February, the month when Cupid’s bow is poised to strike hearts everywhere. His aim wasn’t looking quite so steady this time last year when my matchmaking colleagues asked me to take a “tricky” female client for a cocktail and a chat.
“It’ll be fine,” they said. “You’re both around the same age, both used to getting what you want, and both have apartments in Monaco. That’s a good place to start!”
The client, Katrina, a Scottish high-flyer in her indeterminate forties, had been married twice and chosen a career over children. She was running a TV station by the time she was 30 and the sale to one of the Murdoch group of companies had afforded her a choice of jobs. Actually, she found she was pretty good at making money, buying up a series of buildings that were to become posh student housing for rich parents sending their coddled offspring to British universities for the perfect “finishing-school” education.
I was delighted to spot Katrina as I walked into Buddha Bar. She had clearly taken my advice that “you can never be overdressed in Monte Carlo” and she was perched on a bar stool blinged up the ying-yang.
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“Where on earth did you get that ridiculously fabulous fur?” I asked.
“Oh, I just dropped into your friend Katie Holmes’ store, The Queen Bee,” she casually responded. “I was in there for a few hours less than the average Monaco socialite, as I’m a size 12 and not a size 0. But hey, I’ve got enough bags and coats to make me feel better about not having a boyfriend … sniff.”
Sensing that I was going to get a grilling, I decided I better call in the big guns to help the evening along. “Waiter, deux martinis s’il vous plaît. Dirty for me.” I raised an enquiring eyebrow at Katrina.
“Porn star,” she jibed. Good girl.
“So darling, what’s been happening?”
“Well,” she started, “I was sent on the most horrendous date recently with a man who was half my size in height and girth. I think the moment he laid eyes on me he thought I was going to have him for breakfast. Trust me, I wasn’t. I don’t like my bacon that lean.”
She fiddled with her phone for a moment, looking for a photo of the Wee Date, while I prudently signalled the barman to encore our drinks.
After several martinis and plenty of psychotherapy I had a profile in my head of what Katrina really wanted. She is your typical ball-breaker at work, phenomenally successful and with all the material assets that come with wallet-bursting compensation. But peel back a layer and you’ll find a surprisingly delicate woman waiting to be scooped up by a big-hearted mountain of a man, who could wrap her vulnerability up in his chivalrous bulk and make her feel equal parts Queen Bee and Size 0.
I didn’t want to say anything, but I had a hunch I knew someone for her. Peter was a strapping good looking and old-fashioned chap. An ex-Army officer, he retrained as a management consultant. He lived in Winchester but had a pied-à-terre in London where most of his work was based. Bingo. Katrina also had a home in London. Mid-fifties, widowed for some five years, he preferred to meet the old-fashioned way – through friends … or in a pub.
On their first meeting they were out for a stroll in London’s Soho when Peter spotted a handbag thief. He gave chase and tackled the man, retrieving the purse. Katrina lolloped sportingly behind, managing not to ruin her Louboutins. When she caught up with him, together with the rather dashing policeman she’d grabbed on the way, Peter was pinning the bag burglar to the ground. He looked up at Katrina with her policeman escort and smiled, “My darling, what took you so long?” She was, of course, smitten.
The rest, as they say, is a matchmaker’s history.
Barbara Brudenell-Bruce is a matchmaker with London’s exclusive matchmaking agency, Vida, and her network boasts an impressive list of entrepreneurs, celebrities and aristocrats. She lives between Monaco and London. Article first published February 19, 2017.
[caption id="attachment_28326" align="alignnone" width="1280"] Hibiki Iwano of Horizon Lab making coffee at Castelroc. Photo: Monaco Life[/caption]
Hibiki Iwano is not your average teenager. Named by Tokyo Weekender as one of “Japan’s Astounding Teen Prodigies”, Hibiki launched his own coffee business – Horizon Labo – in April 2017 at the age of 15.
What makes the young entrepreneur’s story more extraordinary is that after years of struggling at school – from an inability to keep up with the rest of the class to not being able go to the bathroom alone – he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 8.
[caption id="attachment_28323" align="alignnone" width="1280"] Hibiki Iwano with his mom at Castelroc. Photo: Monaco Life[/caption]
By 13, he had quit school where he didn’t connect with other students and within two years, turned his focus to a fascination with coffee and the roasting process, starting with a small 1kg coffee roaster.
“I realised the infinity of flavours there are to discover in coffee … I really like that part ... that there’s no end,” Hibiki told Good Coffee.
With the support of his parents, the teen opened Horizon Labo in Gunma Prefecture, but with crowds becoming larger and larger, the family decided to temporarily close the café as to not disturb neighbours. Hibiki continues to sell his coffee beans online.
[caption id="attachment_28172" align="alignnone" width="960"] Hibiki Iwano in Monaco. Photo: Facebook Ripple Yōhinten[/caption]
Hibiki is currently visiting Monaco with his parents and offering a free tasting of his coffee this Friday, at 10:30 am, at Castelroc restaurant.
“I had a hard time copying words written on the board, and there were many things I couldn’t do that brought me down,” he told Tokyo Weekender. “I wanted to focus on what I could do with my own working style. I found that roasting coffee was the ideal way of expressing myself.”
[caption id="attachment_28324" align="alignnone" width="1280"] Sampling Horizon Lab coffee at Castelroc. Photo: Monaco Life[/caption]
Follow Hibiki Iwano on Instagram: horizon_labo. Article first published on February 14, 2018.
Elections for Monaco’s National Council, which took place yesterday, resulted in a landslide win for Stéphane Valeri’s “Primo” group, otherwise known as Priority Monaco.
It was clear within a few hours of the polls closing at 7 pm on Sunday, February 11, that Primo had won by a wide margin. Overnight it was announced that two candidates had been elected for Horizon Monaco and one for the Union Monegasque, giving Primo 21 of the 24 seats in the parliamentary assembly.
Turnout was down from 74.4 percent in 2013 to 70.35 percent.
Half an hour before midnight Stéphane Valeri, the former Minister of Health and Social Affairs, told his supporters they had won a very big victory.
The new leader of the National Council, who served for several years as its president some years ago, added: "I want to warmly thank the Monegasques who have given us a very big victory tonight. Their confidence gives us the legitimacy necessary to give the National Council its full place among [Monaco’s] institutions."
"Now that the electoral period is over, I appeal to compatriots of all sensibilities, so that tomorrow the great Monegasque family, united behind our Sovereign Prince, will come together."
Among the personalities elected on the Primo list are Jose Badia, former foreign minister, and Guillaume Rose, formerly head of the Tourism and Conventions office.
See full results here.