It’s a cinematic bonanza weekend. Last night Sheldon and I went to see the Coen Brothers’ latest, A Serious Man. It’s beautifully photographed and witty, a study of uncertainty... I think. As always with films that are unresolved at the end I didn’t know whether to throw a brick at the screen or simply “accept the mystery”. A Serious Man stylishly illustrates the fact that just about anything can happen at any time and generally does. That’s certainly been my experience. In my life I have travelled from pavement to penthouse and back several times over. I’ve been paralysed. Then made a full recovery. In a recent six-month period my cousin died, all my work was cancelled and I fell in love. Then one day I was diagnosed with cancer. When these things happen I often go out and buy a lottery ticket on the strength of it. I reckon the odds are about the same.
This morning Ted and I go down to the Electric Cinema to see a preview of Unmade Beds. I recommend this if you want to see a happy-go-lucky feel good film about making one’s own family out of the people that are in one’s life. Afterwards over tea Ted gives me a beauty tip. “Did you know,” he confides, “that hair conditioner and shaving foam are made of the same stuff?” I gape and look amazed. “So when you’re conditioning your hair you can just run your hands over your face and have a shave. It saves money” “Thanks Ted,” say I, “I’ll remember that.” I make a mental note to write a blog on Novel Ways to Economise.
My cousin Ben is back in London following a long stint making a movie in Liverpool. He invites me to lunch at the Westbourne pub with two old friends, Stanley and Inigo. I haven’t seen those two for some time. Stanley has made a healthy pile of money as a property developer whilst Inigo manages one of the hottest-of-the-moment female singing stars. Stanley and Inigo are ahead in the finance stakes but Ben is definitely the winner when it comes to fitness and trimness. I seem to be lagging behind on all counts but I’m a girl so I’m probably not considered to be a contender.
Inevitably, the conversation turns to how much older we all are now than we were twenty years ago. Inigo tells us that his health club is associated with his health insurance company. Every time he goes to the gym and swipes his card, his premium is reduced. “I joined that health club,” says Stanley, “after I didn’t go for two years I cancelled my direct debit. And then they took me to court!” “So,” interprets Ben, “you were sued for not paying for not going to the gym?” Apparently it is a fact that only thirty per-cent of gym memberships are active. Over lunch we decide that it would be a good idea if health clubs instituted a system whereby the more often one goes, the less one pays.
After a slap-up feast of oysters, roast chicken and apple crumble with custard I head to the couch for a little lie-down. Hours later my slumbers are disturbed by the ringing ‘phone. It’s Flossie. “Do you want to go to the Handwritten sample sale? Handwritten turns out to be the new venture from Tanya Sarne, founder of Ghost. “I’m just going there to get a top for twenty quid,” Flossie assures me. We zip up to Kensal Road and manage to barge in just as they are trying to lock the door. The clothes are along the lines of Ghost, crinkly viscose over-dyed in soft colours. But the designs are a lot fresher and funkier. Flossie marches up and down the racks with the air of a Field Marshal. “This will really suit you,” she tells me, holding up a backless dress. “I’m not buying anything,” I state. Flossie folds the dress over her arm. “And this is just what you need for Australia,” she enthuses, displaying a dark grey bias-cut top. “Hmmm,” I reply. “Just try it on!” commands Flossie.
Handwritten clothes are perfect if you are looking for easy, comfortable, feminine gear for lounging around in.* I should know. I just bought a backless dress and a bias-cut top. Flossie approaches the till with two dresses, two jackets and two tops. “That will be £250”, says the cashier. On the way out to the car Flossie hands me one of the dresses, a beautiful soft grey flowy number. “Happy Christmas” she says. “Come back to my place and we’ll have fish pie.” “No, I can’t eat any fish pie, I’ve just eaten a huge lunch,” I protest.
Over fish pie Flossie bemoans her figure and brings up the subject of the gym. “I joined Body Works West. I’ve been once this year,” she confesses. I gave up gyms long ago myself. I realised that they only serve to make one feel like a miserable failure. I do remember warning Flossie that this would happen when she signed up to that overpriced joint. But now is not the time to rub it in. I give her a sympathetic look. “I told you so,” I tell her.
*You can buy Handwritten at Liberty and Fenwick.