Saturday, November 10, 2007

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

Last Sunday, I returned to the shop after my gloriously relaxing and self indulgent weeks off.
Truth teller that I am, how I wish that I could have been able to have many more weeks at home, reading, painting, visiting with friends, writing, walking in the Park, looking a good and bad art in galleries and museums. Truth teller that I am, it was necessary to return to the job.

And so I did.

Unsurprisingly, nothing terrible occured during my absence, but also many chores and responsibilities were also left unattended to. I just felt so "wanted" upon my return. Last Sunday was a bit of a demon day, with so many unanswered phone calls, e-mails, customer-related questions, etc. But all in all, it was not awful to go back to the scene.

My new mom assistant had returned to work while I was away, so we had many items to discuss during the past week. I cannot expect her to catch up instantly, yet need to update her as quickly as possible about the most pressing developments/changes during her six months' leave. We are getting there.

I am a bit concerned about the eventual impact on our business of the current sub-prime mortgage credit crisis flowing through the economic system, but so far our customers still seem quite ready to hand their credit cards across the counter, when they find clothes that they do like.

I played a bit of catch up with my own clothing selections, choosing three new items from the current collections, a very bright orangy-red wide v-neck merino wool tunic, black velvet narrow leg trousers and a black velvel cap-sleeved, ballet necklined, knee length dress/tunic. I still have to choose additional items, but these three will add some interesting combination possibilities to my existing wardrobe. The idea is to illustrate for the customers how flexible our clothing can be. Everyone can find her own way to wear it.

Now. On to culture and mortality. Abrupt swerve from the frivolity of fashion.

This morning's radio news told me that Norman Mailer had died earlier this morning. When I was a young adult in New York, he was very much a presence in the city, even running for mayor at one point, but aside from that he was a prize winning novelist, who was politically attuned. In Brooklyn, everyone knew just which was his house ... the one with the beautiful blue stained glass swan window.

He was a talent, an icon, but also an accessible icon. Nowadays, the celebrities of art and culture often seem to live in another universe. In the 1960's and 70's, this was less true.

About ten years ago, I went to a book reading at a neighborhood bookshop. The featured author was Mr. Mailer. That bookshop fell under the relentless pressure of Barnes and Noble some time ago.

Anyhow, I took along to the reading my aged copy of Mailer's great Vietnam War era book, Armies of the Night, hoping that he would sign it for me. Well, of course, he did. But what memory I still smile at is that the legendary macho icon Mailer, just looked up at me from the signing desk at which he was seated, smiled with a twinkle, and said, "I never can remember, is it Frances with an i or an e?" We chatted a bit more, and then he wrote a sweet note in my yellow-paged old book.

And so tonight, another literary person of note has left us. Perhaps those of you who live in other parts of the world will also feel, as you grow older, a bit of sadness when you learn that someone you have known all your adult life as part of the cultural world, will no longer write, paint, play music. Of course, it is good to appreciate the future talents, but how I do cherish the art that has accompanied me so far though my own live.

Pleasant dreams to all.


  1. You will be pleased to know that Radio 4 did a piece on NM last night and gave him a deserved fitting tribute.

  2. Lovely.
    I like the sound of your new clothes.

    I agree with you. there is an empty feeling. a sadness, when someone of genius moves on.

    I must try and hear that Norman Mailer programme on Listen Again, you could do that too Frances. BBC Radio 4.

  3. Oh I hadn't heard that Mr Mailer had passed on - such a big literary figure - and you have that wonderful memory of him!

  4. I bet it was nice to get back to the bustle of the shop, and you new pieces sound wonderful and i imagine they will suit you. Ilove orange and wear it quite alot got fave orange boots, they are getting a bit sad though in need of repair and polish...
    You do meet some interesting people. still madly jealous of rufus xx

  5. Hi Frances . . .yes I can understand now wanting to go back to work - good too that you found it 'all in all' ok . . .it is awful to dread going to work everyday. How lovely though to be able to select outfits from your section. Hope your 'Mum' is able to catch up soon.

    Oh dear it had passed me by that NM had died . . . but your life was still the richer for knowing him and so are your memories.

  6. I think people will always find it easy to use a credit card. It's paying if off that they find difficult.

    It must be great to pick out new clothes for the current market.

    Crystal xx

  7. Hi Francis, what a lovely memory of the late Norman Mailer, um on a frilous note your clothes sound yummy !

  8. 'The Naked and the Dead', was the first real war book I ever read. It has had a lasting impression. A friend recommended 'The Things they Carried' as an excellent book about Vietnam, but I can't remember who wrote it. Have you ever read it? Do you know the author.
    The clothes you sell in your shop sound absolutely georgeous. So stylish. My usual clothes at the moment are Orvis cord pull-ons and a sweater. ie No style at all.

  9. I'm glad you enjoyed your time away from work, and it sounds as though you made the most of it. Know just what you mean about the passing of an icon - it leaves a certain emptiness. But wonderful to have had a conversation with him and have him sign your book.

  10. Yes, I had heard that Norman Mailer had died and listened to a tribute to him on the radio this morning. I know what you mean about the death of the giants who have been part of your lifetime. glad going back to work was ok!

  11. I certainly enjoyed reading about your holiday from the shop...have just done the 'catch up' read...loved the descriptions of the buildings as you went back in time remembering........any chance of remembering Virginia sometime?

  12. Clothes sound wonderful, as always. So glad you enjoyed your break and Mr Mailer sounds a bit of a flirt... Wonderful tribute on Radio 4. You may be able to find it on 'Listen again' on the BBC website

  13. ah you're reminding me of one time in scotland when i went to hear anthony burgess. afterward, i stood in line for him to inscribe "a clockwork orange."

    he asked me my name, and i told him, and he wrote a big M on the flyleaf. "it's LAURIE," i said.

    he looked quite distressed. "i'm sorry, i thought you said Maury," he said.

    and then he thought a moment, and wrote, "My dearest Laurie, XOXOXO. anthony burgess."

    i smile every time i think of it.

  14. Hi Frances,

    Love the sound of your new clothes - esp. the orange tunic in Merino - divine colour!

    Yes, its always sad when someone great goes - felt that way about Pavaroti watching his funeral on telly, and hearing him sing his heart out. A big man indeed, in many ways.

  15. I know exactly what you mean about that sense of loss when a cultural figure, or anyone who seems like they have just always been there, in the background, dies. On a frivolous note, I love the sound of your new clothes.

  16. Late catching up, Frances. Yes, it's always sad when you read the obituaries and hear or see that someone you knew has gone. Loved your Norman Mailer anecdote. But fashion isn't really frivolous - or shouldn't be. If you feel good about yourself, you will make others feel good as well. Even, as you demonstrated, grumpy old Mailer!

  17. Hello Frances. How lovely your new clothes sound; I do love it when the wardrobe has some new-comers! I had missed Mailer's passing so thank you for the tale and while I am here I must tell you again how wonderful I think your paintings arefrances; I particularly love the little egg cups...quite beautiful xx

  18. Dear Frances,

    How wonderful to be able to choose out the clothes to wear at shop.

    Yes, I did see the obituary of NM, so sad when a genius of literary and artistic sense has passed on, at least you were able to meet him and keep those memories.