34. The golden light

I saw her two more times, Stuart thrice.  Each time was a little easier, a little less unspoken stranger danger flying round the room.

We leave Orla with the golden light of parental love all around her and can confirm with surety she is a blessed little girl.  But let’s not deny this one: in Stuart, we take some equally golden love away.

There was a lot of earnest talk about ‘family of choice’ versus ‘family of origin’ around the three tables we met at and it seems to me that, yes, it is a mature society that allows it’s members to make those choices for themselves and their dependants.

But in the last few years I have witnessed first hand the long-term primal wounds that can be created by being deliberately separated or even estranged from blood love. You can rationalise the absence all you want, you can throw as much impressive intellectual rigour at the debate, but when the dust settles there it is: the unspoken absence.

My greatest hope is that Stuart (most definitely part of my own family of choice) will be given the nod to make a primary and regular contribution to Orla May as she grows, that he will have permission to share not just his baby batter, but his unconditional blood love to the little girl it helped create.

From where I’m sitting, seat 8A at the moment in fact, there’s no downside for Orla May that I can see.

Happy ending? Happy beginning for sure.

28. Holding the torch

Am I the only one who does a good line in weeping in restaurant toilets? Because twenty minutes into meeting the newest member of the Secret Royal Family and that’s where I was.

I wasn’t prepared for how perfect she would be, how much love and vulnerablility travelled with her, how Stu’s face would soften so much.

I wasn’t prepared to be walloped by  grief for the babies I’d lost in making the two perfect boys I have.

I  wasn’t prepared to instantly love her.

It was a terrifying beautiful magnificent few hours, watching three parents begin to share a single light source as they walked through the dark together.  Orla May – which means new golden princess (of course it does) – was a darling, smiling and gooing  and letting us cuddle and kiss and smell her.

There was a lot of nervousness on the mums’ parts too, especially the one who didn’t carry Orla May as her link was by love not blood. Would Stuart’s genetic contribution perhaps diminish her own? It didn’t of course.

That’s the great thing about unchartered territories. Frightening and exciting in turn, they will always lead you to a new place and leave you with new emotional equipment. And if you want your heart to stay big and fat and strong, you can’t have too much of that.

Like love I guess.

18. Bed for six madame?

So we found ourselves at a hotspot called Derrriere for dinner. It’s fair to say, we were reasonably oblivious that it was a hot spot til well after the event. I think that’s the antenna that secret royalty are born with (sort of like a gaydar but for a different kind of appetite).

A quirky home away from home interior, the idea for this family apartment-style venue was to be able to entertain friends “at home” every night.  That’s if you’re okay about them eating in every room of the house. The name comes from its location apparently, right at the back of its two siblings 404 and Andy Wahloo.

Customers may end up  in the lounge, dining room, bedroom or boudoir. We were in one of the ‘bedrooms’  where we had our own little bench seat.  There were half a dozen people sitting on the bed though as two sides were used as seating. A lot of sexy  french laughter as folk were ushered to their ‘bed’ for the evening.

Very entertaining evening and, once again for me, so happy not to have the loudest laugh in the room.  Like going home.

I return from the bathroom to this. Is he trying to kill me?

10. Self love

Walking down a boulevard towards a retail experience we apparently HAD to have.

On spying an autumn coloured beautiful young french man, mustard cords,bottle green jacket, small brown scarf, slight gentleman air:

Stu: I’m really liking that look. I may go for that kind of thing.

Jill: (confused) You’re kind of already doing that look. He looks exactly like you. You’re just attracted to yourself.

Stu: Well somebody has to be.

Raucous laughter.

7. Works of Art

We were in Mayfair, trying on things we couldn’t afford, staring at wealthy people, drinking champagne and eating smoked salmon blinis for late morning tea at the Connaught Hotel and generally having an extremely nice time, when  we spotted a very large bright pink pavillion with two of my favourite words annointing it: ART and DESIGN.

I love an elegant stumble into something. I like to think of it as a signature move.

This is how we found ourselves at the Pavillion of Art & Design in London one fine Autumn day.

Frankly it should have been called “Everything that Jill wets herself over”.   What an exquisite couple of hours we spent.  This is the fifth year of the Fair, and the reviews say it’s perfectly curated this year.  It travels New York, Paris and London and presents the wares of the top dealers in Modern Art and Mid Century furniture, with some primitive art and contemporary jewellery (from famous artists, because they can)  thrown in as well.

I really did love it. Love it.

I was also fed greatly by the profound beauty of the European men – and the women – studding the displays. Immaculately presented, suave and so god damn sexy all of them. Much as I loved the art and the design it was, of course, the people I found most stimulating.

Two exquisite french men discussing a Warhol: “$520, 000 US. It is a very good price.” “I agree. A very good price”. “It will go at the fair”. “It will go”.

Sophisticated Jeremy Irons type talking with a Japanese investor while studying a provocative Helmet Newton nude, large format.”How Much?” “The sister of this work sold at auction two years ago for $1.2 million” . The Japanese investor’s eyes didn’t even narrow. Or maybe they did.

Hundreds of works of art for an afternoon. And some of them on the wall.

4. You can’t come in here sir

It’s always been one of my favourite theories  and I have been known to use it in my work often: if you want someone to want something badly, tell them they can’t have it.

Playing hard to get isn’t a new trick of course. There are many self help books written on the art of arranging to be caught I’m sure.  And the swilling crowds we waded through outside  the Apple Store in London this morning waiting to touch the iphone 4s further confirmed that “I’ve got what you haven’t” is a powerful human motivator.

So I don’t know why I was surprised to see so many smug people behind this door last night.

“We’re going to a private club” said my old friend Paul. “My mate belongs; he can get us in”.  And so we were on the other side of the Wizard of Oz’s red curtain at Soho House. Founded in London, in 1995, as a private members’ club for those in film, media and creative industries, Soho House has a very public profile for a very private club. A secret that everybody knows about.

Becoming a member apparently involves filling in an application form then being rubber stamped by two existing members. Upon its receipt, the application will then be reviewed by the appropriate club’s Membership Committee. Those applicants selected to become members are notified via email.And a nod of the head I don’t doubt.  Those who are not immediately successful are added to a waiting list. Along with Godot.

So there we were – Stuart, Paul, myself and the honorable member Simon – sitting in a drawing room drinking wine and laughing (in my case too loudly of course). Waspish and generous in equal measure, H.M. Simon was a marvellous host. He buzzed about, ensuring we would be seated at some point, on a sofa as soft as my bottom. (Although I don’t imagine he used those words).

My observations were as follows: there were more attractive men than women in the room (a nice change from Auckland); big hair for men is in (like” fuck did I just get electrocuted” big); women love shoes more than almost everything; Paul joined my ‘aging well’ club (that’s worryingly exclusive  too).

So for three hours I belonged. Then I didn’t belong any more. 

3. Heaven smells like redmandarin, petitgrain and grapefruit

It could well be that I died on the flight over. Or perhaps I was taken at some point during the swift Di and dodi-esque silver Mercedes transfer, incinerated in a fire ball with no paparazzi to record the tragedy.

I am suspecting this because I am presenting padding around a room that can only be described as heaven.

Sweetly fragrant candles in the bathroom and suite, lamps glowing, radio playing classical to soothe my modern nerves, a bath ready for drawing right there to the left of the softest landing I could imagine… this was what greeted two tired green eyes upon opening the door to room 22 of the Dean Street Townhouse.

I am quietly grateful and not complaining as this is definitely not the room I paid for. Could they tell I was the girl that would be upstairs turning it into an episode? No pea under this princesses mattress tonight.