Saturday, 29 December 2012


As we are on the doorstep of the Award ceremonies, I have been thinking back to the past winners which for me were  incredible. Let's not forget their brilliance.
After eight days of feeling like death I am now getting better. Throwing away the pills, realising a little pain is good, it reminds me that I am alive. I have watched so many films in the last few days, and can happily say that the best cameraman on the planet for me was Douglas Slocombe. I watched The Servant with Dirk Borgarde,  last night and adored it as much as The L Shaped room which he also shot.  A different director but so stunningly dark and moody. I love his ideas and wish I was able to make a film with him.  Perhaps I can wake him up he is 99 and still alive?.The Servant which was totally moving  won a BAFTA for Slocombe's work and loads of other prizes as it should. Harald Pinter won for his writing. Incidentally The Servant cost 135,000 pounds in 1963.
I adored watching Mr Skeffington.  Betty Davies is totally brilliant as the vain and shallow Mrs Skeffington. Adored by so many men but ultimately sad with her hair pinned on, fake skin and lashes. Reminds me to be natural, I do not want to be like her  and stink having sprinkled so much scent on that a doctor could not stand it. An incredible performance and a good reminder, she was nominated for an Oscar for it, perhaps she should have won?. Of course so many talented people out there have not.
I have gobbled up All about Eve, Camille with Greta Garbo, The Dead with Angelica Huston, Marta Hari and now in the middle of watching Marie Antoinette, which I totally hated and now love.  There is so much that is likeable about Sophia Coppola's portrayal. Totally admirable.
Now I shall fall asleep to the sound of music from it. Alive and feisty, I never thought I would succumb, it is actually vital and I am a fan.

Friday, 28 December 2012


I am high as a kite on medication from the removal of a gallbladder.  It doesn't exactly hurt, but feels weird  not having it.  I was so used to the pain from the stones it contained that I lived with buscapan for the last 5 years. It was a dull pain that used to sharpen me up.  With its removal I have lived in a haze of medication, sweet talking, and Christmas pudding. The first time I have been in England at this time of year for twenty one years  My sons loved it. I did not. I had the urge to escape to Heathrow with a workable passport and disappear. I feel ill that I can't go.  I also have had time to think about the meaning of life, what life means yet again, thoughts?.  The only things that means something to me are my sons and music.  The rest leave me in a sweaty turmoil. Does love between a man and a woman actually exist? Or do people just use each other, propping each other up.. Love exists between children and parents that is for sure, I could do anything for them. I never felt the love of a parent, but I can easily feel love for a child.  Funny way of seeing things.
The purpose of life? The social interactions, the fight between good and evil.  I like newspapers however I always feed them nearly truth, because what is the truth?. The devil I now know is the writer who names things. Have I kissed a man?, no I have not, n'or do I intend to.  Men have a way of upsetting me.
I hate liars more than thieves after all you can lock your things up. I am trusting.  Liars are dangerous.  The truth may be ugly but their lies uglier.

Anyway to move to chirpier things regarding fluff,,

Ten top beauty tips that I believe in over fifty that some others won't agree with, but are having.
1. Stay fit mentally and physically
2. Have a haircut and colour that suits your face.
3. Botox
4. A good facelift.
5. Stay the same weight. Do not change weight.
6. Sleep.
7. Yoga
8. Chanel white collars
9. Hang around youth.
10. Sing and dance.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012


I am back home after having my wretched gall bladder removed only to read that I might get fatter. If I had read this beforehand I would have struggled on with the excessive pain that it was giving me.  I am tired but with so much to do before Christmas I had to move forward,  In any case no Insurance company likes you to waste time in hospital and I was almost pushed out. Despite  being horizontal, in terrific pain, and tired beyond belief, I was shoved onto the streets with BUPA.  It is better to pay for your operations as they happen and then you can decide what action to take yourself.  The London clinic was good, and although I hate hospitals it was efficient. I pay ten thousand a year, and I suppose the operation probably cost six thousand? So I have had one medical operation in my life, so it makes sense to pay for them ourselves.
I got home in time to do the turkey and a good friend came round to do a victoria sponge, some mince pies and make the whole house into a whirlwind of festivity.  The smells from my tiny kitchen were delicious.  I thought I  had forgotten how to make cakes, but I had not, and the only mistake I  made was to undercook my brussel sprouts, and not put a lid on my brandy butter so it went all over my new dress from ASOS, which I love.  The day went well and although I was fainting and feeling sick I tried to have a great time.

I was given incredible books on Marilyn by Pablo Ganguli and my son Charles, and a necklace by Eve from a beau, also a delcious cake stand whipped up by my friend Julia, made my table look stunning.  I felt lucky that despite having left hospital only 48 hours earlier I was able to enjoy anything at all.   I have had to cancel a party today as I was a little too ambitious. It was the first Christmas I have spent in London for twenty one years. It feld odd, but homely. I was watching Downtown Abbey and found the end rather obvious and then watched Love in a Cold Climate based on Nancy Mitford and her sisters. "A totally English day, thank goodness for that" my son said.  

Thursday, 20 December 2012


Rome always thrills me. This Summer I imagined living there being smiled at by handsome doormen and cheerful hotel staff. I stood on the roof of my hotel in the dramatic evening light and looked around me, statues were to my left and christmas lights to my right. Totally magical, out of  a fairy tale. My lovely friend Tracey Emin was opening a new show of works at the Galleria Lorcan O'Neill.  We were given a delicious dinner too. Lorcan is utterly charming.  Tracey is really prolific, travelling around the world, allowing us to understand her, the artwork and passion terrific. I stayed at the Hotel Russie, which belongs to the Fortes. Comfortable and very European.

I was with a friend and I decided to go off the beaten track and walk on roofs wherever I could. It was an incredible way to see this ancient and magnificent city. I saw the Vermeer exhibition which was 
wonderful and included all the family of works, but there is nothing like seeing it in its home town. It was not hung well, but still a treat as it is the first exhibition of its kind to visit Rome. The Vermeers stuck out as they showed the beauty of everyday life then, a woman playing the piano, meeting friends, stunning buildings beautifully painted. 
I was however in pain, I have to have my gallbladder removed tomorrow so all holidays are off the menu.  I was going to spend New Years Eve with friends in St Barts, and instead I shall be holed up in Chelsea. Not the end of the world, or perhaps it will be tomorrow?. The last day of the world according to the Mayan Calandar. So enjoy today. I am, I awoke to hear my son playing my favourite piano concerto. The Emperor Concerto No 5, 2nd movement, by Beethoven. He was the  father of the romantic era.  

With an operation looming tomorrow, I had to quickly buy Christmas presents at The Conran Shop.  The staff there were so helpful, they packed everything and delivered it. I worked there for two years in 1983 and it was funny to see all the staff were still 
Christmas is in full swing in London. I had a delicious Indian themed Christmas dinner at Annette and Nick Mason. They are generous hosts, I had a great time, and then landed at Lou Lou's for a midnight drink with friends. Definitely the new club to enjoy. So much fun.
On another sadder note, I am totally horrified by the mass killing again by a young intelligent but troubled man?  My sympathy goes to all the parents involved.  Guns are interesting but there has to be a law brought in to stop guns being sold so easily over the net. There should be licences and why are people allowed to buy so many?  Something needs to be done about this immediately. It is great to have skills, learn to hunt if thats what interests you, but there has to be some law that stops troubled people from buying them? Internet games should be stopped that encourage violence. 

Thursday, 13 December 2012


Last night I went to the Royal Premiere in the presence of HRH Prince William. The Hobbit, will no doubt sweep the boards for it's animation and ravishing scenery. It was a feast for my eyes, over mountain tops, fighting giants, elves, lost in caves, flying on birds.  With my 3D glasses on I got vertigo. It was non stop for about two hours and forty minutes. A book that I found very difficult to read as a child was brought alive, as I was more into the romantic novels of Georgiette Heyer. I loved The Hobbit. So did the audience who clapped for ten minutes. It was a resounding success. A story that we pick up, and put down. A huge book and a huge film.  I was totally engrossed. It was an exhausting task to take on but well worth the visit to another world. Ian Mckellen was brilliant and held the whole wonderful theatrical piece together.
Congratulations to Warner Brothers, Tolkien, and all the other people who were involved.
The globe nominations are always fun, so I shall be watching out for the films I have most enjoyed and give my notes another day.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


I have often looked at Lichtenstein's cartoons and wondered why he portrays women this way, crying and waiting for men?. Why blonde women this way in particular?. My son Charles says to me all the time "Blondes have an unfair advantage over all other women, they have a halo" Well clearly Lichtenstein saw them as manipulative cry babies, who drove men wild with their tears, and who were easily hurt? Or was he just teasing us? I love them and of course would love one hanging up in my drawing room right now. Fake or real fake. He fascinates me.
He is interested in gum wrappers, cartoon strips, boys toys, wars, women and comedy.
Born in 1923, he rose to fame in the 1960's making us smile at his witty ideas. He was from a middle class jewish family his father was a real estate broker, his mother a mother. Anyway I love them and I think we all become cartoons of ourselves one way or another.
I used to love buying fake ones in Thailand with Kay Saatchi. They were so much fun.

Sunday, 9 December 2012


Tonight I went to the premiere of Hitchcock. Directed to  Sasha Gervasi.  I loved it.  I met Sacha in Los Angeles where he is married to Jessica Rothschild. Made by Americans with a British Cast. If someone is ambitious it is easier to walk the streets for funding there. 

I was excited I had real life  coincidences. Janet Leigh was played by Scarlett Johanssen I owned Janet Leigh's house on Summitridge Drive in LA for a short while.  I was never crazy about it. Although I completely did it up with Martyn Lawrence Bullard, it was far up in the hills of  Beverly Hills. I felt in the middle of nowhere. I did have the best bathroom though in her honour. In any case the film tonight had a witty script and the cast were wonderful. Anthony Hopkins was totally convincing as Hitchcock and Helen Mirren played the part of his wife Alma Reville. She was an incredible editor. It tells the story of their off and on romance, during the making of Psycho. Also my good friend Michael Wincott is in the film. As I do not want to give the game away, I want to let you guess what role he has. He was brilliant. OK Ed Gein. A cameo roll in which he excelled.

The Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins said that he had been a little nervous playing the role. However he had seen the final cut and he was happy with it. Hitchcock was a tough part to play for obvious reasons, his size, presence and character, were so daunting. Hitchcock was without doubt our greatest, most brilliant  director. A British film made in Los Angeles, by another director seeking his luck and fortune. When England becomes tough, which it is, Brits take the risk and ship out to  Hollywood.
On another note My grandfather, Sidney Gilliat wrote the script of Lady Vanishes that Hitchcock later directed.  Hitchcock liked to say he used his writers like secretaries but in this case, my grandfather wrote  The Lady Vanishes, (and it's sequel Night Train to Munich) and The Lady Vanishes was almost finished as Hitchcock started the job of directing, so it was interesting to see the film tonight. Really good. It is also funny as My Grandfather also  said that he was with  Hitchcock was so excited at the premiere of the film, that he was saying " I've made it, my name is above the Titles"  After that he went to Hollywood, and the rest is known.  My Grandfather loved  opera, his whippet and tomato growing, and was dismissive of the Hollywood machine.  He liked to be in Wiltshire reading Shakespeare and writing.
Well done everybody in it. A lovely film.


Last night I laughed. Not a belly cackle, but a cynical smile.  I went to see Uncle Vanya a renowned Russian tragedy/comedy at the Vaudeville Theatre. A pretty original theatre in the Strand.  Uncle Vanya by Anton Chehov  means so much to me. You have to listen carefully and be in a good mood.  It is both depressing and uplifting. Uplifting because you realise that people for many many years have been thinking the same way.  The raison d'ĂȘtre, worries us all but here the conclusions are clear. "A study of the Family" is how I would describe it.  The dysfunctional yet normal way of living. The clever member of the family visiting his very normal and ordinary relatives in the country, with a new ravishing wife. Stirring everybody up, moaning about everything, his wife falls in love, and leaves a tired mess. Sam West plays the handsome Dr Astrov, Anna Friel as Yelena, the wife of the elderly  visiting philosopher. The translation by Christopher Hampton.
What I liked about it, is the scene about trees. The scene where Dr Astrov  who believes in protecting the trees,  plants for his future, and for the generations ahead. He educates Yelena about their necessity. Yelena, who thinks she is in love with him, hardly listens,  and a sexual tension should be evident. There was something interesting about Anna Friel's performance. She is very attractive, but has the feel of English hardiness about her.  A no nonsense approach. I had always thought Yelena to be more demure, rather aloof and grand. I thought it  was more of a shock to her that she had fallen in love with Astrov?.  Anna played it, as if she always left a mess, that she had been there before. Perhaps I am wrong?  The thing about the "English" girl is that we are not naturally elegant.  The Russians can be.  I watch my pretty English friends and they don't walk well. I notice it in my film I am making. I try to walk well, my top half looks elegant, but I am not, it is a fight I have. Anna is the same. She is earthy. We are like Welsh cobs to a thoroughbred. I am probably wrong, I just didn't listen hard enough in my lessons to Mr Tabakov. Of course the lessons were translated. Perhaps the translation is earthier, but wittier, than the one I studied?. Directed by Lindsay Posner, it anyway has a strong cast, worth seeing if you have the will for Chekhov.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


Yesterday I sat in a darkened room for the whole day editing my film based on my life. It was surreal. A therapist would have a field day, but I was in my element, I forgot who I was, and was ultra critical, telling the editor to remove all that was uninteresting.  The man was incredible, an artist. He never gave up on any ideas I had. He had also found old footage of Isabella Blow that my assistant had taken for a Tatler Magazine Shoot, years ago, with Tim Noble and Sue Webster. Thank goodness it existed. because as she slowly disappears from our lives, we are able to remember so me of her caustic wit and talent, through footage.  I have often credited her with changing me. I thought I had panache and loved wearing clothes by Commes des Garcons, but they did not always suit me.  She put me into copies of Marilyn Monroe's clothes,  and changed my life forever. Isabella is credited with changing many women's looks, finding dress designers, she had the eye and excited many talented people in London.  
My documentary/drama of England is alive.

Talking about Isabella, I was fortunate enough to listen to Daphne Guinness's new song. "No Nirvana for Cooldom". Turn off your TV..A true High Bohemian,  she is a rare flower.  I love her singing L'ho Perduta, from Marriage of Figaro, on of my favourite arias, that I also love to sing,  for Gareth Pugh.  Now with Ink black hair she has become an icon of the future, not afraid of pushing herself to extremes.  A gorgeous man lies beside her, blindfolded and smoking. How good it is to be Daphne.  This year she has already sold a collection of Isabella's clothes for vast sums of money to set up the Isabella Blow Foundation to help students in the future, and now she delivers another piece to the world.

I am off to watch Uncle Vanya, which I studied with Oleg Tabakov in New York. He was head of the Moscow Arts Theatre, and a well known actor and director.  He told me "When a woman becomes ugly, she becomes interesting" I think that sort of explains Isabella, belle laide and witty.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Orson Welles on Cold Reading

Lang Lang and Marc Yu - Schubert Fantasia D940, Part 01

PUT ON A BLACK DRESS AND RED LIPSTICK AND GO. The Jonas Mekas show at the Serpentine and The bad sex in Literature Awards.

When Pablo Ganguli asks you out for the evening do not say "No" say "Yes". Get dressed look as glamorous as possible and enjoy yourself, as you never know where you will be going. Nowadays I like to say "Yes" in any case, "No" feels surly. 
I had retired to my boudoir not really keen to go to anything but he said"I am picking you up now, get ready, we are going to the "Bad sex in literature awards" given by The Literary Review. He then told be it was hosted by my good friend Sir Tim Rice, how could I dismiss such an event?.  Also the new exhibition of Jonas Mekas, an avant garde artist from Lithuania was opening. So I put on one of my 2000 black dresses, I applied my red lipstick and danced down the stairs.  Everything with Pablo is fun, even when it is not and anything with Sir Tim is fun too. He usually puts humour into a pot with all that he does. 

Jonas Mekas had been friends with everybody especially Yoko Ono. I am always happy to see my ex sister in law Julia Peyton Jones at the Serpentine Gallery. She feels like family, and once she was.  I loved the exhibition but it is not for an opening, you have to spend time to listen.  I like films with a beginning, a middle and an end, so they were surreal. But I shall go back and check it out.

I arrived in time with Sir Tim at the Bad Sex Literary Award, and listened to the great pieces of writing. Actually I think there should be a "Bad text award" as I receive so many lascivious messages that I should start one?. I shall speak to Pablo about the idea, Say your worst in ten words?
Anyway I liked the way they were read, I liked Tom Wolfe's passage and will run out to get a copy. The winner was the Canadian author Nancy Huston, The Queen of The Literary Reviews Bad Sex Prize.  Her novel Infared, is about a woman who takes photographs of her lovers whilst she is making passionate love to them.  Fabulous lines like "flesh, that archaic kingdom that brings forth terrors, nightmares, babies and bedazzlements" Won her this coveted prize. 
JK Rowling was thrown out before the shortlisting as her writing is too good? I never knew that Harry Potter had sex?  She has however written an adult book, so this is probably it? Also Fifty Shades of Grey was also dismissed?. Will Self would like to win the prize. Why not? 
The room was a trifle tired and grey, typical of most writer, but I could not help but enjoy myself, better than being out in the freezing cold.


Monday, 3 December 2012



Money is revolting, and at times disturbing. Okay the Earls Court area is not beautiful, blighted by traffic and noise. It holds however one of the last Art Deco exhibition centres, built in 1937  by an American architect called Howard Crane. There has been an hall for exhibitions, since Victorian Times. It seems a great pity that it is going to be pulled down.  It has a capacity of 19,000 people, one of the largest halls in Europe and brings enormous amounts of visitors each year to London. Hosting numerous awards, concerts and interesting cultural events. It used to host Crufts, the dog show.
In turn filling hotel rooms.

Did you know this? Soul and character are important in a city.  Terry Farrell Associates is in charge of the area.  A politician and Architect. 

They intend to pull down the centre and the surrounding council houses. A huge distress to all the owners in the area,  not for one year, but for twenty years to come. Anyone who lives close by,  is going to be living a nightmare. For the shops and restaurants who serve the exhibition centre, their livelihoods gone.
George Michael, Madonna, Duran Duran, sang there among so many others, it has incredible history. To get rid of an Art Deco Building seems to be a moral crime. It has an abandoned swimming pool underneath?. Why not refurbish the area instead? It was good enough for the Olympics, but not for London afterwards. Where are they intending to put the people who live in Council houses while it is being built?
The Freehold is owned by the Transport service of London and they are selling out because they are offered so much money.  Everything I have read is not good for the educationally sub normal. Capco are the lease holders, but there are offshore companies involved and nobody really understands whats going on. They own a lot of Covent Garden and have pushed out small traders in preference to more expensive brands. In turn they have lost the essence of London. Not everything that is new is interesting, n'or  is pulling down, beautiful historic buildings, that have served the British Public well.
This stinks of capitalism  at is worst.

WHAT IS LOVE? Not iPhones, smilies and Uber but may be Hailo

I suddenly had a brain wave this morning and thought what is love? What is the meaning of love? I have always searched for it, never realising or being told what it was.  I was loved but could not feel it, ever. The name Amanda means "Born to be loved" it sounds like a demand. I of course I know it cannot be bought or traded, nothing can be coloured by the lavish usage of money. I always expected too much without giving enough.  When I gave, I was an accountant. I have suddenly had a lightening flash.  I hasten to say not because I have had a coup de foudre, but because I have met someone who has taxed my brain in a completely different way.  I watch what he says, and what he does for me. I notice that although it is not a youthful story, it is pure affection. He gives time and feelings without this.  I give back. It is a balance of the mind. This in turn is leading to love. He makes me calm. The only other person that made me feel this way was an affair, that came romantically into my life and out again, like a bat. I never again want a relationship where I add up all that I have done. I want to see the other persons good points and appreciate them, and the whole story.
I had the awakening flash whilst listening to The Messiah last night at the Cadogan Hall. Handel can make you ripe for passion. Ralph Allwood was conducting the Rodolfus Choir with the English Chamber Orchestra. I have a lot of sons I realise, and had to support Adam Urosevic who was singing.  I of course wanted to get up and sing too, I love the Messiah.  I shall have to join a choir.
Love is not an Iphone, and definitely not a text message, of course it is better than nothing, but don't be fooled by it. A smilie and heart don't do it for me. Have you noticed that people with Iphones are completely inefficient?. I personally cannot use them as I need to type a lot and they are incredibly difficult to use quickly. You receive messages in half a  hip hop language that you do not understand?. It looks good, who gives a damn. I want to have something useful. Also have you noticed that, people who own them do not reply to emails?  I suppose it is because they forget as they are so busy taking photographs. If I want to take photographs I will use a camera. I prefer the Blackberry but am disappointed there are so few apps. I tried Hailo this week the app for calling a cab and it is incredible. Instead of hanging on line to Dial a cab and being charged a fortune.I pressed a button and I was shown on a map, where the cabbie was on line.  It was brilliant. There were no hidden charges. At least I did not have to stand in the rain.
I also tried Uber which works in the same way. It is expensive, thirty pounds for a ride from Cheyne Walk to South Audley Street, a 15 minute drive, so I thought that was a bit expensive. It was a blacked out limousine, with a man who opened the door for you. So you pay more for politeness, I suppose. These two apps are the only thing I shall miss an Iphone for, and I am sure Blackberry will sort out the problem soon enough.

Saturday, 1 December 2012


I have several favourite girls, Alice Naylor Leyland, Mimi Dean, Mary Charteris and Scarlett Carlos Clarke. Scarlett is a tiny petite blonde with at the moment funky pink hair. All her friends have funky pink hair. She sits in comfy armchairs in her black and white gallery called The Society Club, 12 Ingestre Place, in Soho. A library of rare books is upstairs and downstairs Scarlett reigns. black and white stripy stools, flowers on a long table. She is laughing with artists. A waiter comes in with blue punk hair, pale blue lipstick and pink thick tights. I have no idea whether she is a man or a woman, I think she wants to be both.  Here Scarlett sells wonderful photographs by her father Bob. Bob Carlos Clarke was my great friend. He taught me to print well. He loved printing as well as taking photographs. He killed himself as he felt that only in his death would he be appreciated. As I sit looking at the photographs, I understand why he thought like this. I feel the same way, who wants an old blonde down Sunset Boulevard, even though I shall be a camp old thing and follow in Scarlett's footsteps and paint my hair all pink and red like Zandra Rhodes?.
I also visited an incredible new health club just for women called Grace. Grace is aptly named. Tall ceilings, white and only for women you can be stretched into shape by the brilliant Matt Roberts and massaged in beautiful beauty rooms. It claims you will "Rediscover when you felt your best" A private and exclusive club I was invited with the cream of English Society to a lunch there for her birthday. A sophisticated club, with a lot of light.

Another day, another party was for Lalit Modi, the famous entrepreneur from India. Held hostage with no passport, for very little except bringing a shorter game of cricket to the world. He is unfairly treated. Charming talented he should be a politician. For me cricket is a crashing bore so if anybody can shorten it, I love them. He started the Indian Premier League, and he has been the head of so many associations to do with the game that everybody became jealous. 
From my point of view he is faultless. His wife, a saint, beautiful and one of the most interesting women to come out of India, Minal Modi. I watch all the other Indians in London and the pair are wrongly treated. Perhaps somebody else wished to steal the lime light, so suited to only Lalit. In any case they took us to Coya's, 118 Piccadilly, a wonderful new Peruvian/Eastern restaurant on Park Lane next to the Atheneum Hotel, and then dancing until 3am at Loulou's, 5 Hertford Street. The brilliant and exciting new club owned by the very creative Robin Birley. His wife, Lucy, studied photography with me at the Black and White Photography Studio under Natasha Bult. I never stay up later than midnight, and I never drink, but there I did both. I was thoroughly spoilt.