An 80s’ icon…

Never mind what everyone wore to the Oscars. This is clearly THE jacket to be seen in this week. There I was innocently knocking up a soup last night when my daughter sent me a text with a picture of a jacket from some trendy website with a picture of me on the back. It’s tough to discover one is an 80s’ icon while chopping carrots.IMG_2945
The other thing that is tough is telling my children not to do stupid things to their hair, wear ridiculous clothes or anything else really when the evidence of my own teenage misdemeanours is on the back of a piece of white denim.
I have looked at the website where they sell the jacket but can’t find it. I can only assume it’s already sold out. I saw some other jackets, all for around £250 quid. Am half thinking of demanding royalties.
And before you ask if I was trying to look like Boy George, the answer is no, he was clearly trying to look like me. Have you seen him on the back of a jacket recently? I think not….

The Lovely Lewis

I thought very hard about whether to write this blog before or after I meet Lewis Hamilton at the Abu DHabi Grand Prix this weekend.

Logically it might be better to write it after, but I often think the anticipation of something is almost better than the event itself.

In the magazine we always put a piece pegged to something in before the event, so I am just following that pattern.

My outfit is ready, (flat shoe requirement is rather a bummer), I am sitting here with a face-pack on, nails immaculate, hair about to be washed. At midday I head off to the VIP paddock where I assume hundreds of glam types will be milling around.

I am not only taking my notebook, business cards and newly-washed hair but a rather large spot, right by my nose. It was so nice of it to show up just in time for Lewis, in Ferrari red.

Wish me luck, and if Lewis turns out to be totally amazing, I’ll just write about him again after the event.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

Better late than never…

I don’t know what it is about popular culture but I seem to get onto it about a year after everyone else. Take Lady Gaga for example. Our magazine had her as the cover story last year. I naturally thought my story should be on the cover as opposed to some pop star I had never heard of. Today I bought her album – brilliant.

It’s the same story with Twilight. Today Leo and I watched New Moon. Which is better than the first one because you have the sexy Jacob to drool over as well. My stepson just asked me which one I prefer; Jacob or Edward. Both I replied. I think it’s unfair to discriminate.

I don’t know what it is about Twilight but there seems to be no age limit to its followers. I was introduced to it through, first and foremost, my children. But also by quite a few friends, some similar in age to me, who told me all about the new love of their lives, one Edward Cullen. Is it the brooding Darcy-style looks? The long lingering stares? Or the fact that he holds the most potent anti-ageing tool there is between his jaws?

If someone can explain the phenomena then please do. But even if no one can, I am happy just to be carried along. Eclipse on Monday… I fall……

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

What’s new pussycat?

Friday night I went to see Tom Jones in concert. For those of you who have not heard of him, he is 69 years old and has been belting out hits like ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ and ‘It’s not Unusual’ for around 50 years. He is not someone I have hankered to see, but he was here in Abu Dhabi and he is a legend so I thought it would be worth popping along.

It was incredible. His voice filled the whole auditorium. He has an energy and a strength men half his age lack. Totally magical. I’m not surprised women have been throwing their knickers at him since 1950.

After the concert Rupes and I went for dinner with some friends. We had a riot, lots of banter and nice wine. They then went on to the bar at the Emirates Palace Hotel. It was 1am by then and, being a sensible gal, I thought it would be better to head home.

I slept badly and woke up to an email from one of the dinner gang. They had sat with Tom and his band (who used to be the band for Girls Aloud) singing Delilah and more until the wee hours.

Tonight we are off to the opera, and if anyone asks me to join them after it for anything at all, I am blooming well going….

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

And the winner is…

Question: what do Gwyneth Paltrow, Hugh Grant, Mika, Clive Owen, Kevin Spacey, Michelle Rodriguez and I have in common? Answer: we were all at the Laureus Sports Awards at the Emirates Palace Hotel on Wednesday night. The Oscars may have been and gone on Los Angeles, but here in Abu Dhabi we had our own version.

The evening started as well as it could. I walked into a lift of seven or so Springboks. “I can now die happy,” I told Rupert, who looked quite grumpy. He soon cheered up though when Gwyneth wafted past in a shimmering gown looking like an angel.

The ceremony was great fun, a bit like the Oscars in format and hosted by Kevin Spacey. Mid-way through Mika appeared with his band and belted out two numbers, it was fabulous. Here I am at the after-party with him, looking dreadful but I have overcome my vanity to share the glorious moment with you.

At one stage one of the organisers came up to my friend Jeremy and I. She leaned forward to whisper in my ear. This is it, I thought, Hugh Grant has finally matured and decided what he needs is an older woman. Sadly she just wanted to tell me there was less of a queue for food at the far buffet. So I didn’t meet Hugh, who was looking slightly rough I have to say though still cute, but I did meet Clive (very charming), Fabio Cappello (very short and wrinkly), Michelle Rodriguez (totally sweet) and Mika, and his mother, father, band and sister who were all really lovely. Mika’s mum and I compared notes about how tough it is to get your children to do piano practice. She told me she had “tears and fighting” all the time and that she used to sit behind them to make sure they did their practice. “I used to nod off,” she laughed. “It was a good place to take a nap.”

We partied until after 3am. From the lovely outside surroundings (see pic) we went to the hotel nightclub where I boogied next to Boris (Becker) for a while before heading home in a star-struck state.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

A great night out

If I were to be reborn I would like to spend my childhood, or at least some of it, in Abu Dhabi. While I am mad about a kind of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ upbringing in England I wonder how possible that is any more and also if life as a child here also has its unforgettable elements.

Last night we were invited by the Abu Dhabi Tourism authority to the final event for Gourmet Abu Dhabi. This is a food festival running over two weeks, with lots of top chefs and expensive dinners and wine-tastings. Tickets are normally around £100 each so I was relieved that we were invited, especially as we had all five children with us, as well as Miranda, Leo’s friend.

The children ran from stall to stall picking up delicacies like giant prawns in lemongrass sauce and pineapple flakes with ginger ice-cream. They were fussed over by everyone. The setting was the gardens of a magnificent five-star hotel on the beach with a huge pool in the middle at the other side of which a band was playing.

We immediately recognised the band as the one Bea, Leo and I had seen (and met backstage) in Dubai so the children went to talk to the singer during the interval. Minutes later they had secured their spot on stage. The pictures are not great, but you get the idea. I am proud to say they all danced and grooved and there was not a moment’s stage fright.

When I was their age my pop star practices were limited to a shampoo bottle in front of our bathroom mirror. My point is that this is not only a land of opportunity for adults, most of whom come here to earn lots of money and secure their financial future, unless you’re a journalist of course, but you do then get in free everywhere. But it is also in many ways a land of opportunity for children because you never know what might happen.

I know in England, for example, that Health & Safety would soon have put a stop the appearance of our budding pop stars, even if we had managed to get close to the singer in the first place.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2010

A rare concert

I had am anguished telephone call from Schamanee our maid today as Leo, Rupert and I played cricket on the beach.

“Madam, the girls are putting posters up,” she said. “I don’t know why.”

I spoke to Olivia who explained that they are giving a concert tomorrow evening and were simply advertising the fact. The concert will take place at 5pm on the small terrace outside our sitting room.

Sadly I will be in Dubai but I don’t think they will miss me. Apparently several of the neighbours have said they will attend and as I write there is an interested cluster around the sign on the lampost outside our front door (pictured below).

For anyone who has always wanted to see Hannah Montana in real life, do come along. I have seen the rehersals and they sound just as good as the real thing. The song is a rather drab number called ‘Party in the USA’ but the girls have made it all their own…..I cannot imagine what our neighbours will think of it all, but as Bea told me; ‘it’s better than posting it on YouTube”.

In this virtual age it is nice to know they appreciate the value of live music. If you can call it that….

The Raffle for Rafa

Bea and Leo entered their first-ever tennis tournament today. The prize for the winner of the tournament was to play with Rafa and Federer when they come over for the Capitala Tennis Tournament at the end of the year.


I realised very quickly neither of my two were in the running. They were (bless them) comfortably the worst players there. I think some of the nine-year olds would have beaten me. But there was one glimmer of hope….the raffle.

The raffle would draw two names who would also get to play the two stars, but it meant staying until the very end of the tournament even though we were being humiliated on court.


There aren’t many things that will entice me to hang around a hot, humid tennis court without a drink in sight. But the potential prize was far too big to give up on. Just imagine, I kept thinking, if we win. And we have more chance than most as there are two of them in the raffle. I mean whoever wins will have to be accompanied by their mother, right?

Finally after almost four hours, the moment arrived. As the first name was drawn out of the hat my heart sank. How stupid of me to waste a whole morning and to put them through all this hanging around. I never win anything and it seems genetically unlikely that my children will.

The first name was disqualified for not being there. Another name was called out – Patricia Wright. No one answered. Suddenly I realised it was Beatrice Wright they meant, I leapt to my feet:

“It’s you Bea, it’s you!” I yelled like the worst possible football mum.

Bea went to the front to be congratulated, beaming. She (and I) were on a high for the rest of the day, and will possibly remain high for another week. After the tennis we went to the cinema to see Michael Jackson’s This is It. A woman in front of us wept through the whole thing, the girls, who had heard Janet was in town for the Grand Prix, asked if she was his sister. She was not, she was just a bereaved fan. Sad as we are about Jacko’s demise, nothing could wipe the smile off our faces.

The lucky winner is asleep next to me as I write and has promised to practice her tennis before her big match. I am going to work out how to use my video camera and plan my outfit. I’m not sure which is more stressful. But I am extremely happy that my genetic predisposition for never winning anything has not been passed on to Baby Bea. As Rupes said, Napoleon would approve, he liked his generals to be lucky.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009

Thrilling? It will be….

This week has been mainly about recovering from last. It all seemed very empty and mundane with the glamour of the Formula 1 gone…but all that is about to change.

This evening the children and I are off to Dubai to see Navi. For those of you who haven’t heard of Navi, he is the world’s most successful Michael Jackson lookalike/impersonator. I interviewed him and must say he was charming. As the interview was on the phone I can’t tell you how much like the King of Pop he looks or not, but I will tell you all after this evening.

Tomorrow night I am going to a big party at my friends Noch and Bruce’s house. Noch is one of my oldest (not in age) friends here and one of the reasons I like it here so much more than France. This is a woman who laughs, drinks, eats and sings along to bad pop songs with me. So everything a French woman is not. Added to which she speaks English, another huge advantage. In fact she is English, but English colonial, so more amusing than most.


Anyway the idea of the party is that we all come dressed as the thing we wanted to be when we were growing up. After much thinking I have decided to go as Audrey Hepburn, partly because I did always want to be her but also because my view of fancy dress is that you should wear what makes you look good and no one can ever look bad in black and white. What would you go as? I guess I won’t have to ask Navi that question if I meet him this evening…..

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009

My Roman Polanski story…..

As if you haven’t had enough of me and my encounters with celebs….anyway, in the light of the fuss surrounding his arrest I wanted to share this with you.

Back in, I think it was 1977, I was sitting in the Opera Cellar restaurant in Stockholm with my stepfather. At the time I was a teenager with film star aspirations. I wanted to be the next Audrey Hepburn.

Roman Polanski was seated at a nearby table and he kept staring at me. I of course had no idea who he was. My stepfather, however, did.

“If you’re really serious about being an actress then go and talk to him,” he said.

I was too shy to. But I often wonder how different my life might have been if I had and he had cast me as Tess instead of Natasha Kinski…..


Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009