living out loud. the voices of women.


we’ve been to INDIA but we’ve not (yet) been to OZ (or NZ, its neighbo(u)r come to that) and just because we know that William has started to sing it, yes, we Have been to the inner world of ourselves:

oh ok, go on, have a quick sing – we’ll wait (hell, we’ll even join in)

Oh I’ve been to Georgia and California
And anywhere I could run
Took the hand of a preacher man
And we made love in the sun
But I ran out of places
And friendly faces
Because I had to be free
I’ve been to paradise
But I’ve never been to me


oh, that was So much fun.

lovely shoulder-swaying on the Coast and a delicious basso profundo in Whitstable.

now, where we were.

oh yes. INDIA.

we just spent a Very interesting thirty-seven minutes listening to President Sonia Gandhi


– hopefully you can see this Transmission in your territory – if not, it’s also on the India National Congress website (so Modern and yet so ancient a culture)

isn’t that wonderful?


we’ve been thinking a lot about the Status of Women and how-far-we-have-come (or not) in this brave new world of 2014.

have you ever heard what it was like to be a Suffragette?

well, the BBC *doffs_cap* has an Entire archive here: 

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 7.15.51 PM

and what of the chic and the glorious at the other end of the Globe?binny.jpg.700.0x508.941176471_q100This, ladies, gentlemen and those somewhere on their own gender axis (welcome, *respectful_nod*, great shoes love) is BINNY LUM (and that’s Ming on her lap)!

she is new to us but a firm favo(u)rite of Yours if you grew up down under, surely?

Well the National Sound & Film Archive (of Australia) has just recently’ish released a whole set of Ms. Lum’s interviews from the Fifties onwards and we were Thrilled to find Ginette Spanier among her chosen guests!


and here’s another deeply fashionable and witty and wise woman interviewed by our new friend Binny: Edith Head!


so there you have it – there’s something so Powerful about listening to women talk about their work, their vocation, their Path through Life – isn’t there?

we shall return to Ms. Spanier at a future date – and we have already spoken about her back in *farofflooktocamera* 2011 (gosh) – because we’ve learned So much from reading both her books about how to Become An Author (and pre-sell a few copies).

one last picture:

foto207that’s Ginette signing her books.

and yes, smiling for the camera as if Caught Entirely by Pleased Surprise – is Marlene.

talking of Powerful and female.

w o w.

so that was our programme for today – and Such a plethora of glorious voices.

goodnight darlings.

sleep well.

beloved books and forbidden tales.


during our recent sojourn in brooklyn, we had breakfast with Ms. J. Fain (toast and marmalade and tea for us – something with almond milk for her, if we recall correctly) and she made a Special Request.

would you write about the books you own?

and we thought – Quelle Delightful Request!

but then we frowned (prettily) and wondered how best to approach this Task.

you see.

we usually don’t share in Such detail.

but we Used to be afraid of losing everything (not that we owned anything of great value in those days, but there was a lot of clutter and stuff and panic and purchasing at One time).

and now?


let’s see.

we like to believe and participate in the flow.

the flow?


the flow of life and objects.

we do not add to our possessions – without giving something away.

and if we lose something (which rarely happens) but, for example, we once lost a blue pashmina from the back of a chair in a cafe in the fairfax district circa 2002 and got Quite Upset until someone (with a background in dubious self-improvement seminars and extended stays at esalen) said:

someone must have needed it.

we do remember feeling a tiny bit cross and annoyed (so recently arrived from england where such sentiments are seen as Tosh) and then the realization that getting Cross would not bring back the pashmina and a slowly curiously enhancing warm glow-ness that we Now lived in a Land where there Might be Other people that love blue pashminas Too.

and all was well.

because we slowly started to see that Things Return in the most delightful way (we wrote about that here).


this is a very Long lead to a post which was meant to be about Why We Do Not Own Many Books (despite the fact we have read probably Thousands).

once we’ve read a paperback (purloined from a box left on a street – this happens a Lot more than one would expect – and if one keeps one’s eyes open – a real Find is often spotted) – we recycle it by passing it on to Friends with a nice note, often in the Post (or putting our Own box out on the street which is fun – or delivering bags to Housing Works or a similar fine organization).

we rarely keep them now.

because once we know What Happens (and we have almost perfect recall as many of our friends will tell you) we cannot keep something unless we are Deeply in Love with the writing itself (as opposed to plot).

some pictures now, please (do you have some tea to hand? we’re sipping coffee but the jet lag is not quite lifting from our Brows).


so we are a Great Believer in Libraries.

especially as Beverly Hills has Such an Interesting Circulating Library and a splendid “Friends Shop” where one can gather up an armful of old New Yorkers (magazines, not people) to snip and read and peruse of a sunday afternoon on-the-sofa.

but it is the Los Angeles County Library (with its Many Branches) that is the real Jewel for its collection (see above) of 1960s era fashion books and much loved long out of print Editions which can be Requested via the Interweb and delivered to one’s local branch (so clever and so 19th century – the Request/Delivery bit).

and then there’s our own Modest Collection.

many 1st editions from the love that could not speak its name but wrote Beautifully.

a Lot of Vita (we share the same birthday and she captures our imagination with her Verve and Travels to Teheran and Life and Loves and the ability to nurture a beauteous garden of white and roses and trees and birdsong.)

and some ex-library books purchased from those adorable people at Alibris).

Isherwood – of course (we own Edith Oliver’s former edition of Prater Violet).

did you spot Nancy Spain? Ginette Spainer (whom we wrote about last while In Paris ourselves) – who met because of their mutual friend Noel Coward (we own several books that feature Noel, of course – because he has been our Constant literary companion for decades *lookstocamera* are we That old now? tis true. *smiles* and inspired us to Write and live GLORIAously (as William calls it). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Plum, Cecil and Nancy, naturally.

yes, that Is a copy of William James……….sometimes we like to get rather Contemplative. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(signed) novels by several friends and people that we Wish we had known.

delicious gifts from Friends and memories of the Day Job (the red binder is a gift from 20th Century Fox to who we are in RL because she worked on several Movies)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

more gifts from Friends (thank you B) and the Inspiring Life of DK for all those big-hair-slimline-hipped-80s-gloriousness. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and current bedside reading (note: paperbacks: so will be donated or passed on when we’ve written down passages that please us or photographed them for instagram.

funny enough the Only books that haven’t passed through the Los Angeles Country Circulating Library or our own bookshelves or boxes on the street or donations found in treasure trove second-hand bookshops – are – *coughs* – *lookstocamera*- well – Ours.


soon (Jan 2014, apparently – still waiting on Exact Confirmation – it takes a little while – but the red letter day from Last Year – is almost coming to fruition).

since that Deal was signed, we’ve delivered Emerald to our agent (and she said she Likes it Very much) and we’re now 30,000 words into The House On Church Row – may we share just a few more lines with you?

“Am I interrupting?” said Annabelle.

“Yes. You are.”

Annabelle was fascinated and yet appalled by Marion’s forthrightness. She took a step back and wondered why she had bothered coming. It didn’t seem as if Marion wanted to be friendly. “Sorry. I’ll come another time,” she said, turning around to face the street, to hide her annoyance.

Marion relented. The British stiff upper lip was really funny up close. “I’m drinking alone,” she drawled. “Join me. Then I won’t be drinking alone.”

Annabelle was a tiny bit shocked. “But it’s a school night,” she said, looking at her house next door and starting to feel guilty that she’d brought nothing home for supper except cake.

“I didn’t think either of us were still schoolgirls,” smiled Marion, leaning to steady herself on the side of the door.

“You are persuasive,” giggled Annabelle.

“I work in advertising. I need to be.”

Annabelle walked into the house to follow Marion and got a sudden kick in her stomach. She had not been inside the house for years. When Diana told her that there was a new tenant, she had given her the welcome note, but never actually thought she’d be invited inside. She broke out in a cold sweat.

“Scotch?” said Marion, from the end of the corridor near the kitchen, holding a bottle. “No, wait, you probably drink white wine, don’t you?” She disappeared and emerged with a Chardonnay.

“Yes please,” said Annabelle, quickly, and rather flattered, before she changed her mind. While Marion fiddled with the corkscrew and found proper wine glasses in the cupboard, Annabelle looked around. The kitchen was the original 1940s design from the last time the house was renovated. Her mother had been under strict instructions from her grandparents not to update anything, so she didn’t. It wasn’t her thing anyway as she much preferred to be upstairs in the turret room painting strange abstracts in oils while listening to Cole Porter. She could have cared less if the Aga had seen better days or some of the original Bakelite black doorknobs were scratched and needed replacing. The cupboards were a heavy cream shade with panels of wallpaper inside, a sprig of sweet peas on one and pale pink roses on other.

The large chest freezer in the butler’s pantry used to be full of vol au vents for parties and trays of shrimp. Annabelle remembered washing up glasses carefully after late dinners for pocket money at the low sink and handing them to her sister to dry with a tea towel.

“Where did you just go?” said Marion, handing her a large glass of wine.

Annabelle had to bring herself back to the present day. There were so many memories in this half of the house. Her own kitchen next door was modern. Simon had left the Aga but put in all new fixtures and fittings when they got married. If she closed her eyes while washing the dishes, she could always sense this half of the kitchen on the other side of the wall and mentally walk round it while she daydreamed.

“I used to live here,” said Annabelle.

Marion was taken aback. She had not expected anything above light neighborhood gossip or a slightly giggly housewife after a glass of wine. “You did?”

“A long time ago. I grew up here. It was my grandparents’ house. In fact, the house was split down the middle and when I got married I moved into the other half.”

and a bit Further On………just a snippet…..

The cab pulled away and Marion fell gratefully into the waiting car.

“I like her,” said Alex to his brother, as they drove back down Mile End.

They had no idea that Marion was doubling the price of the contract. If she had to deal with crap, she was going to make sure she was well compensated. She picked up her mobile phone and started to dial Kelly to celebrate but changed her mind. She was her assistant, not her friend. Marion threw the phone back in the bag and leaned back, looking out of the window at the lights twinkling on Regent Street. They passed Liberty’s and up to Oxford Street and got stuck in traffic. She looked down at her phone again. She wished she had someone to call.


ok. one Tiny bit more then we Must get ready – we have People To See.

They stared at each other for a long time until Simon realized he really had to go to the office. In a daze he went upstairs to get dressed. As he entered their bedroom, the scent of musk oil assaulted his senses.

He sat down on the bed.

How could this be happening to him?

This was Hampstead, for God’s sake.

Seriously Enjoying Writing THIS.


have a delicious saturday darlings.

glorious places: cafe mode

there’s a place in paris called cafe mode that we always visit when in la belle ville (we’re not in paris a hell of a lot, just so we don’t give you the wrong impression, but when we are, you’ll find us there at some juncture)…..scroll down to find out why….before we forget – here’s the address:

cafe mode
24 Rue François 1er
75008 Paris
01 47 20 69 53

now the more fashionable among you will suddenly lean forward with a start and say:

“rue francois 1er? vraiment? le maison du couture? du balmain et les autres?!”

why yes.

the very same, darlings.

cafe mode is, indeed, full of fashion people from the houses of couture, but only the type of atelier management who eat (this is, after all, a cafe, forgive – but you know a sample size doesn’t go over hips of any dimension whatsoever so those house models and shop girls just can’t eat at cafe mode).

we go to cafe mode because of the glorious ginette spanier.

we can see we’re going to have to explain……pick up your tea cup, take a sip, and lean in, we’re going to speak quietly as the utter fatigue of traveling/travelling has kicked in, love.

ginette spanier was the directrice of balmain (post-war up to 1960s) and had a most elegant and charming disposition (which belied the terrible experiences in occupied france she endured). ginette was a born saleswoman and a glorious host (noel coward, marlene dietrich and lena horne stayed up VERY late in her apartment on avenue marceau) and a fabulous writer – if you can get hold of her two books “it’s not all mink” (re-named later by a publisher into something awfully bland) and “now it’s sables” (isn’t she adorable?) you’ll have a great time with her tales of fashion, intrigue and behind the white panels of the couture house where house models paraded in the altogether (or wisps of satin) and ladies of a certain deep pocketbook (and age) decided on next season’s purchases for palm beach, monaco and monte carlo.



*thanks to fashion stylist and creative consultant Rebekah Roy for the picture! do read her own blog post about ginette here.

and yet there’s more….of course there is. ginette had a double-life. that was somewhat seasonal (how modern, as william would say).

september to early june, she was married to her suspiciously good-looking husband (who, in one picture, had his arm linked with noel coward, ahem) and when the summer months arrived, she was whisked off to america by her speaking agent or gave lectures around england with her good friend (and by all accounts quite possibly her lover) nancy spain.


we know! glorious, right?

so it was nancy (do read rose collis’ book, it’s excellent – although we also own a few of nancy’s own writings and will be quoting from them in later posts) who encouraged ginette to put down her memoirs and develop a second, very lucrative career.

what about cafe mode?

gosh. thanks for remembering.

well – ginette lived on avenue marceau and worked on rue francois 1er (balmain is still there) and cafe mode is at the bottom of the street and (yes, we asked, in french, no less) the cafe was there in ginette’s time.

so it feels as if she still pops in for a cafe creme, a baguette mixte and perhaps a glass of excellent cold crisp french mineral water. and loosens her corsetry after (as we did, today) in appreciation.