highschoolrules

no matter how old you are, it's still about high school!

OY to the world


Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. It has gone from a black & white ‘Joan Collins switching the Regents Street lights on’ snap to a Hollywood 3-D movie with people jumping out at you on Oxford Street.

For me it’s the time I feel incredibly lonely, even when I’m surrounded by lots of people at a flash party. That’s the worst.  Yet, when I’m alone in my little cottage curled up in front of the fire reading with Sophie on my lap, I’m never lonely.  There is also that feeling of relief like when you are taking off your Spanx after a night out. All your fat that has been held in captivity can go back to its natural habitat. It’s just so tiring having to pretend you are somebody you aren’t, even down to your muffin-tops.

With me, it’s always the solicitous ‘are you okay?’ small talk.  How many times can I say to people I’m okay. One day I’m going to reply… You know what I’m NOT OK, I feel like crap and I’d like to hang myself with the fairy lights, but the ceiling would collapse on me, and I’d have a hell of a repair bill. The only good thing to come of it would be is that they’d never ask me again.

This was also the season of having to make the command performances at my in-law’s holiday parties. I was trotted out as their last link to their only son, which was fine because they were my last link also.

When I first met them at their home in Grosvenor Cottages, we fortified ourselves at The Antelope round the corner.  I had been warned I would need it. The minute we drove up into the cul-de-sac, it was obvious this was an area frozen in time.  You could tell the homes had been passed down throughout the generations, and not inhabited by Russian tycoons, Middle Easterners and the worst kind ever – football stars.

Their living room was traditionally decorated with ivory oversized sofas and chairs with fringes; red walls;  high ceilings with white crown molding and extremely large ornately framed paintings of their ancestors standing next to hunting dogs. Jamie’s father was as they say an “heir” and looked like Roger Moore circa now . He was so welcoming, kissing my hand but not in a smarmy way. His mother – an Honor Blackman doppelgänger – looked like her face was frozen in time.  Jamie told me her life was about being ‘maintained.’ She’d go around the corner to Dr. Greenburgh’s office (where he had two entrances so the wife wouldn’t run into the mistress) getting some sort of injections to stay young, then the hairdresser, facials and gym. Not a life I saw leading.

As I sunk into the chair, I whispered to Jamie to get me a drink and cheese/crackers for fear my mini-skirt would ride up if I got up. Honor slithered next to me, so thin she could share the seat, taking my hands in her translucent hands with bulging purple veins (reminder: put on hand cream twice a day.)  In a polite whisper instructed me that women get their men drinks and if need be, their food, not the other way around. It was like a page torn out of Courtesan 101. I wanted to say for gods sake,  I was from Surrey, not plucked from selling flowers in Covent Garden, but stopped short. In Surrey the men got women drinks, this just was another world to me.

Luckily Jamie wanted to escape that world, and who he grew up to be was an enigma to his parents. He had no interest in hunting, polo, yachting  or someday moving into their house. Simply put, they were SW people, and we were NW people and never the twain shall meet. My life was never about “maintaining” but more about how to carve out who I was when all anyone cared about was talking to my husband. Thus, the wine throwing incident which landed up on the cover of The Sun.

When my husband died, I felt horribly insecure since in most people’s minds I’m sure, he was the only thing interesting  thing about me. At Oxford, my game plan was by forty I’d change the world,  then marry. I’d done it all reverse. I was also starting to become invisible. Slowly fading away like women my age did. Men didn’t do a double take  anymore,  nor women give me the once over glance. I had no discernible talent and now was carving out who I was standing alone.

I’m off  for Christmas Eve dinner at the Connaught with the General.  Maybe he’ll smack some sense into me.

groundhog nights


There are no sweet dreams for the guilt-ridden.  Tossing and turning, feeling uncomfortable  in your own skin, just in that betwixt-and-between space.  Too hot, you toss some blankets on the floor. Too cold, you pile them back on. Punching the feather pillow trying to get your head settled in just right, but never seem to do.

I put down my book, turned off the light and stare at the ceiling, accepting that sleep won’t come easily. It was ironically my favourite time of the day.  Shades drawn, ear-plugs in, outside world blocked out.

You know how you hold a memory dear to your heart, replaying it over and over, to feel the silliness and  spark at that time, as clearly as if it was now.  Our heart is like a camera, capturing fleeting glimpses of unguarded moments on an endless reel that we never tire of watching, each time observing something new.

That’s what this time is like for me, watching my favourite movie where I know all the lines by heart.  Everything in life boils down to being a mystery, a curiosity to find out what it would be like for us.  If  mine was a Sherlock Holmes BBC drama,  it would be called The Case of the Missing Eyes, and begin like this.. ..

It was a typical dark, dreary English Winter day  We had a guest lecturer coming, a 30-something male and well-known snarky political writer,  so the school was all aflutter. I stood on the side of the library with a couple of girlfriends, looking like escapees from St. Trinians, getting in a quick smoke before it was time to go into the lecture.  Car pulls up, and he glides gracefully out of the back wearing very dark Ray Bans, like a rock star with a permanent sunny cloud following him about.

Very tall and rangy, he bounded up two steps at a time, being stopped by  students along the way who wanted to chat him up. Even though it was getting close to lecture time, he never let anyone feel rushed, but never took off the sunglasses.  He was wearing the prerequisite dark navy blue suit with faint white pinstripes, yet playing against stereotype he had over it a Bognor parka with  fur around the rim of the hood, nestled against his neck making his shaggy blonde hair seem even longer. As my American roommate observed later,  he looked an aging hippie with a good tailor.

Usually I enter all my classes late and a bit noisily. Or as one of my professors says,  “stage right,” as if to announce my arrival. Today, I was right on time  feeling a bit like my emotions were inside out.  If this were public school, not University. I’d be hearing taunts of …Nicola likes a boy, over and over again.  I strategically chose an aisle seat by the back, but close enough to observe my prey to see whether he was worthy of my liking. I didn’t like this side of me at all, way too distracting and usually suppressed to concentrate on studies. Although barely 18, I knew I was going to be doing something amazing with my life that would change the world, and once established would marry when I was forty.  But this time it was harmless enough, there would be no mystery whether he’d call or not, no sitting on pins and needles.  This  had a beginning, a middle and an end when  he got back in his car to London.

He was at the lectern shuffling through his notes, occasionally stopping to chat with a  professor who had come over. There was a languid elegance about him, but as with the ski parka, he made a conscious effort not to be appear too stereotypical.  He had taken off his suit jacket to reveal a crisp whiter-than-white barely starched shirt. What was interesting, where the cuff-links should be, there were none. It was a bold move, but he could pull it off as only a really confident man could. The cuffs didn’t flop about, obviously a bit more starched,  instead they dangled gracefully around, then off his wrists.

It was his hands at repose that made my heart do a flip-flop. When he  wasn’t shuffling or shaking hands, his fingers were always slightly curled towards  his palm when talking to people.  There was something so child-like in the way he awkwardly held  them,  like Christopher Robin carefully dragging Pooh up the stairs.

I listened to his  lecture  much like the Corgis listened to  the Queen, it was all blah, blah, blah. I spent the whole time trying  to see what color eyes he had now that the glasses were off.  I kept going from brown with flecks of gold, or green with flecks of gold. They had that quality of wavering between. When he was finished answering questions, the auditorium of adoring fans clapped a bit too loudly, many with flushed cheeks – mostly male I might add. As he strode up the aisle followed by a coterie of people,  he was about to open the door, paused, turned around and looked straight at me.

They were blue.

travelling, yet never arriving


The night before the big move, I took an “accidental” overdose of pills. I was slugging back Bollingers from the bottle on an empty stomach, and took a wee too many Xanax.  Instead of passing out, I  just sat there crying in the corner of the front room, next to the velvet curtain that almost burned the house down. Obsessing about every slight I’d given to people, phone calls not answered, neglected friends and ruminating how I had let everyone down, especially my father.

Our home was run with military precision by my father, the General. It was as if he was the UK and we were the colonies. No one was allowed to argue with the sovereign head, never express anger and we must never tell people in other countries our life was anything less than perfect,  because that’s what colonization was all about. Happy! Happy! Happy!

If I was turning my life into a book, that would be the forward to explain everything. Ha! Always blame the parents til you can’t. I always thought of life being like a novel,  chapters ended, then on to the next one.  My problem was all of a sudden I was stuck in the middle of the book, not knowing what the next chapter would be. No last page to read to give a clue..

I had killed my husband, and can any one ever survive that plot twist?

hangover flu


Admittedly, I have had a very charmed life over the years. During that time I never thought of things like saving money. Me, get old?! Impossible. I was always going to be this young, pretty, madcap girl swanning around Kings Road with my wonderfully witty journalist husband who was my clothing and accessories sponsor.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have done crunches and leg lunges every day when I was growing up. Put on hand cream religiously every night before bed. Certainly, on the rare occasion of a sunny day,  not have sat in the backyard,  sun reflector in hand with baby oil and iodine slathered over my skin,  burning up like a pig on a spit.

But more importantly, I would not have spent all that money on exquisite clothing and designer bags which would have been better spent deposited in a bank account for emergencies like…

..after a long, financially draining bout with cancer, traveling the world looking for a magical cure,  the only man in my life since 19, died. I was barely 40. Exactly mid-life. Usually a time of taking stock, but all I felt was completely and utterly gobsmacked.

The state of my house was like the old magician’s trick of pulling the table-cloth off without disturbing the place settings.  Everything was in place, no matter how much my life felt like it had been leveled in a tsunami. Even my husband’s clothes were still neatly lined up, color coded by varying degrees of blue, greys and whites, plus sorted by fabric. Cashmere, Merino Wool, Pima Cotton and so on. My closet has never been in order. The pretty objects of desire that I wanted to have, NOW, always carelessly thrown about.

It was if I just closed my eyes when picking something to wear, and threw everything in the air waiting to see what  landed. It worked in the past, but now it felt like traveling, but never quite arriving.

It was very clear, I was on the verge of becoming a post-modern Miss Havisham. Next step would be curtains drawn, wax lights illuminating my walk-in-closet, receiving guests among rubble, albeit designer rubble. Soon after that, I’d be stopping all the clocks to read  twenty to nine.

Miss Havisham wanted to stop her life, and so did I.

clueless


My job in life was being able to travel with my husband when he was on assignment, and dabbling in ‘interior design’, but that was more about  getting a professional discount at Sandersons.

I was torn out of my comfort zone when my husband died of  lung cancer after a  long, valiant battle. Most of our  money had been exhausted searching for the most cutting edge treatment here, then Paris, Switzerland and Tibet. Typical of me to not really get it, that my best mate could die. Talk about self-medication, I shopped away my feelings. I loaded up on semi-precious opulent jewellery and of course, pashminas in every colour – even ones I didn’t know existed.

Never knowing anyone who had died, I was very unprepared on every level when it happened. How could he be there one day, and gone the next?  I went from being not particularly religious to being a bit spiritual. My trip to Tibet had obviously made an impact, besides on my closet.

Remember that  show “Eli Stone” where Jonny Lee Miller kept hearing George Michael sing? Instead, I was followed about by Peggy Lee humming  ‘Is that all there is‘.  It was like the constant buzzing of a bee caught in your earlobe which you just couldn’t shake.

Unfortunately, I  needed to start looking for a job which was going to be a challenge with my limited experience. As much as I only wanted to lay in bed wrapped in my husband’s flannel robe like a cocoon, I had to support myself.

There is only way to describe going back to work at my age. It was as though I took a massive dose of LSD and was transported back in time to Beverly Hills High School in 1965. I was Tai in Clueless, but there would by no nice sweet, kind Cher to take me under her wing. I didn’t know the language, buzz words and more importantly what it was like to interact with young people.

A very wise friend told me that I would get through it, just had to remember that work life  is just like high school.

But then again,  isn’t everything ?!

you say hello, i say good-bye


Pathetically, I had my mobile programmed to “Never Say Never” if Nigel called or texted.

Not the Beatles. Not Oasis. But a twit of a boy who knew absolutely nothing about heartbreak.

After about a year,  Nigel called me at 2:00am.

At first I wasn’t sure if it was dream or another Ambien induced hallucination.

I knew I wasn’t drunk dialing him.

So I picked up.

My heart was in knots when he told me that he had straightened out his life (for about the tenth time) and wanted to be with me.

Nigel’s voice made my body tremble, My skin felt alive again. It was the same feeling I have sloughing of the superficial layer of facial skin with oatmeal and honey then running my fingertips over it, marveling how smooth it felt.  Unfortunately,  after 40 you still have to slather it with moisturizer to protect the raw skin.  Until the next time. You couldn’t just do it once and with a click of your heels,  all was young and fabulous again.

As I listened to him, I thought of the definition of insanity. Doing the same thing over and over, hoping it would turn out differently. But it never does, does it?

If I told him no, he would just pursue me more, thinking no meant chase me more which it always had in the past. Our little game of win me over, make me his again.

So in the end, I white knuckled it by never returning his  calls or texts.  Instead of feeling proud of the path I took, it just made me cross with myself.  Like giving away my mini-skirts,  it was a step towards packing away my childlike-immediate-gratification behavior.

Knowing me,  I was bound to do  something stupidly reckless again. It would just be bad form to do it with Nigel.  If the past was a foreign country, I’ll just  go to another continent!

mini me


When you hit a certain age,  you have to give up some of  the vestiges of your youth.

Mine was mini-skirts.

To paraphrase Disraeli,  you have to know when to leave the stage and not overstay your welcome.

I handed over the ‘guaranteed to turn men’s heads’  torch  to my god-daughter  Pandora.

My (faux) feather skirt that I wore to my first opera at 20 and vowed never to go again – boring!       What kept me amused were the admiring glances I’d get when I was drinking champagne during intermission.

The Burberry mini  I wore with a simple white shirt and  boots, under a long black coat with the outfit peeking out.  That was my go-to outfit  when I was  on my own.  Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you are dead,  it still feels great to get admiring glances from other men.

My black and white tweed classic Chanel suit where I had the boring knee-length skirt lopped off  close to 13 centimetres. Then going to meet Jamie at Home House for lunch to shake up the old club a bit.

My closet suddenly looked as though  I had been robbed by a teenage fashionista high on glossy magazines.

Yeah, yeah I know I shouldn’t be so vain and after forty we have so many other things going for us besides sky-high legs and barely there skirts to showcase them.

It was  more about  inside every older women is a younger girl wondering  WTF happened?

meowwwwch


I tried to ‘friend’ someone 

Which we were of sorts

OK, maybe not in the ‘let’s get legless  and trash everyone we know‘ way

But we did travel in the same social circles, and even had the same fashion style

Every store sale we picked up the same dress

At the same time

About three months go by, of course you think of it as the telephone theory

He has tried calling, but your phone has been a  bit wonky 

It’s never that he thought you were a total brat-pratt

You friend her again

Nothing

What do you say when you run into that person?

Should they feel embarrassed?

Probably not

They have all the power by not answering your friend request

You certainly do

How pathetic are  you for being rejected not once, but twice

Facebook just opens up a whole new way of setting up cliques

I choose YOU, but not you

Because you just aren’t fabulous enough to be seen by my other friends as my friend

Next time,  just let her have the dress

3am ephiphany


To me, shopping is all about the ultimate high in pleasuring yourself.

The whole process of wooing.  The chase.

       You see what you want, then google it to see where you can find it for less money.

Then who has free shipping,  finally, scoring a 20% coupon off.

  You order it.

Feel that rush, the excitement

Imagining what it will feel like when you physically get your hands on it

It’s all a bit of a hazy dream with Vaseline covered lens, on how your life will improve because of it

Then you feel totally satiated from the rush,  dizzy and a bit flush   

Ten minutes later you are done

You email to cancel, sorry ordered by error

It’s not about actually landing  the object of your affection, but the process of pursuing

That giddy feeling

If I only knew before the psychology behind my madness, just can’t blame everything on Ambian,

I wouldn’t be stuck with a closet full of items to sell on Ebay

Then again, your  fleeting object of affection can catch you unaware and  turn out to be the real thing

The “how did I live without it item”

Somethings are just keepers

me/n


What I’ve discovered about me/n since I’ve became a widow…

DATING

1. It’s all about the chase, men get bored easily.

2. I have to be very careful who I bond with, suffer a bit from separation anxiety when it ends.

3. Learned that I can’t hop into bed with someone without feeling a connection, so (see 1.) just enjoy the ride before you really take the ride.

3.  Lust is amazing, but you can get obsessed with it. If that is all there is, it’s not going to end well.

4.  Some girls can act very neurotic and it’s appealing.  With me it’s more irritable and off-putting.

5. If you are pissed off, tell him at that very moment. In fact, pick up  the phone, not a text.  Don’t wait for when it’s over and send him 3 long rambling emails telling him what  pissed you off.  You are doing it only for you, write them. Have a drink. Then erase them.

6.  The most intense relationship I had was Nigel. He was really the first who brought out that reckless side of me since Jamie had died. In fact, the last time I had felt that was when I ran off with Jamie at 19. That leaping off a cliff not caring about the consequences because it was just so intense, mad and wonderful.  I will be forever grateful to Nigel for letting me know that side wasn’t dead. (thank you)

MARRIAGE

1. The age you got married, will be your set-point age.

2. Hardest job in the world because it’s every day, no time off for good behavior, only for bad.

3. Your neurosis must mesh. You can’t have two very intense people, there has to be one who is more easy-going and not so wound up.

4. Forget the axiom don’t go to bed angry, I’d have had no sleep.

5.  Don’t keep him on a short lease, he’ll find a way to gnaw through.

6.  Keep some mystery in the loo.

7. You can’t be with someone who keeps the heat on, covered up with a thin blanket, when you like to have the windows open snuggled under a fluffy down duvet.

So in conclusion, I’ve learned a lot but in essence absolutely nothing.

snap


So about two months have passed since I’ve sworn off men. Am finally settled into my own little world, free of feeling happy which would only lead to unhappiness so let’s cut out the middle step.  Not depressed. but in a melancholy holding pattern which is my go to comfort zone.

Out of the blue I got a call from Trevor at 10pm on a Sunday night, asking if he come over to talk, nothing more. He is so tall it always makes me laugh because he has to stoop when coming through my front door into my living room. Never seen him like this. Ratty old jeans, a shirt with no cuff-links (horrors! buttoned cuffs!) no socks and muck about loafers. I was  in my flannel pajamas, very not-sexy and no make-up. OK, just a little concealer under my eyes because Benefit rocks.

Sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the fireplace, we shared a bottle of red wine he brought.

Well, what happened?

I explained to him that I am not good at relationships,  I become too demanding, too needy and the only relationships that work is when the man bombards with attention, basically knocks me over the head so I can’t over think, sweeps me into obsessive relationship, then I’m eventually swept away. Or I just keep breaking up with someone before I can get hurt. That I need someone who will continually  reel me in.

Basically, I look more fun than I really am.

He said he couldn’t be in an obsessive relationship because he was running around all over the  world, and his first priority was that, second his daughter and I am third. The only reason I was attracted to that scenario is it’s just another avoidance of being in a grown up relationship.  I could cry that I was left, but it was set up that way. I was a willing participant.  So let’s take a small step forward, and he won’t talk about his ex-wife and what annoyed him about her, but in exchange I can’t keep my late husband’s memory shrink wrapped so he never got old and was perfection personified.

We had a deal.

treacly ever after


My theory about happiness being a big disappointment waiting to happen, is true.

I had settled into my cottage with my little moggy Sophie, and felt happy for the first time since Jamie died.  Not less-depressed, but happy.

Not to sound all Forrest Grumpy, but dating is a little like that first taste of chocolate.  You didn’t know what you were missing because you had never had it before.  Now that you have, without it you feel incredibly lonely.

I have to re-set my emotional clock back a year.

Warm evenings at the Holly Bush with my girlfriends. Colder evenings in front of a crackling fireplace curled up in an oversized velvet chair where you sink in so deeply you feel like a small child.  Sophie sleeping on my lap, while I  attempt to read something intellectually stimulating – i.e. Jamie’s books – and not one of my  Josephine Hart novels hidden behind Shakespeare’s complete works.

Giving up chocolate, but not sweets.  This go round, I’m going to learn how to make puddings on my own,  something I’ve avoided eating my entire life.

Pudding Rules!

Toxic Friends 101


 THE CONFIDENCE GAME

Men are pretty simple creatures, almost clueless at times.  They tell you who they are upfront, we just ignore the signs thinking we’ll be the one who changes them. We always cite a friend of a friend of a friend’s cousin who tamed a bad boy, to give us hope.  But they are the exception, not the rule.

If ‘manipulation’ was an Olympic sport, women would take home the gold year-after-year. They leave men in the dust regarding being competitive, cunning, devious and manipulative.

We are drawn into their web because they are incredibly charismatic. That makes it all the harder to know that, yes indeed, we are in a toxic-relationship.

These are the 6-simple steps to recognizing when it’s time for a friends-cleanse:

1.   They make cutting remarks about a mutual friend behind their back.

2.  They play people against each other, but shhhhh you can’t say it came from her that ‘so and so’ thinks you are a right wanker.

3.   You’re feeling a bit depressed and instead of wanting to hear about it, they say snap out of it.

4.. They never reveal anything personal about themselves, but know everything about you.

5.  They have at least 25 really close girlfriends and a coterie of adoring gay admirers around the world.

7.  They start sentences with any of following phrases: I’m telling you this for your own good; Don’t tell anyone I told you but;  No one else will tell you but…

As amusing and charming as they might be, you really want to surround yourself with an impregnable wall of friends who are your biggest cheerleaders – in front and behind your back.

Not to worry about doing a bit of friend house cleaning, they won’t miss you a bit. And that’s the saddest part of all, isn’t it?

truly, madly, deeply


When a women hits 45, and her baggage is mainly Vuitton, does she go for younger or older men? I last dated when I was 19.  In fact, that was my last date. So here I am on a tear, juggling both generations.

Nigel – 32 – recovering cocaine addict, lives in his parent’s basement flat in Islington. We met at The Freud Museum which for some reason he thought was a Lucien Freud art exhibition tying in with his pharmaceutical pieces. Resembling a young Alan Bates, he had that rumpled look as though he had just rolled out of bed but forgot to fully open his eyes.    I felt positively girlish when I saw him, twisting my hair and wishing…please pick me. That serendipitous meeting started this intense affair. I soon discovered that recovering free-base cocaine addicts are always looking for that next rush, in this case it was me.         I was swept up in his wildly manic moods, so dizzying  it was though I couldn’t catch my breath  at times.  Tormented by demons, his moods always dictated my moods. If he wanted to shut down, I was shut out. Sometimes  for days on end. Voice mailbox full.

I needed an antidote.

Trevor – 49 – was a fix-up from my friend Poppy who felt he would be the perfect balance. Trevor traveled all over the world  for work so lots of emails back and forth before we met up. Every time Nigel went into one of his black holes, there would be an email from Trevor which  made me laugh. We endlessly bantered with each other. When we finally met up, it was like meeting an old friend. In person, I was struck by how tall and sturdy his body was, his face was very Clive Owen-ish.   Trevor exuded manliness, and gave off a feeling that he would protect you.

I was a smitten kitten.

-

Jewish Gilt


new blog post

Admittedly there is no place I’d rather be than my little cottage in the village off the high street, right around the corner from Rosslyn Deli. Ordering food pretending I was having the most brilliant dinner party, all the while knowing I was  eating it all myself.  It’s just that  winter has really been hard on me with the rain and perpetual gloomy weather. Just too much time on my hands, too introspective and feeling sad all the time. Especially about the hardest things I’ve done in my life, all relating to death. 

As everyone knows my father was a very difficult man. 5 marriages and god knows how many children by wives and mistresses, paradoxically each wife older than the last.  My second to last step-mother threw herself off her West Village flat, right around the corner from Meyers of Keswick leaving a half-eaten pork pie and a jar of pickled onions on the terrace. She would have been most insulted that she didn’t rate the cover of the New York Post, although she was the cover story of The Sun with the headline – SPLAT!

My father, the horrid man he was, treated his second wife, my mother,  horribly.  She was a wonderfully beautiful woman but also a fragile anorexic that cut a tragic figure in and out of my life; a model whom he married when she was twenty and he was fifty.  I was their only child and she died when I was sixteen. She wanted to die earlier and on one occasion I found her after she had downed a bottle of pills curled up in her sitting room floor  in the fetal position. I will never forget her shrunken eyes, pleading with me to let her die.  Totally panic-stricken, I called my  older half-sister Cosima asking her what to do. It was just too much for me to understand. All I knew was this was the third attempt, that I knew of, and she obviously wanted out   I was far too young to really understand the depths of depression that was like a cancer eating away at her heart til she was no long able to take care of herself, let alone me.  In the end I called the ambulance and she lived for three more years.  It haunts me that I should have let her die, to take her out of her misery, but Cosima told me it was a guilt I could never have lived with.  It was the first of the death trifeca  that I carried around with me. like a worn out book that has no ending.

Cosima. My Cosima. My rock. Ten years older than I was and closer to being a mother figure than any of the others.  Years later when she was dying of  cancer, I was her health proxy, probably because technically I was Jewish and felt the life that one lives on earth is what matters. {Not about spending your life being a totally horrid person, then begging God’s forgiveness to get into heaven.}   After Jamie had died – more blood on my hands – she fell ill while I was working at the fashion magazine with the glam French editor. The one with the trapeze in the living room. When Cosima was given a death knell, it was though I was also. Life for me was never the same.  For two years, I spiraled out of control. No stiff British upper lip for me, only stiff drinks. and plenty of them.

I know now I had been in the midst of having a walking nervous breakdown. My work suffered, I became paranoid and was eventually fired. My boss would continually say I was being paranoid, and no one was talking about me behind my back. (Jamie used to tell me, sometime paranoia is justified). Then the infamous day when she demoted me from an editor to an assistant editor, after reeling off about six names of women who had come to her saying I was a nightmare to work with. Didn’t anyone ever connect the dots between being a fairly good employee, to being disconnected and not myself?! If I’d became a drug addict, I would have been sent to rehab. But emotional illness is not dealt with the same way, people walk away without looking back as if it were catching.

At first I was bitter and twisted, but now I know she had no choice. No matter how much my boss said we were nous sommes une grande famille heureuse,  when someone is dangling off that ledge, she doesn’t them to pull everyone else down.

It all worked out well because I had time to spend with my sister without feeling guilty, then of course to mourn her death which I wouldn’t have been able to do while walking around having a nervous breakdown and everyone at work was la-de-da, isn’t life grande. The  third worst day of my life (including finding my mum with a slit throat)  was sitting in intensive care at the Royal Marsden, listening to them tell her that she would be released but it was basically no life.  I had to tell her that I thought it was time for her to let go, and if it was okay with her I would sign off on pulling her life support. She gathered her family around, said her goodbyes and off she went.

Besides the odd cats and dogs, putting a person to sleep is possibly the most horrible thing that haunts you for the rest of your life. Mother. Husband. Sister.  And yet here I am, engulfed in guilt that I survived. Dangling on that precipice with no safety net.

Youth is cruel and smiles without remorse; I smile of course, and keep on drinking vodka


stacet

In Palimpsest, Conrad Aiken spoke of the deceitful portraits we show to the world.  The truth lying beyond the small bright circles of our consciousness, in the darkness we protect.  Like accidentally walking into a room filled with music, and the singer sending her voice above the orchestra in powerful sweetness.  As the door closes, we hear it fade to a whisper and the hallway is quiet as before.  Such a glimpse, as through that opened door, is all we know of those we call our friends. We hear a sudden music, a playing of gilded thoughts, then silence.  We set these doors ajar only for chosen movements, showing them passages they most likely will admire.

As a grown-up, my life has been like a never-ending roller coaster of deceitful portraits.  Parceling out little truths to different people, yet leaving out the sinister note that runs throughout, that gives the chord its power.  In the dead of night I replay my life over and over, hoping for a different ending by the time I wake up (nightmare therapy anyone?!) where at the time if I wasn’t a complete twat I could have changed the fate for all concerned.

But at 19,  like a small petulant child at Fortnum & Mason, the world was my candy store.  I just didn’t get there is always a price to pay for impulsive acts of stealing something that wasn’t mine.   Karma? What was that? At that age, I wasn’t fully evolved enough to know  that taking something that is not yours is not worth the  sugar-low that soon follows you around like a noose just waiting til you are lifted high, only to drag you down.

 

old bag


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What is it about new bags that gives one hope for the future?

More so than any other fashion purchase.  I think it’s become my porn. I get off on the fantasy of having the newly purchased bag, which holds such promise for making my life so much better.  Where I will wear it, with whom, doing what.  But it’s never rooted in the present, only the future. So I’m basically building memories that never happen. And what I’m left with are broken promises – to myself.

I am especially keen on the “gently used” bags that are sold in the online consignment shops.  It just means that someone once gave their stamp of approval and I wonder what kind of parties did they go to.

Laying there at night in bed glued to my lap-top searching out the elusive Balenciaga cross body bag (that doesn’t exist which makes it all the more challenging) to wear for lunch at San Lorenzo with the girls, and then of course I must have the matching wallet to open up when I pay the bill.  Aren’t I grand!

Hours on end I do this. Sometimes missing dinner til I fall asleep and wake up with a start scared about what I bought. I can’t even use the Ambien excuse! I heave a huge sigh of relief when I check with Barclays that no high-end purchases were incurred and my overdraft was not dipped into.

I want to reach a higher state where I look into my closet and see things to wear NOW, not for some fantasy life that just never is going to happen. It did hit me that it’s a part of grieving.  In this case grieving for the past where I was married and we did fun things. LIE. Another fantasy built up in my mind. The sad fact is that Jamie used to have to drag me kicking and screaming to parties when I just wanted to stay home and nest. I became the person he wanted me to become while I left the real me at home curled up with the cat.

The bags are kept in a closet, like jewels gathering dust to be shaken off for my fantasy life somewhere in the future.  Where I still have hope that a man is going to come along and defrost me.  LIE.

One thing that is not a lie…I will be on my death bed ordering a new handbag.

 

splat



The-End

I had very sad news today, Amanda flung herself out the window a week after I left New York.  My  knee-jerk reaction was guilt, should I have left so soon.   She had a coterie of bitchy (are there any other?)  British friends who were all neighbors in the West Village, but after a while they pushed her away as if being depressed was  catching.

Some people think it’s the most selfish of acts to commit suicide, I think it’s the most selfish of acts to want to keep them alive when they are in so much never-ending pain.  Suicide when you are young is criminal, but sometimes a necessity when you are older.  Life is far too short to spend in the heart of darkness that you just can’t seem to ever climb out of no matter how hard you tried.

The final insult was it didn’t even make the New York Post because she wasn’t young and pretty enough. That would definitely have pushed her over the edge.  It did make all the UK papers though as the ex-wife of my father, who was the father-in-law of my husband who was the late son of the late Lord La-de-Da.  Or as Andy Warhol so aptly put it, no matter how old you are people still ask who your father was.

I guess when you were always  celebrated for your great beauty, when that goes in your mind the party is over.  I felt that way a bit when Jamie died since my identity was tied to who he was.  But I never much liked parties anyway, so it being over was never really a problem for me.  The problem for me was a never-ending guilt that I had helped him die;  if only I had kept him alive just one more day. There is just never enough time to say all the things you want to say so they knew how much you loved them.

I guess the greatest sign of my love for him was letting him go in the kindest way possible, and not keeping him alive for everyone but him.

 

dream a little dream


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I’m very happy to be back to the slow pace of London. New York was crazy wonderful, and it was gratifying that I could help my ex-step-mum.  Selfishly I love taking on the role of cheerleader because it gets me out of my own dark space which came back the minute I boarded the plane home.   I liken falling into my malaise to how Laura Ashley must have felt as she fell down the stairs, not knowing how deep the fall was.  I don’t want to ever know how deep I could fall either.

Shopping was one of my downfalls…

After years of carefree spending, then losing my clothing/accessories sponsor,   I just couldn’t understand why I was still buying all this OTT stuff (that I could ill afford) when my life consisted of going to the Holly Bush or cozy little dinner parties. Certainly walking my dog didn’t require a fancy outfit with my plimsolls.

Admittedly I was a girl with a glam past, but that wasn’t my life now. A part of me missed that, but it was all tied in with Jamie. Oh, how he loved shopping with me! He enjoyed having the young wife on his arm with the shortest mini-skirt, and when we travelled it was non-stop twirling around.

My closet is half-empty now since I unloaded all my mini-skirts and such on Pandora. I never looked at it as being half-full which I came to realize was the problem.  There was no need for more clothing; I had all I needed.

But shopping to me wasn’t about the present, but investing in the future.  What glamorous parties I’d go to! The fabulous nights out at Soho House! I could see it all laid out like the party pages in Tatler.

My epiphany was shopping to me was all about the promise of candy-land,  but to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, no matter how much fancy clothing you buy, it will never be enough to buy back the past.

So my investing in the future, became my investing in the present which was where one should live anyway, shouldn’t they?

purssy galore


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I admit it, I’m a fairly shallow, self-centered girl who feels that  labels define me before  someone chats me up. Like a pre-approved Black Amex sauntering down the road…look at me, I have amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing taste.  But it just seems everything I’ve worn this winter has a noticeable label, and it got me wondering… like clashing colours, are there certain luxury brands that can be a matching faux pas?

Instead of having an A HA! moment, it was more of a WTF! moment. Finally out of my husband’s shadow shouldn’t I have enough confidence  in myself to be my own luxury brand?

Bye-bye 40cm Birkens. Adieu the largest Prada vela messenger bag ever made. Ta Ta Bottega Veneta whose tagline used to be, When Your Initials are Enough. All chucked in a box without a glance back. The hardest one so far was my beloved MOCA LV Murakami GM Neverfill with matching luggage tag and coin purse.

It got even harder. A bag that made my resolve almost melt away. My beloved Chanel Union Jack bag scored on sale because it was universally despised in Britain as an ugly bag. That made me love it even more, it was like the step-child of my collection, my go to bag when feeling blue, it always made me smile.

I even went so far as to return an Hermes cashmere scarf given to me by my third step-mum over the holidays.  Now before I sound like The Patron Saint of Non-Labels, I exchanged it for ten Twillys for Sam. I guess making my little dog the ultimate fashion accessory of them all.

social insecurity


new blog post

My first step-mother (the  American)  just turned 65 and is quite depressed over it.

I’d like to say I felt close to Amanda  growing up, but I just knew she was like  a number you take in Sainsbury’s deli department. You know how you stand in the  line forever then wander off the set just briefly, seduced by trifle pudding in the next aisle, only to be replaced by  another number who jumped into your space.  To add insult to injury her replacement was a decade older.  She got on that Concorde and never looked back.

When Jamie died she was there for me in a virtual-snap and never left.  Depressed prone  people are always drawn to me since  I  have this permanent  dark cloud following me about that I continually bat at with witty repartee. As someone once  said, I’m the most chirpy -depressed person they’d ever met. What can I say, it’s like having a droopy eye lid on just  one side.  To over-compensate you  create  a clever persona,  and hope people  won’t notice how off kilter your face is.  Then at home you stare into the bathroom mirror, lifting your bad lid  up and down, trying to imagine what your face would look like  if  normal.

The reason why I’m here in New York is Amanda  qualified for Social Security this month, officially being  stamped  as part of the  elderly demographic.  Seriously, that’s what they said to her. In America where youth is revered, the idea of ‘social security’ implies that people ought to be able to feel secure, but it really doesn’t if you live in New York or Los Angeles. Bypasses the rest of the country where women cut their hair off and get a perm for the convenience of it all.

For her it just really drove home the fact that the things you are supposed to give up to live to be a hundred,  are the very things you want to live to be a hundred for. Quite the conundrum. It’s not that she wants to be Demi Moore, but she’d just like to think she had the ability to do so.

First day in the ‘letting-go-of-youth’ tour, Amanda dragged me around while she bought a multi mini-skirts (she does have the legs for them) cropped fur jackets, and over the knee black leather boots. among other youthful follies.

Tomorrow we are returning them all, unopened in their large glossy  shopping bags.  It was just more about that she could, and did.

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