Page 1

Make with love for Suzanne Rountree Phillips by Susan Hanes Leonard May 2009

London with Em April 23 - May 7, 2009

Š 2009 Susan R. Hanes

Journal and photographs by Susan Hanes Copyright 2009


London with Em April 23 - May 7, 2009


London with Em April 23 - May 7, 2007 What do you do for two weeks in London when you are a London-loving Mother-Daughter duo? Let’s see now ... Sleep in Lillie Langtry’s pink bedroom … antique at the Battersea Park Decorative Arts Show … share a family meal with Vicky and Michael Palau … attend the St. George’s Day gala at Albert Hall … visit the Shah ‘Abbas exhibition at the British Museum … touch base with Mark Pollard at Pickering & Chatto Publishers … tour the Naval College in Greenwich with Faith and Bill Clarke … experience the Baroque exhibition at V & A … stroll through Harrods’ food halls … watch Dame Judi Dench at a matinee performance of Madame de Sade … sip wine at Mon Plaisir … marvel at Holy Trinity’s Morris windows … have lunch with Penny Gawith again after 40 years … dine at the venerable Hurlingham Club with Vicky Palau … spend the weekend with Dagmar and Klaus Stark from Stuttgart … view the Van Dyck and Blake exhibits at the Tate Britain … greet the Pre-Raphaelites as old friends … cruise between the Tates on a Thames Clipper … view St. Paul’s from the Tate Modern’s restaurant … sample Thai and Lebanese cuisine … celebrate Selfridge’s 100th anniversary … peer at the tiny Treasures of the Black Death at the Wallace Collection … browse the shelves at Daunts cozy bookshop … take flight on the London Eye … photograph the protesters on Parliament Square … take the 22 bus to Parson’s Green for lunch with Charles McGregor … understand how Picasso “challenged the past” at the National Gallery … dine with Wilkie Collins enthusiast Andrew Gasson … study the Beatrix Potter watercolors at the V & A Blythe Street annex … drink tea at the Royal Automobile Club … share an evening with novelist P.D. James at the sleek new Guardian headquarters at King’s Place … shop Sloane Street and the King’s Road … enjoy the quiet serenity of a private London park. 1


Thursday, April 23 Tom Spurlin dropped me off at the Hampton Inn near Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and I met Em and Al who had driven up from Jacksonville for our evening flight to London. At 6:00, Em kissed Al good-by and we caught the shuttle to Terminal E for our check-in at British Airways. A wheelchair operator met us and whisked us to the BA Club where we waited for our 9:15 flight—and waited and waited. Drinks, sandwiches, and other snacks were provided and we watched the rain come down harder and harder and the lightening

2

get closer and closer. Our departure was not announced until after 10:00 PM and even after boarding, we sat on the tarmac as the plane inched forward in the long queue. I fell fast asleep and had no sense that we did not take off until almost 1:00 AM. Fortunately, Em was snug in her bed in business class and was able to sleep as well, but not the way I did! I awoke for my vegetarian meal and then went right back to sleep until breakfast, an hour out of London.


A fond farewell, and then ...

A long wait.

3


Friday, April 24 Landed three hours late and were glad to have Doug of Kelly Executive Limos waiting for us in a shiny ne w Me rce de s. Passe d the impressive international headquarters of GlaxoSmithKline and thought of Chris starting there next week—at least, in Raleigh. Able to check into our room immediately: the Lillie Langtry Room at the Cadogan Hotel. Feminine and pink, but somewhat lacking in comfort— lighting, no storage or hooks, bed made up as a king and not as twins as we had requested. Lovely just the same, so we will see how we feel in the morning. Short walk to the Marks and Spencer to pick up essentials: wine, snacks, and sandwiches. Lovely day; too bad we were too tired to make more of it. Unpacked and made calls; at 5:00, Vicky Palau dropped by with a giant fruit basket to welcome us and stayed for a glass of wine. We will see her in the morning. Baths and snacks and a little telly and we were ready for bed around 11.00. Feels great to be back in London after over a year and especially nice for Em who never expected to return.

4


The Cadogan was once the home of Lillie Langtry 5


Saturday, April 25 Slept well and made it down to breakfast at 10:00. At £25, the full English Breakfast was no bargain; fortunately we worked a deal for it to be included with the room. Taxi to Battersea Park for the Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair at the Marquee building. Although the fair was in its fourth day, there was still lots to see—and to buy—at this somewhat quirky show. Along with traditional silver and Georgian furnishings was a 1930s airplane engine made into a table, colorful Indian textiles, and pieces of architectural salvage used as decorative accents. Found Becca Gauldie, the Scottish dealer from whom I had bought several heart items back in 2004. She still had the Victorian Railway game I had seen on her website and Em bought it for me as a little treat. It would look great framed in the DD. I fell in love with a sampler dated 1831 and signed by an 8-year old girl, beautifully stitched with a little house and a delightful verse. After further consideration and a tempting price reduction, I arranged to have it shipped back to Chicago. Vicky met us at 1:30 and we enjoyed a pleasant walk along a tree-lined promenade in the park, the leaves just out with that fresh green of spring. Thought we might have a late lunch at Bibendem in the old Michelin tire building, but Em felt the menu was too rich and we crossed 6

the street to La Brasserie on the other side of Brompton Road. Had a good visit over hot soup and crusty bread. Vicky drove us to a "hole in the wall" for cash and to the mobile phone place, and with those necessary errands dispatched, she dropped Em at the hotel for a rest. I decided to go back with Vicky for dinner and a chance to see Mike and the children. Turned out to be a bonus for me, as we first stopped at William’s house near Clapham to pick up 6-year-old Camilla; his wife Maru was feeling tied and declined an invitation to join us. Bought a couple of fish pies at Naked Chef Jamie Oliver’s new shop in Clapham and ducked into a nearby M&S for salads and ice cream. Then home to Wandsworth. Like old times, Mike and Samba gave me an enthusiastic welcome and we walked over to the park, Camilla on her little pink bike. Vicky’s big brother Tom arrived shortly after our return and Alice appeared soon after that. With William’s arrival after his soccer game, I found myself with more of Vicky’s family than I had seen in years. It was great fun catching up at the long family dining table. As 11:00 approached, Tom drove me back to the hotel where I found Em still awake. We made tea and shared news, getting to bed a lot later than we should have.


7


8


The Strouvelle-Palau Family William, Alice, Michael, Vicky, Camilla and Tom 9


Sunday, April 26 Slept in; fortunately, breakfast goes until 11:00 on Sundays, although the staff se e me d totally unprepared for our 10:30 appearance. The breakfast arrangement is adequate at best; there is no way we would pay any additional amount for what was offered. Had a lazy morning reading the paper and watching the London Marathon on TV. At 2:00, taxied to the Royal Albert Hall for A Gala for St. George, a special St. George’s Day musical celebration with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. The program of particularly English music was narrated by the beloved Leslie Phillips, one of the UK’s earliest film stars. From “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” to “Hornpipe,” the music was wildly appreciated by Anglophile and Anglo alike. When the massive organ joined the crescendo of “Rule, Britannia!” there was

10

not a dry eye in the hall. Flags waved and masses of balloons fell from above in the final thrilling moments. We left, feeling both uplifted and mistyeyed. Walked to the Kensington High Street on a perfect early spring evening, stopping for supper at Arcadia, the little Italian restaurant Jake and I discovered during our month in London in 2007. Freshly made pasta and wine and the delightfully cozy atmosphere I remembered from before. Hopped on the tube at the High Street station and off at Sloane Square; short walk to the hotel, passing Sloane Street’s great little boutiques. Back in the room, chatted with Andrew Gasson on the phone and made plans to get together at some point. Tea and biscuits and a little reading before bed. Never did find out who won the marathon.


Rule, Britannia!

12


13


Monday, April 27 Woke to our first London rain. Packed up our things; we had to move for one night because our room had been previously booked. The hotel upgraded us to a suite to minimize our inconvenience. Taxied to the British Museum; took so long in the traffic that it became quite a luxury. Our talkative cabbie was impressed to hear that Em’s first visit to London was 72 years ago when he asked if this was our first time in the city. Checked in at the ticket desk at the museum for the special exhibit, “Shah ‘Abbas: the Remaking of Iran.” Ruling from 1587 and 1629, Shah ‘Abbas was responsible for a remarkable collection of ceramics, calligraphy, miniature painting, carpets, and metal work, examples of which we savored against a photographic backdrop of the architecture of Isfahan, Artibel, and Mashhad. Afterwards, vegetable soup at the Court Restaurant on the upper floor of the museum’s brilliant courtyard. Walked through the Egyptian exhibit and visited the Elgin Marbles, which I never tire of seeing. Through Russell Square—rich with spring flowers, lush in the light rain—to the

14

Russell Hotel. Found a green man on the wall by the entrance. Enjoyed cups of black tea in our comfy leather chairs in the old-fashioned bar, where I have spent hours writing in my journal on past visits. Later, left Em to read and snooze and took the tube to Holburn. At 4:30, paid a courtesy visit to Mark Pollard at Pickering & Chatto. He has sent my book to several journals for review and said that if I had any further suggestions to let him know. Back to the Russell to pick up Em. Tube to Knightsbridge and a walk up Sloane Street. Stopped at the Gloucester Pub for dinner. Enclosed booth whe re we had good conversation over wine, salads, and meat pie. Window-shopped our way along Sloane Street— Hermes, Versace, D&G—back to the Cadogan. Delighted to learn that we would be allowed to stay in the suite for the remainder of our time here; had fun settling into this far more comfortable arrangement. Watched a program on Henry VIII in the sitting room, totally content.


15


16


17


Pub dinner on Sloane Street and back to our cozy sitting room.

18


Tuesday, April 28 Blue sky when we opened the drapes. Porridge and tea for breakfast, followed by a session sorting out the Internet connection in the room. Not sure if my emails were actually sent, however. At 11:00, a car arranged by the Clarkes picked us up at the hotel for the drive out to Greenwich. Martin took us past the Houses of Parliament and Westminster; a protest against the genocide of the Tamil in Sri Lanka was going on in the plaza. Continued by the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and then through the Docklands to Greenwich, arriving at noon. Faith and Bill met us at the door and welcomed us to their warm home, nestled in a corner of the park. We chatted over wine and cheese straws and sat down to a light lunch of chicken and garden vegetables. Coffee followed in the plant-filled conservatory overlooking

Faith’s magnificent garden. We talked about Bill’s soon-to-be published book about the Romanov jewels, playing golf, and of course, Wilkie. After taking my usual photos, Faith and Bill took us on a mini tour of the chapel and the Painted Hall of the former Royal Naval College. Intrigued to find a dress rehearsal of an opera at the chapel and a Bollywood filming outside the hall. Dropping the Clarkes at Park Vista, we said our good-byes and Martin drove us back to London. It was a very special afternoon and once again, I am warmed by their friendship. Later, decided to keep supper simple, walking down Pont Street to M&S for sandwiches and nibbles. Spent the evening in our sitting room, watching a program on Kew Gardens and sipping our wine.

19


The Clarkes share their collections of Wilkieana

20


The Royal Naval College, Greenwich

21


Wednesday, April 29 Clear, brisk morning. Over our breakfast porridge, read in the papers about the swine flu that started in Mexico only a few days ago and is now making its way around the world. The TV is full of it too. Have we been sensitized or did everyone in the breakfast room seem to have a nasty cough? Taxi to the V&A; a short ride but a good way to conserve Em’s energy. Following the Shah ‘Abbas exhibit, visited the Islamic art section, a beautiful collection highlighted by the Artibel carpet, one of the finest Islamic carpets in the world. With 304 knots per square inch, it was completed in 1540. Interesting to compare the Safavid art of Iran and the Ottoman art of Turkey. Decided to see the special exhibition, “Baroque” and were very glad we sprang for the £11 tickets. Fascinating to learn that it was the first style to have a significant global impact. Beginning in Italy and France, it spread to the rest of Europe, and then travelled to Africa, Asia, and South and Central America via the colonies, missions, and trading posts of various European countries. A comprehensive presentation of art, architecture, and music. Paused for latte and lemon cake in the Morris Rooms; our break came to an abrupt end when an announcement came over the PA system to evacuate the building. No one seemed to take any notice, but

22

we did not take any chances and headed for the exit. When no one else seemed concerned, paused long enough for a quick look in the gift shop. Leaving the museum, walked down Brompton Road to Harrods. Explored the food halls and the luxury leather goods department until it was time to take the tube to Leicester Square and Wyndham’s Theatre for the matinee of Madame de Sade, the story of Renee, the wife of the Marquis de Sade, who defiantly remains devoted to her notorious husband, despite his lurid behavior and long imprisonment. Beautifully staged and movingly acted, the play starred Dame Judi Dench as Renee’s mother. We remained thoroughly engaged for the almost 2-hour break-free running time. Afterwards, we meandered up to the Covent Garden area for dinner at Mon Plaisir, described in Michelin as London’s oldest and most unpretentious French restaurant. Our post-theatre meal included wine and coffee for less than £14 each. Everything was delicious—especially the creamy mushroom soup —and the atmosphere was cozy and oh so French. Our taxi ride back to the hotel gave us a good view of Soho’s quirky shops and the reserved beauty of Belgravia.


23


24


25


26


Thursday, April 30 After breakfast, walked up towards Sloane Square, stopping at Holy Trinity Church to see the magnificent windows designed by Edward BurneJones and William Morris. At the square, explored Peter Jones, top to bottom, and bought some bright Melamine dinnerware for Wesley, Ryan, and Carter. Walked along Clivedon Street through Eaton Square to Elizabeth Street where we met Penny Gawith for lunch at Oliveto, a sleek little Italian spot among a row of enticing little shops. (Saw a gorgeous brooch in one window that I would love to have.) Over fresh pasta, we caught up with each other’s lives since her wedding in Pretoria in 1966. Asked a woman at the next table to take our photo; she was intrigued that we were meeting for the first time in 40 years. Back to the hotel by 2:30. While Em took a rest, I walked up to the Anya Hindmarch boutique and bought a cute little red bag. Then down to Brompton Road where I waited in a long line at the Barclays Bank to see if I could open a little account for my royalty payments. No way, unless I have at least £10,000 to deposit, which seems a little optimistic. While I waited my turn, an Arab family came into the bank:

grandfather, mother, father, and a little girl with terrible facial scars and obviously blind. Shocked at her appearance, I soon realized that this family was from Iraq and wondered what dreadful act had so traumatized this little child. She came up to me and hugged my legs and I found myself deeply moved. It is hard enough to read about the ravages of war and quite another to see it for oneself. [Note: After returning to the US, I saw a bit on the news about a child who had been sent to the UK for restorative surgery. When I saw the film footage, I recognized the little girl as this one.] Later, as Em and I were getting ready to leave for dinner, I got a call from Klaus that he and Dagmar had arrived at the hotel and checked in. I ran up to see them for a few minutes. We will meet in the morning after breakfast. Em and I caught the 22 bus to Putney Bridge and walked down to meet Vicky for dinner at the Hurlingham, a beautiful Georgian club set in exquisite grounds on the banks of the Thames. It was quite a treat for us to enjoy an elegant meal in the quiet tradition of the grand dining room. Afterwards, Vicky drove us back to the Cadogan, topping off a perfect evening.

27


Holy Trinity Sloane Square

28


Penny Gawith meets us for lunch ... and Vicky Palau takes us to the Hurlingham Club for dinner

29


Friday, May 1 After breakfast, met Dagmar and Klaus and taxied to the Tate Britain for the “Van Dyck in Britain” exhibition. The show showcased the English work of the Flemish master from 1632 until his death in 1641 and his influence on the artists who followed him, from Gainsborough to Reynolds. Afterwards we went through the British art galleries, visiting the PreRaphaelite collection as I always love to do. Also saw a small recreation of the 1809 failed exhibit of works by William Blake. At the time it was ridiculed and despised; its detractors could not have dreamed that Blake would ultimately become one of Britain’s most important artists. Crossed the river in a Thames Clipper from the Tate Britain to the Tate Modern. The south bank was a mass of people out enjoying the sunny beginning of the bank holiday weekend. Waited 45 minutes for a table in the museum’s sleek restaurant, where we had lunch and enjoyed the view out over the Thames to St. Paul’s. Visited

30

several galleries that stretched our views of the definition of art—coiled rope, deconstructed palm trees, a wall of red cows on a yellow background. The large area in the foyer had been hung with hundreds of pendulums and performance artists were stretching and bending within them. But most amazing of all remains the building itself. I was surprised that Em wanted to walk across the river on the pedestrian bridge. This we did, saying good-by to the Starks at the foot of St. Paul’s and taking a taxi back to the hotel. Later, Dagmar and I made a quick run to M&S for wine and water, stopping to make dinner reservations at Patara, a Thai restaurant we had noticed earlier on Beauchamp Place. Got back just in time to grab Em and Klaus and return. Dinner was superb; delicate Thai-healthy vegetable and fish dishes that were really good. A pleasant walk to the hotel and a visit in our sitting room before bed.


Tate Britain

Van Dyck in Britain 31


Tate Modern 32


Saturday, May 2 Lazy morning; did not get out until almost 11. Jumped on the 137 bus to Oxford Street, getting off at Selfridges. The store is celebrating 100 years and was a sea of its signature bright yellow—shopping bags, paper airplanes, and specially commissioned yellow items, from Absolut Vodka to Hermes and from Coca-Cola to Smythson. Watched a fashion show on the escalators, set to a throbbing beat. Paused for soup in the café before leaving the store. Out on Oxford Street, all of London must have been there. We quickly turned north and headed up towards Marylebone High Street. On a whim, stopped to see “Treasures of the Black Death” at the Wallace Collection, a small collection of medieval silver, coins, and jewelry from Colmar and Erfurt that had been buried by the Jews during the time of the plague. Sadly, what had been hidden for safekeeping had never been collected and had remained hidden until as recently as 1998. Of greatest interest in this lovely little collection were three wedding rings, each bearing a tiny house on its band. Thinking that it would be a good idea to stop at Durrants Hotel for

34

tea, based on my memory of my stay there in 1998, was disappointed to find things much changed; we chose to walk on to the Marylebone High Street with its attractive shops and cafes. Pushed Em to continue up the street to my favorite bookshop, Daunt Books. Just as charming as I remembered. Taxi to the hotel for a break before meeting with Dagmar and Klaus for our “flight” on the London Eye. Buying Fast Track tickets was a good idea and we had no wait at all. Again a thrilling experience for me as we slowly rose over the Thames, with views of the river’s bends and Parliament, Buckingham Palace, King’s Cross, and other landmarks spread out before us. Walked back over the bridge to Parliament Square with its ubiquitous protesters (Iraq, Tamil Genocide, Gaza) and caught a taxi to the hotel. Dinner was at Layalina, a Lebanese restaurant back on Beauchamp Place. Only open for three weeks, it was sleek and new and the food was fantastic, as well as the 14% alcohol Lebanese wine. A really fun evening with the Starks with good stories and lots of laughter.


Selfridges 100th Anniversary

35


The Wallace Collection Daunts Books

36


37


39


40


41


Layalina Lebanese Restaurant

42


Sunday, May 3 A little chilly and cloudy today but still can’t complain, as the weather has been good for London in spring. Met the Starks and taxied to Trafalgar Square where we took in the special Picasso exhibit at the National Gallery, “Challenging the Past,” which examined the ways in which Picasso used the art of the past as a source of energy and innovation in his own work. A 20-minute film at the end neatly tied together all that we had seen. Risotto and salads at Bertorelli afterwards, just around the corner on St. Martin’s Lane. We split up after lunch and while the Starks walked to Whitehall, Em and I explored the bookshops along Charing Cross, looking for a hardback edition of P.D. James’s latest book, The Private Patient. Not only did we find that book at

Borders, but we also found a hardback of The Lighthouse, the book she will be speaking about on Wednesday when we have reservations to attend the Guardian Book Club event. Continued down to Oxford Circus and stepped into Liberty’s for a quick look, deciding to forego tea and come on back to our room for a rest. While Em had a night in, at 7:00, Andrew Gasson picked me up and we walked to Elizabeth Street for dinner at Ebury Wine Bar. Talked about travel and current projects and, of course, Wilkie. I signed his copy of my book and he gave me a copy of Victorian Masters of Mystery. He also suggested ways that I might proceed in getting my work on Dorothy Sayers published. Fun evening with an old Wilkie friend.

43


44


45


Monday, May 4 The 22 bus took Em and me from the front of the hotel, down King’s Road, and practically to the door of Charles McGregor’s house, where we arrived a half-hour early for our 12:30 lunch invitation. He greeted us heartily at 54 Quarrendon in Parson’s Green; it felt like home to be there. Fortunate to see both Annabelle and Angus, who just happened to be home. Annabelle said that she has not been there at the same time as her brother for at least six months, so this was a happy coincidence. Charles opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate our visit and prepared a lovely crab pasta, and we sat at the bright kitche n table ove rlooking the garde n. Warm conversation and catching up, and photos before the children got away. As we were preparing to leave,

46

Charles gave me the cross that I had given to Trish during her illness. I was deeply moved to receive this symbol of our special friendship. Decided to return to the hotel rather than going anywhere else as the day was rather cold and grey. At 5:00, met Dagmar; they had been on a boat tour to Greenwich while we were with Charles. Sat in the parlor and had a good chat over coffee. Collected Em and Klaus and took a taxi to Thomas Cubitt, listed in Michelin as an English pub, Belgravia style. The handsome upper floor had a clean, cozy Regency feel and the food featured fresh produce and light fish. It was a special evening to celebrate our friendship and our time together in London. They are off to Cornwall in the morning.


A visit with Charles McGregor in Parson's Green. Luckily, both Annabelle and Angus were home as well.

47


Our last evening with the Starks at the Thomas Cubitt, a Michelin gastro-pub

48


Tuesday, May 5 Saw Dagmar and Klaus off, on their way to the Isle of Wight. Our time together seemed so short! After breakfast, took a taxi to Kensington Olympia and the V&A Beatrix Potter Archives at Blythe House. I had arranged several months ago for us to examine her drawings and water colors; had been meaning to do it for years, and finally decided that now was the time. Part of the fascination of our visit was just getting into the reading room. Closed circuit TV that picked us up at the entrance and a series of secured doors as we progressed down the hallways of this imposing Victorian building contributed to our sense of anticipation at being allowed into the collection. After signing in and reading the rules—no photocopies or pens, talking or dangling jewelry—we were brought the first of four boxes: this one containing 12 studies for book illustrations. Had no idea how wonderful it was to hold these fanciful little paintings in our hands and examine them closely. And best of all, I was allowed to photograph them. We saw her designs for

greeting cards, natural history studies, and landscapes as well. The morning flew by as we lost ourselves in rabbits and mice, guinea pigs and frogs. I will never look at the little Potter books in the same way again; somehow they have now become mine. Figured out the right bus to Mayfair and found the Arts Club on Dover where we had a light lunch in the bar, enabled by my reciprocal membership in the Arts Club of Chicago. From there walked to the grand Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall where we met Mary Lou and Jack Miller from Chicago for tea. Very pleasant meeting that I look forward to continuing once I am home again. Bus back to the Cadogan, returning around 5:00. Em stayed in while I walked down to Brompton Road for a little shopping. Picked up dinner at M&S on Beauchamp Place. Spent the evening in our cozy sitting room, drinking wine and eating salads and sandwiches and yummy crispy things. A little TV too, although we have found it generally disappointing on this visit.

49


A Visit to the V&A Beatrix Potter Archives at Blythe House, Kensington Olympia

trix Potter he House Olympia

50


51


53


56


57


58


59


The Arts Club 60


The Royal Automobile Club 61


Wednesday, May 6 Our last full day in London and the last lap of our mother-daughter adventure in our special city. When we woke up, both felt like one does waiting to leave for the airport: neither here nor there, thinking we ought to be doing something and yet not really feeling like doing much of anything. Down to Brompton Road to square up our phones and top up our Oyster cards in anticipation of future visits. Borrowed the key from the hotel’s front desk and crossed the street to Cadogan Place Garden. Feeling renewed, I walked down the King’s Road from Sloane Square, leaving Em to take a rest. Mothers and kids were dodging the drops at the playful fountain on the square across from Peter Jones. The shops along King’s Road are more local, in contrast to the designer boutiques on Sloane Street and Brompton, and there were virtually no tourists. At L. K. Bennett, I tried on short cotton sweaters and ended up buying two, as well as a little red purse with a bow for Maggie. Continued down the street, stopping to buy some chocolates at Partridges. As I headed back to the hotel, I basked in the pleasure of being just where I was, on that breezy spring day, walking,

62

shopping, and people watching. At 5:30, Em and I took a taxi to King’s Cross for the Guardian Book Club meeting in their stylish new building on York Road. P.D. James was to be interviewed and we were delighted that the event was on our last night in London and not the day after, as so often seems to happen. Vicky met us soon after we arrived and we sat and waited. The event was to have started at 6:30, but at that time, there was no sense of anything happening. Around an hour later, Lady James was introduced to a capacity crowd of around 100 in the Scott Room. It was interesting—and somewhat gratifying—to see that all ages were present, from students to contemporaries of Lady James herself. Radio personality John Mullan interviewed her about The Lighthouse for 20 minutes or so, followed by Q&A and a book signing. She could not have been more charming; at 86 her mind is sharp as a tack, as well as her wit. After the interview, we lined up to have her sign our books (which Em and I had dipped in and out of Charing Cross bookstores to find). Vicky drove us back to Sloane Street and we stopped for a late supper at Oriel on the Square.


63


64


Stepping into this peaceful oasis set in the middle of Sloane Street, the sounds of birds and the scent of lilac suddenly swallow up the screech of brakes and the odor of exhaust. The sun is shining and a gentle breeze ruffles my hair. I love these quiet moments in London. They give me the chance to think back on what each visit means to me. This trip was different, of course, coming with Em. Just as the frenetic schedule I keep with Jake is different from the way I experience London on my own, this slower, more careful pace is as well. On my own, my senses seem to be heightened and my inner sense of self-communion, acute. But being with Em here has given us both a renewed opportunity to connect with each other as mother and daughter, as friends, and as women. Our time here has been precious, affording us the chance to share experiences and opinions and to realize how similar we still are in so many ways. Em’s memories of her London have enriched my own of mine. As we have maneuvered the streets and met with friends and visited exhibits and seen shows, we have made new memories together. This peaceful park, filled with the glorious colors and textures that make an English Garden so appealing, is the perfect place to share our last day. London continues to open itself to me in new ways, and this time is no exception, for it has renewed Em as it renews me, and has given us a time together that we will always remember. 65


66


“

to g n i ord es ... c c A . Jam P. D

The victim is a crucial part of the book, and he must have at least one mortal enemy. Rule number one of a detective novel is that it has to be fair. The detective novel can never be good literature, as there is no way to get into the mind of the murderer. We can get the murderer’s point of view only if we can get to it before the murder is planned. Getting into the minds of the suspects adds richness to the story. "Emma" is the best detective novel in the English language.

A confined space helps to firm the plot. The detective novel is a particularly English creation because England provides a microcosm for the setting. Everyone has a back story of why they are in the microcosm. The local police are always ineffective, paving the way for the entrance of the detective. The murder should be committed in a place that provides contrast: a peaceful, beautiful place. 68


Sex is an important element in the classic story as it makes people real. Setting is vital; the location comes first and then the idea. Dalgleish had to be a professional, as a professional is more real. He wants to do a man’s job and be in the world, but his personality is made more real by his being an only child, an agnostic, and a poet. TV renditions have never been able to capture Dalgleish, partly because TV is so expensive and the story must be too compressed.

The golden age of detective fiction is easy to outgrow—Lord Whimsey gets tiresome and Sherlock Holmes is not very likable. DNA has revolutionized crime scene investigations. Men are easily deceived when a woman is lying to them. Detective writers will never win the Booker; only Booker books win the Booker [although James has served on the judges committee six times.]

�

69


70


Thursday, May 7 Up early to pack and prepare for our departure. At 9:00, Penny Hilton came by and collected me for coffee and a quick chat. Walked down to a cafĂŠ near Harrods and she caught me up on what is happening with her husband, Paul, after his lifechanging skiing accident in Austria in February. It does not look good and she is coming to the realization that he may never really recover. All this so soon after the death of her twin sister, Trish, it is terribly hard for her. Returning to the hotel at 10:15, Em and I decided to go ahead and leave for Heathrow. The ride out by taxi was fast and we were soon at the entrance to the grand new Terminal 5, only open a year. A wheelchair zipped her up to the BA Lounge and we spent a peasant couple of hours reading the paper and enjoying a buffet lunch provided for business class passengers. Another vehicle brought us along to the B side gates and at 2:30, we boarded flight 227 for Atlanta. Settling her comfortably in her business class seat, I found mine back in the steerage. As I stowed my bag, suddenly realized that in all the moving about the terminal, I had completely forgotten to turn in my VAT refund requests; there goes ÂŁ40 or so. Nothing to be done about that now, I guess. Nine hour flight over the Atlantic; pleasant seat mates and a really tasty vegetarian meal and a long nap made the time pass quickly and soon we were landing at Atlanta, shortly after 7:00 PM. Once through customs and passport clearance, we found Al waiting excitedly to see his bride again. It was a happy reunion for them, and I am sure that he found her strong, well, and happy after our memorable two weeks together in our London. 71


Heathrow's new Terminal 5

72


And we're back where we started.

Yes, it's good to be home.

73


The End.

2009 London  

Two special weeks in London with my mother

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you