we’re still Very much in a daze.
so a few Random pictures – and thoughts – and let’s see what happens next…as we type (we didn’t mean In the Larger Sense – too early for such concepts and we’ve only just begun to slink into the dark embrace of the first cup of caffeine at 07:49AM in Los Angeles, USA)
we have manhattan to thank for the green card.
for tis almost impossible (legally) to get a green card (through employment) unless one has a grand Job with a large established outfit (the company, not the clothing one wears to the Office).
so we got one.
and it was intense and full of world travel and machinations and some very good moments and some not such good times during you-know-what
we learned to Compete and subsist on chutzpah and caffeine.
but all with an english accent (this is the truly delightful Royal Academy) which helps a Great Deal in American Business (even if they are rarely listening to the Content of one’s impassioned speech).
but England was always a slight pang of sadness for us – we never fit in there (and we hope to mine that rich seam through the novels and in some way Move On from the early pain of not having the right Background, true Accent or country pile with dogs and batty parents and some nice-pearls-from-aunt-charlotte).
yet the Americans have always found us charmingly british so we slid gracefully into something close to their perception and bought our own pearls (from a street fair in perry street in the village-of-greenwich)
yet there was always France.
until our 25th birthday, we had a french passport.
and then the immigration rules changed and it was Taken Away.
we were Stateless for almost a year (we didn’t keep a diary or a blog – pre-interweb-days, darlings) until the Editor of the Newspaper we worked on (gawd bless ‘im) insisted that the Authorities Help (as we had to fly to Atlanta for the E3 technology conference and cover the launch of Lara Croft – original game – for computers – not the movie, love).
at that point, we became British – but we look Irish – (which if you know your history was always a point of tension – we’re not underplaying this – but this is Not the blog for that discussion *lookstocamera* #newblogs?) – because that’s where 50% of our blood comes from (of course we are a virtual-ness so have no sanguine-component but who we are in RL is very lyrically freckly with a sing-song voice).
so when we first came to Los Angeles (on a Visit) in 1999 *looksvaguelytocamera* it felt like home.
one could be Anything one wanted here.
everyone had mixed blood (and amusingly many had it in the same combination – 50% irish, 25% english, 25% french) and everyone Wrote and made movies and music and generally wore great sunglasses and still admired the sunsets even after years of residency here.
los angeles is also as verdant as a summer garden in england – and remains thus all year round.
they also have magic places called SOUNDSTAGES which are delicious.
not everybody reads here – but those who Do – have a Lot of Books (some of which they have written themselves).
we picked up a camera again around that time and realized that looking-through-a-lens was soothing to the soul (and fun to take pictures of people we love).
and it was here – in America – that we started to Write again – something we thought we’d never do – we had such grief about losing (? walking away? torching?) the career as a journalist
yet now we regret nothing.
we have had a Huge journey and travel(l)ed widely and met the Most Interesting (and beautiful) people.
so, as Madonna sang:
well, the first thing that who we are in RL went and did as soon as she had finished Squealing and crying-a-bit was pick up her camera and go next door and shoot some self-portraits (we put the kettle on and waited patiently – it took a while for her to find the right lighting and liquid eyeliner swoosh) so she could update her Headshot from serious-corporate-manhattan-lady to i-am-so-happy-now-in-los-angeles.
she can be very sweet.
as long as she realizes that we need to buckle down and finish Church Row because Charlotte Jones has arrived (and we had No Idea she was behind the door) and Marion goes on-a-date-with-Dovinda (who just appeared off a 1st class direct flight from manhattan without a by your leave).
you are Most Kind.
The three of them walked slowly down the hill. Simon fuming, Annabelle being bossy and Marion caught between them, delighted.
As they reached Church Row, Marion unzipped her tracksuit bottoms to get her keys out. Annabelle helped her open the door but demurred at her offer of a coffee. Simon felt triumphant. Until Annabelle said, “Oh, darling, I forgot to mention, your mother just showed up, she’s in London to sell her house.”
Simon spluttered. “My mother is here?”
Annabelle was tight-lipped. “Yes, she said she had warned you she was going to arrive. Perhaps you forgot to leave me a note on the fridge?”
His wife was never bitchy – unless Charlotte Jones was concerned. Simon’s heart sank. His mother had emailed him last week but in all the excitement over the gorgeous American neighbor and the subsequent revival of his married sex life, he had forgotten.
“Jesus Christ,” he said, quietly.
Marion was amused. She paused on her doorstep and watched them walk slowly to the house next door. “What’s she like?” she asked. Annabelle turned round and put her hand on Simon’s arm in sympathy.
“A credit to the British Empire,” she said, sighing.
“I thought you guys didn’t have an Empire anymore.”
“Don’t tell my mother-in-law that,” said Annabelle as her husband almost smashed his foot on the new lavender and rosemary pots outside the front door.
The door opened from the inside and a statuesque older woman with the most magnificent ash-gray helmet of hair stood there, surveying the scene. Charlotte Jones was a British version of Catherine Deneueve. She had the steely backbone of a matriarch with the gorgeous curves encased in serious lingerie from the Queen’s purveyor of silk unmentionables, Rigby and Peller. Her dresses were beautifully cut, from Dior, the neckline set off with a single strand of pearls (inherited) and she wore low-heeled Gucci pumps in matching navy.
Marion was transfixed. If Annabelle was a sweet English rose, her mother-in-law was a vast and glorious bouquet from a country house weekend. She was magnificent.
Charlotte took in the situation instantly. Her son was bruised, emotionally, her daughter-in-law was flirting with women again (Simon was right, it wasn’t the first pash she had had) and the American next door was trouble, her grandson had already filled her in on that. Well she would sort everything out, she always did. She gave a cheery wave to Marion who was still standing in her own doorway.
“I’m Charlotte,” she said.
“I heard,” said Marion, with a significant nod to Simon who groaned.
“Come for dinner tonight,” said Charlotte.
Annabelle swallowed her fury. How dare Charlotte do this – come and take over her life without the slightest compunction. There was no food in the house, she was going to Lydia’s for a light supper anyway and Simon was taking Mark to Scouts. She appealed to Simon for help but he was hanging up his Mackintosh coat.
“Another time,” said Marion, “I have a date tonight.”
“I’m here for a week – we shall reschedule,” said Charlotte crisply and closed the door. Then she looked at Simon and Annabelle who were standing sheepishly in the hallway. “Seems like a little drama is brewing on Church Row, darlings,” she said, walking ahead of them to the kitchen to put the kettle on. Thank goodness she had arrived in time, she thought. Simon looked helplessly at Annabelle who mouthed “A WEEK?” and they both headed into the kitchen, both of them wondering who Marion had a date with tonight.
Kelly grabbed the rolls of campaign sketches and her tablet computer from the back of the taxi. Marion paid the driver and marched into the showroom. She had not said much to Kelly all morning. Last night she went on a disastrous date with some American executive in town on business. It was an unwelcome reminder of her former life.
The woman asked her to meet her at the hotel and kept her waiting in the lobby for ages. She hated that. And then they went to a restaurant but the woman – whose name was Dovinda – probably not her real name as after a few glasses of wine she revealed a solid Midwest upbringing and there are not many Dovindas there – was very picky about the table, the menu and the music.
When the food finally arrived Dovinda ate nothing, of course, as she was on a perpetual diet. But she did pop a few pills not that discreetly before she pushed a lettuce leaf around her plate. Marion could not resist. “What are those for?” she asked, innocently. She wished she had not bothered. They were part of an interminably long story about allergies and pain medication and surgeries and despair.
Dovinda confessed that she did not even have to visit her many doctors’ offices anymore – they came to her. Marion had forgotten what a life divorced from any hands on self care was like. She had had doctors on call too. Her insurance covered it and her lifestyle demanded it. Funny how moving to England with just the local GP in his High Street cozy wallpapered surgery had changed her view on healthcare. She had gone once to ask about her sleepless nights, and he had patted her hand and told her to remove stress from her life and go out dancing. Dancing? She expected hot cocoa and a glossy magazine too, but that didn’t seem to be on the prescription pad. In fact he refused to take out the prescription pad at all. That was a first, for Marion. Leaving a doctor’s office without some shopping list for pharmaceutical candy.
So the date was a wash-out. Dovinda had an early call. She suggested Marion come up for a night cap but Marion got the distinct idea that if they had sex it would be the quick thirty minute and thank you version with no remote possibility of staying the night. Which was a pity, The Savoy looked glorious. So she kissed Dovinda (nowhere particularly interesting) in the lobby and drifted into the bar to down a few Jack Daniels before falling into a cab and going back to Hampstead.
yes *nervouslooktocamera* it IS getting a bit Fifty Shades of Laura Ashley over at The House on Church Row.
we had no idea, darlings, when we started writing it.
these things write themselves, of course.