samedi 29 janvier 2011

Things I like

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Inspired by Hila's wonderful entry on Miss Moss' beautiful site, here's a list of some of the things I like right now.

1. Fountain pens

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Unless I have to, I don't like to write with any other kind of pen. The ink must be also medium blue and I have a preference for moleskine notebooks. I love the feel of the pen between your fingers, the elegance of the letters you can form with it.

2. Black tea with milk

I like a tall glass of café latte but can only start the day a very British way with black tea and milk, served in one of my Penguin mugs. Even if I don't have long to get ready, it's good to take a few minutes and watch the day beginning over the rooftops while sipping it.

3. Petit Larousse du chocolat

My friend Justine in Paris was given this for Christmas a few years ago and it absolutely mesmerised me when I flicked through it. The chocolate mousse with whisky caught my eye in particular but I haven't yet got around to ordering myself a copy.

4. Evening dresses

Except for gym clothes and pyjamas, I don't own a single pair of trousers or jeans. Women look great in trousers (think Katharine Hepburn) but I find skirts and dresses much easier to wear. Slipping into an elegant evening dress makes you feel special and I love the contrast of red most of all against black hair and pale skin. Audrey looks so perfect coming down the stairs in Funny Face.

5. Short hair

Except for when I was a child, I have always had shorter hair, usually in a bob. Memories of my mother having to pull out knots perhaps traumatised me but it's great having it off your face or tucked behind your ear, easy to style and always timeless as Jean Seberg and Anna Karina prove. If I was brave enough, I'd go for a Louise Brooks bob.

6. Film noir

Perhaps it's just linked to my passion for detective novels which always shocks people because they don't consider them intellectual enough for me or maybe it's because deep down, I admire femme fatales like Barbara Stanwyck, Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake or Jane Greer who always manage to seduce the hopelessly naive men. I also like the spareness of Jean Pierre Melville crime films, the minimalist precision of the actor's movements and restricted colour palette. Friday nights are usually spent watching a film noir over a large plate of pasta or a slice of fresh pizza.

Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in Out of the Past

Alain Delon in Le Cercle Rouge

Jean Paul Belmondo in Le Doulos

7. Hitchcock blondes

Even though I'm more than happy being a brunette, there something special about the seductive coolness of Hitchcock's leading ladies, especially when they're blonde. Think Grace Kelly in Rear Window or To Catch A Thief, Tippi Hedren in Marnie or The Birds, Kim Novak in Vertigo and perhaps my favourite, Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest

Tippi Hedren

Kim Novak and Jams Stewart in Vertigo

Eva Marie Saint

8. Twin Peaks

The only series that has ever had me completely hooked from beginning to end. I realise there are other good shows on TV but find it difficult to find the motivation to watch them season after season. I came to Twin Peaks late in life since my parents considered it too frightening when I was a child. A Canadian friend once came to stay with me in Berlin for a week or two, bringing with him the second series. Night after night, we sat in the kitchen, gorging ourselves on doughnuts and cherry pie in between cups of coffee as I kept on asking "Can we just watch one more?"

Later when his wife asked about his trip to Berlin, he replied, "We watched a lot of Twin Peaks!"

A unique combination of funny, scary, crazy and charming. I love Agent Cooper saying "Damn fine coffee" or talking to Diane, Benjamin Horne eating a baguette with brie, the Red Room or Audrey tying a knot in a cherry stem in her mouth.

9. I Capture the Castle

First I discovered the wonderful film a few years ago and last year the even more wonderful book by Dodie Smith which I'm re-reading now. It makes me feel nostalgic for England, for the North Sea and wish that I had grown up too in a castle.

10. Scott Fitzgerald

I have so many favourite books and authors - Proust, Jane Austen, Paul Auster, Thomas Bernhard but in English, I most love reading books or stories by Scott Fitzgerald. His way of writing reminds me of sunlight gimmering on the water but it still seems natual and not pretentious. At night, I often like to dip into some of his letters to Zelda or other friends and also one of his short stories.

11. New York in the 60s

If I could choose a period from the past in which to live, I'd be torn between existentialist Paris after the war and NYC in the 60s. The city exudes a special glamour and so much was happening there. The idea of coming home just as the sky was turning pale with the dawn while Brooklyn Bridge still twinkled or seeing the beautifully dressed people in Manhatton. Natalie Wood has such a special glow in this photo I think. I'd also love to see the double feature at the cinema below.

12. Henri Cartier Bresson

It seems like a terrible cliché to have him in the list because he's one of the most famous and popular photographers in the world but his was the first exhibitions of photography I ever went to, way back on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Writing about them seems inadequate because a picture is worth a thousand words but I'll just say that I love to linger over every image.

13. Hot baths and candles

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To my mind, nothing beats the comfort of a hot bath in winter. I love the luxury of music and candles as I get in the water slowly until my skin is used to the heat.

14. Films by Francois Truffaut

Next month in London, I'll go to see Day for Night and hopefully Deux Dans La Vague, a documentary about him and Jean Luc Godard. I remember first watching The 400 Blows with tears running down my face unexpectedly at the end or seeing Jeanne Moreau smiling just before she jumps into the Seine, Fanny Ardant and Jean Louis Trintignent snapping their fingers simultaneously when they recognise "Tutti quanti" and Antoine Doinel trying to wrap a parcel in Stolen Kisses.

Truffaut with Claude Jade and Jean-Pierre Léaud

Fanny Ardant in Finally Sunday

Day for Night (La Nuit Américaine)

15. Train journeys

Ideally, I'd like to take the train instead of flying but it's longer and more expensive. I read best when I'm travelling by train, my mind somehow clicks with the movement as new or familiar landscapes go by. Everything is interesting, even if you're only looking out of the window. Tomorrow I'm planning on getting up quite early to take the train to a new place just outside of Berlin. There's a book already packed in my bag and a feeling of anticipation. Have a great weekend!

16. Keeping fit

I've added the sixteenth point after the aerobics trainer was (rightly) disappointed not to find anything about fitness here. Funnily, it's an important part of my life but I rarely mention it, probably for fear of giving others a bad conscience! I know that this last part will put some people off because the word sport reminds you of gymnastics at school, being picked last for the netball team and hockey matches in the mud. I hated that too but when I started hiking in the French Alps and cycling in Lyon, I realised how nice it is to move, get things out of my system. It also means you can feel less guilty about eating cake regularly. I've tried different forms of exercise since then with different levels of success; jogging was quite fun but I was hopelessly slow and found I needed something with more variety and most of all prefer group fitness classes so try to do them 4 times a week. I also aim to stretch a little each morning in the hope of becoming more flexible (or maybe less stiff), although the chances of looking like Darcey (above) are pretty slim. One day I think I'd like to try a beginners' ballet class or tap dancing though.

And what are some of your favourite things?

22 commentaires:

  1. Great to get to know you through this interesting list! I love black tea with milk, baths and would love to be the owner of that Larousse book...



  2. That list would take far too long to work on, I loved the breadth of your list and I did love that Castle film... saw it quite by accident recently and loved all the performances and the family dynamic. I mean, yes, they are all quite eccentric to screaming bonkers but the awkwardness and embarrassment and affection, all those things that are much more raw when you are young.. well they were just so right in the film... and it looked great... which, by the way I think you would--look great--in a bob... patent leather smooth just like our miss brooks... she was quite a woman... you should read her book...lulu in hollywood... brilliant!

  3. I´m awake way too early, not able to fall asleep again, and glad to found some comfort in the things you like and listed here.
    Like you I need these quite sipping seeing beeing morning moments over a hot cup and enjoy the train travelling because it really feels like travelling, like going somewhere.
    I´m sure you would look great with that bob!

  4. @Rosa - It's nice that you also apreciate black tea with milk, a special part of British culture ;-)
    @Deana - It's true that the characters in I Capture the Castle are pretty quirky but the heroine, Cassandra, is truly one of my favourite characters. My Mum has Lulu in Hollywood so I'm definitely going to borrow it next time. Thanks for the tip and for the encouragement about the bobbed hair. Maybe I'll try it next time at the hairdresser's.
    @Nadine - Nice to hear from you again and I hope all is well! Train journeys are always special; often I read a lot but it's also lovely to just daydream while looking out of the window. Mornings need to be savoured in my opinion.

  5. Un fountain pen, est-ce que c'est le stylo que l'on recharge avec un encrier ? Sinon je te remercie de m'avoir enfin fait lire Fitzgerald et aucune série n'arrive à la cheville de Twin Peaks !

  6. This is so wonderful! Love your list... I feel like I'm a little mouse in your apartment!

  7. I hope my answering mail to yours reached you!

    The poster arrived and it is beautiful, I look at it almost everyday...

    Thank you, I´m fine- my inner clock just doesn´t know weekends. I hope you feel great- thank you again!


  8. What a fun list. I love the photographs you paired with everything.

  9. I also go for Moleskine, I have a HUGE collection of them, it's scary!

    Just like you, I love wearing a beautiful evening dress. Dresses and skirts suit you very well, Vanessa, it's just the right thing for you. And go for the Louise Brooks bob! I'll support you at the hairdresser's if you like :)

  10. Les cheveux courts, comme un garçon alors qu'on est une vraie fille.
    Marcher dehors quand il fait beau et avoir du soleil plein les yeux. Se remplir.
    Rêver aux vies que l'on a pas vécues mais qui ont l'air chouettes (être dans la tête de truffaut, de miro, de sagan...)
    S'assoir dans un café avec des livres, des carnets, des crayons, rester tout l'après midi pour regarder les gens, les écouter, s'en souvenir comme des petites pages d'un roman.
    Sentir le train qui file, puissant, quand on est dedans.
    Les draps propres.
    La musique qui me donne envie d'être exclusive, de n'écouter plus que ça tellement ça traverse tout le corps et ça rend heureux, fort.
    Faire des listes quand on lit celles des autres en se disant moi aussi! et que ça fait plaisir...

  11. @Rose - Un fountain pens s'appelle un stylo-plume en français. Tu m'as fait découvrir tant de beaux livres à travers ton blog et des films aussi que cela me fait très plaisir d'avoir pu t'offrir un livre de Fitzgerald! Ton billet sur Twin Peaks reste un de mes préférés. Bises.
    @Julie - Oh but I wish you were here in my apartment. Just think of all the things you could tell me about and the baking we'd do!
    @Nadine - So I finally got around to answering your lovely email - forgive me! You can't imagine how hom´noured I feel to think of you looking at my picture.
    @Alexandria - Oh thanks! I'm sure your list would be really great.
    @Manon - I can imagine your collection as you write so much and they look and feel so wonderful. I've been thinking about you, wondering how you are (busy as always probably). It would be great to see you again soon if you have time so I'll write you a mail. After so much encouragement, I feel brave enough to go for this bob next time.
    @Les chéchés - Quelle liste merveilleuse qui me fait rêver. Ça doit être chouette de savoir dessiner ce qu'on voit dans un café. Ton commentaire me rappelle un film magnifique qui s'appelle Dans La Ville de Sylvie où un jeune homme cherche une femme qu'il connaissait à Strasbourg. On écoute ces bruits quotidiens, on voit les gens dans la rue, la vie des autres. Merci de ces mots si délicats!

  12. I'm glad to be the inspiration for such a grand list! I'm nodding my head in agreement with everything you've listed here, except my penguin mug is filled with coffee rather than tea. I wish I liked tea, it's healthier, but coffee is my drug.

  13. Vanessa, there are so many things you like that I like as well. Red evening dresses and candles (hold the hot baths since my apartment has only a shower and not a bath tub), Petite Larousse du Chocolat, and New York City not only in the 60s but any time!
    But, I love long hair!

  14. Do you follow He's doing a lovely series called Eleven. His favorite things...he's done pens, films and books so far.
    I remember thinking how difficult this would be...and time consuming. So I'll agree with your list (mostly) and comment on a few. I USED to have lots of evening daughter has them now. :)
    I also liked Twin Peaks. And like True Blood...very quirky of me (at my age). Of course, cookbooks are way up on my favorites are listed on my blog. I am a die-hard sci fi fan and have all the oldies...Them, Invasion from Mars, When Worlds Collide. So corny, such fun. I could go on, but will spare you!
    Nice post!

  15. @Hila - I loved your list even more and hope to get around to some of the things on it which I'm not yet familiar with, especially Virginia Woolf. Is tea really healthier? I wish I liked more kinds of coffee in Berlin or Britain; in Vienna it was perfect because there were hundreds to choose from and in Italy they brought me a pot of coffee and another of hot milk which tasted amazing.
    @Magda - The thing with baths is pretty new for me since I only ever had a shower before and considered it a terrible waste of water whereas now, I wonder how I got through the winter without them. I love to see others with long hear, just not me!
    @Barbara - You're right about how tricky it is making such a list. I thought it'd be easier than writing a normal post but it tooks ages. Thanks for the Eleven link, I'll have to check that out. I'm ashamed to say I've never seen True Blood and have seen very few sci-fi films but will have to fix that. Thanks for inspiring me!

  16. You've got a fantastic list here, Vanessa. Makes me happy just thinking about many of these things. xo

  17. This is so great. I feel like I learned a lot about you. That is so cool that you write with fountain pens. There is something so elegant about that.

  18. Great, let's go to the hairdresser's! I need a cut too.
    I've been thinking of you also. Often, when I am so busy and running everywhere, I recall your posts and envy your long, lonely, poetic walks. I haven't been allowing myself sth like that since I lost my job. It's a paradox, right?

    You should go to ballet classes, there are good ones all over Berlin, and you'll love it.

  19. Such a great list!! I love that photo of Natalie Wood.

  20. @Lecia - It's nice to hear that from you because I always find myself drooling over the wonderful things on your blog. Last week I finally gave in to temptation and bought that New York Times Cookbook which I remember you got for Christmas and am now longing for scones.
    @Des - Great that you also like fountain pens. Other ones seems a bit ordinary in comparison and I always carry mine around with me.
    @Manon - I'm dying to know what you want to do with your hair...Losing your job isn't like being on holiday so I'm not surprised you haven't had time or been in the right mood for that recently. Being stressed ruins the mood for that kind of thing. Sounds like you're still as busy as ever though. I'll look into the ballet classes!
    @Christine - I know, isn't it a great list? I saw it on someone's pininterest board but am embaressed to say I can remember whose.

  21. La première photo me plaît énormément... la coupe de Jean Seberg aussi !