Monday, January 13, 2014

The Definite Article


Mrs Legatus, being a fascist, enjoys the Daily Mail but the one piece I read in there regularly is the Saturday Weekend supplement's last page which has a feature called The Definite Article.  In this a number of (usually second or third rank) celebrities are asked the same set of questions about their life and interests.  I recently had to do this as part of a team building exercise (during which they found that, not surprisingly, the Legatus is not a team person).  I had to spin it for work purposes, of course, but I thought I could use a slightly more honest version here rather than posting about the number of figures I haven't painted again due to the terrible light.  The questions are straight from the Daily Mail's piece.


The prized possession you value above all others...

Well, the Legatus owns a lot of stuff but probably the most irreplaceable thing would be my computer back up hard drive which contains all my photos, writings, and other stuff.  I have a back up of the back up and another back up of that! 


The biggest regret you wish you could amend...

That I didn't continue with rowing at school.  I was actually better, initially, than my classmate who stuck with it and competed in a winning Boat Race squad, bonked the first girl to take part in the Boat Race and won a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics.  I was just too lazy and too interested in spending time with my first girlfriend to waste Saturdays on the freezing Thames...


The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours with no travel restrictions...

The Seven Sisters and Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex


I would wake up in Vancouver, in S's apartment from which you have a fantastic view of Stanley Park, the water and mountains.  I would have a huge cooked breakfast at Eegon's cafe in Cowes before walking up Seaford Head to Cuckmere Haven in Sussex, which is still my favourite walk in the world.  Lunch would be in the open air rooftop restaurant of the Danieli in Venice with my old friend Princess I.  Bresaola, penne all'Arrabbiata and filleto di manzo washed down with La Scolca Gavi di Gavi and Giacomo Conterno Barolo Monfortino.  In the afternoon I'd wander around the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay with an old girlfriend, SA, who really appreciated French art and was a regular model for me, (in a Degas sort of way).  Afternoon tea would be taken in The Empress Hotel in Victoria, Vancouver Island, followed by a stroll around the forum in Rome.  Before dinner I'd have a nice splash around in the vast bath of the old Richard Wagner suite of the Hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich with S, Princess I and SA (none of them ever met each other but I'm sure they'd rub along very nicely, so to speak) accompanied by lots of Laurent Perrier Rosé Brut.  Time for a quick Martini in the Blu Bar of the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore which would be followed by dinner in the Occidental Grill of the Willard InterContinental in Washington DC.  A restorative walk through the centre of Vienna would lead to settling down for the night in the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi with a nice glass of  Armagnac, probably the Castarède Vintage 1979.  I really like nice hotels!


The temptation you wish you could resist...

Mr Francis Ford Coppola's excellent Rubicon

I was going to say women.  Or pork pie.  Or books.  Or starting new wargames periods. But really it's wine.  I drink far too much of it.


The book that holds an everlasting resonance...


I'm not a very literary sort of person.   I rarely re-read books.  So, even though I've mentioned it before, it's The War Game.


The priority activity if you were the invisible man for the day...


The Legatus prepares to go invisible

All the usual thoughts come to mind regarding places where attractive young ladies congregate to change clothes (the Dutch women's hockey team changing room, perhaps) but it would be fascinating to float around the White House and see if they are all as clever as depicted in the West Wing or discover, as I suspect, that the free world is being run by a bunch of people with no idea about what they are doing.


The pet hate that makes your hackles rise...

There are many, many things that do this, as regular readers will know, but day to day I probably get most worked up by slow people.  People who drive too slowly, walk too slowly and think too slowly. Currently my most hated manifestation of this is people who order poncey coffees at Sainsbury's cafe in Cobham, where I have breakfast on Sunday mornings, as I look forward to a whole day without the Old Bat.  It takes ages for the staff to make these tragic drinks when they should be taking my order for a big breakfast with an extra sausage and an extra egg.  Grr!  Get a bloomin' move on! You're wasting my life!


The film you can watch time and time again...




There are a few of these (honourable mentions to The Ipcress File, Zulu and How to Murder your Wife) but if I had to pick one it would probably be Raiders of the Lost Ark. Pulp heaven!


The person who has influenced you most...

Probably my Auntie Susan who is my mother's younger sister but is fifteen years younger than my mother and is closer to me in age.  She was a journalist, a purser on P&O cruise ships, worked at the BBC and Rothschilds and latterly has been a big wheel in the Australian arts. She was the first person to treat me like an adult and, when she was younger, as hot as hell (as Sir Michael Jagger found out very early in his musical career).  She's sixty-eight now and still a ball of fire.  Shame she lives in Australia, but I had dinner with her in London last month where she was outrageous as ever; saying things like "I've just had to accept that at 68 I'm not going to have sex any more!" in front of her very embarrassed son and his wife.  Splendid woman!


The figure from history for whom you’d most like to buy a pie and a pint… 



The fifty year old Flynn with his seventeen year old girlfriend Beverly Aadland

This was the hardest one to do and not just because I don't like pies (I assume they mean some sort of pastry topped cooked one you get in a pub (horrible) rather than a cold pork one (excellent) - also I don't go into pubs) but because I'm not a person who has one great historical hero, as some do.  I suspect I might have got on quite well with Errol Flynn.


 The piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child...

You only regret the things you don't do.  Never give up the opportunity for an experience!


 The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity...

Strictly's Ola Jordan...what is the strange appeal of this show for the Legatus?

I really love Strictly Come Dancing and even watch all the daily It Takes Two shows despite knowing that dancing is a terribly unmasculine thing to do that should only be undertaken if really drunk or if pursuing an otherwise unobtainable woman.


The treasured item you lost and wish you could have again...

A pair of Ray-Bans given to me as a present by a very, very famous supermodel.  They fell into the sea while I was climbing from a yacht into a dinghy while moored outside Brigitte Bardot's house in the Baie des Canebiers in St Tropez. As you do.  It was probably all the constantly yapping dogs she keeps there that put me off my stride.


The unending quest that drives you on...

To paint one single model soldier that I am happy with.  Nowhere near yet.


The poem that touches your soul... 

Poems are for girls, although, as I found at college, it is sometimes necessary to fake an interest in poetry to attract a certain type of girl (rather like dancing).  If I had to pick one it would be Keats' Ode to a Nightingale which is packed with evocatively visual imagery such as the lines "Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways" and "Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn."


The misapprehension about yourself you wish you could erase...

V cooking me dinner.  My friend was not amused!

That I'll steal your girlfriend.  My best friend got very cross some years ago because he thought I stole the object of his affections but as he hadn't actually asked her out yet I thought she was still fair game.  He should have moved faster!  I haven't really stolen anyone's girlfriend for more than thirty years.  I may have borrowed a few since then, however.


The event that altered the course of your life and character...

Discovering as a teenager that girls actually enjoyed and wanted sex as much as men, despite what British sixties and seventies comedies intimated. I have been very happy to oblige them ever since...


The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it...



I would steal this painting of Marie-Louise O'Murphy by Françoise Boucher from the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.  She was the mistress of Boucher himself, a lover of Casanova, the mistress of Louis XV and all before she was sixteen years old. There are several versions of this picture and the Legatus was lucky enough to see this version, the principal one, as well as another similar version, in an exhibition in Berlin a few years ago. I had this image as my mouse mat for many years!  


The song that means most to you...



I very rarely listen to song lyrics.  In fact I think they often spoil a good tune so it won't be anything where the sentiment in the words has deep meaning (I don't do deep very often, anyway).  But for its ability to conjure up memories, especially of scent, touch and a particular view (see the beginning of my fantasy 24 hours above) it would have to be Diana Krall's version of Dancing in the Dark, featuring the London Symphony Orchestra at the slinkiest they have ever been.


The happiest moment you will cherish forever...

No tarmac in the days of Goldfinger


It's a strange one this, perhaps.  The Legatus is rarely happy as he is mostly grumpy but in 1994 I was sat in the back of my father in law's Bentley Continental S2 Flying Spur on the way to compete in the first British Classic Car Rally in St Moritz (we came third).  I was listening to the soundtrack to Goldfinger on my Sony Walkman and I looked out the window just as Alpine Drive was playing and we were going past the Hotel Belvedere on the Furka Pass which was the location of the scene in the film which was accompanied by...Alpine Drive on the soundtrack. Up until this point I had no idea where the location in the film was until I saw it out the car window and the very same music was playing!  Spooky!  This was the most delightful coincidence and made my day.  I had to have a Vodka Martini when I got to the Palace Hotel to celebrate such a perfect moment!


The saddest time that shook your world...

I tend not to get emotional and certainly don't wallow in bad news (unlike those dreadful people you get on The Miniatures Page sometimes) but I did get upset when one of my girlfriends dumped me for an ugly South African just because he had a Porsche (only a 924, as well).  What a bitch!   As my very confident BBC producer friend Moss once said, when his attractive girlfriend left him at Cambridge:  "It knocked my confidence for a whole three days!"


The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you...

PS Sudan




To sail up the Nile on a paddle steamer like in Death on the Nile.  Actually, I had it all planned a few years ago.  I was going on the PS Sudan with a former PA of mine on the ship they used for the David Suchet Poirot version.  But then Egypt disintegrated.  One day.


The philosophy that underpins your life...

Life is too short to deny yourself anything...


The order of service at your funeral...

Nothing pretentious. Twenty girls from the Royal Ballet School in gauzy shifts throwing rose petals onto the ground in front of sixty lady rowers dragging a replica viking ship along the ground before it is buried in a large mound overlooking the sea (probably somewhere on the downs on the Isle of Wight).  At one point I wanted to be on a viking ship on fire floating out to sea but now I've decided I would rather be archaeology. The Berlin Philharmoniker would play Siegfried's Funeral Music from Wagner's Götterdämmerung.  Live of course.


The way you want to be remembered…

I'm glad he's gone, he stole my girlfriend...


9 comments:

  1. Vry amusing, I chuckled all the way through!

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  2. Quite possibly the funniest post, I've read for a long time - the fantasy 24 hours sounds sensational!

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    1. It's a bit like that man who recently analysed James Bond's alcohol consumption though,;by the end of the day I would be catatonic!

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  3. The way you want to be remembered…

    "He made me laugh, he made me come..."

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  4. Your ideal day was looking pretty good until the LP Rose...I have to say I would like a dance lesson or two from Ola Jordan.

    And I definitely agree about regretting most the things you didn't do.

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    1. I admit that the Laurent Perrier is a bit dubious but it is extraordinarily popular with girls. It has never failed, in fact!

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