November 01 2011
My personal style signifier is an old pair of Adidas trainers. I started wearing them when I lived in New York, 12 years ago now. It’s extraordinary how hard it is to find a plain white pair of Adidas trainers with three stripes – the basic ones. That’s what I have to search down whenever I need a new pair. www.adidas.com.
The last thing I bought and loved is probably a Ravilious mug, bought from Paul Rennie. It’s one of the original George VI coronation mugs, of which I understand very few were made. The combination of Wedgwood ceramics with Ravilious’s design is a potent, ultimately English thing: it’s The King’s Speech contained in an object. Rennies Seaside Modern, 47 The Old High Street, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1RN (01303-242 427; www.rennart.co.uk).
And the thing I’m eyeing next… Am I allowed to say that at the moment I’m not actually eyeing anything? I think I’ve got everything I want. But if I were to look beyond that, I suppose I might be eyeing a Fornasetti Palladiana chest of drawers, from Themes & Variations. But it’s an extravagance too far, and I’m actually very happy with the old mahogany chest of drawers in my bedroom that it would have to replace. £15,000, 231 Westbourne Grove, London W11 (020-7727 5531; www.themesandvariations.com).
In my fridge you’ll always find Berry Bros sparkling wine. I’ve decided I can’t afford champagne any more. Their sparkling is delicious, and has the poshest label you’ve seen in a while. And a large chunk of parmesan, from Waitrose; blueberries, generally. And if I’m entirely honest, some unidentifiable veg which has been in there far too long. £10.95, www.bbr.com.
The last item I added to my wardrobe was a lot of socks, from Cordings of Piccadilly. When I shop I tend to buy in bulk. I think I bought about 20 pairs; all colours. 19 Piccadilly, London W1 (020-7734 0830; www.cordings.com).
An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Berlin. I took the office on a little trip to say thank you for a lot of hard work, and for a bit of inspiration. We stayed at Soho House. Every room is different, but all equally amazing – handy if you’re travelling with your whole staff and don’t want anyone to feel hard done by. Torstrasse 1, Berlin 10119 (+4930-405 0440; www.sohohouse.com).
And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is knowing that whatever I liked I actually left in the country it belongs in. When I was about 20 I did bring back six kilim cushions from Turkey, which I’m still in love with. But these days my obsession is travelling light, there and back.
A recent “find” is Fox & Flyte. It’s an online sort of emporium, created by three of the most enthusiastic but coolest kids that I’ve met in a long time. It basically indulges their common passion, which is just really great, beautiful stuff. The way it’s put together is so stylish; so much so that Bridie [Hall, manager of Ben Pentreath Ltd] and I got in touch with them, and in the autumn they’re going to be doing a pop-up in my shop. Ben Pentreath Ltd, 17 Rugby Street, London WC1 (020-7430 2526; www.benpentreath.com). www.foxandflyte.com.
The books on my bedside table are The Stranger’s Child, which I read the first chapter of but then read a cynical review in Private Eye, and since then I haven’t been able to pick it up. I love Alan Hollinghurst, but had massive suspicions after that first chapter. Also, there is a biography of Pugin, lent by a friend who said Pugin reminded him of me, which is a bit scary because I think Pugin was dead at about my age. Basically, the most read books on my bedside table are Reader’s Digest New Gardening Year and Christopher Lloyd’s The Well-Tempered Garden. My guilty pleasure is 1980s Dick Francis novels stolen from my mum.
My favourite website is Is It Going To Rain Tomorrow? I like it so much that I link to it from my blog. In a world of over-information, contradiction and extreme uncertainty, there’s something incredibly compelling about having a single-word answer to a question that, at best, has a definitively uncertain answer. Just a giant white screen with no advertising, no other text, just the word “yes” or “no”. If only life could be this simple. www.isitgoingtoraintomorrow.com.