I am in a Southfork stupor. North of our homestead, towards Plano, pass several mega churches amongst which is Heaven’s Glorious Embassy, take a right onto Farm to Market road and you arrive at the Ewing’s ranch. Make sure you don’t double back onto Virgo or Jupiter road because that will land you at the gun safe spa shop or the bullet range, or, perhaps worse still, Twin Peaks “super fine dining”, it’s billboard splayed with a lady and her own ample twin peaks.
Underestimate not the influence those power hungry, materialistic gloss licked soap opera chicks and cowboys had over me as an impressionable young lass. I tred the terraces sponged into my childhood memories then sing the theme tune skipping down that drive way, up until young Bailey, who had sold me my ticket, zipped by in her golf buggy at which point I pretend to be humming a tune into my sleeve. I join the house tour with a Belgian flight attendant, listening to the kindly John, imbuing his story telling with well rehearsed improvisation and mellifluous tour guide tones. Stewardess and I tip toe around the house past the huge portraits of all the main characters and the rooms devoted to each. None of which appeared in the show, but still. All interiors were shot in California, several months after the summer Texan shoot when they would have to recreate all those shoulder padded strops as if they had just happened. Skill.
Apres noseying, John and his wife Adele, self confessed anglophiles, ask me whether it is customary for all folk who live in mansions to have formal dinners every night? I answer in the affirmative, for what else are ball gowns for than an impromtu spaghetti dinner? “Is there no place to curl up with an ice cold beer?” Adele asks with a twinkle. “But of course,” I reply, “only we call them gin and tonics.”
On the balcony I breathe in the ranch, the surreality of seeing my boys holler over to me from the stables in a view I knew so well, tickling me more than I had expected. Fifteen months of travel makes the idea of playing house utterly irresistible which is why we are spending the show’s lay off week here. I think I have single headedly kept the food and house mags in profit this week, indulging in my nesting fantasies. I recreate signature dishes of the folk back home. The comfort of eating my “aunt’s” food is priceless especially when the heart strings begin to pang ever so softly for home soil, and the aunt passed over three years ago.
Besides, fortification is needed, after the week which saw our boy spike a fever that rose to a delirious 103 on the same day that mama came second in the Miss America Barbie project runway at the theatre. I allowed myself to be coerced into entering the competition by the wardrobe department, then observed myself, without some concern, encrusting a doll with sticky rhinestones completing the evening dress with collaged train made from black and white print outs of iconic moments in American history, pretentiously channelling my misplaced creativity.
Craving escapism? Head to Park lane. Gargantuan mansions line the back ways, French “chateaux” “renaissance” villas and “English” tudor side by side in a frenzied Texan oil-funded utopia. Reality, a tenuous concept at best, will have to wait. We’re ensconced in our own sliver of Texan vacation hideaway. Till Florida comes a calling that is.