Letters to a Friend: Lassoing Time Through Sliding Doors

Monday 25th August, 2014: Mas Gatell, Altafulla, Spain (Caroline to Katharine)

Rocking 80s jacket

Still smiling, despite the jacket

Dearest Kath,

How frightened I was when I heard about the heli-skiing accident. It was the strangest thing – for a brief moment, before I’d received your email, I experienced what I can only describe as a tear in the fabric of reality, when it was just as possible it was you in that helicopter, as not. How close you came; so close that the man who died was a fellow Aucklander from just two suburbs away. So sad. I’m so thankful you’re ok. Do these close calls, these sliding door moments, define us? If we’re lucky they pour a resolute glaze over life and have us swinging from the chandeliers shouting “I’m alive!”

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Hurrah! Your weekly dose of ‘Letters to a Friend’ is now in post format

Hi lovewordsmusic followers. Some of you have emailed me asking for ‘Letters to a Friend’ as blog posts rather than a static page so you receive them as updates. Your wish is my command! You will now receive an email each time there is a new letter between Katharine and I. This post is a bit of an admin catch-up, with three new letters at the top, and all the previous letters below, so that I can delete the old page. Bear with me.`

Some of you have written asking how Kath and I became friends. We met at the very first New Zealand Fashion Week in 2001. She was there doing PR for her fabulous fashion clients and I was there managing my runway models (oh, and trying to sort out the drama of glued-on sequins tearing the skin of one of my top model’s faces…but that’s another story). My, how times change in thirteen years.

And Kath, darling, I SO owe you a long letter…

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Tu es Belge?

The first time it happens I’m hovering in front of the glass cabinet at a patisserie in Chamalieres-sur-Loire, deciding between vanilla and chocolate éclairs. I order both. The red-headed woman behind the counter has a lace-edged apron tied around her waist. She narrows her eyes, tongs poised above the perfect pastries at the front of the cabinet closest to me, and asks: “Tu es Belge?”

“Non, je suis néo-zélandais,” I say.


Her smile brightens and her tongs move closer to her, towards the largest, freshest éclairs at the back.

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Tears and Aliens (RIP Robin Williams)

It feels as if there is nothing more tragic than the suicide of the world’s most loveable funny-man. How can it be that behind all of that funny was a tidal wave of hopeless, insurmountable sadness? That makes me so sad.

Mork & Mindy Season 1

Mork & Mindy Season 1

I sift my mind for my most vital memories of Williams. Ha – there he is climbing out of his big glowing egg in that red and silver suit doing his weird alien salute. I was only a kid, but I loved that quirky Orkan and his rainbow-striped suspenders. But just now, when I looked on the internet for pictures of him in that role it’s hard to equate the handsome young man I see with Williams. It seems I may have retrospectively transplanted Williams at his current age back on Mork. The reverse is true for my own self as I get older. When I look in the mirror I find myself dragging earlier reflections of me across the years into the present – for comparison, commendation, appeasement or scorn, depending on my mood.

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In Contemplation of Friendship and Botox

Me at Castellet

The Good Times. Our last night at Castellet (a few villages over from La Bégude) Photo courtesy of Caro

Returning to La Bégude, Fred’s father’s home in Provence after thirteen years is like returning to a dream you’ve had before. Much is familiar – the tree-lined driveway, Marcia’s welcoming smile, the waft of cigarettes, the swimming pool sparkling like a patchwork piece of the Mediterranean; but much has changed: the hedges are thicker, the vines framing the doorway are more established, Marc is thinner and – holy shit – cute little 5-year-old Antoine is now a handsome young man with perfect stubble and a rosé in hand.

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The Endless Feast in Provence

Dinner at Caro and Fred's home Maison Caesar Moulin in Castellet, Provence.

Dinner at Caro and Fred’s home Maison Caesar Moulin in Castellet, Provence.

If there is one constant here in Castellet, Provence it is the sheer beauty (and quantity) of the food we are treated to: foie gras, roast lamb, crisp green salad and peaches drenched with red wine at Marc and Marcia’s; bowls of delicately-flavoured sardine, aubergine, tuna and goat’s cheese dips with toasted baguette at Café de France in Lacoste village; and the stunning dinner dear Caro Nigella’ed up in her kitchen tonight (more on that in a moment).

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Tangerines and Cherry Brandy

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.

– A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Rue Descartes, Paris

Rue Descartes, Paris

The street narrows and the air shifts; a thick fog of ghost-words descends from the second floor apartment, wrapping around me like a silk scarf. This must be the place.

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