in praise of miss. barbara pym with pictures of england by teamgloria

darlings

we WEPT at the last page of A Very Private Eye: an autobiography in diaries and letters as Miss. Pym writes her last Christmas Card to Philip Larkin (december 1979) and then there’s a small note, in italics, from her sister, Hilary, or Miss Hazel Holt her literary executor.

she died on 11 january 1980

it was like losing a friend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAso – in appreciation of miss. Pym – some words from her and some pictures of england (which we took this morning on the digital camera while browsing through the pages of old scrapbooks so forgive the quality – they’re snaps of slightly dusty prints from a film camera many moons ago – but they do provide atmosphere – non?)

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sunday 28 march 1943
“we sat in the sun and listened to the Messiah. I wrote home, went to the post, pumped up my bicycle, put cotton over the peas. And then lay on a mattress with my face close to the ground, thinking about that poem by Robert Graves, the man seeking lost love…..”

friday 16 july 1943
“After Tea Boat we were FREE – it was a glorious afternoon and a lovely sensation to be able to walk out to the shops – I went into Smiths, got a book to read at the weekend and bought a copy of Tristram Shandy, which I feel will be nice to have about. I also bought apples and cherries and a Radio Times. I spent a happy house lying in my bunk eating and reading a Graham Greene novel.”

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24 june 1953
“Reading a biography of Edmund Campion on a Friday over lunch one feels bound to eat fish.”

20th april 1961
“The new Archbishop of Canterbury has a lovely lap for a cat.”

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31 october 1971
“Since the closing we have been to St Mary Magdalene’s, Paddington. It had rather good music and quite an amusing vicar (dragging on a cigarette) and curate who live in a startlingly modern clergy house just opposite the church.”

30 january 1977
“I am struggling to get that novel into a fit state to send to Macmillan…….I now rather regret having gone so far with this last one but perhaps we can’t help ourselves. I am really better at making marmalade (very successful this week!) and doing patchwork.”

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20 may 1977
“Seeing a handsome Dorset woman at a petrol pump I thought a Hardy heroine of today might well follow such an occupation. Tess for instance.”

21 august 1977
“August is a funny time (not necessarily a wicked month?) holidays and all that, although I always used to like it in the old days in London – summer dresses in the office and visiting American anthropologists and slipping out for tea at the old Kardomah in Fleet Street.”

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27 august 1977
Tullia Blundo the Italian girl who is writing a thesis on my novels came. She is a small dark Sicilian (living in Pisa) wearing mauve-tinted glasses – lively and interested in everything. Her word is ‘tremendous’.”

19 july 1978
“Went to London to record Desert Island Discs with Roy Plomley. Lunch (cold salmon) with him at the Lansdowne Club. A vast spacious room. Then listened to the records, a cup of tea, then did recording. Ate with Poopa in the Viking Bar at Paddington Hotel and back on the 8.15 train. Relief to be home and in the country again.”

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26 april 1979
“Romantic Novelists’ lunch at the Park Lane Hotel, Piccadilly – a curiously deserted hotel, vast ladies’ cloakroom in the basement with marble basins and pink velvet sofas. After, bus to Paddington and had a quiet calm of mind all passion spent tea in the refreshment room on platform 1 before getting the five o’clock train home.”

thank you miss. pym for spending a little while with us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand just because we missed her so very much upon closing the book for the last time (before opening it again to record the nicest bits for You) – we found a digital device lying around (quite Wantonly actually – the device, not us, we were perfectly respectable this morning) and found Miss Pym on Desert Island Discs so we could enjoy her voice drifting into the room as we gazed out on the Hollywood Hills and enjoyed her choices with great Delight.

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yes.

this is who-we-are-in-RL and yes, that’s a tiny blue nose stud in a pierced nostril (the Idea!)

where were we?

why – on the beach at Whitstable (which is where William has just moved to) several *coughs* years ago (we had no Idea we had such Kennedy Clan teeth!)

why is it Here?

because these early words from Miss. Pym reminded us of what it was like to be at University and to Be (so very) Young.

13 june 1932
“I had a note from Rupert and Miles asking me to go to the flicks. I dashed to Carfax at 7.30 and we went to Goodnight Vienna at the Queener. It was lovely, and somehow appropriate. We sat at the back in the corner and I had two arms around me for the first time in my history. The flick was over at 10, so we stopped at the coffee stall by Cowley Place on our way back. We drank to each other in chocolate Horlicks.”

15 june 1932
“In the afternoon went on the river with Rupert and Miles. We had tea at the Cherwell tea gardens. Much semi-nakedness to be seen on the river. We landed at a bank and Rupert dropped his watch in the water.”

4 september 1933
“Reading Gertrude Trevelyan‘s novel Hothouse. I desperately want to write an Oxford novel – but I must see first that my emotions are simmered down fairly well.”

isn’t she tremendous?!

so glad that Miss. Pym came to stay.

BarbaraPym_InternationalAfricaInstitute

plaque_pym

for further reading (as they always say in the British Library when one asks about a particular Subject) – there’s a lovely appreciation here.

and what about our own Further Reading?

well.

we’re half-way-through the splendid Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell (a lovely blog post by The Captive Reader there)

pomfret-towers1and, well, we have a Lot of Writing of our own to do – because who-we-are-in-RL is currently juggling not one but two writing jobs (one is Post-Production on a moving picture, no less) and about to start on a consultancy.

so while she’s out Working.

we sit here in luscious comfort (silk robe, against the pillows) and r e a d

#bliss.

are you having a tremendous Sunday?

do. tell.

last night in malibu with elizabeth gilbert @gilbertliz

darlings

we had the nicest call from the lady at the Malibu Public Library 

just wanted to let you know that the waiting list opened up and you have two confirmed seats for the Speakers Series with Elizabeth Gilbert.

quelle splendidness.

so we drove over freeways and down canyons and alongside-the-ocean and there it was the Malibu Public Library.

strange though – no cars.

the event was meant to be Sold Out.

and then we saw a group of new friends (new because they had only just met and bonded over A/Elizabeth Gilbert’s “eat pray love” and B/being Lost In Malibu) and they were chattering happily and tripping along in cork wedgie sandals and something floaty and diaphanous on top with slim jeans and blown-out-fluffy-hair (yes, all of them – we were not Correctly dressed for this event it was clear).

it’s not at the library!

they all said as we approached.

*confused*

where is it?

*joyfullaughter*

at the malibu civic theatre!

so we followed the aubergine station wagon and a slim dark navy Mercedes and found our way into a lobby of Cross People (who did not have confirmed seats for the Event and were irritated to find out there was a very long waiting list indeed).

not long after the excited chatter and leaning-over-the-back-of-the-seats to share E. gilbert stories all subsided, the orangey-glow of the Malibu Civic Theatre (just in case you want to visit: Malibu Civic Theatre, 23825 Stuart Ranch Road, Malibu 90265 or Malibu is online here) seemed to get a little brighter and then she walked out on stage.

elizabeth gilbert at malibu civic theatre june 23rd 2013

we did feel a little smug as we were in black too.

elizabeth gilbert is a truly inspired speaker – fluid, fluent, funny, elegiac, magical – and also highly irreverent:

for example, on remembering her TED talk:

Bill Gates is in the front row. Al Gore is next to him. I’m in tears in my hotel room that morning because all the talks the day before were on robotics. And then I got up there and I’m talking about fucking faeries.

slightly strange to be in the company of devotees.

which elizabeth (can we call her Liz?) deflected with funny stories.

like one about meeting two little old italian ladies in an airport who kept nudging each other about who-that-woman-was and finally concluded she was:

that girl who wrote that book based on that movie.

proving yet again that Cinema has a greater popular culture stamp than literary fiction or confessional memoir.

*ironiclooktocamera*

then she flowed into a lovely involved anecdote (which you just Knew was getting us to the point of the evening which was to Talk About Her New Book – but it was done Very Well), an interwoven tale within many tales about “why i’m a writer” and “shameless pursuit of magic” and “an inspired life” and “how ideas arrive – and leave” (that was a really beautiful and wickedly funny/slash/gasps-from-the-audience strand) and “don’t write for a demographic – write to a single person” (which is great stylistic advice but Publishers still expect the demographic to be duly noted in the Brief and Pitch and Publication Notes for the Publicity Department because they want to sell more than one book and anyway if you wrote it for one person you undoubtedly gave them a free copy).

when the evening was over and we’d all clapped and then drove out past the ocean which twinkled under the most pendulous and portentous full moon one had ever seen, we looked at her website for the response to the most over-asked-question-of-writers and found this excellent piece. 

I have a friend who’s an Italian filmmaker of great artistic sensibility. After years of struggling to get his films made, he sent an anguished letter to his hero, the brilliant (and perhaps half-insane) German filmmaker Werner Herzog. My friend complained about how difficult it is these days to be an independent filmmaker, how hard it is to find government arts grants, how the audiences have all been ruined by Hollywood and how the world has lost its taste…etc, etc. Herzog wrote back a personal letter to my friend that essentially ran along these lines: “Quit your complaining. It’s not the world’s fault that you wanted to be an artist. It’s not the world’s job to enjoy the films you make, and it’s certainly not the world’s obligation to pay for your dreams. Nobody wants to hear it. Steal a camera if you have to, but stop whining and get back to work.” I repeat those words back to myself whenever I start to feel resentful, entitled, competitive or unappreciated with regard to my writing: “It’s not the world’s fault that you want to be an artist…now get back to work.”  Always, at the end of the day, the important thing is only and always that: Get back to work. This is a path for the courageous and the faithful. You must find another reason to work, other than the desire for success or recognition. It must come from another place.

it is an excellent point – and nice deflection by using Herr Herzog to say the tough love stuff rather than having to say it oneself.

it’s amazing how many people suddenly come out of the woodwork with a half-finished manuscript in the bottom drawer when one gets a publishing contract and would like you to read it (which we cannot – we’re not an Editor or a Publisher – we just Write – every day – which is what one has to do if one wants to have a book someday).

movingswiftlyon

*coughs*

but this is the curious bit.

we asked a question last night, in Malibu:

when did you realize you were famous and how did it feel?

because there has to be a Thrill at some point or a delicious warm glow-y-ness.

eat pray love gave permission to several generations of women to have a Big Life.

even if they didn’t go and get one – they felt like Liz was out there doing it for them and by reading her book, they got a contact high.

which is wonderful.

truly wonderful.

but we got the strangest answer:

well, I’m not that famous. And I don’t have Neil Gaiman’s fans or Twilight fans – mine are usually middle aged ladies who went through a bad divorce and are nice and sort of apologetic when they approach me.

we paused.

oh.

well, we’re Neither.

we admired her (and her lovely voice on the audiobook) because she got off the bathroom floor and went around the world and wrote about it as she climbed out of Chaos and made-something-of-that-experience.

she had an ADVENTURE.

and WROTE ABOUT IT.

isn’t that extraordinary?

we’re sort of sad that she doesn’t have a yummy delicious feeling about doing that.

or maybe she does.

here was her blog post after the Talk last night.

WORD OF THE NIGHT: PERIGEE

Holy shit, you guys, I wish you could see the moon over the Pacific Ocean at this very moment, like I am seeing it right now in Malibu. I just finished my talk (THANK YOU, BEAUTIFUL LOVELY AUDIENCE!) and came outside to the best imaginable view of the SUPER MOON.

Are you looking at this, wherever it is night?

The moon is at is PERIGEE (just learned this word) — its closest point to earth. Feels like you could reach it with a pretty decent stepladder. I’ve never quite seen anything like it.

If you ever wanted to shoot for the moon, everyone, I would suggest doing it RIGHT NOW. Just stand on your tiptoes and go for it.

Gonna go stare at it some more and marvel.

Have a BLESSED night.

Love from your friendly local Cancerian,
Liz

ah yes.

That’s the sound of someone truly happy and fulfilled and spirit-brimming-over.

which is the only reason to write.

movie nights and screenwriting days #LifeInLosAngeles.

darlings

los angeles is lovely at twilight.

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even when it’s a strip mall.

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better when it’s an apartment building with neon and naughtiness (in yesteryears, perhaps now – who knows…….)

talking of plots:

we’ve seen three movies in the past *looksvaguelytocamera* day or so.

because we’ve been writing a LOT and needed a break (well, one doesn’t need an excuse for a moment of celluloid dreaming, darlings).

one of them we’re going to skip over swiftly because we were heartbreakingly disappointed (the only thing worse than having a row with someone once loved is watching two people one has loved through both of the earlier movies bicker non stop for 108 minutes – devastating).

moving swiftly on ——

now THIS was Astonishing.

bravo Mr. Douglas and Mr. Damon.

thank you from all of us in West Hollywood and Crenshaw Adjacent (and Palm Springs and Chelsea, NYC and Old Compton Street, London and probably a small Via Glorioso near Versace’s Atelier in Milano where that tiny perfect cafe resides where you stand with all the male models at the bar and knock back a darkly rich espresso).

George had Movie Night chez 1904 towers for the Candelabra One with a little light brie and a sumptuous bowl of antioxidant-bursting-berries and we laughed, cried and whooped over the Outfits.

and now to the third film (actually this was the first one we saw…..) – breathtaking – BREATHTAKING – the acting, the premise, the Humanity, the longing, the pain – oh – OH!

a fine piece of theatre rendered onto film stock (or was it digital – it looked gorgeous anyway, talent was most definitely involved behind, in front and to the side of that film).

but you’ll never look at a naughty site or give out your information on-the-interweb again.

not that You would.

but we’re just saying……..

d a n g e r o u s.

talking of movies and Hollywood – we’ve been reading a FINE MANUSCRIPT (oh, tis good) – a page-turner – and thoroughly enjoying lounging on the sofa chaise or lying back against the pillows in a little Elizabeth Taylor slip (very Tennessee Williams but only sipping a weak tea with lemon) – letting the pages fall onto the small rug as we race Eagerly through the story. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe can’t possibly tell you who wrote it.

it’s not yet published.

but we promised to write a small blurb for the author’s site – so exciting.

also talking of Hollywood – we’re starting to plot too – and work out where our 4 x female characters from 1929 might have lived. 
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there’s a Very Clever (or horrifying, depending on your view of privacy) site-on-the-interweb called The Movieland Directory which has “triangulated” (geek/word) data sets encompassing Los Angeles (public) telephone directories from the 1930s+, Travel Manifests from Atlantic-crossing-great-ships, the Census (which becomes public – what – *looksvaguelytothemiddledistance* at some Point, clearly) and mapping software – voila!

you can find out all the places where Louise Brooks, for instance, once resided.

isn’t that astonishing?

especially if you live here and always felt strange tingling feelings outside Certain Blocks on disparate streets………

*significantlook*

one. might. have. done.

talking of Louise Brooks (as we were) – we were back at the Academy of Motion Pictures Library with the LETTERS of Louise Brooks.

yes.

the actual letters.

astonishing to hold them in one’s modern day hand and experience the thrill of opening a portal into a former Time.

she was awfully naughty.

lots of terrifying gossip about hollywood and the Mob and what men-with-money-and-zero-skills used to demand of Talent.

she was also Very Witty:

(writing in advanced age by this point)

7 North Goodman Street                 10 March 1977
Rochester, NY 14607

My darling Herman Mankiewicz who once (1925) assigned me to review No No Nanette (lousy) while he slept in the next seat….

When I was in Paris in 1958 for a month of homage by the Cinematheque Francaise and wouldn’t leave my bed and gin and tomatoe (sic) juice to go anyway, Lotte Eisner came every day to see me……………Returning to Paris one night Lotti and I went to Man Ray’s where he was entertaining a strange couple who had come to look at his paintings.

……..My last visitor was Christopher Isherwood on a friendly call combined with film watching at Eastman House (8 Feb). I hope you get more nourishing stuff out of me on Keaton and Schenck than I got out of Ish-Ish on Auden and Vidal.

Then we Returned that File to the Special Collections Desk and took the next Manilla folder – the correspondence of a certain Kate Hepburn. Sadly it was mostly Correspondence Received by K. Hepburn but there were a few scrawled notes, probably to her faithful secretary, on how to Respond. We whooped (silently, as it was the Library) to hold in our hands a letter from Someone We Have Met (in Palm Springs – the director and writer Gerald Ayres who directed this which we Adored) to K. Hepburn (such fun!)

Gerald Ayres                July 2, 1981

“I pretend to be a writer and I paused over the keys, debating what qualifying adjective to put in front of ‘pleasure’, and like most writers, I wanted all the words, so I let it stand, pleasure. for that is what it was.

It seems that Mr. Ayres met Kate in the Library at Mr. Cukor’s house – which is where Ms. Dorothy Arzner wrote to K. Hepburn in this note (below).

Dorothy Arzer                         Nov 11 1976 PM        13c stamp
Box F
La Quinta, CAL 92253

Katherine Hepburn
c/o George Cukor
9166 Cordell Drive
Hollywood, California 90069

PLEASE FORWARD

“Do come if you are of a mind to, I’d love having you.”

“I love knowing you are in my world and my time”

The final Manilla Envelope contained two sheafs of yellowing paper from the Screen Directors Guild – one was called:

Suggestions for Writing A Film Play
from the notebook of Dorothy Arzner

sadly this was not dated.

but she had some Excellent Advice:

A knowledge of human character is the bed rock on which the higher form of drama rest.

But more than this: the dramatist must have a philosophy of life.

Contrast Helps Movement
If one nature strikes fire from another than the air is tingling with movement.

The test of a dramatic theme is that it can be expressed in no way so well as in visible action on film.

There was something so Wondrous about holding these materials close and making pencil marks in one’s notebook (No Pens Allowed at the Library) and reaching back into the past to get saturated in ideas for something-to-write-in-the-near-future (before we have to get a Proper Job – which might be fun actually – we sort of miss it).

talking of ideas.

we really want to find an agent on This Coast who sells screenplays to Movie Studios – because we have written several (although we noticed that we haven’t written one for a little while because when we went to open Final Draft it gave us a nasty scary notice about the Version we Have not being Compatible with the Upgrade of the OS we just did *sighs* and there was an activation code but the Automated Telephony Service did not have that Option Available *sighs* – thank goodness we are Calm and can call the Helpdesk at Final Draft tomorrow (it’s Memorial Day in the United States today) and then Fix the Situation.

thank goodness that we also save everything as in Portable Document Format or we couldn’t share this with you now.

The Goddess of Donal Bay | 

The head of the Muses freaks out when she finds out “life coaches”, have replaced them in modern life. She comes to earth to restore her reputation. But she has no idea that the eternal soul, Liam, is now in possession of a hot new television writer as his latest incarnation and is determined to thwart her plans and take over L.A for his own heady desires.

INT – VIRTUAL COPY OF ST. PANCRAS STATION, LONDON DAY

Steam blows into the Victorian rafters. An eternal soul, LIAM, 45, unshaven, unkempt and deeply sexy, is irritated.

LIAM
I was promised I could be a man.

A GUIDE, an ethereal being, checks her clipboard. She hands Liam a slip. He does not read it. The guide swings a globe round to the USA and points to Los Angeles.

LIAM (CONT’D)
There was nothing there last time I went down.

Another soul, CORNELIUS, 70, very elegant, takes the Guide’s clipboard and reads.

CORNELIUS
Donal Bay, beautiful place.

He consults the clipboard.

CORNELIUS (CONT’D)
You are terrible at being female.

LIAM What are you?

CORNELIUS
An entertainment attorney. I can’t wait. All power offices, sharp suits and fast cars. Divine.

LIAM
I’m going to decline this mission.

The first guide stabs his hand with the information slip.

CORNELIUS
You can’t – until you read your extra information slip.

Liam glances at the piece of paper. A slow, sexy grin appears on his face. He drops it to the floor and saunters to catch the train that just pulled in.

INT. OLD-FASHIONED STEAM TRAIN CARRIAGE – MOMENTS LATER Brown leather seats, luggage racks overhead. Liam grins.

LIAM
I’ve never been a lesbian.

He looks around at the others on the train.

LIAM (CONT’D)
I wonder who else is a lesbian on this trip. Apparently it’s so hard to tell these days.

Cornelius looks amused.

LIAM (CONT’D) You’re not one are you?

CORNELIUS
No, I’m a straight man this time around. I took all the right lessons on buying electronics.

LIAM
I never take the classes.

CORNELIUS
You’re going to be a lesbian without any training at all?

LIAM
As if I need classes on dating women.

GUIDES enter the train carriage and sit down next to each eternal soul and the carriage fills with white light.

we LOVED writing this one.

at the time of writing *looksvaguelytotheOtherCoast* we thought of This Actor for Liam and This man for Cornelius – still keen on Terence – but who would you cast as Liam?

need a bit more dialogue?

*blush*

you are Most Kind.

here you go —–

EXT. BODHI TREE ANNEX – EVENING

A line is forming round the block for the life coach speech. Liam and Cornelius walk past. Liam taps his finger on a flyer featuring Calliope stuck to the wall.

LIAM
What’s the ice maiden doing now?

CORNELIUS Oh. How clever!

Liam rips the flyer off the wall to read.

LIAM
What’s a “life coach”?

CORNELIUS
An inspirational speaker and personal advisor who helps you move towards your goals.

LIAM
Not one word of that sentence made sense to me.

CORNELIUS
They are calling life coaches the modern muses. (beat) So an ancient muse just became a modern muse! She is super smart.

Gina is in line. Liam looks curiously at Gina.

LIAM Why is Gina here?

CORNELIUS
I told you. Calliope is your competition.

LIAM
Then she better be prepared for a fight.

CORNELIUS
I had no idea you cared about Gina.

LIAM
I don’t want that muse making my life complicated.

CORNELIUS
I’m going inside to hear her speak.

LIAM
Public lectures remind me of the Victorian era – not my favorite period.

Cornelius exits into the annex. Liam spots a gorgeous sports car being parked by a valet.

LIAM (CONT’D) Now that’s more like it.

Liam takes the keys from the valet’s hands. He slides into the seat, turns on the engine. It purrs. So does he. He blasts on loud rock music and screeches off, fast.

so – actors for Liam ideas please.

two more quick scenes – just to give you a broader reach of character (although he’s an open book and Such Fun to write):

EXT. MULLHOLLAND DRIVE – MOMENTS LATER

Gina and Calliope are parked at the spot where you can see all the lights of Los Angeles below. The car’s retractable roof is back. Liam is sprawled on the back seat with a beer and his feet over the side of the car.

LIAM
This is a glorious place.

CALLIOPE
When did you stop writing fiction?

GINA
When I had to start paying rent and eating.

CALLIOPE
Not all novelists are poor.

GINA
The benevolence of wealthy patrons supporting writers and poets died out years ago.

CALLIOPE
It did?

LIAM
That was a racket anyway.

Liam looks around and suddenly notices the couples in other cars making out.

and a bit more with Terence Stamp, we mean, Cornelius (but couldn’t you just see Terence being delicious in this?)

LIAM
So where’s your work?

He opens a few cupboard drawers.

CORNELIUS
They are still using actual hardware, curious.

Liam walks over to her desk.

LIAM
What is this machine?

CORNELIUS
We used to have these. Let me see if I can remember how it works.

LIAM
Move over. It can’t be hard if they use it.

He taps randomly until he finds the On button and opens folders in quick succession until he sees a new short story.

LIAM (CONT’D)
Now it’s all making sense.

Cornelius peers at the screen.

CORNELIUS
What did you find?

LIAM
A new story – and just guess who it is about.

CORNELIUS
Her job is to inspire.

LIAM
She’s highly manipulative.

Cornelius slaps him playfully.

LIAM (CONT’D)
As well as being unbelievably sexy.

Liam points to the screen.

LIAM (CONT’D)
An opinion that my incarnation shares. This is hot.

Liam finds the Calliope story engaging.

LIAM (CONT’D)
At least she’s good. I hate it when the incarnations turn out to be stupid.

Liam looks around her room. It’s spare, lacking in charm, a make-shift life.

CORNELIUS
You like her! You never like your incarnations!

LIAM
Not yet I don’t. But after I’ve finished with her, it’ll be fun. And I’m not letting that goddess ruin it.

Liam rifles through her closet.

LIAM (CONT’D)
We are going for an upgrade. Let’s kick this life up a gear. Tomorrow – we shop.

and if you know any agents (nobody is going to return our call until the Book Comes Out – that’s how this town works – although CAA sent a lovely vermillion logo embossed Rejection Letter which was chilling and yet fun) – do let us know ;-)

Hollywood ahoy! tea with Vickie Lester (then later with #FrancesHa)

darlings

a Most splendid afternoon was had at the house of a certain Ms. Vickie Lester!

we took tea (and calcium-enriched california salads) and talked about Life and Literature and England and Los Angeles

now as Many of you know – Ms. Vickie Lester’s “beat” (as it would be called if she was a lady-reporter on a 1920s Newspaper Downtown with a metal desk and a phone and stacks of spare nylons and Notepads in the drawer) is Hollywood and there was Much to talk about there – and Mr. Lester (not his real-name) was There Too and also has a Hollywood “beat” which was fabulous and oh! oh! we had the Loveliest Time.

bien sur there are pictures!

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we took a small gift…..

…..we were going to take white roses – we adore white roses – but we knew that Vickie Lester has a beauteous garden and that would be taking coals to newcastle

*glancetocamerawithquestioninglook*

is there any American equivalent to that saying?

perhaps “citrus fruits to california”?

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the garden was lovely – lush and mellow and sun-kissed (or rather sun-embraced-with-a-vast-bear-hug)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the heat is gorgeous on That side of town

*saidvaguely* (we used the Perfectly Prius global positioning system to get there but it didn’t know that Zoo Drive was closed for repairs or that one of the Freeway On-Ramps (could it have been I-134? we think it might have been) was Also Closed (shock) and so we were a tiny bit late (we hate being late)

but Vickie was gracious and the tea awaited us with a cool glass of water in a lovely rich shade of crimson glass. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

quelle succulents (very California) set off gorgeously with blue shards of glass.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

a simple fleur set off with the oil jar – very Grecian. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and rich blooms Everywhere.

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silky shadows and falling jacaranda. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and soft breezes through linens and cottons drifting through half-closed windows as if beautiful eyes were lowering their lashes in modesty-ness.
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while we were admiring the soft linens there was the simply glorious sound of a piano being played.

yes – yes – it was a Perfectly delicious afternoon.

there will be Many More!

and a book launch (of which we shall speak of when Allowed to do so by Ms. Vickie Lester Herself).

and now to our Evening activity:

Frances_Ha_5the light was still bright as we drove back West into Hollywood-adjacent-by-sunset-boulevard to see the movie Frances Ha.

this was a Charming (and elegantly shot in B&W – very Truffaut and not just the bit set in Paris) look at how Young People live in Manhattan – their hopes, dreams, leather jackets, dancing-to-Bowie (Modern Love and much of it was Very Modern Love in the Script itself), getting by and not getting enough, Modern Dance, Day Jobs, awful jobs, jobs-that-take-people-away and jobs-that-are-only-possible-with-rich-parents as well as Art (and what that takes to keep alive) and apartments and a place of your own to dream and make art and possibly, maybe, find Love.

but mostly it was about love itself.

between friends.

the nicest sort of love.

and after the Movie there was a Q&A (we adore a post-movie Q&A, as you know) with Greta Gerwig not just the Star of the movie but also the co-screenwriter.

 

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and the audience was packed with people in their late 20s who Identified (as the Americans say) with the movie and asked Intense questions about Motivation and goals and dreams and hopes and Why-did-That-Happen and what-will-the-characters-do-next and Why Paris?

yes.

that was a question.

Why Paris.

gosh, we wanted to say:

Paris doesn’t need a reason.

and nor do tea parties with lovely authors and conversations about Hollywood and roses and books and designs and citrus fruits and Plans for the future.

no reason required.

because they are both glorious.

overcast like an out-of-season bank holiday weekend at an english resort town.

darlings

tis very strange and grey/gray/overcast outside the window – it doesn’t look like los angeles at All – more like an out-of-season bank holiday weekend at an english resort town.

*lookstocamera*

oh.

wait.

all the bank holidays are In Season, right?

but still terrible weather if we recall rightly.

back to the simile and metaphor and meta-ness.

so today has got us in mind of a day inside a (3 star) hotel at a english coastal town, hands up against the window (“take your grubby hands off the window and go and wash up”) nose pressed to the glass, trying to find the beach through the raindrops and wondering if it’ll clear up long enough to build a sandcastle and maybe eat an ice-cream (rum and raisin in those days or a 99 with a flake from the vans with the tinkling italian music).

perhaps it’s because The Persephone Biannually arrived in the post yesterday.

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we devoured it after breakfast (bran flakes, 1 per cent milk, coffee – 2 x cups).

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gosh!

well.

we stopped in our tracks Instantly upon reading this.

you see at the age of Eleven we went to school in eastbourne (although we re-named it Charstleymead in our novel called “Emerald”*) and spent Many Hours lingering in Old Town (waiting for the bus which went along the coast road – in the times when we weren’t boarding – we only got to stay when we were Doing A Play, sadly.)

will you indulge us?

She had no idea she still believed in magic. As if expecting the stone to transport her back, as if by closing her eyes and wishing it so hard that her heart felt it might break again, she could wake up in the Upper IV dormitory upstairs, tucked in tightly by matron under thick white cotton sheets. A faint smell of lavender from the linen water used to smooth out the pillowcases at the local laundry service. The casement windows open to the elements, birds singing outside and the clatter of kitchen staff frying sausages and making endless rounds of buttered toast.

But it was not possible. She knew that – even if she wished and wished and wished so hard. There was no way of returning. She whimpered in fright at the thought of returning to London, to her horrible cold life in that terrifying building.

Earlier that day, on her way to interview the actor, the rest of Charstleymead had looked the same. The beach still had pebbles, not sand. The same line of striped blue and white deckchairs sat waiting on the promenade, their linen blown out by the sea breezes. The Devonshire Park Theatre was doing its umpteenth revival of Noel Coward’s Private Lives and the old art gallery still showed watercolors by talented local painters of the surrounding chalk cliffs and Sussex Downs. Charstleymead was the same but it had no place for Emerald.

Suddenly she saw someone sitting on the wall over by the Lawrence College playing field. Emerald wanted to run across the old grass lawn now worn in places and in need of fertilizer and love. Automatically, the bit of her that was still Emma ran down through the punishment list:

1. A nuisance mark for using the wrong entrance.

2. An untidiness mark for having hands covered in rust from the gates and not having brushed her hair for at least three days.

3. An order mark – if not two – for being caught smoking.

4. And definitely disapproval for not being a good sport and loyal Old Girl who showed up to support Harcourt Hall over the past decade.

There was a girl, about fourteen, she guessed, scuffing the backs of her school shoes by hitting them on the other side of the wall, rhythmically, angrily – and, noted Emerald with a wry grin – smoking.

*no update yet From New York City on the reading of Emerald (our own literary agent – such a lovely phrase – said it was “poignant” and “very good” and has passed it on to another to “co-read” as the Other Agent is a Special YA – young adult – Agent – still waiting with crossed fingers – only metaphorically so or we couldn’t finish the newest novel, of course).

talking of writing we always find it Difficult With Jet Lag – so we need to nap a little more and Build up our strength before we get-back-to-it. 
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luckily we have lavender spray from The National Trust (doff cap) from William (darling – a Lot of Hairy Chests on that tumblr we note ;-) to put us in the English bank holiday mood.

because we really Miss Annabelle and Marion and Lydia and Charlotte and Simon (he’s making tea in the kitchen next door and wondering if Marion really is a Witch just as the BBC camera crew have left).

lots happening.

we hope they wait for us to get plenty of rest so we can come and watch and write-it-all-down.

are you having a delicious sunday?

what are you Up To?

do. tell.

we love to hear your news.

The Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast Club

darlings

beyond frustrated (and can’t go into the Details) so we looked around for some blog-ness-respite and found two delicious places to dream:

1. The Perfumed Dandy went to the coast and took such ever such nice pictures and, as befitting the nomenclature of his place-on-the-interweb – told us about the Fragrances that such images brought to Mind (which is awfully clever and Tremendously Chic actually).

2. And then we heard word of something MAGICAL called the The Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast Club

and so we’re going to join (if they’ll have us – so we’re posting our Responses below and adjusting our cloche hat and waiting patiently with our gloves on our lap outside the door while the Board deliberates).

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Sandy over at the delicious place called “Another Lovely Day” sets out the Idea:

If you would like to be a member of the Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast Club, simply:

1) Make a list of six things you’ve basically given up on or that more often than not seem impossible/improbable.

2) Look at the list every morning before breakfast, “seeing” yourself being/doing/having each one.

Sandy has written her 6 impossible things if you scroll further down the page here:

*chewsPencilThoughtfully*

ok.

without giving too many intimate details away ————-

1. How To Stay Sane In A cRaZY World becomes a best-seller in 2014 (when it comes out – because it wouldn’t be possible a moment before but we hope not too long after ;-)

2. We find a movie agent and he/she (or a gender warrior of both) sells all our movie screenplays (and do let it be someone who happens to like our literary agent in NYC because then they can Plot together because we’re a Tiny bit exhausted by doing all the Writing bit).

3. Our weight returns to pre-surgery (and – ahem – pre-cake-eating) levels of 2006 (without the drastic measures we took to get there Then – yes, we’re asking a Lot but you said Impossible made possible – voila)

4. Emerald gets published and a lot of teenagers get to say “blimey” (if they’re actually British or have a British-fetish) “that’s Exactly how I feel.”

5. A famous gallery owner sees our exhibition at ‘sNice and then buys a lot of work at our shop on Redbubble (yay! Australians!) and makes a decision to Launch teamgloria as a poster brand so regular people can have beautiful images (just like the Athena Posters we had on our bedroom wall when we were small – they enabled us to Dream Big – and here we are).

6. (ahem). something about Love. (no details). maybe. perhaps. at some point (cough).

We almost put down Really Impossible things like Time Travel, being the next Doctor Who (wouldn’t that be fun, we’d be ever so good at it), Living in Positano while making a film starring someone from another planet – we do think about these sorts of things.

But 1 – 6 feel impossible right now.

we had a frustrating late afternoon into evening (something with trying to put together a “talking head” thingy which was horrible and we Trashed the whole thing – Most Depressing) and to be honest, it really helped writing these 6 impossible things down and sending them out into the interweb by clicking……………Now.

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.

noel-streatfield

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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where do you go to escape, darlings?

hello darlings

are you having the most delicious FRIDAY?!

do. tell.

we had the loveliest cup of (non-caffeinated) tea today with a new friend and we got into the discussion about Escaping.

now.

as you know – we adore to escape.

into being a virtual character with her own book deal

into movies…. 

and music that sears into the soul and is Particularly evocative on a full moon, listened to in the dark with the shutters open (just a suggestion)….

we escape by slipping into bubble baths, sipping tea, listening to Radio 4 podcasts, going to live events–hangingOutOnTheInterweb–and BBC program(mes), pouring over glossy Novels of Life-in-Beverly-Hills (when everyone wore Giorgio and burned exotic candles like slightly caramelized gardenia-on-sunburned-skin) and most particularly flying off at a moment’s notice into Foreign Travel Adventures 

what do you do?

do. tell.

we love to hear from you.

oh!

we almost forgot (getting a Tiny bit serious and cerebral for a quick second).

another way to escape the trials and tribulations of every-day-reality (strange and curious word), for us, is to meditate.

like we did this morning.

peaceful

isn’t that delicious?

OM. darlings. OM.

in manhattan, reading maugham…

there are three rules for writing the novel.
unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
W. Somerset Maugham

we found a copy of W Somerset Maugham’s The Skeptical Romancer: selected travel writing in malibu, during our recent trip to the Other Coast.

I prefer to wander in old streets at random without a guidebook, trusting that fortune will bring me across things worth seeing; and if occasionally I miss some monument that is world-famous, more often I discover some little dainty piece of architecture, some scrap of decoration, that repays me for all else I lose.
W. Somerset Maugham

well, not Randomly in Malibu, just lying around on the sandy beach, waiting for someone to pick it up – or perhaps abandoned in despair by a screenwriter on-a-deadline, looking for inspiration and finding only distraction, in a cafe near the Pier, where tousled white-blond youths drag their surfboards at a pause in the stop lights.

no – the copy of Maugham was purchased at diesel books, which used to be on the other side of cross creek (near Marmalade, the brunch place where we once saw Kathleen Kennedy yet more often overheard slightly tense conversations about plaid and decorative features in a newly overhauled, once beautiful, Spanish-style hacienda, now richly covered, probably, in brocade like something out of Balmoral) and is now under the cool white stone walkways on the far north side.

here’s a helpful map so you can picture exactly where diesel books is.

we visited a lot of bookshops during our trip – we always do – but we know malibu is where we bought Maugham because we have the bookmark which came as a perforated extra to tear off from the card we bought there (are you keeping up with all this detail? we’re not sure We are – it just flows, sometimes – need to pop to the kitchen-ette to pour more coffee – don’t go away, darlings.)

pause.

gosh. that was a lovely sip. did you enjoy yours?

where were we?

oh yes.

Malibu.

so the perforated card had a photograph of Shakespeare & Co on the front (yes, in Paris, yes, we’ve been, no we don’t believe George invited us upstairs to the Hotel Tumbleweed but it is possible, our memories from those far-off-radical-student days of wandering paris with half a baguette, some libations and not much money, are Somewhat Hazy). and, on the back, a deliciously poignant quote from Joan Didion (who does poignancy so heart-breakingly-well):

Another thing I need to do,
when I’m near the end of the book,
is sleep in the same room with it
Joan Didion

of course this quote is about Writing a book, not Reading a book (many have imagined the latter which is probably why it makes a Good bookmark).

the source?

oh, forgive.

it’s here: Paris Review, 1978

we Started talking about Maugham and got really off track…….

so we bought Maugham in Malibu and finished reading The Skeptical Romancer in Manhattan (but read most of it at the Hotel Chamberlain, wrapped in a cool towel under the striped shades of the gazebo at the east side of the pool, staying out of the sun when it got too high up in the sky and we feared burning).

in fact the book is quite sun-burned itself – you know how paperbacks get that toasted appearance when enjoyed in the high heat of summer and bits of salted pool water drip onto the pages and cause ripples in the fabric? that’s what our copy is like now. just picking it up makes us remember applying a little more Factor Whatever and sipping some cool, cool glass of water and lying back with a Very satisfied Sigh to read for another hour (the bliss of vacations).

we Hesitate to recommend it because it was written a Long Time Ago when, how can we put this, people (ok, the British) had attitudes towards People of other places that make one squirm and feel Rather upset and pretty angry, actually (especially if one contains the blood of three-waring-nations oneself and is an immigrant to yet another land so feels Part of as opposed to Separate).

so that caveat out of the way (we do mean it – be careful if you attempt to read this book – some of the words and ideas will not be Kind to one’s Modern Sensibility), we wanted to share some of our favourite/favorite/choicest allusions and passages.

shall we read on?

are you snuggled up with a morning coffee or late tea or, if you have the enzyme, a glass of something rather-more-potent?

(clears throat)

(adjusts reading lamp)

to set the mood (quote coming up from Maugham’s sojourn in seville) here is a photograph of a shady entrance hall in Madrid (we are sorry we have nothing from Seville but at least it’s the Right Direction).

P.144 |

I had already published a novel and it had had an unexpected success. I thought my fortune was made, and, abandoning medicine to become a writer, I went to Spain. I was then twenty-three. I was much more ignorant than are, it seems to me, young men of that age at the present day. I settled down in Seville. I grew a moustache, smoked Filipino cigars, learnt the guitar, bought a broad-brimmed hat with a flat crown, in which I staggered down the Sierpes, and hankered for a flowing cape, linen with green and red velvet.

P. 145 |

It was heavenly to live in Seville in the flower of one’s youth. I postponed my education to a more convenient moment. The result is that I have never read the Odyssey but in English and I have never achieved my ambition to read A Thousand Nights and a Night in Arabic.

P. 147 |

Later on I joined the Intelligence Department……the work appealed both to my sense of romance and my sense of the ridiculous. The methods I was instructed to use in order to foil persons who were following me; the secret messages in a mysterious fashion; the reports smuggled over a frontier; it was all doubtless very necessary but so reminiscent of what was then known as the shilling shocker that for me it took most of its reality away from the war and I could not but look upon it as little more than material that might one day be of use to me.

P. 147 – 8 |

I went, looking for beauty and romance and glad to put a great ocean between me and the trouble that harassed me. I found beauty and romance, but I found also something I had never expected. I found a new self.

isn’t that glorious?

would you like one more passage?

let’s see….

(flicking swiftly through turned-down-tops-of-pages with a slight, yet attractive, frown)

ah yes!

INDIA.

(looking over at the photo files, looking for a suitable shot)

P. 193 |

As the sun was setting I wandered into the Mosque. I was quite alone. As I looked from one end along the chambers into which it is divided I had an eerie, mysterious sense of its emptiness and silence. I was a trifle scared. I can only put into words that make no sense: I seemed to hear the noiseless footfall of the infinite.

this is not a post about Our interpretations or experiences of both Spain and INDIA but just to say that both have a distinct and rather curious scent-on-the-wind. We found that Spain had a toasty-dark-coffee-charred-meat (the smell of excellent cafes with windows open through tiny twisty winding streets) and INDIA had extreme-heat-sweat-cinnamon-incense.

small observations – but potent, we feel.

so we leave you in India (metaphorically) as we take the book and carefully place it into the Victorian style (glass-fronted, dark wood) cabinet as a “book to keep” (most of our books are donated after reading – we like to share and let go and have Very Little Clutter as people who know us in RL are often shocked to find – “where is everything?!” said someone who visited us recently. “What sort of Everything?” we asked, innocently. “STUFF?” they said, perplexed. “Oh,” we smiled, “we don’t have stuff.” They left, confused. We took a soft pashmina from the side of the sofa and curled up back with the Maugham once more.)

we wish we could have read this to you Out Loud (we have a lovely speaking voice and if you knew us in RL, you know we like to pounce on people, open the moleskine-of-the-moment and say “oh god, can we read you this?”)

maybe one day we will……..

a teamgloria booktime-at-bedtime?

delicious.

(head slightly cocked sideways and smiling at you via the interweb).

by the way (or “btw” as the Young people say), thanks for all of your emails and notes and comments saying how glad you are that teamgloria is back.

at the risk of being Totally Post-modern: we are too.

we’d missed you.

we’d missed being us.

ok. now That was very confusing.

(potters off to make another pot of half-caf/half-decaf from the French Market in New Orleans.)