ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: Best bit of Meghan's dull palace is chicken coop08/07/2021
Best bit of Meghan Markle’s dull palace is the chicken coop: ALEXANDRA SHULMAN says room where Duchess’s birthday video was filmed exemplifies the chasm between money and taste
I’ve tried, honestly I have, to be positive about the latest initiative from Team Sussex. But once again I’m failing.
When Meghan spent 40 minutes of her birthday videoing compassionate messages to less advantaged women, no doubt she meant well. It was certainly no crime.
But the room where the video takes place? That really is criminal.
Yet another example of the familiar chasm between money and taste.
When Meghan spent 40 minutes of her birthday videoing compassionate messages to less advantaged women, no doubt she meant well. But the room where the video takes place? That really is criminal.
Each to his or her own, of course. Taste is in the eye of the beholder.
But really, why live in what looks like an identikit hotel interior, the sort rolled out across the world from Mykonos to Taipei.
Safe, uncluttered and – dread word coming up… neutral.
I realise I am falling into the same snob trap Tatler did when they critiqued Carole Middleton’s decorative style as ‘very Buckinghamshire’, but this spa-reception look is so disappointing.
Wall-to-wall beige might be soothing if you need to recover from a hot-stone massage but it’s no place to live.
The sandblasted stone of the fireplace, the rush matting (which Meghan’s spike heels will get into a terrible tangle with, in a most un-zen way), the display of white storage boxes and the cream Hermes throw are unutterably bland
The sandblasted stone of the fireplace, the rush matting (which Meghan’s spike heels will get into a terrible tangle with, in a most un-zen way), the display of white storage boxes and the cream Hermes throw are unutterably bland.
No doubt Harry was eager to split from the traditional Royal interiors he spent so much of his life in – especially the Queen’s beloved electric bar fires on which you can hear dust sizzle.
He may well have had his fill of spindly dark-wood tables crammed with silver framed pictures, and porcelain knickknacks, ruby damask upholstery and more ornately framed landscapes scattered about the wallpaper than posters in a teenager’s bedroom.
Wanting something different would be understandable and the splendid Montecito villa is the first home he has ever owned. It was an opportunity to make a place truly his own.
Each to his or her own, of course. Taste is in the eye of the beholder. But really, why live in what looks like an identikit hotel interior, the sort rolled out across the world from Mykonos to Taipei
Equally understandable, since he’s a kind of old-school guy, even though he’s doing his best to prove otherwise, he no doubt left the choice of interior decoration to Meghan, which would explain why it looks just like the Toronto flat she left behind – similarly beige and impersonal.
Perhaps the answer is that this is not really their actual study but rather a showroom like the Garden Room at Highgrove where Prince Charles hosts large dinners – a faux space that he makes public rather than the real dining room where he and Camilla entertain their mates.
This might be the same, a place that Meghan and Harry are allowing us to snoop around while the rest of the house is really a riot of interesting art, colourful furniture, and books other than Meghan’s The Bench: a home rather than a catalogue shoot.
Even so it’s still depressingly unimaginative.
Although of course they do have their chicken coop for a bit of messy authenticity.
All my secrets are in the bin
I had a very different peek into other people’s homes last week as I joined a line to dump rubbish into a temporary neighbourhood skip.
Time was when I would gaily spend a Saturday afternoon flinging half-empty shampoo bottles, half-burnt candles and bust phones into bin bags and then equally gaily shoving them into a rubbish bin.
But no longer.
Not only has Brent Council and its stringent recycling requirements put an end to that but so have my own concerns about the planet my prospective grandchildren might inherit.
Time was when I would gaily spend a Saturday afternoon flinging half-empty shampoo bottles, half-burnt candles and bust phones into bin bags and then equally gaily shoving them into a rubbish bin
So off I went with my broken Bose CD player, three-legged garden table, ancient tennis racket and a number of plastic mop handles.
One thing I noticed at the skip was that we were all a fraction guarded about letting the rest of the group see what we were dumping.
But then I suppose your rubbish is curiously personal. A bit like displaying the contents of your bathroom cabinet.
Don’t turn my home into a dog’s dinner
When did it become acceptable to expect to bring dogs to dinner? And to make the host feel churlish if you sound less than enthusiastic?
Now there are so many lockdown puppies, it can be pandemonium.
What if everyone wants to bring their dog?
What if, like a friend of mine, you have just decorated your house and really, really don’t want them cocking their leg up against the newly painted Elephant’s Breath dining room?
Or, heaven forbid, against the kind of immaculate rush matting spotted chez Sussex where the stain and smell never disappears.
Dogs… I get them. Delightful creatures. But not as dinner guests.
Wild swimming is really very tame!
Swimming in a natural pond as I did last weekend is certainly lovely, if a touch on the chilly side.
The water was silky and unchlorinated and the surrounding landscape of towering trees simply beautiful.
However, I am not going to call it wild swimming.
It was just swimming the same way swimming always is and always has been.
There’s something annoyingly self-aggrandising about the term wild swimming. It’s as if the participants are unleashing a brave inner demon when what they’re really doing is having an enjoyable dunk and then wrapping up in a nice towelling gown for a bit of a gossip with fellow supposedly intrepid friends.
Dashing Keely: the perfect doll model
I just love the fact that Keely Hodgkinson was doing her lashes before she scored her record-breaking silver in the 800 metres.
And that she’s studying criminology at university. Keely’s exactly the kind of Barbie doll Mattel should make as a role model for young girls.
I just love the fact that Keely Hodgkinson was doing her lashes before she scored her record-breaking silver in the 800 metres
Its new doll modelled on vaccinologist Dame Sarah Gilbert is a worthy idea.
But I suspect few six-year-olds are going to crave a doll dressed in a navy trouser suit and specs.
Keely, with her long blonde hair, athletic figure in her tiny vest and pants, is a much safer bet. And equally inspiring.
Why Sweaty Betty is stinking… rich
If you had ever asked me, and funnily enough no one did, whether Sweaty Betty was a good name for an aspirational exercise brand, I would have said you were crazy.
I would have thought no one would want to be reminded of their stinky leggings.
Which is why I haven’t just sold a business for a dazzling £300 million like Sweaty Betty creators Tamara and Simon Hill-Norton.
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