Paris Match: From the Heart of France
By Theadora Brack
In celebration of love and remembrance, I’ve decided to share a few classic French “sweetheart” postcards from “La Grande Guerre” (aka La Première Guerre Mondiale, i.e., World War I), along with one of my favorite passages from “The North China Lover” by Marguerite Duras.
To enhance the romance, consider a sweet and sour Sidecar. Invented by head barman Frank Meier (and author of the “Artistry of Mixing Drinks”) at the Ritz during the aforementioned Great War (Harry’s New York Bar devotees, look away!), you grab the cognac and Cointreau while I squeeze the lemon and crack the ice. Then we can take turns shaking vigorously!
Always in fashion is passion, so let’s throw a little Édith Piaf on the Victor-Victrola, “Mon Dieu, Mon Dieu Mon Dieu.” Little Sparrows, I’ve never failed to weep after reading, so pack a hankie. And perhaps a silky embroidered pillow for some sweet swooning?
Duras penned: “Years after the war, after marriages, children, divorces, books, he came to Paris with his wife. He phoned her. It’s me. She recognized him at once from the voice.
He said, I just wanted to hear your voice. She said, it’s me, hello.
He was nervous, afraid, as before. His voice suddenly trembled. And with the trembling, suddenly, she heard again the voice of China. He knew she’d begun writing books, he’d heard about it through her mother whom he’d met again in Saigon. And about her younger brother, and he’d been grieved for her.
Then he didn’t know what to say.
And then he told her. Told her that it was as before, that he still loved her, he could never stop loving her, that he’d love her until death.”
O, I feel the love
I highly recommend both the book and the movie, with its haunting soundtrack composed by Gabriel Yared. In fact, I’m listening to it as I tap it out on my Royal Typewriter. On this day, let’s not forget Frank Meier’s neat credo about what makes a great bar truly great. It’s not the drink recipes. It’s not the décor, he said. It’s the people. Straight up! So spread the warmth, I say, like there’s no tomorrow.
Clipping from Edith Piaf again, “Non, je ne regrette rien. Avec mes souvenirs, j’ai allumé le feu.” And she’s right, you know, there’s just no other good sway to say it: With my memories, I light the fire!
Bises! Happy Valentine’s Day.