ALEXANDRA SHULMAN’S NOTEBOOK: Supper in the garden this summer is just so cool
Always at about this time, the horrible realisation begins to seep in that summer is trickling away. The amazing June sunshine is now a distant memory, and suddenly it’s the usual July rain with the start of school holidays signalling the beginning of the end.
So there’s a new urgency to enjoying a summery life before time runs out. Such as eating outside.
Most people love the idea of dining al fresco. I’m sure I am not the only person who has a garden equipped for a summer of outdoor eating, even though the reality is that we only manage it on average four or five evenings a year.
Regardless, I’ve still spent a small fortune on cushions, chairs, hurricane lamps, candles and all the other paraphernalia involved in the summer dining of my imagination.
Unfortunately, the reality of life in North-West London means we haven’t yet had one supper in the garden.
Most evenings it is just that bit too cold to eat outside comfortably, so it is business as usual round the kitchen table.
However, cool temperatures don’t deter many hardier souls from their mission to dine outside no matter what, greeting supper guests with a cheery, ‘We thought we’d chance it’ as the rain clouds gather in what remains of the evening light.
Like so much to do with the British summer, al fresco dining is generally a triumph of hope over experience – plus a grim determination not to be put off by inconsiderate weather.
This year there’s the added smug frisson of knowing that we aren’t suffering the extreme heat of southern Europe.
We may shiver under shawls and blankets with a glass of rosé and a tomato bruschetta, but at least it’s cool enough to sit outside.
A family enjoys some al fresco dining in the garden (stock)
Instagram’s mother of all blunders…
It’s been a very long time since I’ve had anything to do with newborns, which is why I am baffled that my Instagram feed is dominated by hints and hacks to deal with nappy-changing and colic. What’s happened to my previous dominant personalised trend of suitcase-packing tricks and radiance-inducing make-up?
The algorithm has clearly got twisted and mistaken me for a new mother.
As a result, I’ve become something of an expert on the subject, especially on ‘Tummy Time’ – a concept I hadn’t been aware of.
There was no Tummy Time in my son’s baby days. I had to Google it to discover it means the important development moments when a baby is awake and lying on its stomach.
If anyone has a baby to spare, I’d love to try out my newly acquired knowledge in this field.
Tummy Time is the important development moments when a baby is awake and lying on its stomach (stock)
Why does Alison’s gender matter?
All the coverage of Dame Alison Rose’s resignation from NatWest has highlighted the fact she was the first woman chief executive of a high-street bank. That does not strike me as remotely relevant.
Whenever men have to step down from top jobs, their sex is never mentioned.
Dame Alison Rose who resigned as NatWest’s chief executive this week
My men love Barbie far more than I do!
Most of the males I know, including the eight-year-old currently staying with us, have put their foot down when a trip to watch Barbie was suggested.
However, those who did brave the expedition have frequently admitted they enjoyed the new film more than many women of my generation.
I found it borderline unbearable. The sledgehammer feminism as Barbie discovers what real life is like grated in the same way that seeing small girls wearing pink ‘I am a feminist’ T-shirts does.
But my own small focus group of men let all that go over their head and were able to indulge in the pure fun of the admittedly splendid costumes and sets and the gorgeousness of Margot Robbie.
And, of course, they can take comfort from the fact that despite all the film’s male-bashing and with no commendable male character in the movie, men still get the funniest lines.
Margot Robbie in the new ‘feminist’ Barbie film directed by Greta Gerwig
Any chance women can have a say too?
One of my favourite independent magazines, Delayed Gratification, has published a chart analysing the amount of lines spoken by men and women in Oscar-winning films.
The nadir of female contributions was Schindler’s List, with 100 per cent of the dialogue spoken by men, although The King’s Speech at 90 per cent and Slumdog Millionaire at 93 per cent weren’t much better. Only recent Oscar winners Nomadland and Everything Everywhere All At Once had the most dialogue spoken by women. I wonder what the numbers are in the ‘girl power’ world of Barbie v Ken.
Bin scheme that’s typically rubbish
The moment we have been fearing has just arrived, in the form of a letter from Brent Council announcing ‘changes’ to our ‘recycling service’. As expected, it will not make our lives simpler. A cheerfully illustrated document with colourful bottles and cans floating into a recycling bin explained that we will soon have another bag to contend with, this one to separate paper and cardboard from cans and bottles. That makes four different types of rubbish we have to house somewhere. Heaven knows how you manage in a one-bedroom flat with no outside space.
There would be some justification if the new system was of significant environmental benefit, but it’s more likely that the benefit is to the council, which is outsourcing more of the time-consuming sorting out to residents rather than use costly waste management services.
Brent Council has announced changes to its recycling service (stock)
Evergreen Jagger knows how to party
You are either a nightclub person or you aren’t. Clearly Mick Jagger is, having hosted his 80th birthday party at the Embargo on Chelsea’s King’s Road.
And not only did he spend the evening in a nightclub, but the bash didn’t kick off until nearly midnight.
Huge kudos to this legend, who didn’t leave the club until dawn, still looking glamorously dapper in an emerald-green suit.
He knocked the socks off Leonardo DiCaprio, 32 years his junior, who was dressed down in his dull slacker uniform of shirt-tails and baseball cap.
Mick Jagger pictured leaving his 80th birthday party at Embargo Republica nightclub in Chelsea on July 26
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