I was usually cut from any team sport I tried out for in school. I still don't know if I'm over it. So, it was really depressing when a story I wrote for The Blushing Hostess was cut. She had asked for something about, "a sexy hostess." The other boys wrote stories and they all made the cut. I guess I can see why my story didn't make it. It's a tad earthy. With apologies for the length. This was, after all, not supposed to be here:
Years ago I discovered, what I thought, was the Paris - London difference. Leaving Paris and bound for London on a train, I was thinking how elegant Parisians are. Their appearance on the street is nothing short of perfection. It's a style I've tried to copy and mannerisms I knew not to imitate. Mulling over these thoughts, I looked out my train window and was surprised to see elegant apartment buildings with their balconies piled high in...garbage. Old refrigerators, cardboard boxes and junk stuffed everywhere. Building after building. It seemed Parisians were using their balconies as large trash cans. Does the typical Parisian put more effort into their appearance than in the appearance of their home?
The train exited the tunnel and I noticed the English homes and gardens were perfect in every way. Yet, in the city of London I was amazed to see streets filled with dowdy dress, cheap men's suits, women's shoes designed by Nazi Gestapo Lesbians and a personal unkemptness. Did the English put forth efforts in their home's appearance at the expense of their dress?
Understanding this is all a huge generalization - - I'll move on.
She was English on her father's side. French on her mothers. She met me at the door of the home she shared with her husband in South Kensington. A beautiful head of blonde hair contrasted against black leather jeans, suede paddock boots and an Hermes looking silk blouse. She brought me to the living room where cigarette smoke hung heavy over the dinner guests. A BBC news reader in her revealing tube top, a classic car dealer with a shop in a London mews, the wife of a London film director and a fella in the shipping business with a wife who said she was related to Pocahontas. Music came from a wood and green leather Roberts radio.
Conversation was erudite and sophisticated. Two drinks on an empty stomach and these people were my new best friends. An elegant dinner table with two silver candelabra was outside on a small flag stone terrace. Candle light and a white Burgundy made all of us beautiful. I remember sitting next to 'BBC' and having a chilled white port after dinner. Later there was a drinking game of 'Kermit' and I was losing badly while the Robert's Radio played Symphonie Fantistique from under some box wood.
I looked across the table at the hostess. She was laughing at something Pocahontas had said and reached over to a silver box lined in cedar where she pulled out a Silk Cut and after the elegant ping from a Cartier lighter... she exhaled the most beautiful slip of thin blue smoke. And it hit me like a lorry. I was looking at Fiona. You know? Kristen Scott Thomas in Four Weddings and a Funeral. The profile. The mannerisms. The way she smoked. It was all Fiona.
BBC interrupted my staring and asked me about an American actress. I mentioned the actress had a rather large - - I didn't say ass, or butt, or derriere but said...fanny. The conversation stopped. BBC gave a, 'You poor dear' smile and sat back in her chair. Fiona was laughing and she said, "Tintin, I'm afraid 'fanny' here means something very different than what it means in the states." She put her cigarette out. "You see, while a fanny is something you sit on in America...here...it's the ladies..." and she proceeded to explain it was a ladies 'hoohah.'
Some of life's earlier mysteries now made sense. Marianne Faithful's song, Why'd Ya Do It, "She had cobwebs up her fanny and I believe in giving to the poor" made sense. Garbage's, Shirley Manson's, "I bought a new guitar. It's the same color as my fanny." made sense. A whole new world opened. And then, at the urging of the dinner guests, Fiona told me the Fanny Green joke. And now that you know - - I'll tell it to you.
Somewhere in a small village - - a man enters a confessional and says to the Irish priest, "Father, it's been one month since my last confession and I've had sex withFanny Green every week for the last month." The priest tells the him, "You're forgiven my son. Now go out and say three 'Hail Mary's'."
Soon, another man enters the confessional. "Father, it's been two months since my last confession and I've had sex with Fannie Green twice a week for the last two months." This time the priest asks, "Who is this... Fanny Green?" "A new woman in the village," the man replies. "She just moved here. The most beautiful red head you've ever seen. In fact, she's coming to church this Sunday." "Very well," says the priest. "Go and say ten 'Hail Mary's'."
That Sunday the priest is standing at the head of the church next to an alter boy when a beautiful woman enters. A red head dressed from head to toe in green-- Green blouse, green mini skirt, green stockings, green patent leather shoes. She slowly sashays up the aisle and sits in the first pew in front of the alter boy and priest. She looks at the priest and spreads her legs. The priest turns to the altar boy and asks, "My God. Is that Fanny Green?""No Father," the alter boy replies. "I think it's just the reflection off her shoes."
I wonder if the French get that joke? I went to Harrods the next day and bought this Robert's radio in wood and green leather. 19 years later it reminds me of that night on a London terrace when Fiona told me about Fanny Green and everything in my world shifted an inch.