Mirabelle swung through the sixties. Even through a decade of the unkempt and the dazed, it had kept its old-school charm and demeanour in place. It had the odd tiny foray, but no more, similar to the period where Mia Farrow married Frank Sinatra. The counterculture putting its feet up on the table of the establishment. A weird mix that shouldn’t work. Didn’t really work but it sure looked ravishing visually.
Then, the mirrorball hung like a full moon. It was the last wild greatness we saw of Marco. Churchill and Marco. Smoke and mirrors.
A concealed world-apart, where alcohol was never counted in units and Friday was not for dressing down. It was beautiful.
It was neither a he nor a she. Mirabelle was a fantastic dream-shaped best friend: capricious, insouciant, sybaritic, lethally glamourous and charming. Time spent in the company of Mirabelle led to a fantastic disgrace.
Of course Mirabelle looked out of time. That was the point. A silver ocelot in an alley full of sterilized tom cats.
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. So run the words of L.P. Hartley as the opening of The Go-Between (a very Mirabelle novel, if there was ever one).
I ate regularly there. I had an arrangement. A pact. A printer I used had very lavish tastes and a really imaginative accounting system. Every print job would be loaded with an extra which went into our Mirabelle fund.
Once every few months we would lose an afternoon underwater at Mirabelle. The light seemed to move in gentle tides and ripples. We would toast our scheme. We would catch site of ourselves in the mirror. We looked like people in the game. We imagined ourselves to be artist and dealer. Conspirators having fun by spinning zeros onto our worth. In reality we were struggling with careers that delivered just less than they should and kids at home. For three hours, five once, we could escape it and slip into a parallel possibility.
We explored the reaches of legality by including new ways to spend the accumulated funds. I managed to get an Hermes blazer, navy cashmere with off white piping, a bit Brideshead Revisited. I wore it on a rainy Sunday on our final Mirabelle Lunch.
I think we knew it was coming to an end. We smoked more than usual. We lived a bit larger. I wore my blazer over a Bathing Ape sweat. Things were changing.
And then it was gone: Mirabelle; Marco as we knew him; My printer; My job.
To the end, Mirabelle moved in the only way Mirabelle knew how too, glamourously, damned, seductive, silly, charming and like no other.
Like a lover who only ever really delivered a bag of trouble but did so in a way that kept you hanging on.
I miss Mirabelle.