Blast from the past

My friend Floss just left today, she has been staying with us for the past week. When I first met her some 30 years ago at a pizzeria in the King’s Road there were two things that differentiated her from everyone else. One, she had a red mohican, and two, she was an utterly obsessive Chelsea fan. One of those things remains the same.
We were best friends all those years ago. We did everything together. We lived close to each other, she was still living with her parents in Sloane Square, and I was renting a room nearby from a long-suffering girl called Angela whose life was about as far removed from ours as was possible. Floss and I spent all our time together, at my place or hers, and going out.
We used to go to night clubs a lot; the Camden Palace, the Mud Club, Crazy Larry’s. We were backing singers once for Steve Strange and my other claim to fame is that I was once told by George Michael that Andrew Ridgeley fancied me. But back then, before they were famous, they were known as ‘the wallies from wham’ and I wasn’t interested. Of course I was also in love with ‘Heathcliff’ as some of you might remember him, who by a strange coincidence was here last week, missing Floss by just a few days.
Floss and I lost touch when I went to university and she went around the world. A couple of years ago my friend Marco told me he had seen her.
“She’s just the same,” he said.
“What? She’s still got a red mohican?” I asked. (Floss is on the left below)
He put us in touch and she came to my book launch in London. We then swapped lots of emails, mainly about Chelsea, until she asked if she could come and stay. I didn’t know what to expect really. Thirty years is a long time. I really thought it would be a bit like having a stranger in the house. But it wasn’t. The amazing thing is, that she really is just the same (apart from the hair-do) and I felt like we’d never been apart.
I don’t know if it’s a significant thing or not, hooking up with people from when you were young, maybe it’s totally irrelevant. I suppose if nothing else it’s good to know that people who knew you so long ago still want to hang out with you. And that some things never change.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2012

A Tiger in my gym

A week ago today I spotted a rare and beautiful creature in my gym. Many women have sighted him before me, but it still felt very special. It was none other than the ‘casually sweaty Tiger Woods’ creature, former world number one golfer and reason that millions of women (and probably men) watch golf now, even though they had never heard of the game before he bounced on to the scene.

We had a deep and meaningful discussion. Me: “Hi Tiger, good luck today, I really hope you win.” Him: “Thank you, I appreciate it.”
He didn’t win, some English bloke no one has ever heard of did, but he played well, and cut a fine figure in his grey sweatshirt and grey shorts (not that I was gazing) with his two bodyguards (I want that job).

Sport seems to dominate my life at the moment. If I’m not spotting Tiger in the gym, I’m on the tennis court. I have become utterly obsessed with tennis. I play it, and then I read about it, at the moment I am going to bed with Rafa’s autobiography every night. Failing that I watch other people play it and then talk endlessly about it. “Can’t you just have an affair like every other women in town?” Rupert asked me the other night as I described my new serving motion.
As I write I see my ical alarm flashing ‘Man U at home’. It is almost time for Chelsea versus Man United. I have been in constant touch today with my old friend Floss who first introduced me to Chelsea when I was 17. She has two children (boys) whose middle names are Stamford and Gianfranco. If only Torres had been playing for us when Leonardo was born he might have been Fernando.

I think one of the things that is so compelling about sport is that it is truly unpredictable, well, apart from Chelsea’s bad form, but as Floss said today, we are delusionally optimistic. On the outside I am saying ‘of course we will lose’ while secretly hoping for a Torres hat-trick. But the point is, we have excitement and unforeseen outcomes, much like a soap opera, without having to sit through 15 hours of Season One. And the heroes are just as good looking, especially in their gym kit.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2012



New look 2012

When I was buying Christmas presents for the girls this week I was struck by how very different the kinds of things I was looking at were from last year. There is nothing in a toy department that would interest them now, for example. Gone are the pet shops and the furry animals.Their Christmas lists were all about clothes from Forever 21, bits for their BlackBerries and other ‘grown-up’ things, such as fountain pens or new curtains.
Much as I loathe those round robin ‘oh it’s been another frightfully good year in the Frith Powell/Wright household’ I do think it’s a perfect time of year to look back. I am guessing if you’re here in the first place, you must be interested. And to mark the end of 2011, I have a new look, hope you like it.
I will start with work. This year was my first full year as editor of M magazine. It has been brilliant, I love my team and the product, which I feel just gets better and better. It has also been the single most challenging year of my professional life, because of changes to my working environment. But it’s all too tedious to relate here, and quite frankly I have wasted enough time droning on about it.
The latest book is missing around 20,000 words and a satisfying ending, I was hoping to get it done before Christmas but that is not going to happen. Still, I am happy with it so far if rather nervous about the proposed title: How to turn your husband into your lover. My publisher, whom I utterly adore, believes in the old adage of ‘sex sells”. He is right of course.
As I said, the girls are growing up at an alarming rate. Olivia is quite the most elegant creature I have ever seen, and is doing really well at school. We had a letter from the head of her year congratulating her on her great report. Bea is becoming more and more beautiful but now I sound like a ‘smug married’ so won’t go on. She has a boyfriend, he is sooo cute and plays football and piano (grade 8). I fear it’s all downhill from here….Leo is still the sporting superstar, utterly obsessed and determined to join Chelsea FC and turn their fortunes around. The sooner the better frankly.
I started with work and return to work. As I write I am having my hair blow-dried in preparation for Rupert’s leaving party. He has resigned from the National and as soon as I can I will tell you what his next move is. It’s really exciting and may mean we stay here for a few years to come. Which I am actually beginning to like the idea of. As long as we have La Belle Maison to escape to when the heat sets in….
Happy Christmas and a very Happy New Year

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011

Middle Class no more

OK, so I would have preferred him to become a tennis player, but it seems that if he is destined for sporting greatness Leo will be a footballer. But it will not be an easy journey. I just thought that people were born with amazing talent (which he clearly is!) and then became rich and famous.

Apparently not, according to a brilliant book I am reading called ‘Bounce – How Champions Are Made’ all about the secrets of success. It’s all about the ‘10,000 hours’ Matthew Syed the author says. Even Mozart, who is considered a child prodigy, had had 6,500 hours of music practice by the time he was 10. So it wasn’t the fact that he was incredibly talented that made him so brilliant, but rather his father pestering him to play musical instruments all day every day. In fact he didn’t start composing his best work until he was in his twenties, by which time he had notched up the golden 10,000 hours.

I discussed the whole sporting greatness thing with Jamie, a friend of mine who is in sports management. “Leo doesn’t stand a chance,” he told me. “You’re far too middle class and nice. Middle class kids don’t become sporting superstars.” He has a point. Look at the way Agassi became the tennis player he was. His father made him hit 2,500 balls A DAY. The Williams sister were in full-time training by the time they were three. And Tiger Woods could hole a put before he could walk properly. Am I prepared to go to such extremes in order to make sure Leo is the new Lampard? In any case, it’s probably too late by now. He’s already seven, so over the hill by these standards.

Still, I am prepared to make some efforts. Today at work my friend Katie told me about how Beckham had a tyre in his garden which he used to kick a football through. When he had got it through 100 times he would go in for his tea. I told Leo about this,  whose little eyes lit up. “I’ve got just the perfect thing mummy,” he said scurrying off to come back a minute later with my Pilates ring. So we have rigged it up and he has already got the ball through four times.

Only another 96 to go……middle-class,  moi?

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011