You can’t live in Primrose Hill unless you’re a super high achiever, based on the caliber of speakers featured in the neighborhood’s lecture series. WOW! I book a ticket to the Philip Glass/Laurie Anderson concert at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival after picking up a program guide at the Colchester train station; I visit Westbourne for a reunion with my former intern, Marie. The neighborhood looks gritty as hell but is apparently trendy these days; Marie and her partner, Oliver, have founded a sprawling social enterprise called Goldfinger Factory. The main nut of it is a B2B carpentry operation which employs local craftspeople to make premium custom furniture plus a retail operation selling upcycled recycled furniture and a restaurant in Westbourne Grove, all of the same name. (Oh yeah, they’re also operating an incubator!) The long-term intention is to train and employ local people to custom-make upcycled furniture on a large scale basis. Marie interned for me at Shanghai Tang three years running so I’m not surprised at all — just impressed by the ambitious scale of her business. We eat gorgeous Italian food in the cafe so I can experience as much of Goldfinger Factory as possible during the scant hour I’m in Westbourne Grove. I then hop in a cab to meet up with a friend at Photo London, an overwhelming, confused affair which leaves me feeling like the photography industry is in a deep existential malaise. What accounts for my dissatisfaction with the fair? There was no curation, it was nakedly commercial and all different species of photography were jumbled together; I join up with a friend who brings me to a jewelry event, my first one in many, many months. It feels weird to be attending such a youthful and patently superficial event where making selfies with the designer, Ara Vartanian, is more important than inspecting the cutting-edge diamond jewels; so glad that I don’t have to host events like that any more, because that was my life before; the bank of photographers and we wait for a VIP to exit from a black car, in a moment of Instagram bated breath; alas, it’s “only” Suzy Menkes, meaning that no flash bulbs went off and there was zero fanfare; just to be clear, Menkes is a god for me and I’d be happy to intern for her any day; the best way not to lose an umbrella is to take a photo of the one you’re using on the day and to make it the screensaver of your smartphone for as long as you’re carrying it — and in danger of losing it; my friend takes me to Hunan, one of the best restaurants in London, in any category or cuisine. They serve an endless menu of Chinese dishes, tapas style. Unless you ask them to stop, they won’t. At course sixteen, Ming says, “Don’t go all white on me. You’re not allowed to stop eating.”
I take my cousins to look at the Bures Dragon, a huge earthscape shaped like a dragon which is the most dramatic example of land art in Suffolk. As an added bonus, Saint Stephen’s Chapel, the grounds of which serve as the de facto viewing stage for the land art dragon, approximately half a mile away and otherwise inaccessible by foot, was open because it was the Easter period. The chapel is a little-known, special historic treat because it’s the chapel for the aristocratic DeVere family, the forbears of the dragon’s creator, Geoffrey Probert, and contains the ancient tombs of several DeVeres, dating back as far as the 13th century. Walking into the small chapel and viewing the tombs, almost perfectly preserved, up close, is not something you’d ordinarily be able to do at a museum, so, being able to see such ancient, museum-quality relics totally undisturbed, in total quiet and serenity, was an unexpected windfall which my cousins enjoyed immensely [I didn’t film inside the chapel because it is a sacred place. But wanted to mention our visit there nonetheless]; we continue our sightseeing tour through Suffolk to Lavenham, the most popular tourist destination in Suffolk, where we visit its best-known building, the Guildhall, which was once the centre of wool trading and then became a workhouse after Lavenham lost its pre-eminent position in the industry. First sight: a stuffed, apotropaic cat. “Apotropaic” means “intended to ward off evil.” ; The harsh lock-up and bare bones mortuary behind the Guildhall; the public footpath system is one of Britain’s greatest public goods and treasures. The footpath system and the corresponding ordnance survey maps allow the public to walk on the public easements crisscrossing the nation’s countryside; entertaining and hospitality are as exhausting as any day at the office; OMFG, HAIL!; WOO HOO! my stepdaughter, Louise Bleach, representing the water desalination technology, Desolenator, wins a HUGE startup competition, Pitch at Palace, over 900 other startup contestants chosen from all over the United Kingdom.
Daily vlog diary: Actually, I know a ton about SEO; But I’m very ambivalent about digital marketing because numbers have usurped the rightful role of senior managers — and their hard-won decades of experience and wisdom; numbers must not, should not dominate decisionmaking, especially when it comes to creativity and entrepreneurial risk-taking; even the luxury industry is being subverted by accountants and statisticians; young people especially tend to put too much stock in numbers; Henry Ford would never have invented the automobile, only a faster horse and carriage, had he been looking at historic sell-through reports only; numbers are the single greatest headwind for creativity today; technology sucks: we feel endlessly busy; kids are so ahead of parents these days, especially my own son (praise god!); SEO is not about technocratic knowledge: it’s about time commitment; today’s SEO tools are so well designed that a monkey can optimize a website (well, not exactly… but close — if you use WordPress); no one steals American passports any more; I feel physically uncomfortable when making “nice”, pretty, happy content; just as well, since the last thing the world needs is more posts of girls saying, “look at my pretty dress”.
Daily vlog diary: I’m sure I will die soon after my husband dies; psyched that my public posting about the art gallery dispute has led to a lot of helpful advice — and, now, intervention; why I reposted a video about a purely hypothetical planetary scenario (see Instagram post of 8 April with the planet image if interested); I feel like Cassandra in comparison; I played tennis for the first time in a LONG time; TULIPS; we take the basic quality of our food for granted; in Hong Kong, most vegetables contain lead, cadmium and mercury; the Grand National was unbelievably exciting; My vlog content leaves me scratching my head plenty — but I still have to make it.
Daily vlog diary: Kippers for breakfast – they’re nasty-looking as hell but scrumptious; my cousin, Yang May Ooi, a published novelist and all-around, left-wing kick-ass multi-hyphenate is writing a play called Butterfly in Blue Jeans to upend the sort of race-gender stereotypes enshrined in works like Madame Butterfly; having your own domain gives you much more control over my content; one of my huge life-hacks is purposeful procrastination without stress; I just filed a 500 word feature article — right before the deadline — but there’s a hitch; seeking advice to recover monies wrongfully withheld by an art gallery from my friend, an artist (with a huge social media following no less); I’m posting about this mess so that the offending art gallery can see and hear about it before a lawsuit is commenced; Louise cooks up a groaning repast.