The Only Publication We Fight Over

Financial Times Gets Personal
Image by Simon Scarfe via Flickr you ever read the Financial Times?

Do you read the Financial Times?

Not the weekday edition, which, I embarrassedly confess, is a little too dry for me (albeit smart and international), but the weekend edition. “There’s nothing sexier than intelligence. Smart, incisive, insightful,” raves my sweetie, a 25-year employee of the paper many people consider the world’s best, The New York Times.

“If this paper was a man, I’d be having an affair with it”, I warn him. “Move over,” he says. “Me, too.” We read dozens of American and Canadian magazines and newspapers, in print or on-line, but this is the one that’s won our hearts.

So, what gives? What on earth has some dead-tree paper, printed on salmon-colored stock, got that has us tough old journo’s swooning?

There’s not a single columnist we’re not eager to read; only the gardening column (because we don’t have a garden) gets a cursory look. Harry Eyres’s thoughtful meditations on living slowly, Tyler Brule’s insane dashes from one long-haul jet to another to his complaints about his 125th luxury hotel, so far, this year (sometimes a parody of himself), the wistful musings of Susie Boyt, the crisp, no-nonsense Mrs. Moneypenny; you have to love a mother who refers to her children in print as Cost Center Number One, Two and Three. There are regular interviews with ex-patriates and today’s paper features a 75-year-old composer, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who lives on an island, Sanday, so remote the schoolteachers fly in every day.

Take that, Oprah!

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in England and France, have spent a lot of time in Europe, and plan to retire somewhere in France, i.e. I care a lot about Europe and how Europeans think. Maybe it’s because the issues the FT looks at and thinks about are filtered through the eyes and thinking of really smart people who’ve clearly been around a few global blocks, whether it’s real estate and opera or more serious issues like today’s essay about Eurabia.

I know, I know, as a putatively serious journo, I’m supposed to adore the New Yorker and the NYT. I don’t even read the former. At the end of every long week steeped in America-centric reporting — OMG, Chicago  lost the Olympics! — forever filtered through elite American eyes, I need a break.

Is there any publication you find equally compelling? Why?

Freud's Great-Grand-Daughter Adores Judy Garland. Who Inspires You?

An original pair of ruby slippers used in The ...
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For me, it’s always been Auntie Mame, a fictional grande dame with a collapsible foot-long cigarette holder, a houseboy/chauffeur named Ito and the habit of getting up at “the crack of noon.”  Patrick Dennis wrote the original book in 1955, based on his aunt, and it went on to become two films, (the 1958 version won Rosalind Russell an Oscar nomination for best actress) and a musical — whose feisty, fun songs I belt out whenever I feel blue.

“Open a new window, open a new door”, was one of Mame’s mottoes. When she loses much of her money in the 1929 stock market crash, she urges her family to open their gifts early, singing “Haul out the holly…we need a little Christmas, right this very minute!” She loves her dear friend, the actress Vera Charles, but not so much she sheathes her rapier wit: “If I wore my hair natural like yours, I’d be bald.” Mame’s indomitable cheer, insatiable appetite for fun and adventure and open-armed embrace of the unconventional make her my heroine. Here’s a design website with some images of Mame’s apartment, after dozens of its impossibly glamorous changes throughout the 1958 film.

For British journalist and author — great-grand-daughter of Sigmund Freud, and daughter of painter Lucian Freud — Susie Boyt, Judy Garland has been her lifelong touchstone, an avatar of glamour and hard work, of doing whatever it takes and, for this self-admittedly stiff-upper-lipped Briton, an open vein of accessible emotion. “They say once Judy has you she has got you for life, and it’s true,” she writes”, and her memoir is “My Judy Garland Life”, which she describes thus:

“It is  a project I’ve been dreaming about for at least twenty five years and it’s one part memoir, two parts hero-worship and three parts biography with a dash of sequin studded self help thrown in.” Continue reading “Freud's Great-Grand-Daughter Adores Judy Garland. Who Inspires You?”