Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Forgotten birthday rage

June 22, 2010

I noticed in The Telegraph’s recent obituary for TV chef Keith Floyd that he once experienced an episode of what I can only describe as “birthday rage”.  Or, perhaps more accurately, “forgotten birthday rage”:

His third marriage ended when he accused his wife of forgetting his birthday. In a rage he destroyed much of his own restaurant bar and threw out his wife and 50 diners before retiring to a nearby hostelry to drown his sorrows.

The article doesn’t elaborate as to whether Floyd’s wife really did forget his birthday.  (Wouldn’t it have been awful if she’d had some lovely surprise present wrapped and ready to give to him after the restaurant shut for the night?  Although I wouldn’t recommend leaving it that late in the day to give your nearest and dearest their birthday present.)

And in another episode I recently read about, a woman complained to the authorities that her mail had been stolen, because she had not received birthday cards from some of her friends.  Rather touching, I thought.

Which I guess goes to show that people really do care about whether you remember their birthdays.

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A gift shower – for yourself

June 4, 2010

Long before thirtysomething Sex In The City character Carrie Bradshaw threw herself a shower, another single New York writer, Helene Hanff, did the same (except it happened for real – Helene was penniless and about to move into a humble unfurnished studio apartment), as follows:

“What you need,” she [Helene’s friend Maxine] said finally, “is a kitchen shower.”

“I’m not getting married,” I said.

“You’re marrying New York,” said Maxine.  “You’ll have to write a cute invitation.  We’ll have the shower at my house.  A luncheon.  A Saturday luncheon.”

“I couldn’t!”  I said.  “I can’t send out invitations asking people to furnish my kitchen!”

“You’re not sending the invitations.  I’m sending them.  You don’t know anything about the luncheon,” said Maxine.  “It’s a surprise.  Showers are always surprises.  You’re just coming to my house for lunch.  When you get there, be surprised.”

[A list is drawn up and invitations duly despatched.]

And so on the appointed Saturday I wandered into Maxine’s parents’ apartment for lunch – and there was my sister-in-law come all the way from Garden City and a simple host of friends.  And sitting in the middle of the floor in a large wicker basket, each item brightly wrapped and tied with flossy ribbon, were frying pans and double boilers and mixing bowls and kitchen knives and pot holders and dish towels and a roasting pan and a Revere Ware teakettle that sang.

Helene Hanff, Underfoot in Show Business, 1961, Andre Deutsch Ltd

Gifts of the rich and famous

March 29, 2010

Check out these amazing celebrity jewelry gifts, such as those exchanged between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, JFK/Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, and, more recently, David and Victoria Beckham. 

Ornate and often ostentatious gifts, but interesting nonetheless.

Related post: Diamonds are for Mimi

Sad Christmas in the Woods house

December 4, 2009

This morning it crossed my mind that, in light of recent events, it is going to be a very sad Christmas in the Tiger Woods/Elin Nordegren household.  For the adults, anyway – hopefully the children will be perfectly happy and oblivious to the tension, anger and sadness that may be simmering between their parents. 

Even if Tiger does buy Elin a four million dollar ‘Kobe special’ diamond ring in order to make up for his “transgressions” (his word), I don’t know whether a diamond, even one the size of a golf ball, can undo the hurt that Elin must be experiencing.  And what will she buy him for Christmas?  A diamond-studded leash, to try and keep him on the porch from now on?

So all in all, these developments have come at the worst possible time for the Woods family.  If the news had blown up in, say, January or February, they would have all the rest of the year to try and work things out and get their marriage back on an even keel.  But as it stands, this Christmas and for many Christmases to come, Tiger and Elin will inevitably remember “that” Christmas back in 2009.

Marian Keyes on Christmas shopping

November 16, 2009

Marian Keyes, queen of the UK chick-lit authors (and a great read – recommended!), has this to say on shopping for Christmas:

This is where I come into my own. At the best of times I’m an excellent spender of money; shopping, buying nice things, running up debt – I’m second to none. But I especially love buying presents. It’s an opportunity to buy lovely things without the consequent guilt and, instead of feeling like a spendthrift, I feel like a generous, giving person.

She adds:

Everyone hates me when I announce at the end of October that I’ve bought all my Christmas presents. Their faces go all cat’s-bum sour and someone usually says, “Well! Aren’t you little Miss Organised?” and you can tell they mean it as an insult.

Despite buying her Christmas gifts months in advance, she maintains this is actually not a good thing, citing some of the things that can befall the very early shopper, like:

  • Buying green cushions for your sister’s green-themed bedroom, only to have her redecorate it in pink in October.
  • Your mother buying for herself, in early November, the very moisturiser you had already purchased for her
  • Being unable to resist giving particularly lovely presents weeks early, only to have the recipient forget, by Christmas Day, that you had already given her her Christmas present. She now thinks you are stingy for not getting her anything.

Further Under The Duvet, Marian Keyes, 2005, Penguin Books

Superwoman on Christmas

November 12, 2009

The redoubtable Shirley Conran, author of Superwoman, dispenses her advice on Christmas and how to simplify it (if you wish), in this UK Telegraph article.

Among her – sometimes controversial – pearls of wisdom:

Never, ever buy scented candles as a present.

Rich people are hard to buy for, but often like gifts that are monogrammed with their initials.

Over a four-year period pare down, and eventually dispense with, Christmas cards – too much fuss and clutter (Although she acknowledges this approach is too minimalistic for most people).

Seek out and stow away great, affordable gifts during the year, rather than expecting to discover them in the Christmas shopping rush.

Be inventive rather than lavish.

Flowers or flour?

October 31, 2009

Author Shonagh Koea, in her excellent memoir The Kindness of Strangers, recalls – following the untimely death of her husband – being given a posy of flowers by a visitor.

Someone called in one day to give me a bunch of pansies when there was hardly any food left in the cupboard and I just thought, “What the hell use is this fucking bunch of pansies when I’m hungry?”

The Kindness of Strangers – Kitchen Memoirs, Shonagh Koea, 2007, Random House New Zealand

Such an angry thought! The point being, of course, that pretty flowers are precious little comfort when one is hungry, and a practical gift, like food or money, would have been much better.

But I have mixed emotions on this one. How was her guest to have known that the newly widowed Shonagh could not afford groceries?

Birthday rage

September 20, 2009

I noticed in The Telegraph’s recent obituary for TV chef Keith Floyd that he once experienced an episode of what I can only describe as “birthday rage”.  Or, perhaps more accurately, “forgotten birthday rage”:

His third marriage ended when he accused his wife of forgetting his birthday. In a rage he destroyed much of his own restaurant bar and threw out his wife and 50 diners before retiring to a nearby hostelry to drown his sorrows.

The article doesn’t elaborate as to whether Floyd’s wife really did forget his birthday.  (Wouldn’t it have been awful if she’d had some lovely surprise present wrapped and ready to give to him after the restaurant shut for the night?  Although I wouldn’t recommend leaving it that late in the day to give your nearest and dearest their birthday present.)

And in another episode I recently read about, a woman complained to the authorities that her mail had been stolen, because she had not received birthday cards from some of her friends.  Rather touching, I thought.

Which I guess goes to show that people really do care about whether you remember their birthdays.

Christmas in Hollywood’s golden age

July 5, 2009

Who knows when the practise of ‘regifting’ unwanted or unsuitable gifts onto another party – probably while we were still living in caves!

Certainly it was around in the golden age of Hollywood, as actor David Niven (now sadly deceased, alas) recounts in his memoir, Bring on the Empty Horses:

 

Everyone at the studio … expected presents, but the biggest outlay was in the realm of personal gifts to friends and business acquaintances.

One was constantly getting caught short.  I once gave [actress] Miriam Hopkins half a dozen handkerchiefs and she gave me a Studebaker.  All in all it was a difficult and expensive time.

Errol [Flynn] and I thought we had it licked when we decided that the whole Peace and Goodwill Department was getting completely out of hand, so we decided to buy no personal or business gifts at all: instead we invested in some fancy wrapping paper, yards of multi-coloured ribbons and several dozen greeting cards.  We then sat back at North Linden Drive and waited for the deluge.  As the presents poured in it was a simple matter to re-wrap them, add something personal on a card and despatch them elsewhere.

Trade was brisk for several days before Christmas and all went well till someone sent us a case of champagne, which we gratefully opened instead of sending on its way.  After that we became careless.  Our rhythm faltered and the operation lacked synchronisation with the embarrassing result that [producer] Walter Wanger received a beautiful black, silk evening wallet on which in gold lettering was inscribed, ‘To D.N. from W.W.’

David Niven, Bring on the Empty Horses, 1975, Hamish Hamilton

The ‘regifting production line’ that David Niven recounts sounds entirely credible, although I am doubtful about the handkerchief/Studebaker anecdote.  I’m told that Mr Niven was known to embroider his stories for better effect, and suspect that this might be one of them.  (Well told, though!)  And his experience illustrates a crucial regifting rule: always take the greatest care that anything you regift does not end up back with the giver!

Diamonds are for Mimi

June 27, 2009

Did you know that in 2006 the son of the Sultan of Brunei, Prince Azim, sent Mariah Carey an 8 carat platinum-set diamond necklace and matching ring?

The multimillion dollar gift was delivered to the songstress in suitably over-the-top style – by private jet.

There’s no word on whether the attention-getting gift netted Prince Azim a relationship with Miss Carey (if indeed that was his aim), but she has subsequently married someone else, so I guess in the long haul, even 8 carats isn’t enough if you’re not the right guy.

And incidentally, good to see Mariah didn’t take Scarlett O’Hara’s mother’s advice on gifts from gentlemen admirers too seriously!

More info on this eye-popping present here.