Thursday, October 01, 2015

Letter From The Editor #1


I was standing outside Club M at    1.00am in Temple Bar, in January  of this year, coughing my lungs up,  convincing myself it was nothing  more than man-flu. As it  transpired I was however in the  clutches of bacterial pneumonia. I  had just come back from London  having submitted final drafts to an  international fashion magazine, and being unable to face another hotel room, took refuge in one of Dublin’s more infamous night spots.

I was running a temperature and slightly delirious, the blurred street lights were surrounded by rainbow orbs of colour, and looked like the alien ships in ‘Close Encounters’. The chilly air passed through my shirt like spectral death, I was shivering, but the discomfort hadn’t registered. After four Gin Slings, I was happily oblivious, sucking on a Gauloise and thinking of an escape to rural France for a couple of months.

“Jesus it’s fucking freezing” a female voice cried, I turned around to see who could be this vocal at such an hour. I was met with the perpetrator walking directly towards me, like we were old friends. Clad in a skin tight, below the knee, black silk dress, with a plummeting décolleté, adorned with vintage rhinestones, and an enviable mid-riff hour glass firmness that would suggest corseting; she had incredible curves. Her blonde ‘Vera Lynn’ hair style was secured with two thick tortoise shell combs.

From one sprouted a piece of black tulle that artfully descended over heavily lined and mascaraed eyes. She tottered in peep toe Manolo’s that were a liability, not just in frost, but any weather. She moved with that slick side to side, toe over toe, tottering runway ramble that comes from either having great confidence, or deep insecurity; it’s impossible to tell which. A small white pair of gloves, one of which clutched a snipe of Moët, and a large black leather Chanel bag completed the eye popping outfit.

“Here hold this” she thrust the bag and booze into my hands, having rescued a compact and a packet of cigarettes. She lights up, takes out liquid eyeliner, and with the precision of a neurosurgeon reapplied two perfectly slick black lines across her eyelids that reminded me of that 50’s model Dorian Leigh, and then looked at me squarely.

“Darling you look like death warmed up, are you ok?” She sounded like Zsa Zsa Gabor.

“I’m fine thank you, I’m Roland by the way, sorry I can’t shake hands, but they’re full.” (She didn’t detect my sarcasm)

“Oh here give me, thanks” she bundled everything together, hobbled on one foot and straightened a stocking seam.

“You know my grandmother used to draw stocking seams down the back of her legs during the war when they couldn’t get tights. I’m Agnes, got cabin fever where I was and had to get away, want a sip?” she offered the Moët bottle giddily.

“Oh no thanks, I think I’m done”

She inhaled deeply, took another swig from the bottle, and we both stood there smoking, staring at the street. It’s a strange thing, but she was so easy and undemanding, that she felt somehow familiar.

“I’ve been blogging you know, blogging in English, it’s not my language really, and now I’m totally blogged down” she burst into giggles, hiccups, staggers, steadied herself on my arm and looked me directly in the eye.But understands enough to confidently make a pun I thought.

“I can empathise, I’m a writer” I responded quickly.

“Oh my God” she squealed at the top of her voice, almost breaking a heel on the pavement.“No, It’s not possible, this is totally the law of attraction at work, you are just what I need, you can translate all my ideas, have you read The Secret?” Her enthusiasm and energy were overwhelming, the pitch of her voice almost rose in desperation.

I was about to answer, but my lungs had suddenly filled with fluid to the point of asphyxiation, and the last thing I remember just before I blacked out was a thick dark fog, and a terrifying feeling that there was no longer any air.

I was delivered by ambulance to intensive care. When I was finally placed in a public ward, Agnes came on visits, always with a wicker basket, covered with a gingham cloth. Delicious treats lay beneath. She would stuff a napkin into the neck of my pyjamas and lay out the goodies. She talked a lot, her ideas flowed, and her creativity was boundless. She engaged with everyone effortlessly, chatting, listening, dispensing fashion advice to nurses, and empathy to patients, her wardrobe seemed endless and her energy inexhaustible. We were fast becoming friends. She was completely unaware of her popularity, and one particularly grumpy old man, in the grips of rheumatoid arthritis, asked me one afternoon, “where is that young one?”, when Agnes had not made an appearance for a while.

When I finally made it out of hospital, I met Agnes for afternoon tea at ‘The Shelbourne’. She wore a chartreuse green tweed twin set, an ivory silk blouse, a pillbox hat, festooned with a starburst of tiny silk forget me knots, and around her neck, a single string of freshwater pearls. Her ringed hands buttered scones and spooned out jam busily.

Feeling full recovered, I was in a much better position to focus, and I decided to return her kind favours during my convalescence by offering to review her writing style, introduce a letter covering her progress, and help her find her voice and indeed her words. 

“Oh darling this is just too fabulous, we must have Moët”. She’s touchingly excited and waves at the waiter like he’s a long lost sibling.

As we toast and sip, I felt it wasn’t just a matter of what I owed Agnes for her kindness, but more so I was curious; my “talent antennae” were up. I couldn’t help but think I was on the verge of discovering a unique voice, and popular psychology and “The Secret” aside, I wanted to find out what that was. Agnes is far more than the sum of her parts; I am convinced she is travelling towards an extraordinary outcome, and not just within the sphere of vintage fashion. I want to be there when she arrives. Roland. 


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