Last night—or early this morning, I guess, around four A.M.—I woke up from a dream. I’d been reading a Hilary Mantel novel and watching red-carpet recaps before bed, and the two apparently melded in my brain in the most literal way imaginable. In my dreams, Thomas Cromwell attended the Golden Globes. Or Mantel chronicled them. I’m not sure which—but this is how it went down.
It is the awards season. Lupita in silks and nosegays, Felicity stately in Dior. Photographers line the strip of crimson worsted like so many starlings on a line: here a Michael Kors, here a Givenchy. Lacquered hosts prattle now of jewels, now with furrowed brow of news from abroad.
“Alchemy,” says George Clooney, boyish and urbane. He is at his ease, of a mind to talk of brass rings and love.
Kevin Spacey is at the podium, eyes narrowed in a mockery of evil, bent on revenge. Jeremy Renner stands at his ease and leers, “You’ve got the globes, too.”
Virgins win, and Birdmen.
Cromwell stands with the others and prices the finery, an old habit not easily lost.
“There was a time,” he says, “when the carpets were not ruled by the stylists. There was Marlee Matlin then, and Bonham-Carter. We knew risk then, and yes, folly, too. I saw once a woman dressed in the plumage of a swan.”
And around him, etched in jewels, he sees the motto: “Je suis Charlie,” they say. “I stand with France.”