I've just left Melbourne where I got a big fat transfusion of optimism from a robust, thriving economy. And miracle of miracles, the Aussies also seem to be book lovers (at least all the ones I met were). I know that writers are meant to be tough, impermeable to the decline of books, the end of writing as we know it, the demise of bookshops and the fact that no one reads anymore. But really. It IS kind of nice when someone connected with the book world looks at you without pity and gloom and a small sad shake of the head as they mouth "e-books" and then burst into tears.
But I digress.
The best thing about Melbourne (aside from the magnificent Wheeler Center, and a fantastic evening hosted by Mike Shuttleworth, who turns out to be my psychic twin) was a reunion with a dear old friend and her fabulous new loft. I turned up on her doorstep off the plane from London at 6am last week, guilty for waking her up, not realizing that she's normally up and out by 5:30 for boot camp at the local gym.
Last time I saw her, she was newly divorced, living in a suburb of Melbourne, rethinking her future. Since then, she's sold the house, bought a big concrete ex-industrial shell in trendy Fitzroy, and turned it into a light-filled minimalist loft with huge sliding doors and nothing on the walls. Her two kids, big gorgeous creatures in their late 20s, dropped by and made themselves at home, sprawling around the loft like friendly labradors. She fed them, laughed at their complaints about each other, and sent them off to their various real lives. (Lucy runs one of the top 100 blogs in the world, according to The New York Times: The Design Files).
My friend pulls her leather jacket over leggings and a japanese-style dress of chastening elegance, talks about leaving her current job and signing on as uber-PA to her daughter's growing blogging empire, the success of which threatens to overwhelm its creator.
I'll be 70 in three years she says, rolling her eyes.
Very cool, I think.