The mother of one of my oldest childhood friends (a pony club girl) has died, sadly, and we were at the funeral today. I remember her mother as beautiful, sexy, glamorous, funny, an ace cakemaker, and absolutely not death material whatsoever. In fact, she came to lunch in the spring, and was witty and amusing and warm and kind; this was, as I suppose death always is, unexpected.
Funerals are awfully sad. But sitting in churches is lovely. This one was a creamy white, and light, and oddly, optimistic. There were grandchildren reading poems. A lovely son choking back his grief while reading a eulogy with a slightly wobbly voice. White flowers which looked as if they had been picked directly from the meadow, loose and natural and bright. Jerusalem, which was belted out. (This is how the English express emotion, through the belting of stirring hymns.) But also there were people I hadn't seen since I was fourteen. Lots of them. Lovely old friends and boys on whom I had miserable crushes, and Plum, who held a joint 14th birthday party with me, and painted my nails red for the first time, and made me feel sophisticated and grown up and just slightly slutty. There were sandwiches, and fudge, and little smoked haddock fishcakes, and farmers from all around, names of people my father liked. Names I remember him saying with warmth, which was not always the case. Two of my mother's widow group were there, and a sprinkling of pony club girls. Happily familiar faces. How sad it is that it takes a funeral to reunite us all. (Dear, dear Plum. Isn't it funny how you can see a friend for the first time in 40! years and it's the same. They may have a couple of extra lines, but the essence is their fourteen year old self. All I felt was immense warmth and love. Also, everyone should have a friend called Plum. It's so deliciously cozy.)
I have managed for the first time in the fourteen years that this blog has existed to miss an entire month. While other people were growing moustaches, I was NOT WRITING and no doubt lying about it to anyone who asked. I'm not sure how I could have allowed that to happen, but I am sorry. I am awfully sorry. In the future, I promise at least to publish a recipe. I'm letting no-one down but myself, I realize. This must be amended.
I can tell you this:
- I have fallen in love with the Alhambra Palace after seeing "A Trip to Spain" on the plane.
- I have been back to Los Angeles twice and I realize what an easy life we have there. Also, that I miss those balmy, orange-lit afternoons that only Thanksgiving brings.
- Vegan sweet potatoes with coconut milk are the most delicious things on the planet.
- I miss Monica with a passion. (This is another blog post entirely: but, I was a SPOILED girl.)
- I am busier with work than I have been all year and I love it.
- If you haven't seen "Midnight Special" do, immediately.
- People don't show up for food in the UK. This is what distinguishes it from the US. I told this story to a colleague and she thought I was joking, but in LA, if you want people to come watch a movie, you merely feed them. Here, not so much.
- I've done very little Christmas shopping and don't quite know how to survive with my go-to LA shops, OK Gallery, New Stone Age, Lost and Found, and Pergolina. If my British readers have any good ideas for cute places to shop for Christmas, please let me know.
- The stark, naked beauty of Britain in December takes some beating. Every leaf that's left is copper. The ground is muddy. There are starlings and wood pigeons and pheasants everywhere. And the blue, when it comes, is so pleasing, and so unexpected, that one's mood is imediately lifted.
- There is no Honey Baked Ham in Buckinghamshire.
- My expectations have changed. And this is a good thing. More on this later.