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

Notebook: Was inner beauty on the minds of the (mostly) male, middle-aged organisers?

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.

twitter.com/timwalker

React Now

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

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Read Next
An image grab of journalist John Cantlie taken from a video released by the Islamic State (IS) group through Al-Furqan Media via YouTube  

John Cantlie: He was caught while going back to see the fighters who freed him

Kim Sengupta
Isis fighters celebrate in Syria’s northern Raqqa province in June after capturing territory in neighbouring  

Islamic State: ‘The world cares nothing’ for Syrian city under Isis siege

Patrick cockburn
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week