a walk up the canyon….

darlings

we took a walk up the Canyon yesterday – ostensibly to meet Another Expatriate Writer (don’t you adore Foreign Correspondents?) and then, because we took such nice pictures, to return home to write Next Week’s “Where Shall We Meet” for our delicious Editor at Los Angeles, I’m Yours.

the final piece will be posted Wed (at noon, Pacific Time) so we’ll just give you a taste of the delights of our meandering walk……

You’ll pass Honey Drive and Happy Lane and feel your blood pressure drop considerably. Look up at the Italianate houses as you drift by with ironwork 19th century lanterns, admiring butterflies and hummingbirds and carved cherubs (sometimes wearing sunglasses left by naughty residents), affirmations chalked on stone steps leading to houses with novels piled up winsomely in the paint peeling window frames. If you drive up, you’ll miss all this.

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admiring the sunrise.

 

 

the revealing muses that lurk behind the pre-dawn hours.

darlings

this *might* well be a mystical one – read on.

or not.

as you wish.

*smilessweetly*

but we hope you do.

because it was a bloody good sunrise this morning so it’s worth it for the Pictures alone even if the words make you scratch just behind your left ear with some wry yet confused amusement.

shall we begin?

oh good.

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you see, darlings, the thing about Jet Lag – especially when one has been so far Abroad as we have and then wended our way slowly via Whitstable is that one is on a Completely Different time Zone to everyone else (that lives locally) but not to the muses that lie behind the dawn.

(we did say mystical – be prepped and ready – tea? we’ll wait……..lovely, welcome back – gorgeous Spode – inherited? splendid.)

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so when one is Awake while the rest of the world (nearby) sleeps one can get quite misty and into miracles. 
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especially when one is writing about What Has Happened thus far and what would be delicious if it Did happen (if it’s all for the Highest Good and that sort of nice thoughts about doing some creatively and helpful for the planet in a modest yet most delightful way, of course)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

because then one has to Pause a lot and Ponder.

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and then suddenly the earth lights up and one feels an over-arching sense of Excitement at what might well be just around the corner if one could only “get out of one’s way” (as they like to say here in the Western most point of the United States – well the western most point of West Hollywood, anyway).

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the rosy glow gives one a deep sensation of hopefulness that yes, everything IS happening in the way it is meant to and there are small signs (but not scary ones) when one, for instance, suddenly sees someone one knows on a street in London that one hasn’t seen for probably over a decade and one doesn’t think about the passing of time one just says “hello, cyril” (for that is his name) and there’s a small raised eyebrow of (pleasant) surprise but one is busy and needs to move on and so there’s a chuckle and a cheeriness of spirits suddenly meeting but he’s en route to somewhere (quite possibly the BBC, but we digress) and we have a need to slip into an old caf’ that we recall is around-here–somewhere and it IS and we find it (which is good because it’s been there since the late 1800s in one form or another) and the windows are still steamed up (because it’s england and it’s November and thus chilly requiring a close covering of something warm around the neck and most definitely a Winter coat) and we order “tea, please” (and a jacket potato – for that’s what the Brits call a “baked potato” because it’s in its jacket – with cheese – the food of the heavens – and a little butter and usually some Heinz baked beans but we decided on tuna because it really is tuna in England not just mayonnaise flirting with fish).

so that sort of thing happens a lot to us.

but usually we’re not in the mood to open the brain and take It All In.

this trip gave us some pause (generally on one or more of the 10 flights, you see) and we really did Think about Things and wrote (a lot) and yes, in the moleskine, but also Talked about it all with new friends that we met on the way – so many new friends actually – the beginnings of friendships quite possibly.

or not.

because that happens too.

as do Endings.

now endings are very important because they leave room for new Beginnings (you saw that balance in the sentence happening didn’t you?)
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when we return here we like to sit and write it all out (which is odd, being here that is, because it’s not Exactly that private an abode because it’s going to be in Many People’s houses by the end of February as it appears on the front cover of you-know-what) but this is the Los Angeles version, not the New York version (surprisingly similar, we agree, but once you know how to make a bed with sumptuous linens, one does tend to repeat the decor, love)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and some people have asked why who-we-are-in-RL has her name on her laptop…..and that’s because when we were in South Africa doing a spot of judging (in a good way) someone said:

oh! we need name tags!

and we thought:

but all the People look Different – it’s just the laptops that look the same

so we put who-we-are-in-RL’s name tag on Her laptop to be sure people knew it was ours and not theirs (because they’d be ever so confused if they looked through Ours).

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is there a point to all this?

yes.

it’s all mystical and magical if you spend long enough in the dark (due to jet lag, or not) waiting for the dawn.

and you never know which letter you send is the one that changes your life.

or the telephone call you make (or avoid) that turns your life into an Entirely new chapter.

but that walking down a road in an ancient part of London where the steamed up windows could be straight out of a Noel Coward script for Brief Encounter reminds you that you have no idea who is just around the next winding-perhaps-confusing-yet-exhilarating corner.

the important bit is to be awake when the light shines and to smile and say thank you – just generally – for being Here.

yup.

jet lag will make a mystic of us all.

have a beautiful saturday darlings.

let us know what sunsets look like in your part of the world because we’ve not been awake to see ours since we left for Foreign Lands.

in the wee small hours of the morning.

darlings

the whole wide world (well, the bit that lives here at the Western Most Point of the United States of America) was a s l e e p as we wrote in the wee small hours this morning and then who-we-are-in-RL completed part 1b of some some Digital Work (don’t you love completing something when it’s in Carefully demarcated stages like part 1b?) and after all that was finished and it was still bloody early and there was no sign of stirring in the hills of Hollywood from where we stood, looking at the still darkened sky………….we picked up the latest Requests from the Los Angeles County Library System and snuggled back under the covers with a small but potent dark embrace of caffeine on the Phillipe Starck Prince AHA stool/nightstand. 

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Mr. Frank Sinatra sang about the wee small hours most poignantly – alas rather Melancholy and we don’t feel like that at ALL right now.

so we Tuned in (and dropped out for just a second of pleasurable meditation) to davidji because he’s one groovy cat and well, with a sky like this at 0500 hours this morning, one can quite Pretty Mystical, man.

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*deepsighofpleasure*

have a deeply cool day, darlings.

isn’t it Friday?

gosh.

already?

g l o r i o u s.

wonder how many hours of daylight we’ll see today before we have to crash again ;-)

*smiles*

home. sweet. soft linens. lavender scented. home.

ah.

bliss.

darlings – we are HOME!

well.

we arrived home (although you know we are at home anywhere we lay our cloche hat and gloves, of course, being a Citizen of the world and living virtually on the interweb as one does) in L.A sometime *saidvaguely* yesterday…..

and had the Nicest conversation with our taxi driver (and got some tips about visiting a new ‘hood: লিটল বাংলাদেশ = Little Bangladesh because we adore a spicy curry from time to time) and then unpacked (because we ALWAYS unpack instantly and the silver samsonite emitted a sweet fragrance of English washing powder as William said we could do a load of laundry in Whitstable – so very grateful for that) and watched an episode of English Television while eating a quick (brown rice gluten free) pasta supper (tomatoes, spinach, peas and a few saucy slices of light baby-bel with a healthy sprinkling of turmeric) and then slipped between our own lavender scented linens…….

……….waking up a full TWELVE HOURS LATER.

thank goodness we didn’t make any plans, darlings.

oh!

such a blissful rest!

what’s that?

oh.

yes.

3AM.

that’s when we woke up.

actually, that’s what the clock said (because we were in NYC when the clocks went back for daylight savings and we have an old fashioned battery-powered elegant ladies’ boudoir 1930s style clock which is not connected to any interweb time-changing power source).

so – *coughs* 2AM.

now.

2AM is not that helpful a time to wake up.

but there you go.

luckily we live in Los Angeles.

so, for the second time in 24 hours we asked Mr. Google for a 24 hour diner (you may recall yesterday – was it yesterday, really? when we took the A train from JFK into the city to eat at the Washington Square Diner) and he said: “try Fred 62

so we did.

and it was amusingly packed with young people satisfying their craving for carbohydrates at the counter.

then we took a walk (quite safe here) and became all misty and grateful at Where Life Has Brought Us and that sort of appropriate-for-the-early-hours-of-the-morning-with-jet-lag feeling.

the realiz(s)ation that we had No milk in the fridge (and had just used the last of the mini baby-bel) meant we went to the 24 hour grocery shop (on Vine and Melrose in case you’re ever here and in need of supplies at an unsocial hour) and Stocked Up.

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the Technical Term for these is “shelf wobblers” (we know that because we worked in Commercial Content for a time and even wrote copy for a meal replacement bar – we’re very flexible, darlings)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

so happy to be back in L.A! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and then we did laundry, unpacked the groceries.

wrote a piece for Good Housekeeping (March 2014 issue! the UK one! so excited!)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand stood in silence at the window (the one in the living room) and watched the sunrise.

what a truly glorious life.

*mistilysmilingviatheinterweb*

now we’re off to the Post Office (it just opened) to pick up our mail/post (they have been holding it for us since Nov 2 – at least we Hope they Have – gulp) and the Library (where there are Many pieces of Requested Items just waiting for us!) and then we’ll probably have to crash again as we’re due to meet-up-with-friends later, which is always delightful.

you have a beautiful tuesday out there.

stay warm if you’re in the northern hemisphere and take a wrap if you’re in south africa, just for effect.

packed and ready to leave again.

darlings

we must be Quiet.

who-we-are-in-RL has been EXHAUSTED by all the Travel and the two red eye flights and the 200 miles of driving There and Back and has been (mostly) sleeping-it-all-off.

still.

there was a lovely sunrise this morning.

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and we’re off to PORTLAND tomorrow (for work) and LUCKILY *just* before we booked the flights, as requested, because she was jolly busy finishing a paid assignment for an international print publication you see, we found out there are TWO Portlands (how careless!)

so crossed fingers that we booked the flight for the Right One.

*looktocamera*

eek.

pearls, sunrises and storytelling.

darlings

a lovely day ahead. and another gorgeous morning sky.

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what are Your plans for the day? (although we assume that you’ve already had most of it wherever in the World you are – was it a Thursday as you had hoped? or not…..do. tell)

so, we’re working at the Photographic Studio over there *pointsvaguelytotheValley* as who-we-are-in-RL is on a consulting mission.

then there *might* be a haircut (if we can get a last minute appointment which you often Can in Koreatown and wouldn’t get anything but a shocked silence on the phone in Manhattan if one tried to do so, just so you don’t attempt it – we like to spare your *blushes*)

oh!

we *almost* forgot – who-we-are-in-RL had our piece about Highland Park published here:

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and TONIGHT we’ll be at the storytelling event to cheer her on

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…..although we HEARD (not necessarily on the grapevine because, well, they aren’t any round about here and we’re not sure why a Vine would tell Tales anyway) that she Won’t Be Mentioning Us.

*shockedexpression*

what on EARTH is she going to talk about then?

*pouts*

(and we noticed that she didn’t use our moniker on the line up either – just being herself, then? hmmmm…..)

when she was Rehearsing at teamgloria towers (not “off book” but she does a nice “reading from the script” sort of on-a-bare-stage-at-the-CBS-studio circa 1966 performance), we noted that the general tone she’s preparing for the storytelling event tonight is one of a “Saloniste” – as our good friend (sadly departed) Mr. Bertrand Russell might say. 
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it *might* not be Quite the Tone that the other performers decide on for themselves – but as far as we can tell from our (not really) extensive Research – she’s the only European so we do need to stand up for the team.

which is why we said “Wear the Pearls” when we had our rehearsal at home.  
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a funny (well not funny-ha-ha – more funny “oh that is amusing” with a Dame. M. Smith raised eyebrow and twinkly eyed expression) story about the Pearls:

many moons ago we happened to be at a “street fair” in Greenwich Village and we spotted a beautiful set of pearls on a black velvet (we *think* it was black velvet, we might be making that bit up, perhaps it was a heavy cream silk) stand.

now the thing about Greenwich Village is two-fold – one is that nobody knows whether you’re wearing real (inherited/won in a gambling debts settling of accounts) or fake gems.

you see nobody really cares about pearls anymore in Greenwich Village (unlike on the Upper East Side where one wears a single strand and still hopes, against hopes, to be invited to Jackie Kennedy’s place for tea-with-lemon-no-sandwiches-or-cake).

so we didn’t know if they were real, or not.

the other thing (because we said it was a two-fold answer so here’s Part ii) is that “house clearances” often happen when a person of a great and wonderful age decides it is time to depart for other worlds beyond this one.

in Greenwich Village they might depart having lived in their apartment since 1951 (which means the landlords have been Agonizing over its rent control for Many Decades) and as The Village is a place for bohemians, one might well not have a family (or not have spoken to them for many a year) and so the Pearls they leave behind could be Real (and end up in a “house clearance” and thus on a black velvet or heavy cream silk stand in a Stoop Sale one early summer in the new Millennium).

we wore them for years.

someone who knows about jewels fingered them (in a not unpleasant way) and said, “oh yes, they’re real” and we just smiled winsomely.

cut to the chase.

they weren’t.

we took them all over the world (and perhaps their former owner did too) but in the past few weeks the covering on each pearl just peeled off……so we let them go to the four winds (are there really only four? it feels like so many more).

and bought some new ones.

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you see there are no stoop sales with pearls in Los Angeles (that we’ve seen) so we bought these at one of those FUN shops where young ingenues in their early 20s buy Bling (and call it thus).

you’d never know.

because who-we-are-in-RL carries them off as if Nancy Mitford just turned to her at a glorious weekend in the country and said, “Do have Mine, darling girl, they’d suit you.”

but you know the truth.

at least about the pearls.

*winningsmiletocamera*

comic books and cashmere sweaters

darlings

lots going on.

who-we-are-in-RL is Very Busy.

but we managed to sneak a few moments here just to say hello to you.

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a full month as you can see – and a new moleskine (#155 if you’re curious) begins…..what will sept Bring? *shivers*
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much driving and Meeting people and wearing the sunglasses and shiny shoes. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and drinking tea (naturally)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and starting Very Early in the morning (who-we-are-in-RL is juggling several projects but everything is nicely paced and there’s Absolutely No Drama which is delicious). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

our Publisher in New York (such a lovely sentence) called us to talk through some of the pictures in the Book (we’re almost at Final Designed Layout stage – so e x c i t i n g) and Terribly Gently and Kindly suggested we might want to swap out a couple and pop some new ones in.

we absolutely agreed and even did a quick “re-shoot” of two – the pile of t-shirts and cashmere will make sense when you see the finished product.
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and this one was to illustrate the sentence “Thank goodness for the health insurance”.*

*yes, we thought the juxtaposition of Buddha and Meds summed that sentence up rather well too.

and we made time to visit the Comic Book and Graphic Novels store and meet Mr. Dan Kusunoki – such fun! 6fba39fe15a311e3a19522000a9f126b_7

yes.

you guessed it.

we DID write an article about our Visit. Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 8.54.15 PM

we’ve been thinking (not always a suggested activity) about William James (yes, the philosopher and brother of Mr. Henry James) and how he said:

To change one’s life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly.

now we’re not Entirely sure that William would have got on with Cecil (Beaton) but they had Rather similar life philosophies:

exhibit A, milord:

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.

it’s all about the Action, you see.

as long as one takes time to take naps in between, otherwise it would be Exhausting.

that’s what cashmere wraps are for – naps.

and large brimmed hats are for getting out there and being all Action-Orientated.

a combination of cashmere wrap and large brimmed hat and you’re unstoppable, darling.

writing as the dawn comes up.

darlings

we saw the sunrise today – and we’ll probably be around to watch it set because we’re off to the movies (and we’re VERY EXCITED because it’ll be the first time we’ve seen THIS on the big screen – well – let’s see – it must be – *looksfarawayintomiddledistance* a Very Long Time Ago).

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so very excited.

when the opening scene unfolds to the haunting strains of King Curtis playing Procul Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale we shall probably start weeping for our mis-spent (and yet highly cinematic in its own right) Youth.

if you can see this transmission in your territory, we highly recommend turning off all the lights and gathering around the screen.

*tears_optional* depending on your history of course.

so what else?

*attemptstocomebacktoReality* (not always easy, or even preferable to be honest).

well – lots, actually.

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in order to stay awake and Alert during the day we’ve been getting up very early and taking a nice walk and then sitting with our toes in the swimming pool, taking a moment to feel grateful and alive and empty our head of thoughts (yes, meditating – of sorts). 41e0af600a7511e397fd22000ae912c9_7

and admiring roses along the way. 244b1a300a7011e3b85a22000ab6855b_7

and drinking an awful lot of caffeine. 917291280b2a11e39da122000a9e28e0_7

and watching the sunrise (this was 05:45AM this morning)c16266400b2c11e3ae8022000a1fc41a_7

this was 06:00AM.

almost a Cezanne, non?

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and then we Get Down To Work.

and there’s lots of it (which is such a pleasant thing to say – who-we-are-in-RL has been Very Busy out there in the World)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and she’s been having important meetings (and shining her shoes ever so nicely before heading out the door). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and driving up into the Hills and taking time to turn around and just *gasp* at the View (well, wouldn’t you? #divine).

and the work is going very well (nope, not allowed to Say Anything About It At All).

we just have one Tiny complaint request.

we miss writing.

although we DID write this which came out today –

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but we want to be writing This too (this is our dream cast – it helps to imagine actors, don’t you agree?) Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 4.46.39 PMwe’d started to re-write the screenplay again – while we do the novel version too (not New as in Novel but Book as in novel).

we know we’ve shown you this before but we’ve made a few Tweaks and it helps to put it out into the Universe because then we’re One step nearer to seeing it at the Cinema – you understand, don’t you? when we’re tired, it keeps us going…..

The Goddess, The Writer And The Eternal Soul

by sophia stuart

It was one of those really rainy nights in London where umbrellas are all but useless. It had been pouring down for hours and people ducked into doorways or crowded into bus shelters and generally looked damp and careworn.

Everyone that is apart from one glitteringly beautiful goddess who walked down the center of Charing Cross Road without an umbrella or a hat or even a coat. But nobody saw her because she was an invisible being, in fact the leader of the Muses (and thus a real goddess).

Calliope did not feel at all goddess-like this evening. She was enraged by a headline on the evening newspaper. It said, “ARE LIFE COACHES THE NEW MUSES?”

She walked on further almost towards Trafalgar Square, which was now crammed bumper to bumper with cars, cabs and buses all stuck in the rush hour, horns blaring. She took a sharp right, sweeping regally past the guards and into the depths of the National Portrait Gallery.

Rushing through the galleries (blowing a kiss to the young Queen Victoria’s portrait) she sped up to the next floor flying through the Tudors, Stuarts and through the late eighteenth century to the nineteenth galleries. She stopped as soon as she reached The Romantics room with Blake, Shelley and Keats.

“I’ve missed you,” she said, catching her breath. The portraits, of course, stayed silent. But she knew something of their spirits was contained in the paint. “Nobody believes in us anymore.” The portraits did not reply. “They have replaced us with humans they call Life Coaches.”

A young male student wandered into the gallery and sat down in front of the Keats painting. He opened up a slim volume of poetry and started to read, looking up at the portrait from time to time with tears in his eyes. Calliope watched him for a while in wonder. Then she drifted over to his chair and stood behind him, stroking his hair gently and kissing the back of his neck. The young man was astonished. He could feel something but there was no one there. Calliope put her hands on the book and turned the page out of interest, to see which poem was next. The young man dropped the book in fright and ran away.

Calliope sat on the chair and read from the book.

“Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching…….”

She looked up at Keats and smiled. “Now that one was glorious, I remember it so well.” Leaving the book carefully on the chair, she raised her arms towards the tips of the gold frames and said, “Find me a so-called Life Coach who could inspire such beauty, darlings.”

And with that she laughed and ran out of the gallery and caught the next celestial transporter to a small town just outside of Los Angeles. According to the magazine articles, that was where they trained these new Life Coaches in their bid to become Muses.

There is a place in southern California called Donal Bay. It’s a few miles down the coastal road from Santa Monica on the way to Venice Beach and you would miss it if you didn’t slow down and turn left just five minutes (in mellow traffic) as soon as you spot the pier on the ocean side.

There are twinkle lights entwined between all the palm trees down Main Street, an Irish bar, 1940s era eggs and coffee breakfast place, a newsstand with all the Italian and Parisian fashion magazines next to surfing and boating news. There are also several tiny cafes with small round tables in between all the yoga studios and alternative healing emporia. These cafes are the sort of places you could easily imagine eating lemon gelato mid-morning with fizzy mineral water in sky blue tall glasses.

Calliope strokes her arm.

                          CALLIOPE
                Let it go. I’ll talk to you.

Lily suddenly relaxes and pulls the car out of the garage.
Calliope moves her hand over Lily’s arm to “read” her.

                     CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
 Just turned thirty-five? Your eternal soul must be coming
             down to meet you. Who do you have?

She flicks her right hand and pulls up a screen.

                     CALLIOPE (CONT’D)
               Liam McCann. Give me strength.

EXT. DONAL BAY BEACH - AFTERNOON
Liam and Cornelius emerge from the surf. Liam is grumpy

                            LIAM
        It’s not exactly the South of France is it?

This just in ———

21:38 hours (in a random deli, waiting for a bowl of chicken matzo ball noodle soup)

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It was sublime.

*sighs*

Mr. Bruce Robinson writes and directs like the twisted dark angel heir to the tossed nights of fervid imagination of yeats and blake….

Oh yes.

sunrise to sunset. #losangeles.

darlings

another hollywood-and-hectic day of Work (such a lovely word) so just a few photographs to show you how we saw both the Sunrise and the Sun As It Set yesterday.

isn’t that delicious?

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sunrise over the Hollywood hills (actually the flat bit – but still – lovely trees and splendid Palms)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

at 5.40pm we took a break and popped over to see george, drink tea (english breakfast, a little milk, in a proper tea cup – so civilized) and nibble on a light brie with some dark luscious blackberries. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

admiring the cool evening twilight as it rolled in over the Hollywood hills (the actually hilly bits this time)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

don’t you just Adore a teapot, cups and proper saucers?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and a sun setting over the hills……OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

lovely.

and then we drove back across town and got back to Work (most grateful) again.

so soothing for the soul, being here.

*smilinghappily*

the democracy of self-expression.

darlings

we have an Early Start today so while the sun rose we picked up email and GB sent the most Splendid clip of Patti Smith which Most enlivened and encouraged and warmed and engendered deep happiness – it’s here because we thought you’d love it too.

especially the bit where she talks about the democracy of self-expression and being able to get your work out Into the World and bypass the large corporations’ control to connect and speak and share and listen to others……………..and just concentrate on building and keeping a good Name – yes.

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and now we must write a thousand words before breakfast (well, we already snuck in a large cup of coffee and a plain Italian cracker, just to keep us going) of The House on Church Row because Charlotte is wearing a Burberry Macintosh, armed with an umbrella (it’s a very English novel, you see) and is having a conversation with the ghost of Annabelle’s dead sister in the churchyard – no, we had No Idea that would happen either – but it’s jolly good fun.

and then we will return to Wrestle with a PayPal button so we can launch our little shop (of our photographs as poster prints) before our Show in NYC and enjoy the fruits of the democracy of self-expression, as it were.

here’s where we Left our scene – we shall return….(sorry about the use of cigarettes et al but they just started lighting up, we had no control over them and certainly cannot dream of censoring the characters now they’re talking up a Storm)

The cigarettes burned down and Charlotte carefully scrunched it out on the bottom of the fence and handed it ceremonially to Marion who disposed of it. Charlotte was about to walk away and then she decided she could not resist. “How’s your ghost problem?” she said, wickedly. Marion just laughed. So the Agency tracking machines were even more sophisticated than she remembered. And then a chill ran through her veins. Why was the Agency bothering to update their tracking machines to denote the supernatural? What were they getting into?

Charlotte went back into the house and could hear voices outside. She opened the front door and saw her son and daughter-in-law huddled on the doorstep. “Did you get locked out?” she said, imperiously.

“Shut the door mother,” said Simon, firmly.

His mother was so shocked that she just closed the front door. Annabelle looked up at Simon lovingly. “I’m still going to get a job, even if you become deliciously masterful around your mother.” Simon sighed and hoped that it would pass. Annabelle had never had a job. She had no idea how boring it was to go to an office and endure the politics and the sucking up and the machinations of hideous power plays.

“What kind of job?” he said, suddenly wondering what on earth she was going to do for a living.

Annabelle looked into the middle distance. It was not the right time to tell him that she’d accepted Marion’s offer to become Art Director on Dorian’s creative team. They’d have breakfast first. The bandage around her throat suddenly didn’t feel so restrictive. Her scar was healing nicely, like the rest of Annabelle Jones.

Upstairs Charlotte was packing a small bag with her Agency tools and deciding which shoes to wear to meet a ghost. She decided on a pair of dark moss green clunky shoes from Hobbs. They went well with her dark Macintosh. She tied a headscarf under her chin but then removed it – slight overkill on the Miss. Marple look.

Annabelle and Simon were eating breakfast in the kitchen so she slipped past, left a note on the credenza that she’d be back for supper, and grabbed an umbrella by the door. It did look like it was going to rain, after all. But she also thought she might need a weapon.

Elyse was lying on an unmarked gravestone at the far end of the Churchyard. She did not want to die. She knew she was already dead. But not dead like these poor bastards. Not six feet under some stone monstrosity that one’s family picked out. In the morning sunlight she was completely translucent. Her visibility was fading fast as the moon waxed. She had a day left. Better make it count. Her eyes were closed so she did not see Charlotte approach brandishing an umbrella.

“You must be Elyse,” said Charlotte, a little unsure as to the correct opening gambit with a ghost.

Elyse sighed. What fresh hell was this, as her heroine Dorothy Parker, used to say? Actually that thought made her feel better. If she was really truly dead, she might get to meet Dorothy Parker. She turned over on her stomach and looked up at this Home Counties vision in sensible shoes and an even more sensible Macintosh. “Are you threatening me with that umbrella?” she laughed.

It broke the ice. Charlotte smoothed down her Macintosh and sat down on the grave and eyeballed Elyse. “Why are you here?” she said.

“Who wants to know?” said Elyse, warily.