We spent last New Year's Eve in New Zealand: the weather was good, and we crammed in a lot, as I recall - a trip up to Warkworth to have lunch with my cousin, Len; then dinner on Cheltenham Beach (the garden used in the old Telecom London/Auckand ad) with our friends Sarah and Hamish; then back to my sister's house, which was overrun with teenagers ("who the hell is that?" someone said when we walked in); then drinks at a friend's place down the road, followed by a scramble through the mean streets of Mt Albert to watch the fireworks over the Sky Tower. When we got back to my sister's house, the teenagers were eventually herded out (my sister: "how soon can we make them leave?") and we cleaned up.
This year we've spent the day in planes and airports - St Louis, where big thunderstorms were rolling in, to Denver, still snowy from yesterday's blizzard, to LA, where there are flowers in bloom and we walked to Terminal Two delighted to be outside without a coat. It's already 2011 in New Zealand, and in Britain, but we'll be celebrating tonight somewhere over the Pacific. By 'celebrating' I mean by taking Nyquil tablets and falling asleep during an episode of NEW ZEALAND'S NEXT TOP MODEL, which I hope will be available via in-flight entertainment. TM and I have been sick as dogs all week with flu, and I lost my voice some time on Tuesday night. (It's Friday now.) You'll know how sick we are when I say we've been sitting here in the Koru Club at LAX for the past four hours and all we've been drinking is hot soup and mint tea. (There's free wine in the Koru Club, as well as yesterday's NEW ZEALAND HERALD and today's DAILY MAIL - which TM is carrying home for my mother: I don't want to be seen with it.)
I'll blame the illness for my complete indolence today. Instead of getting work done, I've been watching episodes of 30 ROCK and COMMUNITY on my computer, and cheating on NYT crossword puzzles (I have a book). Considering I've worked on chapters of a novel in the Koru Club during previous visits, this is a poor show.
This past year, 2010, has been busy rather than serene. A novel written, as well as some stories, and numerous magazine columns. I spent most of May in New Zealand, which always makes me happy, and we had a brilliantly lazy holiday in Mexico in June. I took a course in script editing at the BBC in London in February, and got the chance to teach with (and learn from) Eric Overmyer in the spring. We worked at Jazz Fest for the fifth year running, and somehow I managed to miss Mardi Gras altogether. Big upheavals, obviously, with the move from New Orleans to Glasgow. We had to sell/give away a lot of things, and abandon Salon M, and say goodbye to a lot of friends, and drive ourselves crazy with stress. We're still not settled: we now have things in Kiwi Storage in Auckland and Kangaroo Storage (really) in Glasgow, as well as in the homes of my sister, my brother, TM's parents, TM's aunt and ... who else? Speak up if we're storing something with you. Please don't sell it or throw it away. (I'm talking to my brother here.) We'll round up all our belongings one day and maybe have some kind of home.
We just spent a great week in London, arriving by train and leaving by plane but managing to elude all the snow-related cancellations - saw Alan Ayckbourn's SEASON'S GREETINGS at the National Theatre, and the fantastic Gauguin show at Tate Modern; queued to buy macaroons at Laduree, and to attend the St Paul's Cathedral carol service; saw lovely friends, and had amazing (if unfortunately costly) meals at Ottolenghi and Moro. Here are some pictures. The first three are shop windows - Selfridges (with a tribute to my hero, Frank Sidebottom), a swanky shop on Jermyn Street, and Fortnum & Mason.
The next group are from our wanderings: Borough Market in Southwark, Leadenhall Market in the City, the window at Ottolenghi in Islington (we were staying just down the road), and the view from our seats in St Paul's.
I suspect this post may have the forced cheeriness of one of those Christmas round-robin letters that list only the triumphs of the year. Rest assured, my Schadenfreude friends: there have been some resounding low notes, and I'm staggering into the new year a little punch-drunk and unsure. Maybe it's just the Nyquil, or the prospect of our third plane journey of the day - this one twelve hours long. Maybe, as I've often claimed, uncertainty and insecurity are not entirely bad things.
No resolutions this year, aside from the usual - to become EVEN MORE glamorous. I do have some New Year's wishes, if they count:
1. That Cafe Baru on Magazine Street in New Orleans fixes its lighting issue in the back room, because it's one of my favorite places to go but that shrill lighting is a deal-breaker.
2. That instead of buying me gift cards for Aeropostale, a shop for 12-year-olds, my in-laws will buy me a gift card for SKY MALL, so I'm forced to buy e.g. a camouflage Slanket, or exact replicas of the earrings Hermione wore to the Yule Ball, or fake rocks to position around the garden I don't have.
3. That people will stop inserting the line "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough" into "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," when the original line is much, much better and almost always applicable.
Unlike resolutions, all of these things are totally achievable, I think, with a bit of good will and application.
I'm lying about the resolutions, of course. I have just one, and I was reminded of it by a slab of the Berlin Wall outside the Imperial War Museum.
Happy new year, everyone. If you're in Auckland this January, please get in touch. T. MIddy is available for mini-golf tournaments. I will be working a lot, but never during cocktail hour.