The walk to the car is an awkward affair, punctuated only by perfunctory questions that I already knew the answers to. The autumnal leaves swirled around us in earnest and brought with them a melancholy sort of surrender .The car allowed for the silence to be broken. The husky vibes of Tom Waits filled the air upon ignition. We are now on terra firma. We spoke of the sterling job she had done in updating the Waits Classic “The Long Way home”. She speaks of him in revered terms and it is clear that his music has been a major influence.
She is a meatarian and I rejoice at this fact. There is therefore only one place in London to take her to. London can be quite magical in the fall and it was a day that was, thankfully, without seasonal rain. I suggest that we drive halfway to the restaurant and walk the remainder of the journey. I regret the suggestion on utterance but, surprisingly, she agrees, apparently oblivious or immune to the possibility of autograph hunters. This is London she says. No-one troubles you. Well, not unless you are David Beckham she says. I laugh.
I had the foresight to provisionally book a table at the Gaucho but unfortunately lacked the wisdom to say that I was myself a celebrity. We waited as our table was prepared by the unhurried Argentine waiters. We are seated at a quiet table near the entrance to the kitchen and presented with the menus. We share a plate of ham and cheese empanadas for starters. As the main course I select the Gran Parrillada which is a glorious ensemble of grilled lamb chops, bife de cuadril, chorizo pinchos, Morcilla, sweetbreads and marinated chicken dressed with chimichurri. Norah orders a cheeseburger. She is a cheap date. We submerge the victuals with one and three quarter bottles of Château Beychevelle which is, to my mind, the greatest red wine God ever made. I find that it also serves as the bedrock for the most humorous and agreeable of conversations. We remained in the Gaucho until closing time, laughing, smiling and joking, with the ease of a couple who had been in pleasant acquaintance for many years.
We both wanted the evening to continue so we returned to her hotel room, beyond the paternal gaze of the butler and her security staff. We tumbled into Room 314 and I immediately spotted a Spanish Guitar in the corner. A little alcohol stirs in me the restless spirit of a failed musician and I found myself grabbing the guitar, strumming a few chords and singing a song I had written long ago. She sat on the edge of the bed gazing intently into my eyes as I stood there, strummimng, swaying and singing. I was unsure if the intoxicated look in her eyes was more to do with the good Monsieur Beychevelle or as a result of my warbling. I did not care. She rose from the bed and glided towards me. The effortlessness of her movement made me conclude that she actually found my singing agreeable. She put one finger to my lips and the very touch murdered rationality. Suddenly we were back in Oz again. No brain. No heart. No courage. She drove and I became passenger. She carefully slid the guitar over my stiff, rigid shoulders, holding my eyes all the time with hazel tinged intensity. The ensuing embrace is a moment that froze time. The gaze remains. It is intense and describes desires that a tome of a million words could not. Her hand is on my waist and I feel it’s softness as it creeps under my shirt and works it’s way up my back………
real world. 2007
My reverie is rudely interrupted by my friend who pokes me in the ribs. After all the warm up acts, Norah is finally on stage. The soothing chords of “Sunrise Sunrise” fill the auditorium and I begin to love her all over again.