Hit & Run: Suite memories
Wednesday 30 September 2009
Nothing says the Seventies quite like a prawn cocktail, or the Ryvita woman skipping across TV screens with a tape measure for a belt. Nothing, that is, except the avocado bathroom suite which may soon be returning to a B&Q store near you. "Our research tells us that younger homeowners want to add personality to their homes," says the company's bathroom buyer.
Those of us who grew up in the decade of flares, a thousand crises and a failing Labour party are unlikely to be racing to return to its interior decorating trends (though it seems it could be too late on the party political front). But according to B&Q, there's a generation out there simply clamouring for coloured ceramics. Whatever next? Will we visit our twenty- and thirtysomething friends to find them worrying over the Daily Express in a pine rocking chair, heating up Birds Eye Cod Balls, while gearing up for life under Cameron's Cabinet? It's not the first time the Seventies hove into view this year. We've had Andy Beckett's redemption of the political decade in When the Lights Went Out ("British politics in the Seventies, for all the gothic prose it usually prompts, was about moments of possibility as well as periods of entropy").
In November, Thames and Hudson will publish Seventies Style and Design, which will reconsider the triumphs as well as the tragedies of the decade's taste and is bound to rekindle our appetite for shades of plum and Art Deco designs. Its co-author Dominic Lutyens says, "There is affectionate nostalgia for the things we grew up with. But the avocado suite ... well, it's something of a cliché. There were a lot of them around and, while I don't want to sound snobbish, it was a very suburban trend." Indeed city trendsetters were busy seeking out Victorian washstands and clawfoot baths at the time.
Surprisingly, it's in the bathroom that your fashionability is most on show: in no other room does interior design move faster. Who thought that the circular glass washbasin you saved up for 10 years ago would look so hopelessly uncool today, or that a separate shower cubicle would have been so quickly superseded by the wetroom? Now chromatherapy and televisions (voice-activated) come as standard in luxury home fitouts. "Our male clients like to watch Bloomberg while they're in the shower," says Martin Kemp, head of design at property developers Candy & Candy. And if money is as limitless as your eco conscience is restricted, you'll probably opt for one that dispenses 27 litres of water a minute.
Let's hope that the vagaries of sanitary fashion will serve the environment well and said showers will soon be seen as drearily out-dated. As for the avocado suite, it might well have personality, but is it the sort of personality you really want to share a home with? Caroline Roux
Why should Ridgeley take the Wham rap?
The male ageing process is a complex thing, and tricky to get right. Photos this week of George Michael's former co-star Andrew Ridgeley confirmed the failsafe dad-at-the-school-gates equation for testing later-life propriety levels. Namely, as a painfully self-conscious and socially awkward teen, who would you rather picked you up from school? George, with his bouffant pompadour, designer stubble and crucifix earring? Or Andrew, snapped near his home in Cornwall, wearing a modest polo shirt and jeans?
From the tabloid opprobrium his appearance generated, you might think he'd stepped out in the sequinned "Number One" T-shirt and ripped stonewash jeans of his callow Wham! days. And if he had done, I'd no doubt be pointing out how OTM he was ("It means 'of the moment', Dad! I hate you!") But no: gone is the rampant mullet of "Last Christmas" – Andrew's hair is closely cropped, to tacitly hide its inevitable migration from scalp to nostril; his glasses are conservative rectangles, not the bug-eyed, nuclear yellow visor style favoured by George. All in all, he looks like a leaner, younger Terence Stamp. What's wrong with that?
More worrying perhaps, according to the school-gates theory, is that Ridgeley's partner, Bananarama's Keren Woodward, has announced the possibility of a reunion tour with her fellow bandanna-ed bandmates. Now there's an outfit you wouldn't want your mum to turn up in. Harriet Walker
The buzz about high-class honey
Fortnum & Mason, grocer to the Queen no less, have unveiled its first harvest from the roof-top hives at its Piccadilly emporium. The press release is a thing to behold, telling how the "West End bees" responsible for this "superior honey" leave their hives with "gilt finials" and "Roman arches" to gather nectar from the grounds of Buckingham Palace, as well as "numerous squares including Belgrave, Sloane, Eaton, Berkeley...". Such smart little bees, aren't they? But Hit & Run can reveal that the insects' advertised three-mile reach also takes in the patch of grass on South London's Elephant and Castle roundabout, the trees against which people pee while changing night buses in Camberwell – and north Peckham. So you could swallow the hype in the belief insects can be discerning (and fork out £10) or you could reach for the Gale's. Make mine a squeezy bottle. Simon Usborne
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