Monday, 8 October 2007

From yoga to yohji

High hopes for the 9.10 to London were dashed as soon as I got into the frequent traveller lounge. No Sunday papers from Britain. I really thought that was just an 8.07 thing. Clearly not. I bore this latest setback with fortitude and picked up Le Journal du Dimanche which was obviously so delighted with France's 20-18 quarter-final victory over the All Blacks on Saturday night that it could only bellow: Enorme.

Since Saturday morning's front page of L'Equipe had said: Ce serait immense ..... I got the feeling that these papers were run by men with psychosexual projection issues.

But indeed it was big. France beat New Zealand to reach the semi-finals of the rugby world cup where they'll play England who did gigantic things themselves on Saturday afternoon by beating Australia 12-10.

These two results have left southern hemisphere rugby in a state of massive shock and certainly France must be fancying their chances of defeating England.

If France reaches the final and then wins the whole thing, it seems to go without saying that I’ll probably be learning some new words for throbbingly mega.

I wanted to go to Tate Britain to see the Millais exhibition. But Monday has been taken up with car problems. The Peugeot cracked up and the man from the Automobile Association came to fix it.

It was a broken fan belt. Alan from the AA diligently went about his work, my contribution to the repairs was simply to stand on the pavement near the car and to look on purposefully.

My mechanical dexterity extended to putting my hand through the fan belt and spinning it round my wrist like a hula-hoop.

But this wasn’t Waikiki Beach. This was grey and gritty SW16 London where the cars race down the street and the house prices rise before your very eyes.

The Millais exhibition will be around for a few more weeks yet.

Why Millais? I first heard about him when I was a student in Paris.

I remember it quite clearly. I was in my room in the Collège Franco-Britannique at the Cité Universitaire in the 14th. It was hot and for some reason I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep so I turned on the radio.

The BBC World Service was airing some dramatisation about the life of John Ruskin and it necessarily took in his doomed marriage. As far as I remembered it wasn’t consecrated because his lady wife, Effie Gray, was menstruating on their wedding night. This so appalled the brain of the Britain that he could never bring himself to go anywhere near her.

The lady bore her frustration up to a point but finally spoke fully and frankly to Millais. As Effie was something of hottie, he thought that Ruskin was committing a crime against femininity and got her to divorce.

What followed was a ginormous scandal. Nevertheless the Pre Raphaelite painter married the girl himself. Effie bore the opprobrium and bore Millais 750 children.

As all this was unfolding during the early hours of the morning, I thought I’d heard wrong but I eventually found a library — this was in the days before Google — and the story — give or take a few disagreements over details among biographers — checked out. The couple actually had eight children.

Ooh la. As my friend Sebastian would say.

Education, education, education. As Tony Blair once said.

So Millais will have to wait until after the trip to America.

By the time I get back I fully expect fashion trends to be moving towards a model I have inadvertently outlined.

Yoga on Thursday was a non-starter because I arrived at 7.25pm. This was on time but too late.

People who hadn’t reserved had got there earlier. But as I had reserved I got there later but yet I was not allowed in.

There is an illogic at work here but I was unable to kick up a stink about this because it wouldn’t have been very om to be emitting fury outside a yoga class where I should have been calming down.

So I had to remain at one with my internal anger. Another reject was on the pavement outside.

She said: “Tonight is the first time I’d reserved and there was no place. Usually I don’t reserve…..”

I suggested going for a drink to drown our sorrows but once I’d unchained my bike I realised I didn’t have any money.

Laura said she had cash. So I followed. She also had an invitation for the opening of the Y3 shop in Rue Etienne Marcel.

She bumped into a few people from Bread and Butter on our way and we had pre-opening drinks in one of the bars near the shop. Once we were all sat down at a table I was asked if I was involved in the fashion business.

No. I was actually just out for a yoga session hence the reason for my appearance. “Don’t worry,” said one of the B&B men. “You’re wearing the right track suit.”

It was only when I got in that I realised that Y3 was a link up between Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas.

Hanging with the black clad brigade of the beau monde was an impromptu treat. I stuck with the orange juice figuring that if I started on the wine, I’d end up tottering and since I was in outré garb of grey sweatshirt, a holey blue track suit bottoms and black plimsoles, that would make more of a spectacle of myself.

And to a certain extent, I was in my natural habitat. I loved what Yamamoto did for the kimonos in Zatoichi a few years back.

More importantly I’ve been an Adidas boy and man. Only a few weeks ago I was buying the Kaiser 5 football boot for the new season not to mention some Adidas shin pads. I have sported in Adidas ever since I can remember.

I think I once toyed with Puma Brasilia but that was because Pele wore Puma and my grand dad adored Pele and Brazilian football.

So I soaked up the spontaneity of the moment. The German PR girl stopped talking to me when Yohji came in and went off to take pictures of him and his gang of exquisitely buffed acolytes.

I’m pretty sure I saw Yohji looking over at me at one point. I’m going to keep a close eye on the boutique. If I see a line of trousers with holes in them I will demand some kind of creative acknowledgement.

If there’s nothing I’ll know exactly how Effie felt.