Roman Escapades

Alex’s guest post makes it sound as though I spent two weeks gallivanting through Rome with nary a care.

That’s not entirely true.

I spent two weeks gallivanting through Rome with precisely one care, namely, the dearth of tea in Italy.  I was nearly forced to drink a cappuccino, the horror.

No, but really, it was a rollicking good time.  And I suppose I should explain a bit more fully what I was up to.

You might recall my mentioning, earlier in the summer, that I was slated to appear in a fashion film for Richard’s line, Cavalier.  Normally, we advertise by dressing as piratical gentleman and commandeering pleasure yachts in the Mediterranean.  (No, I know.) But Richard decided he would like to try his hand at land-based conquests, and so this film was born.

The script was…well there wasn’t really a script.  There was merely a scenario: two Lotharios, one gay, one straight, go to a party as each other’s wingmen where they end up meeting their objects of pursuit and proceed to chase them across the gorgeous Italian countryside until conquests are made and everyone falls in love.

The bloke playing the straight lead–this sort of vaguely rakish Ken-doll who insisted upon calling himself ‘Britain’–thought it was charming.

His counterpart–a spunky American model named Molly with hair straight from the 1930s and a queer girlfriend named Lamplight–thought it was horseshit.

And I, as well as my counterpart Fox, saw it for what it was–the absurdist theatre of Richard’s most tongue-in-cheek dreams.  We were able to convince Molly of this, with Lam’s help, and so filming began.

The first day of filming was a bit stressful, I must say.  I’m quite used to being dressed up and paraded about at this point, but moving cameras are quite different from stationary ones, and the pace was arduous.  Then there was the lack of tea.  And the fact that I can’t ride a damn bike let alone a Moped.  And the sheer weight of performing ‘macho’ all day, as Fox played the more effeminate role on account of his delightfully elfin appearance.

But I hit my stride fairly quickly, and ended up rather enjoying myself.  The countryside is truly magical, with all its rolling hills and climbing cypress.

roman countryside

Now imagine a warm breeze ruffling your hair…

Marc joined me on set at least once a day, as well, to giggle at my ‘sexy face’ and make eyes at me whilst I marched around in jodhpurs and jackets.  And Fox was a delightful companion once he overcame his nerves about playing opposite ‘Mr. Brutus’, as I’m known throughout ghost Italy.

Meanwhile, the kiddos took to Rome with renewed fervor.

J went about everywhere in his little tunica and bulla, accepting parcels from townsfolk with the seriousness of mind that becomes the son of a Roman priest.  He also quite bonded quite with Claudius this visit and spent a great deal of time in the barnyard, learning to corral animals and read weather.

Mira did a bit of solo wandering, getting to know the land and the landscapes.  She also spent some time on horseback, introducing Nox around–Marc’s sneaky method of drawing her out into the town and forcing her to socialise.

And in all, we managed to use the time away to check in with a number of other friends.

Marie and Girafe came down from France for a ‘picnic’, which I should have known wouldn’t be a mere picnic.  They arrived with a boatload of lavish pillows, which Marie flung about a clearing in the countryside while Girafe made mysterious calls on his feather-covered mobile.  All of a sudden we had an oddly poofy, organic gazebo effect happening, and a vast array of food trucks from which to choose.

Delphi came out from the city no fewer than three times a week for afternoons that bled into suppers that bled into cocktails.  He and Claudius are no longer hiding their item-hood. They were as cozy as could be, and utterly sweet besides.  My favourite detail of their relationship: as Claudius is prone to forgetting to clean his spectacles, Delphi wears a soft cloth as a pocket square these days.  My heart!

And at the end of the trip, yes, we did go laze about in New Zealand with Matiu and Teddy and their son Miri.  I was quite ready for the time away from cameras and back in nail polish and loose tees.  Marc was ready to shed the immediate responsibility of representing Rome back to itself.  Mira and J were greedy for our time after all the excitement–quite gratifying, hehe–and I scarcely went ten minutes without a tiny hand in mine or a sleepy little face on my shoulder.

Now all that remains for the end of the summer is Marc’s participation in the war games.  He didn’t ‘play’ last year on account of the WWII theme, and he’s actually not leading any troops this year, either, to give other generals a chance to enjoy their moment in the sun.  But he will be providing live commentary from the stands this weekend, which is bound to be both enlightening and hilarious.  It’s a sea-battle, and he’s hoping they provided for ghost sharks to eat the fallen, because of course he’s hoping for that.

sea battle

Oh shit is ghost shark get out! – Marc

Oh, and I suppose I also have a birthday coming up, but I’m not terribly anticipatory.  It’s 199 this year, and I begged for a small gathering since I know for a fact I’m not escaping some monstrosity for my 200th.

Dinner Party Success!

(Marcus tried to make me name this post ‘Dinner Party is More Like Winner Party’)

So, May 1st was my big debut, and I am delighted to share that it went off without any major hitches.  In fact, I’d say it was a success!  A few of the most delicious details below…

I must start by saying that I am immensely proud of my family and grateful for their help in the matter.

Marcus was excellent moral support–every time I looked for him, he was at my arm, gracefully reentering conversation or just brushing shoulders long enough to remind me that he was watching out for me.  Also, the guests were obviously enamoured with the idea of a Roman in their midst, and he was more than happy to play the part.  He skulked about in a toga, sipping wine and looking ‘so mystery’.  And he only had to leave the room and giggle about it once or twice.

The children were also wonderful.  Mira gave a beautiful toast to Beltane over supper, and she looked absolutely smashing in a baby queen ball gown reminiscent of the 1920s–a sage green and lavender number she selected herself.  And J refused to move down table for a stodgy bastard who thought he should have been seated closer to me than my own son.  He just looked right up at this man and said ‘this seat is for faeries’ and continued to eat decorative parsley, and my heart soared.

I am also just thrilled with my two doorman/models who put on a good show.  Chauncey, shy and brilliant, worked the corners of the room, while Jerome, outgoing and…airy would be a nice way of putting it, charmed the milling centre.  And while their walks were still those of budding amateurs, that was really rather the point.  They’ll walk again when we open season in the winter, to demonstrate improvement.

And finally, I would be remiss as a ghost, Englishman, and moonlighting libertine, if I didn’t mention that Lord and Lady Rochester came to the party and left in incredibly high spirits.  That’s John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester of the court of Charles II, and his new wife/open-marriage-compatriot Drizell; Willy and Dizzy, known collectively as Lord and Lady Rooster, on account of them crowing gossip all through society.

John_Wilmot

I went to Elliot’s party.  Pinnacle moment of my afterlife, must say.

He wears less armour these days, but his hair is the same, as is his preference for satin.  He showed up in a tight-fitting blue satin suit with frothy, cream cravat and long black dress shoes with a bit of curl to the toe.  Very updated London.  And Drizell, a ghost from the 1940s, wore a gorgeous, ephemeral, glittering cream gown cut on the bias.  Both of them flirted shamelessly with Jerome.  And Lord Rochester invited me to one of his upcoming salons–he still writes unctuous poetry, which, while almost necessarily terrible, I cannot wait to hear.

And, in general, I would say people had a good time, myself included.  I was able to dispense with nerves as the supper progressed, falling totally into my role as society home owner and gentle eccentric.  Marc surprised me with a newly designed JS jacket for the occasion, which I debuted on the runway after dinner–russet leather lapels and pointillism grey wool.  And the house stood up to guests, with only one broken piece of pottery and a bit of spilled wine on the stairs.

Would I host again? Oddly enough, yes.

Am I looking forward to other society parties? Again, oddly enough, yes.

It’s a new age for Elliot, haha.

Society Debut

The bad news: Editing is taking my host far longer than he thought it might.

The good news: He’s restructured his approach to afford time to other endeavours, and I once again have leeway to keep up my blogging.  Huzzah!

And the timing could not be better, because, oh, do I have news…

The townhouse is appointed, the china is selected, the menu is set, and the invitations are sent:  I’m coming out, May 1st.

It’s a fashionably late coming out, to be sure. The season started with a bang round Christmas, and it’s only to run until the end of June.

But the London ton, as I have been informed by my realtor-cum-informant, Oli, feel quite a great deal of forgiveness toward my late entry, on account of my involvement with another season–that of fashion.

Were I simply lazy, or shy, or reticent, I wouldn’t have received a single invitation to turn down.  Since I am hard-working, philanthropic, and glamourous…they’ve been  gracious with my regrets, and willing to wait and gossip and RSVP to my dinner in the affirmative.

I suppose I am grateful?

But there was also some not-so-small part of me that hoped everyone would just throw up their hands and ignore me.  As it turns out, I’m painfully shy in personal settings, despite my time on stage and runway.  The thought of inviting perfect strangers into my home, with the goal of rendering them otherwise over the course of one dinner, terrifies me.

Two things keep me from turning tail.

First, as always, my husband.  Not only did Rome have its own sort of season, in which he was well-versed and well-known, but also…I’ll be damned before I run away from something while he watches.  The look on his face would be just too much.  And even if I bollocks something up, he’ll be there to smooth things over and redirect attention.  (To be sure, the ton is quite taken with the idea of a Roman in their midst.)

Second, Lord Akeldama.

I think I may have mentioned my obsession with this vampyre elsewhere on the site, or at least my obsession with Gail Carriger’s steampunk comedy of manners, which so delightfully skewers and celebrates the London season in turn.

But if not, you’re hearing it now.  I am so taken with Lord Akeldama, rove vampyre of steampunk London, that Alex had Miss Gail sign his portrait for me at a recent meet and greet event in Seattle.

akeldama

Akeldama on the right, in all his frilled and fluffy glory.  (Biffy, another of my paramours, on the left.)

I about died again.

And then, in a fit of confidence, I trussed myself up in a silk dressing gown, poured champagne, and opened a stack of new invitations to closing parties.  I even sent a few RSVPs–mostly to houses that seem like fun (Nell Gwyn, my god!), but also to a few conservative soirees, which I plan to attend in full velvet dress clutching my son’s teacup piglet.

I also finalised the details for my dinner, sent out one last round of looking-forwards, and reviewed my full guest list one last time without feeling like to climb under the table and cry.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what my coming out party will look like, in a nutshell:

5-8 pm: cocktails and crudites in the ground floor reception spaces (first floor to American readers).  These are done up rather Victorian, with dark wood, rich reds and blues, and pops of white and gold that draw attention to the windows and bookshelves.  I’ve hired a string quartet to play for this portion, as well as (handsome) doormen

8 pm: introductions.  Marcus and I come downstairs with the children, introduce ourselves around, and go up to dinner.  Traditionally, I would send the children to bed after introducing them, but I fear the wrath of Mira more than I fear the wrath of society, so they’ll be eating with us, and Mira, at least, will attend the first portion of dancing.

8:15-10: formal dinner in the first floor dining room (second floor,  Am.).  Menu items include Roman grain salads, a Roman-London hybrid fish plate, a London beef main (with beet option for the vegetarians, such as myself), and ices.  This portion of the home is lighter, with the reds and blues faded to rose and periwinkle, with pops of green and grey and the addition of Roman elements, such as ferns and columns.

10-2: dancing in the third floor ballroom (fourth floor, Am.), and open viewing from the rooftop terrace–both very modern spaces with clean lines, chrome, and glass. The string quartet will return for the first portion of the evening, and then round about midnight, I’ll re-introduce the two doormen as the first of my in-house modelling/runway clients and do a quick turn with them on the catwalk, finishing out the evening with a band and last rounds of cocktails.

Second floor of the home (third, Am.) is off limits.  This is our family space, divided between children’s bedrooms and the master suite.  And we’re also not utilising the garden floor, which is where my client-boarders reside–two at present, but five rooms total…more auditions over the summer.

And that’s it!  It’s all rather posh, but I’m becoming resigned to the idea that I am, in fact, a bit posh these days.  My blushes…

Will be sure to post how it goes.