David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” plays on the sound dock in my room as I apply make-up and do my hair in preparation for a night out. Downstairs the shower stops and I hear the cats pelting up and down the staircase. My friends are excitedly chatting and laughing so I exit my room to participate in the fun.
The cats are going crazy the way cats do at dusk, and my friends are crying with laughter at them. When the ruckus calms down, we head to The Strand Palace. Hotel bars have recently become our establishments of choice: the service is good, the toilets clean, the ambience soothing and the seating comfortable (seating at any other London bar is non-existent). It’s a massive plus that riff-raff don’t frequent high-end hotels; riff-raff are my nemesis.
We sit with our cocktails, absorb the atmosphere and immodestly praise ourselves for our choice of venue. The grand piano plays behind us.
Mark: Have you been watching the Richard E. Grant documentary about hotels?
Me: No. But I do like Richard E. Grant.
Helen: Oh, it’s very good.
Mark: The sordid stuff’s good – like the fact hotels couldn’t operate without hookers – but the weird stuff’s fascinating.
Helen: Yeah, apparently in most hotels in London at some point they’ve found a slaughtered sheep in a bathroom … it’s got something to do with Arabs and Halal meat … but they’ve never seen anyone enter with a sheep. They don’t know how they get them in. It’s a mystery.
Me (without hesitation): Well you know how easily sheep’s legs fold up. They just tuck right up underneath them. It’d be simple to get one in a wheelie bag. You could fit one in Mark’s bag right there (I gesture to Mark’s blue bag).
Helen splutters her cocktail in a burst of laughter.
Mark (pausing, then in measured tones): One, no we do not “know” how easily sheep’s legs fold up. And two, who does?!
Helen (composing herself, though still giggling): I think of you as a sophisticated woman of the world. I forget you’re a country girl.
Mark (looking at me with scrutiny, then smiling mischievously): That explains a LOT.
We have a pleasant evening and return to their house where I’m spending the night. Milo, Hector and Lulu, the cats, are happy to see us. I press play on the sound dock and David Bowie’s voice again fills my room. I smile at Ashes to Ashes.
From rural Australia to the metropolis of London, my life has seen some changes.
Two years ago on New Year’s Eve I told a friend that the best thing to happen to me that year was watching the TV series “Life on Mars” and “Ashes to Ashes”. She found that depressing though I meant it as a credit to those (superb) programmes rather than a scourge on 2010. In retrospect it did speak volumes about that year; it was a bad one.
On New Year’s Eve last year I was in Fiji, embarking on a year that was to become one of the best to date.
Here I am, soon to welcome 2013. I don’t know if it’ll be a good year, but I’m certain it’ll be an interesting one. Born in 1977, I’m entering my year, the year of the snake. And I’m going to make sure it’s productive. I hope it’s a good one for you too.
This is my last post for a while. There’s no big dramatic reason why I’m taking a break – I just need time to concentrate on other things and the New Year seems a timely point for a hiatus. I’m no Arnold Schwarzenegger (and I certainly don’t want to be!) …. but I’m sure I’ll be back.