Miss Havisham’s day has arrived. Black horse-drawn carriages pull up one by one, sending broad brimmed hats and sober suits rushing up the long steps to the entrance of St James Cathedral in the light rain. Miss Havisham arrives in a fine old carriage tastefully adorned with carved cherubs and flowers. Accompanied by a bevy of family and friends, she moves up the steps and into the church with a slow delicate cadence. Despite her frail body, she is the picture of a sweet bride.
The church organ bellows and heaves its basso celebration. Her place at the head of the aisle has been carefully prepared. Wearing a gossamer veil, her wedding dress slips down to the well polished floor forming a large round puddle like pure white milk. All eyes are glued to the candelabra, a trunk overflowing with beautiful dresses, and the decades old wedding bouquet, tenderly placed in her small hands in the open coffin. Each withered flower, a brittle tribute to the decades of dying that Miss Havisham leaves behind.
#2) Food Was An Afterthought
I arrived late for lunch. The maitre d,’ with a nervous half smile, ushered me to a grand over-crowded corner table for 12 that had the feel of an overstuffed circus van. Overlapping laughter, gossip, and much verbal genuflecting, the table was a 1920’s trove of bow ties, chic hats, crumpled suits, and animated faces.
A pretty young waitress balancing martinis on her tray, leaned in to deliver drinks, dodging exhaled smoke, exaggerated gestures, and twice-told tales. Frog-like creatures, these writers, publishers, and theater drones. They bound from topic to topic, leaping up to move to a different conversation, sometimes mid-sentence.
Robert Sherwood signaled his greeting with one finger waving, while bellowing his review of Tom Mix: "They say he rides like he's part of the horse. They didn't say which part”.
Token laughter, cheap jokes and news of Dorothy Parker’s firing at Vanity Fair stimulated the circus-like momentum. A poison pen letter scribbled by Parker to her publisher on a fine linen napkin was christened and blessed by the gin gods. Robert Benchley added his resignation in a script that meandered suitably all over the white linen.
Four hours, twelve faces, and martinis five times their number; untold laughter, tears, an Olympic version of musical chairs, and not one sign of lunch, I slipped away just in time for dinner.