At the Facebook Hotel.
Waiting to check in at the Facebook hotel I catch a glimpse of the guest list on a flickering monitor screen. I use my photographic memory to register an impression and bring it up on my own internal screen later in the coffee shop.
I am delighted to see that PL is here. She is a poet from Denmark by way of Australia. I know her work well. She’s with her friend, the one with the classy French name. Some family members are also here, under assumed names, to lend moral support no doubt and I am delighted to note the presence of some friends from Bangkok days.
Sir Peregrine W. will be arriving shortly, from Tuscany presumably. He has a castle there where he keeps his collection of collective memories. There are some well-known literatii who rarely deem to comment and the chanteuse M. is here from Vienna after a recent production of Bertolt Brecht’s 7 Deadly Sins. I note with some amusement that her ex-husband J. is in a connecting room. E@L, the famous ex-blogger has the luxury suite...he likes to live lavishly. He made a fortune selling ultra-sound machines to Asian hospitals you may recall and now he owns a steakhouse franchise with outlets from Shanghai to Singapore.
I notice some people wandering around the foyer looking a bit lost. The media? Bloggers and website owners most likely. There are some fellow artists basking in reflected glory and trying not to look envious, a representative from Saatchi, and an ex M.I.5 agent from Andalucia who wishes to remain anonymous.
It’s all very odd. Dreamlike one might say. The sort of thing Jorge Luis Borges might have turned into light entertainment. How strange that they would all choose this time and place to congregate. Coincidence? Is there some convention happening that I don’t know about? What brings them all here? Could it be the picture of a finca on Formentera that I posted in their newsfeeds? The likes came flooding in along with a few offers of marriage and people wanting to know the price.
I don’t see it as a major work myself, just a little sketch I dashed off from memory but there is no accounting for tastes. Of course I’m flattered by all the attention. And to be honest I could use the money.
So, to make it fair, I got Christies to organize an auction and here comes Sir Peregrine now stumbling out of his chauffeur-driven Hispano-Suiza. Sir Peregrine does a little painting himself you know. Nothing earth-shattering. Just dabbling you understand.
The auction is being held in the Zuckerberg Room. People are milling around waiting for something to happen. It is probably incumbent on me to bring this assortment of keyboard operatives together in reality. They are my friends after all. I am a host of sorts. So before the auction starts I make a short self-deprecatory speech followed by some introductions. Everybody seems friendly and receptive to meeting others whose existence, until that point, they had merely sensed in cyberspace.
I’m happy to say it all goes very well. I get a couple of million Euros for the finca. Not bad. If some of the bidders were disappointed they don’t show it. There are no squabbles. Keep it light, this is the Facebook Hotel after all and nobody wants to get thrown out.
After that it turns into quite a party. I am reminded of that song by Noel Coward...
M. started singing at midnight,
And she didn't stop singing 'til four—
We knew the excitement was bound to begin
When Laura got blind on Dubonnet and gin
And scratched her veneer with a Cartier pin!
I couldn't have liked it more!