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Friday, 24 August 2012

Taj Mahal me in the morning...and a Tale of the Unexpected.

I haven't seen my cousin M. for a long time now,so a massive catch up was well overdue. We sweated it out at an outdoor cafe,nursing iced teas and trying to control our excessive sweating.

She was telling me about her trip to India with her friend M.:
"Everyone was telling us that we must get a room over looking the Taj Mahal..because the view is  so beautiful when you get up in the morning."  
"Wow!" I exclaimed just a little jealous.
"Yeah...the next morning we awoke to FOG....which was practically the case every morning!!"
So much for a Room with a View.

M. was at a party in Jeddah when she struck up a conversation with a charming Italian gentleman who was there with his fiance :
" So have you been to Jeddah before?" asked M. politely.
"No,but I have spent a lot of time in Riyadh in the past" replied the Italian gentleman  amicably.
"Really?" asked M.ever the curious one. "What  business were you in?"
" I sold drugs" he replied nonchalantly.
Hiding her surprise at such a ballsy revelation she continued the conversation: "Yes...we do have a lot of problems with erm... drugs here...a lot of young people buying them....such a problem.."
"Oh, I didn't sell to any under age users" replied the somewhat blase Italian as he smiled and moved on. 
 M. beat a hasty retreat to regain some form of composure before spying her friend and host of the party and pulling her aside: 
"Are you Insane??! ...How could you invite a drug dealer to your party!!?"
"A what? Who!"
"That Italian guy over there..." as M. turned to locate him, he was looking  back at her with an almighty grin on his face.
"Oh for God's sake Mona!! He was messing with you!! Gullible much?"

Turns out Mr Italian is a respectable business man and a teller of tall tales.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Carlos Ruiz Zafon's "The Prisoner of Heaven"& Graham Joyce's"Some Kind of Fairy Tale"

I started my journey with Carlos Ruiz Zafon in "The Shadow of the Wind"...and picked myself up and flung myself into " The Angel's Game" as soon as it was released...both novels are epic in every sense of the word. So you can imagine my glee when "The Prisoner of Heaven" came out a few months ago and took me straight back to 1957 Barcelona and the Sempere & Sons bookshop....this is the story of Fermin now and how it all ties in with Daniel Sempere.
Just buy it...Read it and pray that Mr. Zafon is almost done with the next one...

I love me some good,mind engrossing tales of enchantement and I found that and more in Graham Joyce's novel: "Some Kind of Fairy Tale".
Tara Martin disappears in the woods of Outwoods...and only reappears 20 years later,at Christmas, showing up at her parents doorstep thinking that only 6 months had gone by. Oh Boy! This is good...as it says on the back of the book :
"Some Kind of Fairy Tale" is a very English story. A story of woods and clearings, a story of folk tales and family histories...a story of enchantments that lie behind the evryday.."
I haven't read something this good in this genre since:"The Stolen Child" by Keith Donohue.

Must buy, must read....

Sleuthing in Saudi Arabia and some rip roaring summer reads...

I am a HUGE fan of Zoe Ferraris' novels, having read all 3 and desperate for more.She now lives in San Francisco after having lived in Saudi Arabia with her then Palestinian/Saudi husband and his extended family.
Her novels pick up all the idiosyncrasies and give you a clear and mesmerising insight into modern day Saudi Arabia and is a refreshing new arena for clean cut and absorbing police investigations...CSI SA...and what a refreshing change from their US counterparts in Vegas,NYC and LA.

"Kingdom of Strangers" is her 3rd novel set in Jeddah,Saudi Arabia ...and a riveting read. This is a tale of sleuthing and serial killers,that takes the reader from desolate deserts,to downtown police stations in Jeddah. Zoe navigates us through,alleys and shopping malls, her characters are intriguing and so multi faceted within the constrictions of a non too liberal country.Who would have imagined that Saudi Arabia would become a new playground for literary,modern day (crime)novels and create such a buzz?
Zoe's first novel: "The Night of the Mi'raj" and in "City of Veils", her 2nd introduce you to the main characters Nayir,the Bedouin tracker and Katya Hijazi who works in forensics and is desperate to be allowed into the men only world of police investigation.
Highly entertaining...I can't recommend them enough.

Keija Parssinen was born in Saudi Arabia and lived there for 12 years:a 3rd generation expat.
In her debut novel "The Ruins of Us", based I believe in or around Dammam...Keija tells a tale of love in epic proportions that bound a fiery Texan beauty to her Saudi billionaire student boyfriend. She agrees to marry him and return to the Kingdom with him,despite his family's objection...and how,many years later with 2 grown children,Rosalie discovers that her husband Abdullah has taken a second wife....Chaos ensues, hearts are torn and divided and their son Faisal faces a dilemma that could ultimately destroy their family.
A beautiful and absorbing read.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

...Overflowing Trousers hems...

Don't get me started on them!
There is nothing worst than seeing a well dressed woman wearing a pair of trousers that are too long and overflowing onto the pavement...
Look at example numero uno (once again taken from UK Elle...):

....So the print passes the Elle test..but they don't see the pooled hem around her invisible feet? Ridiculous....and yet I have seen it time and again.
No one knows a good seamstress? Would be a shame to spend £345 on these trousers to use as swiffers on the streets of NYC...

What the Hell is up with CHANEL?

Chanel is:"... my first,my last,my everything".
I can be clothed,shod, bejewelled and bedazzled by this one fashion powerhouse. I can be spritzed with "Jersey", "Beige" or "No.22" and be happy from dusk till dawn. It is vintage at its best,an auction house's dream and a shoppers eternal delight. 

So why are my eyes assaulted with this freak show in UK Elle? Nothing,simply nothing whispers Chanel...what I hear is SHOUTING!...as that is what these clothes are doing and not to grab the right kind of attention.
See for yourselves:

What in God's green earth...is that sweater? It says Chanel on the page but looks like the Iceberg sweaters of yore I bought back in the 80s...a Kansai Yamamoto flashback !!Anything but Chanel!
I am horrified!...and there's more....

Apart from the multicoloured bags...that come out looking like a dime a dozen here!!! I am befuddled by the lack of class...Alice Dellal who is edgy at best ,a little scary at worst...comes off looking like Worzel Gummidge in drag...
(I am shaking my head....in horror...)

...and for the Piece de Resistance?
A velour romper suit that is a cross between the Michelin man's pyjamas and a straight jacket. Don't get me started on the things on her feet....that simply cannot be referred to as : shoes...for that would be an insult.
What is left?
Hopefully a beautifully tailored coat underneath the Hell's Angel sleeveless jacket that Big Bird has thrown up over....

Hopefully in- store...will be less of an eye- sore....

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Mika's got something to say....

....He's gay!
What a revelation...! 
Well at least now he can get on with promoting his latest album: "The Origins of Love" apparently based on his past trysts with men.So Peter Pan has stopped prancing about in his tidy whities and has finally maned up...about bloody time.

Mika didn't just come out of the closet...he came out from the back of the wardrobe after a longggg sojourn in Narnia....Come on Mika! Here' a secret: we all knew....

Monday, 6 August 2012

RIP...Faithful Maui Jims.

One of the many gifts I bought my BF through the years has been a pair of thin, wire framed "oh so light" Maui Jim's....his only pair of decent sunglasses.

Recently, he has been driving me insane by constantly misplacing them. I would quietly fume and wash my hands of the whole affair before he would produce them out of thin air like a rabbit from a hat a few days later:they were at the gym, squeezed beneath his car seat... When he was last convinced that they had been stolen ...I narrowly missed obliterating them underfoot as I stepped into my car.
The final straw was in NYC last May: after my BF's frenzied shopping spree at American Eagle on Times Square, we left the shopping bags in our hotel room before setting back out again into the mid morning sunshine. I slipped on my sunglasses and my BF's hand went instinctively to his t-shirt collar, I saw his face pale in the glaring sunlight:
"Shit!....my sunglasses... I must have left them at the store!" he quickly exclaimed,trying desperately to diffuse the ticking timebomb that was about to explode in his face:

"Not again! You can bloody forgeddabout finding them ...those glasses are long gone by now...I am NEVER going to buy you another pair of expensive sunglasses again!!!.."
On and on I ranted and raved at him as we trotted back to American Eagle. 
"I left some sunglasses behind in your changing room...has anybody found them?"
"No Sir..."
" Can I have a look anyway?" asked my BF .
And ...there they were, hanging on the clothes bar taunting me...their escape thwarted.
"OMG! Do you know how lucky you are?" I said amazed by our finding.

Fast forward 2 months later: we are on the scooter buzzing around and from the corner of my eye I see something fall to the road as my BF exclaims out loud:
"What was that???"I exclaim..hoping against hope...
"My sunglasses....."he said as he quickly turned round to get them.
Just as we  turned around and located them by the roadside....did I watch in horror as a car drove up  and instead of narrowly missing them...as their destiny would have dictated by now...it unceremoniously ran over them with an ever so quiet:Cruunnnch!
I punched BF in the arm out of shock and horror, as though I had just witnessed a murder:
"Owww! Why'd you hit me for? Those sunglasses were clearly no longer ment to stay with me...!"
"So you're telling me what? That they leaped to their death ?!!!..."

So this is an ode to his Maui Jim's:Hopefully their suicide was painless.
Needless to say that my BF is firmly sticking to his cheap Decathlon sunglasses....for now.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

My Summer Reading List:My Week with Marilyn & The Chaperone...

I didn't expect much when I saw the movie : "My week with Marilyn"...thinking Michelle Williams would not be up to task...she blew my mind!
And so did this true story...so I bought the book by Colin Clark himself.

This book is actually 2 books in one,comprising of: " The Prince, the Showgirl and Me"..which is perfectly captured in the film and the second half : " My week with Marilyn" which is a more in depth account of  what happened in  Colin's life when during a week,he briefly shone in Marilyn's eyes.
 I recommend both : the book and the film if you are as curious as I about Marilyn,her highs,her lows and her incredible power over men.

"The Chaperone"is a disappointing title that could have had a little more oomph in it. If I had not read what it was about on Amazon...my eyes would have skimmed right over it and that would have been a great,great shame as this novel is truly beautiful.

This is about...well in a peripheral way...another Hollywood legend,the dark and brooding:Louise Brooks and her chaperone the main character in this engaging novel. From Wichita, Kansas and a small life to New York and its thrills. The characters are as full bodied as a fine wine and I loved each and every one of them...and that is nearly never the case!

"I am ready for my close up...Mr DeMille" as well as Louise Brooks' autobiography:"Lulu in Hollywood."

More later....