Image: Brijesh Patel
May 06 2011
It’s exactly 7am and my alarm clock has just done its thing. My eyes are still firmly shut and I’m savouring the 10 minutes I can stay in bed, blissfully content, before waking our 10-year-old son, Jamie. Unfortunately a dark, menacing and unpleasant realisation spoils everything. Today is a Draco day.
I’m extremely fond of Draco and to sit peacefully and chat with him for a few hours would be very pleasant, most enjoyable, but this is not going to happen today. Physically, he’s terrifyingly impressive, every fibre of his 6ft 4in frame is chiselled and toned and much of my daily intake has never passed his lips. For recreation I eat, drink, read, watch and talk – Draco sprints. He’s a fast runner (you’ll see his type at the Olympics) and in order to be right up there with the other human cannonballs he doesn’t do all the things I love.
Just to put this in context, he has a percentage body fat of seven. This is abnormal – normal is about 20% and obese is 35% (this is not unusual). He is, frankly, a different species, a superior creature – think of the difference between a cheetah and a pig. All this would be fine if Draco recognised that he was a freak and I was normal but he’s terribly mistaken, he’s got it all completely wrong. He’s misguidedly trying to make me like him by incarcerating me in the gym three times a week and making me do horribly unnatural things while I’m practically still asleep.
We sprint on the treadmill, set at a steep incline at improbable speeds, and lift weights that should require winches, motors and mechanical devices. During our “session” I try to recover, rest and kill time by drinking water in tiny sips, repeatedly wiping my face with a towel and asking endless questions about nutrition. It’s difficult because he’s canny; he’s seen my type before. When this is over I’m euphoric but physically destroyed and very weak.
Back in the office we have received a shipment from our production in Nepal with some new samples. This is always exciting and there are plenty of oohs and aahs. Fortunately today’s unravelling is completely successful and there are no disappointments. All of our rugs are made by hand and we pride ourselves on meticulous quality by weaving our rugs in exactly the same fashion as they were 100 years ago. We do not cut corners and we are proud of what we make. We currently have 35 external designers (an assortment of fashion, product, interior and textile designers) doing collections for us, as well as Suzanne designing our in-house collection.
In the afternoon I meet with some potential Swiss partners. It’s all very diplomatic. Our company is a mixture of our own shops and partnerships with local companies and individuals. We’re always open to new opportunities.
It’s Suzanne’s birthday tomorrow so I’m obviously panicking. She seems to be looking younger and I must visit the loft to look for any odd rapidly-ageing pictures. Interestingly it’s not just me who has noticed this brilliant phenomenon. Last month, when we were at the Syrian border travelling by road from Beirut to Damascus, we thought we were in trouble. The customs official, while checking our passports, stopped at Suzanne’s photo page and appeared perplexed and agitated – he looked at the picture and then at Suzanne – and was clearly unconvinced. I wondered if she resembled some notoriously troublesome Lebanese hussy.
He lifted the passport and pressed it against the glass while his finger jabbed at her date of birth. (I can confidentially confirm that this is sometime in the first half of the swinging ’60s.) We were bewildered and mumbled confirmation that all the details were correct; he then shook his head, plainly un-amused. Oh dear. He then pulled a paper from his pad and hurriedly scribbled a note, and then (still clearly not amused) thrust it under the glass and pointed at Suzanne. We looked nervously down at the note: “DOB 1980”. He had now broken into a wide smile showing a brilliantly fine set of the whitest teeth. “Welcome to Syria.” Damn those Middle Eastern charmers!