Dublin may have lost its Burlington Hotel but Worthing still has one. If charm could be boxed up in an early Victorian seaside villa, it would be The Burlington on the seafront of the sprawling West Sussex town of Worthing. Dating from 1865 this three storey with tall attics corner building is stuccoed and Italianate in style. The dining room stretches the full three bay frontage and extends into a glazed projection perfectly capturing sea views. There are 12 bedrooms on the first floor, eight on the second floor and six on the third floor. A two bay lower wing is attached to the landward elevation of the main block. The interior is subtly and elegantly decorated with Lyonel Feininger, Henri Matisse and Joan Miró prints lining the corridor walls.
James Henry and Colin Walton write in Secret Worthing, 2016, “The town is a popular south coast seaside resort, mixing Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian architecture with a dash of Art Deco and a pinch of medieval design… history is everywhere, all you need to do is look that little bit closer.” Worthing is like Brighton’s sleepy sister: laid back, understated and just a little bit louche.
A roar ripples through the crowd. The atmosphere is electric. Here he comes! A lorry carrying barriers turns the corner and comes into view, its driver waving regally. The crowd cheers and laughs. A young unfit looking guy breaks through the barrier and makes a run for it. An even more unfit looking policeman gives chase. The crowd cheers again before the guy is eventually toppled to the ground by five police officers further up The Mall.
The waiting continues. There’s a flurry of activity amongst the many security personnel. They’re all on their mobiles. Then at last the horse led convoy appears. The State Rolls Royce Phantom VI slowly drives past, enough to catch a glimpse of King Charles’ wispy grey hair. Hip hip hooray! And so His Majesty Charles III, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of His other Realms and Territories, King, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, Supreme Head of the Church of England, Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, starts the first day in his new job, aged 73, meeting Prime Minister Liz Truss and members of her new Cabinet in Buckingham Palace. What a short commute! What’s his job role? To weave a line through the tapestry of time. No pressure, then. Soon, it will be time to dust down the ermine. Where does pomp and pageantry better than Britain?
“Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing a meditation.”
That bastion of French taste, The Michelin Guide, describes Frog and Scot as, “A quirky bistro with yellow canopies and mismatched furnishings… Large blackboard menus list; refined, innately simple dishes which let the ingredients do the talking.” Lunch is absolutely flawless, drawing the coastal elite and a few interlopers. The day can continue a few doors down in Le Pinardier, a wine shop and bar, also owned by Monsieur Dezecot and Ms Ross.
“We photographers deal in things that are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished, there is no contrivance on earth that can make them come back again.”
Francis Scott Fitzgerald knew you can’t repeat the past but it’s nice to reminisce. Belfast has a long restaurant tradition. Here are a few that have disappeared… Christies (now occupied by Coco brasserie). The Garden Restaurant (Eighties bling). Larry’s Piano Bar (obligatory table top dancing). Mint (getting haute). Nick’s Warehouse (served the famous Nineties £10 express business lunch). Planks (very wooden interior). Roscoff (Northern Ireland’s first Michelin star restaurant). Saints and Scholars (two storeys near Queen’s University). Speranza (the first Italian in the Province). Truffles (upstairs elegance opposite the City Hall). Happily, there’s been a continuing upward trajectory ever since.
Brick is what Belfast does best when it comes to architecture. And terracotta detailing. And a bit of stone. One of the best brick buildings is St Malachy’s Catholic Church on Alfred Street. Designed in 1841 by master of the eclectic Thomas Jackson, this Tudor Revival work underwent a £3.5 million restoration in 2008. It boasts the ultimate wedding cake plasterwork ceiling. You half expect a gargantuan lump of icing to drop on you mid mass. “Oh holy servant of God, you chose to live life as a poor man to show God’s love shining through the poor. You gave away everything to gain the treasure that only comes from God.” That’s the dedication to St Benedict Joseph Labre in the hallway of St Malachy’s.
London’s glossiest posse gathered at Southbank for a Saturday evening fashion show on the Riverside Terrace along the Thames. It was the catwalk of the summer. But first there was a round of turmeric iced lattés, the boisson du jour before the hard work began. Makeup artist Karen Messam explained, “It’s going to be a graphic bold story. We’re highlighting bold, glossy lips.” Karen was assisted by fellow mistress of maquillage Jade Almojera.
Sierra Leonean-Lebanese model Yasmin Jamaal commanded the catwalk, rocked the runway, walked the wave of cheers, stormed the storm parading in Mary’s Gold Coast Dress. Multitalented Yasmin has launched an Afro-Middle East plant based food company, Jamaal Cuisine. She recently was invited to cook for a high society private dinner. When Yasmin arrived the hostess confessed, “I didn’t expect the model off the website to turn up!” Yasmin had to explain, “I’m the model and also your chef for the evening!” The admiring crowd included lots of well known faces from the arts world like the principal actor from the 2022 film Django, Vivienne Rochester, and Eric’s mum in the Netflix series Sex Education, Doreen Blackstock.
Star of the fashion show was… Mary Martin London. Earlier in the day she beamed, “John Fairbrother Dolls have just made The Mary Martin London Dress! I’m wearing my epic Union Jack Dress! Or rather the miniature me is wearing it!” Now there’s a tribute. Mary showed dresses from her previous award winning collections as well as new ones such as The Eccentric Peacock Dress and The Grace Jones Dress. “Grace is such an inspiration,” she recorded. Mary is of course famous for designing dresses for singers and musicians like Heather Small. “If there aren’t high vibrations forget it!” she exclaimed. Thanks to DJ Biggy C there were plenty of high vibrations. The tune maker let it be known, “That’s me playing now!”
At this year’s Masterpiece there are 127 stands in the vast marquee with its canvas printed in the style of the original 17th century Royal Hospital building. “Masterpiece is a world class fair bringing together exceptional works encompassing all periods and cultures,” summarises Clare Jameson, Director of Potterton Books, an exhibitor at the fair. Potterton Books are international specialists in books on art, culture, design and the decorative arts. She adds, “It is a convivial meeting place for collectors and connoisseurs. We have seen a growing interest in requests for assembling book collections and personal libraries.”
A standout among the standout paintings is a portrait by Nelson Shanks of Diana, Princess of Wales, for sale by Philip Mould. Artist and publisher Anne Davey Orr critiques the work, “Because the brushwork is not overworked and has a fleeting quality to it, I suspect that this may have originated as a sketch or study for a larger portrait. Shanks’ technique, unlike that of his more formal portraits, has an instancy about it that conveys Diana’s fleeting, somber mood and her innate shyness.”
The Eagle Soars at Your Command and Builds its Nest on High
She chooses to conceal her identity. She is strong, powerful, well defined. She is a bird of prey. She is the woman who dares to wear The Golden Nest Dress by avant garde fashion artist Mary Martin London. Sewing metal? All in a day’s work. There are undeniable historical references yet this costume is as resolutely contemporary as the brutalist backdrop of the shoot. Enigma. Mystery. Luxury. And drama. Wherever there’s Mary there’s drama!
We prefer tropical to topical and views to news, but sometimes you just gotta break with tradition to mark tradition. As the second age of Gloriana reigns down upon us we’re celebrating an Elizabeth, Princess of Greece and Denmark’s certain anniversary. We’re in clubland of course. The best balcony save for Buckingham Palace. And what a flypast! Or in our case, flyover. Battle of Britain Spitfires, Lancaster Bombers and Hurricanes are the first of 71 planes and helicopters roaring across the sky. Glasses are raised, cheers erupt and anthems sung from our terrace, soon echoing down Pall Mall. Apaches, Chinooks and Typhoon fighter jets blaze the heavens above. Next, C-130 Hercules (missing its crew: Prime Minister Johnson was last seen applauding Trooping of The Colour with the fuchsia clad Carrie). The best really is saved for last. Nobody in living memory will ever forget the sight of the two most important digits of the day. You get them. Seven. Zero. And no Royal event is complete without a Newzroom Afrika broadcast from South Chelsea! Newzroom Afrika is of course South Africa’s leading 24 hour 100 percent black owned television channel. Didn’t we say the best really is saved for last?
There’s a wee drop of aul’ rain in Lifford and it’s bucketin’ in Letterkenny so it is, but by the time we get to Marble Hill the sun is splittin’ the trees. It’s gone from Baltic to boilin’ so it has. All in good time for a dead on wee bite of lunch in Shandon’s overlookin’ the empty beach with not a wee’ne in sight. It’s dead posh. Not like the Carrig Rua Hotel in Dunfanaghy which is dunderin’ inn. Anyone up for a wee trip in Bert’s boat later on Killahoey Beach?
Running out of Ulsterisms it’s time to enjoy a celebratory pescatarian feast in Shandon Hotel which has had the greatest revivification since avocados were mere vegetables or fruit or whatever they used to be. There are views and there are views and there’s the framed golden strand of Marble Hill with the white tipped frothy spray of waves almost lapping up to our table. Across the water on the far side of Sheephaven Bay lies Downings.