Thursday, December 21, 2017
Here's our rescued foxglove plant, chilling in the garden beneath a layer of frost and fallen leaves, waiting for its opportunity to bloom next spring. We had several very cold days not too long ago, but yesterday was downright warmish. I was able to go to dinner with Dave last night in just a sportcoat, with no hat and no scarf.
But first, I wound up having to run a very peculiar errand. I'd counted on having the day free, and I was just sitting on the couch reading around 1:30 p.m. when my boss texted and asked if I was around. A question like that, from a boss, almost always leads to work, and I texted back with some trepidation. But it turns out she simply needed someone to witness a contract between her and her landlord. So I walked over to her place -- she doesn't live far away -- and together with her husband we visited her landlord, who also lived nearby.
The landlord, named Felicity, turned out to be a hoot. She's a 78-year-old woman who grew up in the house my boss rents. She greeted us wearing a black dress, pearl earrings and a furry leopard-print jacket, having just had a Christmas ham delivered from Waitrose. The ham was sitting just inside her front door.
Felicity seemed very proper, and her house was quite spacious, with soaring ceilings and chandeliers and fireplaces. There were gilt mirrors on the wall, and china and glassware somewhat haphazardly laid out on tabletops alongside old photos, framed and unframed. It was like she'd emptied out a china cabinet -- and maybe she had, looking for Christmas serving pieces.
As we sat at her table signing and making small talk, she asked me, "Have you always been bald?" Well, since I was a very young man, I said. "It's not the result of a medical condition?" she asked. No, I assured her, it was not.
And then the paperwork was done and she insisted we all stay for a drink. She chose some mismatched glasses from a corner cabinet and brought out some Bombay Sapphire and tonic water -- she had quite a selection of booze on a tray in the corner -- and proceeded to regale us with tales of the Blitz and how the neighborhood was damaged ("Exeter Road was on fire from end to end"), and what it was like to duck into a bomb shelter in her back garden, and of her friendship with the Venezuelan ambassador.
We had another gin & tonic, and she asked about my wife. I told her my partner is a he, not a she. She said, "Oh, men who live with men are always so precise. Aren't they? And always so artistic."
Lacking the energy to counter the old stereotypes, I told her, yes, we are.
My boss complimented Felicity's curtains, heavy green brocade with a valance at the top. They cut out any hint of daylight -- by this time, I couldn't tell whether it was light or dark outside. "Do you know, those curtains have been hanging in that window since 1947," she said. And she complained about some mysterious black smudges on her otherwise pristine white ceiling, apparently the result of a pigeon flying down the chimney and around the living room. She and her upstairs tenant, who she called "the Commander," had to chase it out a window.
All the while, her little Yorkshire terrier, Sammy, scrambled around our feet, begging for a belly rub.
I could go on and on. Suffice to say, it turned out to be a surprisingly fun afternoon!
And then Dave and I went to dinner last night at a restaurant called The Square, which we enjoyed, having indulged in yet another gin & tonic at a nearby bar in Mayfair. We got the tasting menu with wine pairings, and although I remember the delectable red snapper course and the juicy venison, I barely remember the cab ride home.