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Here are some personal 'Top five' ratings:

Top five movies

  • The Thomas Crown Affair. Original version starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.  Directed by Norman Jewison.  Story and screenplay by Alan Trustman, from whom I have a couple of interesting letters.  I also visited Thomas Crown's house in Boston.

  • Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter O'tool and directed by David Lean.  I saw this movie when I was a teenager, on a cold and rainy day in Birmingham, and was transformed by this vision of Arabia!

  • Romeo and Juliet, starring Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting.  Directed by Franco Zeffirelli.

  • The Lover.  1929 Vietnam, then a French colony, beautifully photographed.

  • Creature Comforts.  The original Nick Parks Aardman short in claymation, before Wallace and Gromit.

Top five hotels

  • The Peninsula Beverly Hills.  A small 'country house' hotel with wonderful service.  The Peninsula Hong Kong is more famous, but the Peninsula Beverly Hills is the best!

  • The Oriental, Bangkok.  The most friendly hotel in Asia.  They always send the same driver to meet us at the airport.  Backpacks are not allowed!

  • Raffles, Singapore.  Somerset Maugham visited Raffles many times.  Now a beautifully restored white grand hotel, with British colonial furniture.

  • The Four Seasons, Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Half an hour from Chiang Mai town, but the location makes up for it.  Rooms in individual teak Thai houses around a rice paddy.

  • Le Byblos, St. Tropez, France.   Close to the town and the sidewalk cafes of the port.  A pianist entertains in the piano bar each evening.

I'm a hotel collector - I will visit a country to stay at a particular hotel.  The best guide to world-class hotels is the Andrew Harper Hideaway Report. 

Top five cities

  • Hong Kong.   The world's most exciting city.  It would be great to live there for a while.

  • Chiang Mai, Thailand.  In northern Thailand, near Laos and Burma.  A market town, with riverside restaurants on the sleepy Ping river.

  • Newport Beach, CA.  An excellent place to live.

  • London.  So much to do and see!  Really good restaurants nowadays, too.

  • Las Vegas, Nevada.  Great shows, restaurants and hotels, including the new Wynn, even if you don't gamble.

Top five stores

  •  Not really a store, but hasn't this 'store' changed the way we can buy so many things?

  • Harrods, London.  Particularly their food halls!  They make me want to live nearby.   Their Christmas hampers are terrific, too.

  • Nordstrom.  The best department store in the US.

  • Fry's.  A wonderland for the computer-literate!
    OK, geeks.

  • Staples.  So many useful things!   Need a ladder delivered?  Find it at
    Home Depot is excellent, for the same reasons.

Top five places I would like to go

  • Shanghai, China.  We were there for just a day some years ago, and plan to go back this year. 

  • Dubai.  An exciting city, and a good gateway to the middle east, Jordan for example.  Lots of new hotels, and new building.

  • Seychelles & the Maldives.  A long way from the US, but reachable from London.

  • Vietnam.  One of the Asian countries I've not yet visited.  Sidney is keen to visit.

  • Tibet.  Preferably with the Dalai Lama!

Top five people from history

  • Horatio Nelson.  Lord Nelson was England's genuine naval hero.  A brilliant naval tactician.

  • Thomas Jefferson.  He wrote the Declaration of Independence at age 33.  Then doubled the size of the US in one brilliant move.  A terrific writer and thinker.  (See my 'World Plans' page.)

  • Winston Churchill.  Wartime Prime Minister.  I once stood in the rain with head bowed in front of Winston Churchill's grave in the little churchyard at Bladon, near Blenheim.  There was no one about, just Winston Churchill and me.

  • Richard Feynman.  Nobel physicist and bongo player.  Now on US postage stamps.

  • The Dalai Lama.  Still very much alive.  A remarkable man with a great sense of humor.  Want to meet him?  You can just call his New York office and they will arrange a private audience.  Though you do have to go to India and wait a couple of months!

These are just my opinions of course.  OK, here are some more:  Sean Connery was the 'real' James Bond, all the others are just copies.  The Wall Street Journal is by far the best-written newspaper.  Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles.  America is a great place to live and Americans are terrific:  Now if they would just learn to eat properly with a knife and fork!

Top five photographers

  • David Bailey.  I wanted to be his assistant when I was a teenager - how many straight boys would buy 'Vogue' magazine every month?  His black and white portraits of famous personalities stand alone.

  • Annie Leibovitz.  Her amazing pictures appear in Vanity Fair every month.

  • Karsh of Ottawa.  He took the famous photograph of Winston Churchill, politely removing Churchill's cigar to get the now-famous scowl.

  • Norman Parkinson.  Before David Bailey, there was Norman Parkinson.

  • Ansel Adams.  No one has done better black & white landscapes.

Top five restaurants

  • Houstons.  Irvine, Studio City, and elsewhere.  Great ambience (the best lighting of any restaurant), good drinks, moderate prices.  Their ribs are the best!

  • Mayur, Corona del Mar, CA.  An excellent Indian restaurant.  We have been going here for years, and it never disappoints.

  • Meynell Ingram Arms, Hoar Cross, England.  A 17th century country pub, 'The Meynell' used to have three dogs, a cat, and roaring log fires.  The dogs and logs have now gone but it's still very good.

  • Bangkok Four, Costa Mesa, CA.   A Thai restaurant that leaves our Thai friends slightly puzzled!   They serve an American version of Thai food, which I like better than the 'real' thing.

  • Le Caprice, London.  Princess Di loved this small restaurant.  David Bailey photographs on the wall.  Handy for the St. James Club, nearby!

Top five novels

  • The Remains of the Day.  Writer Kazuo Ishiguro is more British than the British.  Anthony Hopkins was great in the Merchant Ivory movie of the book.

  • Dark Star, by Alan Furst.  Europe in the lead-up to World War II.  Beautifully written.

  • Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow, by Peter Hoeg.

  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, by John Le Carre.  Also a great BBC series starring Sir Alec Guinness.

  • The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, by Oliver Sacks.   Dr Sacks was portrayed by Robin Williams in 'Awakenings'.

 Top five authors

  • Patrick O'Brian.  His 20 Aubrey/Maturin naval fiction novels are a work of genius.  Patrick O'Brian lived in a different world to the rest of us!

  • Somerset Maugham.  His stories live on.  I like his travel writing, too.

  • Len Deighton.  The number one writer of cold war spy fiction.

  • CS Forester.  Before Patrick O'Brian and just as good.  I learned management as a boy from C S Forester's Horatio Hornblower!

  • Paul Theroux.  I particularly like his 'travel on trains' books, like The Old Patagonia Express, and Riding the Iron Rooster.

Top five most annoying performers

  • Clowns  Too scary

  • Jim Carrey  Obnoxious & not funny

  • Howard Stern  Obnoxious and bigoted

  • Madonna   Supposed to be a singer?  Ha!

Suggested by Sidney:

  • George W Bush    (The opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of The Management)

Top five recent technical innovations

  • Tivo.  How did we watch TV without it?

  • Apple Ipod.  It works so well.  Thank you Steve Jobs!

  • Email and the Internet.  The world is now a smaller place.  Shopping is much easier, too.

  • Windows XP and Mac OS X.  So many cool extras for free!

  • Google.  Find out about anything you can think of, and lots you never thought of!

Top five sports teams

  • Ha ha!   I don't know the names of five sports teams!

  • Best Beatles album.  Rubber Soul.

  • Least played Beatles CD. Disk 2 of the White Album, as it includes John's awful 'Revolution Number Nine'.  But if you have an Ipod, you can copy the album to Itunes without that track, so it's playable once again.  Did you know there's a little-heard Ringo track called 'Good Night' after 'Number Nine'?

  • Best thing I ever bought.  A Rolex stainless steel submariner watch, when I was 18, in Gibraltar, for 40 ($60).  My dad said I was crazy to pay 40 for a watch - you could buy a watch for 5 in those days.  I wanted one because James Bond wore one in the Ian Fleming books.  Now, 40 years later I am still wearing it every day, and it's worth 50 times what I paid for it.  Edward Heath (then British prime minister) said hello to me while I was opening the box in a Gibraltar restaurant.  By the way, it's a fallacy that James Bond drove an Aston Martin in Ian Fleming's James Bond books.  His original car was a Bentley Continental R, with a turbocharger.

Do you have more Top Five suggestions?  Send me an . You can suggest a new heading, and your top five choices.

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This site was last updated 07/31/08