Monday, 28 February 2011


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I had this whole thing in my head I was going to do about the Oscars, because if I knew one thing, it was that not nearly enough people were writing about that today. But I am running about like a crazy person and I have not only done actual words today (987) but also reading and research. I used the telephonic instrument to speak to a man from the Advertising Standards Authority, for the book. I am usually far to shy to do any actual talking kind of research, but I really wanted to know something about the more outlandish claims of the cosmetics industry.

He was heaven; articulate and polite and patient and helpful. The ASA sounds like a perfect gem of an organisation, fearlessly protecting consumers from harm.

'How do you compare to the rest of the world?' I said, finally.

'Well,' he said. 'I really don't want to be rude to other countries.'

'No, of COURSE not,' I said. 'That would never do.'

'I could say that we are considered the gold standard, here in Britain,' he said, diffidently.

'Oh,' I said, in surprised delight. 'Well perhaps we are not going to the dogs after all.'

'Perhaps not,' he said.

'You have cheered me up,' I said.

Anyway, what with the work and the running about and the brassy boldness of just ringing up the man at the ASA and asking him questions, I am done in, so there will be no Oscar meditation. (I was going to do a whole riff about if you were an alien and you came down from Mars and saw the red carpet etc. I thought it quite inspired as I cleaned my teeth this morning.)

There are a couple of disjointed observations:

I am starting to think that Helena Bonham-Carter is a heroine in the Helen Mirren mould. As in: funny, human, irreverent, really good at her job, and secretly does not give a damn. (That last bit is entirely my own inference.) Colin Firth is clearly not only an exceptional human being, but also really, properly chic. He may have been wearing the best cut dinner jacket since Cary Grant was a boy. I know these things do not matter when the world is so oppressed, but we all need a little frivolity sometimes. And there is something about really fine tailoring.

But my standout thing was the niceness of Tom Hanks. I know everyone says that about him; it's the number one Hollywood trope. Still, it did rather astonish me, when he was caught by a harassed BBC interviewer outside the Vanity Fair party, that he took the time to do the most charming joshing I have ever seen. Almost everyone else was monosyllabic, probably from having to sit through a four hour ceremony. Not Hanks, who was in full antic mode. He made an excellent gag about the BAFTAs having one day to give a prize to an American film, and then, when the interviewer said Thank you very much, Hanks feigned astonishment. 'That's it?' he said. 'That's all? If I were from Wales you would have interviewed me for another twenty minutes.' Then he slapped the amazed BBC fellow on the arm, roared with laughter, and went on to spread the happiness elsewhere. A huge Hollywood star making a WELSH JOKE. It's too much. I imagine that most film stars don't even know where Wales is. I shall love him for that forever.

Also, Hugh Jackman gets huge props for making a cricket joke. 'Thank you so much for not mentioning The Ashes,' he told the BBC. So I love him too.

Pictures of the day are not of couture frocks or scarlet carpets, but of snowdrops and trees and hills and dogs and buds. You would not expect me to break the habit of a lifetime.

The snowdrops in the light:

28th Feb 2

28th Feb 3

Just look at the delightful crocuses. Or is it crocii?

28th Feb 6


28th Feb 8


28th Feb 9

It was minus two this morning, with a heavy frost, but the new spring light is still gentling the wooded hills:

28th Feb 6-1

28th Feb 13

28th Feb 14

28th Feb 15

The hellebores looked dead as dodos last week, but now are raising their delicate heads:

29th Feb 5

If you look very closely, you can see the sky reflected in her eyes:

28th Feb 10

Like dignity on the monument:

28th Feb 12

The hill:

28th Feb 1

With any luck, things will be calmer tomorrow and I shall make more sense.

PS. To those kind readers who have asked: the dear stepfather is home and recuperating nicely. I made him a ham for his breakfast, in the Edwardian manner. Must keep the patient's strength up.


  1. Oh, I know everybody is writing about the Oscars today, and I don't really understand why I love it so much, but I find myself drawn to it every year. In a very serious world, the awards shows (and especially the Oscars) are the definition of frivolous. But they sure are fun. I love Helena Bonham Carter for exactly how you described her. Helen Mirren too, for that matter. I love Colin Firth more every time he speaks. And yes, it's somehow comforting to see our impressions of the "nice" stars, like Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, and others, continue to reinforce that image.

  2. Just wanted to say thank you for the lovely posts this last week and the photos. Kept my spirits up when they were flagging a bit.

  3. We are the Gold standard...better than an oscar any day (though am v.proud that the Kings Speech did so very well.)

  4. You had sun in Scotland today? What delight! I agree with you re Tom Hanks - he just seems so charming. Helena Bonham-Carter comes into my book shop sometimes and is so lovely and modest I love her even more now. She should have had the Oscar. (In my modest opinion.)

  5. Dear Tania, I love everything you say most days and especially today, but how you could have managed to restrain yourself on the subject of Cate Blanchett's a-may-zing frock astounds me.

  6. Mary - so glad you mentioned Sandra Bullock. She is one of my absolute favourites, and looked so pretty last night.

    Jo - that is always so lovely to hear. Hope spirits are restored.

    Tattie - I am proud of the King's Speech too. I know really it has nothing to do with me, but I do like seeing the dear Britons do well. Also there is the charming underdog thing of a tiny film, costing nothing in Hollywood terms, driving all before it.

    Helena - there was delightful sun. So pleased to hear yr H B-C story.

    Lillyanne - thank you so much for mentioning the majestic Cate Blanchett, who can do no wrong in my eyes. Talk about elegance and grace.

  7. Tom Hanks has gone up even more in my estimation now I know he tells jokes too. What a man.

    I watched a showing of The King's Speech with a satellite Q&A session afterwards. H B-C was hilarious and sat there quaffing red wine, winding up Colin Firth and seeming mildly surprised whenever someone asked her a question.

  8. I stayed up all night to watch the Academy Awards -- and taped them too, just in case I passed out on the sofa before the "biggie" Oscars they save for the end of the show (even though I have yet to see any of the winning films except for Inception & The Social Network! Oh yes, and Alice in Wonderland). I am SO behind!
    I love all the glitz and who's with whom and what they're all wearing and the grand opening (especially when it's a faux film montage...)...
    I miss the immensely talented Billy Crystal as host...

    Ah me. Now back to "reality"....

  9. More on Tom Hanks: I truly fell in love when the utterly dreadful Kate Garraway accosted him on behalf of Lorraine show (excuse the poor viewing choice) and he had clearly no idea who Lorraine Kelly was but on hearing she was Scottish managed a good 2 minutes on how much he loved Edinburgh and The Flying Scotsman. Very funny.

  10. Tania - I thought today's photos were especially stunning.

    My camera broke during the turmoil last week and I am kidding myself I have to have the same as yours in the hope I can take half as good a photo.

    I fear yours might be a bit whizzy for me though. (The husband will frown and the insurance company will decline!)

    And then there's the whole issue of the person behind the camera. The plan could become a bit unstuck there.

    So glad your stepfather is recovering well. x

  11. Tania,

    What a nice blog post! (From someone who.. *gasp* did not watch the Oscars). I've always loved Helena Bonham-Carter.... I do think in this world of 'train-wreck stars' it is so important to focus on the ones who can act, are gracious, witty...

    In the reading I've done, Europe and the UK are more proactive in terms of managing cosmetics and the cosmetic industry... the US is an utter failure. (although it is starting to improve as people become more proactive..) Have a lovely day!

  12. Dear Tania, I totally agree Helena, Helen, Colin and Tom are all exceptional human beings. I'm off to watch Heart of Me a bit of vintage Helena with Paul Bettany that I recorded at the weekend xx


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