ogled the antique memorabilia and photographs taken by the 60s photographers, who were responsible for making the singers and groups perennially famous with their different images during the decade. Snappers included David Bailey (his pics were the biggest in the show!), Gered Mankowitz, Robert Whitaker, Brian Duffy, Terence Donovan, Richard Avedon and too many more to laundry list here.

Eavesdropping bystanders were fascinated by Terence's gossipy stories behind the pics, which included the likes of Helen Shaprio, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Johnny Kidd (snapped by the legendary Angus McBean), Adam Faith (snapped by Cecil Beaton), Bob Dylan in 1966, Mick Jagger with Francoise Hardy, the Rolling Stones, Dusty, Jimmy Hendrix, The Who, Bob Dylan and a gem of a pic by Dezo Hoffman: Steampacket with Rod Stewart and Long John Baldry dressed as Mods, Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger. Aaaaagh!!!

While Terence continued his way through the show discussing the pics, he attracted more and more eavesdropping followers until by the time we arrived in 1969, he had a congo of fascinated hanger-ons who were so impressed by his rhetoric, they all bought his book. I was so overwhelmed by the exhibition, that I even got a copy of Terence's glossy Book (with an essay by Jon Savage) of the show - a real collector's item especially as Terence signed it.

Terence then showed me around the Twiggy: A life In Photographs exhibit which is in the gallery's Siberia room 33, and will be on until March 24th. The only sign of Justin de Villeneuve was a co-credit on one of the stills, I wonder why?! (There's also a book out on Twiggy by Pepper called Twiggy: A Life In Photographs which proves how prolific he really is).

Art Shows Should Have A Government Health Warning

I blame the planet's accelerating over population for over crowded art galleries, and intend to invest in a crash course of pushing and shoving especially for the Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy.

I thought I would have a civilised evening when I popped into Peter Clossick's and Julie Held's new exhibition at the Boundary Gallery in leafy St Johns Woods.

But my relaxing evening was not to be, as I was literally pressed against the paintings by the enthusiastic hoards of critics and duffel coated art enthusiasts. Thankfully for my New & Lingwood coat, the oil paint on the canvasses was dry.

It would be worth striving to be a famous artist just for the perks. Once, when David Hockney was still a peroxide blonde, he took a small group of us (three in all) round a Matisse exhibition at an empty Hayward Gallery before the show had even previewed.

But, what impressed me more than Hockney's knowledgeable guided tour was the curator: after unlocking the gallery especially for us, he made us all a cup of tea before we traipsed round the exhibition. Bliss!

Monday, January 18, 2010

70s Style and Design Plug In Aid of Haiti

Dominic Lutyens has co-written with Kirsty Hislop the most definitive reference book on the Seventies called 70s Style and Design. (Dominic and Kirsty, please send my 'fiver' for the plug to the Haiti appeal).

Dominic is now in the middle of producing his next book on Celia Birtwell (for Quadrille), whom Karl Lagerfeld once declared to be the best textile designer in the world. Friends of Ms Birtwell, who include David Hockney are currently raiding their archives for (incriminating?!) photographs of Celia for Dominic's new book.

I don't have a grand piano to put my framed photographs on, so all my pics are nailed to the walls. After Dominic came round today, he walked off with several photographs including some of me dressed in a one off costume designed by Birtwell. Fashion pundits take note: she made this reversible outfit when she was designing clothes for the 'late' Radley fashion label, way before she designed stuff for Top Shop.

Unfortunately, I no longer have a shrine to Celia Birtwell, as after Dominic had finished looting the snaps of her, my walls were left bare. Is this the modern way to do picture research?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Best Candidate for Film 2010

People are saying that the film buff Mark Kermode is the first in line to replace the 'late' Jonathan Ross for his BBC Film 2010 slot. Mark insists he hasn't yet heard anything about the job from the BBC, so maybe the BBC are using Ross's departure as a good excuse to drop their Film programme which 'nobody watches'.

Admittedly, photogenic Film buff Mark Kermode would be an excellent choice to present the programme, even though sometimes he lacks good judgement. I.e. it's common knowledge his number one pin up is The Exorcist's Linda Blair.

However, I think the encyclopedic film critic Alan Jones (pictured), who knows 'everyone' in the Film Industry and is a member of the Critics' Circle should be given the job. For a start, he knows more about horror films than anybody else in the Industry, has written scores of film books including Rough Guide To Horror Movies, and at the moment is toiling on his friend Guillemo Del Toro's authorised biography.

Alan, who founded and co-runs the annual FrightFest horror film festival, has an army of respectful film disciples including Kermode, whom Alan adopted as his Trilby straight after Mark got out of university and started out as a print critic.

If all those perfect credentials aren't enough to persuade the BBC to hire Mr Jones as their film guru, they should also read his regular FrightFest gossipy film blog, which alone should persuade the Beeb's powers that be to seriously consider him for the coveted Film slot role.

(Incidentally, on February 16th, Alan and David McGillivray, the veteran film producer/critic/screenwriter will be at the Lighthouse in Brighton - 28 Kensington Street - to talk about 'all things horror'. Click on Alan's FrightFest Blog for details of ‘Under the Skin of the Horror Genre’ event which starts at 6.30 p.m.).

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

"Growing Old Is Not For Sissies"

My first Fave Rave of 2010 has got to be Sat Raimondo (click on his link for his contact details), a miraculous healer who has a vast repertoire including invigorating Indian head massages and psychic readings.

He came to my rescue over the weekend when he gave me a therapeutic hand massage, which has enabled me to key tap without pain once more.

He also sensibly advised me not to key tap for long stretches at a time but to take breaks - I shall dig out my egg timer then.

It's a relief to know he is on permanent standby when my hands (especially my damaged thumbs) get into chronic trouble again (I got RSI in my thumbs last year when I knocked out "I Was Willing To Die For It", a book - out this month - on the scientist Dr Sammy Lee).

Bette Davis was right when she said that "growing old is not for sissies."