© The Financial Times Ltd 2016
FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
The Financial Times and its journalists are subject to a self-regulation regime under the FT Editorial Code of Practice.
March 14, 2014 6:40 pm
Readers have observed to me that the main reason why cars should be parked facing the street in the driveway is to avoid running over children. Yet any child not tall enough to appear above the bonnet or the boot is not going to be seen by a driver whether he is facing forwards or backwards. But more to the point, I would have thought that, after a hard day’s work, the suburban commuter would want to rush home to loosen his collar for a gin and tonic and even to kiss his wife. Surely such pleasures should not be delayed by reversing the car in the driveway. Any man who returns home and takes his time repositioning his car rather than hugging his wife is probably bored by the marriage or having an affair.
On loos, I was glad readers alerted me to a couple of good ones, although I am not sure about the specimen at the Caprice in London – first, because I dislike going downstairs and second, it is too dark. I also fail to see the point of the black leather sofa at the door, as if anyone would want to sit on it or to be reminded of an Essex sitting room. But full marks for the glass splashbacks at the foot of the full-length urinals, which always remind me of the polite Chinese notice I once saw in the loo of the philosophy department of Peking University that translates as “please take one more step forward”.
My own favourite loo is at Aspinall’s, the casino in Mayfair, where onyx and marble exude respect for the user – with a properly varnished seat and a pretty oil painting above the lav, reminiscent of the Dalí which John Lennon had above his loo in his white mansion. But what clinches the Aspers bog are the linen handcloths, a welcome relief from the usual cheap brown paper or, even worse, a deafeningly loud electric dryer that resembles a BMW wind tunnel.
One reader has ticked me off for using the word “eurotrash”. I regret using it because it understates the trash, as exemplified by so many continental men going round in unbuttoned shirts with their hairy chests nesting a couple of medallions and behaving as if they were God’s gift to the human race.
. . .
I was on safari recently and enjoyed staying at a rather upmarket mobile campsite. What would you regard as the most important features of an outstanding safari camp?
Most important is, of course, a bed with a mosquito net. But I have never understood why these nets invariably only touch the edges of the bed and are not wider in order for us to get out of bed without having to use both hands to struggle with the entanglements of the net. A wider net could also envelop a bedside table for easy access and, more importantly, for the light to shine through directly for reading. In other words, the net for the bed should always be designed 2ft or 3ft wider on each side of the bed.
Having a flushing loo and a proper basin are added luxuries but, if we are to be thoroughly spoilt, then a shower and, for romance, one that is operated manually by a silhouette outside pulling and releasing a bucket of warm water into the pipe. There should be a small enclosure at the entrance to the tent with safari chairs and binoculars, looking out to an endless plain – the literal translation of Serengeti – of acacias and grazing animals. And for the incurable romantic, maybe a gramophone playing the slow movement of Mozart’s clarinet concerto which has come to be known as “Out of Africa” – or, as I tell my wife, out of ignorance.
. . .
Is it acceptable to have covers over the seats in a car?
Yes, I would say so. Especially if they are white and piped in red. I know it’s all a bit colonial, but there is nothing wrong with a little nostalgia. Anyway, the standard felt material found in most modern cars is nasty and I would much prefer to sit on cotton. When I got married, we got away in an Indian Ambassador that was decked out in psychedelic seat covers and flowers more colourful than Kathmandu. It was a cheerful change from the ubiquitous dark leather, talking of which I once boldly advised the omnipotent Carlos Ghosn, who runs Nissan and Renault, that he should upgrade the leather for his high-end Japanese cars. Connolly leather used in Rolls-Royces has a real luxurious smell, whereas even a Nissan President, favoured by the Japanese emperor, has a cheap leather smell. Maybe the Japanese are anosmiacs.
I would like readers to post comments and questions online at the end of articles rather than via email. That way we can have a debate of spontaneous and dynamic responses, an arena for opposing views.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.