“The idea of yuppiness and stratification defined by what you do didn’t exist then,” remembers my husband Charles, a British banker who then worked on Wall Street. We were part of a high-rolling crowd who moved en masse from downtown bars such as Automatic Slim’s to restaurants such as Indochine and Raoul’s, inevitably ending up at Nell’s, where Nell Campbell of Rocky Horror Show fame greeted us by name.
This was pre-Sex and the City days, when Candace was a struggling journalist taking hospitality where she could find it (she has made no secret of this). One of her closest male friends describes how Candace and other struggling artists like her survived. “We had a policy that everyone knew about called three dates. We [the higher-earning men] happily picked up the dinner bill three times, but after that the women were expected to give back. Women could have just one date, or pay their own way. It was entirely willing,” he says.
Many of the cooler, more creative women I met had no discernible way of keeping up with the bankers and publishing professionals or the trust-fund kids who went out every night. Many of them had a Mr Big in the background – someone who enjoyed the glamour they brought with them.
The female characters in the show Sex and the City have often come under attack for being trivial, but their real-life counterparts were trailblazers.
When I graduated from university in 1983, the world was our oyster. My best friend became a doctor and an MBA, now leading American healthcare policy. My two female flatmates were bankers earning $250,000 a year.
In fact, they subsidised my rent in exchange for introducing them to good-looking men (they were far too busy with their careers for that). I was then working for ABC Television’s Good Morning America. I was surprised that, unlike Carrie, Candace didn’t end up marrying a highly eligible man. But perhaps she didn’t want the life we ended up with.
We partied hard (she always outdid us), but then we all started settling down. About half of the group, including my husband and me, moved to London. Most of the crowd – girls included – went on to work for banks and hedge funds. We had children, some of us moved to the country, a few divorced, others developed issues with drink and other substances, I am sure.
I lost track of Candace, but heard she married the dancer Charles Askegard, who subsequently left her for a younger model. She is 62 now and lived in rural Connecticut for a while, where, I assume, some of the sequel will take place.
Most New Yorkers eventually flee the city. She has written honestly about being single and childless. I think she will have observed how friends often grow apart when they marry and have children, and then come back into each other’s lives when there are big changes, such as divorce or illness – or when children flee the nest.
Candace enjoyed the fame she so desired at just about the time the rest of us had moved on from partying to popping out babies. Candace portrayed domestic life as a form of dropping out, so I fully expect her to revel in a new coming together.
I suspect there will be themes of disappointment and loneliness in And Just Like That…, but also much of the humour and high jinks that the fifty-something and beyond chapter can bring, too.
The Telegraph, London
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