Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Books and frocks, my two favourite things.

I had been sitting on the knowledge of the Booker shortlisting since last Wednesday, unable to tell anyone but a few close friends. The Booker people let your publisher know in advance so they can organise reprints and have stock ready to go into the bookshops. To his credit, when I told Harry, his first question was: what are you going to wear. That boy gets more metrosexual by the minute. It will be manscara next.

One person I did let into my confidence was Anya Hindmarch who 'gifted' as the saying goes in fashion PR a gold clutch. Yay, Anya, thank you. Saturday was taken up with buying a dress for the grand party at the V&A on the night of the shortlist announcement. Eventually I got this from Jaeger which I had admired many times but always assumed it was the wrong shape for me. Two very bossy young German sales assistants insisted I tried it on, and - well, what do you know? So I succumbed to the matching necklace, too.

On Tuesday, at the hairdressers, I happened into L.K. Bennett, and found a pair of very high heels which were oddly quite comfortable. I'll not be previewing my October 14 wardrobe, but for the moment, I'm thinking of a MaxMara long dress I've only worn once, with something to cover the arms, as yet unbought.

More on all of this later.

Someone in the comments said that the Booker was only bettered by the Nobel, and I think that's probably true. It is the international literary prize that has the most attention from the media. It is not open to American writers, but then the Pulitzer is only open to US citizens and the National Book Award is only open to books published in the US, which rules out many writers, such as myself, who have had difficulty getting a US deal. Regular readers will recollect that I posted a rejection letter from one major house which raved about the book but said it was 'too British' for the American readers. There has, in the past few months, been a huge upswing in Anglophilia in the US. This I'm sure can be only reason why, in the twenty-four hours after the shortlist announcement, eleven major American publishers contacted my agent to ask if they could be sent copies to consider.

There is an import edition currently available on with a 2-4week delivery time , but anyone abroad who'd like to order would do better with the Book Depository, which offers books at prices but free delivery worldwide and has several fulfilment centres in the US.

This is a wonderful shortlist to be on (sorry, Sir Salman, I'm sure your time will come) and I'm particularly thrilled to share the list with the wonderful and funny Sebastian Barry and the great Indian writer Amitav Ghosh. Someone remarked on the fact that I am the only woman on the shortlist. It is ten years since this was last the case and sixteen since an all-male shortlist caused such outrage that it led to the creation of the Orange Prize. One lamentable exclusion was a short and extraordinary book by the Australian writer Helen Garner. It's called The Spare Room and was described by Peter Carey as the 'perfect book'.

So five weeks to go until the big night. Several people have raised questions about the press photos. here's the thing, any day now I must get round to contacting all those papers which took flattering pics of me over the years and ask them to delete the ones that are nearly a decade old and replace them with ones of me looking older and wiser.

I'd particularly like to commend that newspaper of record the International Herald Tribune for knocking five years of my age.

For the record, this remains my favourite picture of myself. It's six years old but it looks like me, and it is me. It was taken by one of my closest friends, more used to photographing warlords with the latest must-have AK47. I asked him if he would do mendacious flattery but he said not for love nor money, no.
Of course that was before Roger sorted out my fringe.

NOTE: The Jaeger dress isn't the one I'll be wearing at the black tie dinner on the 14th October, it's the one I wore at the shortlist party at the V&A on Tuesday night.

Harry Contemplates Modernity

For some men, skin care and grooming goes beyond a quick shave. In fact, some men – both "metrosexuals" and the simply fastidious – have long followed a strict cleanse, tone and moisturise routine. And now, a new beauty must-have tailored specifically for 'im Indoors has arrived.

The article in Tuesday’s Independent is referring to the launch of YSL’s Touche Eclat for Men.
( read it here)

I don’t know about ‘must have’. For me it’s more a case of must try to understand exactly what it is they are talking about.
I thought I would refer to this feature before the Thoughtful Dresser brought it to my attention. She regards my ignorance of male cosmetics ( that’s probably the wrong term) as quite neanderthal.
I am not quite sure why I remain in a state of ignorance. Way back in the late 60’s I was an early adopter. Well, at least as far as hair was concerned. Tame, a hair conditioner, was for me an utterly radical discovery. ( This was in the days when it was assumed we all had dandruff because the only shampoos in our house were ‘medicated’) And then came Cossack hair spray for men. A black and red canister with the silhouette of a charging Cossack. It didn’t exactly transform my life but it did help keep the mod hair cut in place. I thought it was rather sophisticated. My father, however, found my use of it just a little bit questionable.
Anyhow YSL’s new product launch reminds me that I really should investigate the two Clinique products that TTD has brought to my attention. Apparently I should be using them regularly.
I guess it may be time to get modern all over again.
And I know modern will mean no more pictures of Cossacks.

Note: My searches have not found a picture of the male version of the product. So I have put the wrong picture in rather than a photo of an investment banker (which is what the Independent used.)