Added on Wednesday 28 Mar 2012
Over two years ago, I sat in Morton's on Byres Road (now no longer in existence) and got the "Go" order from James Doherty of the National Autistic Society Scotland for the PR trip across America to meet Juliet Landau. This may sound macho, cliched and ridiculous now. I can assure you, it did not then:
Sometimes the second scoop is so much richer than the first. Sometimes the memory, lost but half-recalled, is far sweeter in its fug of spiderweb than crystal clear remembrance, real and raw.
Once it was Morton’s and now it is Nardini’s, and Morton’s is no more; and once there was a girl, for whom a man did steal a ship and race across a continent. Wary did he wander, though, for fear that time might slip.
Those were the days of high adventure. Of the sea and sky, of the desert and the hills. There was the loving and the longing and the loss; and though the days were slow, the time, it seemed, did tick by so very fast.
Never stopping, never tiring, never falling, always I went on my way. I saw the pearl-pink skyscrapers of the Venice of today, the columns of a Corinth by the river and out upon the bay. A Potomac for Washington, it was, a memorial of Lincoln and his day.
The Alleghenies had their fir-trees where the fire was laid down in my soul. I heard words of prophecy I would not heed, but softly came the song my sweet lady sang for me.
So long and tall a lady, bedecked in red but visionary through eyes of blue. She was my guide along the way, watchful that I did not tarry, smiling quietly all the way.
You might think these words were tales of Iliads and Odysseys in Homer’s day, that it all happened so very long ago, and that the men who made such love and did those deeds now rest in the last shadows of the late day’s sun.
But there still sounds that far-off drum which calls to some men’s souls. There’s still that star-begotten hope that stirs the spirit and the dreams. There is the golden city on the hill, and the girl with hair of raven black. There’s the long haul through grassland, hill and prairie. Then there’s the call across the sine wave which failed along the way, leaving the long road still to cover, coming in blind on the night flight. Not knowing whether you’ll crash and burn, broken on the sidewalk, or stand upright like the rose. A fate so frail it could fracture in a breath. A future so fragile it could fall away like mist.
You stand up one more time, though, and your guide, she leads you on your way. Slender and sibilant she is, swaying with fine wine’s fluid grace.
You see the palms and the trees, and the fresh air floods down from the Hills. These are the days of youth and strength you thought you’d never see again. And then there’s that girl, the best in all the world, for whom you went so very far away.
(Elegy and reinterpretation of Dear Miss Landau, published by Chaplin Books in March 2012. The true story of how Drusilla the vampire took James Christie to meet Juliet Landau on Sunset Boulevard one Sunday morning in March)