the author returns home a little wan and ready for something on a tray.

hello darlings

Author Here.

*giggling*

we made a little movie.

will you Indulge us?

did you like it?

it took HOURS (so deceptive, just sixty seconds of actual completed footage, you have No Idea – or maybe you’re as obsessive compulsive about your Tasks too and so you Do).

yesterday was an Overwhelmingly good experience.

thank goodness there were all the attributes that we need in order to feel balanced again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa chandelier.

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actually several.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa painted ceiling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAlook at the DATE….. *shivers*

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a nice english porcelain tea service.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand the set of Many A Movie

we had a lovely day of driving to Century City and interviewing someone special for a Where Shall We Meet (here’s this week’s one before we Forget) then getting back-into-the-perfectly-prius to drive all the way Downtown to wait (at the Biltmore, above) until a parcel we needed to pick up was Prepared (it’s all to do with something exciting that who-we-are-in-RL is writing for ELLE China if you can imagine That) and then back-into-the-car again (this being Los Angeles) and stopping at the Grove to admire the Twinkle lights…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand wait for our good friend Richard…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAvery near the Fountain

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and then *blushing_furiously* go inside Barnes & Noble to visit the lovely freshly launched book.

by that time we were Rather Exhausted and so, like the Master, Mr. Noel Coward, we drove (again) home for something on a Tray.



Something on a Tray

by Noël Coward

Advancing years may bring about
A rather sweet nostalgia
In spite of rheumatism and gout
And, certainly, neuralgia.
And so, when we have churned our way
Through luncheon and a matinée,
We gratefully to bed retire
To rest our aching, creaking vertebrae
And have a little something on a tray.

Some ageing ladies with a groan
Renounce all beauty lotions,
They dab their brows with eau-de-Cologne
And turn to their devotions,
We face the process of decay
Attired in a négligé
And with hot bottles at our toes
We cosily in bed repose
Enjoying, in a rather languid way,
A little ‘eggy’ something on a tray.

Advancing years that many dread
Still have their compensations,
We turn when youth and passion have fled
To more sedate sensations,
And when we’ve fought our weary way
Through some exhausting social day
We thankfully to bed retire
With pleasant book and crackling fire
And, like Salome in a bygone day,
Enjoy a little something on a tray.

When weary from the fray
Something on a tray
Sends weariness away,
Something on a tray,
Thank God, thank God we say,
For something on a tray.

it’s Rather fun being an Author.

we highly recommend it, darlings.

darling noel.

darlings

a Night at the Wallis to see Brief Encounter with Mr. George Snyder!

*sighs*

aa3c276496d511e393760e87319991e7_8

with the deeply talented ensemble all the way from England (so dreamy to spend an hour ninety minutes or more surrounded by the voices from the country of our birth) called Kneehigh.

the Performance of Brief Encounter was exquisitely and delicately performed with baited breath of tired settled-for-lives-broken-out-for-a-moment-of-love and oh so terribly Heartbreaking.

the Production was gloriously innovative – back-screen Projection, breaking-the-4th-wall, almost a tiny bit Brechtian (if one can be so and god knows these Times probably do lend themselves to Mr. B. Brecht) in its pared down staging and then there was Physical theatre and movement and stagecraft and a lot of engendering of “gosh!” from the audience.

note to the english cast (we should say UK cast for there was a small Scottish vowel sound at one point which was rich and dangerous and rugged and most welcome) – yes, the Americans clap after everything clever.

it’s hard to get used to (or rather nice, in fact) – perhaps we should say – hard to go back to northern european audiences who wait until the end (to be polite).

americans though, will clap and show their appreciation Throughout the performance in an engaging and very Lovely way.

one of the reasons we’ve stayed.

people are so Friendly.

whether they are, or not, is really not the point.

they Appear so.

so it makes for a smoother life in L.A.

now where were we?

ah yes.

kudos to the fine director – a Lady Director – always chest-puffing up proud to see a woman at the helm (of anything).

let’s have a little Master Class about Noël Peirce Coward himself :

do you have a cup of tea and a throw on the chaise?

excellent.

close your eyes and let these vowels caress your inner ear:

In other news:

c6d00d1296af11e38cbf12396517bfeb_8Some people have asked if we’ll be doing a Book Signing.

As you know, who-we-are-in-RL is rather shy.

so we’ve Persuaded her to do just a few book signings – mostly Private ones.

and last night she signed books (we prepped the pen and admired the chandelier in the main room overlooking the Hollywood Hills because #weadoreachandelier) at the Home of Mr. George Snyder, just before we left for the theatre.

it was lovely.

we felt emotional. it was delicious.

moving on swiftly.

especially because we poured tea not-so-long-ago while Mr. Snyder himself signed his own novels, for us, and, in a lovely occasion for a Friend visiting From Berlin (one must have such a friend in one’s group – it’s fitting)

do you remember this? we made a short film about the experience.

let’s leave you with another moment from darling Noel.

here’s the original trailer for Brief Encounter, the film, with a link to purchase should it not already be in your (extensive) cinematic home delights.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 8.10.34 AMoh, you’re welcome.

enjoy the rest of your Sunday and we’ll see you on the other side – Monday (not literally, the Other Side, not quite yet at least, we hope).

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.

beloved books and forbidden tales.

darlings

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?

well.

let’s see.

we like to believe and participate in the flow.

the flow?

yes.

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).

gosh.

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).

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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.
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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.
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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.

soviewer

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.

*grins*

have a delicious saturday darlings.

the poetic pre-nightfall: Sean Thomas Dougherty, Pam Ayres, Jeff Buckley and Noel Coward.

darlings

you’ll know why the title caught our eye – but the poem made us stay and listen for a while and we wanted to leave it here, for you to see it, whenever you dropped by to visit, perhaps while we’re asleep ————-[it’s 23:00 hours on This Coast and we really should apply night cream and remove the mascara, and not in that order either]

Dear Tiara
by Sean Thomas Dougherty

I dreamed I was a mannequin in the pawnshop window
of your conjectures.

I dreamed I was a chant in the mouth of a monk, saffron-robed
syllables in the religion of You.

I dreamed I was a lament to hear the deep sorrow places
of your lungs.

I dreamed I was your bad instincts.

I dreamed I was a hummingbird sipping from the tulip of your ear.

I dreamed I was your ex-boyfriend stored in the basement
with your old baggage.

I dreamed I was a jukebox where every song sang your name.

I dreamed I was in an elevator, rising in the air shaft
of your misgivings.

I dreamed I was a library fine, I’ve checked you out
too long so many times.

I dreamed you were a lake and I was a little fish leaping
through the thin reeds of your throaty humming.

I must’ve dreamed I was a nail, because I woke beside you still
hammered.

I dreamed I was a tooth to fill the absences of your old age.

I dreamed I was a Christmas cactus, blooming in the desert
of my stupidity.

I dreamed I was a saint’s hair-shirt, sewn with the thread
of your saliva.

I dreamed I was an All Night Movie Theater, showing the
flickering black reel of my nights before I met you.

I must’ve dreamed I was gravity, I’ve fallen for you so damn hard.

Sean Thomas Dougherty

don’t you love to hear poets read their own work?

or sing.

Screen shot 2013-03-05 at 10.40.25 PM

actually anything written by the dark and brooding and wonderful Mr. Cohen is poetry in motion.

too melancholic?

let’s have an uplifting moment of Pam then.

Don’t lay me in some gloomy churchyard shaded by a wall
Where the dust of ancient bones has spread a dryness over all,
Lay me in some leafy loam where, sheltered from the cold
Little seeds investigate and tender leaves unfold.
There kindly and affectionately, plant a native tree
To grow resplendent before God and hold some part of me.
The roots will not disturb me as they wend their peaceful way
To build the fine and bountiful, from closure and decay.
To seek their small requirements so that when their work is done
I’ll be tall and standing strongly in the beauty of the sun.

or Edna

Cold wind of autumn, blowing loud
At dawn, a fortnight overdue,
Jostling the doors, and tearing  through
My bedroom to rejoin the cloud,
I know—for I can hear the hiss
And scrape of leaves along the floor—
How may boughs, lashed bare by this,
Will rake the cluttered sky once more.
Tardy, and somewhat south of east,
The sun will rise at length, made known
More by the meagre light increased
Than by  a disk in splendour shown;
When, having but to turn my head,
Through the stripped maple I shall see,
Bleak and remembered, patched with red,
The hill all summer hid from me.

another Pastoral moment, this time from Mary Oliver:

At Great Pond

 At Great Pond
the sun, rising,
scrapes his orange breast
on the thick pines,
and down tumble
a few orange feathers into
the dark water.
On the far shore
a white bird is standing
like a white candle —
or a man, in the distance,
in the clasp of some meditation —
while all around me the lilies
are breaking open again
from the black cave
of the night.
Later, I will consider
what I have seen —
what it could signify —
what words of adoration I might
make of it, and to do this
I will go indoors to my desk —
I will sit in my chair —
I will look back
into the lost morning
in which I am moving, now,
like a swimmer,
so smoothly,
so peacefully,
I am almost the lily —
almost the bird vanishing over the water
on its sleeves of night.

– Mary Oliver

but we will leave you with Noel.

a true poet in our eyes.

Life today is hectic.
Our world is running away.
Only the wise can recognize
The process of decay.
All our dialectic
Is quite unable to say
Whether we’re on the beam or not,
Whether we’ll rise supreme or not,
Whether this new regime or not
Is leading us astray.

We all have Frigidaires, radios,
Television and movie shows
To shield us from the ultimate abyss.
We have our daily bread neatly cut,
Every modern convenience but
The question that confronts us all is this:

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
Having been injected with some rather peculiar glands
Darling Mum’s gone platinum
And dances to all the rumba bands.
The songs that she sings at twilight
Would certainly be the highlight
For some of those claques that Elsa Maxwell
Takes around in yachts.
Rockabye, rockabye, rockabye my darlings,
Mother requires a few more shots.
Does it amuse the tiny mites
To see their parents high as kites?
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?

Life today’s neurotic, a ceaseless battle we wage;
Millions are spent to circumvent
The march of middle age.
The fact that we grab each new narcotic
Can only prove in the end

Whether our hormones gel or not
Whether our cells rebel or not,
Whether we’re blown to hell or not,
We’ll all be round the bend
From taking Benzedrine, Dexamyl,
Every possible sleeping pill
To knock us out or knock us into shape.
We all have shots for this, shots for that,
Shots for making us thin or fat,
But there’s one problem that we can’t escape.

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
Thanks to plastic surgery and uncle’s abrupt demise,
Dear Aunt Rose has changed her nose
But doesn’t appear to realize
The pleasures that once were heaven
Look silly at sixty-seven,
And youthful allure you can’t procure
In terms of perms and pots.
So lullaby, lullaby, lullaby my darlings,
Try not to scratch those large red spots,
Think of the shock when mummie’s face
Is lifted from its proper place,
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?

What’s going to happen to the children
When there aren’t any more grown-ups?
It’s bizarre when grandmamma, without getting out of breath
Starts to jive at eighty-five and frightens the little ones to death.
The police had to send a squad car
When daddy got fried on vodka
And tied a tweed coat round mummie’s throat
In several sailor’s knots.
Hushabye, hushabye, hushabye my darlings,
Try not to fret and wet your cots.
One day you’ll clench your tiny fists
And murder your psychiatrists.
What’s, what’s, what’s going to happen to the tots?

it’s really superb to Listen to Noel sing it himself, darlings.

Screen shot 2013-03-05 at 10.59.04 PMisn’t he just deliciously brilliant?

we used to play that track while driving a large minivan (sigh, So Not Glam) of little darlings around [during the dotcom crash aka “Our Sabbatical”we became something of a Mary Poppins figure to Troubled Teens] – they loved it – we all sang along merrily.

their parents were Most surprised after they finished their time in residential care.

a good education is Never Wasted.

Poetry, haunting music and the lyrical personages of our day are the true soul-enhancers of society – discuss.

*yawns*

night, darlings.

 

sometimes there are more Questions than answers, especially while at the #SunsetTower the day before the Academy Awards

darlings

waving to you from the couch looking at the Hollywood Hills while eating cucumber (chunks, not slices – easier with the fingers) and black olives (cured – they weren’t sick, but, you know, with olive oil and herbs and so forth)!

our plans changed (someone changed their mind for our assignation today – no, not a Romantic one – – – and at the Last Minute – work called or, it seems Demanded their presence) so we thought:

Oh well, let’s take a long walk up to the Sunset Strip and buy a slim volume of Jung from the clever people at Book Soup and then find some eggs and toast and tea at some glamorous hotel overlooking Los Angeles.

so we did.

and then we Wondered why there were So Many People in black hauling lighting and sound equipment into the Sunset Tower.

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it took a while to Think.

and then we Remembered that the Very smart and opinionated Mr. Graydon Carter is having a party here tomorrow night after the Event (we met Mr. GC in 2002 – anecdote here if you’re curious…..)

Now.

The Academy Awards are Very Important in Hollywood (and we do mean Hollywood, they probably don’t mean that much to everyone who lives in the rest of Los Angeles, to be absolutely truthful) because then – depending on one’s possession of a fortunate gold statuette (or not), one knows at which Table in Certain Restaurants one will be sitting until February 24th 2014.

Justifiably so, many people get Rather jumpy this weekend – the stress and all that – so we hesitated on the threshold of the Sunset Tower, wondering if we could, in fact, find a table and some eggs and toast and tea behind which, and with, to read the slim volume of Jung.

But then we remembered we were wearing black (so could look like a New Yorker and thus “money”) and shiny-sparkly-silver-shoes (possibly eccentric money) and we have a British Accent (possibly married-to-money, a Magazine Editor or a Producer from the BBC).

yes.

we got a table.

and a very nice one.

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actually the restaurant was pretty quiet (movie stars don’t get up that early and they certainly don’t Eat the weekend of the awards until After the ceremony) but the beauty salon downstairs was Packed.

there’s some lovely ephemera on the walls of the Tower Bar (the Terrace where we like to eat was closed for Mr. Graydon Carter’s party) including this:

viewer-1Yes. It’s a letter from Truman Capote to Leo Lerman (now remember that Truman liked to be naughty and be Rude about Los Angeles but he did come here quite a Lot so perhaps he had a secret affection after all).

While we were eating brunch, we just happened to check in with our friends in Berlin via the Interweb and saw that Julia had already answered our Questions (which came originally from Aubrey).

and Most Adorable and curious answers they are too, darlings:

* i am enchanted by everything that has to do with zombies, the tudors or disney villains.

* when i was seven i had such a big crush on pierce brosnan. i carried around a photot of him that i had cut out of a magazine and told everybody that he was my uncle from the USA.

the rest are Here:

we happily read them while sipping tea and then saw that she had re-nominated us with some New Questions.

happy to oblige – sometimes there are more Questions than answers in Life (but forgive us for not going through the whole Rules to follow and the nominating 11 more people……)

here are Julia’s Questions:

  1. what is the color of love?

  2. do you live in the ‘right’ decade? if not, when would you have liked to live and why?

  3. the ocean or the mountains?

  4. what was your biggest adventure?

  5. what is your favorite book of all times?

  6. if you had to choose between either never ever eating chocolate or never ever having sex again, what would you neglect?

  7. what does your mother mean to you?

  8. if somebody compliments you, how do you react? and what was the last compliment you received?

  9. when was the last time you cried?

  10. which tv series are you obsessed with?

  11. is there a meaning to life? do you need one? (inspired by teamgloria. again.)

UPDATE: before we give you our answers – George’s Responses are here and they are Most Splendid.

and here are Our Answers (briefly, as we must get ready and drive East for the Movies quite shortly…..but our responses are always less considered and more inspired as we’re sure you appreciate ;-)

  1. what is the color of love? [rose pink with a soft heavy cream satin bit in the middle]
  2. do you live in the ‘right’ decade? if not, when would you have liked to live and why? [we live in many decades at the same time, dear]
  3. the ocean or the mountains? [between both, like now, in LA]
  4. what was your biggest adventure? [getting on the night train from victoria station to paris with a small overnight bag, some books, a scarf and a leather jacket, age 19, maybe 20, sadly no diary exists]
  5. what is your favorite book of all times? [Noel Coward diaries: all volumes in one if possible to qualify for this response]
  6. if you had to choose between either never ever eating chocolate or never ever having sex again, what would you neglect? [chocolate.]
  7. what does your mother mean to you? [that women are perfectly capable of doing anything they want to, including stripping down an engine and replacing the clutch. now we can’t do this. but she can. which we’ve always been impressed by.]
  8. if somebody compliments you, how do you react? and what was the last compliment you received? [we love it. we blush very well.]
  9. when was the last time you cried? [an hour ago while listening to Creep by Radiohead]
  10. which tv series are you obsessed with? [right now? Borgen]
  11. is there a meaning to life? do you need one? [yes. and yes. and we Thought we had discovered it when we first heard this – yup, it dates us – and it wasn’t the meaning of Life after all That but it certainly gave us a new and meandering direction to follow which was rather exciting and interesting and we’d better stop typing now].

ahem.

a night with angels who have fallen, in pasadena, under twinkle lights, with george.

darlings

we Just got back from the Farmers Market with an armful of roses and swinging bags of fruit and vegetables (and marinated olives from the greek lady) and need to get ready for Brunch (most definitely pictures Later – there’s a garden Visit as well – glorious).

But here was last night’s delight.

Noel Coward’s Fallen Angels at the Pasadena Playhouse – with George who also wrote about our evening here – and a smattering of courtyard twinkle lights and elegant conversation.

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the theatre was built in 1917 and has seen Many-a-Noel-Coward Production – and this one was SUPERB!

we expected it to be Good.

but it was bloody-good (as Noel might say).

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lots of farcical and Amusing behavio(u)r and a snappy sense of Fun. url

and a Lot of confused and silly-adorable-ness antics. 
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one usually doesn’t need to talk about the Set if the production was excellent (because it’s often all one Can talk about if it Really isn’t) but this one was a delicious chocolate box of a drawing room with painting and blue-blue-satin fabrics on the pert sofa and a baby-grand (complete with german-bar-room-singing-maid-smoking-furtively at one point – always wry and genius.)

the evening was a dream.

a lovely drive East to Pasadena as the sun set in the rear view mirror – Handel on the audio system – george in the passenger seat providing elegant conversation.

and we got the Time wrong so we were a full Hour or so Early and could even drift into a second-hand bookshop and find a stack of 1989 – 1990 H&G magazines for a steal which we spent several hours this morning pouring over while eating strawberries.

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quelle blissful sunday.

how’s Yours?

do tell!

 

the writing (and photographing) Life.

darlings – lengthy blog post alert! bring snacks and a large mug of tea.

are you back?

delicious.

here. we. go.

SO! *clearingthroat*

we’re Terribly excited because, you see, once we Arrive in Los Angeles (much) later today – our new Life shall begin.

in a way this is picking up the thread of a much earlier incarnation of a Life.

although we shall still Consult (and we are very much still a Special Advisor for the time being which is lovely and feels Rather Helpful) and use our 17 years of experience in digital (as who we are in RL) – it shall not be our focus from this day forward.

having stepped off the Corporate Ladder (the relief), we shall slip (most elegantly) into the role of Mentor, advisory board member, non-executive director, public speaker – and. so. on.

and now we get to go back to what stopped in the mid-90s (for reasons we cannot divulge and tis far too complicated a story that we don’t really know what truly happened – only that needs must and it was an Important break and change and re-fashioning of one’s personality and Time on this earth and the shaky economy and world of newspapers had re-configured itself – if we’re not being too dramatic – ahem).

we are going to write again e  v  e  r  y    d  a  y.

just like Noel Streatfeild.

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and Noel Coward.

File:Coward_with-cigarette-holder we adore a Noel.

(you saw that coming, didn’t you?)

let’s “backtrack” as the Americans say (what does it mean? did one run backwards on the Track while at a “meet” to find a lost contact lens or a misplaced tennis bangle?).

the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe

it was while reading the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, that we first realized one could let one’s Imagination run Riot and make up stories (or transpose the music of the muses via one’s trusty typewriter) and they became books.

and then we read Ballet Shoes (we really did Backtrack, darlings – we are guessing we were about 8 or 9 – a sweet fair questioning – don’t-come-into-my-room-i-am-READING sort of an age).

balletshoesthis was the cover of the edition we had (sadly we have not kept it all these years but we found it via the most helpful Interweb – we wanted to be accurate and to sum up yearning and longing and true memory which later versions, alas, of course, would Not Do.)

we finished the book with great rapidity (a trait we still demonstrate with books) and then put it aside with some Wonder.

there was an AUTHOR picture on the back.

we stared at it for AGES.

it all became clear.

somebody wrote this book.

noel_streatfeildshe had a name – and a very nice one – Noel Streatfeild.

we went to the public library and saw that she had written quite a few, in fact.

we read them all.

ravenously.

a wide open vista of POSSIBILITY.

we asked the Librarian (we always spoke to librarians, ever since getting our first library card at the age of about 7) if Noel Streatfeild did this writing-business all-the-time.

the Librarian (who was very knowledgeable and if memory serves us well, had a nice line in Harris Tweed A-line skirts and cashmere sweater sets with horn-rimmed glasses), confirmed that yes, indeed, Ms (a new fangled and full of possible liberation word at the time) Streatfeild wrote all-the-time.

well that was that.

we staggered home under yet another armful of books and found out that it was a possibility to write all-the-time.

imgresin fact there were MANY interesting humans that did Just That.

we were never without a small (not Brownie but small and 70s style with actual film) camera.

and we liked to ask people Questions all the time.

by tracking the career of Capote (by now we were obsessed that one could pass one’s Life in this writing-lark), we saw that one could also talk about people who were real as well as Pretend and if one was friends with Mr. Avedon, one could also talk about their portraits (we were Always stopping our parent’s friends to ask Questions and then subject their children to portraits).

83609fwe poured over this book for what felt like Hours.

it was all coming together: one could write and take photographs and ask people questions and get Paid for it.

how delicious.

we still had to finish school (a fertile place for the imagination and many character studies put into play over the years) but we already started to Plot.

we. would. write.

and we did.

it started small (and it won’t shock you to hear it was under a pen-name) at age 9 – bad poetry, some short stories – nothing published.

and progressed to starting a magazine (called The Aesthete) at University (London) and then working in a press office for a film company and writing press releases and seeing our words transposed sometimes entire paragraphs of such into actual journalist’s pieces so we thought sod that and started Pitching to magazines and getting published and then a job on a newspaper and writing and researching and Seeing Our Name In The Paper (not the one we use today – a slightly different version – long story – and not for this blog) and it became A Career.

but then it stopped.

until today.

today it starts again.

and we have quite a few assets (novels*) to start plundering and re-fashioning and giving-to-our-Literary-agent to see if they-will-sell and finding a West Coast (movies) agent (quelle fun) and doing Publicity for the book (contract being worked on now apparently – can’t tell you what fun it is to be the Talent for once and let Other People sort out the Details) – and all the while writing to You, here (which we love the most).

oh. yes. and setting up a photography business to do Portraits and ask questions and do short movies and……..more on that Soon.

a note on libraries before we leave you with something to read:

having just left soho in manhattan, we spent Many hours at the Hudson Park Library (built in 1906 and where, the lovely poet Marianne Moore worked part-time until 1925 – perhaps we’ll get a P/T job in a Library – we’d love that).

and so we wrote the Head Librarian a thank you note and slipped it under the large heavy wooden doors (with proper brass fittings) before we headed West.

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before we get dressed and head into the utterly gorgeous Palm Springs day – a few opening lines from our novel “Running From The Rain” – perhaps we’ll end up publishing this under some version of a “Noel” pen-name in homage to those Noel’s that inspired us so much as we slowly realized one could write all-the-time and people would want to read-it.

It was a pleasant autumnal day in the south of England. The shady chestnut trees were just starting to turn brown and there was a slight breeze, but the sun still warmed bare arms and bestowed freckles on the younger ones. The boarders at Harcourt House were all returning from their summer holidays, some by train, and others by car and the more glamorous ones from abroad.

A VW Beetle, shiny yellow with a vast orange daisy painted on the side, drew up alongside the old Victorian mansion. Looking very smart in her new dark blue and burgundy uniform, Emerald consulted the closely typed pages:

“It says we should pull round to the back service entrance,” she said in a slightly quavering voice, “and unload the trunk and then walk through the garden to the first door where the housemistresses will greet the new pupils.”

Emerald’s cousin Dominic, pressed into driving duties during a weekend home from university, nodded and swung his car smartly into the nearby driveway.

From the back of the car, Emerald peered out at the long black cars dispensing tall, willowy blondes, their hair so straight and fine it could be held back with a single slim horizontal tortoiseshell clasp.

She paused with her hand on the car door handle that was still a bit rickety from Dominic’s last accident, and saw her own straggling ponytail was escaping from its rubber band. It was a nice sensible mid-brown and very thick but had an odd kink at the end where her hair was wavy on one side and not the other. Emerald licked her fingers and tried to smooth the top of her head where some escaped tendrils would frizz by lunchtime if not kept in check.

“It’ll be ok,” smiled Dominic, hoping his cousin was not already comparing herself unfavorably to the goddesses from the Upper Sixth, now seventeen and ready to launch themselves on romantic adventures as soon as they left the following June.

His thirteen-year-old cousin gave a brave, bright smile. “Dominic, I’m smart and funny and those qualities go a long way in today’s society.”

Dominic wondered how a forty year old had managed to squish herself into such a little person. Honestly, in his opinion, Emerald was a product of far too many summers spent reading books and watching old Cary Grant movies and none running around with friends of her own age.

He got out of the car and lifted out the heavy black trunk with the smart gold E.R.K initials on the front. He was relieved the Aunts had bought standard issue boarding school property. Had it been up to Emerald’s wacky mother there would have been a few bags in neon Sixties plastic.

But had Emerald’s parents lived, she would not have been sent away to Harcourt Hall to learn how to be a proper English lady at the age of thirteen.

Behind them a motorbike roared up and screeched to a halt. A rangy tomboy with scabbed knees and scuffed shoes slid off the back with a backpack and slouched off down the alleyway by the kitchens before slipping into the door leading to the gardens. She did not give a backward glance to the motorbike rider who sped off into the peaceful English lanes surrounding the school grounds and disappeared from sight.

Another town car entered the slow procession of vehicles dispensing young ladies to the school. A white-gloved attendant opened one back passenger door and an alabaster blonde emerged, very regally. The attendant handed her trunk to a waiting man in overalls while the blonde walked away slowly as if on air down the same alleyway as the tomboy on the motorbike.

“Dominic,” said Emerald, unwilling to admit she had quite lost her nerve and could not leave the sanctity of her cousin’s VW Beetle, “Do you think there are real princesses at this school?”

Her cousin snorted, “Quite probably, but I bet there are not many real old titles among the nouveau riche and the true aristocracy went broke after the first world war so could not afford the fees here.” Dominic was studying sociology at Warwick and had decided to become a Marxist next term.

………………(skipping forward a few pages, darlings)………………..

Emerald came to a screeching halt. She saw the tomboy from the motorbike being reprimanded in the large wood paneled hallway. Another woman in a scratchy gray suit and high-collared white blouse was telling her it was not appropriate to bring just a backpack to school – where was her trunk?

“My parents are sending it down from Scotland,” the girl said, and saw Emerald staring at her so she smirked and raised one eyebrow. This was something Emerald had seen her father do but she remembered not to think about her father or she might cry and she did not want to cry. The woman in the suit with the clipboard was asking her name.

“Emerald Katz” she said firmly. There was a pause during which Emerald stared defiantly at the wall.

“Ah,” said the woman, “Emma Rose Katz, Upper IV. Well, welcome.” “My name is NOT Emma,” said Emerald, steely-eyed, “It is Emerald.”

The tomboy was being dismissed and told to go upstairs to unpack what little she had managed to bring back to school in her backpack. She rushed over to Emerald and grabbed her hand, pulling her into the hallway. “I’ll take Emerald upstairs,” she said, grinning as the woman looked shocked and then shook her head in despair.

“Oh, Henrietta, please be respectful and don’t run up the front stairs, take Emma around the back then if you must.”

They did not speak for a moment as Emerald followed the girl down a maze of corridors and through a swinging door covered in green felt, up a steep set of whitewashed stairs in bad repair, passed a myriad of girls gossiping and giggling and shrieking as they saw friends again after the long vacation.

Suddenly the tomboy stopped and opened the door to a sun-filled dormitory room. There were eight teenage girls. They were all about the same height as Emerald and had that not quite fitting into their skin look that she shared.

“Welcome to the Upper IV dormitory, your new home for the next year,” said the tomboy with outstretched arms, “hello boys, say hullo to Emerald.”

A girl with red braids that clashed horribly with her burgundy tie walked up to Emerald and stretched out her hand primly. “I’m Myrtle,” she said, “how do you do?” Then she motioned to the others in the room. They were all unpacking small bags and putting teddy bears and pajamas onto what looked like very uncomfortable beds, white bars at either end and thin mattresses and small pillows. “This is Alice, Eglantine, Eva – I see you have already met Henry, that’s Jemima, Sarah I, Sarah II and Sarah III.”

Emerald noticed that she introduced everyone in alphabetical order. How extraordinary. That is exactly the sort of thing her Aunt Amelia would do. Myrtle turned to Henry with a stern look that made her look nothing like a thirteen year old and exactly like the women downstairs in the stiff gray serge skirts. “Henry, I am going to beg you again, once more this term, to stop calling us ‘boys’. Or we will start calling you Henrietta again.” Emerald grinned. This school thing was going to be fun.

…………………………………yes, there’s more. for another time! (did you like it? *shy_glance_nervously_to_camera*)

 

 

what did You want to become, darlings?

when you were small (playground size and we don’t mean those dodgy clubs south of the river where the cabs don’t go)……what did you want to be?

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we used to pour over Magazines (we still do) and dream of becoming Noel Coward and (note Not Or but And) Cecil Beaton and Nancy Mitford.

plus ca change then darlings….

but You?

what/who/inWhatForm did you want to become as a “grown-up”?
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we never really became disillusioned with our dreams because we sort of don’t listen to dull people (Noel, Cecil and Nancy taught us well). viewer-2 viewer-3 Yes, there are moments when we think: “oh dear god(s), how are we going to make a living Next?!”

but then we remember we’ve done this So many times and had So many Adventures – real ones – in Foreign far-off Lands or just dreamed of in the back of a pub in Camden Town or while a teenager and walking despairingly across the cliffs of southern england with nothing in our pockets but a crumpled pound note (pre coins, love) and then suddenly (or, you know, a decade later) there we are – in Milan – about to get up on stage to talk in front of a room of GORGEOUS people after a famous fashion designer (ok, Donatella, there, we Said it) and thought, “Yes! this is Exactly how we imagined it”.
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plus who could get worried about the Future when there are twinkle lights and a portrait of Jean done by Bailey to enjoy chez teamgloria.

as we said to a good friend the other day – the point is to Dream.

and then we made them smile, slowly, when we said:

we never wanted to be Moneypenny
we wanted to be James.
and now we’re heading towards being M (Judi, not the new chap – oops – did we just ruin Skyfall for you?)

so, darlings.

what did you want to become when you grew up?

and are you there yet?

it’s good isn’t it?

Life.

and all that jazz.

(we saw you at the back on the Other coast with that hand action – very good – actually remarkably sprightly if we do say so – Bob – can we call him Bob? he would have loved that move. well, Bob invented that move. right?)

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Paul Auster, last night.

It seems so unlikely, but we have only Just discovered Paul Auster.

We are aware that he wasn’t waiting for us to discover him. Or that many millions of other readers aren’t already firm devotees (judging from the slightly heaving bosoms and moist eyes of identification and adoration from the bearded ones last night at the reading). But we have been so far in the past (usually between-the-wars – as in 1920s+) with our love of literature and usually in England (or Berlin – Isherwood) or in the drawing rooms as portrayed by Noel Coward (and set-dressed by Gladys Calthrop)

                        Gladys Calthrop* (by Howard Coster)

*we should explain – where Noel Coward is our virtual Guardian (dispenses our virtual inheritance and the golden pennies from Quality Street at Christmas) – Gladys is our virtual Aunt – look at that hat and the perfect almost boucle of the fitted jacket – isn’t that someone You’d like to have as your virtual Aunt to tell you how to behave in the Country (especially on packing and etiquette-at-late-auppers-after-the-argument)? We thought so. Just like you’d want Cecil Beaton to do your first awkward-stage-photograph (pre-palest pink tulle ballgowns and definitely after one has outgrown the sailor suit – a difficult age, non?)

How we Get Distracted.

………………………………back to Paul Auster.

so we sort of knew about him – in the canon of impressive looking men of a certain age talking about being a Lion in Winter and living in Brooklyn with all the other writers and we thought we wouldn’t find a place of connection (as they say). Strangely we did….

we saw an extract of his new book Winter Journal and could not stop reading – we read it into a cafe, during tea (thankfully we were Alone) and then decided we could Not start with his treatise on aging – we must Start At The Beginning (which turned out to be poetry and then translations of other people’s poetry, in Paris so we looked for the Moment the Prose began) and went to Barnes & Noble (it was close – sometimes we like to buy in an actual bookshop – especially now our commuting days are Almost Over) and bought:

we have not been able to put it down.

we’re able to read walking-down-the-street (or maybe people find it just so adorable to see someone with their head in a book walking down 6th Avenue in Manhattan that they carefully get out of our way……) and so we do, often.

we read Paul’s work across 6th to the swimming pool and back downtown and we just needed some tea (and a cupcake) and we couldn’t stop long enough to make it ourselves, at home (plus no cupcakes live in our house) so we went to sweet revenge and sat in the window with the shutters open, our feet on the side of the wooden flower boxes, leaning on the wooden counter and read and read until our eyes hurt.

shall we tell you about the reading at Barnes & Noble first, before we give you our favorite/favourite/choicest passages?

there was something called “priority seating” if one was carrying a copy of his latest book (we Almost started to tell them how we wanted to start at the beginning before we read the latest one but we thought they probably Wouldn’t Care).

the room was packed.

we did our best smile and asked if there were any seats.

they looked at us as if we were crazy.

but we’ve lived in manhattan for a while.

we know that people save seats just so they can pick and choose a stranger to sit next to.

didn’t know that, did you?

try it ;-)

we looked vaguely (and winsomely) into the crowd and looked as if we’d spotted a friend.

miraculously the chain was opened for us and we wandered to the front – found the sort of grad student with a duffle bag and mixed tan/khaki clothing with a spare seat.

is that, by any chance, free?

we said, with a Very Literary British Accent.

it was ;-)

we slipped into the space between the grad student and the adoring women-from-out–of-town who have loved Paul Auster since-the-beginning (who stared at us in horror that we got a seat at 6.55 at a Paul Auster reading, about to start).

suddenly we saw him – Paul Auster that is – he was standing diffidently behind the black curtain with a duffle bag (Andy Spade, bought by Siri? – the writer, darlings – not the weird body-less-voice on an device by the fruit company – god, that must have been an awful day in the Auster house when they found out about That Siri). The duffle bag perfectly matched the almost Calvinist look of dark denim, Prada-esque severely cut black jacket and what looked like a plain white thick cotton shirt (the sort of incredible textiles used by Margaret Howell) but on closer inspection (we have very long sight) was actually a tiny checked fabric, we believe. The shoes were leather, black, a tiny bit slipped-into-and-not-cared-for but thank goodness, no trainers/sneakers/unmentionables). The overall effect was definitely Lion in Winter and sort of Lou Reed – but less proud. The hair is magnificent.

when he got up to the podium there was no flourish, no here-I-am.

and no sense of performance either.

he took a sip of water, straight from the bottle (which, disappointingly was not a glorious Italian fizzy mineral glass one but there you go – times are hard), but otherwise read to us as if we’d popped round to his house and he’d cooked (as Siri had a reading at Yale that evening) and we’d eaten well – but not extravagantly and we’d begged (in an understated Brooklyn cords-wearing-cashmere-from-Milan-in-navy sort of a way) for “just a few pages from the new one” and so he cleared his throat and read to us.

the effect – for the first thirty minutes – was enchanting – his voice is Utterly beautiful and  frankly sonorous (the grad student next to us fell asleep at the feet of the Master and the luscious women in plain dresses and interesting necklaces and open toed sandals – no nail polish – relaxed and spread back into their seats).

but then – towards the end – he became darker……

I am flawed and wounded – bleeding words onto a page

almost from nowhere we were taken by surprise from the earlier comforting notions of being-Male and finding-out-about-Love and the lushness of women and the temptations of the flesh ever present, even while inside a long marriage and the glorious travel – whiskeys in Ireland, making a film, freezing temperatures and the warmth again of friendship, no, true camaraderie. The language of men. The stories they tell each other.

and then.

from lust and realism and pain and bathing his children while they were babies he turned dark and moody and yet his voice never changed – the tone remained exactly the same as he started to tell us about burning towers and grief and the crowd shifted, almost angrily, looking lost and bereft and irritated. You don’t surprise a group of New Yorkers with a tale about 911. they don’t like it. they barely talk about it. especially those who witnessed it. it’s a subject to be slowly introduced, carefully asked about, less shared the better, the group pain and anguish of a city that felt human dust on its tongue does not like to be surprised.

and yet he did.

relentlessly.

and then he went one step almost too far (although this is our first experience of a Paul Auster reading – maybe this is What He Does – and the audience are masochists and enjoy, on a deep scary level, the way he unsettles them – it’s possible – this is America, after all).

to an audience of predominately Eastern European descent he mentioned standing on a mass grave and hearing the screams of fifty thousand dead Russian solders.

you could hear a pin drop.

and then he stopped.

and thanked us.

there was clamorous applause.

but we felt confused.

we got up and ducked under the barrier and watched the hordes descend on the signing tables; a group of shop assistants attempting to keep order.

perhaps that’s what storytellers do.

they evoke pain. give us a place to understand it, in safety. and we go on. having experienced catharsis.

do you agree? we’re not sure.

what we will say is we took the Long Way Home to think.

and then stared in joy and bubbling happiness at a weaving inebriated party-goer who had a shining circular torch-like child’s toy and was twirling it around her head and laughing to the heavens.

it was exactly what we needed.

perhaps we’ll give you our favorite/favourite/choicest passages from Paul Auster another time.

it was a strange and beautifully moving evening and we need to let it all sink in.

so much is changing.

so little will look like this in even a few months.

we had a pain in our left inner elbow all through the reading and forgot its source until we got home and saw the blood on the surgical tape.

more blood tests.

just in case.

just to know that we’re healing.

because sometimes we think we’re not.

and others we are.

then we hear an author describe pain and beauty and love and sex and violence and rage and regret and we realize nobody ever really heals.

the point is to be alive to experience it all.

and twirl.

twirling is especially good to celebrate being alive.