I just spent two days filming something for the Travel Channel. Two days which will be edited down into probably six minutes. Six short minutes.
I can't say anything more than that, because its not my show and some scary network lawyer will beat my ass if I do.
Anyway it involved David, me, and the children, just being ....well, David, me, and the children, except that when you have an entire film crew documenting your happy family island life with a director shouting "Just be yourselves" the result leads to me nearly committing murder. The producer is on the top of my list and my children shortly after.
Banger's spirits have lifted a little this past week. Dragging that broken leg, he pulls himself into the sunshine for a stretch and a roll. But his continual licking of the paw has now brought on a serious infection, which makes him bite and pull aggressively at his nails. Two of which have now fallen out. This is bad. He can lose his limb if the infection moves up the leg. Domino dressed his leg in her Hello Kitty sock to stop him licking. And then we tried the cone. Look at the torture of that cone.
I never knew my grandmother, but I clearly remember being told that once, after a dinner party in India, many years after Independence, she was asked who she had sat next to, she replied saying that he had been a most amusing dinner guest, and when asked if he had been black or white, she simply could not remember. The color of skin was inconsequential to her.
She spent her youth, and twenties, dazzling the world with her good looks and charm, but later in life became consumed by a passionate desire to help human suffering. Her childhood though was by no means ideal. Her mother died shortly after the birth of her sister. Her father was ill-suited to look after two small girls, who were then left mostly in the care of governesses.
With the start of the world war she knew she had found an outlet for her longing to do something really worthwhile, and threw herself into the war effort.
At the end of the war came the overwhelming problem of repatriating prisoners. My grandmother’s experiences proved invaluable, and when the Japanese revealed the existence of two hundred and fifty unsuspected camps in remote, dark areas of the Far East, my grandmother decided to go herself, as every hour counted, if lives were to be saved. It was arranged that she would locate the camps, investigate the situation, and signal to Singapore for essential requirements, which would be delivered by air drop. What she found was beyond belief, prisoners starving, tortured and near to death. Red Cross and St. John workers were flown in and so successful were the arrangements that within six weeks 90,000 prisoners were saved.
After the war it seemed my grandparents lives might return to normal, until they were asked to take on the terrifying responsibility of becoming the Last Viceroy and Vicereine of India, and preside over the transition of power. Indefatigable, my grandmother once again threw herself into welfare work.
When she died, only at the age of 59, the Indian Parliament stood in silence, in her honor, recognizing the untiring service she gave to their country.
Her willpower and sheer determination often left a trail of excitement, amazement and admiration where ever she went. She led an extraordinary life.
To see this in pictures click here: http://www.pinterest.com/indiahicks/edwina-mountbatten/
I have named my latest bedding collection after her. Lady Louis, my grandmother.
India is live on HSN
today at 9am, 4pm & 8pm
Last weekend I was sitting on the terrace of our Pavilion, having a gentle supper with my brother and sister-in-law who had arrived to stay from England.
David was traveling back the following day, with all four of my boys. Domino was sleeping peacefully in the house behind me; the dogs were snoring at my feet. The world was a good place.
And then a golf cart drove by (the normal mode of transport on our small island.) My dogs, suddenly startled, jumped up and dashed down onto the dirt track below. The golf cart slowed, as the dogs rushed out and then, bizarrely, sped up. OVER THE TOP OF BANGER. Before my eyes I could see my small Dachshund being driven over, in a cloud of dust, and sand, and darkness. He screamed out in pain, into the still night air.
I ran yelling onto the track and fumbling around in the headlights of the golf cart I felt for my animal. I couldn't see whether his back was broken or his face was smashed, all I could hear was him screaming. I turned to the two young men sitting hopelessly on the cart, not having moved a muscle "You-fucking-ran-over-my-dog-you-fucking-ran-over-my-dog-you-fucking-ran-over-my-dog" And then I noticed the beer bottles in their hands, and the beer bottles on the golf cart and in my panic I also felt utter disgust. I stumbled past them cradling my poor boy in my arms into the light of my kitchen where I could get a better understanding of his injuries.
At once I saw his face and upper body were unhurt but clearly something was crippling his lower body.
By now his eyes had glazed over and his tongue was hanging out. And I had no idea what to do.
We don't have a vet on the island. We don't have an airstrip on the island. We don't normally have emergencies, in the middle of the night, on the island, because if you do, we all know you are screwed.
My brother-in-law drove me and Banger to Top Banana's house, Top Banana drove me to Rosie's house. Rosie has a stash of stuff that can help in a crisis. She carefully gave Banger a small dose of pain killer.
It was a long scary night.
As soon as I could, I found a flight to Nassau. Carrying the broken dog in my arms I managed to get to an emergency clinic. But there was little the vet could do there. Something about the trauma and the flight and the X-ray machine. But she could make him more comfortable. Another scary night. The following morning the Bahamian vet confirmed that the back leg was so smashed there was nothing they could do for him in The Bahamas. They simply were not equipped.
Between Top Banana and my patient travel agent they found me a flight into America that afternoon. By midnight Banger came off Dr. Wise's operating table (Such a reassuring name. Such a reassuring man) The three and half hour operation, had involved removing part of his shoulder in order to reconstruct his leg, a splint that needed to be changed weekly and that remains in place for 4 months, endless medication, painkillers, antibiotics, stitches, several pins and a plate, which if the operation remains successful, will live in him for ever.
Banger did not recognize me as I helped put him into the small cage he would spend the night in. He was discharged the following day and we began the long painful journey home. The hustle and bustle of the airport inspections, security screens, the nightmare of hiding him under my seat so the air-stewardess would not remove him into the hold. Several taxis, boats and cars later Banger arrived home. Mentally and physically shattered. The picture of those men and their beer bottles fresh in my mind.
My father's logo was a simple but powerful device of four H's joined in a cross format. Before long there was an entire alphabet that played with multiples and geometry, like the H's. The simple, smart chic of this alphabet has inspired generations of designers, evident today in the logos of many top brands. My father could be tricky at times, as many great creative forces are, however I recognize I would not be who I am today, nor have the strength of character I do if he had not been my father. I named my alphabet collection LOVE LETTER
, as in a way this is my love letter to him.
Look at this chap, angelically reading the lesson in chapel, some years ago.
He is now 15.
This week he returned to his old school, to help out for a few days.
At some point during the first day, he found a way to set off a smoke machine, in the science labs, that caused the Headmaster to have to intervene and remove it.
When David went to collect Amory the headmaster came out to meet him. He felt that one day, rather than the offer of a week of Amory, was just about right.
Not being married has never really been an issue for David and I.
Somehow we just never felt the need. Being strangers in a strange land bonded us more than any ceremony ever could.
That is until we check into a hotel, normally under my name because I happen to be the one who makes the reservations.
India Hicks and David FLINT WOOD. I repeat it again: Hicks and FLINT WOOD. F-L-I-N-T new word W-O-O-D. Reservation for two people.
Upon arrival a note of welcome will be on our pillow, addressed to India and David Hicks. I pick up the phone "David Hicks has been dead for a while, I'm sharing this room with David Flint Wood. He's alive. Please have the hotel make a note of the name" "Of course Ms. Hicks" they say.
I check out the mini bar to see what chocolates are on offer and David calls room service for a Bloody Mary "Right away, Mr. Hicks, we'll send it straight up"
We go down for dinner "Good evening Mr. Hicks" says the maître'd to David, showing us to our table.
There is probably some deep, dark meaning to the fact that both my father, and my partner, carry the same first name, and both had, and have, a love of the worlds of art and culture. Of course my father, David, was flamboyant and loud in his designs and work, a star shinning on the stage of interior design.
My partner, David, quietly meanders in and out of interior design. Occasionally landing the cover of Architectural Digest or an 8 page spread in a glossy magazine...
Wesley recently fitted a new fire extinguisher onto my boat.
What do you give your mother for her 85th birthday? I decided the one thing she might like was a bit of me, without five children, or a meeting to go to, or my head sellotaped to the front of my computer, or being separated by an ocean.
How could we make this happen? Without taking a flight, because I had just got off one of those, or having to drive on a motorway where I would fall asleep or anywhere that might involve walking, because one of us was over the walking bit of life.
And then it came to me. A train journey. Better yet The Orient Express and a day trip around southern England.
To get to Victoria train station we decided to take the bus. I don't think my mother had been on a bus for a very long time. She kept trying to clean the windows with her Kleenex, and was then thrilled to discover seat belts and insisted I wear one.
Neither my mother nor I accepted the invitation to dress 1920's for the day trip, but many other passengers did. Embarked on our journey, we sat in our coupé, watching in amazement as ladies and gents dressed up to the nines sauntered past towards their carriages, each carriage with its own unique look, feel and story to tell.
Although no one has more stories than my mother "I am reminded of Gandhiji" she said, as only my mother could, when talking about Mahatma Gandhi, "he gave away all his worldly possessions, except for his watch, which got stolen from him on a train". Warming to the theme she reminisced about Gandhi's plain clothed police men, who were always pick pocketed by the crowds.
A menu was brought mid-reminisce. Horrified by the mention of caviar but delighted by the reassuring site of chocolate fool for pudding, she went on; remembering the old days, when trains were run by steam and everyone had to rush to shut the windows before being covered in soot.
Chilled mint soup arrived just as we hurtled through a built-up Ashford station "Close your eyes, too depressing", but soon we were deep into the garden of England. "If you are born on one side of the river Wye you are a man of Kent, if born on the other, you are a Kentish man. Or is it the other way round?" she worried.
The main course was brought. Fish wrapped in ham. I anticipated a comment “First one must remove the Parma Ham from around the Hake. I like both, but certainly not together".
On we went, towards Canterbury "I remember returning from India and yearning for all things Indian, to such a degree my frustrated grandmother said "‘My dear child, we do have some quite nice things here too you know, perhaps you should visit Canterbury Cathedral’".
By the time cheese was served we were on the coast. We could smell the salt air. The cheese assortment was met with pleasure "Cornish Yarg. Excellent" said my mother "Cornish Yarg was made by Mr. Gray who could not think what to name his cheese. So turned his name backwards".
We disembarked in Whitstable, for oysters and white wine, although of course being my mother's daughter I looked longingly around for a Mars Bar rather than an oyster. A jazz band played and enthusiastic guests danced down the platform in the warm English sunshine.
Back on the train and on through Essex we went "The Weald country" said my mother, looking out of the window "Very good for sheep".
Arriving back in London we staggered out, under the weight of our five course lunch and day of uninterrupted happiness.
My niece, Maddison May, is about to take to the stage in Nottinghill, London, as Hedda Gabler. I have five nieces, aged between 2 and 22, all of whom are exceptional in one way or another but Maddison clearly feels that as she is also my God Daughter she is able to breach the security perimeter surrounding my wardrobe. I realize that is my bikini she is wearing. How ever the 'M' love letter around her neck is not stolen. It is a gift from me. Wishing her love and luck in her role as Hedda. Do you have a niece or God daughter you want to send love and luck too? Choose their initial from my geometric alphabet. And I strongly suggest frisking them down if they've been near your cupboards.