poems chosen by P. L. Travers, photographs by teamgloria

darlings

while “winding down” (makes us sound like a Clock – *ironiclooktocamera*) this evening we listened to the Radio from 1977 (so Clever, these digital devices all connected to the interweb).

P. L. Travers (Pamela, as we like to call her) regaled us with her stories of magic and Mary Poppins and the Celtic Twilight and life growing up in Australia many moons ago.

and in a surprising twist (not that Surprising when one of course considers the Source) – she chose not Music (as is usual in the programme – and we use the British spelling advisedly) but POEMS.

how glorious.

and so we thought we’d list some of them here for you – together with a few photographs of our own which are no way related (as far as we know but with P.L. Travers would wouldn’t be surprised – and she did live in America for a while so perhaps she trod these paths too….)

Los Angeles Times: April 25th, 1996 
Travers often said her famous character sought her out.

In a 1970 speech at Scripps College in Claremont when she was a writer-in-residence, she said she “happened to be there at the moment [Poppins appeared] in order to take it down.”

Travers was also writer-in-residence at Radcliffe College from 1965-66 and at Smith College in 1966.

She was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1977.

Travers, who never married, lived in London’s Chelsea district, where she prided herself on her rose garden, complete with the yellow Mary Poppins and the crimson Pamela Travers roses.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

home

T S Eliot 
Little Gidding

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

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Cymbeline by William Shakespeare

“Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

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Chose Something Like A Star – Robert Frost

It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

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“This is our country, nowhere else and we shall not be outcast on the world.” John Hewitt, The Outcast

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and this is a photograph we feel sure P. L. Travers would have enjoyed – we turned round a corner (in reality, not metaphorically, but we know it’s hard to tell Here) and saw this man trimming a topiary! how delicious!

we were going to say Only In Los Angeles but actually topiary is terribly British but perhaps not that many giraffes at Chatsworth*.

what’s that?

you’d like a giraffe topiary in Your garden?

you have a garden?

why have you not sent us pictures (links please!) – we adore a garden (sadly we don’t have one – but there is a swimming pool and plenty of succulents-in-pots so we are not lacking in anyway)

back to You *winningsmile*

here’s where to buy a giraffe topiary frame of your very own.

*actually we must not slander Chatsworththe Duchess had a Christmas festive topiary Educational experience for the Public back in 2011

Table centre and topiary tree 2 and 5 December
Design a festive table centre with a nostalgic Victorian theme using elegant candles, berries, evergreens, cones, nuts and spices. This workshop also looks at designing a spiced topiary tree with cones, cinnamon, gilded nuts, fragrant Norwegian blue spruce and wonderful preserved fruits.

one last photograph from today –

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAah yes.

*sighs*

to live somewhere like that.

but in its natural habitat – in the south of France (this is a house in beverly hills which is contrasted with the house next door that looks like something from the Rule of the Medici family and the one over the road hails distinctly – but on a whole other scale – from Somewhere in the Shires of England).

but there again – we’d be happy anywhere.

that’s the point, right?

*calmBuddhaPose*

btw (as the Young People say) did you know there’s a new Film about P. L. Travers at the cinema soon?

guess who’s playing the charming yet feckless Father-of-P.L.-Travers drowning in the celtic twilight poetry of his own twisted glorious imagination?

who else?

quiet nights and slow mornings of writing inspired deliciously by others.

darlings

there’s something so completely delicious about turning-in-early and waking-up-rested.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe had no idea how well we could feel.

you see it took So Long to get here since you-know-what.

but we regret nothing (well, there are a Few Things, but even those most probably Built Character – *coughs*)

cultural note:

just in case you were wondering what we are listening to on that digital device to the right of the photograph above….

it was Jennifer Saunders on a vintage edition of Desert Island Discs from 1996 and YOU can listen to that here.

because Jennifer Saunders has influenced us Almost as much as Noel Coward and Anita Loos.

for reasons that might not appear obvious at first but when you take-a-moment (and possibly scratch your nose or take what Eddie Izzard calls “strokey-beard-time”) you’ll see why.

or not.

sometimes we’re not sure why or who or what we’re doing at all.

and on other days (like today) it all seems delightfully possible and Most Delicious.

especially when we do a little Light Consulting (and pitching writing work) in the Morning and have an  e n t i r e  afternoon and evening ahead (interrupted most deliciously at 3PM with tea with-a-new-LA-acquaintance) with the Muses of the classical ancient world fallen-to-modern-day-Hollywood.

the adaptation is beginning – we’re still reading through the screenplay we wrote but today we start to flesh it out into a Novel.

EXT. DONAL BAY BEACH – NEXT DAY

Calliope emerges from the surf and walks up the beach, past couples making out on the sand, past the lifeguard station.

CALLIOPE
Donal Bay – center of the life coach business – where new muses are born, apparently.

She raises an ironic eyebrow, grins, and looks around.

CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
It’s time for the big reveal.

She touches the emerald bracelet on her wrist and one of the stones lights up.

CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
Showtime, baby.

A lifeguard stands up and sees her.

LIFEGUARD
Hey man, where did you spring from?

CALLIOPE
Man?

She looks down at her body and confirms she is female.

LIFEGUARD
It’s like you just appeared out of thin air.

CALLIOPE
The air isn’t thin. It is multi-dimensional.

LIFEGUARD
Do you want to grab a beer later? Can I have your number?

CALLIOPE
My number? First of the Nine.

She walks up the beach and into the grove of palm trees.

INT. DONAL BAY LIFE COACH INSTITUTE LOBBY – MOMENTS LATER

A very perky receptionist is trying to create order.

RECEPTIONIST
Everyone please take a number and wait your turn.

Calliope ENTERS. Everyone in the reception area is carrying a copy of the magazine with the “ARE LIFE COACHES THE NEW MUSES?…” headline

CALLIOPE
Good news certainly travels fast.

She walks up to reception.

CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
How do I become a “life coach”?

RECEPTIONIST
Please take a number and wait.

Calliope opens her hand and has the next number being called.

CALLIOPE
Bingo.

The receptionist giggles and points down the hall.

CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
A relief to see the charm still works on modern humans.

A man and a woman walk down the hall and do a double-take at how beautiful she is. Calliope beams.

CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
I simply adore being visible.

She checks her emerald bracelet. The light is flickering.

CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
I had no idea it would take so much energy.

She looks sad and turns the big stone off.

CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
Perhaps a little undercover work wouldn’t hurt.

People walk by her and don’t see her. She sighs.

EXT. DONAL BAY LIFE COACH INSTITUTE – LATER
Calliope has an armful of text books and CDs. She sits down outside the yoga studio next door and puts her hand on top of each book to draw out the knowledge, nodding occasionally.

CALLIOPE
Interesting principles. Remarkably familiar.

A couple of people walk by.

CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
No wonder they are not listening to us anymore. They are now pretending to BE us.

She leaves the text books on the table and turns around to see the yoga studio behind.

CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
At least yoga is still popular.

She looks around Donal Bay’s now almost deserted street. A pretty scene, twilight falling, twinkle lights in palm trees.

CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
I’m going to stay in Donal Bay a while.

INT. LAUNDRY ROOM – DONAL BAY APARTMENT BUILDING – NIGHT

A laundry room inside a partly covered garage under an apartment building four blocks from the ocean. JOHN, 35, is watching LIVY, 35, pretty but understated in yoga gear. Calliope ENTERS – unseen.

LIVY
You can tell we live in Donal Bay, there’s always sand in the dryer.

LIVY stuffs the laundry bag, dreamily.

CALLIOPE
She uses words – like music. I haven’t heard a human do that for so many years.

JOHN
So, back to dating…..

LIVY
I’m still a Venus Fly Trap for the Twisted and Depraved, remember?

JOHN
I do regret saying that. But I heard you had a crush.

LIVY
You did?

JOHN
I did. So spill.

They all EXIT, LIVY carrying her laundry in her arms.

EXT. BACK STAIRS OF APARTMENT BUILDING – MOMENTS LATER

At four blocks from the ocean, the view is inspiring.

LIVY
I am so embarrassed.

JOHN
This sounds promising already.

LIVY
She’s not real.

Calliope listens, with interest.

JOHN
You’ve lost me.

LIVY
She’s on television.

JOHN
What channel?

LIVY
Sci-Fi.

JOHN
Deeply interesting. Playing a human or an alien?

LIVY swats him with her laundry bag. Calliope gets closer.

LIVY
Human.

Calliope shrugs and looks up at the sky with a smile.

JOHN
Well, that’s a relief.

LIVY
But I can’t have a crush on someone on television!

JOHN
We live in Los Angeles. Everyone we know is on television.

They walk inside the apartment building.

the magic of letters. #HeleneHanff #letterfromnewyork

darlings

you never know which letters one writes that will have the desired effect – in work, life, love and all the other reasons to write and receive a Letter.

Helene Hanff had no earthly clue that her charming and irascible letters to a certain bookseller would become a book, a broadway and west end Show and a movie.

so one writes.

and goes to the Post Office.

and waits to see…….

which is exactly what Helene did all those years ago and now we feel she’s living at our house – because we’re thoroughly Enjoying her book of scripts which she read each week for six years on the BBC (doff cap) called Letter From New York – and when we read a book, it feels as if the Author comes to stay.

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so we are snuggling under the blankets (tis veritable Winter in manhattan now – all grey/gray/Dior-shade gloom and Rather Chilly) and imagining Helene in the next room, writing furiously (and probably smoking) before heading to the BBC studios in manhattan, clearing her throat, and speaking Directly into the microphone before being mixed and recorded and preserved on tape (in those days – it was the late 70s) back at Broadcasting House where we appeared ourselves many years ago on a Radio Programme (heady days).

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so we lay here – with this view onto the cold manhattan day beyond – and imagine New York in the 70s – which isn’t hard to do with this New Reality of economic downturn out there, it seems – but in here, well, we are cozy and warm and enjoying Helene a great deal.

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she talks of the cross-cultural differences between England (a transatlantic world away in those days – today – well – the Interweb has certainly brought it closer to us expats living Here and still wondering about life There).

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and she talks about the dogs she knows and the keeping-ones-thanksgiving-entrees-in-the-cold-larder-in-upstairs-apartments (one had tiny apartments then, as now, in NYC). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA viewer-1
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reading Helene is helping us spend the last few weeks of our manhattan-resident-status in something of a Rather Nice Reverie.

we are waiting for the next chapter to begin (and the interminable holidays to be over – so dispiriting to hear so many early-career-tracks from Mr. Sinatra in every shop that one visits – and it feels like Months now – bah humbug indeed – forgive – we enjoy twinkle-and-tinsel as much as the next cute virtual character but this year it has a forced desperation and is a tiny bit hollow…….or are we just being a little bit Too Sensitive, darlings?)

so Helene is keeping us Company.

and she makes for a terrific companion.

we even gave her our favo(u)rite cashmere throw to put over her knees on the couch while she’s correcting her drafts for the BBC.

the author is in residence.

and then – because we travel lightly in this world – we are giving our copy of Letter From New York to someone marvel(l)ous who also writes in NYC – and is a Fine writer herself – we hope she takes inspiration and solace and encouragement from Helene as we did.

we expect great things.

magical letters.

from magical writers.

Into town: hats, gloves and Radio 4 and barrel-making in a Portuguese village square.

It started beautifully (coffee, the sunshine-y view over the green hills, Laurie Lee to read and birdsong and dogs barking happily at imaginary rabbits) and ended peacefully (light supper, family Telly viewing of vintage British-ness).

And, in between, there were long(ish) drives to and from Lisbon, listening to radio 4 and companionship (we could have done without the ‘single still?’ comment but considering we’ve had Quite a Lot of family of Origin time in the past few days, that was easily smiled-at and talk of lovers and friends and anti-domesticity and love-of-adventure and probably-not-settling-down-again at least not-in-the-traditional-sense and all was Well ;)

In Lisbon?

Ah.

Very teamgloria-type-shop-window-admiring-ness, darlings – 1920s glove emporium, an 1885 hat shop, vintage books and faded cartes postales.

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And a Most curious and Unexpected stop at one of the last barrel makers in Portugal in a village where we were also invited to see an olive press from napoleonic times and a slow stroll through the tiny square, kissing on both cheeks those to whom we were introduced and a cheery “boa tarde!” to the surprise of others (we Do like to be friendly and locally-engaging).

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Back to the Quinta. To watch British vintage Telly. And admire the fullness of nightfall.

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A dog just paused outside our door.

This has been the only really sad moment of our trip.

Usually we love Nothing More than a dog snuffling and dreaming and sighing at the end of the bed.

But the Scar is a bit afraid of scratches.

So we had to keep the door closed.

That feels weird.

And sad.

Not as weird and sad as we felt at Madrid airport en route to Lisbon, when we felt too, too tired and scratchy and a bit Nervy about coming here.

And now we feel Relaxed and grateful.

and ever so slim and freckled and lots-of-deep-breathing-relaxed-ness.

How on Earth are we going to re-enter the sniper fire of midtown manhattan?

Gosh.

Perhaps we are Just too European to do it for that much longer…….

The Fates will decide.

Not us.

That much we know ;)

Packed and not at all prepared for what’s next.

And feeling nice and loose and relaxed about the Prospect, actually.

How have You been?

We do miss you.

sandi toksvig – a great dane (and dame)

am thoroughly enjoying the most recent podcast: “friday night comedy” from BBC Radio 4 hosted by the chortling and terribly smart presenter sandi toksvig (she sounds incredibly english but is actually originally from denmark)

sandi (yes, yes, trivia alert, people….) was in a 1980s TV programme/program in the UK called “Number 73” which featured a motley crew of landlady (toksvig) and her tenants.

am almost convinced that number 73 made it easier for team gloria to adapt to a similar group living arrangement post-university (with – remarkably – someone who ended up being on friday night comedy at one point – i know – spooky ;-)

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