After having met certain dogs and people it is instinctive to wash one’s hands. No doubt everyone and everything in life leaves its own film, contamination or imprint upon us. By contrast there are those who impart a lingering glow quite removed for example from the vulgarity of a sweat. I trust I may be forgiven this crude comparison but my late father educated me that sometimes the best way to illustrate a point is by a gross example.
Years ago I watched with fixed delight the film “Room with a View“. If you have seen it you may recall the scene involving the two matronly sisters who were deliberating upon a proposed voyage to the Continent by the young female heroine (Lucy Honeychurch). The sisters were charmingly comical, an exemplification of which was a brief exchange between them in which one sister told the other, after having asked her something to which she did not fully respond, that she would have to start finishing her sentences. It was a gentle but beautifully unpretentious mockery, the sort of barb which could only be expected from those who have a cherished and informed relationship.
The Miss Alans – Usually referred to in the plural, these two old spinster sisters, Catharine and Teresa Alan, stay at the same pension as Lucy and the others in Florence. They are mild-mannered and very proper, but they have an adventurous streak that will eventually take them traveling all over the world.
Last evening we dined with two sisters who by their willing admission have adopted a lifestyle not unlike that of spinsters. Their constant intimacy has so insinuated their lives that they sometimes have the appearance of an old married couple, marked by frank commentary, ready criticism (including the occasional ripe lapse into the vernacular) and what is patently a wealth of shared experiences and coalitions. The inescapable fruition of their alliance is a burnished patina which one can’t but admire for its depth and transparency, an utter lack of artifice. There is unquestionably a correspondingly high resolution of intelligence. Both sisters – with whom we have socialized from time to time in the past – have achieved enviable success in their professional careers. They are well-connected and well-positioned.
It would amount to deceit to assert that the Cutter Court Sisters have anything approaching a scorn for the finer things in life. In the context of modern society they are accredited members of the leisure class. They harbour for example an ultra-refined urbane disdain for the larger bubbles of Perrier, adopting instead a hardline preference for San Pellegrino. Both women are invariably well turned-out and provocative, an assured ornament to any social gathering. They can be regularly found on the golf course. They have lubricated their vagabond instincts with everything from expensive transportation vehicles to targeted timeshare resorts and second homes in fashionable metropolitan enclaves. Like so many people for whom advantage and opportunity are second-nature they betray an easy confederacy with their own personal natures and those of others. Their society is a fluid ambience unperturbed by shallow prejudice but equally nurtured by sustained comfort and well-being.
In the company of such exquisitely colourful people it is hardly surprising that we enjoyed a scintillating evening together, marked by enthusiastic and candid conversation, tempered gossip and appropriate story-telling; and heartfelt thanks for what has been years of infrequent though pungent association. It is as always a mark of friendship that it seamlessly re-starts where it left-off.