June 17 2011
My style icon is the actor Peter O’Toole. I saw Lawrence of Arabia when I was about 10, and thought him a beautiful man and a fantastic actor. I was introduced to him once, at a party for Omar Sharif. I was a 30-year-old nobody and he was absolutely charming – he didn’t have to spend time with me, but we spent the evening talking.
The best gift I’ve received recently is a Suzy Murphy still life of fruit with a wine bottle; it is a stylised and slightly Impressionist painting. I discovered her a couple of years ago in an exhibition at a Cork Street gallery and bought one for my wife; then she bought me this one as my Christmas present. www.josieeastwood.com.
The site that inspires me is the Cutty Sark. It is an iron-framed wooden vessel, that’s light and very fast, and I was first taken to see it by my mum when I was seven, on our annual Ash Wednesday jaunts to the National Maritime Museum. My grandfather was in the navy and my mum served as a Wren in the war, and she probably thought boats were a good thing. www.cuttysark.org.uk. National Maritime Museum, Romney Road, London SE10 (020-8858 4422; www.nmm.ac.uk).
An object I would never part with is my classic wooden racing yacht called Firebrand, which I love very much. I found her by chance in Fort Lauderdale and she is a 1965 Sparkman & Stephens (Olin Stephens-designed) yacht. Stephens was my hero. I’ve raced her every year in the Round the Island [Isle of Wight] since 1998 and will race her at the 80th-anniversary race this year [June 25] with two of the crew who won the race in 1965. www.roundtheisland.org.uk. www.sparkmanstephens.com.
An indulgence I would never forego is called Laura Knight, and she is my sports masseuse. She does physiotherapy with my wife and then she gives me a massage. I try to have one every Friday when I am around. It is on the edge of pain, but it makes you feel fantastic. 07771-887 081.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe is a lovely lilac cashmere sweater from Ermenegildo Zegna, which cost a bomb... But I was in Milan and I had four hours to spare, and the shopping is plentiful. www.zegna.com.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Turner, for his seascapes and the light. One reason to live in Britain, actually, is the sunsets, which, because the country is fairly far north, are much more interesting than you get elsewhere.
My favourite room is the Blue Drawing Room – named because there are two – in my house in Hampshire. I bought a tumbledown farmhouse in 1992, when I was still a confirmed bachelor, and the drawing room is what made me buy the house in the first place. It is a 17th-century farmhouse and the drawing room is in the oldest bit of the building. I just love the space. It was built from Beaulieu Abbey’s Portland stone, which the locals stole when the abbey was pulled down.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Montenapoleone in Milan. I don’t really shop, but when I stay at the Four Seasons I just nip out and buy dresses for my little girls. I’ve got two daughters and it is delightful buying clothes for children, I think. Via Gesù 6/8, 20121 Milan (+3902-77088; www.fourseasons.com).
The person I rely on for personal grooming and style is a Cantonese barber in the barbershop at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong, who does my hair whenever I am there. He is even older than I am, and I’ve been seeing him on and off for years. It’s almost a ritual. 5 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong (+852-2820 4202; www.mandarinoriental.com).
If I didn’t live in London and Hampshire, the city I would live in is Rome: it has to be Italy, because of the whole lifestyle. I am learning Italian, my wife speaks the language, and I just love being in Italy. At one time we thought we would go and live there, but we didn’t. Really, it doesn’t matter where I live so long as there is an airport nearby.