My last blog rabbitted on about my big birthday, which when it actually came on it’s real date, felt as if I were in mid flight and about to crash into a wall. It was not aided by my expectation of some form of recognition of this big day from work colleagues, the head of the company having known me to work for her over a period of twenty years, interrupted obviously by various acting jobs. Sadly for whatever reason, they did not remember, only realising it three quarters of the way through the day. Perhaps something else was occupying their minds. But I know how it made me feel. And I will never repeat that expectation.
I have learnt a major lesson from this, although on the day itself, I was unable to stop crying when I returned home. The wonderful Captain had prepared a Christmas tree in our new tiny cottage, the best Champagne on ice, and my loveable neighbours, who incidentally have only just met me, brought me some Bollinger Grande Annee. Bouquets of flowers were waiting from the Captain and an old dear friend, so I began to feel soothed. It is, if you have not been there yet, a daunting experience to reach half a century, with the sensation that any of the dreams one had wished to accomplish had not yet even begun.
But before I get maudlin, and start to morbidly discuss the recent tragic losses of the historic figures of David Bowie, and the charming and kind Alan Rickman, let me tell you about Bali. We flew with KLM from Amsterdam, stopping in Singapore for a confusing hour, but I was enchanted with the flat bed system on business class. You sit in a cot that turns into a bed, any film at your disposal and running alcohol and food brought to you at your demand. What’s not to like? Despite my cold that I had caught at Christmas, I managed to sleep for about five hours, so that arriving at the Legian Hotel, Seminyak, Bali was memorable.
We had a suite that was larger than our own home, welcoming the air conditioning as the heat was even higher than I had expected. The next evening, despite the spaced-out jetlag we dressed for a Shanghai 1920’s night to celebrate bringing in 2016. Having been brought up in South East Asia, I was expecting it to be like Malaysia, but it was much hotter, so that the Captain and I literally dripped with sweat all over our faces and bodies. We didn’t care, though, because the mere occasion gave it a sense of another world and another stage in life. We blew loud paper trumpets as we watched the awesome fireworks display by the sea, and I felt I could face 2016 and being old after all.
The service was permanently brilliant, the Balinese are utterly unique, both proud and kind, mindful and individual. Their faces are highly expressive and disarming. The way they move about a space is like watching a slow, languorous dance. Their hot, spicy food and too much sunshine on my third day sent me into a sunstroked haze for 36 hours during which I slept like a character from a fairy tale, awaking with a new kind of vigour to my step. We waded against the powerful current of the ocean, we swam in the three layers of infinity pools, we visited Ubud with its rice fields and astounding glass and wood creations. I chatted with some of the Balinese in the hotel and they explained that there was more likelihood of a baby being able to paint or carve before they had even taken their first steps, so natural to them was the creation of art.
It must have blown the mind of the German artist, Spies, who discovered Bali’s artistic culture a couple of hundred years back. I reckon if Gauguin had arrived in Bali instead of Tahiti, he would have produced even more extraordinary paintings, so violently different is this island. We returned via Singapore and Paris, by Air France, and I watched and enjoyed Out of Africa having read my little writer friend’s lovely Christmas gift, Circling The Sun by Paula McClain about Beryl Markham who was also part of the world and real life characters in Out of Africa. I also watched Meryl Streep again in Music from the Heart which I thoroughly enjoyed, as well as her performance in Ricki and the Flash. I basically had a Meryl Fest, while flying, and she is definitely a comfort on a long plane journey, no question.
The Captain and I are beginning to settle in our Snow White and the Seven Dwarves terraced cottage in Chiswick. A few little things need to be completed ranging from the second little leak in the join on our new roof, the utility space and the dining and soft furniture. But it is home, the new added building that makes up the bathroom is a triumph, the loft and ladder a boost, and our bedroom and study are as quiet as if we were not in London at all. Having decided that whatever downtime we have in the future should be spent in Italy, (I can already imagine my Italian oldest school mate laughing) we have decided to have Italian lessons, and have Italian nights with food and films and podcasts, so that we immerse ourselves in it. I shall be looking to develop my massage skills again, with female clients only, as well as my voice over work. I will also be keeping my ears and senses on full alert for acting work. I feel poised to dive. The board is springing under my pointed feet. My arms are in the air, the deep water below awaits me. A breeze brushes over my face. I’m ready.