tenses and landscapes and isherwood and laundry rooms.

darlings

we have been thinking (not always a wise move) about the sheer Chance of the Thing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

as in – if we had been born in the country of those that provided us with this (somewhat dubious but ever-such-fun) genetic Pattern – we would be speaking a different language now (french, irish/gaelic or, possibly, Arabic – how delicious and so very YSL).

and using Other Tenses like “gnathchaite” (the continuous past in gaelic) or Modh Coinníollach (conditional tense).

but due to the nature of Chance (or was it? *mysteriouslooktocamera*) we learned to decline Latin verbs instead with a Terribly British Accent.

but are those languages right now coursing through our blood as yet fully unexpressed? did they lead us to visit places we had no idea we needed to see?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

we had Odd occurrences during our youth of getting on the boat train from Victoria and arriving in Paris at gare du nord quite a long while later and feeling Different.

suddenly twisting a scarf in a new Way and sauntering to purchase a carte d’orange and Actually Speaking French.

then in Ireland – smiling and seeing similar eyes reflecting our gaze was unnerving at first (especially for our travel companion) – yet somehow Right.

which is probably why we ended up in America.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

because one can be Anyone here – but only if you’re from somewhere else – because the woman in the Laundry Room just after dawn rose simmered with a rage we rarely encounter on this mellow Coast – as she stood with her hands on her (yoga-slimmed) hips and stared us down while we stood helplessly with two bags of laundry (too busy writing and consulting until this very moment to do it) and she Guarded five machines. She is trapped here – doing the laundry of what looked like a full apartment (which is curious because there don’t appear to be Families here – we are all single Creative Types by and large) – perhaps she Takes Laundry In – and would not budge. We paused. It was early. But a spelt scone and a long walk to wake up might help. We said we’d return. And we did. Sadly she didn’t look like she’d have time for a scone and a walk as she was still knee deep in Folding.

Makes you think.

“An afternoon drive from Los Angeles will take you up into the high mountains, where eagles circle above the forests and the cold blue lakes, or out over the Mojave Desert, with its weird vegetation and immense vistas.

Not very far away are Death Valley, and Yosemite, and Sequoia Forest with its giant trees which were growing long before the Parthenon was built; they are the oldest living things in the world.

One should visit such places often, and be conscious, in the midst of the city, of their surrounding presence. For this is the real nature of California and the secret of its fascination; this untamed, undomesticated, aloof, prehistoric landscape which relentlessly reminds the traveller of his human condition and the circumstances of his tenure upon the earth.

“You are perfectly welcome,” it tells him, “during your short visit. Everything is at your disposal. Only, I must warn you, if things go wrong, don’t blame me. I accept no responsibility. I am not part of your neurosis. Don’t cry to me for safety. There is no home here. There is no security in your mansions or your fortresses, your family vaults or your banks or your double beds. Understand this fact, and you will be free. Accept it, and you will be happy.”

― Christopher IsherwoodExhumations

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtis not surprising then that we have chosen to live in a land that looks so much (in a certain light) like the places our blood desires.

“I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.”

― Christopher IsherwoodGoodbye to Berlin

even the woman in the laundry room has now entered our brain – who is she? why so much laundry? why so early? why does she fold so carefully in the laundry room (when most people stuff into canvas bags, throw it onto the bed and listen to loud music through earphones while folding in the comfort of one’s own apartment)? who waits upstairs? how long has she been here? what does she do (apart from laundry)?

and what did she want to do with her life?

w h a t   h a p p e n e d that made her so full of  r a g e?

yes.

these are the things we think about (constantly).

it’s exhausting.

but also Rather curiously wonderful.

other places, other times and letters sent c/o Thomas Cook.

darlings

we had a moment in our day yesterday after a Tres Chic lunch under the trees somewhere over there, in the Valley, sort of, awfully near where movies-are-made (or at least Meetings-are-had-to-Plan-and-budget-them – we understand they are usually shot in Toronto or Torrance) when we found ourselves (quelle bliss) in a vintage bookshop.

now as you know – we adore a bookshop.

we prefer a bookshop with bargains (alas, so few of those left) or at least some well-preserved orange-spine-Penguins or a subtle shelf of whimsy.

which we found.

viewer-3

a loved-and-reassuringly-read edition of Stephen Spender’s letters to Isherwood.

curious how pleading some of the letters were – a young acolyte yearning for validation (how horribly we Relate as they say in California).

and then – later – as Spender’s own work grew and his love affairs turned to naught – the letters become cold and distant and rather “Fine! You keep Berlin! I’ll go Elsewhere!”.

they all loved and were entwined with each other in a way that we have not observed since our own days at University – tis strange how these men of letters and privilege lived as though the Quad were somehow nearby and Rules Applied and all of that nonsense. Which in those days, was not Nonsense but how one gained acceptance or rebelled (and thus was accepted by the rebellious, fled for warmer climes like Santa Monica).

viewer-2This letter was one of many in a similar vein – longing, loss, and how to get by without an inheritance (we relate, once more) and yet look at the address: c/o Thomas Cook Barcelona.

Thrilling.

Imagine clipping on one’s shades on top of reading glasses and a large brimmed hat and an overcoat (it might get chilly later when one Dines With Maugham) and taking a stroll to Messrs. Thomas Cook to pick up one’s Post.

Ah.

Yes.

We could do this, of course.

There are still Postal Services (or mailbox companies) dotted around Sunset Strip here in California. We hear there are others but we particularly noticed the white single storey bungalows as they off-set themselves so well on the Strip with all those houses clinging to the Hollywood Hills above dotted with citrus trees and broken dreams.

but Thomas Cook, Barcelona (or Berlin, or Paris, or Vienna for that matter) circa 1930-something.

One can dream.
viewer-5

we have our own adventures, of course – and this is where we store them in the Physical Realm.

Moleskine #147 if you’re curious, awaiting its debut on the Left (actually, it’s a Leuchtturm1917 – the art supply store was all out of plain moleskines) and what-happens-after-a-month of notes, dreams, panic, pain, giggles and Plans on the right (#146).


viewer-1
and twilight brings up so many stories and ideas and moments of longing and glimpses of a glittering future. 

back on the subject of Spender – we’ve been looking at pictures of writers from that era of tweeds and pocket squares and notebooks and pencils and letters-left-at-Thomas-Cook because we’re going to be taking a portrait of George Snyder in a few days.

any suggestions of Links to Inspire most welcomed – this is one of our favo(u)rite ways to prepare for portraits – we love homework – or Prep as they used to call it back in the Boarding School days – *whimsicallookintothedistance*, darlings.

Isn’t life delicious?

 

 

medical leave day 7: afraid of the wound beneath.

so we see the surgeon again tomorrow.

and – if all goes well, he’ll remove the white gauze and steri-strips (as we believe they’re called) and the wound will be revealed.

we’re terrified.

our throat is still agony (and voice-less) and it feels like swallowing razor blades (especially when taking the mammoth 14 x calcium pills a day) and we’re dizzy and everything takes so long (yeah, we get it “slow down” “no rush” – You try being on medical leave – as the americans say “it sucks.”) and we are famous (or at least perhaps, on reflection, irritating, hmmm?) for multi-tasking and Right Now We Can’t.

thank god for Judi Dench.

many have said this, of course, particularly directors-of-movies and those-that-have-run-the-national-theatre (england/national).

her audiobook (although confusingly read by Samantha Bond who is also lovely but not yet a Dame – as far as we know – or a National Treasure) has kept us company through the slow hours of recovery from illness. she’s a joy. rather tart (brisk/no nonsense) at times. and very, very english.

we’ve been thinking (never a good idea at the best of times) about Being English (although as we’ve shared before, we have the bloods of three warring nations running through our veins so the British never saw US as particularly PLU – people like us – for those not up on their U and Non-U Nancy Mitford era slang).

but we did grow up there.

and we’ve been away for a decade (in the USA in case you’re new to teamgloria – both Coasts – five years each).

and we are the product of the English Boarding School System (Latin, Prep, giggling behind long freshly-washed hair, slightly sturdy knees in hockey socks, a School Spirit, nuisance-order-conduct-marks-as-punishment, Ancient History and a quite shocking view of the world via colonial lens from several Masters-in-Gowns – not the modern ones like the groovy art teacher with-a-beard – shocking.)

but we went-on-a-Scholarship (yeah, poor, but Very Bright) so don’t come from that world (but we can fake it deliciously when needed as you can imagine, darlings).

are we meant to stay here?

or go back?/

not today obviously. we can barely walk around the block without stopping twice on a wooden bench and leaning on our companion of the visiting schedule at the time.

you see – like Judi – we’d love to be a Dame.

eventually.

and age gracefully in our garden tending the roses with a large brimmed hat, a delightful smock (probably vintage Laura Ashley pattern), lots of jolly tea parties with rip-roaring naughty stories (yes, William, you’ll definitely be there for those), playing Mozart on our full-size grand late into the night (ladies of a certain age in the British Isles do this, you see), re-reading all the greats, occasionally receiving our agent and accepting a speaking engagement with our literary fans at Claridges or a tea at Foyles (That would be Lovely)……you get the picture.

but what about the rain?

tis true. that was always depressing. and we don’t even eat Victoria Sponge cake so the tea parties might disappoint the vicar.

perhaps (team gloria stretches out of the impending depression of post-general-anasthetic-into the light once more) we’ll do all this back on the Other Coast, in the Canyon, like Christopher.

then all our friends from the Eastern Seaboard can fly to escape the harsh cruel winters/summers and william can come for the summer (and Write His Novel) – and George can drive down (or we’ll send our driver) and AH isn’t far and Maria lives at lake-that-isn-t-silver and our english friends can have the guest house for weeks on end and write and paint (or be frivolous as they wish) and we can swim and have tea parties while wearing Large Jackie O Glasses and generally act a lot like Anita Loos.

ok. we’re back on track. melancholy (as Bryon said – no? the British Disease) is a natural component of post-surgical-experience.

we hate it.

it’s hard being sick.

and we miss you out there.

especially when we have to go out with our wound showing and our neck exposed.

is this what it means to be vulnerable?

shudder.

still – yesterday was splendid in terms of our three visitors. here’s a few teasing shots of our day with a tiny bit of commentary.

we still can’t talk on the phone and we didn’t sleep much so wrote a lot of old-fashioned thank you cards last night (william – thank you also for the new card it arrived yesterday!)

R brought baby S to visit (and a beam-of-sunshine came earlier and walked us around the block and read to us which was delicious). R read BEAUTIFULLY from Armistead Maupin (a theme of our medical leave if you recall).

K came (in a very crisp check shirt post-work and smart trousers) to walk us in the evening and treat us to supper and tried to be polite as our eyes watered every time we took a bite and was very patient at our whispering (note to self – whispering is inaudible outside the apartment). Then he also read Armistead (it’s a ripping tale).

and finally – sleep not descending – we wrote the cards (see earlier picture) and watched a double feature…

can we admit that we’re still rather disappointed that the Day Job has not even sent a card?

and we’re also surprised that people are sending emails and getting what appears to be irritated that we’re not responding. and don’t get us started on the People That Call and get surprised we’re not Picking Up (did they not get we just had Our Throat Slit and Can’t BLOODY TALK?!)

curious.

we’re sick, people.

get over it.

if you know us in RL do send a postcard. naturally we’re scrapbooking this entire experience and our post lady is bringing up all parcels to our apartment as we left a note in our mailbox downstairs and she’s awfully nice so the post is a welcome distraction each day.

that’s the main thing we miss from England.

the thwack of the post as it hits the horsehair mat.

especially as – many moons ago – S and I used to throw down a movie script just to imagine what it would sound like coming through the door – (although, in those days, he was an actor and we didn’t know we’d become a suit in the sniper fire of midtown manhattan)…….but you never know what we’re going to become NEXT.

something’s HAPPENING.

we can Feel Life Change inside us.

80s hair, malibu and a room at the Algonquin.

oh! team gloria watched this last night – definitely one for the late night movie collection – rich and famous – all 80s hair (yup, with satin bows and up-dos), sisterhood, parties on the beach at malibu, a deliciously early cougar moment by ms. bisset who gets cruised on Fifth Avenue, fluffy white robes, bitching, bi-coastal gloriousness and meg ryan’s debut in what was george cukor’s final film (right?) in a snappy screenplay by gerald ayres and – look out for it – a walk-on role for christopher isherwood and his lover don bachardy.

what more could you ask for on a sleepless night as the mercury rises in Manhattan (at bloody last)?