I was waiting to put this on the website because people are on holiday, including Joe, and I can’t do it myself.
Monday, 13 August: I wrote up the Diary at home. Reading stuff to inform myself and writing up the Diary take a lot of time but it is all part of my campaign to Stop Climate Change and very useful to collect my ideas together so that I know what I’m talking about when I get the opportunity in interviews.) Culture is connected and I talk to you about that, too. I also include bits of my daily life to show you when I’m busy or relaxing. In my case Fashion is a big part of my life. But the real reason for the site is to get my ideas across so that more people will join the “Climate Revolution”.
At 1.30 I rode my bike to the Courthauld Museum to see an exhibition of some of the drawings from the great masters that they hold in their collection. (Before 2.00 on Mondays it is free.)
At 5.00 I met my friend, Giselle, and our mutual friend, Peter Olive, in a café in Westbourne Grove. We ate a horrible salad (people usually make horrible salads – they should be simple – I’ll tell you how to do it one day.) Then we went to Giselle’s house, nearby. If I had more time, I would see more of Giselle. I’d go round and talk to her improving my French, she’s French, very interesting, and she loves fashion. We talked and drank. She had just read Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot”. These classics in literature. You get a lot out of them when you re-read them when you’re older (more experience, therefore more to think about). Books are always focussed in their time. Think of them as windows on the world seen from different points in time. Virginia Woolf said the success of a masterwork is the “immense persuasion of a mind that has completely mastered its perspective.”
Now the outlook is so scary – have we got time to stop climate change? Yet reading a masterwork today, those different views on the world are thrown into sharp relief because our future is so different; it could be hell. It’s like trying to find out as much about the human race as we can while we still have time. Cultivate the reading habit.
Tuesday, 14 August: Finished the Diary and put it up; checked it with Cynthia and sat with Joe while we sorted some illustrations – it does take time. Then had to answer some questions for Suzie Menkes. She’s interested in the bags we design which are made in Africa from recycled materials under the auspices of the UN’s scheme, “Work not Charity”. She does ask good questions. She asked me, “Do you think that objects that have been touched by human hands are elements of luxury today?”. I thought of a pre-industrial time when everything was made by hand. And going back as far as the classical Greeks or the tribes which moved across Asia when only skilled craftsmen made beautiful things. It’s not true that everyone made their own things; even stone hand axes were made by specialists and traded.
By then it was the end of the day.
Wednesday, 15 August: My Andreas phones me and tells me the four boys and Skipper Nedge have so much wind and they are sailing at a great speed – all working the boat and not many boats out there. They’re OK because the boat, the “Vesta”, is big. Our friend, Alex, is at the helm as much as possible, getting soaked in the thrill of the boat plowing the waves. At anchor in the Greek islands Andreas stops and cooks and is constantly over the side swimming. I went on the “Vesta” four years ago in the Turkish islands. I was unlucky; we had no wind. But I love the idea of sailing between the islands like the ancient Greeks.
I am supposed to be on holiday but I still have letters to write. I went to work but was interrupted all day and it was only at 6.00 in the evening that I started my letters. I did not leave work until 10.30, but I finished. At last I did write to Leonard.
Thursday, 16 August: The reason I did not go with Andreas on the boat was because on Saturday my niece, Lucy, is getting married in Devon where her mother (my sister) lives. Therefore, we are also staying with my son, Joe, who has a farm and other buildings near the sea in Cornwall which he wants to run as holiday homes to pay for eventual projects of a kind possibly working with children. He loves to be in the country and his girlfriend, Faye, is getting really involved with the garden.
I travelled down with Ben driving and Peter Olive and friend, Krishna. Had we gone by train, the last third of the journey would entail Joe coming to pick us up – a double journey, only accessible by car.
Lots of rain, stayed in bed reading “Sinbad the Sailor” and “Ma’aruf the Cobbler” from “The Arabian Nights”. These fairy tales are imaginative derivatives of myths which originated in primitive ritual and, though I am interested in myths and anthropology, I had not read them. Joe’s house is full of books and I like just to browse through whatever takes my fancy, books I don’t have. These tales were Arabic. I read half of the myth of Gilgamesh, this is Persian (Sumerian), it’s an epic more than a fairy tale: it had a different exotic identity to the Arab tales. You feel these tales once described the enactment of a ritual – they grasp the bare bones and drive on.
We went for a walk round the wood when the rain cleared. At home, Joe cooked – quick, very good. He’s so capable, looks after you; drinks, music, films, discussion, affection, fun. Starting from when he was a little boy of three, he looked after me as if he were my husband, went shopping, fixed the telephone, bought a mixer, lent me money. Kate Moss says he’s an alpha male. It could have something to do with his father telling him the milkman was his dad, then disappearing for days when he felt like it – so little Joe assumed the responsibility.
My brother, Gordon, joined us and this is all becoming enough chat for one week so I’ll be quick: wedding, reception at my sisters house, lots of children and an elctric blue giant dragonfly flying over the garden pond, gave Lucy a red dress with silver and gold lurex. She looked stunning; her friend said, “When will you wear it?” She had two kids and wants more – but she will wear it, I know her, she’s very dazzling and outgoing. More kids: I said, “What about climate change?”
Gordon gave everyone in the family a video he had made of our mother a year before she died. She told us the story we had heard most often - how she met my father.
Importantly, Cynthia phoned me Saturday night to prepare a message of support for Julian Assange for her to deliver in London on my behalf:
While Vivienne was in Cornwall, we received an invitation to speak at the rally for Julian Assange on Sunday – it was his first public statement since his entrance into the Ecuadorian Embassy two months ago. Vivienne wrote a message which I delivered to the media and crowd gathered in front of the embassy:
“Through Wikileaks Julian Assange continues to expose the lies and distortions of the authorities.
His fight is our fight. It is a fight for freedom – freedom of information. We are Julian Assange, I am Julian Assange.”
Baltasar Garzon, Julian’s legal advisor made an opening statement then Tariq Ali began and introduced the speakers, also including representatives of Ken Loach and John Pilger. Craig Murray gave a great and heartfelt speech highlighting the importance of whistleblowers before Julian appeared in the embassy balcony to address the crowd. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19312679
The reception was overwhelming. Although we still don’t know how this will be resolved, the atmosphere both inside and outside the embassy was so positive. Julian is a hero – who deserves the support of all honest people, people who want a better world – not governed by shits. I felt honoured to be there.
Back in Cornwall, lots of love with the family, did my own yoga twice, Ben designed and built a model aeroplane from balsa wood with an engine – really impressed and proud of him, a game called “Articulate”. Missed the maiden flight -
Monday, 20 August: Gordon drove me and Peter home. I found this blue envelope with £10 in it from “givemondays” http://www.facebook.com/pages/GiveMondays/290452241027239. Now I shall give it to someone more in need!
Tuesday, 21 August: At home reading. I’ll take the opportunity to mention two things: While I was at Joe’s, I began to read Dante’s “Inferno” There is a super early film of this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bo4T3GUL9I0&feature=related. I got as far as the entrance to Hell. The foyer was a dark room where hundreds of people ran constantly round and round stung by wasps and horrid insects. These were people who in life had never committed themselves to anything, not to God nor to the Devil; they had never engaged with the world or learnt or changed. Therefore neither Heaven nor Hell wanted them.
Do you think such people are also the gossips? They live off other people, do nothing, just get their buzz from causing trouble and confusion. They never have an opinion but just choose the worst opinions of other people. Why don’t they want to be honest and do some good? The thing is, it makes them feel important. Half the journalists are like this and the other half are good – what I call “serious people”. Would you send the stirrers to Hell – or leave them in the foyer? Camilla Lang and David Aronovitch still have a chance to redeem themselves.
An event I want to say something about is the death of Gore Vidal, the author, at the end of July. His books turn stones over to get at the truth – usually about people and events in history or recent politics – the last book I read of his was the story of St. Paul with an assumption that he was gay. The point was not to insist that St. Paul was gay but to describe the story of his life and times as if he were – so exposing the prejudices and falso holiness of the story as it is accepted. What probably made him more famous than anything was his razor tongue, in discussion and conversation, backed up by his mega-intelligence and political and cultural awareness: he was outrageous but always right.
He exposed coverups. He argued that the Oklahoma bomber could not possibly have carried out that crime on his own – pointing to the government. McVeigh invited Vidal to be among the witnesses to his death.
He was a hero of mine and I met him a long time ago. A German magazine asked me if they could record an interview between me and a person of my choice. We met at a photo shoot during which he told me (sitting side by side and out of the corner of his mouth) all the London socialites he knew and, as I knew none of them, he had no interest in me. Then we met for lunch and the recorded conversation I wanted to talk about politics. He was related to the Kennedys and had worked as an advisor to JFK. One morning Kennedy was fuming about the military in the Pentagon being a law unto themselves. Gore Vidal said, “But you’re the President, you can tell them what to do.” JFK: “It would take 10 years to sort that lot out.” GV: “I see, meanwhile you have to get re-elected.” JFK: grins.
However, GV began to talk about religion. He said monotheism was the greatest evil in the world. I thought it was because he was American that he said this and that it’s not such a big deal for the English. He said that anybody in America could invent a religious cult and it was tax exempt, that’s why these churches are so rich, e.g. Scientology. He was right, but I didn’t grasp the depth of what he said so he was really bored with me. I realized when I thought about it afterwards that the idea of a sky god who is the one and only true god is a terrible dogma that forms the whole ethic of our society – it’ why the US is always right and why they need an enemy to be their devil; it’s the difference between black and white, right and wrong, US and the enemy; everything we do is right; no compromise: live or die. It is the most horrible, disgusting ethic in the world. (By contrast, polytheism is about biodiversity. Each god represents different qualities.)
He told me, “The Nobel Prize should be given to readers not writers.” i.e. Everybody’s writing a book but they don’t know very much and have nothing to say. He was the most important writer of his age.
Came to work to check with Cynthia where we are in our campaign. We went out and talked over coffee. I went home quite early (still on holiday) and plucked some nettles in the park which I put in a soup with some beans and tomatoes we grow on our balcony at work. Now I’ve started to read a book on finance, “The New Depression” by Richard Duncan, my brother Gordon lent me. Economics is childishly simple. I might tell you soon. At around 1.00 in the morning Andreas came home.
Wednesday, 22 August: The reason I am reading this book is because tomorrow I am meeting John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief of “The Economist”. I hope to be able to convince him that the crisis in our economic system is both a cause and a symptom of climate change.
Thursday, 23 – Monday, 27 August: I did not convince John Micklethwait. He said, “How did climate change cause the US housing crunch?” Well, I know how but I didn’t say because I need to explain it carefully. So I have begun to write him a letter which I will tell you about. I spent all my time thinking about this and also reading, not only the finance book but pamphlets from the Gaia Foundation on the extractive industry and agribusiness – the two major earth destroyers. This is how I spend my holiday and I need to know all this stuff in order to fight the Climate Revolution. To join the revolution you need a weapon. Information is the best weapon.
Tuesday, 28 August: Iris arrived on Sunday and starting from today I have taken on the fight to concentrate on fashion – the shows are starting to line up in front of me. On the way home I said to Andreas, “Why are you wearing that stupid cap?”. He said, “I like it and I think I look like one of the fighters on the streets of the Near East.”