03 Feb There's Snow Business Like Show Business…
I’ve been in the snow, becoming quite unhinged since my last blog. Munich and the DLD Conference was a source of great satisfaction and not just from the sausages and beer.
I was awestruck by an astronomer from Harvard who gave a talk on how to identify life on other planets. I was somewhat shy to actually meet this genius man at that evening’s party, but Hanan marched up to him to shake hands.
‘You made that movie, didn’t you?’ the astronomer demanded, excited.
I looked around, bemused. Clearly, he had mistaken me for Steven Spielberg – not a common mistake, to be sure, even since I’ve gotten old enough for facial hair and glasses. For what movies would this man possibly be interested in, except for ‘ET’ ?
‘I Can’t Think Straight!’ he declared. ‘I loved that film.’
Reader, he wasn’t even a lesbian astronomer. My ecstasy was complete. We agreed to swap books and signatures when he next came to London.
In the meantime, I headed to Switzerland a day later with my son Ethan and his school ski team. This little sojourn involved sharing a very small room with a 13 year old whose fingertips are magnetically compelled to download dodgy apps to my beloved Macbook Pro and iPad, and whose knowledge of English is somewhat limited by his lack of understanding of the word ‘No’. I decided that a zen-like, relaxed attitude was the best way to enjoy our quality time together.
As if sensing my slackening attitude, Hanan Skyped me at once.
‘Is Ethan eating vegetables?’ she asked.
I cast my mind back to the mountain of french fries I had noticed on his plate at dinner.
‘Er…yes,’ I said.
‘And are you doing mantras?’ she demanded.
If you counted Ethan saying ‘There’s no way I’m doing mantras’ ten times in a row, then yes, I guessed we were.
I headed down for a meeting with the other parents, where the leader of our group waved a video camera and asked if anyone had any experience whatsoever with making films.
I decided to keep quiet, but a couple of the parents who had attended our charity screening of The World Unseen at the school for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund looked at me narrowly.
‘I’ve made a few films,’ I offered weakly.
‘Great!’ the other mother cried. ‘Family videos?’
‘Full length features,’ I muttered.
Well that was that. I was put on movie duty and reported back to Hanan on Skype. She called me immediately.
‘You have to get outside,’ she said.
‘It’s like, minus 10 degrees, and I’ve been on a mountainside taking shots of 157 distant dots skiing through fog and snow down a mountain and now I have to figure out which ones are our kids,’ I protested.
‘You need establishing shots of the hotel,’ my producer continued, ignoring my whining. ‘Pictures of them putting on boots, helmets and skis. Behind the scenes interviews. The struggle. The drama!’
Well I captured the struggle pretty well as we all scrambled for seats on Easyjet. The drama I’d already gotten when my child was told off for toasting his fondue bread in the candle flame at dinner.
Back home, I sat down to my first full day in London in a while, ready to tackle my To Do list, when Hanan looked up from her laptop.
‘Can I ask you a favour?’ she said.
The last time she asked that, I ended up pregnant, but I was confident this would be something quick and easy.
‘Can you make me a hot chocolate?’
I looked at my watch. Having another child would possibly be quicker and definitely less hassle. For since we had the hot chocolate to end all others at Berthillon in Paris, a spoon of powder mixed in some milk is no longer acceptable at Chateau Sarif-Kattan.
I subtly tried to sidestep some of the extras.
‘You don’t want whipped cream on top, do you?’
‘Yes please. If it’s not too much trouble.’
I started whipping. With the other hand, I searched for chocolate. It had to be real chocolate and the right chocolate. I found two bars, brought from Paris, one milk, one dark. I offered them for inspection.
‘Perhaps a bit of both?’ Hanan asked politely.
Bien sur. I broke off a little of each and melted them gently in a pan, whisking in a little mik to loosen the pure, thick mixture.
Next, more milk heated to exactly the right temperature and then frothed and gently poured over the chocolate. Then the whipped cream spooned on top.
Exhausted, we sat back to enjoy the results, and pondered a good day. Our younger boy, Luca, had got accepted to Kings College (where Ethan is) and had made it past a three hour examination, a two hour activity morning and a full on interview. After that, I had half expected him to get an offer of a partnership at Goldman Sachs.
‘You know what this means?’ Hanan asked. ‘You can take both of them on the school ski trip next year.’
I swapped my hot chocolate for something stronger…