April & May 2017

The Kalends of April began a bang-bang month: lunch with Penny and Hamish at Fish in a Tie, and in the evening another viewing of “America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s” at the Royal Academy as well as three complimentary rounds of South Side gin cocktails at the Grand Café and the musical enjoyment of The Night and Day Collective. The next day, with beautiful weather, we walked the area of Chelsea Wharf. Gin came to us in the evening for dinner. Another dinner at home a few days later was with Chris and Emily whom we had met at Cae Mabon. A day or two later, we attended the special champagne evening at Peter Jones but then went on to the Cantina Azteca for Mexican food and margaritas. The next day we saw the cinema A Quiet Passion about Emily Dickenson (lovely filmed but sad story) and then had negroni at the Searcy bar in the Gherkin.

The Focus

To start the second week of April, we met up with the Rokkertru group at Café Bella Maria. Late afternoon Chloe picked us up and drove us (a first for us) to Ben and Tanya’s for a family dinner with Gin, Rix, Lily, Woody, Cosmo, Marly, Saul & Tammi-Ann, Sylvester, Nina & Max and partner Max. Gin drove us home afterwards. The next day I learned that Ruth Lynam Holden had died last September. The following day at Nova Stellar we enjoyed a talk by David Lee on magic. The day after this, it was the Harold Pinter Theatre for a terrific matinee performance of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe with Imelda Stanton, Conleth Hill, Luke Treadaway & Imogen Poots. We met up (with difficulty as I had forgot to take along the name of the restaurant) with Eve and four others from ROSL for an early meal at Brumus.

The next day was the Eurostar to Paris. A frightening moment had occurred at the Euston station when Richard thought he had lost his passport, but he had put it into a different pocket. He panicked terribly, but I refused to, and eventually he found it. We stayed the night in Marie-Laure’s Blue Room and then went to Anahuacalli with her and Toby for dinner. Marie accompanied us to the Gare de Lyon the following day, and eventually we arrived at Lons-le-Saunier in the Jura but could not get a taxi to our hotel which was outside the town and far from the station. Somehow, miraculously, we got a local bus that got us there, but as it was the Easter holiday weekend, there were no more buses after that. We ate that evening at the next door Casino’s restaurant and enjoyed foie gras with apple sauce, poisson papiotte and cheese plate.

On the Saturday, Carlo and Jean-Christoph’s wedding was in nearby Monay, and Rachida and Thomas chauffeured us there. After a reception, there was a buffet dinner back in Lons. The whole occasion was fully French with a most loving family and group of friends. The only other person we knew there was Thomas’ cousin Stephanie whom we had originally met at his and Rachida’s wedding. But we got to know Eddy (whom we had attempted to meet at the Fringe with his partner Ed who has since passed) as well as Vittorio and David. A birthday carrot cake was brought out at the end of the dinner for Richard. We could have walked back to our hotel, but Rachida and Thomas insisted on driving us.

Since the Sunday was Easter (Pâques), there were no trains out of Lons, and we were obliged to remain there another day. We had known this already. After breakfast we walked into town and to the therme and enjoyed the hot spa water until noon. We had the midday meal at the Brasserie Strasbourg (a magnificent looking restaurant attached the theatre) where we took the formule consisting of asperges, épaule d'agneau and éclair avec des fraises - all quite delicious. That evening we were fetched and after coffees again at the Strasbourg, we had dinner of left-overs back in the reception venue in Monay. We checked out of the hotel on Easter Monday and had a taxi to get us back into town. But the sun soon disappeared and nothing was open, so we waited eventually at the gare for four hours for our packed train to Bresse en Bourg (we were able at least to get seats but not together) and then the TGV Lyria to Paris. Toby met us and accompanied us to the Gare du Nord. We got to bed in London after midnight.

The next day we saw the incredible and sumptuous film The Handmaiden and the day after that we went with Eamonn to his woods at North Weald Hill in Kent. The weather was lovely, and the bluebells carpeted the ground astonishingly. We enjoyed there G&Ts and barbecued lamb. The following day it was the surprisingly delightful Vanessa Bell show at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. After this, we crossed the street to see Janet, our London family’s matriarch, for the last time. At 95 and although fading, she was marvelous and marvelously present with us and kept thanking me for my generosity with especially the children. That evening we had dinner with Woody and Lily at the Gilbert Scott. After this, it was A Sense of Ending the next day with Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling. Marvelous film. After, I had a remote computer session with Scott during which John, my Santa Barbara roommate, phoned from the hospital. Two days later, the ‘official’ ending of our this time rather sketchy April dies nefastii period that ended with the Vinalia Priora on the 23rd, we went to the Tate Modern for the Wolfgang Tilmans exhibition and then a lovely walk despite the overcast along the South Bank.

Tuesday evening was the Extremist Club, and the next day Janet died peacefully. We went to Dulwich.

Thursday I went for my appointment at the Royal Marsden. That evening was the Pagan Federation Beltane ritual at Conway Hall. Another Scott session the next day. The day after, Amy arrived for lunch and then treated us to coffee at Partridges next door. That evening it was Tom Stoppard’s fun and fascinating Travesties at the Apollo Theatre.

Janet’s memorial was at the Dulwich home on Beltane. She was in an eco-wool felt coffin wrap rather than a box. She had been pleased with the idea. We were all in a large tent, and it rained fiercely at one point, but all went well. Stories and reminisces about Janet were shared, and the sheer marvelousness of the lady was expressed by all. In all, it was a lovely send-off; she had exited so perfectly – leaving behind a large void but many happy memories.

On Tuesday, we went to Jethro Buck’s vernissage at the Crane Gallery in Knightsbridge and then had dinner at the Sloane Club with Markus and Brad. We were to have lunch with Hamish the next day (his birthday) while Penny was in Vietnam, but he had locked himself out of their apartment over the weekend, was found and hospitalised, and Penny had to fly back after only one or two days. The remainder of the week for Richard and me was the Cadogan Hall concert with the London Chamber Orchestra (Christopher Warren-Green conducting): Adams’ Shaker Loops, Shostakovitch’s Piano Concerto #1, Copeland’s Appalachian Spring and a mad piece called Simple Gifts by Paul Max Edlin and involving a hundred or so darling young music students.  The following day we went to the Cheese Project at Camden Market, and the day after that (and after the incredibly beautiful International Dawn Chorus of singing birds as they woke around the planet on the BBC all night) I flew to München and from there was fetched for the Klinic Marinus in Brannenburg (Bavaria near the Austrian border). And in France, Macron won the presidential election. Most happy for that.

The week that followed consisted of two two-hour hyper-thermia sessions plus thymus injections, ozon drips, magnetic field, bio-mat, oxygen therapy (SÜT), massage and liver hotpacks treatments along with delightful meals in a setting that could have come from a Thomas Mann novel. It rained on some days but was gloriously sunny on others, and I walked when I could – including to the Rococo church of St. Martin in nearby Flintsbach am Inn. Dr. Axel Weber was impressive and reassuring. Of course I have no idea yet on how effective the treatment has been and only will after a month’s time when I should do another PSA and in three month’s time another MRI. But the atmosphere of the clinic was lovely in a friendly and efficient way, and the green meadows with an Alp ‘dropped’ here and there were stunning. The van driver who took me back to Munich’s airport chose to avoid the autobahn and take a more rural route which was gloriously beautiful. It was mostly sunny. That evening back in London we went to Caroline’s ‘swimming pool’ party (without a pool) in Tooting Bec and, once the Laphroaig we had brought kicked in and then the joint that Caroline gave us (I will love her forever), had a most marvellous time.

What has followed has been Richard’s theory test for his British driver’s license (he failed it), my bone scan at the Royal Marsden, dinner at Chicama (a Peruvian seafood restaurant) with Theitic and Thor, lunch at Penny and Hamish’s in Putney, dinner with Jonah and Mitchell (lovely lads from Australia and now living in Richmond) at Balans Soho, lunch with Marie-Laure and Meg at home (with a surprise visit from Robin who is now in good form), dinner with Stephen and Hilary at ROSL and dinner last night with Vlad and Natalya (a most charming Lithuanian couple we met at Cae Mabon) at the Sloane Club. Earlier yesterday we had tickets for an afternoon showing of Antonioni’s Blow Up but horrifyingly completely forgot to go. Tonight we have dinner with Theitic and Thor and their friend Richard at the Aqua Shard, Tuesday will be the October Gallery for “The Spectacular Ethnobiolgy of Haitian Zombies,” Thursday Pavel arrives for ten days, Friday it is a camera-recorded interview on paganism by Rafaela and dinner with Nel and Graham, and the following week Tuesday I give a talk on “Magic, Religion and Science” at the Extremist Club. That will see us out for the month of May.

Life is still full, precariously feeling, politically grossly disappointing and increasingly incomprehensible. What remains most reassuring for me are the younger people we meet and have some time with despite what seems to me to be the out-of-control global state of affairs. I am glad for the optimisms I hear from youth. And I am glad for art and friendships.


















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