Lustrous Don Somnolent
This was a month of beauty and grace. Prime among the examples was the long-awaited wedding in Italy of Claudia Camozzi and my nephew Ivor Stanbrook, in the dramatic coastal setting of the village of Camogli, followed by a sumptuous reception and dinner in the lustrous and high society venue Villa Durazzi in Santa Margherita Ligure. Although the weather did not cooperate, this mattered little compared to the huge enjoyment of a big family wedding. And the bride was so beautiful that the clattering rain actually paused in astonishment as she came out of the church on the arm of her slightly less beautiful new husband. Then the skies opened again as nearly 200 other people posed under 150 umbrellas on the steps leading up to the Basilica. We had all driven down from Basel on the evening before and were able to have an impromptu but excellent dinner, including a perfect Spaghetti alla Vongole, with our cousins Diane and Brendan. On the day after the wedding we took a boat trip to Portofino and had a relaxing lunch there in the sun by the port, then after watching the returning rain hammer down on the roofs from our hotel room balcony, we went to have supper and a rare opportunity for a leisurely chat with the ever-generous family and friends of the Clive Stanbrooks on the diamond-studded hillside overlooking Santa Margherita.
We had a very sociable month, all told, with barbecue parties in Leymen and Raedersdorf, a dinner party with plenty of gossip and back-chat at the flat of our friend Nicole, a family outing to a “Mongolian” restaurant in Riehen, a big party at our house for the parents of those in Ella’s grade at school, and a most entertaining street party in Rue de la Scierie, on what we thought was the last summer day before the fall of autumn. We were wrong, it was sunny for much of the rest of the month, although the mornings were cold and I had to don gloves as I biked to work. I had a very brief business excursion to England, where I became convinced that the area just north of Bracknell is England’s answer to the Bermuda Triangle. However, it rained throughout Alli’s birthday on the 7th, and we went out to an eye-wateringly expensive dinner in Fluh with Laurie and Kay, who were over for a few days at the start of the month. Yet again, DIY jobs were expertly done all over the house and garden. During the same week Alli and I went to see Leonard Cohen in concert. I last saw him in concert in 1975 in Oxford. During the show his humility and humor were ever present. And now, wherever this graceful man wanders, people sing ‘Hallelujah’! The Lord himself could not ask for more. And like his creation the partisan, he has so many friends. On a different note, the average age of the attendees was very high. I have not felt so young at a rock concert since attending Joy and Jennifer in 1965.
I have now finished the chicken run at the end of the garden, thanks in large part to some unexpected and spontaneous help at different times during the construction endgame from our friend Annette, Laurie my father-in-law, and Jessie’s friend Rick, whom she met while touring in New Zealand, and who was staying with us at the time. All that remains to be done is for us to get the hens, introduce them to their new home and keep them safe from the many foxes that slope around here. Jessie finished her second stint at work and left us at the end of the month for her first term at Sussex University. This was momentous – the departure of our first-born into the wide world. Well, not counting last year spent in various locations around the world, that is. But now she has her own address and, by extension, official identity. Alli went over with her to Brighton to help her move into her new room on the university campus at Falmer. Ella, Gwen and I were left home alone for the weekend. Gwen stayed with her friend Puck while Ella had some friends round for cakes, sleepover, Smirnoff Ice and Spaghetti Carbonara. I played the old mad Dad, who, while teenage laughter echoed through the house, shuffled around in the shadows, scratching, napping and dozing then waking up to watch Match of the Day, somnolent in my dressing gown and slippers.
One afternoon at work as I was moving my papers and files into a new office, I stood up too quickly and gashed the top of my head on the sharp corner of a steel shelf. When I checked my appearance in the bathroom moments later, I had turned into a character in a Wes Craven movie, as red shiny blood was pouring down my forehead and my hair had turned crimson. An hour later I was in an emergency ward, getting some tailoring and a tetanus injection. It just shows that despite all the sitting around, the office is an extremely dangerous place.
Yours in stitches
Claudia and Ivor Stanbrook’s wedding, Camogli, Italy, September 2010