Very good moments:
Dinner with a chum I haven’t seen in six years, La Cigale du Recamier, Paris.
I love the food here and, although I am only in Paris about ten nights a year, I feel slightly boring that I insist I dine here for half of them; but this place *is* Paris dining for me. Although I have no writing talent, when I ‘cash out’, I plan to de-funge here and toil at my lite-weight, auto-bio. It is very post-modern, literary… but also comfy and I love the food and the wine list…
Guest: “have you seen la Comtesse [most gorgeously grand, and improbably good, if wildly eccentric, friend] she always asks about you…you used to vacation together… she used to say you would have made a lovely art historian…you know she sold the Rome apartment…to a Fendi sister…you used to go there together a lot, no?”
Me: “…She never got over the shock of Michael Portillo’s ‘coming out’; but her cousin in the Vatican is a friend of one of mine there… yes she did… we did…the downstairs is now the main shop in Rome [of a fashion brand]… we email occasionally – she hates email and says proper letters ‘maketh civilization’ and email cheapens us all – but we are having lunch New Year’s, in Rome, at her new place…”
Guest: “Why do you persist in living in Moscow? Come live in Paris. It would be much better for you… [we both do vaguely the same sort of work…I think mine is more interesting; he thinks it ‘no doubt envelope-pushing, but not quite the thing one should anchor oneself to]”
I think he used the phrase ‘envelope-pushing’ on purpose and not in a totally wholesome way. It is not true, BTW. About ‘envelopes’ and stuff… don't believe everything you read about Russia…
…Dinner started at 9.30 (ended before the Witching Hour though, because I had an 08.00 meeting). It began with vast apologies to Guest and maitre d’ both, as I was 45 minutes late ([in French, from the back of the hotel car]:
“Please send a bottle of Veuve to our table and ask him to order… the driver says I am ETA 20 minutes…so please take his order, and hopefully I’ll in arrive in time. I’ll have the fois gras and the soufflé with mustard sauce – you still do that yes? [they did] And your recommended Gigondas please; but please decant it*…sorry again!)
* our French place is hard by Gigondas, so I know what will be guaranteed He’ll like, so asking for it to be decanted is not pretension, just being practical (wine snobs are bores but inverse-wine snobs are immensely the more dreary, so get over yourselves).
We hadn’t had dinner, or anything other than a quick coffee at Heathrow, for six years. Now married, bred x two…committed to living in France…utterly happy. I envy him. He has matured: in comparison to him I see I haven’t matured. I am still a spoilt little boy. The curse of being an only child.
Guest: “So… have you exorcised all your Caribbean ghosts? We never thought that world was quite you. You should you come back to civilized Europe and all we [he really said this] stand for”
Me: “Actually, Moscow *is * civilized Europe, but I know what you mean… Haiti? Guadeloupe? Forgotten completely… Utterly forgotten.
“But I am not done with Moscow quite yet. I have something and someone there important to me. Things to do…goals… [etc]”.
Meeting some lovely friends at Bar des Amis on Wednesday night in London - I was briefly passing through the UK for a few hours – everyone’s children are growing up so fast. One friend – admittedly after second bottle of Nuit Saint Georges – I told ‘you and [wife] *must* come visit me in Moscow, I’ll be the perfect host and we’ll scoot up to St Pete’s and stay at my favorite hotel in Russia’.
To be chanted, to a piano piece by Philip Glass:
“I hate BAE 146s
I hate BAE 146s
I hate BAE 146s
I hate BAE 146s
BAE 146s hate them,
yes I most certainly do”
For inspiration, herewith a piano piece composed by Philip Glass… swoons…
Anyway, BAE 146s! Scariest freakin’ engines noises on the air-borne planet. And I really don’t like ‘yanking and banking’ that low over Southern London – all too reminiscent of:
When you are *that low* over London city tower blocks…it is horrid… did I say the Orly – London City airport by Air France was useful? Poke out my eyes! The noise the tiny-weeny engines make as they rev down for descent. Loathsome.
In London, at my usual (really I suppose pretty regular) hotel, they don’t charge me for any of my bar bill, “you’re family sir, welcome back…is it cold in Moscow?...”
Oh. But the meetings all this travel was for? Apparently my bosses think I did good. The meetings were easy Compared to all the flying: I am going to have to go back on the tranquilizers when I fly this much again…