Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Part Two

Forgive me readers, for it has been a long time since my last blog (well, apart from yesterday’s) and while painting this afternoon, I remembered loads of stuff that I forgot to put in, so here I am again. Actually, writing a book on paint drying would be infinitely preferable to what I am doing now, painting over lots of new concrete all over the outside of the house in 90 degrees of heat. The paint keeps drying in the pot so I am slapping it on quicker than I should and dodging the lumps which keep falling off as I am still in sweaty tennis gear (too hot to change) rather than painting clothes and standing on the velvet chaise stool instead of a ladder, which just makes it all more of a challenge.

The highlight has been hearing the pesky tiger mozzies approach with undisguised glee, only to find themselves stuck to fresh paint and watching them die a slow sticky death, which is still too good for, I am not a Buddhist.

As all my lovely UK mates and colleagues think my life is a permanent holiday, consisting mainly of shopping, partying and lying by the pool drinking rose, I am expecting no sympathy on the painting front. It took a lot to dig out the paint again after the last time I wielded a brush two weeks ago. Iain, who has been flat out for weeks, said, can you paint the doors upstairs, it will only take half a day? Naively, I agreed, and spent four days on a half a day job. Feeling faint from fumes, I had to keep retreating to the fridge, the pool and my pc at regular intervals which is maybe why it took me eight times as long to do the job!

Went to a brilliant party last week at the Cannes Lions, perhaps the party of the year so far (well, along with Grace Jones at Le Baron.) It was Massive Music’s beach party to celebrate their 10th birthday at the Palais Stephanie beach in Cannes. Usually parties take ages to get going but their DJs were so hot on the decks that everyone was up on the floor by 10.15 and the place rocked all night. The highlight was a 10yo guitarist who came on to perform solo and who knocked everyone sideways with his talent and cool factor.

The only downside...having to buy tokens to pay, yes reader, pay for your drinks. I have never yet been to a party here where you have to pay at the bar, the pr machine knows that all journalists, media types and freeloading industry experts love a free bar. The Laurent Perrier and Belvedere flowed through Film Festival but Sarah says the whole ad business has had to cut right back on spending and the most dramatic saving they can ever make is forcing us all to pay for tomorrow’s hangover. It was so good that nobody cared, which proves that throwing a party is not rocket science - if you have great music, enough people and a fab setting, you really cannot go wrong.

This afternoons’ boredom was punctuated only by hearing Issy bursting chewing gum bubbles while lying on her bed in her shady boudoir watching American movies (how easy it is to be 11) so I reflected on the last two years here. Occasionally people contact me to ask about moving abroad, how we found schools, settling in, houses and areas, as it is an emotional and financial minefield when you first arrive in a new country. I realised that probably the most valuable bit of advice I could give is the piece I never offer. Which is, be very wary of taking people at face value. I have made a lot of gorgeous friends since moving here, which I never expected, but I have also met two or three people who misrepresented themselves and their motives, and truly had hidden agendas, which you only discover much further down the line.

I have never been a cynical person – one of my journo mates always used to say: ‘Ask Karen if you want to hear the Hello version, talk to me if you want the blunt truth!’ I’m still not cynical but much warier of making new friendships now. For some, starting a new chapter here means just that, a change of scene, lifestyle and better quality of life. For others, it is an escape for altogether different reasons.

BTW heard back from Amanda on the talented Leroy, he now has an in with a music producer who will spend a day in the studio with him in London. This guy has worked with Celine Dion, Cher, Enrique Iglesias and many more....but haven't heard back from Leroy. Maybe he thinks I am a demented stalker or fan! Or maybe I have discovered the only YouTube musician who doesn't dream of a recording contract. So frustrating.....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nice has talent

Talent is a much overused word but just occasionally someone comes along oozing with it and you can't help taking notice. I was working earlier on a feature (Jessica Szohr from Gossip Girl, who didn't have much gossip at all) when Livvy told me to come and have a look at someone on YouTube. Usually it involves watching a dog do tricks or a gang of wedding guests performing Thriller, none of which are particularly scintillating. I politely feign interest for about 30 seconds before switching off.

Today was different. Leroy (not his real name) is an 18yo Spanish guy who goes to ISN and has made his own channel on YouTube where he performs cover versions from The Script, Chris Brown, Beyonce, Kings of Leon and so on. He plays guitar and sings and I spent ten minutes watching him. He is nothing short of brilliant, the whole package, and one of his songs, Jason Mraz's Lucky which he sings simultaneously with a girl he has never met before via webcam is phenomenal. I sent him an email wishing him luck and pasted the link to my friend Amanda who works with Simon Cowell and is married to Chris, a great music boss and producer in the UK. She came straight back to me saying: 'He's fabulous, have sent it to the producer and God.' (That's Simon.)

So watch this space to see what happens next. Or click on and see what all the fuss is about. He is going places.

Onto Issy's party last week. She's now 11 going on 25. She has a new Blackberry, which is her first ever phone and smarter than mine. I have the worst phone out of the entire family, but as I can barely use three functions on it..calling people, sending an email and doesn't really matter. She sends me things like 'Hi mum, I'm up.' Sweet. But never seems to have it on her when I try and call her. Somehow she has already used up her monthly forfait in the space of 10 days.

She and seven friends camped in the garden on her birthday. They were still awake at 1am telling each other ghost stories and I was woken up at 6am by lots of shrieking and giggling. Thank God there are no neighbours to hear them. Cue lots of jaded faces by noon when they all reluctantly trooped home after gorging on chocolate brownie cake, lemon cake and an amazing chocolate heart inscribed by Issy's friend Manon.When I asked if she made it herself she said; 'Non, c'etait mon patissier.'

Her parents have just bought the Hostellerie du Chateau in the village, a gorgeous old hotel and restaurant which we have loved since before we moved here but which has suffered from being off the beaten track and never been properly marketed. That's changing now and word is they are going for a Michelin star, having owned restaurants in Dijon and Aix-en-Provence. Issy is full of stories about how she calls a special number from her room to order strawberries in chantilly and nutella at 11pm and gets them delivered by room service!

Last week Manon came for lunch during school and I gave them turkey sandwiches, crisps and some raw carrot sticks. She raved to Issy about how amazing the food was, saying: 'I never get food like this, I usually get risotto or boeuf bourgignon for lunch!' When Issy went there a few days ago for lunch, they had a table for two in the restaurant (where supper is 59 euros a head for the set menu!) and enjoyed a three course meal, starting with feuillete of mozzarella and tomatoes, then fillet of beef followed by a fresh berry dessert. Thank God she didn't have to pay the bill!