Tim Walker: My ringside view of Miss Russia’s ‘inner beauty’

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

A couple of years ago, I unexpectedly met Miss World (2008) and Miss Universe (2008) on the same day. They both seemed jolly nice, although they were a bit too tall for me, so I didn't take their phone numbers. But the coverage of this weekend's Miss World in London, and of the feminists protesting outside, transported me back to that halcyon afternoon.

I was in Russia, on one of those potentially unethical press trips during which lowly journalists are treated to a few days of lavish hospitality so far beyond their means that they can barely help but write a glowing piece for the travel section when they get home. (And, let me tell you, Russia is fabulous: the Mariinsky Ballet; the Hermitage; The Kremlin; The Ritz, where the rooms contain Bvlgari shower gel and remote-control curtains. Remote-control curtains!)

The climax of the visit turned out to be a ringside seat at the Miss Russia contest. Dayana Mendoza, the Venezuelan Miss Universe, was one of the judges, and joined us for lunch beforehand. Ksenia Sukhinova, the reigning Miss Russia and Miss World, joined us for afternoon tea – and informed me, via her mildly threatening translator/bodyguard/boyfriend, that the key to victory was "inner beauty". Was inner beauty on the minds of the (mostly) male, middle-aged organisers? Or the fitness club mogul and Russian Vogue editor sitting alongside Ms Mendoza on the judges panel?

Miss World contestants may aspire to establish charitable foundations for the world's starving children, and they're certainly more wholesome role models than, say, the cast of TOWIE. But beauty pageants simply can't escape the damning indictment that is The Swimwear Round. I won't pretend I didn't enjoy it, but as I sipped champagne with all those wealthy Muscovites, and watched 19-year-olds parade before me in bikinis and high-heels, I felt a lot more patriarchal than usual.

Weeks after we met, incidentally, Ms Mendoza went to Guantánamo Bay and posted a blog entry that led even Hugo Chávez to question her inner beauty. "We saw the jails," she wrote, "where they shower, how they recreate [sic] themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting." Then: "The water in Guantánamo Bay is soooo beautiful! It was unbelievable, we were able to enjoy it for at least an hour... I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful."

 

A supremely smug search for the perfect poached egg

The first issue of the supremely smug US food magazine Lucky Peach – to which I'll be subscribing immediately, of course – has a feature on how to home-cook "slow-poached eggs". According to top chef Dave Chang, 50 minutes in a 62.5C water bath produces "a perfectly runny yolk and a just barely-set white". Some say the point of this recent chefs' fad is to achieve near-identical consistency of white and yolk. At least one menu calls it "the perfect egg". I have eaten a lot of eggs, and the slow-poached ones were far from perfect. In fact, I found them gloopy and sputum-like. Give me Delia's poached egg any day: the white is firm, it takes 11 minutes, and you don't need a thermometer.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal  

What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson?

Memphis Barker
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum