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Australia Day Nine, Fri 1/22/16

Breakfast in the hotel, just as delicious as the day before.  We threw ourselves together, checked out, got in a cab, back to the airport.  Hung out for a little while.  Richard read a story on his BBC News app a virus in Brazil which led to him singing "Ode to Billy Joe" which led to a discussion of my brother Howard's undying love for Bobbie Gentry:

We got on our flight back to Sydney.  We were in a row of three, and the only two people in it.  Bliss!  So Richard sat on the aisle and I sat at the window, with my feet in the middle.  No movie on this flight, so I read my new book - - you'll remember I read *Can You Ever Forgive Me?* on my way to Sydney, the memoir by Lee Israel about forging famous authors' letters.  My new book is *11/22/63*, a recent-ish book by Stephen King about a man who travels through time to stop the assassination of JFK.  This is only the second King book I've read, the first being his first book, *Carrie*.  I'm loving it.  I might need to read *Misery* next, which I hear is his best.


Here I am getting on the plane:



















And caught off guard and looking grumpy on the plane:








Uneventful flight, ditto for the cab ride back to the hotel.  We checked back into the Vibe, picked up the bags we left behind, and got settled in our new room.  Looks just like the last one.


We had a date with Richard's friend Nick at his house - - his house is about a half-hour walk from our hotel, but it was raining like mad, so you guessed it, we took a cab.  And our cab driver was a funny guy.


CABBIE: Did you just get to Sydney?

RICHARD: No, we were here earlier this week.  We just got back, we spent a couple days in Cairns.

CABBIE: And you came back and it's raining.

RICHARD: Yes, it was beautiful weather in Cairns.

CABBIE: You should have stayed.

RICHARD: I guess so.

CABBIE: Want me to take you the airport?  Right now?

RICHARD: Sure, just swing back to the hotel, we'll pick up our bags.


Richard met Nick in 1991 or 1992, Nick was his client when Richard was at the Milford Plaza, aka the Lullaby of Broadway, aka the Mildew Plaza.

They're been friends all these years, which isn't hard to imagine because Nick is one of the funniest people I've ever met.  Exhibit A - - his dog, Mabel, had just died about six weeks ago.  I wish you could hear this monologue with Nick's spicy outside-of-London accent:


NICK: And I was completely broken up about it, I adored that dog.  I wanted to do something to memorialize her, and I remembered that my grandma had left me a little money when she died...  I went straight to Louis Vuitton.  I found a hold-all that I MUST have, brought it up to the counter.  The salesgirl said, "Is this a gift?" and I said yes.  She gave me the enclosure card and I wrote: To Daddy, Love Mabel.  And the salesgirl wrapped up the bag in a big gorgeous box with an enormous bow.  I brought it home and looked at it and cried.  And I opened it up and saw the bag and I cried some more.  I put the bag over my shoulder and I felt better.  So since then I find myself thinking of other bags at Louis Vuitton when friends' family members die...  How many steps removed can you be and still feel like it's a legitimate act of mourning?  Does it need to be the parent of a close friend? Or could it be the second cousin of a friend of a friend that you read about on Facebook?


I met Nick and his partner Mark in New York about a year and a half ago.  Mark and their five-year old son Otis were on holiday in New Zealand, so unfortunately we didn't get to see them.  But what a treat to see Nick, and his lovely house.  We walked back to the living room to have a drink - - I sat down and instantly sprang back up when I saw the print that was hanging on the wall.

I told Nick that was one of my favorite paintings in the world!  I saw it at the Tate Modern on my visit to London in 1999.  Neither of us knew the name of the painting or the painter, but through the wonders of the internet I can tell you now: "After Lunch" is a painting from 1975 by Patrick Caulfield.  I'll quote from the Tate website: "After Lunch was one of Caulfield's earliest works to combine different styles of representation.  What appears to be a photomural of the Chateau de Chillon hanging in a restaurant is depicted with high-focus realism, contrasting with the cartoon-like black-outlined imagery and fields of saturated colour of its surroundings."


Don't you love how the Brits spell the word "colour"?  We had a glass of champagne with Nick and got caught up on everything.  He had a dinner date so we needed to shove off - - Richard asked if he had an umbrella we could use, and would you believe it, he returned an umbrella we had given him in New York the last time we saw him.  We met him and Mark for a drink, we each had an umbrella, it was raining, we gave them one of ours.  And now he gave it back.  How cute is that.


A couple of pictures of Nick and his cat (sorry, don't know his name):


















We weren't up for a real dinner, so we went to a convenience store down the street and bought two bags of chips, a little cheese, and some bits of sweetness and brought them back to the room.  Watched some dippy game show or similar.


LOVE, Chris

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