'It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.' Oscar Wilde
We are having a family gathering in London next week. These are so rare that I have notified Sothebys. Excitement is mixed with alarm since I come from a long line of people who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorders mixed with finely honed critical skills. We are not unique in that. Charles Dickens, David Beckham and my mother share those traits. Dickens, infuriated by his children's messiness, practically invented the post-it note which he would leave on toys and books admonishing the children to be tidy. Beckham was driven to madness by a long-haired rug which he insisted upon hoovering himself several times a day so that the pile would lie in one direction. My mother refused to have a doctor visit the house until the drawer liners had been renewed. All three also shared a pride in their hair. Dickens had long, brown shiny locks of which he was inordinately proud. His house was full of mirrors so that he might admire his ever-changing styles. Beckham, I suspect, spends more time contemplating what is on his head than what is in it. In photos my mother has complicated curls and combs and pinnings. I, on the other hand, am terrified of hairdressers and beauticians. Young, wise and beautiful they seem to me to know all the womanly wiles that have eluded me all my life. Fortunately Jo Ponting knows better than to ask what I want - knowing the answer to be a truthful, but unhelpful, 'like Rachel Weisz with long dark cinnamon waves'. She, and Darby at Cherish, sort me out and send me off into the world in a state that should not frighten the horses. Something that Nick Clegg might bear in mind as he is a man who could benefit from a moisturising treatment on his follicles. Speaking of beauty and grooming I have just returned from the iconic and fabby Grace Kelly exhibition at the V&A. Appearances do matter, as any museum or retailer will attest. So my award for most consistently stunning window display goes to The Ark in Long Street. There are two places I would like to live - the V&A, and in the window of The Ark in Tetbury.
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