Sitting at Heathrow airport after a couple of months back in London. What should have been a joyous time of moving back into our old house, happily renovated and divided into two flats, has been a nightmare of gruelling proportion, admittedly interspersed with some high spots. Best of all was spending so much time with beloved Tommy.
Instead of enjoying the summer season I have been grounded in Parkhill Road – albeit with my beloved Pickle – trying to keep the peace between the warring architects and builders. Every day produces yet another unwelcome surprise with my final day being no exception: the lovely Polish guys turn up to build the tracks for our snazzy new electric gates and our rather elusive builder appears to pronounce that my thirty-year-old rose has to go…but he is resourceful and finds a solution which necessitates another two weeks’ delay as the master gate-builder is on holiday…but the rose is at least safe.
We had a premature housewarming party on midsummer’s day to celebrate Louise’s favourite day of the year and the fifth anniversary of her memorial gathering. The house and terrace were packed with her friends and a few of mine, including dear half-sister Bonnie, who came over from the US. No-one was more thrilled than she when a friend bounced up to us at the theatre and exclaimed ‘You must be sisters!’. It was a magical evening full of love and memories, starting with a visit to the Bench.
Interestingly my 24/7 back pain, which has been totally debilitating resulting in my taking tramadol daily, dissipates as soon as the party is over – maybe because the house was miraculously (mainly) habitable and the strain of the impending event disappeared as son as the party was over. Good karma cures all! Nevertheless I have embarked on a new regime of physio and pain relief drugs (not opiates) which seems to be having some effect.
Other fun bits are my first ever visit to a synagogue for the wedding of dear friend and Angelus founder Maryon Stewart; Mitch Winehouse provided the swing band sound, just as he did a few nights later to commemorate his beloved daughter Amy’s 5th anniversary. She and Louise died within months of each other, and used to play pool at the Good Mixer in Camden. Tommy and his friend Tomasz join me at Pizza Express for this occasion, with Maryon and her sister Sue, who sings a fabulous rendition of Summertime.
I managed a quick R&R flit to Champery just to get away from it all, and caught up with cousins Christine and Diego and old friends Annie and Tim Nettleton. The weather was perfect…
A lovely day at Lords with chum Fi and meetings with old university friends leads to a musical evening at Boodles, with the boys all in fine voice as they reprise all their university songs. I escape behind the camera to record proceedings. And to Boodles again for a birthday dinner – twice in a lifetime within a week of each other! In between there are evenings with friends, some theatre and movies, but on the whole pretty house-bound.
Another treat was the annual Caine Prize dinner in the Bodleian Library in Oxford of which I am a Council Member; I was expertly chauffeured there and back by the charming Gus Caseley-Heyford, a neighbour. My other charitable activities included a cocktail at the top of the revolving BT Tower to celebrate raising £1m for United World Schools for the education of 50,000 children.
However, I manage to leave with the flat and house completed – well more or less, snagging notwithstanding, stair carpet cut and due to be fitted Wednesday, Saville’s and Knight Frank engaged, warranty and appliance manuals all neatly filed, but minus various critical things like alarms, doorbells and intercoms – and a front gate and some fencing for the back. Oh well…
We found by chance a delightful house-sitter who used to be in charge of the household at Sandringham so her standards are much higher than mine. It feels like a safe pair of hands while I gallivant off to join Ross for a 11-day diving trip on the Dewi Nusantara to Flores and Lombok. Every bone in my body shouts, Bring it on!