Quest for the Mississippi Brings Adventure on the Way

Wednesday 12th February 2020

The more elusive the Mississippi, the more I was determined to see it. I went to Walmart to buy some Stain Devils (yes, the same range as here, same packaging but different names). In the car park was a wall and behind it was the Mississippi. That river of legend, Old Man River. But always walled off, because the city below sea level. I also bought a bucket because there wasn’t one in the house so no hope of soaking. Uber conveyed me to and from Walmart, which is very like one of our own dear marts, but more vast, whiter and more glaring and dream-like in a bad way.

On the Sunday it turned chilly and blowy as here in March with good crisp sunshine. An improvement on the awful stew of the day before. I put on my Zara coat. On Magazine I was stopped by an elderly man: ‘It ain’t that cold,’ he goes. ‘Well, you know in England we’d have a day like this in March and certainly we’d be…’ ‘You’m New York!’ he goes as if that would explain any alien behaviour. On the whole I sensed that my coat was disapproved of in New Orleans…letting the side down.

There was a stationery shop displaying sample invitations. Incredible names. I wonder if made up. Lauren Ritta was to marry Michael Louis Postlewait at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, State Street. Nuptials also to take place between Aimee Theresa Noto and Kyle Edward Kindle as well as Whitney King and Brandon Thrash.

Do you know any of these people? Prompt Succor – quite right! I believe the Virgin has been on occasion tardy with her succor.

All this on the long trek to the Mississippi… also a branch of Whole Foods like the one in Kensington used as a watering hole by Beamish O’Halloran and all those Red Top heroes. At last at last, right at the end of Magazine, miles and miles, I get to Audubon Park but there’s still a considerable American distance to go, uphill of course to the river bank. And there it is, after a lifetime, the Mississippi, slappy and bushy at the edges with water birds, then a grey expanse and industrial buildings and empty land on the other side. Lonely but not exactly dreary. The meagre numbers walking beside the great river took remarkably little interest in it.

Walking Along Magazine towards the Mississippi

Walking Along Magazine towards the Mississippi

Still on Magazine

Still on Magazine

Magazine: its Vista

Magazine: its Vista

The Wedding Invitation Shop Window

The Wedding Invitation Shop Window

More Wedding Invitations: Do you Know Them? Were you There?

More Wedding Invitations: Do you Know Brandon Thrash and Whitney King ? Were you There?

O to have Attended at Our Lady of Prompt Succor

O to have Attended at Our Lady of Prompt Succor

Whole Foods on the Way

Whole Foods on the Way

And at last - the Ippi

And at last – the Ippi

Old Man River Himself

Old Man River Himself

 

 

 

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Whirling Dinner in New Orleans

Monday 10th February 2020

I was whirled to the heart of America, or one of its hearts. At 6.30 it was time to go round to Lanard and Santon’s home, a block or two away. The drawing room is at the side – ancestral oils, rich landscape oils, gilding, panelling, swags, silver, glass, silks, fringing, ormolu. I’ve never seen a private home more sumptuous and elegant. Every vista perfection and that was just the drawing room – or one of them possibly. In fact a Stately would never be so perfect. Other distant rooms I could sense or even glimpse. I thought Santon would enter from one direction but he didn’t. He appeared from another, not feeling well. The nibbles were in silver dishes on a silver tray, with the glasses. Sally Xenarkis Drew was already there. Her son had found her other son’s condoms that morning. His idea was to get them out of their packet and consider their size which he did and the two of them had been amused. Maybe they were huge. This was the cue for Georgia Raymond Barber to arrive. ‘I’m an alcoholic,’ she assured me straight away. But her adventure crossing the border from Saudi to Dubai was something else. It was a cold remedy she’d been given whose impact mimicked intoxication – which wouldn’t do at all to get into the teetotal state. The driver was frantic and somehow agitated her into uprightness in the nick of time. Georgia Raymond Barber looked like a Peruvian Gold Mine heiress – black, black hair, swept up, oval, oval face, black, black eyes. She could have been a Goya or an El Greco. Her dress was tiny, sequinned and by Ramy Brook. Her husband had said she wasn’t to wear such a short frock at her age. But he was in Houston. We got into Lanard’s car and drove to a restaurant. Santon didn’t come because under the weather. We passed a tremendous-looking institution where they’d all been at school. It seemed to be a girls’ school. But with Lanard and someone called Tommy whose teeth were outstanding but otherwise had been uncooperative as far as intimacy was concerned. Lately he’d been seen in one of the other Southern states where he was a big shot. Restaurant freezing cold as usual. Rich older ladies on diets dining in their little nippy fashion anoraks. A woman arrives from New York, direct off the flight, and joins our party. She had only two names, rather that the standard three. But I can’t remember what they were. I think it was Sally who knew her or knew of her. Anyway it was a terrific whoosh round the round table and more vodka cocktails. ‘Is that dress Ramy Brook?’ New York lady fires across the table. ‘I know her!’ Georgia thrilled but also with gunned-down air. Now they’re talking simultaneously about Tommy and how the New York greatness has got her Golden Globe in her walk-on. There’d been trouble about it at the airport. But who could argue with a Golden Globe?  It was too late for me to get the remotest grasp. There was a project. The project had been mentioned, either at Lanard and Santon’s or in the car. That was why the New York woman was to be in a hotel in New Orleans. It was the whole foundation. And her Golden Globe. I seemed to have heard of that. It wasn’t a surprise. She wasn’t an actress though.  In any case she’d seen to it Tommy shaped up in some other part of Louisiana. How did she even know him? She wasn’t at that school for certain. Or maybe she was but her project and her Golden Globe had swept everything else out of the way. But really, she said, she thought it was about time. This announcement unleashed general derangement. Ramy Brook herself came on the New York lady’s WhatsApp; Georgia Raymond Barber was put in a corner and photographed in her Ramy Brook dress. ‘She looks great,’ Ramy Brook herself WhatsApp-ed back. Everybody was great. Everything was great. Another parfait for dessert. By then the restaurant attendance had evaporated. It was way past 9. Only a handful remained to witness the final revelation of the Globe when the walk-on was brought out from the cloakroom.

The Golden Globe

The Golden Globe

The Golden Globe Held by the Maitre d'

The Golden Globe Held by the Maitre d’

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New Orleans Gets Going

Wednesday 5th February 2020

In the morning, sun and boiling hot, New Orleans unfolds: the Garden District, quite separated from the famous so-called French Quarter. Two different places in fact. Magazine Street is the spine of the Garden District, running for miles. Boutiques, Gays. Although the houses are normal size and close together, the scale is vast. The streets run into the far distance, disappearing into a forest of huge live oaks. La Boulangerie, so New York, was essential for Avocado Toast and Yoghurt Parfait (so that’s what ‘parfait’ means – in this case just ‘yoghurt’) then on to the show streets as suggested by Lanard, at whose residence I was to attend later. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Streets were the ones, even 4th. Somehow I went the wrong way and encountered the direst poverty. The top part of 3rd was destitution and rheumy old men. Cross over St Charles, where I saw an olde worlde Streetcar, full of tourists and it’s a fantasy land of mansions in gardens in every known style frilled and rilled with wrought iron. As I found out later, the Garden District is the American city, built after the Louisiana Purchase of 1802 when Napoleon sold great swathes of territory to Jefferson for $11 million – which he didn’t have. Hence the separation from the ‘French Quarter’ which was the original city.

1st, 2nd, 3rd and even 4th Streets are a howling success: residences in every known-style, a fantasy land of decoration and impulsiveness, not a bit American as normally understood. You keep thinking: there can’t be more. And there is. A few others were wandering, looking at the architecture. You can’t go in any of them. They’re all private homes. I can think of nowhere else in the world where you would spend the morning looking at residential streets from the outside. And magnolias out too.

Strollers on Magazine

Strollers on Magazine

Mansion of St Charles Avenue: the hand of Farrow and Ball?

Mansion of St Charles Avenue: the hand of Farrow and Ball?

Farrow and Ball? Which Shade? Recent Mink or Old Mince?

Farrow and Ball? Which Shade? Recent Mink or Old Mince?

One with Curves

One with Curves

Frilly Iron

Frilly Iron

Angular

Angular

Magnolia!

Magnolia! And a Pediment 

A Pink One

A Pink One

Temple Entrance

Temple Entrance

Another Pink One

Another Pink One

A Gothic One

A Gothic One

 

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I’ve Always Wanted to Go There

Friday 31st January 2020

Why are you going to New Orleans? people asked. I’ve always wanted to go there. I suppose I imagined there would be antiques and old families. The journey from Orlando by air was beyond belief.  Everything in America is sleek and monied and glorious. Everybody knows that.  So grubby old plane, frightful rabble of people making a ferocious noise the whole way. The only person in an outfit looked as if she would die of the on-board horror. When the pilot said, ‘We’re coming in to land,’ it turned out he meant it. Crash! Bang! Screech of brakes. Right! That’s it! We’re here. Amazing scenes at the carousel. No baggage at all for 20 mins. Then, announcement, ‘Your carousel has been changed…’ which was cue for cases to appear on original carousel. Lucky I noticed. Mine had been dented. Only from TKMax. Such a worry. Uber was choked to the rafters. Terrifying women running the ‘line’. Ordered to take another kind of taxi for $19. All very well, but strange intermittent demand for back-seat driving from the driver who at times appeared to know the way and at others not.  Eventually I lost patience trying to mastermind entry into a city I’d never been to before in my life from my own Google Maps. ‘Haven’t you got your own device?’ I snapped.  Whereupon scrabbling about. He’d got two but neither in working order. Near the destination he was about to turn right but I shrieked ‘Left’, misreading Google Maps. Served him right. Finally achieved very dark street in the Garden District. Picturesque facades, old, but otherwise feeling of a slum – cracked pavements, weeds, rough patches. No idea where I was. My lodging had been arranged for me by Lanard Massonny Ashbrooke and Santon Dupree Spring, those friends of the Multis. It turned out to be a whole house! Completely thrilling. I selected a bedroom and laid out my creams in the bathroom then skipped out. Lanard had been messaging from a ‘work-do’ with dinner recommendations. I turned into ‘Magazine’ looking for ‘Lilettes’ (I know. Unfortunate name. Lanard said he’d heard that in UK it means something else). Magazine simply incredible – boutiques, antiques, wares. Quite belying dark, cracked streets off it. One pretty old house with veranda after another. V. low, like a toy-town.  Into Lilettes – freezing cold from the air con, as in Florida. Everywhere indoors icy. Boiling outside. But they don’t compromise. Still in shorts, polo shirts and flip-flops although only a few degrees above. Eventually I worked out it’s that they’re all quite stout, well-lined. Just don’t notice. I’m put at the bar in Lilettes, next to a very disagreeable woman with pink champagne hair. I have European type dinner – sophistication of artisanal pasta ribbons, a duck arrangement with blobs and a banana-based ‘dessert’ in a glass. ‘Is a parfait?’ the woman who had replaced nasty pink-champagne person inquired. I didn’t know what they mean by ‘parfait’ so banter never got going. Old Venetian red velvet on the walls of Lilettes. $100 plus tips.

So New Orleans began.

My Lodging in New Orleans, Garden District

My Lodging in New Orleans, Garden District

Another View of the Lodging

Another View of the Lodging

Magazine Street at Night

Magazine Street at Night

Inside the Lodging

Inside the Lodging

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Transported to Tuscany for the Wedding

Friday 24th January 2020

We dined outside in January. The mother of the Groom, Cousin Venice, was come upon in the front row in the ceremony area beforehand: ‘One has been dressed like this since 2 o’clock,’ she declared in an English manner. It was then 5pm and sweltering. She was graciously swathed in Old Blush crepe with a clutch hat and sprays with many jewels. The Bride was of Fort Lauderdale and had always dreamt of a dream wedding. The Princess Diaries is her world. She said so herself later on. Her other dreams have come true. The man of her dreams she’s been living with for several years. They have a child of nearly three. So only the wedding was left to be dreamed of. The ceremony took place out of doors in the piazza of the Tuscan hilltop village with a church tower as a backdrop. There’d been hours of rehearsal. The wedding manager may have driven Cousin Sabine up the wall, but the effect was tremendous – the army of Matrons of Honour, Groomsmen, Bridesmaids marshalled to perfection and drawn up on either side of the wedding dias, facing the seated guests, not to be trifled with. A wedding with a warrior aspect. The Flower Girls had barely been born so were just about able to zig-zag half-way up the aisle, before running away. Then the Bride herself – a triumph. I discovered later she’d had Gays working on her, as well as a Grandmother with a sewing machine. Such a good brisk ceremony, only 15 minutes, no music, then on to a champagne reception with lamb chops or a cheese table before the full-sit down on the glorious lawn of the Tuscan hilltop village. I should mention that the hill was real. There are no hills in that part of Florida except for there. The speeches, the courses, a kind of DJ with a microphone master-minding the whole thing from under a canopy in a corner, the young people all in love or hoping to be with their lives before them. It was perfect. Nothing went wrong. A few feature to me was the removal of the Bride’s garter which was then tossed for a single man to catch. I sat with Connie and Alf from Middlesex who rent 4 months of the year in Florida and their grandchildren visit.  They’re in cold storage. Connie was dripping with emeralds and diamonds. In the closing stages the Bride and Groom played the shoe game: how well did the new husband and wife know each other? ‘Who’s got the smelliest feet?’ ‘If he says it’s me, it’s over,’ the Bride remarked. Only the next morning, at the Farewell Brunch and Breakfast at another dream venue did I realise that the Gays were actually present. Little hats and spray-on jeans. Married, one a stylist, the other a jeweller. Utter heaven. We had such a good run on Grannie’s Chips and other important stones. They liked my suit. ‘I love your style,’ one of them said. I was wearing a red burgundy suitlette from Tiger of Sweden with Paul Smith Chelsea boots in vole suede which I could only just get into (the suitlette, that is) and then certainly couldn’t move. At last it was about ME. All the other guests had reverted to the Florida uniform of beach shorts and flip-flops, even though it was the Ritz Carlton. I departed the wedding in an Uber flurry: 3 mins to pick-up location. Flights to catch, outfits to reassemble…

The Tuscan Hilltop Village

The Tuscan Hilltop Village

The Tuscan Hilltop Village: Entrance Point

The Tuscan Hilltop Village: Entrance Point

Saying Goodbye to Tuscany in Florida

Saying Goodbye to Tuscany in Florida

Last Farewell to the Tuscan Hilltop Village

Last Farewell to the Tuscan Hilltop Village

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I’m Touring America

Thursday 23rd January 2020

So I arrive in Florida by air. A family wedding is to take place at La Bella Collina which is in Tuscany near Orlando, Florida. Just so extraordinary. Florida is Paradise. Nothing disturbs its faultless Paradise. There are no hills. Just an unrivalled smoothness of forest with intermittent glories high towering above, such as the Ritz Carlton Elysium, the Marriot Towers of Heaven, the Hilton Choirs of Angels. Uber-ing through, you see the residential complexes – lawns, dream homes, blinds down, no sign of a person, such is the paradise. I sent a photo to Cousin Smurry in England of the view from the hotel. She said it looked like one of those pictures you get online when you have to prove you’re not a robot. Select all the windows with no traffic lights. Well, that’s rather wild. Persons are conveyed by car. They do not get out. But our little pre-wedding party went walking. It was boiling, boiling hot. Perfect for mad dogs and Englishman. What a struggle it was to make Florida. We learned from a display and park with pioneer village. Before it was a swamp with crocodiles. Within 20 years they’d got nearly all known industries going. First of all, logging from cutting down the swamp cypresses, then cattle, water, oil, oranges and feathers. Also fish. And hammering.  One placard said, ‘Minnie Moore-Willson Plume Hunting Heroine’. Thrilling. Think of all those hats. Heroine indeed, I thought, enabling truly feathered hats in abundance. But no, it turned out, on reading the placard, that she’d fought to put a stop to feathers for hats. So disappointing. In the pioneer village, they had Georgian windows even if the home was barely a hut on brick piers. People were living like this until the 1960s, although they seemed to have acquired extensive land and cattle.

The View from the Hotel Window: Cousin Smurry said It's like one of those Prove You're Not a Robot pics you get Online

The View from the Hotel Window: Cousin Smurry said It’s like one of those Prove You’re Not a Robot pics you get Online

The Plum and Brown Scheme in the Hotel

The Plum and Brown Scheme in the Hotel

The Hotel Exterior: It's a Castle

The Hotel Exterior: It’s a Castle

Georgian Windows even Though a Pioneer Hut

Georgian Windows even Though a Pioneer Hut

A Pioneer Hut

A Pioneer Hut

The Simple Life: Someone Lived Here Like this until 1965

The Simple Life: Someone Lived Here Like this until 1965

This Hut has this Wide Open Corridor for Ventilation

This Hut has this Wide Open Corridor for Ventilation

Not Quite the Heroine I would Have Hoped For

Not Quite the Heroine I would Have Hoped For

 

 

 

 

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All That Struggle

Friday 3rd January 2020

Here we are. Back in the 20s. The Gay Mother was born in 1924, in the first lot of 20s.

Christmas is never so over as when it’s over.  Have you noticed? Nothing could be more passé now than Away in a Manger. All that struggle for Christmas. In a puff it’s gone.

Harry Rollo and Mercury Mr Kitten had a function. Two brown hounds arrived of their own accord, surging all over the function room and leaping up at the eats. ‘This means She is here,’ Mercury Mr Kitten explained. Not the absolute premier She, you understand, not Sandringham She, but one almost as high and known to millions best as a Queen. Who then entered and fell into confab with Miss Lamore Cellina and later with me, Adrian Edge. Our topic was deceased department stores: Bourne and Hollingsworth, once at the wrong end of Oxford Street where the Gay Mother bought her wedding dress in polyester in 1956, not wanting to waste money on a wear-once item, and C&A which was of great horridness but a nationwide chain. The topic arose because a massively sought-after bistro (or something) has opened near the Harry/Mr Kitten residence and is called Bourne and Hollingsworth because of being in the former warehouse of that store.

But Bourne and Hollingsworth was dreary. One darkened not its door. Swan and Edgar la meme. In another 60 years will someone open a ragingly cool destination café called Primark in a former Primark warehouse?

I kept trying to get near Reggie Cresswell but could not for the fury of those mobbing him. I was in the middle of telling Lord Tanza about Lady Glenconner’s wedding night when he wandered off to help Mr Kitten arrange some dishes. Later I started again, this time with a world-class film director of republican leaning.  Rufus Pitman appeared. ‘Anne Glenconner,’ he said at once. His favourite bit is when Anne was staying with Princess Margaret for a year while her flat was being done up and never got any sleep.

Anne Glenconner: it was hard to summon any other topic after her appearance on Graham Norton for the publication of her memoir.  I’m taking ‘An Evening with Lady Glenconner’ at the Richmond Theatre of 29th February. Do let me know if you want to come too. I’ve two tickets.

Harry and Mr Kitten came up with a brilliant new hostess wheeze: have different glasses from your guests so you won’t put your glass down to do some hostess task and not be able to find it again. In fact they had gold goblets, by great coincidence from Angus Willis’s shop in Hastings. Just fancy that.

We all went up onto the roof. Bruce McBain, who designed the roof, wasn’t pleased. In fact he refused to mount the stairs. But then he did. He said it was not wise after drinks to cavort on a roof terrace. He feared being blamed. Poor Little Rich Gays are always being blamed which is a sad side-effect of whipping up into action. One could always not design a roof terrace but lounge all day on benefits on a sofa in trackies and a hoodie. Then you would have no risk of being blamed.

But it was Heaven on the roof with all vast London laid out before and so many cranes with red lights and hope could not be held back: the Greatness of our Nation. Who could deny it? Nearby is the great barrel of a church nave, dominating the surrounding buildings just like Santa Caterina does in Siena as well as some other churches there. So that was nice too, to have the feeling of Siena.

Back down, off the roof, Harry said that Bertram Dibantry has allowed no time for costume changes: persons must transform from a playing card to a prune but how with no time allowed? And the whole perf only lasts 40 mins. So typical of Bertram who had the entire Royal Festival Hall commandeered for a massive organ experience. A leading figure was brought in to play the great organ of the Royal Festival Hall. But that person only thundered two chords and the main attraction was a terrible old wheezy church organ near the front bellowed by foot pedalling which Bertram had there because he had so greatly disliked it from childhood when he was an altar boy.

Miss Lamore though was worried about the Queen, who left after 30 minutes as is normal, for further engagements. Miss Lamore was sure she had driven her away. ‘I didn’t provide the right food,’ she cried, ‘for her mentality.’ She was convinced the stars need special mental food, not the same as everybody else and she had not given it. I tried to console. ‘They’re normal,’ I said. ‘Just treat as if they were anyone.’ ‘Oh no,’ said Miss Lamore. ‘That won’t do at all.’

I still couldn’t get near Reggie Cresswell except to say it was just like trying to get near Rachel Johnson at the Literary Review party. Then it was time to leave.

 

 

 

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The Final Days

Tuesday 24th December 2019

Two family parties, two Festivals of Nine Lessons and Carols, three intimate dinners, one ballet followed by Ed Jasper and Roland Mainflower’s reception on Election Night, Burna’s private party with masks (Rufus and Raj in matching Christmas kilts) … Ed Jasper, the bedlinen expert, had all these young people who’ve got flats and are in  ‘events’. One of them even organised a fly-past of Buckingham Palace for the Queen – not a normal responsibility of a Poor Little Rich Gay in a whippy spray-on outfit, you’d have thought. It’s impossible to keep up with their configurations. Last year I’m sure they all had different boyfriends. But how can you be sure? I was sure they wouldn’t have voted Labour.

To the Daily Mail – the Chairman’s entrance, no less – at the invitation of dear Beamish O’Halloran of that publication. Party in an atrium. Retainers born to their posts surely circulating lavishly with bottles. Beamish full of a gatecrasher. I couldn’t grasp it owing to already being smashed, within seconds of arrival. This person has been gate-crashing for years. Possibly came back from Dunkirk and started gate-crashing then. Not only gate-crashed but had to sit down.

Had long confab with Michael White, former political editor of the Guardian. He said Long-Bailey might be the one. I advised on political matters extensively, rather as I advised the Governor of the Bank of England some years ago on Central Bank matters: For instance, that if there were PR, I advised, political alignments would be quite different. It’s no use taking the results of the present election and translating them directly as if there were PR. Michael White quite agreed. I felt brilliant. Laura Malcolm wasn’t surprised by the election result: ‘Nobody wants to be told how poor they are.’

Genevieve Suzy entered. She’s now left Dainty Lady TV, leaving me there alone in front of the cameras, and taken a huge role elsewhere. Her up-do is a foot further up. Moira McMatron longed to meet the columnist who is a household name. So we bowled up and she couldn’t have been more charming or appreciative of Moira MacMatron’s appreciation of her. I couldn’t believe that she remembered the time we went to the Ivy with Genevieve after the Constance Spray lesbian play. At a previous Daily Mail party I’d photographed her handbag, which she’d left on a table. It was a quilted clutch with gold clasp.

‘Look, there’s the gate-crasher,’ said Beamish, excited. Sitting down as promised: grey suit, red face and teeth made of chippings of elephant tusk. The crasher had that puffy way of sitting as if unlikely to get up again for a very long time. Air of a stick even if not actually one.  What a relique! Couldn’t be anything other than the most important person present.

On Saturday I took a day off. No card-writing. No present-buying. No outfit planning. Down to see Val in Hastings and get lightly Tudorised at Angus Willis’s Christmas Tudor House. Val was full of notions and schemes: he’s discovered that the microwave that came built-in with his Los Angeles-style Hastings bung is perfect for re-creating café creme as offered in France. Don’t ask me how. But café creme is Val’s ideal coffee. I happened to mention that I was lunching the next day in Ealing. ‘Ah Ealing,’ Val proclaimed. ‘Queen of Suburbs.’ Later on returning from the town, Val inspected the tarmac on the drive outside his residence. His balance isn’t too good but he managed. Down in the town, he’d required an arm to cross the road. ‘It seems to be holding up quite well,’ he said. ‘Does it belong to you?’ I enquired, since it is in fact outside his perimeter. ‘Oh yes,’ Val said. ‘My tarmac belongs to me.’

What a moment, echoing ‘Cabaret’ when the Hitler youth boy sings ‘Tomorrow belongs to me’ in the outdoor café. It would have been funnier if he’d sung ‘My tarmac belongs to me’ instead.

Robert Nevil's Book Christmas Tree Created by the Nizim

Robert Nevil’s Book Christmas Tree Created by the Nizim

Afforestation of the Tudor Kitchen

Afforestation of the Tudor Kitchen

The Sid Id Memorial Bath in the Tudor House Hastings

The Sid Id Memorial Bath in the Tudor House Hastings: Sid Id Bathed Here

This Very Orkney Chair snagged My Cardy 9 Years Ago

This Very Orkney Chair snagged My Cardy 9 Years Ago

Christmas Brussels Sprout Stick Must-Have

Christmas Brussels Sprout Stick Must-Have

Christmas Ironing Challenge Agony

Christmas Ironing Challenge Agony

Ironing Challenge Completed

Ironing Challenge Completed

 

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The Wedding of the Century

Friday 20th December 2019

At last I dare to approach… it was supposed to a low-key wedding of Conrad and René, flung together last min. Very nearly I didn’t wear an outfit. But rounding the corner at the back of Lambetta Town Hall, there was Lord Arrowby. Total frockage! Swaggering hat, pointy shoes and … coat! A knock-out blow. I was flung back into oblivion by the force of the outfit. ‘Is it a Christmas coat?’ I said desperately fighting back. ‘What a horrid thing to say,’ Lord Arrowby murmured. There was raving over his coat, though. It was a tapestry coat by Dries. Later I had occasion to lift it onto a hanger at the venue. The weight of work, the layers, the years of tailoring expertise that must have gone into it. Such coats are only worn by the Queen usually. But no sooner had we just about come to rest over Lord Arrowby’s coat than who should hurl into view but Rufus Pitman – in full fur, with a Tyrolean hat and feather mounted high. Even Lord Arrowby’s Dries shook a little and as for my little Topman Limited Edition honey-beige frock coat. It was nothing. Luckily Burna, in lilac champagne fur, slipped in quietly later on. Another important example of outwear could have finished us off completely, before the ceremony had even begun.

The wedding itself had a noble simplicity with the glorious pared-down plainness of Poulenc, one poem by John Donne and words otherwise laid down by Lambeth Council which were very well-meaning. So they were married and it was such a triumph really, even though in reality they’ve been married for years. Then we were in the venue. Roof-top, exclusive, purring glass and shiny burnt chestnut, swarming with champagne and canapés. Conrad made a speech in French. It was all utter Heaven. Just one poem, just one speech, no waiting around for photographs or agonising sit-down dinner. We agreed that Lord Arrowby should become Royal. He agreed too. I said, ‘Let’s do Royal relations greeting,’ which is my contribution to the Christmas run-up this year. Peck, peck, curtsey. Lord Arrowby said, ‘What if an heir to a throne is meeting a Queen Dowager? Who takes precedence? I think we should know.’ Thus the administrative mind. You can see how he rose so high. Then I was rehearsed in Handel’s ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ by Harry Rollo himself. The pauses, he said, are as important as the notes. Silence shapes the mu.   Harry would have liked Handel to have had more than one thing happening at once but there’s not much that can be done about it now. I think it was probably the age. Mercury Mr Kitten had a brain-wave for a group photo of the WAGS, which I was desperate to be in as were quite a few others regardless of qualification, such as having a big-time footballer-equivalent intimate companion with masses of money, or indeed any companion at all. I can’t think of anything better than WAG-dom apart from being Royal of course. So much less worry and strain that the big-time footballer role. Finally Reggie Cresswell said that Sophia Loren had taught herself not to groan every time she bent over once she reached the age of 60. This is the secret of eternal youth.

 

The Sacred Tapestry Coat by Dries of Lord Arrowby

The Sacred Tapestry Coat by Dries of Lord Arrowby

The Furred Greatness of Rufus Pitman

The Furred Greatness of Rufus Pitman: Hat in Hand with Feather 

The Dress Beneath the Coat: Lord Arrowby's Celebration Jacket

The Dress Beneath the Coat: Lord Arrowby’s Celebration Jacket

Another Exclusive Collection Item

Another Exclusive Collection Item

The Cake: Not Quite Sure why There are Three in the Marriage Chamber

The Cake: Not Quite Sure why There are Three in the Marriage Chamber

 

 

 

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December At Last Can Happen

Wednesday 18th December 2019

December did begin of course but this year there was no moment as if a bell had rung and at once Christmas sprang forth from the place where it had been lurking all year. That happened several years ago as I was leaving the British Library one lunchtime and an amateur group were playing The Shepherds’ Lament by Berlioz in the vestibule and Christmas began.

This year the election kept Christmas at bay. Plus I’ve been wracked in the final stages of property negotiations re: my lands in the Far West. In short mineral interests are back on the cards and the terrible devastation of the Earth that I might have more face, hair, outfits and antiques. Others benefit too, of  course, in different ways. Not just me, Adrian Edge. From that perspective you will understand that the final hurdle was to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn.

But now Long-Bailey looms with her fearful specs. I’m a little trembly. How long can it go on? I was born with Mrs Dinner rushing out from the lodge to curtsey every time I passed with the Gay Mother in the half-timbered car – well, not quite. She remained indoors carefully putting away all the linen and tea-towels the Gay Grandmother had given he. Keeping for best – in other words, never.

What to do about those less fortunate while those born to lands and minerals thrive?

Meanwhile, the glory of December has been the Conrad/René wedding. How can I even dare approach such a wonder? I do not dare. I’m putting it off.

Rufus Pitman had already given, early in the month, a fabulous function to mark the visit of German Royal Relations. That means a long-standing German friend from the university world if you look at it from a non-Gay point of view. We were also honoured with the presence of Parisian Gay Royalty.

Everyone’s Royal if you try hard enough.

What an evening! Harry Rollo did a magical impression of a friend of his aunt being asked where she lived. Much of it was pure sound conveying the Upper Class occupying space. ‘Where do you live, Mrs Courtney-Wildman?’ So she goes: ‘Well, you see…..had to find somewhere with trees… no 11 bus.. simply marvellous… 1942… Dunkirk absolutely ghastly… . really out of the question… lawst a leg…. got rid of the laurel hedge… perfectly awful War…. ‘ Somehow all this culminated in ‘East Putney.’ As rendered by Harry it made perfect sense. He and Mercury Mr Kitten had been in Helsinki. In fact they were in transit from the airport, hadn’t even been home. In Helsinki there were many factions and there’d been a failure to appoint a viola player. A new line is being taken on Sibelius which is that he didn’t compose for the last 50 years of his life in order to remain sober. It was the composing that drove him to drink.  Who knew?

Rufus and I were v. busy picking over the goings-on in Darmstadt c1876. Will anyone ever get to the bottom of how the Battenburgs and the Hesse-Darmstadts are related? As a going-away present Rufus lent me Hugo Vickers’ Life of Princess Alice, mother of the Duke of Edinburgh. Her mother was Hesse-Darmstadt. Her aunt was the Tsarina. It’s the Coburg story all over again. Someone should look into it. These small-time German Houses had an amazing knack for getting onto all the best Thrones, sometimes with not entirely pleasant consequences.

In parting I did Royal Relations parting (or greeting) which is peck, peck, curtsey in one continuous movement. V.difficult to do. Especially after 3 or 4 bottles of champagne. But it’s my contribution to  Christmas 2019.

I should add that this event was vegetarian. But still radiant. Because Raj Zoroaster has gone vegetarian. I’d got it into my head he was born vegetarian but he can’t have been. I’m afraid it’s racist, one’s ignorance of the sub-continent. Anyway, Reggie Cresswell and Lord Tanza were pleased. They’ve been touring endlessly, a bit like Elton John but much rarer venues.

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