My son came to visit from New York in the middle of a busy schedule and totally rejuvenated me. I started to feel that I could do something besides sleep and be tired, and that I needed to get out more. He’s just written and directed an independent film called ‘Price Check’ with Parker Posey and Eric Mabius and is in the process of editing, but through the magic of new technology we managed to see a rough cut. Of course I am going to say that it is a wonderful film, but it really gave me confidence in his ability and talent. I will now try to live to see it in the cinema.
There was a lot of business to be done during his visit: we saw an investment manager, a lawyer, my accountant, and a friend who will organize my funeral. This wasn’t exactly what you’d call a holiday, but I was able to turn over to Michael a lot of my major problems. And it was such a relief; I feel very lucky to be able to rely totally on him, one reads so much of families not getting along. I was a single hippy mother – the odds were not in our favor. He remembers little of his childhood except that a lot of people ‘hung out’ at our house on Miami Beach and that of all the druggy, political types the Buddhist phase was the worse for him, Meetings that were full of people chanting, ‘Nam yo horangi yo’ must have been tough for a seven or eight year old.
That was the business side. For fun, we went to several of my favorite new neighborhood restaurants, but the best nights were spent at home watching Mike’s film, when he made supper for me, which in itself was restorative. I find something special in my son’s cooking.
The whole experience of being at home, watching a film he made, eating a dinner he had cooked for us, made me feel proud and gratified, and excited for him and his future. We have done some kind of turn around and now he seems to take care of me.
The last four days reinforced my decision not to have more chemo. Just think: if I had been full of that poison, really sick, I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on meetings, or the film; or enjoy any food; and no doubt I’d have been in bed all the time. It is again the idea of false hope (even if you just never know whether it is really false), but there’s a lot of it around, there’s no doubt. I prefer to keep my wits about me, to be realistic, and to face things the way they are. And most of all, to keep enjoying a really good meal. I think all my money is going to go to expensive restaurants, can’t see buying clothes anymore.
Soon after Mike left, Sweetpea arrived (my friend who had come with me to the Truffle Festival in Alba last October).
The way I feel now is that – I feel normal now. This is very strange, as I’m on heavy morphine, and steroids, which is not normal. It’s bizarre to feel normal, but there it is.
Sweetpea and I are foodies, and I wanted to take advantage of it while she was staying. I called for a lunch reservation at Dinner, Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental, and was told that the list was closed for three months. I persevered and got through to the dining room where I was waitlisted for Mothering Sunday. Dream on, I thought.
Sunday came and Sweetpea and I were half way out the door when she suggested we check the waitlist. Amazingly we got a table and off we dashed. We were bemused to be given a lovely table overlooking Hyde Park. The service was impeccable, but the young man who delivered the bread had a shaking hand. It was as if he was doing a solo at the Royal Opera. It must be something of an honor to have even the lowest level job at what has got to be one of the finest restaurants in – London? Europe? The World? Who can say.
The menu is made up of historic British dishes (1500-1900) transformed to modern British tastes.
My starter was visually stunning and delicious. Called Meat Fruit, from 1500, it was a chicken liver pate shaped to form a mandarin orange and dipped into a mandarin gel. Try that at home. I can’t remember having such a succulent taste sensation.
Sweetpea had two fat duck legs, Powdered Duck (1670), for her main course. This is not a minimal menu. The portions are generous and rich. You won’t leave hungry. I had a large delicious Black Foot pork chop (c.1860). I think they ate well in those olden days.
Still, we managed dessert. The signature dish, Tipsy Cake (c.1810), was a drunk brioche accompanied by spit roast pineapple; my friend went for the Chocolate Bar (c.1730) – any restaurant in London would have been happy to serve this (c.2011).
The expense of the meal was not of overriding importance. It felt like we had been treated to the best of everything. I was impressed that we got taken from the waiting list. I get sick of having to be ‘Someone’ to have an ordinary Sunday lunch at the Ivy. We were treated beautifully from beginning to end, never rushed. It also is quiet … hurrah. There is something honest about the food: the joy of the best ingredients cooked perfectly.
I may not be in a remission, but whatever I’m in, it allows me to have some special days and special experiences, to treasure my family and my friends and our times together. As long as I don’t check my bank balance all will be just fine.