01/26/16
Louise Nevelson and Neith.

Do You Want Sex Or Düsseldorf?

The World Happiness Report is out! In its third survey since 2012, the United Nations reveals the happiest places on earth. Or so they say, reports John Kay in, “Why ‘happy’ is boring.”

I spotted Kay’s piece in the Financial Times Weekend last September, just as I was escaping New York City for three months in England. According to the UN, I had the wrong country. The winner was Switzerland. (We’re getting to Düsseldorf, intrepid globetrotters, restrain yourselves!)

As Kay assesses the findings, “Switzerland is rich, temperate and has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. … You feel completely safe in the streets. And yes, the trains run on time.”

Security, consistency, and the goodness of nature. That would be enough to seduce any sentient being, right? Isn’t this why so many retirees flock to golf courses? Or babysit grandchildren?

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12/19/15
Mad, Bad Byron, replica by Thomas Phillips, oil on canvas, circa 1835 (1813)

A Very Merry UnChristmas Guide To Oxford

It’s rumored that the sun rose in Oxford at 8:08 this morning and will set this afternoon at 3:56. Did I say sun? It might make an appearance before these scant eight hours of drizzly day surrender to a dark and stormy night but don’t bet your Wellies on it.

But as my faithful followers know, it takes more than fifty shades of grey to dampen The Sultanette’s holiday spirit, especially when there are spirits to be had. So I now offer you a guide to intoxicating Oxford, guaranteed to satisfy body, soul and brain. Just don’t sleep in or you’ll miss tomorrow.

To begin with imbibing, the house mulled wine is a December specialty at the Quod Brasserie on High Street, favored by the local professional crowd. And sherry is gratis with mini-mincemeat pies on shopping night at Blackwell’s Bookshop,

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11/17/15
Photo: The Sultanette

London Undone

CULTURE SNATCH returns! The Sultanette unravels London’s offerings, high and low.

“A new dress doesn’t get you anywhere,” Diana Vreeland famously quipped. “It’s the life you’re living in the dress, and the sort of life you had lived before, and what you will do in it later.”

The Sultanette might add that it’s what you will do not in it later but that’s another post. I couldn’t help but wonder how the imperiously passionate fashionista might have redressed the exhibit Shoes: Pleasure and Pain at the Victoria and Albert Museum until 31 January.

I’d escaped Oxford’s sacred spires for a weekend of profane amusements in London. This was guaranteed by a stay at the Chelsea Arts Club where Salvador Dali greets you at the door. Membership at an affiliate arts club in New York City was my entree,

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10/20/15
Etching, Welcome Images.

Are you dangling your participle, darling?

It’s a chilly Sunday night in Oxford and I’m in heated conversation over the American elections with a boy at least half my age who has cat whiskers drawn all over his ruddy English cheeks. He seems oblivious to the impact this feline façade is having on our serious political debate and when I ask him about it he replies, vaguely embarrassed, “Oh yes, I’ve just been initiated into my college.”

It’s back-to-school at Oxford and the Scholars Anointed have begun to invade the hangouts along Cowley Road, the main drag on the “town” side of the Magdelan Bridge (pronounced “MAW-dlin” or you are pitifully exposed).

I’ve had an eventful week getting acclimated before the onslaught. I took in a flick at The Ultimate Picture Palace, parted the chain mail curtain at Quality Butchers to stock up on cooked ham and Taylors Original Prepared English Mustard,

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09/16/15
Cocottes,1905, Axel Torneman, repro PD Posse Stryngford.

Space Travel: The Sultanette Guide To Wanderlust

The Sultanette has survived harrowing abandonment, deplorable betrayal, and world-class hangovers. Despite enough bad behavior to raise a nun’s eyebrow, I’ve managed to get home in the morning with keys, credit cards and lip gloss. To quote French tart and woman of letters, Colette, “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”

But who has time to reminisce? Now that The Male Harem has fueled my wanderlust, I’ll be heading for Mars on SpaceX as soon as Elon Musk offers in-flight Wi-Fi. Meantime I’ve signed up for another X-related adventure this fall.

No, not porn flicks, you wicked people! It’s Oxford I’m heading for (the one in England, not Ohio) for a ten-week course in European history – sex not included! (Unless an unscrupulous tutor convinces me it’s required for an A+ on my paper.)

So how the hell,

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