Notes on a trip to England
Sal Imam

The flavour of Brexit is present in everyday London life. This is the concluding part of yesterday’s long form

  • A playground for the world’s top 0.1% 
    Photo- BIGSTOCK

Today, the latest nutrition research recommends moderation, which is common sense. Saturated fats should play a significant but not major role in diet. All the foods which were considered suspect for so many years, from eggs to butter, from steaks to ice cream, can be consumed regularly, but not to excess.

Not only will this bring back the glorious taste which only saturated fats can deliver, but there is new evidence that they do not correlate directly to higher risk of heart disease.

Clearly, every diet needs to be supplemented by exercise and good living habits. The basic lesson appears to be that we should be wary of extreme formulations.

Many fad diets that are being pushed by various groups, from Atkins to “clean eating” to palaeo to macro-biotic could well be inventions lacking a solid medico-scientific basis.

I suppose the rule of thumb is not to follow any diet which is too exclusive, too finicky, and too demanding, especially if it is based on fanciful theories.

London life and leisure

Thanks to Airbnb, I was able to rent a small apartment just off the Kings Road in Chelsea. I enjoyed going up and down this fabled street which has everything on it: Designer boutiques, art galleries, a bookshop, a cinema, a supermarket, and this time, I even found a place for foot massage and reflexology in a calm and inspiring environment.

Eating places range from the legendary Ivy with seating in its flower-filled garden to the intriguing Rabbit, which specialises in a kind of permanent farm-oriented “degustation” menu, along with the usual cluster of Lebanese restaurants and gastro-pubs and burger joints and French bakeries and coffee houses of every London neighbourhood.

But no one should miss the Saturday farmer’s market, which takes place close to Sloane Square and is full of stalls offering cooked food from all over the world, as well as specialist shops for fresh country products such as cheeses, teas, breads, and usually, a table or two of oysters.

Finally, in a tradition which goes back to the 60s, the Kings Road is the champion place for people-watching; why not, when such a fine figure is cut by the city’s men and women, all ages and all races, turned out in the cracking fashion styles of the day, the innate British sense of reserve allowing them to stop short of dandyism or skank?

I got to indulge in an orgy of hedonism when I was invited to accompany two glamorous and charming ladies to the grand opening of a Christian Dior shop on Bond Street. Once inside its doors, we were transported to a fairy-tale zone of tinkling green diamonds and hushed luxury. The whole ground floor, stretching for 20 metres under a high ceiling, was devoted to jewelry and handbags.

The second and third floors, up a winding staircase, showed the Christian Dior haute couture collection with the basement set aside for men’s clothes.

To the left of the shop an atrium had somehow been created with an intricately constructed glass roof open to the sky.

This led to yet another floor which housed Dior’s line of home products from linens to towels to decoration items.

The very lavishness and scale of the whole shop points to the importance of London as the playground of the world’s 0.1%.

Not being quite in such a percentile, I was a mere spectator. But one of our party, F, was the toast of the store, not because she was a big spender, but for the dynamism of her personality.

From the store manager to the ladies at the counters and several layers in between, everyone either knew her, or knew of her.

Aware of what she liked, they presented her with further endless examples of bejeweled rings and necklaces, the latest silver-look handbag styles, shaped fur coats, high-heeled shoes in an unusual filigree design, and all the paraphernalia of the modern girl about town.

I did check out for myself a Christian Dior men’s suit in a subtle variation of the Prince of Wales check, which I calculated would take me about six more months of careful saving to afford -- but I have always found that in the long run, designer-wear is the most economical, because such clothes are timeless and can be worn for 20 years or more without going out of style.

Even in that rarefied, carefree atmosphere, the Brexit wave gave a little stir. Many of the staffers, young men and women of impeccable manners and taste, were of foreign origin, mainly French, and as we departed, they urged me to come back again in six months and said: “We’ll see you if we still have our jobs here.”

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Sal Imam

Sal Imam is a concerned citizen.