Friday, 12 November 2010

2 minutes




partly cloudy, mild, temps 13

Nice day - and a day when nothing is happening. Absolutely no appointments - nothing. Well, I had an interview I had to do, but that was easy.

Michael and I headed off early and walked over to Chelsea Green and a restaurant we like for breakfast (it's about a 25 minute walk) called Tom's Kitchen. As promised, though, here finally is the view down our street (Basil street) to Harrod's a block away.

Heaven.

We turned left at Harrods then followed all sorts of windy roads to the restaurant, where we had cappuccino and fresh squeezed orange juice - then Michael had a brioche french toast and I had scrambled eggs, toast and bacon (which I shared with him just to keep his crying from upsetting the children at the next table).

Then we walked down a block or so the the Kings Road and a favorite haunt. Starbucks. I'm not kidding. it wouldn't normally be our first choice in a city renowned for great cafe's - but this one has a second floor with huge floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the Kings Road. It has become a traditional place for us to go for a hot chocolate or coffee, and read our manuscripts. This time I was actually reading a book for research for the next one I'm writing. Such fun to sit there, reading and making notes.

Then off to Marks and Spencer to more food - picked up the Telegraph and the Times - and home.

yesterday was a long but fun day. Started with a phone interview with a British publication called Women's Weekly. Then a hair appointment up on the Brompton Road -

(just interrupted writing because we could hear horses clomping down the road below...leapt up and sure enough there was a carriage, with two horses, and two Harrod's men in livery. I wonder if that's how they deliver their famous harrod's hampers? Worth ordering one just to see)

Then grabbed a cab across town for lunch with my editor, Dan Mallory. The cab suddenly slowed down and I strained to see what the delay was, only to discover that two cars ahead was the Queen's carriage! Gold and enclosed and flanked by horsemen - returning for the Cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremonies. It's very solemn here. Everyone observes it the 2 minutes of silence at 11am. Indeed, one of the top selling video's in Britain is exactly that. It's put out by the Royal Legion and is 2 minutes of silence. Featuring men and women, some famous, some not, just quietly staring into the camera - with just the background sound audible. Excruciatingly beautiful and moving. Michael emailed later and said he was in the shops and at 11 am everyone just stopped. customers in the aisles, clerks, checkouts. Everyone stopped. After 2 minutes there was a sound and everyone started again.

We followed the queen down the road. She turned in to Buckingham Palace, and we didn't.

A few minutes later the cab dropped me at Lutyen's Restaurant, on Fleet Street. I had a few minutes to spare so I went in to St. Bride's church. Known as the journalists church - which surprised me since I always thought journalists were a godless bunch of heathens. But apparently I was wrong. This being Fleet street, a huge number of printed papers and magazines had their names on pews.

But what staggered and humbled me (yet again) was the memorial. To the journalists killed covering conflicts. Including a 23 year old photographer stoned to death in Somalia. Dear Lord.

And the poppies, of course. Remembering.

Dan and I had a fabulous lunch in what had been the Reuter's building (he had chicken, I had dover sole) and we gabbed for hours. Then headed back to the litte, Brown offices for tea. There's a photo of the Little, Brown team. Dan is standing on the far right. How kind they were to do this, so that I could meet them all at once. Such an amazing group of people. I'm really looking forward to getting to know them better. But what I do know is that they treated me - a new author from Canada - as though I was the most important person on their list (which clearly I am not). So gracious.

Teresa, my agent, was also there. Afterward she and I walked for about half an hour along the Thames. It was dark and we could see the London Eye (the huge ferris wheel, lit up all red - as a poppy. for remembrance day. Then the underground home. I got off at Sloane Square. The photo with the bus and the christmas lights is of Sloane Square. Most of London has just been decorated for Christmas and is as beautiful as you might imagine.

What a magical time. Je me souviens.

Nothing on the agenda tomorrow. No lunches, no meetings, no interviews. Just us. Wow.

7 comments:

dleisert said...

Years ago I was in a Toronto mall trying to find a last minute dress for a dinner. Lots of shoppers, sales, typical bustle. At the 11th hour, a voice came over the PA requesting silence. To my USian amazement, people quit shopping, actually stood in silence for a bit. Two minutes? Maybe. Then the voice read In Flander's Fields. I was impressed by the respect and teary-eyed thinking of WWI's horrific carnage. And that we obviously have learned nothing from it.

Debra

lil Gluckstern said...

Having known many veterans, I find this very moving, and your description is very touching. Imagine seeing the Queen's carriage!. Lovely street, just as I would imagine London to be-or want to be. BTW-I agree with Debra, we haven't learned anything from too many wars. So that's the serious note for the day. What a lovely place to have only a little to do.

Dana said...

I love when you talk about reading and thinking about your next book.
Thank you for the visit to London. We are having a wonderful time.
the verification word for me is "taxes" - yuck!

Anonymous said...

What a fun trip. How cool to get to see the queen?

I had no idea that Veteran's Day was the same in the UK, Canada and US. I am always moved by veterans both old and young.

Have fun in London, I have enjoyed living vicariously through you.


Jill in Texas

Lee Ann said...

Nous nous souvenons. Merci, Louise.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing London....I have always wondered though what purpose it serves to have different titles for the same book in the US and UK???

Carole in Maine

Louise Penny Author said...

Oui - merci, Lee Ann.

And I agree with you all - extremely moving.

And Carole - these were publisher's decisions. They feel that sometimes a particular title might work in one culture and country, but not another.