Tuesday 12th May The Coronet Diaries.

Gala as Janie Morris (Ken Russell)

Today is busy beyond. Someone has bagged a zoom at 9AM, and that means I will be too tired to write today, or rather I will privilege my Zoom essay. Not sure who is going to want to read it but I want to write it and that is what matters.

I wrote a few weeks back, or was it days I have no idea of days or weeks these days, about the psychedelia of the iconic shop at the end of the word, (World’s End) Granny Takes a Trip and its inspirational designer/ tailor John Pearse . One of John’s inspirations and anima figures was someone who has also enhanced my life. She was Beatrice not only to my Dante but also to many others. Not having writing time, I have reproduced an excerpt from my last book from the chapter about ‘Friendship’.

Gala with Ossie Clark (who was tragically murdered)
Gala photographed in 1961 by John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, the activist photographer and co-founder of at least three underground projects: International Times magazine; a fabled but short-lived music venue called the UFO Club; and the London Free school.

I have only one friend who has remained my close friend and muse since childhood – Gala Mitchell. She grew up in a Cheltenham mansion under the guardianship of her grandfather. I fell in love with Gala as dramatically as Dante with Beatrice when I first caught sight of her on the Christopher Wren staircase of our boarding school, the Arts Educational in Tring. I became an instant and lifelong supplicant to her mysterious and introverted beauty. Later, she became a psychedelic; the wilful and reclusive muse for the inspirational designer Ossie Clark, while the filmmaker Ken Russell cast her as Jane Morris. She intrigued Warren Beatty. Michael Jackson became obsessed by her ‘look’ and insisted his plastic surgeon use Gala’s retroussé nose as the model for his own reconstruction.

Gala Gala

The most joyous and creative moments in my life, both inner and outer, outside of my family have been shared with Gala, whether in England, Mustique,( before it became a tourist destination) or in New York where we spent a doll’s house holiday in her apartment, so miniature that it made me think of Hunca and Munca, Beatrix Potter’s naughty mice. Her life has been something of a roller coaster. Perhaps, Life is… When she had to leave New York suddenly, now many moons ago, she despatched the painting below which had been her guardian angel through dark times and has presided over my destiny ever since. For many years now she has lived among the cacti-wisdom and wilder-heat of the Arizona Desert. Most days I think of her in the desert filling her solitary life with breath- earth-works- wisdom.

I cannot resist my chocolate fix ,except it now seems to recur hourly. I shall not allow myself to order any more Lindt Neapolitans. I cannot include the promised painting of an angel, or it could be Lucifer when he still belonged to light… I thought it was in my consulting room upstairs, (now requisitioned by DEFRA) but in fact I had taken it to my new consulting room … I’ve remembered it is now sadly consigned to lockdown in Tanya’s abandoned office.

I wrote to Gala in Arizona asking her permission to publish this entry. I don’t put anything up concerning recognisable individuals or patient narratives without their consent and with editorial rights.

Dearest Jane I havn’t had time to absorb this fantasy this am. I just woke but sure go ahead. I will write later.  I am laughing too.I think you would make a good playwright for letting me star in my own little universe. Love you too. Gala

My grandson Dan sent me this picture from Hove: Social Distancing even at sea.

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