3 weeks ago

Cabin Fever: Making Movies, Murder Mysteries and Imelda May

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Sarah McDonnell, editor

Reading … The Ripley Series by Patricia Highsmith. We are all familiar with the first book, The Talented Mr Ripley (great quarantine film, by the way) but there are four others in the series – Ripley Under Water, Ripley’s Game, Ripley Under Ground, The Boy Who Followed Ripley. Lacking (in a very good way for our tired, info-overloaded minds) the complexity of modern crime thrillers, they move at a gentle pace along a simple plotline, and conjure a picture of a gentleman-murderer, living in a small chateau outside Fontainebleau with his beautiful and slightly amoral wife Heloise, who has a penchant for Hermès and long holidays. A little like the great Italian Montalbano detective series, there is a daily focus on what the housekeeper is preparing for dinner, and an awful lot of champagne is consumed. Call me shallow, but Tom Ripley’s my kinda murderer. 

Cooking …very little. After the intense cook-fest in the early weeks of lockdown, curating my cookbooks is another story, though, as I find Nigel Slater under my bed, in the kitchen, in the living room, and gather all together in a pleasing shelf-shrine. (I also found a great deal of dust under the same bed – cue yet more hoovering.) I like my cookbooks to be good reads, which I why I love Nigel, of course, but also love Pierre Koffmann’s Memories of Gascony, Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in France, and Skye McAlpine’s A Table in Venice (thank you Penny McCormick, for that one!). Follow the latter two writers on Instagram for a glimpse into their dreamy lives in Bordeaux and Venice. I mostly ogle Nigel’s garden on Insta.

Making Movies … With so many special occasions happening in quarantine and online deliveries taking an age, sometimes the best way to mark a milestone is to send a movie message or slideshow. Inspired by my daughter who graduated virtually from school today, and her friends (and teachers), who have made and shared brilliant mini features, I’ve – ahem – mastered iMovie (with the help of handy templates!) and I’m now trying the Filmmaker Pro app. I won’t win any awards but can congratulate myself for being a Thoroughly Modern Mum. Which is precisely what your 18-year-old doesn’t want … 

Sarah Halliwell, beauty editor

Grooming … By now, we are getting the hang of making ourselves look virtually presentable for Zoom calls and meetings, even if our lighting isn’t exactly Jennifer Lopez in the #OneWorldTogetheratHome concert (1,000 candles casually arranged round the garden). This week I spoke to hairstylist Michael Douglas, stylist to Davina, Kylie, Sienna and all, who recommended a range of affordable home tools I hadn’t heard of, Revamp, which he describes as “budget GHDs”– he uses the Progloss Hot Hair Styling Brush with retractable bristles on his clients, and really rates them. Could be handy for taming the bed hair …

Gearing up … in preparation for the (restricted) opening of tennis next week. We can’t wait to get back out and hit some balls; it’s one of the few sports you can play while social distancing. De Vesci club near Dun Laoghaire has clay courts in a sylvan setting and welcomes new members; courts in local parks are also due to reopen, with strict guidelines in place. Family-owned Grandstand Sports in Dun Laoghaire is open online for balls, rackets and kitbags so you look the part. 

Reading … The Moth, the Irish literary magazine that can be delivered to your door and is full of poems, short stories and interviews. If you can’t settle to reading long novels at the moment, treat yourself to this instead and try to spot the next Naoise Dolan (order via www.themothmagazine.com, €5).

Penny McCormick, deputy editor

Reading … Marian Keyes has gone on record to say she reads romantic novels, preferably Mills & Boon, in her “hour of need”. I turn to crime novels – my latest was Lucy Foley’s The Hunting Party. It’s definitely put me off any notions of booking a remote Scottish lodge for future New Year’s Eve parties with friends, but nonetheless it was riveting. If you like the genre then there’s a chance to vote for two Irish crime writers – Dublin’s Jane Casey (author of Cruel Acts) and Belfast’s Adrian McKinty (his latest is The Chain) in the prestigious Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020 award. Casey and McKinty face tough competition (including Jane Harper’s The Lost Man which is magnificent). The public vote will help to narrow down the initial list of 18 titles to a shortlist of six, announced in early June. I’ve found the longlist a useful reading resource for my intermittent crime “habit”. www.harrogatetheakstoncrimeaward.com

Finding out … about Chester Beatty’s impressive collection of Costumes Parisiens. The library has launched a new programme of events including live lunchtime talks and, as part of this, I watched a short video by guide Joan Barnewell. She was enlightening about the short-lived but significant fashion magazine Journal Des Dames Des Modes (1912-14)This was published during the Belle Epoque era, when fashions became more colourful and fluid, with opulent details and oriental influences. Central to this journal were its fashion plates – the Costumes Parisiens – featuring work by illustrators and designers such as Leon Bakst, Paul Poiret, George Barbier and Gerda Wegener. I look forward to seeing the full collection once the library reopens. www.chesterbeatty.ie

Listening to … Dubliner Imelda May’s first poem from her new EP Slip of the Tongue.  The first track Home’” is available to view on YouTube with one poem released every week leading up to the nine-track EP, out on June 12. Tackling issues such as obsession, heartbreak, Covid isolation and love, Imelda says of Home, “My friend Sara was getting married and I decided to write a poem as a gift. It made me sit and really think about Love and what it is in all its forms, and to look at it purely from Love’s own point of view. I surmised what it might tell us if we simply took the time to listen and realised, for me, true love is where I can be my true self, it feels like home.” I found it mesmeric with Imelda’s distinctive speaking voice set against an instrumental background. I can’t wait for the second poem to be released next week; she’s an impressive poetic storyteller. www.imeldamay.co.uk

Siomha Connolly, digital editor

Watching … Hollywood, a new seven-part mini-series on Netflix. It might not be entirely historically accurate (it is loosely based on a period post-WWII with some real actors and key Hollywood players depicted) but the costumes, characters and settings provide for good escapist TV as we follow the lives of a group of actors, screenwriters, directors and executives in 1940s Hollywood as it deals with the overarching tensions surrounding race, class, gender and sexuality present during that time.

Reading … articles online. I’m almost finished Girl, Woman, Other (really enjoying, would definitely recommend) and eagerly anticipating Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld which is released next week. I’ve pre-ordered it so it will land on my Kindle on Tuesday morning and until then I’ll get my reading fill with articles, weekend papers and hard-copy magazines. (Did you know The Gloss & The Mix April/May issue is available to buy on newsstands now?) This article by art critic Jerry Saltz, “On Appetites” captured my attention this week. Don’t be fooled by the title, it’s about so much more than food. As did this, by Ann Friedman: Check on an Extrovert Today. I’ve also been really enjoying the New Yorker’s Flash Fiction series which publishes a different short story every week, this week is Irish author Anne Enright.

Wearing … “bin chic”, as coined by Financial Times journalist Grace Cook (in this article) who says “Street style is changing, with baggy shapes and Birkenstocks replacing tailored outfits”. This new way of dressing is largely defined by billowy midi-length dresses or loose-cut trousers, worn with cardigans and Birkenstocks. As I was reading the article I looked down at myself to see, you guessed it: loose-cut linen trousers from Cos, my grey wool Birkenstock Bostons and an oversized cardigan from Arket. Variations on this outfit have become my lockdown go-to. Cook describes it as “a way of dressing that’s as suitable for sitting on the sofa as for the short walk to the shop” eliminating any need for further thought throughout the day. This way of dressing is largely dictated by the limited social interactions and formal requirements of normal life and I’ve been relishing every minute. On warmer days I wear the aforementioned midi-dress variation, switching between three different styles, usually paired with said Birkenstock Bostons and a cardigan, occasionally switching it up to introduce an oversized shirt paired with comfortable, well-worn vintage Levis. By limiting my wardrobe to a small selection of clothes it makes getting dressed each morning a hassle-free task leaving extra time to savour all the activities that are making these slow days all the more enjoyable, such as reading, gardening, baking, walking, and just being. 

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