Reading: “Love, Nina” by Nina Stibbe

Dear Vic,

One of Mary-Kay's brainbox mates dropped by unexpectedly on Saturday for an impromptu coffee stop (his words). His friend or his wife was looking at something in Primrose Hill—it might have been property or crockery, none of us quite heard (he can't pronounce his Rs) and he couldn't face whatever it was and thought he'd pop in.

Brainbox: Hello, Mary-Kay!
MK: Oh, right.
Brainbox: Can't stay long.
MK: Good.


Later on, supper was ready at a slightly earlier time due to it being Mary-Kay's turn and her getting it done.

Sam: Shall I ring he-llo (his name for AB)?
MK: Yes.
Sam (on phone to AB): He-llo, supper's ready—(covers mouthpiece, speaks to MK) he says it's a bit early.
MK: What the fuck?
Sam (to AB): She says what the fuck?


Love, Nina

AB is playwright and author Alan Bennett; MK is Mary-Kay Wilmers, longtime editor of the London Review of Books; Sam is her 10-year-old son; the writer is his nanny, Nina Stibbe, sending letters from London to her sister Victoria in Leicestershire. This book Love, Nina is full of exchanges like this between smart, ornery Brits with limited patience and salty vocabularies. Buying it for myself is the best thing I've done this year, aside from pre-ordering this pair of camo cargo shorts from Madewell in February that finally arrived this week. They're at least two sizes too big but can't be exchanged since they're out of stock across America and it's my dream to dart around town this summer blending into the landscape from mid-waist to mid-thigh. Although I may have to affix them to my brassiere somehow so as to avoid an inadvertent self-pantsing. Life in the urban jungle!

Love, Nina: A Nanny Writes Home
By Nina Stibbe