Sir Don McCullin exhibitions at Tate Britain & Hamilton’s Gallery

I grew up in communist Russia and even with the limited press resources then compared to too many now, photojournalism played a crucial part in the formation of my character. Yet after attending two read more

Beauty fundraiser for residents of Grenfell Tower

Like many of you earlier this week, I sat in silence, with tears streaming down my face, watching in disbelief the inferno that engulfed residential Grenfell Tower in North Kensington late at night, when most people were fast asleep in the seeming safety of their beds. 24 floors, 120 flats, over 600 residents – men, women, children. A disaster of this magnitude touched many people, as some rushed to help, others, like incredibly brave firefighting teams, were already at the scene, alongside policemen & emergency services, fighting fires and trying to save those people who were trapped inside. When life is good, we all take it for granted, when human tragedies like that happen we unite over the innate need to do something, to help, to hug people, to wipe the tears and give survivors hope that they aren’t alone. We can’t make horrible memories disappear or bring back to life those people who lost their lives, but we all can do something to help elevate the pain, fear, anger and despair. Many people, famous or not are coming together with the initiatives to fundraise the funds for those in desperate need in a middle of the city we all call home.

As some of you might know, I write a lot on the subject of beauty. As part of my work I receive products from brands for testing, but I also buy many beauty products myself, accumulating too many products over time. Some are given as gifts, some I start using, but quickly realise that while they are lovely, they might not work for my skin. Lately I was looking at a large bag of beauty products and contemplating what to do with them – do I gift them? Do I donate them to a shelter? What’s the best way to share them, without taking advantage of brand’s generosity or making any undue profit for myself?  After watching the news & thinking about life & loss, as I held my own kids hands tightly after the school run, I just knew that I want to do something with this beauty stash to help those people who suffered unimaginable loss – of family members & loved ones, of their homes, that were supposed to be their safe harbour and of the things that they held dear, like photos, favourite toys or simple things that we all use daily, yet take for granted but without which we feel a bit lost – toasters or kettles, a favourite armchair, a dress that makes us feel like a million dollars, a pebble from the beach, picked up during the holiday, a baby tooth or lock of hair, a favourite book…..

So here is my idea that I put forward for your consideration: below is the list of products that I have. All full-sized, most brand new, some gently (partially) used, but hygienic & not contaminated – each will have details next to its name, as well as the size. Here is what I want to do. If you want any of the products below, or several of them, please make a donation of at least £10 pounds for each product that you want directly to the JustGiving Fund for the residents of the Grenfell Tower – I attach the links to JustGiving Fundraising pages at the end of this post. In turn, I will send you the product or products, each valued at more than £10 pounds to your home address, if you are a UK, Scottish or Irish resident (lets discuss postage, if you want to order something to be sent to Europe, America, Canada, Asia or North Pole – I will be happy to find a solution that will be satisfactory to you), covering postage & packing myself. If I know you, please just let me know the amount of your donation, so I can keep a tally and will know how much our joint effort will raise for those people who desperately need it. If I don’t know you personally, please DM or e-mail me confirmation of your donation, as well as the address to which you want me to post the products and I will do it as soon as I can. Many people consider beauty superficial & I want to change that perception by raising funds for those people who really need them right now. At a time of loss, like many people, I want Grenfell Tower residents to know that they aren’t alone in this world & that they will be able to rebuild their lives in time.

Beauty Products List

Tropic Skincare Good Skin Day Serum, 30 mms, external packaging opened, internal untouched

Tropic Smoothing Cleanser, 120 ml, brand new

Kahina Giving Beauty Travel Basic Set, includes Facial Cleanser 30 ml, Argan Oil 30 ml, Facial Lotion 30 ml. Brand new

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub, 118 ml, new

Ren V-Cense Youth Vitality Day Cream, 50 ml, brand new

Nourish Argan Anti-Ageing Peptide Serum, 30 ml, brand new

Nourish Skin Renew Cleanser, 100 ml, brand new

Nourish Kale 3D Cleanse, 100 ml, brand new

Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C BB Cream SPF 20, shade: fair, 50 ml, used one one occasion only

Therapi Honey Skincare Rose Otto Propolis + Ultra radiance Cream, 50 ml, brand new

 

Bodhi & Birch Neroli Luce Revitalising Face Oil, 15 ml, brand new

Bodhi & Birch Body Oils Mini Collection (3 x 15 ml), brand new box set

Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Face Exfoliant, 100 ml, brand new

Osmia Purely Simple Face Cream, 1,7oz, gently used

Balance Me Radiance Face Oil, brand new

Dr. Scheller Argan Oil & Amaranth Anti-Wrinkle Intensive serum, 30 ml, brand new

Skin Oil Beauty Drops, lavender, 30 ml, brand new

Skin Oil Beauty Drops, geranium, 30 ml, gently used, more than 2/3 full

Melvita Natural Lift Youthful Skin Cream, 50ml, new

Mallow & White Sooth Face Mask, 30g, brand new

Antonia Burrell Radiant Light facial Oil Serum, 15ml, brand new

St. Ives Apricot Face Scrub, 30 ml, brand new

Max & Me Circle of Protection Body Oil, 10ml, brand new

de Mamiel Atmospherique Pure Calm Cleansing Dew, 100 ml, gently used, more than 2/3 full

Flow Kosmetikka Cloudberry Anti-Age Facial Serum, 20 ml, brand new

Philip Kingsley Elasticiser, 40 ml, brand new

Mun Akwi Purifying Cleanser, 100ml, gently used, more than 2/3 full

Nubo Bio-Regenerating Concentrate, 30 ml, brand new

Weleda Skin Food, 75 ml, brand new

Perricone MD Chia Serum, 30 ml, brand new

Lilfox Cleopatra Restorative Milk & Honey Beauty Mask, 1 oz, very gently used, more than 2/3 full

Laurel Facial Serum Sun Damage Repair, 30 ml, brand new

Once the product has been chosen by someone via their donation, I will put the line on it, so you know that it’s gone. Products will be send on the first come, first served basis.

Books:

Emma Cannon’s Total Fertility, lovingly used but in good condition

Goop Clean Beauty by the editors of Goop, gently used

Glop Goop Parody by Gabrielle Moss, gently used

Let’s get together & raise some money for those that really need the funds to start rebuilding their lives, while getting used to live with the loss or horrors that they endured. Beauty can be meaningless, if it doesn’t have a soul & I truly believe that together we are stronger in facing the future, even when it is uncertain. People who lived in that tower weren’t well-off and right now might feel that their lives didn’t matter to those whose actions, in some way, led to the unimaginable tragedy that happened in the middle of a summer night in London. There is a lot of anger, understandably & I sincerely hope that our joint effort will help in a small way to change things for the better, compared to what they are now.

As an additional incentive for you to donate, I promise that I will enclose some samples for you, alongside the product or book you want, while my stock of the samples lasts. I hope this initiative resonates with you & by our joint fundraising effort we hopefully will help give the residents of the Grenfell Tower to get the things that they need now or in the future, which they will be able to choose by having financial means to do so. I hope that my initiative will show the strength of our emotion & the feeling of love and affection that we are united by, no matter our sex, age, race or religion. Tragedies happen to good people and together we help each other survive the unimaginable horrors and sorrow that otherwise would break hearts completely. This tragedy tore at the fabric of London, like several terrorirism acts in the last few weeks – something that sadly more and more people around the world can relate to. Lets come together and shelter those who suffered from even bigger storms. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this and for hopefully donating to the cause that we can all relate to, while luckily hugging those that we dearly love together & saving our blessings.

Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund for Grenfell Tower Residents

The Kensington & Chelsea Foundation

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Closer by Patrick Marber at Donmar Warehouse

I am a huge fan of Donmar Warehouse because after every play I see there, I leave feeling elated by the mysterious beauty of theatre and the team behind the play. This theatre allows me to view familiar actors in a new light ( after seeing Nicole Kidman on stage, in the Blue Room, she fully started owning the spotlight in her own right, being the wife of Tom Cruise at the time became completely irrelevant ) and become immersed fully in the action taking place before your eyes. This theatre is wonderful intimate, its staff young and enthusiastic and the impressions you leave with turn into fond memories.

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Closer by Patrick Marber was made into a very successful movie a few years ago, with Jude Law and Natalie Portman and directed by the wonderful Mike Nichols but even though Patrick Marber was approached many times to transfer the play onto the theatre floor boards he resisted until a chance to introduce a fifth character, London, made perfect sense to the playwright.

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Going to see a matinée play for me is a rarity and on this occasion I was sitting in the audience full of young students and mature adults, American accents mixing with the British ones.

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The play itself revolves around the lives of four people that accidentally ( or not ?) become intertwined. A mature doctor Larry, played by Rufus Sewell draws you in by his playfulness yet complete breakdown in the face of losing the woman he loves. He will antagonise, scheme, beg, flirt, all the while you get lost in your own confusion – does he deserve sympathy or is he a monster? Nancy Carroll, who plays photographer Anna, is beautiful and strong, or is she, succumbing to passion that will confuse her. The younger member of the cast is Rachel Redford that plays mysterious Alice, who is riveting as a young woman, fleeting between self-assurance of youth and the manipulation that comes with years of life experience. And what to make of Oliver Chris‘s Dan, who cares about one woman, then wants to be together with another and ultimately, what is he left with?

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The play is loud and raw, funny and heart-breaking, with lots of sexual references and innuendo that elicited giggles from the younger audience members and made more mature viewers whisper something feverishly to their other half. How does love change us? What makes us choose one person over the other? Is being faithful possible in our day and age or are we all hunters, on the look-out for passion, sex, the immediacy of attraction that might be lost the longer we stay with the partner? How does love evolve? Does maturity bring wisdom? Who is more attractive – a young, risk-taking young woman or a wiser, more self-assured older one? Equally do you choose a man with money and experience or do you go for someone who adores you – mind you all those questions are simplified, the issues raised by the play go much deeper and require lots of thought.

The cast of the play was electrifying, each of the actors bringing something of their own in order to complete the play that evolved before your eyes. As I left the darkness of the theatre for the brightness of spring sunshine, I couldn’t help but watch my footing closely, while I was engrossed in deep thought. Love + relationships = life…..