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Thursday, 13 February 2014

London Bunnies hit LA (well they did, in 2011 . . .)

Found this draft from 2011!

Six London Bunnies decided to go to LA. In particular we were invited to the halloween party at the Playboy Mansion and thought why not? On the plane I asked Bunny Yasmin where we were staying - I'd had nothing to do with organising this trip and the American Playboy team had set us up with various mates and contacts.

"Dave's house" comes back the beaming response.
"Who's Dave?"

Turns out none of us knew. Pulling up outside Dave's house we got scared and somehow Armani and I were sent up in the lift first to test the water/ see if he were a psychopath. It transpired he was a very sweet guy - a friend of a friend of a boss, who gave us his bedroom. Poor poor Dave. He had six bunnies sleeping in his bed whilst he took an inflatable bed in the living room. He also had a room full of suitcases packed by bunnies for two weeks of parties. The shoes!!!

LA was a whirlwind of shopping, parties and sight seeing, dotted with numerous changes of clothes and hangover fighting foods at Roni's (amazing) Diner - Dave's Dad's place. Whilst Dave was in fact lovely, there were a couple of worrying incidents in which various friends and relatives of his died violent deaths - multiple stabbing and the classic, tie someone to a chair and set fire to the factory jobby. Then he would laugh and say "at least you girls are my alibi!" That was unnerving.

Pit stop at The Rainbow

Then came the halloween party. Although we'd got a few costume ideas up our sleeves, when the time came it transpired that we'd be going with Corey Feldman, and he turned out to be a right control freak. He informed us that this year his theme was superheroes, and superheroes we would be. In a bit of confusion we did the only sensible thing and went shopping. That evening catwoman, superwoman, wonderwoman, an angel, a badass and a ring master (we interpreted the theme loosely) took a taxi to Corey's house. Somehow we ran so late that when we got stuck in horrendous traffic we actually had to get out of the car and walk down the equivalent of a motorway in our outfits. By the time we got to Corey's he was seriously pissed and pretty unusual. At the party I'd got bored by the sycophantic behaviour of his harem (not my girls I hasten to add) and went for a solo adventure around the party. The after party at Corey's house was perhaps the most/ least memorable part of the night, but I think that's best saved for the book in a few year's time.

                                          Corey's parallel fantasy world . . .

One weekend we were invited back to the mansion for a movie night where we found Hugh relaxing in his Sunday best (magenta silk pyjamas, really) and playing backgammon in the games' room. We messed around in the time warp of dark wood panelling and pin ball machines - at least one featuring a young Hefner surrounded by beautiful semi naked women - then we took our cocktails and went to explore. This culminated in us finding our way via a slightly seedy looking gym into the infamous grotto. It felt rather like being in a sort of sex theme park and I was careful not to dip even a toe into the water! The mansion itself was a really rather lovely, albeit a faded, 70s throwback replica of a gothic British construction with sunny gardens and white peacocks.

When it came to the film itself Armani and I were drunk and bored; we accidentally spilt popcorn everywhere and when people turned around to look at the commotion our apparently our combined silhouette somehow wrongly gave the impression there was something illicit going on. Time to sneak out on all fours, through a curtain into an office where some poor man was trying to work. We made the most of the empty bar and after the movie were reunited with the girls. In spite of signing an agreement as part of our contract that whenever we met Hef we wouldn't physically touch him (he likes to do all the touching), Rose somehow swept him up in an impromptu conga and I think he was left wondering who the hell these mad Brits were.

We left LA for a road trip to Vegas. Somehow we ended up with a limo and our driver alleged to have driven the Rolling Stones around the states. Although we didn't set off from Dave's house until midday, we'd only had a couple of hours sleep - Armani still rocking Dave's stolen pyjamas. As the hangovers and short tempers wore off Yasmin sprang into life and decided it was high time we had a photo shoot. Our lovely driver pulled off the road and what did we find? Only a casually placed prop in the form of an abandoned school bus. Which incidentally matched Yasmin's yellow dress and blue shoes perfectly! Playboy had put us up at the Palms in the penthouse suites - two bunnies per room with three televisions in case we planned to stay in and watch separate shows??! Anyhow, we didn't stay in. We went out which rather hampered any cultural stuff we planned to do; we'd go to dinner then be escorted to some club and then the inevitable strip club. That seemed to become a thing. In spite of us all planning to gamble (we are croupiers after all) I managed to gamble one dollar, given to me by a stranger, up to twenty then predictably, lost. 

At one strip club we found ourselves in a bizarre scenario; some guy was going to buy us all a dance. We were taken into a big back room with six poles. Then it became a lesson. Well, it could have been a lesson. What actually happened is Yasmin discovered some instruments, Rose got a drum, Samina was singing and I was dancing. The poor stripper looked a little shell shocked to be honest. The guy paying for the night fell asleep on Sophia who we had to disentangle carefully before discovering Armani had lost her make up bag and yet again it was nearly midday. Our good intentions to see at least one show went unfulfilled as we never woke before evening. Maybe next time Las Vegas.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

New house on the heath.

Well not quite on heath. Although it's pretty bloody close. My life as a three week nomad is, for now, at an end. I've spent my weekdays being a fairly good daughter, and my extended weekends being an excellent drinking companion, amongst other things. Whilst I would like to detail some of the nonsense that occurred, I think it's best for everyone involved if I just don't. Safe to say though that it was documented to varying degrees in video, photo, written quotations and spray paint.

Moving house this time round was exceptionally traumatic - not least because my darling Sten and I went our separate ways (he buggered off to Morocco), but predominantly because I was now facing life in a room, in a house and I have a LOT of stuff. I'm used to a one bed with a second room and storage space; I was now looking at finding somewhere for an extensive wardrobe (two actually) three suitcases of shoes, an unused exercise ball and three ukeleles. I couldn't possibly list the rest of the stuff for fear of both boring you and being unable to stem the rising panic that happens when I think about my various possessions that are still scattered across North London.

On the day of the move I was so overwhelmed that sometime in the evening I decided to shower in the newly cleaned bathroom, repaint my nails, visit my work place to donate an excess of candles and lastly, in despair, drink. The drinking helped the most. I also kicked the exercise ball down the road until a fourth floor acquaintance claimed it - it eventually reached him after several valiant attempts.

The excess of material goods wasn't my only problem; for some reason I had neglected to plan my next move and so made myself wilfully homeless. I was also fussy. I needed a top floor with good windows - roof access was also very important. It had to be a period building and it had to be in Kentish Town. Incidentally in my wisdom I told myself that as I have not yet been discovered as an actual princess, I would compromise on the roof thing and accept Hampstead Heath as my personal outdoor space - this decision was softened by the fact that my new flat has a six month old puppy in situ! Ringo is half pug, half Maltese terrier and he's bloody cute. More to come on this front - I'm told he has a dressing gown so I expect you'll all wait with baited breath for the inevitable Rocky/ Hugh Hefner photos.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Invisible Woman - a review.

The London release of The Invisible Woman may be a few days off yet, but a preview at The Hospital Club is always a welcome addition to the week. As well as directing this Oscar nominated flick, Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter, Schindler’s List) also plays charming, selfish and utterly composed Charles Dickens opposite Felicity Jones’ version of young mistress, Nelly. 

This adaptation of the book by Claire Tomalin tells a familiar story of an adulterous love affair – the passions, domesticity and compromise.  Dickens is charismatic and affable, winning over Nelly’s pragmatic mother, ably played by Kristin Scott Thomas who previously acted alongside Fiennes in The English Patient. Jones is well cast as the now married school teacher, haunted by an unorthodox hidden life having been the lover and muse of one of the most famous men of her time. Her new life with her husband and child is weighted down by past traumas and the need to reveal her secret.

It’s easy to see why Dickens was captivated; as a young actress Nelly is lively, thoughtful and passionate about his novels. Jones’ handling of a confrontation with Dickens’ put upon wife is mature and convincing, and the situation in which all involved find themselves is complex, painful and all too easy to comprehend. Whilst the main story is the love affair, Fiennes also looks at the social codes Dickens adhered to, his unconventional attitudes and sympathetic stance as a social commentator. The lovers meet at a rehearsal of Wilkie Collins’ play The Frozen Deep, and the epilogue closes both the play and the movie itself with a pleasing and poignant symmetry.  

The film is well paced and beautifully shot, with some memorable scenes and skilful acting. This Victorian set drama has highs to its lows, and even though the subject matter is at times pensive, the backdrop of life on stage, play acting and new thinking makes for an enjoyable few hours’ viewing.