Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Ghost cookies and Afternoon Tea

driving rain in am, then clear skies, lovely evening - full moon, temps 14

Still very mild - except in the flat which managed to be quite cold! Last night I boiled up a couple of hot water bottles (we'd brought them from Canada - the first things we pack when coming to the UK, even in summer, are the hot water bottles and long underwear.) How yummy to lie in bed, reading The Times with a hot water bottle at the feet. And London outside our window. Actually, there were fireworks last night for a reason that escapes me. We looked to make sure they were fireworks and not something else...sure enough, burst of colour. At 11pm. Now, November 5th is Guy Faulkes day - commemorating a man who tried, and failed, to blow up the British Houses of Parliament centuries ago. The Brits do fireworks then - but that's a few days away. So we're baffled.

Had breakfast at home this morning...fruit...but couldn't figure out how to run the coffee machine. Very frustrating. So I brewed some tea and after breakfast while I settled down to edit Bury Your Dead Michael went off and got us some coffees and the biggest pannetone I've ever seen. he says it followed him home from a bakery on the King's Road, but I don't think I believe him. But we took it in and it has found a good, though temporary, home with us.

Bury Your Dead in manuscript form on my laptop is 500 pages (it will be a lot less in book-form). So I've set a goal of 100 pages a day. We'll see how it goes. I've learned that I am very goal oriented and do much better if I set one. The downside to that is that I am also very competitive - with myself. So if I set a goal of 100 pages you know I will do 150. Actually, today I did about 105. Might possibly have done more but we wanted to visit Michael's sister Carol.

She and her husband David live just off Sloane Square which is about a 7 minute walk from us. Very fun to be this close. Carol, you might remember, had a serious operation on her spine three weeks ago...then they discovered she needed a pacemaker, then they discovered - in quite dramatic fashion - that she was allergic to morphine. they found this out when she started raving about Kevin Spacey being on the other side of the moon. What seemed most unlikely about that was David's conviction that she'd never heard of Kevin Spacey. She became - in David's words after the fact - a nutter for three days, then slowly regained herself. We can laugh about it now because she's home and on the mend and looking great...but it was scary at the time. Horrible.

So off we went to visit Carol and David...taking along a copy of The Brutal Telling, two bags of jelly beans (Carol's favorites) some chocolate for David and some gourmet meals. After visiting for a while we headed out. Miochael, dear one, had already bought me what they call here an 'oyster card'...it's actually just an ordinary credit card type thing, but for the transport system...you put money on it and swipe it when you get on a bus or the underground. When my wallet was stolen that was one of the things in it...my old oyster card. But we dropped by Peter Jones in Sloane Square to get a new wallet...then up the street to Harvey Nichols, since it was now 5pm and we hadn't yet had lunch. And Harvey Nichs has a wonderful, fun, Japanese suchi bar thing with a conveyor belt. Our idea of heaven. We sit there and like a Disney ride, small dishes of suchi and other Japanese food conveys by. Great fun.

Got there, though, and it was closed for renovations...so we plopped ourselves down and gave ourselves over to temptation in the 5th floor restaurant. Yet another Afternoon Tea...with cucumber sandwiches, crayfish sandwiches, ham and egg, scones with clotted cream, and tons of delicate pastries. It was bliss!

Then the long walk home. We could have hopped on a bus but after that we figured we needed to walk. With the time difference it gets dark really early...about 4:30...so it was pitch black 0 except for this wonderful, stunning, full moon.

How lovely it was to walk hand in hand with Michael through Knightsbridge and Chelsea - tummies full of Afternoon Tea - to our flat. And now we're home...a glass of ginger beer poured and The Times waiting.

Had a call from Rona - John's daughter-in-law. they'd hoped to get him into a hospice today, but he took a turn and now they dare not move him. Frankly, he has far exceeded expectations. the will to live is strong, as is his heart. Everytime they tell the family to say goodbye, John rallies. I remember when my father died the same thing happened. It became a bit of a joke in the family...a hobby...saying goodbye to Dad. That and the fact that since he died around Halloween (this time of year, of course) my brother Doug who was 10 was asked to go out and get cookies so we had something to offer people coming back to the house after the funeral. Doug - a nice lad but perhaps not very bright - bought cookies shaped like ghosts. This is also where the family rumour (started by Rob and me that night) that Doug is adopted comes from.

Tomorrow we plan to go to the Royal Academy - one of our favorite galleries in London - then I'm meeting my agent, Teresa at the Ritz. How fun is that?

Be well - and thank you for all your good wishes...one person described it as placing us in the Light. And John, of course. And now I return the favour - placing you in the light. With thanks.

6 comments:

Marjorie said...

Dear Louise,

Kevin Spacey is, in fact, on the other side of the moon. It's just not widely known.

And even if Carol has never seen a movie that he acts in, I will bet that she has heard of him through his position as Artistic Director of the Old Vic.

Peter Jones, Harvey Nichols and The Ritz. I am thoroughly jealous and wish I could be there right this minute! But if I can't be in London, I am glad that you and Michael are taking in the best that the city has to offer. Darn, I would be happy just to be able to buy myself a box of the round Marks & Spencer English Breakfast teabags. Oh, and some lemon sherbet candies. And some violet scented talcum powder. And...oh well, you get the idea. Sigh.

I am sorry about the loss of your wallet, but I am very happy that your passport was not in it at the time.

--Marjorie from Connecticut

Lesa said...

Oh, Louise,

I knew you had rescheduled at the Poisoned Pen (Barbara Peters emailed me), but I didn't have a chance to get on your blog to see why.

I just said a prayer for Michael, and for his friend, John. That's a beautiful thought - keeping you in the Light. I have to say, though, I think you're an important part of that Light for the people who know you. You tell so beautifully about John and Michael's sister, and then you get tell about ghost cookies. It's a perfect blend of thoughtfulness, and the relief of humor that is so important.

Stay well, Louise. Michael needs you.

Lesa

lil Gluckstern said...

How lovely to eat and enjoy London with you, and how wonderful to be able to laugh after such a difficult time with Carol and John.
Again, I am struck by how much hard work goes into the writing, and publishing of a book. To turn out a beautifully polished novel as you do is not a small task. And it shows. All in all, you and Michael have that gift of spinning straw into gold without forgetting those whom you love, and love you.

Dolores said...

It's very good of you to keep us up to date, Louise. I'm really interested in your news. Errr.. are you picking up your emails?
Love
Dolores

London Kate said...

Hello Louise

Long time, no comment - I've been reading your blog, honest, but not leaving comments - I have no good reason, beyond utter idleness, for my silence!

Bonfire Night is indeed a couple of days away as the old, if rather ungrammatical, poem says:

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

But that doesn't stop people letting fireworks off throughout the week preceding. As you saw them at 11pm it was almost certainly a private, impromptu, back-from-the-pub, in the garden display. Public displays tend to be done by 9pm for the sake of children's bedtimes etc.

All best wishes to you and especially to Michael. From your descriptions, your husband always sounds like he is a completely smashing chap and I'm so sorry he is losing his friend.

xKate

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi all,

Good to know we probably weren't hallucinating the fireworks. Kevin Spacey was up there too...is that normal? Thank you for being so supportive, too. Of course, half the fun of being in London is making everyone envious. Otherwise, why bother?