The 2016/2017 Transition

The yule turned out to be a washout for both Richard and me as we both ended up flat out with a horrid flu. The Nonsuch Christmas concert at St. Trinity Sloane Square on the eve of the Yule was lovely. During our ritualizing on the Agonium, Richard tripped on the steps leading to the Saatchi Gallery and went flying. It could have been worse, but he was bruised and sore, and I suspect his then coming down with the flu was emotionally triggered by this fall. We feasted on the turkey I had baked earlier. The next day was the xmas dinner organized at Gazette in Putney by Penny. The day after, we heard Rat Scabies talk on Rennes Le Chateau at Nova Stellar. Richard came down with the lurvy the following day.

The Focus

For the Consualia, I dragged poor Richard to Tower Hill since we had tickets. We ‘buried’ the old year around sunset. I began the illness two days later on the Saturnalia, but we managed somehow to have a nice dinner later that evening with Tillie and Mark at the Club. Negroni helped. The next day, I could only manage eight pull-ups out of my more usual ten. Throughout the whole doozie of a time, I somehow was able to not miss any of my cycling – though it was often challenging. We went to the Curzon Soho for a showing of Ed Harris’ Pollock along with a Q&A with Harris after the film. For the rest, it was paracetamol and Night Nurse along with virtually no appetite for either of us. Eventually, we had to dispose of much of our turkey meals.

For Richard, he claimed it was the worst he had ever felt in his life. For me, the worst was back in 1962 when I had developed influenza of the vertebrae after falling off a bus in London and subsequently wanting to jump from the Munster steeple in Ulm had not the on-duty physician that Ruth and Erhard phoned (it was a Sunday) specialized on exactly what I had and saved my life within a few hours.

On the Opalia, we learned that Zsa Zsa Gabor had died at the age of 99. I saw her once when dining with Vassili in Los Angeles. We dragged ourselves to the Royal Academy to see again the fabulous Abstract Expressionism exhibition. Vaping two days later for the Divalia, we wandered through the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park – with me at least able to eat (some delicious chorizo, a plain banana, some mulled cider, a milkshake and a pretzel) – I was famished. The ritual part combined with how we felt made the whole experience all the more surrealistic. We concluded our day’s outing with Irish coffees at Clairidge’s. With the physical-emotional vulnerability, I became acutely aware and appreciative of those friends I have known the longest and who are still on this planet – grammar school and high school friends from my hometown of Maplewood and college friends from Santa Barbara, and Nancy.

The following day, we had lunch with Steve and Annie at Bar Baloud in Knightsbridge. That evening it was the heathen solstice ritual at Conway Hall. The yuletide ended the next day with the Larentalia on the 23rd. Unable to do much of anything, I stayed in bed and slept for most of the day. It was the same for the two days that followed the Yule – the second being Christmas for which we had to cancel on the family gathering at Ben and Tanya’s. I think they were 29 in all or possibly only 27 without us. The saddest for me was not seeing Chloe and Woody. Gin, Rix and Janey mercifully came over afterwards in the evening to bring us some of their delicious holiday meal.

Much of the rest of the year was in bed or at least at home. Two days after Boxing Day we ventured to Mayfair and had coffees in the Polo Bar of the Westbury Hotel and then eggnog at HIX Soho on Brewer Street. The next day we had a pleasant dinner at Darby and Stephen’s in Willesden Green. By New Year’s Eve, I’m not sure about Richard, but I was feeling infinitely better though not at all great. We watched a marvelous show on TV in which Dawn French reviewed much of her life. We then got into bed and watched the fireworks on the telly and after that simply went to sleep. It was heaven.

The first week of January was basically recovery and regaining our energy. Santima had had an emergency operation in Amsterdam and was the happiest I had heard her be in a long time. Vassili had had a fall and was recovering in a rest home. I spoke with Benito. We met up with Marie-Laure and had lunch at Tate Britain and saw the Paul Nash exhibition. I did not know him and enjoyed what he did and the various periods of his work. Warren’s friend Ben in Amsterdam died suddenly.

We were recovered by the time Barbara arrived for two weeks from the sixth. She ended up having to work on a grant proposal which she says that she would have been able to complete had she stayed home with all the distractions there. We had Peter come over one evening for whisky, tamales and a good time. Medical-dental-wise, I learned that my gum is not healing as well as it should, and Richard has had a crown replaced. Also my PSA count has gone even higher, and Dr. Muir says that my prostate has more bumps than to be happy about. In addition, I have received an exorbitant estimate on the erker/balcony repair in Amsterdam.

At January’s Nova Stellar, Michael Staley gave a presentation on Austin Osman Spare. Barbara went with us. The next day Meg came for lunch. She and Barbara had started communicating via email and wanted to meet. Two days later on Friday the 13th and the Ides, we had dinner with Barbara and Gin at the Balans Soho Society. The following day was dinner with Penny and Hamish at Fish in a Tie in Clapham. Penny had recommended the restaurant which has now become another favourite.

For the Second Carmentalia, all three of us went to see La La Land. A fun but strange film and also sad. Having both lived at some point in Los Angeles, it made Barbara and me feel nostalgic. Since, we have had Mary over for lunch in between her constant travels. On the day that Gin and Barbara had an outing to the V&A, Richard and I went to the Covent Garden Odeon to see Passengers which we both enjoyed. For Barbara’s last night with us, we went to the Cantina Azteca for a nice Mexican meal and for Richard and me a pitcher of maragitas (Barbara cannot consume lemon). The next evening , Richard and I went to the Cadogan Hall for the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under Edward Gardner. Elgar’s Cello Concerto with Truls Mork was okay but inconsequential. The Grieg Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 and the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra were both terrific.

Lunch at the Tate Modern with Nick and Wendy. A quiet and relatively productive week followed along with another Cadogan Hall concert: Alexander Shelley conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: Prokofiev;s First & Third Symphonies and Sibelius’ Violin Concerto (Chloe Hanslip) – excellent in all; Manchester By the Sea – a well-made and moving let along for me New England nostalgia film; and meeting up with Maureen and Sarah for coffee at the Westminster Mariott. Toby arrived the next day and in time for all of us to get to the Aphrodite Taverna for Liz’s Christmas-New Year’s luncheon party. The food was delicious, and it was a lovely time that included Yvonne for Aups, Ninka who went to drama school with Rix, and both June and Anne if I have remembered their names correctly. Dinner the following night with Toby at Fish in a Tie.

On the Sunday we went to Trafalgar Square for the Chinese New Year’s parade, but as usual we missed it. We visited the National Gallery instead. Just as well as it was raining, though we did walk through Chinatown before having lunch back at the museum. Toby returned to Paris the next day, and Richard and I had dinner that evening with Patrick and Sue at the Club. The following day we saw a mesmerizing performance of Tennessee Williams Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York Theatre. Two days later it was Sam Shepard’s Buried Child at the Trafalgar Studios with Ed Harris and Amy Madigan. A most strange and rather unbelievable story but still entertaining. The acting was excellent.

On the 3rd of February we took lunch to Penny and Hamish at their place in Fulham – Penny now recovering from her second knee operation. Since then we have seen a double bill of Kenneth Anger’s Rabbit’s Moon (not terribly interesting) and David Lynch’s Lost Highway (fascinating, confusing and strangely enjoyable – and once again ‘very’ Los Angeles). And last night, the 6th, we went to Julie Felix’s Leonard Cohen Tribute at Alternatives in Saint James’s Piccadilly. She was great, and it was also great to see her. She has broken up with her Dutch partner, but “We’re still good friends.” We will have dinner together possibly in March. The evening as a whole was a warming experience. We called Susan Hoover once we got home and had an incredibly clear telephone connection. For both of us, it was as if the other was just next door.

And that’s it. Worry and sorrow – both Trump and the IRS announced moves toward passport revocation; joy and contentment – London, friends and Richard.

















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