I met Ivana Trump once, it was in a little London art gallery, I think Cork Street, and remember well wondering about this botoxed, attractive, semi glamorous Eastern European woman and how celebrity, and this was long before Trump ever got anywhere near the most powerful office in the World, The President of The US of A, affects us all. I was affected, just because this was Ivana, some kind of apprentice in Trump’s Celebrity life journey, or once the ultimate power couple, and wonder now how her ex husband’s new position will draw others out of the woodwork. With new revelations about Trump’s private life I suspect they will be coming thick and fast, whether Monica Lewinsky made a fortune out of the Bill Clinton business or not, and for one take on that you should read Philip Roth’s The Human Stain. Such is life.
Actually though it wasn’t Ivana I remember most from the evening, she seemed a bit sad and was an ex, but an extraordinary guy who kept announcing he was a hypochondriac. Obviously having been in extensive therapy, part of the cure was the revelation, the speaking it, and though I smiled encouragingly, I was not entirely sure what normality really is, when, after cheap wine and swift tasties had been snacked, art sort of looked at and the coats ordered, he produced a huge sports bag and opening it revealed a forest of drugs, pills, hypodermics and tubes, that sort of reassured him on his way. I am not being nasty to the hypochondriac, though life can be cruel, if I was not sure I had made it to the most exclusive opening, but now The Donald is in charge, I wonder who needs going into therapy the most! Come on The Don, Corleone or not, tell us the truth, you’re insane and so is the rest of the world, but who’s providing the cure?
It was Dad who was always so fond of the story of St Francis, this extraordinary Pope’s namesake and one of the great medieval reformers, just like this real man of God, Francis, a Pope for our times. I guess that soldier turned inspirer went so deep here because he is so associated with animals. GK Chesterton, a Catholic and author of the Father Brown detective books wrote a biography of him wonderfully called Brother Sun and Sister Moon. Whether you are a believer or not it is that human engagement with all life, with the sun, moon, stars and animals that sings of large spirits. St Francis is at the heart of a little fable called Michelangelo’s Mouse, set in renaissance Italy, teaching a mouse called Jotto how to follow his dreams, his artistic inspiration and become famouse!
Michelangelo’s Mouse is available at Amazon at $2.99
So, announcing extreme measures to stop herself going grey, and stay on TV too, Fiona Bruce returns with another series of Fake or Fortune. Last Sunday, 16th September, 6.30pm on BBC1. Excellent. It has all the most fundamental human fascinations – beauty, art, snobbery, a natural detective story, with a deal of potential crime in the background, and of course money. It also has the strange potential of chemistry between Bruce and art and Antique’s Roadshow expert Philip Mould. They should watch playing off that too much, as they should know that the public are very literate these days about how TV is made, and how all producers seek the security of ‘double jeopardy’, in deciding what stories to follow. “Lift not the painted veil that men who live call life.” We still think the programme on Winslow Homer’s painting was the most powerful and perhaps authentic too, in series 1, and hope that they follow-up what has happened in past conflicts and moving human tales.
But the first was very well done, imaginative with its journey into ballet, if a bit hokey on James Bond laser guns, and with a great conclusion too, entry into the Degas bible – and time to pop some champagne. Now researcher Bendor comes dancing into the frame too, but Philip Mould is one of the best, in both being of that world, but revealing his deep knowledge and passion for what art, often but not always produced by those struggling beneath social structures and mores, not to mention for survival, really is. Fiona Bruce has warmth and heart and does not seem to be tinged with any Titanium White. Let’s hope age shall not wither them, nor custom stain their infinite variety. But having glanced in this episode on World War II, they might always pick up the story of ALIU, the US Art Looting Investigation Unit. Or indeed why many individuals and museums do not especially want authenticities challenged, for all those pricey reasons. No, that takes too much beauty and fun out of the very entertaining frame.
Foreman Saul is one of Phoenix Ark’s more elusive and mercurial authors; a little like the great Leonardo himself. A journalist and historian , with a name you might think stems from across the Atlantic, rather than the Europe of his upbringing, he has specialised in both the Civilisation of the Italian Renaissance and travel throughout Europe and Italy.‘Who or why, or where or what?’ is Foreman Saul, we sometimes joke at the office, as he pops in and out, but he usually shrugs and certainly raises an eyebrow about some of the more exotic theories on one of his great heroes, Leonardo Da Vinci!
Phoenix are delighted to give you a taste of his Introduction to this little book of huge insights, far beyond their time:
“Many have earned themselves little books of wisdom in collections of their sayings, but it is not something you might immediately expect from such a scientific figure as Leonardo da Vinci, who was born 1492 and died in 1519. The epitome of a ‘Renaissance Man’, Leonardo is best known for his paintings, drawings, and numerous practical and mechanical inventions. He also left 13,000 pages of notes and reflections, in jottings, observations and thoughts, mostly to aid his work, often disordered, so never intended for publication. That jumble is what most justifies a new approach to re-ordering some of his words, into categories of useful life reflections… We are flooded with ‘self help’ books and life guides purporting to supply ‘The Secret’, but what better way to walk through life than in the company of a truly towering genius?”
Phoenix Ark are delighted to announce the publication of a brand new book by best-selling Children’s author David Clement-Davies, Michelangelo’s Mouse. The enchanting story of a little artistic mouse called Jotto, and his great adventure with the Renaissance genius Michelangelo, it is a lesson in belief, fighting on, art and courage and how to become famouse! For reading ages 7 to 11, but to be read by parents too, it is a wonderful romp, written with charm and huge humour, and all the story telling brilliance of a great animal writer. Young and old will delight in the first new book to be published by David in three years, brought exclusively to eBook and available from Amazon.