x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Change comes to all, but character is steadfast

Our lives are all about change. Change in careers, in family, in hairstyles and shoes. From the important things to the superficial, change can stress us out, but it can also inspire us.

I have known the celebrity chef and our new columnist Marco Pierre White since we were teenagers. We first met in London and were part of a set that hung out on the King's Road, all thinking we were extraordinarily cool.

Looking back on it, we were part of an incredible crowd. Our friends included Tamara Mellon (of Jimmy Choo fame); several bands, such as Curiosity Killed the Cat; Tom Conran, son of Sir Terence; Sasha Puttnam, son of the filmmaker Sir David Puttnam; as well as Willie Harcourt-Cooze, whose chocolate you can now buy at Jones the Grocer here in Abu Dhabi.

We didn't actually do much, though, apart from try to look cool and hang out in nightclubs. And therein lay the problem. While most of the other people in the gang had trust funds, I was penniless.

So in 1985, after a couple of years of waitressing, I decided to move on. Marco, also being penniless, had decided the same thing. By coincidence we both ended up in Oxford.

Marco went to train under Raymond Blanc at a Michelin-starred restaurant called the Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, and I went to do my A Levels in an effort to shift my career from waitressing to journalism.

We knew no one else in Oxford, so on Marco's one day off a week we would hang out together. I remember cinema trips, walks in the rain and boating on the Cherwell.

On my 20th birthday he showed up with an elaborate meal of oven-baked quails with all the trimmings. Unfortunately, he didn't know I was vegetarian ... but the cake he had made was delicious.

The reason I mention Marco in this space is not only because I am delighted and proud to introduce his new (and exclusive to M) column, but also because he is a great example of someone who has changed but retained the elements that make him who he is. Rather like M magazine, which you may notice has undergone some small changes this week. This new My Life column, for example, will become a rotating women's column that will talk about issues that affect us all, such as change.

Our lives are all about change. Change in careers, in family, in hairstyles and shoes. From the important things to the superficial, change can stress us out, but it can also inspire us. A lot of you reading this will have moved from another country and culture to settle in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. A change that will, in some way, affect your lives forever. But how will that change the real you, if at all?

And while Marco's life has changed dramatically from the days he earned £20 a week as a kitchen boy, his character has remained the same. He was always flamboyant, larger than life, extremely generous, hard-working, and had far too much hair. He remains the same to this day.

I hope you will agree that the changes to M magazine are just enough to improve it, rather like seasoning a soup, but that we have not changed its overall feel and character. In keeping with our new celebrity chef columnist.

 

Helena Frith Powell is the editor of M magazine