Quite a busy weekend; but got quite a bit of work done catching up on written work on two unfinished projects.
One was a list of questions I had to answer for a forthcoming book on the paranormal and local history (not mine but somebody else’s) and the other involved sorting out photographs for the finished Volume No 2 of my own autobiography. There have been 20 pages put aside for that, but no worries there as there are plenty of vintage photographs to choose from.
But it wasn’t all work and no play. Della and I met up for our promised dinner, and that really made a relaxing change. She had booked a restaurant in Hampstead that somebody had recommended to her and we took a taxi over there. It was off the main street and dimly lit not too crowded. We had a table for two near the back and ordered a bottle of Viognier while we studied the menu. We ended up sharing a fish platter; heaps of yellow rice mixed with sliced peppers, onions, and pieces of unknown fish, surrounding king prawns and lobster. There was a basket of hot garlic bread at the side, and some small side dishes with shallots and mussels, which I presumed had been served separately for those preferring to have some choice, rather than having to eat it all mixed in together.
It seemed to take an eternity to finish off all the food, by which time the wine had almost gone and as neither of us had any desire to leave the almost magical quality of the restaurant, we decided to finish the evening off with a bottle of Pinot Grigio
We had been talking about many things all the while, and she seemed to be able to ‘draw me out’ and I found myself answering questions that I would not normally discuss with most people. We spoke about the Highgate business a little, of course, but she seemed more interested in finding out more about my personal life and thoughts and feelings that I had had for other people. This was not entirely unexpected because I knew she had read my autobiography, so that in itself made it easier to explain facts and my feelings towards events that had already been published. The Highgate case we had discussed before; indeed, that was the main reason she had first come to see me; although on that occasion, conversation had been a little tense; as if she first wanted to dispel some of the fantastic allegations she had heard about me.
Yet now, in the comfort of the restaurant, conversation seemed even easier and there seemed to have developed an ‘invisible empathy’ between us that ignited something far deeper. It was easy to talk to her, and I could tell from her eyes that her interest was intent, to the extent that I felt she could sense that I was really attracted to herself as a person, and so had no need to ‘guarded’ about things she was asking.
In fact, she told me little about herself, but I learned that she was from Kensington but recently moved to Knightsbridge, where she now had her own apartment and a good job as an Interior Designer. She was not attached to anyone now, she told me, but like myself, she had encountered the turmoil in one or two past relationships.
We seemed to have talked for ages, and as it was well past midnight, we asked our waiter if he could order us a taxi. He willingly obliged and so, with satisfied appetites and content from the wine, we finally left the restaurant. She insisted that she should first take me home, and about half and hour later, the roads being virtually traffic-free, we arrived at my flat and I invited her in for a little while saying I could then order her another taxi. Besides, I reminded her, I still had some albums of Press cuttings, not all of which she’s seen on her last visit. She accepted, and before long we were sitting in the comfort of my front room and I opened some more wine while we could finish talking.
Absorbed in old Press reports we again spoke about the Highgate ‘vampire’ case, and I showed her other articles about other people who claimed that they had been involved. She read many meticulously, and some private letters I showed her about the case which highly amused her. Before long (although time seemed to go so quickly) the clock showed us that it was almost 3 am, and she remarked that she would have to think about leaving and her comparatively long journey. I sensed that she did not really want to leave, and I couldn’t really blame her finding her self ‘caught’ at that cold hour of the morning. I told her that she was welcome to stay in my spare bedroom, which would enable her to get some rest so she could leave refreshed the next morning. To my somewhat surprise, she accepted gratefully saying that she did not have to go to work the next day: although not before making me assure her this would not put me to any trouble. This was no trouble, I told her, as the spare bed was already made up and all I had to do was put the fire on to warm the room up a little for her.
I showed her the room and left her to get ready, saying I’d come in 15 minutes to see if she had everything she needed. When I did go back, she was in bed and although all covered the sheet revealed that she had bare shoulders. I asked if she wanted another glass of wine before she went to sleep, and she said she ‘shouldn’t’ but that she’d enjoy that if I would drink another with her. She did not seem at all embarrassed by this request. If anything, I think she knew that I was a little uncertain at making this suggestion, and just wanted to assure me that she was happy to keep on talking and just relax. In fact, we must have spent another two hours just talking. I pulled a chair up close to the bed and we talked into the early hours of the morning.
She left the next day at about 11. 30. Although not before arranging to meet again. I am looking forward to that. Work somehow seems to lose its importance after experiences like that. It still all has to be done, of course, but writing about old experiences somehow seems to take on a new meaning now.