Thursday, October 20, 2016

Schulenberg's Page: London, Part LXXXII

Paul Bartel with Roman Polanski displaying his Secret Cinema button — even though it's too dark to read!
Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

London, November 1966, con't.
After watching a finished scene from "The Fearless Vampire Killers," we left the studio.
Dubbing "The Vampire Killers" at Associated British — 11.29.66
Over drinks I told Sharon (Tate) that a few weeks before coming to London I had gone to an auction in New York of objects confiscated by customs officials, and there had been a beautiful red wig that had belonged to someone. Her eyes widened and she told me that it must've been hers! She'd made a quick trip to New York and on a whim had packed it. She said that on her arrival, it had been taken because she hadn't declared it!

"I loved it and wish you had bought it!" ... she moaned.
Sharon had worn a red wig in the film.
That evening we were invited to dinner by Daisy and Harry Lange.

After Paul had met with people from the film festival at the hotel, we decided it would be easier to take a cab to Uxbridge where Daisy and Harry lived.

It was a long ride and we were soon into a snowy rural landscape seemingly a world away from London. We arrived at their house and were welcomed by Daisy, full of Southern charm and warmth even in the freezing English countryside.

The house, however, was not so warm and as we sat in the chilly living room in front of a fire in the large fireplace, Daisy served us hot cider, all the while a portable electric heater by her side.

She showed us a few rooms downstairs after putting our heavy coats in a hall closet, always carrying the electric heater. It became fairly clear that the beautiful old house didn't have central heating!

There seemed to be no indication of any preparation for dinner either — not a tempting smell from the kitchen or anything in the large dining room.

And where was Harry?

Had we misunderstood the invitation about dinner?

There was a heavy knock at the front door and Daisy said, "Okay — let's get your coats" and led us back through the front hall and out into the cold night where a large man wearing a fur hat and a heavy wool cape was standing by a large coach with four horses!

He held open the door for us and helped us in. Climbing into the coachman's seat he started the horses and off we went through the silvery frosted landscape with the moon as the only illumination.

We arrived. But where? We had stopped at what appeared to be a kind of roadhouse, but there didn't seem to be any sign or indication of what it was. We got to the entrance, Daisy knocked on a heavy metal ring, the door opened ... and there was Harry welcoming us inside to a warm candle-lit wood paneled room with a blazing fire in a huge fireplace decorated with holly.

Was Charles Dickens in the next room?

We sat with drinks in front of the fire and told them about our trip, our movie and our adventures so far and went into a dining room with more candles and holly and another warming fireplace.

After a delicious and leisurely dinner, it was getting late. Harry told us that the Underground went easily from Uxbridge to Baker Street in London and it'd be easier than taking a cab.

So off we went in the coach-and-four to the Uxbridge Underground stop; a time machine from the nineteenth century to the twentieth century in record time (although I don't know to this day of any precedents)!
Sharon and Roman had decided to celebrate our last evening (before flying to Amsterdam) by having us to dinner at their place at West Eaton Place Mews. She had cooked a roast and Roman had supplied six bottles of Côtes du Rhône; anticipating a celebration, we brought a magnum of Champagne!
Amy at Berners Hotel before our dinner with Roman and Sharon.
Athenian-born Dimitri Coromilas, who was studying drama and stage management at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
Berners Hotel off Oxford Street in the West End (as it looked in 1966 before being refurbished and rebranded as The London Edition Hotel).
I wore my new suit from Jaeger with the new cashmere turtleneck and shoes. I topped off the costume with my new Christian Dior silk pocket square.

Sharon loved the look and said something I've never forgotten. "It's too perfect! You have to fuck it up!" and going to the bedroom she returned with a simple cotton bandana, removed the Dior square and replaced it with the bandana!
"Now," she said. "Now it's really perfect!"

I was reminded of something a friend had said to someone being too extravagantly noticeable while dancing at a discotheque: he'd said, "honey — do it like you don't need the money!"

Phrases to live by.
After dinner, as Paul and Roman did more conundrums, I washed dishes in the kitchen with Sharon. She was telling me how exciting it was to be living in London and that I should be living there.

I told her that after years in Paris, I'd finally come back to New York and it was working out for me. "And," I said, "where would I live"?

"You could live with us," she said.

The next day and for a long time after I thought of Polanski's breakthrough film, "The Knife in the Water," with its ambiguous trilogy, the two men and one woman!

And the next day, after a quick run through Chelsea, Paul, Amy, Burt and I flew to Amsterdam.
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