This week Mr. Lash went to Sierra Leone, the setting for Graham Greene's love triangle The Heart of the Matter. I love visiting the settings of my favorite books and can still hear Mr. Greene asking if I'm "as beautiful as my voice" back when I had a job flirting with writers on the phone at Granta magazine.
At the exhibit Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick (Somerset House, London), I kept expecting to see a chocolate log covered with custard or a big trifle with the director's bearded face bending towards it. This is a memory, not a daydream, of the silent dessert-eating contests I had with Stanley Kubrick when I lived in his caravan.
On April 21, Charlotte Brontë celebrated her 200th birthday. Of course the toothless dwarf who created Jane Eyre isn't alive, but nearly two centuries after her death, her fans pore over her tiny shoes and size-zero dresses — recently displayed at Manolo Blahnik's favorite London museum, Soane's House.
It wasn't considered ladylike to write fiction in the 19th century, so the Brontë sisters pretended to be men, submitting their manuscripts as Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.
The skinny sisters were ahead of their time in other ways, each manifesting signs of an eating disorder long before they died of consumption. Emily was the innovator, starving for days in order to levitate and be closer to God, or his evil twin, on the ceiling of her bedroom.
The theory that fashion magazines spawn eating disorders is exposed to ridicule by the fat ladies poring over the pictures at Vogue 100 in London's National Portrait Gallery (until May 22, 2016), a show celebrating a century of UK Vogue. Conde Nast bought Vogue for his wife, but while the marriage ended in divorce, the magazine is still expanding with sexy young readers in China who compensate for the widening readers in England.
Patrician models from the 1930s, like my great-grandmothers with their wasp-waists and tailored clothes; the pushy glamour of 1980s creation Princess Diana facing Juergen Teller's 1990s portrait of young David and Victoria before betrayal and botox; and the war years in a room painted Vreeland-red as a backdrop to the magnetic photography of Lee Miller, Clifford Coffin, and Cecil Beaton tell the story of Vogue in a dazzling visual history.
My first run-in with art was on a school trip to Venice with a pedo biology teacher who didn't realize the Biennale isn't every year. A gang of art-junkie thirteen-year-olds pooled our pocket money to hire a gondola and drift along the Grand Canal toward Peggy Guggenheim’s palazzo to see The Angel of the Citadel, the famous bronze statue with the detachable penis. The organ had been soldered on because it kept being stolen, but we had our pictures taken with it anyway, to give our mothers heart attacks.
"Sex and art go hand-in-hand in my brain," Peggy Guggenheim says in Art Addict, a new documentary by Diana Vreeland's daughter-in-law, Lisa Immordino Vreeland, celebrating the woman who all but invented modern art.
We'll always have Paris, as Bogart said to Bergman. But while old boyfriends grow a gut, the City of Love remains its neo-classical self. It's always there for you when you want it or need it, thanks to Napoleon, who hired Baron Haussmann to reinvent its medieval streets as a stage for a procession of artists and models to show off on.
A city is defined by its atmosphere as well as its architecture, and Paris's past mingles with its present. Marie Antoinette and Oscar Wilde could be drinking champagne from the same cup as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Picasso. Add a little absinthe and turn it into a car crash.
New York City, Tokyo, Beijing have been art capitals more recently than Paris, but the streets of Le Marais still echo with the footsteps of surrealism. Alberto Giacometti, one of the artists associated with that dead-glam world that was Paris between the wars, is now showing at London's National Portrait Gallery (until January 10, 2016).
London Fashion Week, already the bastard child of the shows, has been upstaged by the Prime Minister. Designers and their dresses can't compete with allegations about the leader of the sexually repressed world receiving fellatio from a dead pig to gain entry into the secret aristocratic society of Piers Gaveston.
You couldn't make it up, and why would Lord Ashcroft want to? Porn revenge, perhaps? No pictures yet, but give it time. Dave is on record saying he had a "normal" student experience. My days as an undergraduate with farting wankers at drama school must have been abnormal. I never felt inclined towards either necrophilia or bestiality, though I did suffer students simulating sex with skeletons during my brief interlude at medical school.
The PM's wife Sam Cam may be an odd choice to lead Vanity Fair's best-dressed list, but you have to love a lady in red who sits front row at Roksanda on the day the world discovered her husband's pig love. But let's applaud Sam even if she does have a unisex name and poor taste in men.
I'm more into bracelets at Tiffany's than breakfasts. Holly Golightly can keep that croissant. Of course, in real life the Audrey Hepburn diet was a boiled egg, two bits of toast, and a martini a day to keep the fat police away. And don't go spoiling it by adding a 29-calorie olive when a citrus twist is easier on the eye as well as the waistline.
Hepburn, the face that launched a million haircuts, is immortalized in dead-glamorous stills by Angus McBean, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn, among other iconic photographers, which can currently be seen in Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon at the National Portrait Gallery in London (through October 18, 2015).