November 20 2009
My style icon is Terence Conran. He was the pioneer of contemporary, accessible design in England, miles ahead of all the rest of us. His interest and engagement are endless; the whole idea of the Design Museum [which Conran founded] was for young people to be encouraged to do more design. He’s extraordinarily intrepid. You want a bit of that right now, in tighter times.
The last meal that left me truly impressed was smoked eel with a side dish of celeriac at Inn The Park in St James’s. It was contemporary and English, a merger of the best of both things – like the restaurant. St James’s Park, London SW1 (020-7451 9999; www.innthepark.com).
In my fridge you’ll always find blueberries and plain yoghurt. And that’s practically the only thing I have in there. It’s either chock-a-block when I’ve got people around, or totally empty when we’re left to our own devices. I take the berries and yoghurt with green tea every morning. And then a double espresso a bit later on.
The best gift I’ve given recently was an engagement party I threw for 150 people at my home, for my goddaughter, Skye. It was quite a production.
And the best one I’ve received is a lovely coffee mug that says “Fairy Godmother”, which was a gift from her. She gave it to me before I threw the party, actually.
If I didn’t live in London, the place I would live is St Mawes, in Cornwall. I’d love to start a festival down there. There’s an old Methodist church I own – perhaps I could make it a puppet festival. In a small village, it’s hard to be lonely even if you’re solitary. When someone dies, the whole village comes to the funeral. It’s slower, it’s easier, there are relatively few of London’s hassles. You know the man at the bank, the man at the post office; people help each other. I’d be very satisfied in a smaller place like that.
An artist whose work I would collect if I could is Peter Blake. He’s figurative and yet very much of today; I admire his style. Paula Rego, too – I love her, and actually do own a drawing by her. She is very provocative, though – her work is quite a lot to do with women and violence. Some of it’s hard to live with, but some less so. Peter Blake at Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, 38 Bury Street, London SW1 (020-7839 7600). Paula Rego at Marlborough Fine Art, 6 Albemarle Street, London W1 (020-7629 5161; www.marlboroughfineart.com).
The site that inspires me is Prague at night. The city has quite strict regulations about lighting allocations and pollution, the result being that the lighting is incredibly romantic, with spot-lit monuments and a kind of beautiful glow.
An indulgence I’d never forego is getting pedicures. I try to have them at least once a month. I feel completely in order once my feet are looking good.
My favourite room is my conservatory. It’s entirely to do with the light; I hate being in darkness. I’ve just redone it to bring in some extra natural daylight, and it’s now the brightest place in the house. It’s quite sparse and modern, with concrete floors, calm and peaceful.
If I weren’t doing what I do now, I would want to be an opera singer. A top one, of course, not a mediocre one. And it would be hard, looking after one’s voice all the time. But to be involved with brilliant musicians and composers… and the human voice is so moving. I don’t think I’d be very good – I can’t actually even carry a tune – but the idea is so pleasurable to me.