My Mother’s Voice

Alzheimer’s being the conniving thieving bitch that  it is, my mother wasn’t herself in the final years of her life. The  woman I visited in the Alzheimer’s special care unit was a stranger wearing my mother’s skin but not much else, like the invasion of the body snatchers had taken place, month after month beneath the surface, until one day we looked and the woman we knew was gone, replaced by some alien being. An imposter. Intruder alert. Intruder alert. She died back in 2012. Don’t worry; I won’t be getting maudlin on you.  My real mother–not that stranger in a wheel chair, head nodding on her shoulder–is who I want to think about today.  My real mother —Enid Maude Good nee Hayden, a prim, old-fashioned name, perhaps the only thing about her I didn’t love— was British-born and had a lovely London lilt to her voice her whole life even though she left England in the mid-1950’s. I suppose at thirty, her vocal patterns were already frozen in place.  Sounding like a cross between

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Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 28: Sloane Rangers

I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Here are the days that came before. This is Day 28 and we're still following the Piccadilly Line.

We left off last week after I had to send  Colin Firth packing,  with me on the way the way to Admiral Codrington’s pub with the intention of drowning my sorrows before finishing my day at the Knightsbridge Station. 

Image via Wikipedia/ Creative Commons

I played around with the possibility of stopping at Harrods for a little retail therapy. Harrods is after all, world famous. Almost more renowned than its fashion on over 5 acres of floor space, is Harrod’s one of a kind Food Hall. Nothing like the Ye Olde Food Court down at the local mall, that’s for sure.

Image via

Ah Harrods. You and your fabulous Food Hall, piled with delicacies so deliciously proffered as to be irresistible. What to do? What to do? Founded in 1824, Harrods was purchased by the Fayed family in 1985 for £685 million. In 2010, the Fayeds sold Harrods to the Qatari royal family for £1.5 billion. A nice little profit. As neat and tidy as all those glorious food displays. 

There is one teensy little problem with Harrods. The store, a source for luxury goods and a major London tourist attraction, got a bit of backlash from the British public after that sale to Qatar. Qatar is suspected of, if not actually directly funding terrorist groups, turning a blind eye to its citizens who are. Critics say Harrods shoppers are unknowingly supporting terrorist activities.

What to do? Boycott the store? It’s easy for me to boycott the store, my visit at this point is all make-believe. What will I do when I visit for real—something I’m hoping to do at the end of this year? Is boycotting Harrod’s going to prove as difficult a proposition as buying clothes made only in countries that pay decent wages? Is boycotting Harrod’s as hard to do as forgoing an iPhone because of the dehumanizing conditions Apple employees in China are subjected to? So mind-numbing a work place that suicide nets are in place to stop employees jumping out the window? 

On that cheery note ...

Virtually boycotting Harrods is a simple as finding the Knightsbridge Underground station and from there, move on to Sloane Street, named for Mr. Han Sloane, the man behind the Natural History Museum, heading down the swanky avenue to Sloane Square, where the Sloane Rangers term was born in the 1970’s. A combo of Sloane St and the Lone Ranger, Sloane Rangers were the wealthy young trendsetters living in the Chelsea/Kensington hood, the equivalent of the American preppies. Before she was Princess Di, Lady Diana* was the epitome of the Sloane Ranger archetype, so much so, she was featured on the cover of the 1980’s book The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook

Coming full circle, Sloane Rangers still rule with Prince William and Kate Middleton being crowned king and queen of the Sloanies. Hermes Scarves. Burberry check. Prada. Barbour jackets. Those are Sloane Ranger staples. William and Kate and today’s Sloaners are a bit less conservative and staid than their predecessors but the confident, casual—but expensive—approach to dressing is key. Like you’ve just been out running the dogs or riding horses around the perimeter of your considerable property. 

If you feel like getting your Kate Middleton on and you’ve got the cashola—or access to daddy’s credit arrangement—there are plenty of high-fashion stores to shop at. From Gucci to Fendi, Chanel to Tom Ford, Sloane Street has it. 

Pick up that iconic check scarf  from the Burberry shop inside Harvey Nichols, the glam department store that’s been around almost as long as Harrods. Founded in 1831 to Harrod’s 1824, the two stores have long been rivals. 

While Harrods is known for its fabulous Food Hall, Harvey Nichols has its’ fifth floor restaurants. I would love to sit up there on that open air space tucking into a Scottish grass fed rib-eye steak, drinking a shandy in the sunshine. Note to self: Sitting on this gorgeous rooftop space reminds me of how much I love the California sunshine and how much I’d miss it long term. Is London really as foggy and rainy as its reputation? Do I have to cross England off my list of retirement destinations? 

I know they’re legendary but to me a silk Hermes scarf reeks with old ladyhood but if you must have a Hermes scarf, you’ll want to buy it at the Hermes store. Prada is right next door. 

Behold: the country squire masculinity of a Barbour jacket

For the Barbour jacket you’ll have to wander down to Peter Jones, right next to Sloane Square itself. 

After I’ve exhausted the shopping—which won’t take long as I’m really not a shopper, I’m just not—I think I’ll check into the Berkely Hotel. It’s a high-end spot with rooms starting at £480 per night—almost $800—but I didn’t choose this 5 star hotel for its high thread count sheets and luxurious amenities, I chose it for its’ afternoon tea. 

Called the Prêt-à-Portea, the tea is inspired by the world of fashion. Fashion being what it is, the delicious and whimsical yummies change every six months.

Among the goodies shown here is a popular Stella McCartney striped dress reimagined as a green and white tower of joconde sponge filled with pistachio and lime supreme. Manolo Blahnik’s red polka dot stiletto shoe is a vanilla biscuit decorated with white icing and topped with red dots while Heidi Klum makes her debut on The Berkeley’s cakewalk with a chocolate shortbread halterneck bikini biscuit with turquoise icing to match the blue hues of the sea and sky. You’ll want to look as good as the goodies you’re eating so leave your Yankee cap at home.
Dress Code: 
Elegant smart casual; no shorts, vests, sportswear, flip-flops, ripped jeans or baseball caps.

I don’t know. That snazzy Manolo pumps look almost too good to eat! Which treat looks too good to eat to you?

*  Dodi Fayed’s father was inconsolable after his son Dodi Fayed & Princess Diana perished in that horrible automobile crash in Paris. He has always insisted the tragic accident was murder, committed by the royal family. In fact shortly before he sold Harrods, Mr. Fayed removed the Queen’s royal crest from the store’s exterior and had it burned. 

87-135 Brompton Rd, London SW1X 7XL

+ 44 20 8479 5100

Harvey Nichols
109-125 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RJ

+44 20 7235 5000

179 Sloane St, London SW1X 9QP

+44 20 7823 1014

43-45 Sloane St, London SW1X 9LU

+44 20 7235 0008

Sloane Square, London SW1W 8EL
 +44 20 7730 3434

The Berkeley Hotel
Wilton Pl, London SW1X 7RL
+44 20 7235 6000

Counting the Fitbit steps:

Day 1-27:                                       208,990 steps / 93.4 miles

Day 27:          Sloane Street            4200 steps  / 1.7 miles                   

Total Imaginary Miles to Date  213,190 steps / 95.1 miles

As always on British Isles Fridays, I’m linking up with Joy’s Book Blog


  1. I have a friend who lived in England and left "because it was always wet and cold." I'm keeping England on my fantasy list (as long as I can find someplace with a hot tub or sauna so I can warm my bones), but it would be harder if I were leaving behind California instead of Missouri, I think.

    OTOH, when we were in England in September of 2014, the weather was perfect for three straight weeks.

    I checked out Hermes in Paris and had the same thought -- "old lady." Instead, I bought my Paris scarves from a little boutique. Much less expensive and more appropriate for my style. I get compliments on them all the time!

  2. Interesting post. I am not much of a shopper but some of those scarves and clothes Kate Middleton wears are great. Is tall and lanky and I am a 5 foot 3 inch shorty! So some clothes wouldn't have the same style, lol! Can you believe it's been so long since Diana died. I do remember the sentiment that they were murdered but I never knew he burned the queens crest!

    Thanks for your comment about Inspector Banks. Yes, it's based on the books but once I watched a season I realized didn't didn't start the series from the beginning, The show picks up into book 10 I think. By then things have happened in Banks personal and professional life that I hadn't read about so, there were some spoilers in the show for me!

  3. This is one of the best websites that I’ve ever come across, all the content displayed is pretty unique and informative and from now onwards I’ll make it a point to go through the website regularly.


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