Saturday 7 November 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 7/11/2020

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday


Mutt as well

The periods of lockdown and the extra time spent at home have made people think about finally getting the dog that they have always wanted. If you know that you will be able to devote the time and love, then this can be a good thing. Just this week saw the arrival at Midori House of a 12-week-old Japanese shiba inu called Daphne (which, thankfully, distracted people from the news). And in my road, Murphy, an adopted French bulldog, has just waddled in (she’s a chunky girl with ears that could double as satellite dishes for MI6). If this is a move that you are considering, here are some very random facts.

  1. You will learn the limits of your naming skills. Our dog is called Macy. When someone asks me, I have learned to say, “Macy, as in Macy Gray.” Otherwise she will definitely be called Maisie. I had wanted to call her Noodle but the other half claimed that he would be a laughing stock in the neighbourhood park where dogs are more of the Rex and Rover ilk. A friend named their dog Steven which was amusing until they got a job at a company where dogs were welcome but the stern boss was called, yes, Steven.

  2. People will always presume a dog is a boy. Unless it’s a poodle. So if you have a Macy not a Steven, be prepared for a lot of gender reallocation.

  3. Dogs have inbuilt fur coats and padded feet that can cope with wet grass. You will sadly discover that, while they make for cute pictures, your dog is not that fussed about being made to wear a Sherlock Holmes-style cape or dolled up in a yellow raincoat with matching hat. The other dogs definitely snigger at such canine drag.

  4. You will discover that you have gained an incredible new skill – the ability to become invisible. Trouble is, you will not know when it will strike. There you are in the park when someone comes to a halt in front of you and your leashed hound. In seconds, they are down there patting the puppy (not a euphemism, dear reader), making the sort of cooing noises usually reserved for babies or lovers and uttering a lot of “so-who’s-a-handsome-boy” sort of phrases. At no time will they acknowledge your existence. And, then, just like that, they are gone.

  5. Your dog will end up with better medical cover than you.

  6. On day one, you will set some basic rules – the dog will not be allowed on the sofa or to sleep on the bed for starters. Good luck sticking to that. For many years we had a weimaraner – big, handsome (the dog that is) – that snoozed by my feet. For 12 years I only slept with my legs fully outstretched if I was away from home. And I missed him every time.

  7. There is no limit to how many pictures you can take of your dog. There is a limit to how many strangers want to look at them – even if your dog is dressed as Dolly Parton or in a Halloween disguise.

  8. You will forgive your puppy things that would see children, friends and family either disinherited or struck from your contacts. Chewed heirloom? Pillow ripped to shreds? Nothing a tickle under their chin will not resolve. Although hopefully none of your friends have “accidents” on your kitchen floor.

  9. It’s very easy to start giving voice to your dog’s views, its inner thoughts. Be wary of allowing yourself to do your dog’s voice when outside the safety of your apartment but, at home, it’s a handy way of getting a supporter on your side during any disagreement – Macy has generously backed me up in her commanding voice on issues as diverse as family finances and decorating decisions. She is always very wise in such moments.

  10. A dog will change your life. And for the better.


Statement of defiance

The Viennese are good at keeping their humour in trying times (writes Christopher Cermak). For proof, witness their response to Monday’s terrorist attack in the Austrian capital. When an eyewitness reported that someone shouted at the attacker, in heavy Viennese dialect, “Schleich di, du Oaschloch!” – loosely translated as, “Go away, you arsehole!” – it quickly did the rounds. The slur-turned-slogan has been emblazoned on T-shirts, with the words “Ich bin Wien” (“I am Vienna”) written underneath. They are being sold by Austrian entrepreneur and EU youth ambassador Ali Mahlodji. Nearly €40,000 was raised in just 24 hours, according to Mahlodji, and the proceeds will, of course, go to charity.

It’s the kind of rallying cry against terrorism that perfectly encapsulates the Viennese psyche – a sort of grumpy, dismissive impatience that you’ll get from waiters in Viennese cafés (via a look rather than words) but that is also somehow endearing. Mahlodji was nevertheless careful to say that he had no intentions of starting a fashion trend. It’s why he picked T-shirts: “It’s the simplest item that a person can wear, without flourishes. Just a piece of fabric and the words that have shaped 2 November 2020.”


Civil action

Sometimes it’s hard to be civil (writes Louis Hartnett O’Meara). The first president of the United States, George Washington, knew this better than most. Inspired by the teachings of a group of French priests, he was just 16 when he transcribed their “110 Rules of Civility” as a set of maxims to live by. Having fought and won a bloody civil war, the importance of good manners – not based on class or rank but instead on basic principles of human decency – was high on Washington’s agenda as he united the states into the nation it is today.

It’s a story that Shelby Scarbrough, a media expert and former member of Ronald Reagan’s advance team, riffs on in a book of her own called Civility Rules!. Writing on the importance of good manners in all forms of diplomacy, Scarbrough’s book takes a look at the history and the politics of simply being civil. Her conclusions are interesting: although other people’s boorishness might sometimes be grating and can often set a bad precedent, when it comes to being civil the buck always stops with you.

“One of the things that I explore in my book is that we do look to our leaders to set the tone,” says Scarbrough. “But we can’t wait for our leaders to change. We can take matters, and manners, into our own hands. We each need to do our best to make the world a more civil place.” We know of a few people who could use a copy on their desks at the moment.

For more from Shelby Scarbrough, tune into Monday’s edition of Monocle 24’s [‘The Briefing’].(


Collected thoughts

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo is the founder and president of non-profit contemporary art organisation Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. It was a trip to London in the early 1990s – where she met the likes of Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whiteread – that inspired the economics graduate to begin collecting art. Her exhibition halls in Turin now include more than 1,000 pieces, including works by Charles Ray, Rosemarie Trockel and Félix González-Torres. Here, she tells us about a bespoke milk-frothing machine that’s perfect for making cappuccinos and shares book tips from the art world.

What news source do you wake up to?
I keep my iPad next to my bed and have quite a few different newspaper apps on it. I love that I can have all the news in one place, from both Italian and international papers.

Coffee, tea, or something pressed to go with headlines?
A cappuccino with fruit salad. My husband designed a special machine for me that makes the best cappuccino with magnificent rich, foamy milk. I don’t have the same milk every day; I have almond, soy, rice and oat milk in the fridge and it just depends on what I feel like that morning.

Something from the FM dial or Spotify for your tunes?
In the morning I listen to the press review on Rai Radio 3, one of the Italian national radio stations.

What’s that you’re humming in the shower?
“Killing Me Softly...” by Roberta Flack. A timeless song. It’s my absolute favourite.

Five magazines for your weekend sofa-side stack?
FT Magazine, How To Spend It (international and Italian versions), Monocle, Vanity Fair Italia, ArtReview.

Newspaper that you turn to?
I often like to read the same news in different papers and turn to La Stampa, La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera for Italian news. For international news I read El País, The New York Times and the FT.

Is that a podcast in your ear?
Yes. Morgana, edited by the writers Michela Murgia and Chiara Tagliaferri, tells the stories of women who contribute to bridging the gender gap; How I Built This, curated by Guy Raz, tells the stories behind entrepreneurial successes; and The Michelle Obama Podcast.

What’s the best thing you’ve watched on TV recently?
The Queen’s Gambit series on Netflix, about the life of a child chess prodigy who struggles with addiction to alcohol and drugs while trying to become the greatest chess player in the world.

Who is your cultural obsession?
I have huge admiration for the women that founded New York’s MoMA – Lillie P Bliss, Mary Quinn Sullivan and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller – as well as arts patrons such as Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. But Peggy Guggenheim would be my cultural obsession with her dedication to art and lifelong support of artists.

And what is your movie genre of choice?
Depending on my mood, I like a good drama: films by Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee and Steve McQueen. If I want to cheer myself up, I watch a brilliant romcom such as When Harry Met Sally or Annie Hall. And I always like to watch Italian films such as Call Me By Your Name, directed by Luca Guadagnino.

Do you still make an appointment to watch the nightly news? A favourite newsreader perhaps?
I tend to keep an eye on the news throughout the day. Instead of watching the news before bed I like to wind down in the evening with a book. I always have several on the go. At the moment I am reading The Story of Contemporary Art by Tony Godfrey and also have The Orpheus Clock: The Search for My Family’s Art Treasures Stolen by the Nazis by Simon Goodman on my nightstand.

What’s on the airwaves before drifting off?
I love to listen to a meditation playlist or classical music before I go sleep. I particularly like Bach.


Reality check

‘Shirley’, Josephine Decker. Given the number of biographical dramas that trade on their “based on a true story” credentials, it is refreshing to come across a film such as Shirley. Josephine Decker’s movie happily does away with verisimilitude and approaches its real-life subject, the US author Shirley Jackson, with an impressionistic, fictive touch. Here we follow the writer – a reclusive, viper-tongued woman, famed for mining the depths of human depravity – as she labours over her latest book, 1951’s Hangsaman. Decker suffuses her story with uncanny visuals and unyielding tension; the result is a challenging and outré effort.

‘Art Busan & Design’. Busan keeps rising the ranks as a South Korean cultural centre, particularly thanks to its famous film festival, and this weekend’s event only enhances that status. Founded in 2012, the Art Busan & Design fair will this year host 62 galleries inside the Bexco Exhibition Centre. Although most of the participants are from within the country’s borders, some European galleries – including Thaddaeus Ropac – have made the journey, proving that the Asian market remains an important one.

‘Disco’, Kylie Minogue. Kylie has spoken: disco is back! But did it ever really go away? The singer’s 15th studio album looks to revive the great leveller of music genres and she’s gone all out: the perm has returned and the music video for saucy, synth-heavy single “Say Something” features the queen of pop riding a gold horse in a glittering cosmos. Expect gloriously camp, twinkling, uplifting bangers to blow the cobwebs away and have you spinning around in no time.


Views from the top

Nestled between the Rocky, Monashee and Cariboo mountains in British Columbia, every one of Valemount’s thousand or so residents enjoys panoramic views from their homes (writes Louis Hartnett O’Meara). As the closest community to both Jasper and Mount Robson parks, the town has been able to cash in on heavy footfall from tourists who come to enjoy mountain biking, hiking, sailing and horse riding in the summer and skiing through the winter.

“People are pretty surprised when they see that we have a regional paper,” says Laura Keil, publisher of the region’s only printed news source, The Rocky Mountain Goat. Keil moved from Ottawa to the Valemount 10 years ago, having spotted an advert offering a founding-partner position at the newssheet start-up. But launching a paper was tougher than she expected. Faced with a declining media industry, Keil was at first forced to run the publication at a loss, working largely unpaid and on her own. But the team has since grown to eight or so – including her husband, editor Andru McCracken – and print circulation remains steady at 700, along with tens of thousands of visitors clicking on the paper’s website every month. “Everyone gets paid now,” says Keil.

What’s the big news this week?
We’re looking at a company making pellets from waste wood and shipping them overseas. Now they have plans to log an area that’s filled with old trees. Although, technically, they aren’t protected, the area hasn’t been logged before and a lot of these trees are more than 100 years old. That’s caused a bit of an issue in our community.

Tell me about a favourite headline.
“Mountain bike champ finds a home with Buddhist monks”. This is a story about a champion mountain biker from around these parts. He was in the Himalayas in Nepal when lockdown began and ended up stuck there for months. Eventually, when his accommodation was no longer available for him, he had to find a new place to stay. His hosts put him in contact with some Buddhist monks who ran a monastery in the mountains. They said that he could use their place for a while. He cycled 1,000 metres in elevation from where he was staying to get there. Unbelievable.

Do you have a down-page treat?
There was one piece on a woman who keeps a pet pigeon on a leash. She found it on the ground in Vancouver, looking poorly, and nursed it to health. Then she took it on a tour of Canada. When asked for comment, the pigeon said that it was finding it “coo”.

What’s the next big event?
Remembrance Day is on 11 November and it’s a big deal in the valley. Under normal circumstances, most of the community turn up for ceremonies and a parade. We’re covering it in this week’s issue with a special section. We’ll donate the advertising proceeds to the local legion.


Premium Bond

When Ian Fleming was asked in the 1950s how he picked the name of the secret agent about whom he would write 14 novels, he said, “I wanted him to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened. I thought, ‘By God, James Bond is the dullest name I ever heard.’”

This might be true (writes Nic Monisse) but it hasn’t stopped the books and the film franchise that they birthed bringing excitement to readers and viewers across the globe. For proof, look to Sotheby’s series of Bond-themed sales taking place over the coming days, which are expected to attract buyers from across the globe. Of particular interest to enthusiasts will be the 114 rare books – including first editions, typescripts and presentation copies signed by Fleming – that are being sold by an unnamed US collector.

Although the seller’s identity might be a mystery, Phillip Errington, a books specialist at Sotheby’s, explains that the reason for selling is less so. “For many collectors, seeing how cherished items perform at auction is a final but enjoyable part of the engagement.” So, if you’re keen to find a Bond book to cherish, we’d suggest picking up the first edition of Live and Let Die, which the author dedicated to Winston Churchill (Lot 11, £42,000; €46,000) or a copy of The Spy Who Loved Me that was autographed and addressed to Robert Kennedy (Lot 52, £28,000; €31,000). It seems that even if his character’s name was dull, Fleming’s friends certainly weren’t.


Restoration project

Over the past year, photographers, artists and creatives have periodically bandied together to organise sales of prints and works for fundraising purposes. This time, it’s the fashion designers’ turn. Some of the biggest names in the industry – including Dior, Mary Katrantzou and Monocle friend Rabih Kayrouz – have created limited-edition products to help the reconstruction of Beirut following the port blast. All will be sold by Beirut Re-Store, a newly launched online shop that will stock the limited-edition range of T-shirts, socks, bags and coats. Although items are selling fast, there are plenty of options however sizable the purchase and donation that you wish to make.


How should I meet with triumph?

Winning isn’t always seen as a good thing. Although one might hesitate to say it, people (especially if they happen to be on the losing side) often don’t like winners. Winners can seem smug and imperious if they lord over their conquest too gleefully; Mr Tiddly’s supercilious expression when he’s captured a mouse springs to mind.

Mr Etiquette, too, is well aware of the dangers of indulging in a touch of self-satisfaction. Some years ago he was enjoying an extended game of backgammon with his neighbour Mrs McTavish when he found himself the victor by a hair’s-breadth. A quiet smile might have been forgiven but the champagne, gloating victory speech and Queen’s “We Are the Champions” played on repeat for the rest of the evening were not.

Never to be outdone, Mrs McTavish has since taken issue with almost everything that Mr Etiquette does or says, pursuing every minor disagreement with the commitment of a pit-bull tearing up the last scrap of an offending pillowcase. So it’s worth bearing in mind that some humility will go a long way towards making everybody’s life a little less conflicted – and more quietly satisfying for the victors too.


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