Friday, November 28

Rough Day

Richmond Park
And it's Friday, another week gone by.

Eitan runs the 3k borough championships, which he has owned for the past four years. Lining up, our hero not 100% with a cold and still catching up from missed training due to osgood schlatter. More so, the curve is catching up: the boys who train are making strides during these all important youthful years.

Eitan finishes 11th after rounding the half-way at fourth. The second loop and a difficult hill does him in. Not a bad result but he's disappointed as the top 9 qualify for counties.

Me: "Do you think I'm bald?"
Me: "Seriously. What do you think."
Madeleine: "Well, um, you're not bald. I mean you have hair."
Me: "But you can see my head."
Madeleine: "It's like 65%. You have 65% hair on your head."
Me: "So 35% bald. I can live with that."

Sunday, November 23

Thanksgiving Sunday

Halley and Sonnet
Willem picks up a 14 lb turkey from an Oxford colleague and professor who, when not on campus, owns a small holding where he raises free range livestock (I love the eccentricity). The bird, named Cyril, arrives frozen and goes straight into the oven for five hours, perfectly done at the end. 

We enjoyed a large American ex pat community in our first years in London - a group now mostly dispersed across the US and around the world. We hosted a number of Thanksgivings for 20 or 25 people in our flat in Maida Vale, crawling under the table to serve people. One thing that has changed: I now watch the Detroit Lions vs. the New England Patriots. I only need to tap my ruby slippers together three times . ..

Eitan's Hampton School A team loses 1-nil to Chigwell School.

It feels like it should be a holiday but back to work tomorrow.

Happy Returns

Halley and Willem
Halley and Sonnet spend the day preparing early Thanksgiving. Big things are happening in their family: Willem is heading up the Oxford's mindfulness center having built up a similar program and first of its kind at Exeter University. He is two weeks on the job. He is also taking up a Chair at the Univ of Oxford as Prof of Clinical Psychology in the Dept of Psychiatry and notes "that I feel like a young Turk again" and one should always feel on the up and up. [Dad's note: One of the major research programs Willem is working on is mindfulness at secondary schools and Hampton School was one of the first to sign on].

Zoe is in her AS levels preparing for her exams and running cross country (she recently won a race in East Devon) while Ava continues to pursue top level football with the Oxford United FA Center of Excellence. Halley keeps it all together and moving forward in a most forceful direction. Halley is also involved with CIC which offers mindfulness courses in Exeter.

Me: "Give me a quote."
Zoe: "Lower your voice and strengthen your argument." 
Willem: "I can respect that."

Christmas At Claridges

I am in Paris this week so Sonnet attends solo the launch of the Dolce & Gabbanna Christmas tree at Claridges with, you know, a lot of models. Sonnet says, "that sucker [ie, the tree] is big, maybe 20 feet high". The kids impressed to learn that 'Made In Chelsea Star' Mark Francis in attendance (Eitan: "Did you get a selfie?")

In Paris the lack of foot traffic on rue de Faubourg St Honoree a marked contrast to year's past. The lack of buzz reflective of France, which is somehow demoralized with its lagging economy, deficits and failure of leadership. Young people in Paris want to be in London and South Kensington now has over 400k of France's brightest. Yet, and despite this, Paris remains the most magical European city and I am lucky to know it.

Sunday, November 16


Sonnet could not possibly be a better mother. She is constantly upbeat and organised around the kids ceaseless various activities and, above all else, she is their champion and confident. She is their role model. Somehow she manages all of this while I am travelling and with a full time job. She is the reason our house is a home. We are blessed.

I find a bottle of Haut-Medoc 2004 in the pantry, opened, and not by me. The wine earned a Bronze medal at the 2006 Decanter World Wine Awards amongst other recognitions. Sonnet used it in a beef bolognese.


So who is the is Benedict Cumberbatch, I wonder, as girls swoon over Sherlock and his long curls? Cumberbatch may be the Sean Cassidy for this generation but even more: He has appeared in such films as Atonement, Star Trek and 12 Years A Slave as well as other BBC dramas like Hawkings.

In life, Cumberbatch attended boarding schools from the age of eight, was educated at Brambletye School  in West Sussex, and was an arts scholar at Harrow School. He was a member of The Rattigan Society, Harrow's principal club for the dramatic arts which was named after Old Harrovian and playwright Terence Rattington. He was involved in numerous Shakespearean works at school and made his acting debut as Titania, Queen of the Fairies, in A Midsummer Night's Dream when he was 12.Cumberbatch's drama teacher, Martin Tyrell, called him "the best schoolboy actor" he had ever worked with. He was also part of the rugby team, and painted in oil while at Harrow.

After leaving Harrow, Cumberbatch took a gap year to volunteer as an English teacher at a Tibetan monastery in Darjeeling. He then attended the Univ of Manchester, where he studied Drama. He continued his training as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art with a degree in Classical Acting.  (source: Wiki)

All this and not even 30. He will be with us for a while which is good news.

Game Off

Sunday morning which means club football and today the boys take on the Met Police. They go down swinging, 3-nil, in a game tied nil-nil at half-time.  It's been a rough season and today's outcome puts the Lions in the bottom half of their league. Still, for the joy of the game.

Sonnet and I out to fun restaurant Pizza East in the edgier part of Notting Hill, an area we are familiar with for many visits to the Portobella Road and market in our early days in London. We are with Natalie and Justin, who has recently been offered the CEO role of a substantial UK business. He is perfectly suited for it.

Saturday, November 15

London Youth Games

Parliament Hill, Hamstead Heath
Madeleine competes in today's London Youth Games representing Richmond borough having qualified several weeks ago when she won the Wandsworth schools championship on the Clapham Common. The course a muddy 2K and begins fast: straight up Parliament Hill. Madeleine in the top 10%, by my judgement, huffing and puffing, but then hardship: she slips and falls on a tight bend and pulls out of the race with 500m to go. I greet our fallen warrior on the course. She is covered in mud and feeling downbeat; we get her patched up at the aid station then cubano sandwiches for lunch from the local farmers market. She's now watching television and feeling better.

Sonnet in Amsterdam to give a lecture. I have lunch at Fortnum And Mason with the Ladies That Lunch. Greg in London for three hours en route to Maryland following an AGM in Barcelona. We catch up.

The Heath

Hamstead Heath
Hamstead Heath is a large, ancient London park covering 790 acres. The Heath is rambling and hilly, perfect for a Sunday stroll or cross country race. The cozy Hamstead village is known for its intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary associations and, perhaps not surprisingly, has the highest concentration of millionaires in London. 

So Sonnet and I split an evening: She to the Italian Ambassador's house to discuss fashion with the Good and the Great and me, to Emanuel school to meet with Madeleine's 14 teachers to get the low-down on her performance. I get the better deal. The feedback is excellent and it is clear that our gal is making her mark. What stands out, in the feedback, is Madeleine's enthusiasm and effort; sure, there are a few minor comments about chitter-chat but overall she is doing tops in her school work. We could not be more proud. [Dad's note: since the parent-teacher evening, we received a letter from Madeleine's form teacher telling us Madeleine scored top 10% in school effort work.

Tuesday, November 11

Early Hours

Sonnet and I up at 5:30AM to jog 4 laps around Palewell Park. Our preferred run is Richmond Park but it is pitch black this time of year and spooky plus the annual deer cull locks the park's morning gates for the next six weeks.  The dog is ever on the ready for exercise and could care less about the hour of the day.

The morning darkness recalls my teenage swimming years, also up around 5:30AM, when I biked to the King Jr high school swimming pool. Berkeley was sound asleep as I cycled from the Northside hills to the flats, passing streetlamps and front lights - sometimes in the rain with my shoes protected by plastic bags. I envied those still asleep. Bill (God bless him) delivered a two-hour workout for me and Katie (we had our own lane) while Moe swam laps with the lap-swimmers. If I recall correctly, Moe swam one length of the 25 yd pool for each year of his age which seemed like a pretty good deal against the 7,000 yards Katie and I put in.

Following our effort this morning, we are rewarded with a beautiful sunrise filled with warm colours; Madeleine wanders down for breakfast and I wake Eitan ("5 more minutes.")

Sunday, November 9


'Controversy' single
Sonnet and I join Emily's birthday party themed "Exposed" where she holds a salon format inviting her interesting friends to offer missives on the subject. A choreographer, for instance, discusses how she feels when her work performed by others. A techie turned designer describes his app that concentrates central and peripheral focus and an entomologist tells how plants offer signals to pollinate them - "a glowing runway".  We conclude the evening with Prince's 1999 - Eitan and Madeleine would have been mortified to see us dance. Ah, well.

Thinking of Prince, I recall West Campus where my class spent the 9th grade while the Berkeley High School C building retrofitted to make earthquake sound in 1982. That year the black girls enthralled by 'Controversy', Prince's break-through album one year before '1999' which became a mainstay on the disco floor and has followed me across .. . 30 years.

'Controversy' was a racy album with song tracks that I am embarrassed to write like 'Private Joy', 'Jack U Off' and 'Do Me, Baby' but I suppose this is now easily eclipsed by the stuff Eitan and Madeleine exposed to in music or online. Back then it was about the funk before the lyrics (though I am sure our parents only heard the lyrics, if they knew of Prince at all).

Today is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and Gorbechav warns of the new Cold War.

Sonnet: "Tell me three careers, if you had to imagine into the future, that you would be interested in doing."
Madeleine: "One, a full time actress. Two, a physical therapist. And three, to work at Google."
Sonnet: "Great ideas. Give me one sentence for each explaining why."
Madeleine: "I think it would be amazing to be in a film. If I was a physical therapist I would make a difference in people's lives. And Google because it is such a cool company."
Sonnet: "Those are excellent explanations."

Friday, November 7

Sunday, November 2

Post Game

Sunday afternoon following two-weeks of half-term break and that can only mean one thing: homework. Eitan must review history and French "and do a bit of writing." Same as it ever was.

Sonnet and I review our last couple of weeks which sees our family in NYC, Minneapolis-St Paul, Madrid and Tokyo. Pretty cool.

Me: "Tell me one thing about the half-term break for the blog."
Eitan: "It was fun."
Me: "Can you do more than that?"
Eitan: "Minneapolis was fun. I got to meet Henry's friends and stuff. And I went to an American football game on Friday night. The home team won. The atmosphere was really good because everyone was supporting the team."
Me: "What do you think of American football?"
Eitan: "It's OK. A bit boring I guess."
Me: "How so?"
Eitan: "I don't know. It's kind of slow. And there is a lot of throwing the ball around."
Me: "I see your point."

Coach's Huddle

"Watch the through balls"
The Sheen Lions battle the Kingstonian Youth to a 3-3 draw which our side equalises with a minute to go on a free kick by Woo from 40 yards out, headed into the net by Luke. Joy! The game notable for the miserable weather and Sonnet and I soaked and cold by half-time. Eitan is selected 'Man Of The Match' (and now happily watches Manchester United vs. Manchester City as I blog). 

Aneta with us for the weekend and we catch up on her summer, spent at a Jewish camp in Western Massachusetts, and her other various travels in the US.  She is as agreeable as ever and always a good vibe to have around.

Sonnet takes Madeleine to the Richmond High Street for some Sunday afternoon shopping. And the passage of time rolls on.