Rest and have lots of fluids, they say. Well, I had lots of’em. Fluids galore. I am soaked. Up to today, day three of my flu, I have had so many lemon flavoured doses of effervescent vitamin C from my Lalique tumblers, even Linus Pauling would have disapproved. Luckily, I had also just stocked up on tea, Mangalam, my very favourite plantation in Assam. I am about to empty those provisions in record time, tea gets cold so very quickly in a cup, especially when you fall asleep just after pouring it, you have to pour it all away, litres of the finest tea down the sewer, it’s a shame, it’s of no use to brew an entire pot, really, but when you don’t, rest assured, you will regret that, too, as you won’t fall asleep then, suddenly you’re wide awake and thirsty, and you’ll want more tea with episode 5 of Downton Abbey or whatever series your brain is trying to follow, you’ll need a fresh cup, too, maybe even a fresh pot, you’re already going through all your china as it is, out goes Royal Copenhagen, in comes Meissen, anyway, you get up again from your sickbed, you schlepp your aching bones into the kitchen to brew some more tea, this Mangalam plantation must really be a vast territory, and then empty an entire pot in 7 minutes 46 seconds. Those viruses are drunkards!
One day in Hamburg, I couldn’t wait for lunchbreak, couldn’t wait to leave my desk at DDB Hamburg, that is Doyle Dane Bernbach, the agency famous for their work for Volkswagen’s beetle in the 1960s, Lemon, they shouted, Think Small, they advised, and by this they made it to eternity, advertising as it should be, whereas I, well, I hope it wasn’t too bad what I did on this day in 2012, anyway, I digress, I couldn’t wait to leave my desk, a desk with a fabulous view on Hamburg’s Speicherstadt and the Elbphilharmonie that was still being constructed, splendid architecture by Herzog & de Meuron consuming 866 million euros, but I digress again, anyway, I couldn’t wait to get the cup I had fallen in love with the other day, after hours of course, leaving me to wait for it a most inappropriately long amount of time, like Prince Bolkonsky had to wait for Natasha, a day or a year, where’s the difference, my Meissen coffee cup was even more alluring than Tolstoy’s Natasha, it had a green dragon on it, green being a favourite colour of mine, spitting little orange flames, embodying riches, chinoiserie at its best, as ornate as a cup could ever be, and most importantly, it was on sale at John Montag on Ballindamm, a store that had to shut down some time later after it had burned down, anyway, being on sale meant that it was still way too expensive but it made me think I was about to get a bargain, and so I did, in this lunchbreak in 2012, my concentration at work was way better in the afternoon, I can assure you, there’s nothing better than saving money during luchbreak.
One day, it must have been spring, I decided to lose some weight. You have to be slim for slim cut shirts. So, I had to find a way to eat less, at least for dessert, I had tried to have no dessert at all, but this didn’t work out well, it just made me cranky, and so, in order to keep some of my friends, I tried to eat just half of my crème brûlée or my panna cotta or whatever I was having for dessert, but this didn’t work out either. You cannot stop in the middle of something, can you? What idiotic concept is this? I then tried tiny portions. For instance, these ridiculously small things from Sprüngli. They made me burst out into tears. They seemed to mock me. So I gave up desserts altogether. Cold turkey. Now, I’m unbearably cranky, but quite slim.
I need a lot of coffee in the morning. A lot. So I appreciate a big cup that matches my needs. It’s so much more convenient, you don’t have to get up from your couch or your bed or your chair and schlepp your sleeping and aching muscles to the coffee machine, mine is a Braun, plain and simple, designed by Dieter Rams, I have no nerve to deal with Italian laboratories in the morning, I need my peace and quiet, no high-toned gusto with all that steam and noise from shiny technical wonders. However, I do fancy a big fancy cup. KPM, Prussia’s finest porcelain manufacturer (no, it’s not Meissen, Meissen is in Saxony, not in Prussia), came to the rescue with their Kurland “Bürotasse” (Kurland is a design from the 1700s, originally in vivid colours and lots of handpainted flowers, now in basic white), the name’s actually absurd, because I need that much coffee before going “ins Büro”, meaning to my office, not after, what am I to do with such a monstrous cup at the office? At the office, I have nothing but espressos, those from the fancy top notch Italian devices, with all that steam and noise, from really tiny cups, but hey, the guys in marketing never have any clue anyway, have they?
I really don’t know why people are making such a fuss about No 5. Okay, it has been the world’s best selling perfume since 1921, Marilyn Monroe wore it, apparently mostly when naked and in bed, but so did the doyenne at my very first agency, and rest assured, although she was the sweetest person who used to feed me with biscuits, I’m pretty sure no one pictured her in bed, let alone naked. Anyway, I digress as usual, my point is, I like Ernest Beaux’s No 22 from 1922 so much better. And like Karl Lagerfeld, I only care about my opinion. No 22 is like dessert. A very fine dessert, that is. Made of tuberoses and vanilla, cream and candied roses, with a little whisky in the cream, a single malt of course, even a harsh one, Lagavulin, just a tiny dose, a hint, but enough to add the strangest depth to it, transforming the femininity of all those fragrant flowers into a gentleman’s dessert, into some sort of diplomat cream, I once made one, a so-called crème diplomate Couloubrier, but it turned out as a real culinary disaster, marshmallows are sour in comparison, only my father who has the world’s sweetest tooth, would eat it, but that’s another story, where was I? Right, No 22. To put it in a nutshell, this perfume is an olfactory diplomat cream, and as this dessert was named after the famous Russian diplomat Nesselrode, known for his love for English puddings and desserts, No 22 is quite a manly scent. One cannot be any manlier than a Russian, can one?
When I search my drawers, I never find what I am looking for, chaos is my middle name, but I always discover little treasures, memories set in stone, porcelain or leather. These two findings speak of style in particular. Goethe’s bisquitted profile, made by Meissen’s artists, purchased years ago in Weimar, reminds me of a great man, author of “Faust”, whose lodgings in a park in Weimar were nothing but amazement to me, his “Gartenhaus”, a tiny cottage with a few modest rooms, yet perfectly furnished in early 18th century style, installed for weekends made of comfort and leisure, at a time when leisure included posture and poise. And I wonder if he would have liked my Hermès mouse pad, the one I don’t use anymore, it’s out of time, just like his rooms, I can easily picture it there, his hand pushing the mouse from left to right, up and down, according to the soft rhythm of my favourite poem, the one about Italy in late summer, do you know it, that land, where the lemons bloom so fair, the golden oranges from dark-green branches glare…