“I got completely lost — it’s real difficult, isn’t it? Everything’s got the word ‘Kensington’ in it — Kensington Park Road, Kensington Gardens, Kensington bloody Park Gardens…”
Notting Hill script by Richard Curtis
On Saturday Hubby and I went to an 80th birthday party – the third of a series of parties for our most glamorous friend MMM. MMM is a woman of many stories: “That reminds me about the time I met Nixon – before he became president, mind… Then, he was more interested in mini-skirted girls and Champagne than in politics. But he never took advantage!” she explained in her Southern drawl.
We’ve heard the Nixon story a number of times and we never get tired of it. But it’s really the storyteller who captivates me – the accent, the intonation, the minuscule details remembered and the absolute delight on the face of the storyteller.
I read a quote recently by novelist Michael Chabon. “Stories remain the only sure means we have of bridging… the gulf… that separates each of us from everybody else. They provide a two-way exchange of attention, experience and the universal hunger for connection.”
As I sipped my wine and ate canapès and chatted about art, politics, travel, literature, the price of Kensington homes, architecture, New York, Trump, Brexit, glamorous 60’s London, photography and life, I was reminded how much I love to connect with people who have such a long and diverse life experience.
All of a sudden I missed the absolute bliss of being tucked up on the lap of my Dutch grandmother listening to her stories.
Many of our octogenarian friends at the party were authors, journalists, travel writes, actors and avid theatre-goers who’d made ‘love not war’ in the 60’s, and seen and experienced things some of us would not believe. But in the end they are also just people somewhat further along on the journey of life – no Botox, no filters, lots of sequins, a hat or two at a rakish angle, a smattering of fur and leather and a healthy dose of bling.
It was a privilege and an honour to celebrate 80 years of life with them.
MMM is a travel writer. She is very near completing her goal of visiting and writing about her travels to all 50 US states. She was once married to a famous Beetles photographer. Now she is writing her memoirs. I cannot wait to read them!
P.s. In my first year in London I met another glamorous woman, Joanna Lumley. She endured my star struck, excited request for an autographs on her way to a diamond exhibition at The Victoria and Albert Museum. When she heard I was from South Afric she said, “Welcome to sad, cold England!”.
P.p.s. I’m writing this blog from Brooklyn, New York. More on that in the days to come.