23 June 2011

author Suzy Witten


Suzy Witten
 The instant they announced “The Royal Wedding” I picked up my phone and booked my flight... not caring that it was five months away. I was going to witness HISTORY! 
 It had been three years since my last UK visit and almost a lifetime since my first, when a wide-eyed hippy exchange student from America stepped off a student ship for her semester at Leeds, and while taking the train in from Southampton to London met a host of eccentric English. Needless to say, her destiny changed.
I’ve been an Anglophile ever since. And like others of my ilk, I periodically need to make my pilgrimage to Old England (especially after the years spent writing my historical novel about New England: THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem, intuitively revisiting that infamous witch hunt of 1692, and bringing the old ghosts back to life with voices.)
This time, though, I was coming to witness the Queendom’s big event, to watch monarchs cavort, and to enjoy my own splendid friends (who luckily for my purse, offered free beds, partial boards, and endless hospitality)
I took shelter first in Clerkenwell in the City with my filmmaker/artist friend Kutlug Ataman (one of the art world’s most celebrated talents) who was about to be honored at the Brighton Arts Festival. His diplomat partner Martin flew in from Pakistan to attend. I was invited to all events, including a chartered train ride down to Brighton. In between exhibit and dinner, I toured Brighton with my long-lost-till-Facebook friend, Glen.

Kutlug’s exhibit in Brighton

The ensuing days, I trotted about London until my exhausted hosts went on their vacation to Skye. Then I moved over to West Hampstead-Finchley, where two parties, three restaurants, several scrumptious homemade Mediterranean family brunches and a Feldenkreiss class later, my (yes, middle-aged) trapeze-swinging, tightrope-walking circus trainee friend Rachel, a movement therapist, and I were invited to Covent Garden’s Royal Opera for opening night of “Werther” by its conductor, her client and friend:

I made more rounds about London, visiting other decades-lost friends: first Sam in Chiswick Mall and at the Virtually Acoustic Club (the VAC) in North London, Hampton Court (flowers in bloom) and Bushy Park (swans in pond) with Sandy:

Amid herds of oblivious descendents of Henry VIII’s deer, I walked Portobello Road on Market Day with Julian, had lunch on Fulham Road with Shelley, an Olivier. I consumed Indian food in Kilburn and Wembley, watched cricket in Regents Park with David and Chris, and visited the painting den of the brilliant Nahem Shoa, Rembrandt’s heir, to view his masterful new works (not shown)

I also attended Kutlug’s London opening at the gallery of Thomas Dane.
The fourth week of my visit I went to loll in the Gloucestershire country with my modern bard friends, Sam and Anna (“Silver Sam,” master of the triple entendre, and folk songstress “Anna Giles”) at their centuries old, garden-rich listed village manor in Fairford (the nearby neighborhood)

I happily sat in front of their Aga, stuffing myself with fresh cheese, berries and cream, and the best baked potatoes I’d ever tasted, sharing conversation, laughter and good wine into the wee hours. I was driven past breathtaking Cotswold views, stopped for tea at Katherine Parr’s refuge, Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, where I crossed paths with the current Lord Henry

(a handsome Lord Dent-Brocklehurst), out in the garden walking his dog.
But best was my friends’ performing at two Cotswold village pubs (The Trout in Lechlade & in Minchinhampton) and at the Lechlade Music Festival.

But I digress... two days after arriving in London, at a fairly early morning hour, I was dropped off by Kutlug’s taxi at the northside of St. James Park. To be promptly informed by police that the park and palace were now “sealed” and that I would have to watch all happenings on the giant looming park screens! ... I suppose if I had listened, I might have felt royally crushed.
 Instead, I walked on until I stood outside Buckingham Palace on the Mall at the front press gate, where the policewoman guarding it decided that despite the hoards of surrounding beggars, I would be the one to stand beside her for the next four and a half hours guarding access to the Royal Court.

The Olde English magic had ordained me an unobstructed view!

I felt so much old world magic in reuniting with beloved old friends and making wonderful new friends, including two fellow historical authors, Jean Fullerton and Helen Hollick, true soul sisters, at the Romance Novelists Association’s monthly luncheon and lecture in London at The Lamb.
So thank you, Helen, for this chance to celebrate my life (and much-needed vacation)... and, hopefully, to regale you and yours!

Suzy's Ten Dinner Guests:

My parents in every decade of my life - to recapture their memories of me;
loved ones and friends on the other side to share all mine that they've missed.

Suzy Witten is the American author of “THE AFFLICTED GIRLS A Novel of Salem” 
(ISBN: 978-0-615-32313-8), winner of the 2010 IPPY Silver Medal for Historical Fiction 
(avail. UK, Paperback & Kindle eBook) (Ages 17 and older) 
“Something terrible happened in Salem Village in 1692 ... but it isn’t what you think!” 
Next Time - July 7th as part of my Sea Witch Blog Tour

 Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics

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