Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Ian Fleming

"The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning."
Casino Royale, 1953

Ian Fleming, born May 28, 1908

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

May 24 marked the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883.

John and Washington Roebling's bridge was the first fixed crossing between the cities of New York and Brooklyn. Before then, the only way to cross the East River was by ferry.

The bridge is still used by millions of commuters. When I worked downtown and lived in Brooklyn Heights, I regularly worked late and took a cab home. Crossing the bridge at night was always a joy, leaving behind the towers of lower Manhattan and seeing the string of lights vaulting across the river to Brooklyn.

Fireworks at the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The Gherkin

I had the good fortune to attend a party on the top floor of 30 St. Mary Axe last night. Better known as the "Gherkin", this building is the most distinctive recent addition to the London skyline. There is a bar on the top floor (the 40th floor), which is normally open only to tenants in the building. However, the space can be rented for private events.

The top-floor bar, with a 360 degree view over London.

Looking westwards.

Sunday, 18 May 2008


With plastic shopping bags being deeply frowned upon these days, it's important to find an environmentally friendly alternative for carrying home the groceries from the supermarket. If the bag is made from recycled materials, so much the better.

Re-Sails has come up with the terrific idea of turning old sailcloth into a range of tote bags and duffel bags. The bags are made of brightly coloured sailcloth, often with racing numbers or printed lettering still visible.

The bags are available from Re-Sails' stores in (where else?) Newport and Annapolis. The complete range is also available online at

On personal taste and button-down shirts

"All of us draw social inferences from the way people dress. In this, fishermen and farmers are just as snobbish as debutantes and hippies. And there is no one, however regal, however humble, who is not put off by some detail of dress he personally dislikes. I well remember the morning that one of President Kennedy's aides came in wearing a button-down shirt, an item that started in America in the very early 1930s as an Ivy League fad. It remained so until a few years ago but was swiftly abandoned when it spread to bond salesmen and airline executives and then to Midwesterners, and then to cattle ranchers in convention, and finally to Englishmen. It is still retained by ageing country-club types who have not noticed that they suddenly look old-fashioned. 'For Heaven's sake,' said Kennedy to his bewildered aide, 'take off that shirt. Nobody wears those things any more, except Chester Bowles and Adlai.'"

Alistair Cooke, October 1966