Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Kyiving

August in London. Did you ever hear of such a thing? Mummy and Daddy are headed to our country house soon but it’s been the three of us while I’m here at my childhood home in St John’s Wood. Back in California I have my own house. And my Tesla, and my Tesla grid, but I haven’t been terribly motivated to go back. And Britain’s fascination with American crime isn’t helping. Flash mobs looting a 7-11? Risking life and limb for a packet of cheese curls? Staggering really, so here I remain, working, and endeavouring to save our planet.

In an effort not to treat this house like a hotel, I always try to leave a note as to where I’m going but as we’re flying private I couldn’t leave the flight number, and  ‘Off to Kyiv’ didn’t seem like the note one scrawls on the way out the door. So I simply wrote ‘Off with friends, will ring you from STN’. Stanstead, of course, being one of the three airports in London that can handle VIP jets larger than the 767.

Fortunately, (and unfortunately) Stanstead is only thirty miles from London so I couldn’t put off the call for too long, and I did need Daddy’s help. So ring him I did, and luckily he answered. ‘Good morning Jennifer’ he said, ‘Off to Amsterdam to block a mega soy ship from departing?’ 

UGH! He was awake, alright. ‘No Daddy, that happened in May! And as you very well know I have nothing to do with Greenpeace…’ I huffed.

‘Of course’. He said, ‘Hard to keep the good guys straight from the bad boys’.

‘Right’. I said, moving on. ‘I’m headed to Kyiv with Leo DiCaprio and…’

‘The chap who stiffed you at your last fundraiser?’ he interrupted. 

‘Yes. I mean no. He didn’t exactly stiff me, he just couldn’t turn up’, I insisted. ‘ANYWAY, I’m headed over with Leo and Will Smith and…’

‘The boxer?’ he responded.

‘DADDY!’ I said, raising my voice to stop him, ‘I was just wondering if you could explain black money to me—and if it looks bad’. 

‘Well I think you mean dark money and it apparently looks bad to the GAO but how did you feel about it when you attended that environmental bash in St Tropez? I thought you told me it netted over £40 million’. 

‘But that wasn’t dark money…’ I insisted. 

‘No, arguably that was green money but hey…£40 million here, £40M million…pretty soon you’re talking about real money. Listen sweetheart, if you’re asking me if funneling money to a law firm and spearheading climate-nuisance lawsuits is a bad thing, then yes. I would say it is a very bad thing. And if you asked me if I thought flying around in private jets is also its own climate nuisance, I would also say yes. But how do you feel about partying with the bad guy in what they are advertising as war?

‘I thought Putin was the bad guy’, I insisted. 

Everybody's doin' it, doin' it, doin' it...

‘They’re both bad guys, Jennifer, no matter what the Bonos and the Sean Penns and the Angelina Jolies of this world have to say about it—it’s a very bad business. And the environmental aspect of it should be the least of anyone’s concern’. 

‘Even the nuc…’ I interrupted. 

‘Yes, even the nuclear plant!’ He said. ‘This is the equivalent of complaining about the destruction of historical buildings in Syria when they are putting Christian children’s heads on pikes. But I guess the world needs their Turkish apricots so—go. Do your work'. 

I knew he was right. And he had a right to be upset. The whole green-push had affected his ability to safely and efficiently transport oil on his pipeline. And whenever I had a chance I did tell my clients that the absolute best environmental option for transporting oil is by pipeline. Trucks, and ships, and the Exxon Valdez, being obviously the worst.

Our call had taken the lovely edge off of a perfect flat white but I was determined to rally and to save this planet in some small way—today and every day. What I did know was I had to soldier on, and that world governments had failed citizens by not acting aggressively enough to curb global warming. I would use my seat at the table to do good. 

Bro' time at the front.

When I got on the plane I was told Leo was already asleep, so I plopped down on a sofa near the front and asked for some water to take my vitamins. My phone rang. It was my neighbor from California whom I hadn’t spoken to since her pool skimmer made a loud sucking noise about three years ago. 

‘Hello?’ I said.

She responded with a voice that was half porn-star, half I-might-just-be-fourteen, ’Jennifer? It’s your neighbor—Holly’. 

‘Right. Hi Holly. What’s up? I’m on a plane--about to take off’. 

‘Oh wow’, she said. ‘Where are you going?’ 

Wow?? Being on an airplane deserves a wow? ‘I’m headed to Minorca’, I lied. I wasn’t explaining the whole Kyiv/environment/war thing to her. DiCaprio and Will Smith wouldn’t faze an Angeleno, but Kyiv, might. 

‘Oh wow’. She said again. Apparently, it deserved a wow

‘So… what’s up?’ I said, ‘I’m actually on a plane’. 

‘Yeah, well, this is way out of left field but we are all going down to Laguna because of the fires’. 

‘There are fires? Are we being evacuated?’ I said, remembering the Thomas Fire when I chased a fleeing horse for nearly an hour before I got him off the freeway. 

‘No, the fires are in Castaic. We are going because of the smoke. It’s not a lot- a lot—but the insurance will pay if the smoke is bothering us. And so we are all going down to the Monarch in Laguna’.

‘Is the smoke really that… oh, the Monarch with the spa… got it’. And they wonder why our insurance rates are so high. ‘So…Holly, as I said, I’m on a plane… wow, right? I know. So thank you for thinking of me but obviously the smoke isn’t bothering me’.

‘I get that, but isn’t this sort of what you do? Pollution and stuff?’ 

‘Not so much’.

‘Okay, but if your insurance asks can you say it bothered you too?’

‘I don’t think so… I’m in Spain!’ I said, drawing a look from the air hostess. ‘What I can do is say I’m not there and it has the added benefit of being true.’

The Grammys are weapons, too.

Luckily I saw a text come in and used it as an excuse to ring off. It was my father: ‘Be safe in Kyiv. See if you can get me one of those designer tee shirts Mr Z wears’.

Ha! Not a chance he’d wear one but it made me laugh. ‘Roger that. See you soon’ I texted back. 

‘Are you coming back to London?’ he texted. 

‘OMG yes! At the moment California is just a little too toxic’, I said, hanging up and gladly accepting something a little stronger than water from the flight attendant. 

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Beefing

As it is the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee, and I’m of an age, Judith (mummy) flatly insisted that I host something of my own for London Hat Week. SNORE! I thought of hopping a plane back to my home in Los Angeles but as Daddy pointed out… it wasn’t that much of an ask. 

Of course he was right, but I can tell you I had no interest in gathering up what would amount to an evening of shrill bursts and the too-loud chatter from the daughters of her friends along with a few of my school chums lumped-in to keep me from blowing my brains out. Alcohol was a must. As was limiting the total number. I agreed to the Calvary Club because it would tickle the heart of the grandfather I never met, and because every fashionable venue was booked. 

I decided to impose a green-spin on things and asked that everyone recycle/reuse a previously worn hat rather than buy new. The idea came to me in the dressing room at Harvey Nicks whilst standing among a literal mountain of discards and trying to decide between Carolina Herrera and Huishan Zhang. 

Sometimes a girl's just gotta eat.

With dress in hand, I walked into Hélène Darroze to get a plate of pasta, only to be told they were booked. They weren’t. It was early and they knew me here, except everyone who knew me wasn’t in yet, so I had to put up with the indignity of having their ‘concept’ explained to me by the twenty-something who, more than anything, sounded as though she was trying to convince herself. 

In our three Michelin-star restaurant, each dish is grounded in seasonal produce sourced from the farmers, makers and growers carefully chosen by Hélène. And every menu is a reflection of your personal tastes, as our chefs transform your selected ingredients into original works of culinary art. Pierre Yovanovitch’s cocooning interior sets the perfect tone for this intimate dining experience. Blush shades, curved lines, and deep velvet and leather seating reflect the restaurant’s warm, approachable ethos. A blue blown-glass chandelier and exposed wooden tabletops add a bold, contemporary edge. Almost every element is custom-made, once again placing craftsmanship in the limelight.

Defeated, I walked into the bar where I ordered Iberico ham, and a vegetarian club. If one arrives early enough one generally avoids the pre-theatre throng of tourists whom the management is happy to fleece with trendy cocktails costing upwards of £100. It is for this reason I didn’t flinch when I heard the gentleman to my left introduce himself. Mind you his accent sounded decidedly West County when he said, ‘Vegetarian? You should get the meat while you can!’ 

As he was paying his bill (and ostensibly leaving) I assumed it was safe to respond. But I knew what he was getting at…farmers from Norway to New Zealand were either paying taxes on livestock burps, or being asked to kill their herds in the name of saving our planet. I held up my hand and said ‘Before you get started I’m an environmentalist’. 

‘Of course you are,’ he said. 'The ham should have tipped me off’. 

‘Excuse me,’ I said, ‘I’m also a vegetarian…mostly.  But greenhouse gases are killing our planet!’

‘Well, we don’t agree on this’ he said, ‘but if you’re prepared to pay £400 for a pound for ham, you likely won’t mind when beef costs the same’.

Dearer every day.

‘If you’ll excuse me…’ I said, fishing a vibrating phone out of my bag and stepping away from the bar. It was my father, wanting to know if I was coming home for dinner.  

‘OMG you called in the nick of time!’ I said, ‘I was just getting lectured by some stranger who doesn’t understand why we MUST eliminate much of the livestock if we have any hope of lessening greenhouse gases’. 

‘Not a love match I take it?’ I ignored him.  

‘ANYWAY’ I continued, ‘I found a dress for the thing mummy is making me do and in addition to requiring no new hats, I…’ 

‘Excuse me Jennifer…’ he pounced,  ‘You do understand it is in fact—Hat Week?’ 

‘Yes, I’m borrowing something of Judith’s’.

‘And for the others who don’t have a mother whose shopping habits would supply the V&A?’

Again I ignored him. UGH! People would just have to manage. The man at the bar had gone and so I walked back to my seat and waited for Daddy to say something. And say he did! 

‘Jennifer…’ He began in the softest tone, ‘I fear you’ve lost the point of the exercise. It is Hat Week. It is not Green Week, it is not Earth Day. You are hosting an event at a club that predates the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the Ford Model T. It also happens to be the year of the Queen’s Jubilee, and although her own son is your fellow green-nik, I can promise you this is neither the time nor the place. You will not be serving bugs, you will not be composting, and you will not be asking everyone to bring their own tin cups. Do you understand me?’

Gulp. ‘Of course I do’.  I said, and downed the rest of my champagne. 

‘After this event,’ he continued ‘you may go back to flying around the world in your design to save the planet. You may schedule whole tours to Sri Lanka to ask people how freeing it is to have only thirty percent of the food they previously enjoyed, and just how much they are enjoying that near-perfect ESG score that toppled their country. You can even go to Canada and convince farmers that a fertiliser ban is a win-win for those who want to spend less time harvesting and more time on yoga, but this week my dear, in your new dress and your mother’s repurposed hat, you will keep your eco-battle to yourself’.

All we needed was Bono and Greta.

Obviously he meant it. I wondered if he’d change his mind if I got Leo DiCaprio to come but I said nothing.

The event was a small disaster. Not enough of my friends, and I was clearly out-flanked by the enemy—the new crop of twenty-somethings. They knew of me and flattered themselves that they understood the challenges facing the planet but they were the worst kind of informed. They knew Bono, they knew Greta, they knew about my glamorous bug parties and they knew about the near-death incident with the composter.

It only took half an hour before the all-too familiar rise and fall of their high-pitched voices became the steady soundtrack for the evening. They’d also taken the ‘repurpose’ directive as an excuse to don any old hat that might be better suited to sifting rice in the Mekong Delta. The overall look was comical, with me, the elder, looking every bit the finishing-school instructor who needed to be put out to pasture.

This would not do. At their age I was already a lock for the Olympic Equestrian Team and had a firm understanding of the larger scheme. I led the auction of our hats for charity which finally managed to coax the men out from an ante-room. I was followed by the twenty-somethings who tugged at their too-short dresses and fiddled with their over-processed hair whilst saying nothing terribly bright. Alas. Not so easy as it looks I wanted to say. Just then my phone buzzed… it was a text from Leo. It read:

‘Sorry I couldn’t make it Doll,…raincheck?’

Oh how I wanted to share the text!  But I stopped myself. I would savour it. I would invite these girls back when I had Leo. And I would serve them bugs