Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Styling

It’s official! According to Judith (mummy), their phone in St John’s Wood has been ringing nonstop with calls from my former school chums, (and some I wasn’t all that chummy with) ever since I was on the cover of Paris Match. I’m not sure how that ranks higher than my place on the Olympic Equestrian Team but perhaps they share a keen interest in the environment. Although frankly I doubt it.

One such call really got under Judith’s skin as it was a reporter asking if she too ate bugs, and if it were a habit she’d picked up in China. According to Daddy she corrected them and hung up. After all, it was British Hong Kong (not China) and I doubt mummy ventured outside of the shops where she saw other Britons in Karl Lagerfeld or Prada. It was quite the fashion parade according to the pictures she kept and well… if you knew Judith she doesn’t even eat Chinese food here in England. After that, Daddy took the calls and deftly provided my email. His is the kind of voice one knows not to ask probing questions.

Bugs aren't really animals, are they?

Out of a half dozen or so emails I’m now set to appear on This Morning with Gino D’Acampo and the morning programme Breakfast out of New Zealand. This I will do by video conference as New Zealand has decided not to let me in unless I’ve been fourteen days in Australia or the Cook Islands, (as if) and there certainly isn’t time enough for all that. Oh the nerve of these people! Maybe they should have a look at their very own flag and realise the Union Jack figures rather prominently. I’ve just had it with draconian restrictions that make no practical sense, especially given I didn’t contract anything during my actual travels… it was when I was holed up in Annabel’s country estate that we both took ill, and recovered just as quickly.

I’m also rather put off after reading so many horror stories—like that of the footballer who got stuck in an Indian airport for three months or the Australians who were basically arrested for finding a clever way back home and I just don’t want to have to call Daddy, or Patrick, or (God forbid) my fabulous new client to wrest me free from some horrible lockdown.

The main question now is what to wear. I’d had several Dahlia Macphee options overnighted to me which are known to be (mostly) vegan clothes but unfortunately they were all gowns…and not appropriate for a morning show. Umasan sent me loads of ‘ethical’ separates—none of which became an ensemble, and thankfully one other ethical/sustainable/vegan designer who fit the bill perfectly—bright colours and reasonably flattering… or at least nothing that a good clamp in the mid-back wouldn’t fix for the camera.

I just needed a good forty-five minutes with Daddy to explain to me just what was going on with China’s new push to non-Bitcoin cryptocurrency. One of the talent bookers asked me some questions about it and I needed to be ready in case it came up on the show. He mainly asked why China is now moving away from the eco-disaster that is created by mining iBtcoin and if I believed my exposé had any effect. Daddy answered:

‘Jennifer’s press secretary how can I help you?’

‘Very funny’ I countered. ‘But I do need to ask a few things.’

‘She was always a wonderful child… helpful, kind… walking and talking at six months…’

‘Daddy! I need to ask about cryptocurrency. More specifically China’s departure from mining Bitcoin in favour of something more eco-friendly.’

‘I should think you’d be thrilled. Clearly China’s gone green.’

Going green for fun and profit, Chinese-style.

‘Do you really think so?’ I asked.

‘Do YOU?’

UGH! Two minutes in and I’ve asked a stupid question.

‘No, not really I guess. So why then?’

‘I’m not an expert on China’s but it’s always safe to say if China is doing anything, it’s because it benefits China.’

‘So…’ I began again, ‘Can I just frame this as China being in step with a green future?’

‘If you can say it with a straight face—then by all means, yes, say it! But if you are looking for my advice, I would suggest you don’t frame it at all, and in this way you don’t have to backtrack when China continues to find new and worse ways to destroy the planet you love so much.’

I wasn’t sure if I felt better or worse but he had saved me from looking as foolish as Greenpeace falsely extolling China’s green virtues. With this in mind I felt prepared for my video conference which was fast-approaching due to the ten-hour time difference between Saint Tropez and New Zealand.

Just then I got a call from my oh-so-ethical wardrobe supplier. It seems ’after consideration’ they will to ask me NOT to wear their clothes as their PR focus had been animal organisations, and ‘couldn’t risk being seen supporting blatant animal cruelty’. WHAT!? ME? I literally held the phone away from my head as I pondered what absolute rot she was on about. Apparently she was under the very misguided belief that eating bugs was eating animals, which OKAY technically it is, but it is the more green option.

I wanted to scream I’M THE GOOD PEOPLE but I just let her adenoidal rant continue. That was until she said the word ‘standards’ —meaning she was questioning mine and at which point I just hung up. What cheek! If they sent anyone to collect their clothes I was going to tell her I’d recycled them with the other trash. And little did she know I’d never actually eaten one of the crispy critters but then I wasn’t exactly advertising that. It was far too late to get any other clothes shipped to me so I just fumed for a few minutes while deciding what to do. I went back to the Dahlia MacPhee gowns and decided to make a full go of it— glam hair, earrings, lipstick and dramatic lighting. Done.

Home sweet home, fraught but bug-free.

I was ready with plenty of time to spare and took a tip from Judith in her debutante days… I lay perfectly still on my back with a silk scarf under my head and set my alarm for one hour. She would have been rather proud of me as I woke up—hair and make-up still impeccable and then sipped on lemon water until we were live. Frankly I looked fabulous. And thank God for that because five seconds in I found they did not want to talk about China’s crypto-at all. It was the bug show all over again. “Our International bug hostess… Jenny Kennedy!"

I smiled even wider knowing it now made perfect sense for a hostess to be dressed for entertaining until they asked if (OMG not again!) I’d eat a bug for the camera. I felt that familiar bile creeping up the back of my throat. Luckily, I mean ‘Sadly’ I corrected…  'we’ve set up our entire spread for an after party that I’ll be hosting later.’ It was a small lie but it beat the heck out of losing it on international television. Just one last smile and we were out. Whew! I clapped shut my computer and opened a hard-earned bottle of champagne. It’s possible it goes well with crickets but cheers to standards.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Mining

As is (almost) always the case my hard work has really paid off. I say almost because nearly everyone knows how my Olympic equestrian gold was stolen from me, but today I can proudly say that all my hard work—hunkering down in the Bahamas, has landed me a big, fat, juicy, client. SO big that, were I tell his name everyone would certainly know it. Shall we just say tech baron?

As it turns out, my bug soirée was a much bigger smash than I’d imagined because despite a paltry twenty-five guests, the event was lauded as “exclusif” and got picked up by Paris Match, Semana, Hello!, Tatler, and Vanity Fair.  Oh and obviously also by my new “Baron”. Frankly I shouldn’t be surprised, because I was way out in front of this whole bug-eating trend. I mean the WEF had talked a good game but when it came down to it, their pet source was SO not ready for prime time.

So when “Baron” went looking for someone to head his personal push to lessen reliance on traditional protein sources, all paths led to me. At the same time the U.S. is experiencing a once every 17-year infestation… or rather burgeoning... of cicadas! These too are edible, and an excellent source of protein but Americans are understandably loath to try them because an unfortunate bit of press came out rather early… warning against allergies to the cicadas when it turns out only those with shellfish allergies need to take heed. 

Hostess with the mostest.

My baron hopes that together we can turn this bounty into a sort of ‘gateway' to eating more bugs. The good news for me is I am the hostess who served them (instant credibility), and the good news for the planet is that with more people eating bugs we will rely less on large animals that create more greenhouse gases. Also the sheer sound of the cicadas in some parts of the East Coast is deafening—and who wants that? Surely less is more. 

I’ve already contacted the Boy Scouts of America, 4-H,  and the Future Farmers of America to see if they can begin some sort of hunting/harvesting exercise. The Boy Scouts already got back to me with a definitive NO—owing to the fact that they apparently ‘do not have a cicada patch’ and cannot get new patches approved in less than a year’s time—which if you think about it, is truly intolerable given that the cicadas will be gone by then.  And second of all, I didn’t ask for a patch, I asked for a programme.

I coordinated to get so very many publications to run recipes that feature cicadas.  Among the best was  Spicy Popcorn Cicadas  fish soup with chicken and cicadas   and Cicada Cookies. Things were going well until I went to upload these pictures onto my website and started to gag. This time it wasn’t the thought of the crunchy legs getting stuck between my teeth but seeing the juicy insects floating in the fish and chicken soup—I just imagined them alive and swimming on my tongue and down my throat and that was it for me. Vomit-central. I only made it to the trash bin near the bar. 

It was a good ten minutes before I wasn’t flop-sweated and felt I could control my need to gag. The pictures were not getting uploaded—at least not by me. I closed my laptop and went down to the port in search of a cocktail.

To start my employ I flew to meet the baron’s yacht and then stayed on until we docked at Port de Saint-Tropez where I checked into the Byblos. I don’t know his plans for the next three days but at the end of the week I’m meant to host another insect cocktail party, this time for a hundred and with an even greater variety of bugs. The thought of which was making me queasy; the stacked hard shells, the squish, the crunch, ladies with leg-bits stuck to their lip gloss… I began to hurl again. Good Lord, please tell me there are people one can hire to just… OMG.

If it's good enough for Mick Jagger...

I called Daddy and he suggested when in bug distress I place a large silver coin on my tongue near the back of my throat, claiming it helped him through a few excessive drinking situations at Oxford. 

‘But how am I supposed to talk?’ I asked, nearly swallowing the coin.

‘You aren’t’, he said, ‘that’s the point, you don’t lift your uvula, you don’t take that breath in, and you don’t lose your job. That was the point, wasn’t it?’ 

‘I don’t know.’ I said, spitting the coin into my hand. This was a disaster. The press would like nothing more than to tear down the girl they just praised. She can’t even look at the stuff, they would write. 

‘I think the press will have a bigger issue with your environmental conflict if they were to find out your robber baron paid you in Bitcoin.’

‘How? Bitcoin is about fairness,’ I explained.  ’It allows the people to have power at long last, instead of only banks and a few families. Also, they say…’

‘Ah yes, THEY. The famous they… I think best you ask your robber baron to pay you by check, or wire transfer, or actual coin.’

‘Actual…no.  it’s no risk.  I already got my first payment and converted it to cash.’

‘Well that’s great except ‘it’ is exceedingly bad for the environment and as he’s your green baron, you should be giving him better advice.’

‘How?? It’s mined on computers. It was basically a peaceful revolution that brought the power to the people, even people who previously had no access to banking systems.’

Talk about a carbon footprint!

“But that’s not your client is it? And these people of whom you speak are not owning their own banks, or data mining centres or even computers. The power my darling girl, is mostly coal power because most of these are China-based mines, and they use the cheapest electrical generation, most of which is derived from coal-fired plants.’

Ugh, another disaster! ‘Why is it always China!’ I wailed.

‘Why is the left always focused on something like making us eat bugs?' he replied. 'And tell me, how was the boat ride?’

He just had to get the last jab in.  I pecked away on my computer for a bit longer finding that Bitcoin consumes more energy than Malaysia, Sweden and Argentina combined, and causes more carbon emissions than Conoco Phillips and American Airlines. Not looking good. 

I couldn’t undo the transfer but at least Bitcoin activity is under the radar—or at least I assume it must be given it’s the choice of illicit trade.  Oh, boo. I would indeed have to tell him to pay me by traditional methods—for his reputation as well as mine.  And even if I might not be able to down a juicy cicada for the camera, I would be able to help him not look like an obvious hypocrite. Surely that’s what he’s paying me for.