Things I like


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Inspired by Hila's wonderful entry on Miss Moss' beautiful site, here's a list of some of the things I like right now.

1. Fountain pens

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Unless I have to, I don't like to write with any other kind of pen. The ink must be also medium blue and I have a preference for moleskine notebooks. I love the feel of the pen between your fingers, the elegance of the letters you can form with it.

2. Black tea with milk

I like a tall glass of café latte but can only start the day a very British way with black tea and milk, served in one of my Penguin mugs. Even if I don't have long to get ready, it's good to take a few minutes and watch the day beginning over the rooftops while sipping it.

3. Petit Larousse du chocolat

My friend Justine in Paris was given this for Christmas a few years ago and it absolutely mesmerised me when I flicked through it. The chocolate mousse with whisky caught my eye in particular but I haven't yet got around to ordering myself a copy.

4. Evening dresses

Except for gym clothes and pyjamas, I don't own a single pair of trousers or jeans. Women look great in trousers (think Katharine Hepburn) but I find skirts and dresses much easier to wear. Slipping into an elegant evening dress makes you feel special and I love the contrast of red most of all against black hair and pale skin. Audrey looks so perfect coming down the stairs in Funny Face.

5. Short hair

Except for when I was a child, I have always had shorter hair, usually in a bob. Memories of my mother having to pull out knots perhaps traumatised me but it's great having it off your face or tucked behind your ear, easy to style and always timeless as Jean Seberg and Anna Karina prove. If I was brave enough, I'd go for a Louise Brooks bob.

6. Film noir

Perhaps it's just linked to my passion for detective novels which always shocks people because they don't consider them intellectual enough for me or maybe it's because deep down, I admire femme fatales like Barbara Stanwyck, Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake or Jane Greer who always manage to seduce the hopelessly naive men. I also like the spareness of Jean Pierre Melville crime films, the minimalist precision of the actor's movements and restricted colour palette. Friday nights are usually spent watching a film noir over a large plate of pasta or a slice of fresh pizza.

Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in Out of the Past

Alain Delon in Le Cercle Rouge

Jean Paul Belmondo in Le Doulos

7. Hitchcock blondes

Even though I'm more than happy being a brunette, there something special about the seductive coolness of Hitchcock's leading ladies, especially when they're blonde. Think Grace Kelly in Rear Window or To Catch A Thief, Tippi Hedren in Marnie or The Birds, Kim Novak in Vertigo and perhaps my favourite, Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest

Tippi Hedren

Kim Novak and Jams Stewart in Vertigo

Eva Marie Saint

8. Twin Peaks

The only series that has ever had me completely hooked from beginning to end. I realise there are other good shows on TV but find it difficult to find the motivation to watch them season after season. I came to Twin Peaks late in life since my parents considered it too frightening when I was a child. A Canadian friend once came to stay with me in Berlin for a week or two, bringing with him the second series. Night after night, we sat in the kitchen, gorging ourselves on doughnuts and cherry pie in between cups of coffee as I kept on asking "Can we just watch one more?"

Later when his wife asked about his trip to Berlin, he replied, "We watched a lot of Twin Peaks!"

A unique combination of funny, scary, crazy and charming. I love Agent Cooper saying "Damn fine coffee" or talking to Diane, Benjamin Horne eating a baguette with brie, the Red Room or Audrey tying a knot in a cherry stem in her mouth.

9. I Capture the Castle

First I discovered the wonderful film a few years ago and last year the even more wonderful book by Dodie Smith which I'm re-reading now. It makes me feel nostalgic for England, for the North Sea and wish that I had grown up too in a castle.

10. Scott Fitzgerald

I have so many favourite books and authors - Proust, Jane Austen, Paul Auster, Thomas Bernhard but in English, I most love reading books or stories by Scott Fitzgerald. His way of writing reminds me of sunlight gimmering on the water but it still seems natual and not pretentious. At night, I often like to dip into some of his letters to Zelda or other friends and also one of his short stories.

11. New York in the 60s

If I could choose a period from the past in which to live, I'd be torn between existentialist Paris after the war and NYC in the 60s. The city exudes a special glamour and so much was happening there. The idea of coming home just as the sky was turning pale with the dawn while Brooklyn Bridge still twinkled or seeing the beautifully dressed people in Manhatton. Natalie Wood has such a special glow in this photo I think. I'd also love to see the double feature at the cinema below.

12. Henri Cartier Bresson

It seems like a terrible cliché to have him in the list because he's one of the most famous and popular photographers in the world but his was the first exhibitions of photography I ever went to, way back on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Writing about them seems inadequate because a picture is worth a thousand words but I'll just say that I love to linger over every image.

13. Hot baths and candles

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To my mind, nothing beats the comfort of a hot bath in winter. I love the luxury of music and candles as I get in the water slowly until my skin is used to the heat.

14. Films by Francois Truffaut

Next month in London, I'll go to see Day for Night and hopefully Deux Dans La Vague, a documentary about him and Jean Luc Godard. I remember first watching The 400 Blows with tears running down my face unexpectedly at the end or seeing Jeanne Moreau smiling just before she jumps into the Seine, Fanny Ardant and Jean Louis Trintignent snapping their fingers simultaneously when they recognise "Tutti quanti" and Antoine Doinel trying to wrap a parcel in Stolen Kisses.

Truffaut with Claude Jade and Jean-Pierre Léaud

Fanny Ardant in Finally Sunday

Day for Night (La Nuit Américaine)

15. Train journeys

Ideally, I'd like to take the train instead of flying but it's longer and more expensive. I read best when I'm travelling by train, my mind somehow clicks with the movement as new or familiar landscapes go by. Everything is interesting, even if you're only looking out of the window. Tomorrow I'm planning on getting up quite early to take the train to a new place just outside of Berlin. There's a book already packed in my bag and a feeling of anticipation. Have a great weekend!

16. Keeping fit

I've added the sixteenth point after the aerobics trainer was (rightly) disappointed not to find anything about fitness here. Funnily, it's an important part of my life but I rarely mention it, probably for fear of giving others a bad conscience! I know that this last part will put some people off because the word sport reminds you of gymnastics at school, being picked last for the netball team and hockey matches in the mud. I hated that too but when I started hiking in the French Alps and cycling in Lyon, I realised how nice it is to move, get things out of my system. It also means you can feel less guilty about eating cake regularly. I've tried different forms of exercise since then with different levels of success; jogging was quite fun but I was hopelessly slow and found I needed something with more variety and most of all prefer group fitness classes so try to do them 4 times a week. I also aim to stretch a little each morning in the hope of becoming more flexible (or maybe less stiff), although the chances of looking like Darcey (above) are pretty slim. One day I think I'd like to try a beginners' ballet class or tap dancing though.

And what are some of your favourite things?


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