Lamb Chops, Cod

Diane Williams

She had stopped insisting that they have heart-to-heart conversations, but for stranded people, they had these nice moments together, and he had his professional enjoyment at the newspaper. He approved the issues there with a scientific mind and he made quite a contribution. He was a consultant in the field of efficiency.

She should have appreciated that, I guess. I don’t know – she felt lonely.

After dinner, he would go into his room and sometimes read or do his engraving or follow up on his stamp collection or solve math problems from that year’s baccalaureate examination. Once he told me that once a year he reread Our Man in Havana. It had something to do with Havana. You know – petty things – I guess my mother wanted full attention, not for him to have private time by himself. I don’t know what my mother did when she was in her room. She was working. She was working a lot. She devoted herself to family matters, making trouble. But I am convinced that she did love him extremely and after he died she said that that was the fact.

Then they had golf together and they did trips. There was a French newspaper that would invite him to solve a technical problem. He was amazing that way.

They would play act around the occasion of having dinner. I’m not sure, but I’m afraid that they did it for every dinner. She would put on her best gown and wear the diamond ornament, which she felt free to pin anywhere on her garment if it was necessary for the brooch to cover up a soiled spot.

He wore black lacquer pumps, silk stockings that went up under the knees. His breeches were tied under the knees and he would have tails and white tie on. My mother would provide the basic meal – cod or lamb chops. He would provide – he loved to go to the store that was similar to Fortnum and Mason and buy smoked salmon, cheese, fruit in season, asparagus. They had cocktails at five o’clock. They would listen to the news and then they’d sit down to the table, light the candles. They would have their little feast together. Then after the meal, he’d sit down and do work in his room. His French was very good, so sometimes he translated manuals from French or the other way around. And before bedtime, they’d have a cup of tea together with a cookie.

He loved an existence of this kind and to eat food.

He died while he was still glossy and smooth at the dinner table between the fish with dill – a great favorite – outstanding with butter – and the boiled blue plum dumplings.