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December 2014

New Year? Not So Fast …


This New Year’s day I will not be trying to moderate Sancerre consumption, cut back on Nicorette gum, exercise more or aim to finish my next book by Easter. I have decided to postpone all resolutions until February 19th which according to the Chinese calendar is the ‘ Year of the Sheep.’

This has several advantages. While many of you are writing checks to your local gym, juicing your carrots and celery and forgoing your gin and tonic, I shall be partying on for several more weeks, secure in the knowledge that almost one and a half billion people will also be ignoring the first of January.

A review of last year’s resolutions has demonstrated that this is wise. If you see the old year out with gusto and Auld Lang Syne the new one in with several glasses of bubbly, the chances of bouncing out of bed at six am all wide eyed and bushy-tailed on the first of the month are seriously reduced. In fact experience has shown that the only way to get a glimpse of the dawn is not to go to bed at all.

No, this year I shall not be beating myself up by the weekend. Our holiday lights will stay up through January. I have accepted that a calendar date has failed to deliver a new improved me over the years. Let’s face it, January can be bleak. Why make yourself more miserable by attempting an overnight personality transformation? As they say –  “Always be yourself because the people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind.”

Extended Lunch

Waitressing is like riding a bike. You never forget how to do it. I recently served full English breakfasts to guests who were staying at my friend’s 15th Century Highway Inn in Burford England. I loved every minute of it. Something about the calm polite exterior needed to deal with the public, combined with the frenetic activity behind the scenes speaks to my personality. It is becoming something of a theme. Years of experience have shown me the inherent dangers of combining wine with shopping and so the other day I took the precautionary measure of hitting the Fred Segal store before lunch and left my purchases to be wrapped while I went to Café Mauro. This stylish restaurant, at the front of the store, is as close as you’re going to get to Café Flore without flying to Paris.

It was during lunch, at around the second glass of Sancerre, that I fell in love with a graphic print on the wall and around the third glass when my husband, unbeknownst to him, bought it for me as my Christmas present. Complimentary champagne was sent over to the table and much merriment and bonhomie ensued. While the print was being wrapped I collected my bags from the store and took them to the car.

Returning to the café, replete with the spirit of Christmas and feeling goodwill to all men, I noticed a gentleman waving his check in the air. My inner waitress kicked in and I helpfully took his Black Card across the room to the till. Black cards are made of anodized titanium and weigh a ton, which is why I noticed what it was. When the real waitress returned it, and explained why there was so much hysteria, he took it in good part and joined our table.

After the café closed at 6 o’clock, we stayed on with the lovely owner, the pastry chef and the trio of Italian men who had been at the next table. Much merriment and dancing to The Stones ensued. We Ubered home at gone past midnight, after what turned out to be the longest lunch of 2014.

I love shopping. I love the holidays and I love LA.

The Pineapple Express

As you may have noticed, the holidays are upon us with a vengeance and as mentioned in a previous post I am doing my level best to live up to the challenge.

Last week saw five days partying in New York, taking in a Bob Dylan concert, The Rockettes Christmas Extravaganza and The Book of Mormon. I enjoyed several dinners and lunches, in between some Sancerre-fueled shopping.

Back home last night I partook of libation with friends and wound up playing pool in a gay bar ‘til the small hours of the morning. I am not gay and I don’t know how to play pool, so you may ask the obvious question, to which I have only one answer -“It’s the holidays.”

Rain is forecast. Actually The Pineapple Express is surging our way. Rain in LA unnerves us. Californians have a pathological fear of getting wet unless we’re at the ocean or in the pool. We have mudslides and flooding, but you will rarely hear that from us. It’s similar to childbirth, the minute it’s over we don’t want to think about it.

We have no clue how to drive in the rain. People aquaplane down the Pacific Coast Highway as if they’re on the Roaring Rapids at a water park.  But after months of wearing tshirts even the slightest precipitation gives us the welcome opportunity to dress in Uggs and raincoats and wooly scarves.

For the kind of deluge that’s battering its way to us we know to cancel everything and hole up like Armageddon. It’s extreme. I mean I’ve even been known to postpone a root touch-up knowing the hairdresser will be staying home too.

Still, our holiday lights are battery operated. The fridge is stocked with festive fare. The fire is lit. I can do no more… guess I’ll see you on the other side…

‘Tis the Season

As many of our friends come from different cultures, in LA we celebrate all of the holiday customs with fierce enthusiasm. In our house it’s one huge smorgasbord of Christmas trees and Hanukkah candles, tofu meatloaves and turkey roasts. We have our wreathed doors shut against the occasional draft. We are grateful when it goes dark and we can pretend it’s winter.

The celebrations come hot on the heels of Halloween and Thanksgiving. I know it happens every year and yet it always takes me by surprise when those first cards arrive and I realize through a hangover haze that maybe I should go buy some.

We live far away from many of our beloved family and friends. We keep in touch all year round by email, phone and Facebook. Of course it’s great to hear from people you’ve lost touch with over the years, but then sometimes when you get their circular letter you’re reminded why you lost touch in the first place. They’re so impersonal aren’t they? It doesn’t really help when you know they’re sent in the name of efficiency. If you feel the urge to share the highlights of your 2014 in a lengthy circular letter may I make the following suggestions based on a few letters we’ve received over the years?

  • It is the HOLIDAY season…as in merry and jolly and peaceful. This is NOT the time of year to announce the death of a family member. We feel empathy. Don’t have us crying into our mince pies.
  • Remember not everyone has summered in Italy, wintered in the Alps or scaled Mount Kilimanjaro. If 2014 has been our ‘Annus Horribilis’ you will only make us feel worse.
  • The announcement of your recent wedding may spark a range of emotions if we weren’t invited.
  • Avoid flowery writing. If you feel the need to describe  ‘the jacarandas of startling purple’ why not get yourself a blog?
  • If you personalize your ending with a handwritten note try not to make it generic. Yes we are all well thank you and yes we hope 2015 will be a really great one for you too. We really do and please feel free to contact us at any point during the New Year.

If You Can’t Do It in High Heels I’m Not Interested

I absolutely love the holidays. They totally validate my endless appetite for dressing up and shaking a tail feather, something to be indulged all year round, but in the festive season there are so many more opportunities to boogie.

I love a party so much, that if there isn’t a social occasion I’ll throw one just for me.  I pour a glass of Sancerre, turn on the music (Stones) and bop. This often involves use of my mini- trampoline. It’s a habit developed in the English countryside when the kids were small. We were broke and overworked and the most you could hope for by way of a social event was a cup of tea in the village hall. Since arriving in LA I’ve made up for lost time and then some.

Perhaps these tips, gleaned from extensive personal experience, will help you navigate the festivities with aplomb.

  1. While getting ready for a party it is never a good idea to treat yourself to two glasses of Veuve to get in the mood. This will only result in you turning up minus mascara and with your hair pulled back in an unflattering pony -tail.
  2. While at a party it is inadvisable to invite everyone you meet over to your house for Christmas. This will result in you having to hire a marquee and caterers and not actually recognizing many of the people who turn up.
  3. Do wear trousers if there is the slightest risk you will be overtaken with the urge to show off your latent gymnastic skills and leave a venue walking on your hands.
  4. Do try to resist agreeing to take part in a charity fire walk and committing yourself to it by getting sponsors around the room. This will seem less of a good idea the following day.
  5. Demonstrating your pole dancing skills is inadvisable in the presence of iPhones. Videos may be shared in social media and your son’s friends may come across it.
  6. You can have this tip after the weekend – sorry. Must dash, am late getting ready to go to a Thanksgiving party…