In retrospect, my decision to expose our son to several Buster Keaton clips on You Tube this week may have been made somewhat in haste. I came to this conclusion when, son in question, climbed onto the armchair's arm rest balanced on one leg, called out to is dad that "this is what Buster Keaton does!" and then proceeded to forward flip down off it landing on his bottom on top of two cushions on the floor. Unfased. Unhurt. Mum and Dad had that heart throat feeling, and with as serious faces as they could muster (it really was quite a trick) to offer firm but hopefully not fear inducing suggestions to "wait for the gym" together with the "remember what Judith taught us" number. Judith is a kind lady at the sports centre gym we let steam off at back home, and who, having built a friendship with Sam, now gives him quick tips on tumbling here and there. She is probably the reason he does forward rolls every opportunity. He would do them along the aisles of the supermarket if we let him. It all started in the bath the other night when I called boyo Buster without thinking. Interrogation followed and a plotted history of the Keatons was delivered, with special attention placed on the fact that from the age of three he was in his parent's travelling act. Tykey's eyes twinkled with recognition. The next day, he hadn't forgotten I had promised to show him who the chap was. There you have it. I am a fan myself. He could be running around the house pretending to be Wayne Rooney or Peter Andre. Surely an stunt man comedy genius as an idol can't be a bad thing. Right? Right?
With our new found suburban lives we oscillate between finding stimulation in the outside world and turning our living room into a fairly safe climbing arena for our chimp. Mama chimp is still aping her aunt in the kitchen department. Our bimbo is showing signs of fatigue. I am in denial. I made a batch of banana bread to prove I still know how to cook without buttons and numbers. Just before she came down with the flu I had just finished a batch of profitteroles - (from scratch people from scratch!) filled with bimbo-ed creme patissere and home made chocolate sauce. I don't know who was more surprised, me or the boys. It was in honour of a pot luck dinner round at one of Cory's colleagues flats across the way. 7 of us snuggled around their table inhaling delicious pork loin, breads, salads, veggies. And profitteroles. Happy bunch. It was the first time I felt like going in to do a show with them. No sooner had this thought been shared does Cory pop on his producer hat and beaver away at setting me up with a slot at the black box theatre across the street for a scratch night of moustachio madness. Yes, the merry widow is out again and this time with the aim of presenting a half hour of material. My palms sweat just thinking about it. I have a song, a short film and about 15 minutes so far. Where on earth I am going to conjure up some more abstractions of Sardinian eccentricities frightens and thrills. The plan is to perform in between the matinee and evening performances next saturday (next saturday??!!!!) for the cast and crew post pizzas (on us). In essence I will be bribing them to laugh at or with me. My biggest fear I suppose is polite laughter. But then again, as Cory so delicately put it, if I flop out there at least I won't be seeing the folks for a while whilst I go hide away in a secret location in upstate new york and Cory jets away to the Canada land. Green card is still not in the hand. The authorities have informed me that a decision will be final within 50 days. Cory's stamp for entry into the UK a few days after we were married in 2002 when he visited the British Embassy back in New York took all of 20 minutes. Just sayin. Its getting all a bit close to the wire for my liking, what with best friend's wedding on the spring horizon. But where there is a will there is a way. I'm hoping should it not be tied up soon I can apply for a travel document to get permission to leave and re-enter without upsetting the nice immigration lot that greet you smiling with open arms and cookies when you get to the counter after landing.
The last few days we have been mooching about Royal Oak area where we have found a few activities for the chap. I have just about recovered from the "gym" class. It was led by a substitute teacher, a lithe, tanned converse booted ex cheerleader in her early forties who shouted and screamed her way through the hour as if we were out in a windy field trying to round up 100 rugby players. Even the toddlers seemed a bit be-mused with the whole decibel to size of room ratio. Took me back to high school P.E immediately. That echo-ey screeching of instructions which you could never understand because of the acoustics leading to confusion whilst I scrambled (sometimes without my glasses for added fog) to work out what on earth we had been asked to do in the first place let alone wokr out if I could do the bloody thing anyway. Usually the latter was a negative. Unless it was hockey. With a stick I knew what my objectives were. Which role I had to play. I still have the odd shin bump to prove it. If only Mr Haydn had given clear, quiet instructions I could be an Olympian by now surely? Stop your sniggering. So anyway, there they were, eight little tykes looking expectantly up at Miss Susie who was telling them how good it is to be loud, and how fast can you go and somersault this and crawl that, whistle screech here holler there. Boy was fried by the end in utter delight. He could have kept it up for the rest of the morning. Mum and Dad finally walked him out and on to a place for mama. A charity shop.
It was like getting into a cool pool on a stifling summer's day. I had no idea how much I been missing this quintessential part of our London life. I mean tea and radio and skype for the family is one thing, but there is no substitute for a good old rummage at the local charity shop. The ladies in Golders Green know us so well they will even pop into our cafe and tell us about a particular item we may be interested in. You'd think we were the hoy poly clientele of a classy boutique. Which of course, we most definitely are, clearly. I knew I had let it all go to my head when I was galled to find a pair of real leather boots for sale at £20. I don't shop in double figures people. I was raised with a long line of hand-me-down-borrow-me's. Jumble sales as a kid, my great aunt's wardrobe from the sixties/seventies as a psychedelically attired university student, my other aunt's wardrobe for costumes and all round wear with plenty of mum's (and dad's) bits and pieces in between. So there I was rummaging through American schmutter. Perfect. Or should I say awesome. I perused 1960s corn on the cob sets, shell suits, crock pots, christmas ornaments, frames and frilly lamp shades. Cory saved me from buying a table (yes a table - mini though, for Sammy boy) and a set of antique-ish martini glasses for Austin, a crew member (think back to Cleveland market) who is having a party to inaugurate his hand crafted travelling bar. It essentially looks like the other working gondola trucks used back stage to transport costumes and wigs from the outside, but for it being painted a fanstastic shade of fuschia. When I saw it some weeks ago it was still in its pre production phase, with a glass holder to be added and so forth. It is on wheels and will furnish each of his rooms along the way. He will have it stocked up with every increment needed for perfeck cocktail. He even makes his own vodkas. He gets five stars from me for retro-marvellousness.
After our step into thrift-centre I headed over to the post office, where a little printed sign in front of each of the clerks informed me that today was "a HAPPY day". I wasn't totally convinced. From the clerk's expressions I suspected they had forgotten to change it from yesterday. It was followed by a jaunt around the local health food shop. I'm talking health with a sodium fat free fairly traded organic bio dynamically harvested capital H. On entry I was asphyxiated by that herby hempy lavender-y echinacea smell like those health food shops I remember from my childhood before Holland & Barrett sterilised the market. The manager was a pale wispy haired guy who I caught ushering a customer around the book section and gluten free shelf the latter sporting a fedora and a native american earring dangling from one ear. I never heard someone so passionate about flour. The stock was huge. I've never seen so many variations on the humble peanut butter or organic fairly traded tahini in my life, or vegetarian cheese and buckwheat & quinoa udon soba. Don't get me even started on the teas, I wouldn't get to bed till tomorrow. I jest, but needless to say I bought five things more than what I went in for, including gluten free falafel mix and brown rice and seaweed tortilla chips (?!) I was entertaining that evening. I told Cory quite clearly that if I didn't have some adult company that night after almost three days straight of manic baking and cooking and listening to Sammy's favourite kid's shows tunes I would be in danger of some serious combusting. A couple of our friends came over from the show and I had me some good food, good company and belly laughs. Recharged for the next few days.
Today, on our drive in to the play centre once again, we were invited to celebrate Vivaldi's 332nd birthday by the chummy folks on the radio. I didn't have the heart to call in and kindly point out that the clever chap has long since gone to his harpsichord in the sky. 332 years ago to be pedantic. Maybe I'm just not offay with the music world. Half way through a Carmen Fantasie they interrupted to explain their machine had conked out and that they were sorry and please give them a moment to rev up the manual back up. Nicely played.We drove on past S. Alexander avenue (small things, small minds) and back home for a play date with a friend we met at East Lansing's ice rink three weeks ago. Little Jack, who would not look amiss sitting barefoot and flat capped on a New York stoop in a black and white photo from the Great depression was very much welcome into Sammy's universe. My personal highlight was when Sammy turned to him and took his hand, "I have an idea!", Jack answering, "What is that Sammy?" and the two of them toddling off to Sammy's room. He came along with his nanny Jess, a wonderfully warm easy to be with lady and his mum Seann, and orthopeadic surgeon. I had all I could not to start waxing lyrical about my meniscus repair in 2001 (she is a knee and hip replacement specialist). Our house felt like a home what with it filled with people from the outside world. I mean outside the theatre outside world.
Now if you will please excuse me. I need my beauty sleep for tomorrow where we are being taken a swanky tea room down in Birmingham. Yes I know, you Brits out there would not necessarily put these two images in the same sentence. I mean Birmingham, Michigan of course Limies! We are all set for a slap up delight of wonderfulness. Or so I am promised. Boys are excited. Maybe not quite as much as mama. I have found deeper respect for those who do that baking thing, now that I know how much time and effort and washing up it involves! Also there is that little thing of preparing a show to attend to. I am open to suggestions if they are absolutely magnificent. No knock knock jokes please.
On second thoughts......