Here’s another dawn then. The sun comes up behind our house, and from the back windows I can see the houses and hills across the valley glowing in a soft buttery, pink light. There is no wind, and the smoke from a few chimneys drifts up and away, like it has done here for the last 140 odd years. Outside it is cold, and wood smoked.
Last night some friends came over for dinner. It took us a long time to drink those bottles of wine, but by god we were not to be defeated. Let’s see. It was roast chicken with lemon and rosemary, and roast potatoes, and rocket, balsamic, shaved parmesan salad. Crikey, it was good.
We listened to Frank Sinatra, and Coltrane’s Favourite Things and Ella singing the Cole Porter songbook. Of course this reminded us of Matt.
There was a night, many years ago, when Matt was house sitting in Karori and invited D and me over for Beef Wellington, whiskey and Frank. I was only old enough to appreciate the Beef Wellington. The whiskey I found undrinkable, and I seem to remember openly mocking the Frank. Matt nodded and kept his peace. I sense he knew that I would come around.
What’s that zinger of an opening line from Brideshead Revisited? Something about beginning to be old at 39? Well, at 39 I find that my tastes have changed, and it’s hard to imagine something more pleasurable than sitting up in the wee small hours with a whiskey and Frank. It took me a while to get that you don’t drink whiskey, you sort of keep it company, and that Connick and Buble are not and will never be Frank, because Frank had some kind of timing and class that can’t be replicated through imitation.
So, you were right, Matt. And I was wrong. But what’s new. It’s a long walk from that cold, starry night twenty years ago into the dawn here, in my house in Berhampore, but here I am. You were right. I was wrong.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, one of my favourite scenes from my favourite movie.