Last week was amazing. In addition to my Amsterdam, Jim and I spent time with Jay and Mike, long time pals. We went to the National Theatre, for a bite before and drinks after. The play, “The Motherfucker with the Hat” was disappointing. None of us liked it, yet it got great reviews.
I lunched with new friend, Elizabeth Day, a talented writer for the Observer (part of the Guardian) and novelist. (Get her latest book, “Paradise City”). We went to a lovely French bistro in Kensington, a neighborhood I love, but haven’t spent much time in this visit. As it turns out, the restaurant was just around the corner from the flat Jim and I nearly got scammed on! I had to walk down the street the scammer said the flat was on. The scammer had good taste!
When Elizabeth went to the loo, I struck up a conversation with two very proper English looking gentlemen. I’d be eavesdropping a bit – (it’s my job as a writer) and heard them discussing politics, the cutbacks and books. One of the two mentioned Richard Yates and “Revolutionary Road” and I had to butt in. I rarely engage strangers in the U.S. When I do, it’s usually to give somebody a hard time because they’re watching Fox Newz or something. But on this trip, I’ve been talking to everyone! I’m so glad I did because we got into a wonderful conversation about books. The man who mentioned Yates owned a bookstore and the other had worked in the shop. The second man had become a collector of first editions and apparently has quite a collection. He proceeded to whip out a signed copy of David Lodge’s “Therapy.” Lodge is one of my, theirs and Elizabeth’s favorite authors. Elizabeth discovered she and the first man both work at Radio Times! They never met before and, of course, know all the same people.
Later the same day we headed off for a weekend in the English countryside with dear friends, Nicky and Noel. Jim and I are lucky to have friends whom we feel close to despite the physical distance. They are, in large part ,of what’s helped create our love of London over all these years. They help make it feel like home. Nicky and Noel have a beautiful old house in a quaint, low-key and charming village. (Hugh Laurie’s a neighbor, but his house is hidden high stone wall and as of yet, we received no invitation to visit).
When we returned from an outing in the nearby and wonderful small village of Olney, Nicky pulled out paint swatches so Jim and I could weigh in on the color for the dining room. Up until that second, Kukla and Tootsie had been under our watchful eyes on the lead because Nicky and Noel have a hen, a rooster and six new chicks. We each thought the other was holding onto the leashes. In a split second, Kukla and Tootsie bolted from the dining room, through the porch and out into the yard after the chickens. Just as quickly, I pursued the dogs.
I had no idea my reflexes were so keen at my ripe age!
I was a second behind Kukla who already made it into the bushes where one or more of the chicks ran to take refuge. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of white and then a blur as Tootsie took off after the hen. Of course, Tootsie went for a large bird. The larger the animal, the more she wants to attack it. (Later the same day she tried to go after a horse. Jim says she has “something’s wrong with her” and we should be sympathetic).
Jim was on my heels. He went after Kukla while I took off after Tootsie. Tootsie is always like lightening but I’ve never seen her like this! Her paws barely touched the ground! I’m SCHRYING (Yiddish for screaming) loud enough to be heard in Rome. She’s six pounds and NEVER gains an ounce despite eating as if every meal is her last. But she burns so much energy because she’s what I call, the Beast of the Western Wild. She flew through the air and was breath away from catching the hen. The hen suddenly flew into the air. Tootsie follows, leaping over a hedge. SPLASH. Tootsie’s is in the mucky pond, swimming through the water lilies to get to shore. I reached in and plucked her out. She was soaked in muddy water, which she transferred to my pale blue linen shirt.
Our little Esther Williams was fine after a very long soak in the tub.
I was TERRIFIED that Kukla had gotten hold of a chick. There was a lot of tussling in the bushes. I would’ve been devastated. It took awhile but all the ones showed themselves again. But for the rest of the weekend, the dogs stayed virtually attached to us by their leashes. No way was I going through that again.
A final thought. I keep complaining about the skyline of NYC and London. But unlike New Yorkers, Londoners have come up with the BEST names for these abominations. Here’s a partial list.
The Gherkin; the Shard”, the Walkie-Talkie and the Club Sandwich. What I wouldn’t do to meet the person who coined last two. They are beyond brilliant. If you look at my picture from Nicky’s rooftop, you might see a slice of the Shard.
THERE ARE TWO SHORT VIDEOS embedded between the pictures, one after a wedding shot, the other toward the end of the pictures. Check them out.