Sunday, March 19

Madeleine In Flow

200 psi
Madeleine gets down and dirty power washing the front of the house for some dough. On the day, I must remind her she committed herself to the project. She does a bang up job.

A bottle of vodka goes missing from the pantry.
Me to Sonnet: "I'm pretty sure I put it there. I bet one of the kids took it."
Sonnet: "Would they do it?"
Me: "Madeleine would."
Later, me to Madeleine: "Did you take a bottle of vodka from the pantry?"
Madeleine: "I'm not going to lie to you Dad."
Me: "Well I'm glad for that."
Later, me to Sonnet: "Well you have to admit I nailed that one."

I get Madeleine a book, "The Joy Of Socks"
Madeleine: "You know there is another book called like that."
Me: "I hadn't thought of it."

Madeleine looks at my phone: "Why do you have your mobile number on your phone?"
Madeleine: "It's not your number, is it?"
Me: "I'm not sure who gets the credit here."

Royal Russell School

Post match
The morning spent in Croydon, a town as ugly as the name. Kate Moss is from here but other than that not much else. A giant Ikea. Rows of unloved houses with concrete fronts abutting busy traffic; the High Street spotted with a Sam's Chicken or bathroom tiling forcing one to think of toilets.

Above it all, on a hill in a park, is Royal Russell, an independent school with one of the best football clubs in the country, playing the Hampton 1st II, the top team at Hampton School. Eitan called up last week from the U16s and is one of the youngest on the pitch.

The match set for the Semi Final of the Trinity Cup. Both sides evenly matched in a thriller which sees Royal up 1-nil which Hampton equalises in the opening 2nd half. A 2nd Hampton goal appears to assure a victory but in the last moments Russell nails a corner kick. Extra time. Neither draws blood. Eitan almost nearly catches everybody off guard with a 20m shot that forces the goal keeper to go parallel to the turf.  Inches. Inches. In the end, the dreaded PKs.

Hampton loses but there is no shame.  Eitan plays over his head and the lads do their school proud.

Saturday, March 18


The VA's 70% female curators could just eat up the new Director
Sonnet and I attend the Directors Circle dinner in the Rafael Cartoon Gallery at the VA, a resplendent location surrounded be the famous canvases in their perpetual state of preparation for the final tapestries.  Two long tables are graced with the museum's finest China and silver while cherry blossoms adorn the setting - perfect for the season.  The lighting is dark and sombre, appropriate for the wealth in the chamber. Nic Coleridge, the Trustee's Chair, introduces the new Director Tristram Hunt.

Talk about pressure on poor Tristram. The museum's patrons are primed for his presentation and looking to be convinced by the former Labour politician who is only just in his forties at 42. What the heck does he know and why does he deserve it?

Tristram bounds to the podium and delivers a masterful speech full of enthusiasm and familiar words used by the rich - words like wonderfully, enormously, unrivalled, immensely and so on and so forth. It comes across.

I meet Tristram before the reception and naturally we discuss Sonnet's NYT Op-Ed and TEDx talk about museums not hiring female directors. It was a bit awkward, we both awknowledge.

Saturday, March 11


A friendly visitor
This little Goldcrest spent 40 minutes in the same spot outside our living room window. It was difficult to get a photo since he was in constant motion. It's hard to say what he was doing but I think likely eating the aphids off the tree.  

The Goldcrest is the smallest bird in Europe.

The British are mad about bird-watching. Not far from us is the Barnes Wetland Centre on the old reclaimed Barnes Elms reservoir on the Thames between Barnes and Fulham. The 29 hectares host birds not found anywhere else in London or on migration to somewhere else. As entertaining are the bird spotters in their camouflaging outfits with sturdy portable chair and hi-tech binoculars. Each bird recorded in a trusty ledger. It is one vision of retirement.


A sound engineer works his magic
As interesting as the concert itself is the mixing console - a DiGiCo - as Astorg acquired Audiotonix which owns the DiGiCo brand. The deal closed last month.

Mixing consoles combine, route and change the volumes, tones and dynamics of many different audio coming from the stage like the vocals, drums, saxophones and drums. There may be as many as 200 channels for the sound engineer to optimise before blasting the data to 1000s of speakers. DiGiCo is the world market leader used by the Rolling Stones, Beyonce, Adele and, of course, the Xx.

Chris, Madeleine's new friend, knocks on the door.
Me: "I'd better put my serious face on."
Madeleine: "Just don't act weird, OK?"
Me: "Whose acting weird?"
Madeleine: "Whatever."
Me to Chris: "Good evening, Chris."
Chris: "Hello, sir."
Me: "How was rowing this week?" [Dad's note: Chris rows for The Oratory school]
Chris: "It was fine, sir. We caught a crab though. In our race."
Me: "You caught a crab, did you?"
Chris: 'Yes, sir. We caught a crab. In the eights."
Me: "Well I'm sure it was a healthy crab."
Madeleine: "Oh my god."

Friday, March 10

The Xx

I duck out to see The Xx at Brixton Academy on the first night of 7 sold out concerts.

The double header continues to last night when Sonnet and I see Edward Albee's 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?" made famous by Elisabeth Taylor and Richard Burton who allegedly lived out their real lives in the film. And, boy, is it miserable but amazing theatre. Imelda Staunton (who also plays Dolores Umbridge in the Potter movies) is devastating.  Sonnet spots Judi Dench who offers a standing ovation.

And happily it is Friday again.

Sunday, March 5

Eitan Attacks

No weekend is complete without an action-shot so here it is: Eitan heading the ball against RGS Guilford.

Hampton play the semi-finals of the Trinity Cup (an important one, Eitan says), defeating Guilford with a satisfying 2-1 result after being down one goal.  The boys deserve the win having outplayed their opponent - it is often not the way with football. Eitan plays to his strength at center mid-field with flawless execution setting the tone for the come-back win.

Next up : Royal Russell, the best independent school in the country.

TV Berlin

The Fernsehturm, at 368 meters, is the 2nd tallest structure in Europe, a half-meter shorter than the Riga tower in Latvia. But hey - who's competing ? Completed in 1969, Berlin's tower was made to be a symbol to East and West Berlin.

So I am in Berlin last week for the Super Return conference, the largest conference dedicated to private in the world, and 25 meetings with investors. It is a grind but also fun: following the fundraising I know many people here so we catch up on various activities and gossips.

I make sure to visit Berlin's 'museum island' and, this time, it is the Pagomon Museum which owns the world's largest collection of Islamic art, including the Ishtar Gate, which was the 8th gate to the inner city of Babylon, constructed from about 575 BC and excavated in the early 20th century.

While beautiful, Islamic art is void of human representations due to the Islamic believe that the creation of living beings is unique to God, and therefore the role of images and image makers is considered controversial.

The A Squad

Emanuel competes in a field hockey tournament. Maddy is on the A team.

The girls arrive at 45 the night before for an over-night, ostensibly to get a good night sleep before the 7AM ride to the school pick-up (Sonnet reports laughter at 1Am). They are joined by two boys which adds to the gaiety. When I see them together I think : Kids, but Madeleine is confident and mature.  I remind myself what my friends were up to at this age. My eyes are open to it.

Me: "How nice of you to join me and your mother for an adult conversation." [Dad's note: We have dinner together while Eitan studies]
Madeleine: "Yeah, so ?"
Me: "It's taken me 15 years to get here."
Me: "15 years of hard work."
Madeleine: "Gee, thanks Dad."
Me: "You are my masterpiece."
Sonnet: "How do you expect her to talk to us when you tease her like that:"
Me: "One word: Food."
Madeleine rolls her eyes.
Me: "A second word: Allowance."
Madeleine: "I get it, OK ?"
Me: "Kid, you can always count on food and allowance from your Dad. Even when you are 40."
Me: "As long as you talk to us."

New York 90s

Photo from Adam in 1995 taken during the first weeks of my re-location to NYC for the Columbia Business School.

That was a hard transition leaving everything I held dear : family, friends and of course Sonnet. The mountains and blue Pacific and an easy life living at home, running a non-profit I valued and training my ass off for road races and a marathon. I suppose : it needed to be shaken up.

When I arrived in New York (it was 50:50 I would remain, having deferred Columbia for 2 years), I stayed with Christian before finding an apartment suitable for Sonnet and her cat Dominique. Katie was there. Before long, Adam arrived and, with other waylaid Berkeley friends, we spent a brief summer escaping the oppressive heat while hacking around Manhattan : Jogs in Central Park, martinis at MOMA, night clubs, Sheeps Meadow , Long Island beaches and New Years in Soho. It was a wholly unsettled time, too busy to be enjoyed, miserable and yet glorious. And now romantic.