WIW: new blue sweater, jeans.
WRW: complete wedding ensemble.
We turned on the TV just before 7 AM and caught the last thirty seconds of Obama’s acceptance speech. So thrilled and so relieved, we held hands and I wept a little. I went online later in the day and was happy to see that Tammy Baldwin won, but sad to see that my friend Jamie Wall did not.
We went back to Caffe Concerto for breakfast. Richard had the English breakfast that I had the day before, I had the continental breakfast, which is a jar of strawberry yogurt, half a pear Danish, a small croissant, and half a currant sweet roll. And caffe mocha, which tasted completely like hot chocolate to me, there didn’t appear to be any coffee content at all. Which is just the way I like it.
Back home to shower and change. Richard checked his email and gave me the story for our drinks date that night. Off to the tube, Richard to work and me to the discount ticket booth. I got a ticket for *The Mystery of Charles Dickens*, a one-man show starring Simon Callow (Mr. Beebe from *A Room With a View*, and it was his funeral in *Four Weddings and a Funeral*). The National Portrait Gallery was right across the street, so even though I swore I wouldn’t go to any museums that day, I went through that one. Nice place, the Tudor-era portraits being most impressive. I found myself scanning the title plates for names I know, rather than looking at the actual paintings. Shameful. I had a couple more Sarah Siddons sightings, that old broad is everywhere. The highlight of the 20th century collection was a set of Mario Testino portraits of the royal family, including twenty-first birthday portraits of William and Harry. They also have a video portrait of David Beckham sleeping, or at least lying down with his eyes shut. Delicious.
I found the Empire movie theater, where I was seeing *Argo* at 11:45. I’d never seen a movie in a foreign country, and since movies are such a big passion of mine, I thought it would be an experience worth having. I got there at 11:15, thinking I’d go in, take my seat, and write in my journal. The doorway was blocked by three big guys. They said the theater would be open at 11:30. I asked if there was a show of *Argo* at 11:45, and one of them said, “Apparently.”
I walked over to a bench in the square, sat, and wrote. I watched the clock in the square and went back at 11:30.
GUY: It’s going to be another ten minutes.
GUY: Yes. There’s a premiere here tonight for *Gambit*. So there’s a lot going on in the lobby.
ME: Can you confirm that there’s an 11:45 show of *Argo*?
GUY: Yes, I can. I asked the theater manager about that.
ME: So I should come back in ten minutes.
GUY: Yes, 11:40. You know, the movie itself doesn’t start at 11:45. There are previews and that sort of thing.
ME: Yes, I imagine there are.
GUY: Ten minutes, sir. Thank you.
It was starting to seem rather Kafkaesque, but at 11:40 I was indeed admitted into the theater. I bought a ticket and was given a specific seat, something one doesn’t see very often. There were about ten minutes of previews. *Life of Pi* looks like it could be awful or good.
*Argo* was fantastic, it might make my Top Five for the year. I’m so glad I saw it in the theater, though I should say that the intensity at the end of the movie was probably heightened by the caffe mocha I had that morning, and my urgent need to pee.
I went to an internet café and spent one pound to get caught up on my email. I had a little time left over, so I looked up *Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter* on imdb and saw that Mary Elizabeth Winstead played Mary Todd Lincoln - - I knew her from her role as the girl in the cheerleader costume in Tarantino’s *Death Proof*.
Went home, watched the good news on CNN, had a pot of tea, got changed.
WIW 2: lavender shirt, Schiaparelli tie, navy and black check sport coat, jeans.
I went to dinner at My Old Dutch Pancake House, down the street from the hotel. I was the only customer there when I walked in (it was early, five-ish). I got the special, which was a Dutch pancake (sort of a savory crepe) with grilled chicken, pesto, olives, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and a pile of arugula in the middle (which the English call “rocket”). Divine. I was reading *DV*, the memoir of Diana Vreeland, the editor of American Vogue in the 60s. I’ve read this book five or six times, I need to read it every few years. It’s brilliant beyond all brilliance. I put this book on hold at the Lake Geneva Public Library when it was published, and I literally have no idea how I even knew who Diana Vreeland was. I was sixteen.
The restaurant had big Delft plates on the wall. I asked the server to take my picture.
HER: Are you Dutch?
ME: Yes, I am. Are you?
HER: No, I’m Italian. None of us are Dutch, so it’s always nice for us when Dutch people come here.
I later realized that she might have been asking if I was Dutch, meaning FROM The Netherlands. Whatever. They have an Oreo shake on the menu, and you know there’s nothing I love more, but I wasn’t hungry, so I didn’t get it. Can you believe it.
I took the tube to Oxford Circus - - my drinks date with Richard and his friends was at the Sanderson Hotel, on Berners Street off of Oxford Street between the Oxford Circus tube station and the Tottenham Court Road tube station. I took the exit that seemed to point me in the right direction, on Oxford Street headed east, and it turns out I was right. Can you believe it. It was five minutes before I found a sign on the road that confirmed I was even on Oxford Street, so that was a little amazing. I checked every cross street, looking for Berners, didn’t find it, and ended up walking all the way to the Tottenham Court Road tube station. The problem in London is the street signs are on the sides of the buildings, one story up off the street, not always in the same place, and not always on the same side of the street. So I had passed Berners Street, but it was on the other side of the building. Hard to explain, but believe me, it’s frustrating.
I got there at the same time as Richard and Ilaria. She’s an Italian client of Richard, I met her when she was in New York about four years ago. She’s adorable, but just a little bit of a pain in the ass. In a cute way, I suppose. There were two other people there too, English clients of Richard, nice people. The four of them were having dinner and I was just meeting them for a drink before going to the play. I had an orange juice, I was there for about twenty minutes and ran to the play.
The theater was adorable. I suppose every one-person show is a tour de force, or it had damn well better be. This was no exception. It was about Dickens the man and Dickens the writer, but also quite a lot about Dickens the performer. He did a great many reading tours and was a very gifted actor, really embodied every character, giving them different voices and behaviors. He also in acted in plays at the same time as he was a prominent writer. Simon Callow’s performance was masterful, engrossing, and delightful. It was an utterly English theatrical experience, and I loved it.
I got up and stood in the aisle during the intermission, to stretch my legs and get a better view of the theater and of the audience. A man and his wife slowly walked down their row, talking animatedly, her walking forward, him walking backward, directly towards me. He walked right into me. He took another step, which took him what would only be described as further into me. I cleared my throat, which I sincerely prevented him from taking a third step. Imagine what would have become of me then.
I went home, ate the second and final cupcake from the Anthonys’, and got completely caught up in my journal (such a good feeling). Richard came home and we talked about his day and my day. By the way, when I think about it, I think I might have read an excerpt from *DV* in Vanity Fair when it came out. That was how I knew who she was.