“And remember, expect nothing and life will be velvet”

Monday, 18 January 2010

Can we keep them? Pleeease? I promise to look after them and feed them. And look at all the stuff they come with - guns, cuffs, truncheons. Pleeeease? Can I keep ONE then?

Several years ago, the Colonel invited me on my first trip to New York. He had been there countless times shoring up world peace; I was seduced by the dollar-pound ratio. He would fly in from Holland and join our connecting flight from Heathrow to save me arriving alone at 1:00 am in what I envisaged as ghetto badlands, iron-grated graffitied hell. There was a local storm and he missed the connection. Rather a metaphor for the relationship at that time.

So I went alone. The Colonel had arranged limo to take me to my hotel. I locked the doors and sent furious texts. Eventually, the window slid back and the driver suggested I open my eyes. We were emerging from the tunnel into Manhattan. Never in my life have I fallen so immediately and completely in love with a city. The entire hotel window was full of the Chrysler Building, and I spent the night wrapped in the duvet looking out at a view I pretty much memorised.

The Colonel got there in the end. Another metaphor. It was every film, book and song I have ever seen come to life - the pavement where Sally hopes she'll never meet Harry again and drives off with grape seed on her car window; every schmaltzy black and white evening-gowned drive through the park in a horse drawn carriage; nose to Tiffany's glittering windows; Holden's angsty flight through Grand Central Station; Saks, snowfall and drinks in Bemelman's Bar. The NYPD Choir didn't quite get around to singing me Galway Bay but two of their hunky sons peeled off layers of gloves and mended my mobile so I could call home. The Colonel even morphed into Michael Caine and read me ee cummings between dusty shelves in a bookshop.

He bought me a fabulous sea-coloured velvet dressing gown in La Perla. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw - foam-and-forest-green-depths; luscious velvet lined with silk. The sort of robe you'd wear to feed your Irish Wolfhounds, standing wistfully on your huge lawn watching the Spitfires roar away and knowing it was all that would keep you warm for three years.

It's done some time now; swanking round the table at smart Christmas breakfasts; comforting poorly bots and snuggling puppies; coveted by my girlfriends; warm in winter, elegant and cool in summer. A tiny bit frayed with a few stains it didn't have last year. But still beautiful, unique and makes me happy and grateful every time I wrap it round me.

Like rather a lot of things this January.


  1. Envy - NY and a green velvet dressing gown...I obviously have to have some serious words with Dear Charlie as I have always wanted both (velvetr dressing gown and at least one trip to NY not the two alarmingly well endowed NYPD bods though they may make a nice change from the two whippets I use for warmth on my bed at night!)

  2. I loved this post. The same love affair happened to me [sans dressing gown] the first time I went to NYC. It has been the same each time afterward.


  3. "......Never in my life have I fallen so immediately and completely in love with a city...."

    ELS...I felt the same way about London the first time I saw her. I emerged from Green Park tube stop on a sunny June morning-early. Jumped in a London cab en route to my hotel. Bliss.

    I'm headed to NYC Wed. morning-anything I can get you?

  4. Ah, romance. Nothing quite like it. Bots, puppies, stains -- I find that all romantic as well. There you are swathed in a blissful memory holding those near and dear to you. Lovely.

    I like French policemen although they're generally not as beefy and good-looking as the NYPD. However, not surprisingly, they do understand fashion. When I left my driver's license and insurance papers in my blue bag because I was wearing a blue coat the day before they stopped me and on the day they stopped me I was wearing my red coat and obviously the blue bag didn't go with the red and in my haste forgot to transfer above mentioned documents into the black bag they didn't give me a ticket.

    My Reason-for-Living-In-France told me they would never buy that excuse and would just give me a few more fines if I didn't shut-up. It was true and they believed me.


  5. ELS....damn. I figured you would require something expensive. Silly me.

  6. Tattie - here you go, post-Christmas strong-arm Dear Charlie into making at least one of your dreams come true..

    M.Lane - amazing, isn't it? I find the energy palpable, and I could eavesdrop for days.

    james, so are you mon cher.

    ADG - and I'm sure London felt the same way about you! Erm, a cop? Or perhaps Liam Neeson dressed as one? Or some gorgeous amuse-bouches from La Grenouille?

    Tish - and THAT is why I would live in France like a shot. Love love love your story. Here they'd book you for timewasting if you told them that story.

    Tintin - how incredible selfless of you. Have checked the care and feeding label; can manage the Friday belts, it's the schmutter that would end up with you being crated home.

    ADG - right first time. Very, very expensive...


Please leave a comment if you can be remotely bothered - anything you have to say is valuable and I absolutely love hearing from you all. Elizabeth