Saturday 12 August 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Saturday. 12/8/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Saturday

Stitch in time

In need of some summer sightseeing? Head to the Hollywood hills where the stage is set for a sartorial showdown or make your way to Porto for the finest in fashion from niche Portuguese labels. Plus: we have our attention fixed on a special agent’s car that is up for auction in London – and it could be for your eyes only if you’re quick enough to make a bid. But first, Andrew Tuck with an olfactory ode from the road.

The opener / Andrew Tuck

Scents of place

As we left the beach and commenced the drive back to Palma, my other half commented that there was a funny smell in the car – like manure. Well, it wasn’t me, I insisted. We were weaving along country roads so I suggested that it might be gassy goats. But the whiff persisted. It smelled as though a horse had stowed away in the boot of the car and let rip. Then I remembered.

In most Spanish apartment buildings, there is a trastero, a basement lock-up where you can store anything that you don’t need in your home every day. Ours houses bicycles, beach umbrellas and some tools and sprays used to tend to the terrace plants. While grabbing those beach umbrellas, I spotted a large bottle of plant food and decided to pop it in the car for some post-beach gardening. It had leaked.

A week has now passed since dung day and, in that time, I have washed, disinfected and scrubbed the boot and sprayed it with every chemical that you can imagine. The result? It has eased off a bit – now it’s just as though we have a miniature pony residing and pooping in the car. Even more annoying is that my partner has long claimed that one of my main failures (along with sneezing in a way that makes him jump) is my inability to put lids and bottle-tops back on tightly. And every time that we get in the car, he has irrefutable olfactory evidence.

But the “pongmobile” has served us well, allowing us to explore places that we have never been to before. It also took us to the town of Consell to visit the Ribas winery. I like a Ribas rosado but, in truth, I also wanted to do the tour to see the extension to the estate designed by the Pritzker prize-winning architect José Rafael Moneo. Ribas has been making wine here since 1711 and it is now run by the 10th generation of the family. They have good taste, it seems, in grapes and design. A lovely sommelier, Fatima, took us around, explaining the processes, the story of the estate and guiding us to the spectacular viewing platform in the Moneo building, where you can look down on the immaculate serried barrels. And there was, of course, wine to be savoured while sitting in the shady garden of the old family house. It was idyllic. But unfortunately, we moved in a matter of minutes from savouring the “grapefruity aromas” of a nice white to inhaling the stench of horse deposits. “Lids!” the other half exclaimed a little forcefully as we pulled away.

There is a lot of good architecture in Mallorca but finding it isn’t always simple. Some time ago, I bought an old book about Palma’s architecture and started trying to work my way through its pages, ticking off the buildings one by one. But even a bishop would have been daunted by the number of churches that there were to visit. It’s easier just to walk through the neighbourhoods, street by street, trying to find interesting places.

The neighbourhood of El Terreno has been through many twists and turns. In the 1800s it was dotted with grand villas and then tourism took off and after a spell of being where the in-crowd went, things got sketchier – though, thanks to projects such as Plaza Gomila by architects MVRDV and Gras, it is on the cusp of having another moment. Yet walk up the hill of El Terreno and you will find remnants of its original glory days.

In 1908, Francesc Roca i Simó built a large family house inspired by the ideas that informed Spanish modernism. He was a follower of Gaudí. It’s still there, with its crazy turret, a red-stone façade adorned with tiles and an elegant timber roof that overhangs the street. Today it is divided into two properties, a private home and a hotel called Can Quetglas. I came across it on a lone saunter and asked the manager, Vincent (who works here with his identical twin) whether I could have a look around. What an oddity, a folly, a treat.

The next day I called Vincent and asked whether we could come to the bar for a drink. And that’s how, on an August summer evening, just a few roads away from rammed hotels, Irish pubs and lots of massage parlours, we found ourselves drinking cocktails in this architectural gem. Apart from Vincent, we were totally alone. Jasmine-fresh summer air filled our lungs – but wait, what was that odd odour wafting in from the direction of our apartment?

Image: Getty Images

The Look / Acting the part

Costume drama

Public protest is essentially theatrical (writes Andrew Mueller). Participants assume dramatic poses and make vainglorious speeches in the hope of eliciting applause and support. A strike, and attendant demonstrations, by actors would therefore have natural advantages. Especially when, as is presently the case in Hollywood, the writers who script their lines are pounding the footpath alongside them.

However – and with all due support for the Screen Actors Guild in their current stand-off with the studios – any kind of performance can be undermined by overselling. Regrettably, many of the thespians manning the barricades alongside the writers have been unsubtle in their selections from the dress-up box. The pickets boast a frankly untoward quantity of distressed denim and khaki workwear: Sarah Silverman donning denim overalls, Colin Farrell in a denim jacket holding a placard and Arian Moayed sporting a khaki shirt and rallying the crowd (pictured). It is hard not to suspect that some currently suspended production of The Grapes of Wrath has been looted.

Divining the subtext of this sartorial theme does not require an advanced appreciation of symbolism. Denim and khaki is the uniform of the working person, so this is the costume to which the actors have gravitated. There is also, granted, a reasonable case that it is more practical than the outfits that they wear when the pavement beneath them is draped in a red carpet. But they could arguably have served their cause better by just turning up in, well, their clothes, as opposed to staging this kitsch proletarian cosplay. They actually are striking workers, who actually are taking a stand, in an admirable cause. For the first time in their professional lives, the actors don’t have to pretend.

How we live / French holidays

Play it cool

If you’re French, there is no better place to go on your summer holiday than your home country (writes Annabelle Chapman). While the Brits head for Spain and the Germans make their way to Italy and Turkey, a staggering three quarters of French people will remain in France over the summer. Though it is an admirable show of patriotism, it also wreaks mild havoc on the country’s infrastructure. With les vacances in full swing in Paris, residential streets have fallen eerily quiet and boulangeries and other local businesses are shuttered. Last weekend, their owners joined traffic jams that stretched almost 1,000km along highways, while other holidaymakers, who had already driven south to the coast for a spot of sun, have experienced temperatures that soared above 40C.

This at-home-holiday tradition is deeply rooted in French culture, with families often returning to the same location year after year. A recent poll, however (perhaps conducted by sun-stroked, road-raged Frenchmen), suggests that a majority of the country’s citizens are considering changing their holiday habits by opting for cooler destinations in the future. But still, why leave France? With its sandy beaches and lower temperatures, the nation’s northwest has had an influx of home tourism in recent years. Could Brittany become the next Biarritz? Perhaps we will be booking that Breton fisherman’s cottage after all.

Image: Pedro Guimaraes

The Monocle Concierge / Your questions answered

Take a dip

The Monocle Concierge is our purveyor of top tips and delectable recommendations for your next trip. It’s also on hand in audio form on Monocle Radio, with reports and the latest travel news from around the world. If you’re planning to go somewhere nice and would like some advice, click here. We will answer one question a week.

Dear Concierge,

My short summer break to Porto is booked. Do you have any recommendations for lesser-known, small or quirky destinations in the city?

Karen Chancellor,

Dear Karen,

Whether you are in Porto for a wine fair or some summer sightseeing, Portugal’s second city serves an enticing menu. For starters, secure a room at the small boutique hotel Rosa et Al on Rua do Rosário. It’s run by siblings Emanuel and Patrícia de Sousa, who also have a shop next door, Earlymade, which sells garments from smaller Portuguese fashion labels.

After exploring the central neighbourhood of Cedofeita, venture to Daily Day, a clothes shop that sells well-made casual items for men and women. Take advantage of Portugal’s expertise in textiles by heading to Portuguese Flannel’s boutique before picking up some laid-back garments from La Paz in the waterfront Ribeira district.

For a change of pace, stop at the Palácio da Bolsa. The heritage-listed former stock-exchange building is now a museum that celebrates the city’s commercial past, with stunning Moorish-revival details. Should the temperature rise, simply grab a towel and head to the beach in Foz for a refreshing dip where the Duoro river meets the Atlantic.

For a post-beach pick-me-up, grab a taxi to Prova wine bar, before hopping over to eat at Elemento on Rua do Almada, where chef and owner Ricardo Dias Ferreira cooks dishes over an open wood fire. Or, for superb seafood, head to the neighbouring city of Matosinhos, where hundreds of eateries cater to clients in search of the freshest catch.

Culture / Listen, watch, read

Move closer

‘Love Hallucination’, Jessy Lanza. Canadian producer and DJ Jessy Lanza is back with this summery, dance-floor-ready album, which combines euphoria with just the right amount of sultriness. Drawing on electro and R&B, Lanza tackles themes from romantic longing to the pleasures of being behind the wheel (in the song “Drive”) with real personality.

‘L’immensità’, Emanuele Crialese. This fairly traditional drama is elevated by the presence of Penélope Cruz. Here, she plays Clara, a disaffected housewife in 1970s Italy, whose eldest child, 12-year-old Adriana, begins to identify as “Andrew”. Directed by Emanuele Crialese, L’immensità is a poignant portrait of the bond between mother and child, as the two grow closer through their shared feeling of being outsiders.

‘The Fugitive of Gezi Park’, Deniz Goran. Awaiting her trial in Istanbul for her involvement in the Gezi Park protests, Ada decides to move to London, where she meets a self-destructing gallerist reeling from a divorce. Navigating their passion for each other, the pair try to start over from scratch – but never manage to leave the past behind. In her second novel, Turkish-British writer Deniz Goran explores with humour and poise the difficulties of shaking off guilt.

Image: Ana Cuba

The Interrogator / Catherine Wood

Paint the town

After stints at the Barbican Art Gallery and The British Museum, Catherine Wood joined Tate in 2002 and has steadily risen through its curatorial ranks. Last summer she was appointed director of programme at Tate Modern in London. In her new role, Wood oversees the gallery’s exhibitions, displays, performances, film screenings and community projects. That leaves her well-placed to comment on a wide range of art from across the globe. Here, we find out about her weekend routine, her love of newspapers and orange marmalade ice cream.

What news source do you wake up to?
I look at my Apple News feed. It’s a habit that I am trying to break.

Do you have a favourite weekend market?
My local used to be Borough Market, near Tate Modern. There’s incredible variety and it’s always buzzing with people. I still love to visit it en route to work.

Papers delivered or a trip down to the kiosk?
I walk to a place around the corner but I plan to reinstate a newspaper delivery. It’s the ultimate luxury.

A favourite podcast?
I always listen to Ben Luke’s The Week in Art, produced by The Art Newspaper, and A Brush With…, which records studio visits with artists such as Oscar Murillo, whose work is included in the Tate Britain rehang. I also like Art + Ideas by the J Paul Getty Trust.

What’s the best thing you’ve seen on TV recently?
Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s script for Fleishman Is in Trouble is brilliant.

What about books?
I’m a big fan of Sheila Heti’s books How Should a Person Be? and Motherhood, about her decision not to have kids. I love how free and funny she is.

What are your summer plans?
I’m heading to the south of France and then to Naples and Cilento with my husband, artist Alessandro Raho, and our teenage children, Roman and Belle.

What’s the first thing you pack in your suitcase? A notebook and pen. I have a fear of not being able to write things down.

What food will you be looking forward to eating?
I had the best ice cream of my life the last time I was in Naples, a kind of caramelised orange marmalade one. I will be searching for that again.

What am I bid? / Bond car

Live and let buy

The cost of a James Bond car is heavily dependent on the film with which it is associated. A relative Bond car bargain – estimated to fetch up to $1.8m (€1.6m) – is on the block at Sotheby’s on 18 August. It’s a 1973 Aston Martin V8 kitted out with skis, a simulated rocket booster that fires real flames and a dummy control panel featuring a self-destruct button (this almost certainly doesn’t actually work – and at these prices, it would be brave to try it).

The drawback is that this is a Timothy Dalton Bond car. Then again, that might be the best argument for raising your hand. Dalton only played Bond twice: in 1987’s The Living Daylights, in which this Aston Martin appeared, and in 1989’s Licence to Kill. Both were actually pretty good and certainly more adult than the increasingly deranged high-camp Roger Moore films that immediately preceded them.

Even if Dalton’s Bond outings never acquire the hipster cachet that they are due, Bond cars hold value, however tenuous the connection. In 2019 an Aston Martin DB5 used to promote the 1965 Sean Connery film Thunderball sold for $6.4m (€5.8m). Last year, Connery’s personal DB5 fetched $2.4m (€2.2m), despite its lack of machine guns under the headlights or an ejector seat, and the fact that it was never in a Bond film.


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