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The Plight of the Futurologist - Part 2 - 3rd November 2009

It's been rather a long time since I published my first set of predictions regarding the state of the world in 2020, but despite what some might think the delay is most definitely not due to any intention on my half to wait until December 31st 2019 to make further forecasts!

The reason for the delay is actually the far more prosaic need to engage in what Oscar Wilde once described as the 'curse of the drinking classes' - or, for those of you not familiar with the Irish writer's witticisms: work...click here for more

 

 

The Plight of the Futurologist - 11th August 2009

It's not an easy task trying to predict the future; just ask the former president of IBM, Thomas J Watson, who, in 1958, confidently stated that 'there is a world market for about five computers.' Or the 19th century British MP, who extrapolated from the rate of population growth in London at the time, and the number of horses needed to support such growth, that by the middle of the twentieth century the capital would be six feet deep in manure...click here for more

 

 

 

 

Definition of Cool - 1st July 2009

Here at Bonne Gauche, we often talk about cars, watches or design items being 'cool' - referring, perhaps, to an intrinsic, effortless elegance that differentiates the items we revere from those that are merely functional, ugly, or are trying too hard. The underlying notion is that the possession of cool items confers some of their inherent coolness on the owners.

To a certain extent this is demonstrably true: the impression that we may form of a man climbing out of a Facel Vega would be quite different to the impression of the same man exiting a Vauxhall Vectra, or worse, a Porsche Cayenne...click here to read more

 

Last of the Supercars - 30th April 2009

The supercar in its true format, (and by this I mean an enormous mid-mounted V12 engine, and aesthetics as subtle as a Peter Stringfellow swimwear collection), is an enigma to some car enthusiasts. Too expensive and heavy for track use, they say, yet too wide and unwieldy to really work on most roads, they view it as a type of car that, like the more hapless species of endangered animal, is not really adapted to its current environment.

For much of the 1990s and early 21st century, though, this didn't seem to bother those who patronised the primarily Italian grand marques; most bought supercars not to drive, but to show to the world their considerable wealth...click here for more

 

A Star Worth Dying For- March 24th 2009

Shortly before he blew his brains out with a hunting rifle, the French chef, Bernard Loiseau, proclaimed that if he ever lost a Michelin star he would 'kill himself'. If anyone in France had doubted the importance of the Michelin Red Guide before Loiseau's suicide in February 2003, his death quickly led them to change their opinions. In the home of haute cuisine, at least, stars still mattered.

In the UK, though, it is difficult to imagine anyone resorting to such drastic measures. Stars are highly sought after by the high end of the market, but they aren't regarded as awards literally to die for. Many British restaurant reviewers are even openly critical of what they regard as the Red Guide's tendency to give primacy...click here for more

 

The Death of the Artist - February 9th 2009

June 2007. It may seem, from our current viewpoint, to be almost part of a wholly different age; as if we are Russians remembering the last days of the Tsars from the other side of the revolution, or soldiers fighting in the Great War's trenches recalling the final hours of peace. Things were different then.

No doubt this differentness, and the shift in society that began a month later, in July 2007, will be noted and debated in the coming centuries by innumerable historians. And, in their search for the iconic moment that...click here for more

 

 

The Luxury Fallacy - January 25th 2009

Visit any popular Mediterranean resort mid-season and it won't be long before you are offered an array of fake luxury goods - from watches to perfumes, clothes to handbags. Depending on the persistence of the seller, and your own personal opinion of the counterfeit industry, your response may range from mild interest (no sane person would ever express more than mild interest in front of these sorts of sellers, who can detect a sitting duck at a thousand yards) to absolute contempt...click here for more

 

 

 

Ugliness is the Measure of Imperfection - January 14th 2009

The passage of time can have a strange effect on the perception of design. Sometimes the initially well-loved can quickly become the staid and cliched, whilst at other times the widely derided can eventually come to be appreciated decades after its original inception.

Take some of Erno Goldfinger's brutalist creations, such as Trellick Tower in North Kensington; high rise, reinforced concrete tower blocks that were despised by most in the 1970s, yet which are now Grade II listed buildings...click here for more

 

 

 

The Premium Crunch  - December 21st 2008

 

With every half baked publication jumping on the 'it's the end of the world' recession/depression bandwagon (having recently alighted from the 'it's the end of the world' global warming one), I have been reluctant to write about the current economic malaise in my column. The world has steered its way through worse crises before, and will inevitably steer its way through worse crises in the future, and adding my own voice to the growing noise on the subject has seemed to be a largely pointless endeavour...click here for more

 

 

 

What Went Wrong with Ferrari   - December 12th 2008

 

The above statement (and note that it is not a question) may imply that I am mad, or at least delusional; after all, having dominated Formula One over the last ten years, and produced a string of class leading supercars, the marque has seemed to have hardly put a foot (or should that be a hoof) wrong. And with profits of over 260 million Euros in 2007, there is not even the usual financial instability to cloud the sky.

But, in my eyes, at least, Ferrari has been irrevocably damaged  by a combination of brand dilution, changing buyer profiles, and, more worryingly, the production of cars that are more brutally functional than beautiful...click here for more

 

 

Suits You!    - November 20th 2008

 

In times of economic hardship, investors often seek refuge in supposedly counter-cyclical industries. Such industries may benefit from a downturn or recession, and can aid investors in the difficult task of making reasonable returns in a bear market.

What industries these are is open to debate, but I would suggest that investors could do worse than taking a look at those 'designer' clothing manufacturers who produce suits in sizeable quantities.

What is my rationale behind this assertion? Quite simply, it is the observation that in times of economic difficulty, office staff tend to 'dress up' .. click here for more

 

A Question of Taste Part 2  - November 10th 2008


A few weeks ago, after an al fresco dinner at a marina on a well known Mediterranean island, I took a brief stroll past the assorted motor boats that were silently and statically engaged in some sort of unspoken competition with each other for both size and opulence. The monotony of glass fibre, overdressed crew members and enormous plasma screen televisions on the decks was broken only by the occasional sailing boat, sitting almost incongruously between the vast gleaming hulls of the latest 37 metre Sunseekers... click here for more

 

 

 

 

A Question of Taste   - November 1st 2008


Not so long ago, when Berlin was a city of two halves and a Trabant was an object of desire for most of the inhabitants of the USSR, as it was then known, any Russian drinks makers who boasted of patronage by the Tsars would probably have received a short and painful visit from the KGB. Yet today, nearly twenty years on from the raising of the Iron Curtain, premium vodka makers, in particular, have a curious fascination with the late Russian aristocracy, falling over themselves to claim that their own brand 'evokes the spirit of the Tsars'... click here for more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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