Thursday, February 25, 2016

Raining Royalty

Looking up at the Time Warner Center. 3:30 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, February 25, 2016. Rain and heavy winds chilling the wet with temperatures near 50. A helluva day to go out.

But it was Wednesdays, and Michael’s. And I had a long standing lunch date with Ingrid Seward, British writer/journalist, editor of Majesty Magazine, who is in New York on a speaking engagement at the Colony Club as well as publicizing her book “The Queen’s Speech;  An Intimate Portrait of the Queen in her Own Words.”
DPC and Ingrid Seward at Michael's.
There have been many books written about this queen who on September 9th of last year, has reigned longer than any English monarch in history. Her great-great-grandmother Victoria held the previous record.

Click to order "The Queen's Speech."
But who is she really? Personification of the institution of Power. To us, she’s mainly an historical symbol, a mother, grandmother, daughter, sister. The biographies about this symbol of political power are written with a natural reverence that can easily obfuscate the realities of this woman/human being.  We tend to see others in terms of ourselves and our experiences. But there isn’t anyone of us who has ever had anything like her experience, that is: life as a woman monarch in the 21st century.

A few years ago I read Sally Bedell Smith’s great biography of Elizabeth in which she was able to portray the woman as more than just a symbol. I was left with the sense that she was because of her historical position in modern civilization, as well as her apparently superb upbringing and mothering, and her brilliant conduct in her life-assigned role, that she is actually the most powerful individual on the planet.

Yes, I know many others, women too, have more political power. But the power to influence and to demonstrate the goodness of that power, the kind of power a good mother naturally possesses with her children, is something that this queen possesses, and beyond compare.

She was born to serve.  As far as mothering goes, I wonder if she possesses the same maternal uniqueness that her mother, the Queen Mother, possessed in terms of actual mothering. That we can only speculate on. Just like everything else about her private self. There are probably thousands of anecdotes about her because she has met, inarguably, more of her British subjects than any other human being.
The Queen and Princess Anne with Edwina Mountbatten (India Hick's grandmother) holding the hand of Prince Charles (India Hick's godfather).
However, Ingrid Seward in her approach to the subject has extracted from the Queen’s own words (she writes a great deal of her speeches, at least parts of them) in her search for Who she is as a Person, a Woman who will reach her 90th birthday this April.

Diane Clehane with India Hicks at Michael's.
India as a flower girl at the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.
There were other Brits in the room yesterday even royal relatives. Diane Clehane was interviewing India Hicks, granddaughter of Earl Mountbatten and cousin (somehow) of the Windsors and their ilk. India was a Flower Girl in the marriage of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer.

I interviewed India about twenty or so years ago for Quest, at a restaurant that was considered one of the hottest and trendiest lunch places of the moment in Manhattan -- Forty Four in the then just completely refurbished and updated Hotel Royalton. (For as “hot” a spot as the Royalton and Forty Four was in 1993, I had to look it up to remind myself of its name.)

I recall almost nothing of the interview except that she was very young and plucky starting out in New York. She had a warm and enthusiastic personality, and had very industrious ambitions. Since then, she and her partner David Flint Wood have made a small industry out of their lives on an island in the Caribbean where they live with their five children.

The one matter that I recall specifically about that long ago interview was her telling me that she always made her bed right after she got up in the morning. She believed it was a good way to start her day. I’m the type who would think something like that was “positive” and “constructive” and should follow.

After that, I got into the habit of making my bed right after I get up in the morning. And, coincidentally or not, I often think of India Hicks when I’m doing it. I’m also thinking I hope it will give me a good start to my day of deadlines and sundry details.
You can bet this bed was made soon after this photo shoot.
Yesterday, funnily enough, we had a very brief reunion at Michael’s. Leslie Stevens, of LaForce & Stevens, who arranged the Clehane interview brought Ms. Hicks by my table on their way out. This was the first time I’d seen her in two decades. I reminded her and she recalled the interview (or at least graciously said she did), and I told her about my remembering the bed-making business, and how often she came to mind when I do it. She very enthusiastically told me that she still makes her bed right after she gets up in the morning , although now, a little older and wiser undoubtedly, she does wonder to herself if it really matters one way or the other. I told her I’m still clinging to the original idea: a good one.
This is more like it.
Michael’s was its chatter-clatter Wednesday self. At the table next to mine was Sarabeth Shrager and a friend. On the other side, the blondes, Anne Hearst, Kimberly Rockefeller and Sharon Bush. At the corner table Alec Baldwin was lunching with lunching with Matthew VanBesien, who is president of the Board of the Philharmonic. Mr. Baldwin as you may know is the official radio host of the Philharmonic concerts, and excellent he is in lending the sense of stature to his assignment.
Alec Baldwin and Matthew VanBesien at a special concert of music by Very Young Composers from Japan and New York last March.
Around the room. Shoshanah Goldberg was celebrating at birthday; Frank McCourt, former Dodgers owner; Euan Rellie, a Scotsman, yet nearly Brit through his wife Lucy Sykes, with Damien Dernoncourt; Dario Colombo of Harry Winston; Tommy Hilfiger; The Imber Gang sans Michael Kramer – Dr. Imber, Jeff Greenfield, Jerry Della Femina, Andy Bergman; Harriet Weintraub; Douglas Korn;  Peter Price; Lisa Linden with Bryan Grimaldi; Henry Schleiff with Jonathan Schiller; Charles Whittingham; Vin Cipolla of the Municipal Arts Society; Steven Stolman and Rich Wilkie; Claire Wachtel with Cokie Roberts; Bisila Bokoko; Gilbert and Dara Gottfried celebrating Dara’s birthday;  Glenn Horowitz; Kate Edelman Johnson with Jennifer Bassey; Nick Verbitsky of United Stations; Peter Lyden and Michael Lykoudis; Joseph Steinberg.

At the end of the lunch, Ingrid and I discovered we had friends in common and devoted the rest of the time discussing our friends habits, foibles, and utterly irresistible charm.

Public Notice: I got this message yesterday from Alex Papachristidis ...

Dear Family & Friends:

Spring is on the way and we do our ARF thrift shop event in May. What better timing could there be to get rid of your clothes and other household items and benefit a wonderful charity?  I am hoping to get as many donations as possible of gently used clothes and household items still in good condition to sell in the ARF thrift shop.  As an example, I have donated a complete set of dishes I no longer use. 

The puppies and kitties send licks and tail wags for helping them with your contribution.

xo Alex

Details to follow.

Contact DPC here.