Friday, January 20, 2012

Suppose it were Friday lii: we treasure a break from I Tatti

Tassos had a birthday;
alas, it was last week

There is an endearingly hilarious episode in Alan Moorehead's fond memoir of Berenson, in which the rough Aussie protégé has had quite enough of the stultifyingly impacted treasures of the house, and one evening turns out the lights, simply to be free of them. Of course he can then not escape, without crawling carefully on all fours, through a minefield of precariously positioned excrescences of the past, to the doorway's merciful egress.

My friend had a birthday last week, and laid before me the means of observing it in his own vision, refreshing along the way (and none too soon) memory of why we are here.

To make a break we went up to stay for a few days with --- and his fourth wife, ---, who happened to be an old friend of ours; they had taken a chalet at Cortina in the Italian Dolomites. We arrived in heavy snow, and [he] was out shooting duck, a gruelling business in that weather since it involved standing by the hour in a barrel in a frozen marsh waiting for the dawn to break. When he came in at last he was the walking myth of himself. Cartridge belts and strings of teal and mallard hung in festoons from his shoulders, powdered snow clung to his beard and woolly cap, and when his gun was laid aside in the corner he had to be helped off with his clothes - 

layer after layer of sweaters, leather jerkins and a coloured shirt. At the end of it all he fished a cable out of his pocket and held it out to me. It read: 'Nothing could be better than a piece on Venice by you but it so happens we have got someone called Alan Moorehead who may be doing it one day so I am sorry ..' It was signed Harold Ross.

Nothing could be more certain than that my friend Tassos will be taking to the slopes soon (he confessed it here); and with any luck we shall see thrilling pictures, and news of other conquests. I hope it is widely understood, that rmbl originated because of missing him on one of his sporting vacations. 

I think it's wonderfully fitting that we find Hemingway welcoming Moorehead in Cortina, with a jest on crossing paths, besieging cheapskate editors. I'm grateful to be the hapless upstart who doesn't really get in the way, because I get to play in my own little duck blind and still keep up with the antic goodguy when he's in Attiki. Laurent is a guy who didn't exist until he found Tassos' Comment section; and like Hercule + Auguste, Naughty Witt, and Dickie H here, he has chums over there, Yr obdt svt, But I love your place, And don't forget the roditis. Tassos runs the page where puppies go to munch the furniture; he is homo ludens, the fire Cocteau would save, our goddy of the duty of play.

I owe to my father, my introduction to Alan Moorehead, and Hemingway, of course; but possibly I'd have heard of him eventually. I owe to a stray comment from Tassos at another blog, my discovery of him. I know, I may never be the blogger here, I've been as Tassos' guest, just as I suppose I'll never interest anyone so much as my father. But I'm not ungrateful to fate. I'm happy that my friend illustrates the creativity of friendship, as much as its profile, because I like very much what it looks like, and feels like even in cyberspace. It is play. I hope I never forget how to leave I Tatti; I know I'll never forget where to turn.

Alan Moorehead
A Late Education
  Episodes in a Life
Hamish Hamilton, 1970©

ii-v  Joshua McVeity, photography

i-vi  Tassos


  1. blushing...
    still loving you and your work here!

  2. Im wonderfully blushing too and I don't have a blog to trade - so on I blush and smile and hold myself brave just to view RMBL

  3. You guys are really great but I gotta tell ya, this blushing stuff has got to be looked into, particularly when our reading ladies take these entries in unflappable stride. I hope you realise, this puts enormous pressure on Linnea, even before she gets her medical degree, to begin to collect samples to study this blush. But think, now: are you sure this couldn't have been a splatter from the stovetop? Anyway, Lucien, you don't need a blog to trade, to take over the place. I'd settle for the deed, say, to Manhattan island.

    Thank you for popping in!