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perfect day

April 16, 2008

Much as I love la vie rurale, there are few things nicer than waking up in New York to sunshine and a day of shopping ahead. After my usual NY rat run (Barneys, DKNY, the shoe department at Saks Fifth Avenue) I meet my younger brother for a coffee at Dean & Deluca in the Rockerfeller centre. He is en route to a fancy dress store to pick up an outfit for a 'costume party' charity event organised by his boss. We sit outside in the sunshine discussing potential outfits. Apparently, he has been offered the use of an orange boiler suit (no, I didn't ask!) but we both agree that going as an inmate of Guantanamo Bay is something of a political hot potato (nor does it perhaps send out the right message about how he views his employer.) His second thought, which is to go as the grim reaper, also turns out to be inappropriate since his boss's mother has just died.

'Best to go as something cheerful and lovable,' I suggest, pointing out the potential pitfalls and subtle messages that could be conveyed by a fancy dress costume. 'But nothing too fluffy.'

Later I meet one of my oldest and dearest friends, the editor-in-chief of a publishing house in NY, for dinner. He arrives with a selection of new books that he thinks I will like, including Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, which has sold phenomenally well in the US but not the UK, and a new book by a French author. I have pretty diverse reading tastes but his recommendations - which in the past have included the excellent Melissa Banks - are always spot on.

Finally, he pulls the piece de resistance from his bag: a copy of 'Perfumes, The Guide' by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez. I met Luca once at a dinner party and he is just as entertaining in real life as he is in print. His latest book is hot property and I stay up late devouring his hilarious, sometimes brutal, assessments, of well-known perfumes in one sitting, the lights of the Manhattan skyline twinkling outside my window.

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