Monday, 16 January 2012

Enjoying the present, reliving the past

In a memorable line, the Comedian Eric Morecambe assured his audience that he was ‘playing all the right notes, though not necessarily in the right order.’

We've never been that good at getting the order of things right. When the judge granted Danielle, then married to her first husband, her divorce, he took a look at her belly and said ‘I expect you’d like me to reduce the time lag before the decree becomes absolute to the minimum.’ He took it down to a week from the normal six, and as a result Danielle and I were married just eighteen days before our son Michael was born.

With Danielle’s first son David with us, and Nicky showing up not that long after Michael, there was no way we have a honeymoon at the right time - i.e. then. So instead ten years later, with a business trip to San Francisco in the offing, I suggested that Danielle come along and take the opportunity to have a delayed honeymoon. Better late than never, after all, and we would enjoy it all the more for having waited so long.

And we did enjoy our trip to what quickly became Danielle’s favourite city anywhere. We stayed at a hotel which boasted a penthouse which was more a pentshack: a wood and glass construction placed on the roof, with breathtaking views of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and the city, where we were woken in the morning by the sea lions barking and could watch a flock of parakeets flying past our windows.

When, nearly twenty years on, I again got the opportunity to take a business trip to San Francisco, Danielle announced ‘I’m coming along.’ It struck me as a good idea, so she’s at my side as I write this.

This time we did everything much more by the book. The first evening we were in China Town to indulge ourselves in truly superior Chinese cooking. The next day we had a walking tour through part of the city, enchanted but shivering through weather that had turned to bitter winter overnight. To warm up we headed to a vegetarian restaurant, Green’s, where we had an excellent meal against the background of yet another view of the bay and the bridge.

Our first visit to San Francisco had left me with only one regret: we’d had a remarkable breakfast at the famous Cafe Roma, sitting in the tiny back terrace area, under vine leaves through which the surprisingly warming October sun was shining. But I chose not to wash down the meal with mimosa, the combination of orange juice and champagne that would have been the perfect complement to my scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.

So I took great pleasure in correcting that omission while I was at Green’s, and we had mimosas there - though as befits the constant innovation that marks the city still, this one was made with pomegranate juice rather than anything so pedestrian as mere orange.

Ready to enjoy mimosas and correct an old omission
Pomegranate, no less - my dear, the style, can you imagine?
Then we set out to find our hotel with the pent shack again, which was not as straightforward it sounds, since we couldn’t remember the name let alone the address. But we tracked it down, and found the San Remo unchanged, and still endowed with its jewel of a pent shack.

We also travelled round the city by the most appropriate means, cable cars, even hanging on for dear life to the outside on a couple of occasions. That was a mode of transport we’d disdained first time, this trip has really seen us being quite exemplary in ensuring we did things properly.

The right notes in the right order, for once. And the notes themselves are pretty special, they resonate with us. San Francisco remains Danielle’s favourite city. 

And I have to say that I too find it hard to imagine one to prefer to it.

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