Thursday, 29 July 2010

Divine of Divineness Florentine Purse

Madame la Moue writes:

I know, gorgeous isn't it? It cost six Euros from San Lorenzo market and I bought it last week when I was there with Mrs. Notice in particular its super soft baby pink leather lining. It was this that clinched the deal for me and I bought the purse a few moments after I had spotted it and plucked it decisively from amongst the other purses on the stall. This is how a purchase of an inexpensive item should be made i.e. quickly and decisively. But OH MY GOD when Mrs buys a purse it is a whole other story. Jeez just thinking back to it makes me develop an involuntary tic and start rocking back and forth.

This is how buying a purse goes in Mrs's world:

1. Firstly spend hours identifying the best purse stall. (Luckily I escaped this part as I was doing ALL my Christmas shopping on other stalls).
2. Once target stall is identified remove EVERY SINGLE purse from its protective plastic wrapping and lay them all out over the other purses on the stall.
3. Narrow down choice to a small selection (this bit takes FOREVER)
4. Check all other purses again to make sure this is in fact the shape/size/style you want.
5. Ask patient friend which one she likes best (REPEATEDLY)
6. When nearing a decision ask stallholder if she has any more purses in stock that you have not seen. NOTE TO STALLHOLDER - LIE GODAMMIT LIE.
7. Repeat stages 2-5 (ENDLESSLY.)
Despite the sweltering heat and lack of shade I actually started to find this activity intriguing in a kind of horrified way. It was amazing and exhausting to watch. Apparantly she does this with all purchases she makes.
Eventually she got two nice purses and I think she is pleased.

One thing she didn't check though was whether a credit card fits in her purse. It doesn't.

What I wore: city chic

The hotel Madame la Moue and I stayed in in Florence was pretty fabulous considering we paid peanuts for it on Expedia. It was in the Via Tornabuoni - the Bond Street of Florence - opposite Prada and next to Armani. Perfetto!

Here is a picture MLM took of me outside it in my city-chic look. I wear silk skirt, swished; vest, Paul and Joe Sister, £1.99 from eBay; cross-body bag, from V&A swish. 

MLM also took this photo of me in another version of the city-chic look. It consists of: navy vest, Topshop, swished from Mrs H (miss you Mrs H); linen skirt, Fenn, Wright and Manson, swished; nude sandals, £4.99 from Heart Foundation charity shop; silver hoop earrings from John McKellar Designer Jewellery (my dad). Note gorgeous painted chest of drawers behind me. 

The hotel that NR booked for us was actually even more fabulous. If you are going to Florence I would definitely recommend checking out the Hotel Collodi on Via Taddea, which is tucked away just behind the San Lorenzo market. We had a massive room WITH A SEPARATE SITTING ROOM UPSTAIRS ON A MEZZANINE. This to me is the height of luxury...

More on NR and me in Florence coming soon...

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Florence: the post mortem

So Madame la Moue and I had a remarkably civilised time in Florence. She is quite a cheap date now that she is sloshed after una birra media, per favore. Or rather, she would be a cheap date if two beers in Florence did not cost £16. I jest not.

Madame organised an arduous cultural itinerary and we were careful not to appear indecently gleeful when churches turned out to be closed and we were forced to go shopping instead (this happened four times, *sigh*).

Madame la Moue just after she arrived in Florence

We bought some lovely presents for our nearest and dearest (and just a *couple* for ourselves) at the San Lorenzo market. MLM made insanely reckless impulse purchases, while I spent two days scouring the whole market, then visiting the same three stalls ten times and making the stallholders get out all their purses in every colour. Will post some pics of our purchases toute de suite.

Madame la Moue bought herself a gorgeous purse. And for Monsieur la Moue, she bought... meat. Which by the time she gets home would be warm and sweaty. Lovely. ‘Here you are darling, I brought you back some warm meat.’

Actually that reminds me of a conversation I heard between some American tourists at breakfast. (N.B. I am not the type to laugh at people just because they are American Tourists. God forbid. I only laugh at them if they are stupid American tourists. Which is, of course, much less fascist.) It went like this:

‘You do know what pah-TAY is.’

‘Pah-TAY? No I don’t.’

‘It’s like a kind of cream, but made of food.’


‘You know, like a cream. But made of meat.’

‘A cream made of meat?!’

It is at times like this that I am glad to be vegan. I may have been living on a sort of anti-Atkins of carbs-on-carbs with a side order of carbs in Italy, but at least I will never have to eat a cream made of meat.

Next time on Paper Flowers: what happened when NR came to Florence...

Thursday, 15 July 2010


I have had two lovely weeks in a gorgeous villa in the Tuscan hills with thirteen members of my family (I know. Insania. Is a miracle no one has been murdered. Yet). I have been seeing Etruscan ruins and writing my novel, as well as lazing in/by the pool working on my tan. Then on Saturday I’m off to Florence for four days of debauchery cultural improvement with Madame La Moue.

Anyway, more importantly, newsflash: NR is coming out to Italy. I KNOW. Less than a month in and he is crossing the seas to see me (with a little help from British Airways). Tip to all you men out there: girls love this stuff - the grand romantic gesture and all that. Or maybe it’s just me. Anyway, we are having a week in Florence after MLM has gone home. Did I mention I LOVE MY LIFE?

On the make up front, I have continued to go bare-faced and Catriona, my gorgeous 20-year-old cousin has joined me in my experiment. We have now reached the following further conclusions:

A) Going au naturel does NOT make your skin any better - we have both broken out, and although this could just be the badness coming out, je suspect que non.

B) It is much easier to go au naturel is when everyone around you is doing the same. There have been seven women aged from 20 to 84 in this house over the last fortnight, none wearing any make up to speak of, and my eye has now adjusted to the point where I can look upon the natural human visage without an audible gasp of horror.

I have also been experimenting with reintroducing cosmetics one by one when going out for the evening and rank them in the following order:

1. Concealer: used under eyes and to cover spots/uneven skin tone, this has a greater effect than any other single item of make up.

2. Powder: to counteract shininess. This is more noticeable in a hot climate, so maybe not quite so important during a British winter, say.

3. Blusher: really does make a vast difference to the naturally cadaverous complexion. I once saw Bobbi Brown on Oprah and have never forgotten the advice she gave when asked what single item of make up was the most essential. She said for brunettes, blusher; for blondes, mascara. Which brings me to...

4. Mascara: I haven’t been wearing it at all here and have come to the conclusion that if your eyelashes are naturally dark or dyed it is quite easy to live without.

5. Eyeliner: worn underneath top lashes for a natural look; smudged around outer lashes for sultry, come-to-bed eyes. Entirely inessential. I haven’t worn it at all here.

That is all I had brought with me anyway. Oh, and bright red lipstick, which, worn with a bare face and sunglasses is a ten-second route to instant glamour. Bourjois do the best budget ones.

Whether I can carry on with the new regime in Florence is another matter, not least because Italian women all seem to be super-high-maintenance. Actually, I already know the answer to that question: with MLM I can just about cope - she has already seen me at my most hideous anyway. With NR, not so much. There is only so much I can inflict on the poor man and to fly across Europe only to be greeted by the unmitigated Cockatrice visage would just be too cruel...

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Sir, Yes Sir!

So now Madame is texting me with photos and instructions about what to put on her blog. She sent me this photo with details about where each item of clothing was from. As I cannot be bothered, after a hard day at work, to reach for my mobile phone in my bag on the other side of the bed, I am going to improvise. It will be a test of memory to see how much I was taking it all in. Fingers crossed this languor will not incur the wrath of Mrs. So here goes. The Great Chief Empress wears: dress from American Apparel; belt from Accessorise; bag Kew (swished); sandals, no idea, but swished (from Therese la Tease as I recall). Her cousin wears: dress, H&M; belt from NZ; and bag, what do we think? Vintage?
Anyway they both look adorable. However Madame is tout couvert de mozzie bites and looks as though she has the pox apparantly. I am armed with DEET for the weekend.
I have just published this post but have gone back in to edit it as, noticing the date, I realised this was my little boy's due date. Bastille day. Appropriate as he is a quarter French. However he was actually born on 27th July. 13 DAYS LATE!!!!!!! I WAS PREGNANT FOR 42 WEEKS GODAMMIT. Anyway it was all worth it, despite the horror of a 3 day labour and hideous Post Natal Depression, just to see the joy, yesterday, on his six year old face as he took photographs of his willy.

Boys will be boys.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

I knew I was right

Dear Madame la Moue,

I KNEW I WAS RIGHT! You are a bad, bad person. God doesn’t like it when people tell fibs, you know. It makes the Baby Jesus cry.

Italy is wonderful. It was 40° here yesterday. AT 4 PM!

Do you always do that thing on holiday where you try not to wear any make up in the hope that a. your skin will become as clear and smooth as a mountain pool and b. you will become so accustomed to your natural hideousness that you can wear the merest touch of slappage and feel like a goddess? I have been attempting to do this and, apart from two evenings, have been slap-free for the past week. A week without make up Mrs! Did you ever think me capable of such a superhuman feat?

Here are the conclusions I have come to so far: 1. there is much more time in the day when you don’t have to spend it putting your face on; 2. make up is the most miraculous invention known to humankind and I would never want to be without it in a place where there was anyone I knew apart from my family.

My plan now is to reintroduce items of slappage one by one in an attempt to find out which ones are the most essential, in manner of those food intolerance tests. I will continue my experiment and report back on my results soon.

Must dash now as am in an internet cafe. Wish you were here.


Cockatrice xxx

Friday, 9 July 2010


Well it seems Cockatrice does have internet connection in la bella Italia after all and she has seen my previous post. Dammit. She has texted me this photo of her and her gorgeous cousin posing in Italy in their white dresses. Don't they look fabulous? It would seem you can take the poseur out of Lewes but you can't take the poseur out of Leila? (hmm, doesn't quite work does it.)
Right I must get back to studying and stop being distracted by all this blogging nonsense. 'Compare and contrast the appearance and function of religious imagery in Catholic, Protestant and Greek Orthodox Renaissance Europe and account for their similarities and difference.' Any ideas anyone?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Uh oh

Cockatrice is on hols. She left for Italy today where I will be joining her in a couple of weeks for a long weekend of culture and larks. Meanwhile she has given me access to her blog. Mwah ha ha ha (is this how you spell evil laugh?). What havoc can I wreak here whilst she is away?

So anyway I have a dilemma which maybe you can help me with. Some time ago I lent Cockatrice my camera and, when she gave it back to me, her rechargeable batteries were in it. The thing is I thought I had returned them to her and, at her Swish party a couple of weeks ago, we had a bit of a stand off which went something along the lines of:

C: Did you remember to bring my batteries back?

Me: I gave them back to you ages ago

C: You didn't

Me: I did

C: Didn't

Me: Did

C: Didn't

Me: Did

etc. etc. in the manner of two vile stubborn five year olds. This continued until I turned on my heel and reached for another Smirnoff Ice (ghastly by the way. I got it in lieu of Pimms as Tescos had run out - WHAT was I thinking?) So anyway today I found the batteries at home. Uh oh. So my dilemma is what to do. Options:
a. 'Fess up, apologise and give the batteries back (clearly what I should do)

b. Say nothing and keep my head down (cowardly?)

c. Steal into her flat whilst she is away and plant them somewhere and then 'stumble across' them when she gets back saying, 'oh look! HERE they are. I TOLD you I brought them back ages ago' (cunning).

I'm up for option c.

What do you think interwebnet? What shall I do? By the way Cockatrice does not have internet access in Italy.

Italian chic

Will you just look at this dress? It was a gift from the date I told you about yesterday (I think he should henceforth be known as NR: name redacted - or new romance - you decide).

This is what Madame la Moue said when I emailed her about it:

'He bought you a dress??  That is the sweetest, nicest thing I have ever heard anyone do for anyone else.  I am practically weeping.  Marry him Mrs you must.'

Don't panic - I am not about to honour and obey anyone. I will be wearing my gorgeous dress in Italy though, where I will be imagining I am living in the Talented Mr Ripley for the next three weeks...

I'm not sure when I will be able to get to the interwebnet, but will attempt to post something as soon as I can...

Arriverderci amici belli. A presto!

Thursday, 1 July 2010


Everybody knows that one of the best bits of going on a date is gossiping about it with one's girlfriends afterwards (actually, sometimes this is the best bit, although NOT in this case). After my date on Tuesday, Madame la Moue emailed me saying:

How was your date Madame? What did you wear and is he your boyfriend? Did you snog?


This is what I replied (with a few details redacted to protect anonymity):

Fabulous date Madame. He drove us up in his lovely car and parked in a little mews near where he used to live in Kensington. We went for a glass of wine, then a Moroccan meal here. LOOK HOW GORGEOUS MRS:

Then on to the Albert Hall [to see Jackson Browne - one of my all time music GODS] JB was AMAZING.

Then we went to see a friend of his who lives in Notting Hill Gate and is a [potentially recognisable job redacted]. This was v bizarre and bohemian. He opened the door wearing only his pants and said 'come in, come in, we're all crying in here.' So we went in and he was watching a documentary on Diana Athill with his Norwegian girlfriend in their underwear and they were both weeping.

But the HOUSE Mrs. It was huge and bohemian and full of paintings of transvestites and artfully arranged FETISH EQUIPMENT. It was only when the programme finished that I realised that the four black candles on top of the telly with plastic roses around them WEREN'T CANDLES.

As well as being a [insert responsible job here] he is a transvestite and plays in this band:

Then we came back here and played Trivial Pursuit till 4am. The children's version. From 1984. I couldn't actually read this question out loud because I was laughing so much - it is the funniest question I have EVER heard. It is a science and nature question:

'Do gorillas sometimes ride on elephants to travel through the jungle?'


Another thing I like about [name redacted]: he says notes instead of pounds, e.g. (imagine in posh voice) 'It was only a hundred notes.'


This is what MLM replied:

Oh my God I hope the answer was yes.  If they don't they should. [Gorillas]

Your date sounds amazing albeit insane.  Do you love the bohemianess of it? I bet you fitted right in. Would you have to have bizarre sex with [name redacted] do you think?  HAVE YOU in fact????????????????????

That restaurant is utterly you. How did he know?

Gosh this is all so exciting. I can so imagine the 100 notes voice - v attractive I agree.

Does he also say as a matter of fact? e.g 'yes it does as a matter of fact.'


Tonight I am going out with Sara and Julie for our regular blubfest. There may not be blubbing on my part, but there WILL BE GOSSIP...