Monday, March 10, 2008
We headed to London for the weekend. I took the Eurostar on Friday morning and then got to Canary Wharf (the new financial center in London) to attend a real estate exposition for my former employers in New York. They are keen on the fact that Europeans get a significant discount when buying US property, given the exchange rate (even more so for the Brits).
While at the exposition, I attended a seminar given by one of these real estate guys you think doesn't really exist (or maybe he is all that does exist in real estate, I am not sure which). He was a Floridian - a guy with a schmoosy suit and haircut and way of being. Dripping with insincerity. He had, of course, worked for Trump in the past. A fake name even: Charles Byron Andrews. His speech was called, "The Great Depression of American Real Estate - How Foreign Buyers are Generating Major Revenue in the US Sector on the Way Down!" . . . Right. His tips included such innovative strategies as 'extensive research' and 'stringent selection criteria.' This guy was going out on a limb. I would say that approximately 2/3 of the room walked out as a direct result of his brilliant ideas.
While in London, we stayed with Xavier's Belgian friend, Marco. He lives on Portobello Road. When we were kids, we watched Bedknobs and Broomsticks religiously (classic Angela Lansbury). If you recall, there is the famous tune in that film about this market road. Portobello road...street where the riches of ages are stowed. Anything and everything a chap can unload, is sold off the barrow in Portobello road...(I found a hedgehog stamp - I love hedgehogs (hérissons). There are many hérissons in France. In fact, they are pretty much just in France. Well, in Europe and Asia and Africa and New Zealand to be exact...but, there are no native species in North America).
Next, something happened that amused me to the bone. We were sitting at brunch on Saturday morning and three ginger-haired ladies of the same sort sat down next to us. They were ginger-blond, frizzy, with blue eyes. They seemed to know each other well. A new woman in a mink coat arrived, a look-a-like, but a bit fancier. She presented herself and sat down - pretty formally, I was thinking to myself. (You see, at my table there were 4 french speaking individuals and, so, naturally my attention was drawn toward the english fountains all around me).
When ginger-mink sat down, the other gingers looked a bit confused, but nothing was really said and nothing really happened. They just continued chatting. After about 5 minutes of talking about nothing, she - included in, but still on the margins of the conversation - quite suddenly stood up, never having removed her ridiculous coat, and announced "Must dash! I have another appointment with a friend and I was certain that I could manage both, but now I'm afraid I feel a bit sandwiched with time." The others looked baffled. As she walked away, one ginger looked at the other gingers and asked, "Who was that?".
How did this happen? I was entranced. I couldn't tell if this happening was attributable to extreme British politeness or something else more theatrical. It was like Ionesco had written their little production without them knowing it. Big toothy grin of applause from me.