Thursday 26 August 2021

The Club

Not the Club, but near the Club.

Yesterday I had an unusual day in that I worked according to British Summer Time, not--um--Newfoundland Time. That is, I started at my own 9 AM and I knocked off at 5 PM instead of starting at British noon and stopping at 8 or 8:30 PM. Benedict Ambrose and I had been asked out to supper at our host's club, so I got permission to do this. 

For once I took a proper lunch break, the kind during which you get caught up on correspondence and go to the post office. As I walked home, I felt a frisson of novelty. Look at me on the High Street after noon on a work day! Wild!

I was rather rushed at 5 PM, though. I threw on a decent dress and the one pair of comfortable shoes that wouldn't swear too badly at it and followed B.A. out the door (in the bright sunshine!) to the bus stop. However, we arrived at the elegant Georgian address two minutes before we said we would, so all was well.  No sooner had the receptionist, sitting behind glass (or plastic) in the hallway, informed us that our host was there already than he appeared. We went through the usual members'-club warren of rooms to a staircase and climbed up to the dining-room. 

On our way, I noticed a lovely watercolour of "The Princess Royal," presumably Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood.  Up the stairs, I saw a rather glamorous photograph of the current Princess Royal, Princess Anne. In the dining room, there was a portrait of the young Princess Margaret. The prettier Royal women seems to be the Club's decorative motif. There are also cabinets full of silver trophies and the china has EIIR emblazoned on it. The floors are richly carpeted, and everything is elegance.

I think I was buttering a piece of bread when I was suddenly visited by the ghost of Magic Past, which is to say the Alice-in-Wonderland feeling I had the week I came to Edinburgh for a visit and met B.A., the Historical House, the Old Town, the New Town, the Traditional Latin Mass, Edinburgh dinner parties and all the rest of it. As the world of work and recycling bins slid away, I felt that I was back in September 2008. The feeling didn't last very long, but it did inspire me to look up the membership fees. 

Conversation was, of course, fascinating, and at one point I rushed away because something B.A. said reminded me of a story a colleague was working on, and I wanted to text him a potential lead. So that felt rather glamorous, too. When I emerged, B.A. and our host were preparing to sit by the empty grate in the Members' Lounge. In we went, to sit in large, buttoned, leather club chairs, surrounded by dark bookcases and more silver trophies. 

The party broke up after 9, I think. B.A. and I said good-bye to our host and walked through the New Town towards our bus stop. When we got there, I checked work messages and B.A. hurried on to Tesco to get a pint of milk. It had become a little chilly, so we had walked more quickly than I otherwise would have, for I love to look at New Town windows and admire any furniture or art visible. (Edinburghers should really close their curtains if they do not want the interested stares of passersby.) Unusually, the most prominent thing I saw in a New Town window last night was a clothes-drying frame, which doesn't hint at unfathomable glamour. 

This morning I am pondering how to get a little more of that Alice-in-Wonderland feeling back into my life, and I think it may involve an adjustment of my schedule so that B.A. and I can go out in the evenings more often. There is something deeply satisfying about leaving work before you are too tired to do anything but eat and then rest your head on the table. Also, the New Town is phantasmagorically wonderful in the evenings, and if we could afford to, we would move there in a shot.   

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