Had an enjoyable and successful day on Saturday (28 November) at the Mount Eden Village Craft Market. It's good to get face-to-face with real readers who enjoy my books. Only two more Mt Eden markets before Christmas: 5 and 12 December.
Friday, 20 November 2015
Catching up in London with one of the most important characters in my book 'The Boltons of The Little Boltons'
In 1992 my wife Kath and I spent a little more than six months working as servants in a posh house in South Kensington, London. I was the cook and Kath was the lady's maid.
In a remarkable coincidence the house was in a street called The Little Boltons; it was an amazing experience which I recorded in my book The Boltons of The Little Boltons.
I have included the book's prologue below but if you have read the book you'll be familiar with the lovely Mariana, the Portuguese house-keeper who became a special friend and adviser. Well, many years have passed and we three are all twenty-three years older. But we have remained friends ever since and during a trip to London this month (November 2015) I was thrilled to catch up with Maria (her real name) again.
Here I am catching up with dear Maria during a trip to London in November 2015
Prologue to The Boltons of The Little Boltons
This is a book of small portraits of some of the many people my wife and I met in the course of a job we shared in a small corner of London for just a few months in nineteen ninety-two. There is no plot. There is nothing in it that is particularly dramatic or exciting. On the contrary it is concerned with the mundane; the daily routine of people who were interesting only because their way of life was strange, unsustainable and all but extinct. I could see that — surely any outsider could — but those concerned, the living subjects of my little portraits, clearly could not. To them everything in their world was perfectly normal. To me living there with them was like being in a dream based not in the present, nor even the past, but in some insubstantial, ethereal other-world that seemed to be fading away even as I lived in it.
Things in this curious other-world appeared perfectly normal. There were always plenty of normal people in busy streets lined with modern cars; red double-decker buses wove patiently through the thick traffic of the narrow Fulham Road and the King’s Road, and black cabs rattled along the side streets taking clever shortcuts to Brompton Road and Cromwell Road. But to me, a visitor from distant and oh-so-different New Zealand, the busy streets felt empty and eerily haunted. Their tall, oversized black-brick houses, looking old, cold and damp, loomed and leaned over their mossy undersized gardens, evoking only the Victorian past. Ordinary, everyday events seemed to move with a purpose now obsolete and meaningless towards a non-existent objective. Some of the little shops looked quaintly old-fashioned and even some of the people in the streets seemed to belong more to another time, another era, like ghosts somewhat bewildered to find themselves disconnected from the place and out of joint with time.
The real names of the people I met are inconsequential and so have not been used; what’s important is that they existed at all and that I chanced to glimpse their ghostly images just as they were fading away. It seemed I was present at — and part of — a sad and somewhat surreal and shabby end of an era, unmarked by history; a metaphor for the demise of what was once the greatest and richest city in the world, the capital of the world’s most powerful empire.