Extreme Poor Little Rich Gay: Normandy 2018

Tuesday 18th September 2018

The Annual Visit took place to the Norman Fastness of Laura Malcolm and Matt Driver. No young people so Poor Little Rich Gays were appalling.  The Laird and Lairdess arrived in the Toerag loaded with detail. See below for graphs of the onboard facilities. For the first time, the Laird laminated his reference number for the Eurotunnel.  On arrival the Lairdess sank into a gravity lounger. Laura informed her that one of the English neighbours had cut her lavender hedge already. ‘C…t,’ she said, which was unexpected although extraordinarily gracious with her cut-glass vowels.

All over Normandy wives were complaining of their snoring husbands. ‘C…ts,’ said the Lairdess daintily. Poor Little Rich Gays are not going down quietly. The young may be orderly with respectful sexual relations and absolutely no casual racism, but Poor Little Rich Gays at the other end of their years remain a disgrace.

In the afternoons, the Lairdess, the Laird, Beamish O’Halloran, Laura and Moira MacMatron lay in rows on their loungers and said it was like a care home. Or indeed they were already dead. Matt Driver, needless to say, was in a shed somewhere looking into things. Or re-shaping a Nation’s buying habits on Wednesdays. Or, primarily, battling to keep a bank afloat which had pissed off its customers by preventing them from logging on. But with Matt Driver on board, all ills can be magicked away. Moira MacMatron was a Matron in agony in fact. Her neck. She had a special hook to rub it with, offering little relief. Now it has been discovered that she has suffered a deep internal rupture. The hook was the worst thing for it. At last Doctors have bucked up. You would have thought they’d do more for one of their own, wouldn’t you? Does a specialist matron count for nothing these days? At least Moira MacMatron didn’t leave Normandy, as she did the year before, after singing her menacing song about Miss Pineapple prancing on Hampstead Heath (or somewhere like that) twirling a yellow umbrella in a little yellow frock. A sugar-coated arsenic pill if ever there was one.

Every morning, the Lairdess appeared at her bathroom window (she never descends for garden breakfast) to signal to a grateful Normandy that she had come through the night. Beamish O’Halloran, that giant of the Red Tops, offered no such reassurance. ‘Where is he?’ Moira wondered. ‘Has he died?’ We all envisaged him laid out like King Edward V11 in eternal slumber. Actually he’d gone up to the village. There’s a new editor at the Mail who’s de-toxifying it. But I wonder if Beamish took things a little too far.

We lunched with the Munroe-Coopers. Lambert Munroe-Cooper is connected and landed beyond belief. At one time a Van Eyck featured in the family portfolio. Their beagle was a bit delap though. ‘What are those lumps?’ Moira enquired. ‘Oh, it’s cancer,’ Priscilla said, matter-of-fact. Priscilla’s father’s a brigadier. In that world you love your dog and shoot it when the time is right. They laid on a splendid fête champetre under umbrellas. Afterwards Lambert showed us a Renaissance sideboard from Italy that had been in the family since the 15th century. ‘Only village work,’ he said, ‘or small town at best.’ It looked like a National Treasure to me.

Back at the Norman fastness of Matt Driver and Laura Malcolm, the fête champetre was destined for another day in the evening. How one lunches and dines in later Poor Little Rich Gay life.

Meanwhile the disappearance of Beamish O’Halloran in the afternoons was giving rise to comment. What could it mean?  Moira was all for deleting the Facebook posts. Which showed a young man from Malaysia with his new best mate … Beamish O’Halloran. They were having a wail of a time at the village bar, just as if it were Ye Olde Cheeshire Cheese in Fleet Street or Whole Foods in Kensington High Street with Ann Robinson going by in a burka, making a TV prog about sexism but the whole thing being ruined by Beamish recognising her.  ‘Oh yes,’ said Laura. She’d heard about this person. Quite good at hanging about and meeting people apparently. But really – Beamish O’Halloran, who was the original Lunchtime O’Booze, who, for modern times, has triumphantly turned Whole Foods in Kensington High Street into a drinking den quite on a par with Ye Olde Cheeshire Cheese of yore, who knocked back G&T with Tommy Cooper’s widow, who killed off Ireland’s oldest man…. Well, if Beamish O’Halloran turning gay and taking a kitchen isn’t going to de-tox the Mail then nothing will.

The other sensation in Normandy was the Laird requiring three croissants at breakfast. He placed a special order with Laura who fetched them by bicycle each morning.

 

The Norman Visit: My Hostess Gift from Waitrose

The Norman Visit: My Hostess Gift from Waitrose

Behind the Scenes On Board the Toerag with the Laird and Lairdess

Behind the Scenes On Board the Toerag with the Laird and Lairdess

The Toerag: Onboard Facilities

The Toerag: Onboard Facilities

The Toerag: Prosecco for Priority Boarding Passengers

The Toerag: Prosecco for Priority Boarding Passengers

The Laird's Laminated Reference Number for the Eurotunnel

The Laird’s Laminated and Trimmed Reference Number for the Eurotunnel

The Norman Fastness of Laura Malcolm and Matt Driver: the Meter Cupboard

The Norman Fastness of Laura Malcolm and Matt Driver: the Meter Cupboard: Farrow and Ball Tuscan Red 

We Visit the Sunday Brocante on the Way to Lunch with the

We Visit the Sunday Brocante on the Way to Lunch with the Munroe-Coopers

We Visit Honfleur and Lunched

We Visit Honfleur and Lunched

The Norman Fastness: Not Quite Laid for Lunch

The Norman Fastness: Not Quite Laid for Lunch

Me Adrian Edge: a Classic Evening Ensemble for Normandy

Me Adrian Edge: a Classic Evening Ensemble for Normandy: Topman cap a pe

Château de Saint-Germain de Livet: Rare Italian influence in Northern Europe. Late 15th Century

Château de Saint-Germain de Livet: Rare Italian influence in Northern Europe. 16th Century

 

 

 

 

 

Château de Saint-Germain-de--Livet: what a Gem. Lovely Patterns

Château de Saint-Germain-de–Livet: what a Gem. Lovely Patterns

Château de Saint-Germain-de-Livet

Château de Saint-Germain-de-Livet

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The Road to Bayreuth

Tuesday 11th September 2018

It was on the Monday morning we took the high road to Bayreuth. There was a certain amount of ferocious telephoning re: the Museum apartment from within the vehicle as it moved. I said, ‘Just maybe you could move the furniture back and hang the paintings then wait for some nice perfectionist to attend to the edges and install the toilet button cover?’ I could see that Anthony and Vadim were in that fatal final phase of a Poor Little Rich Gay renovation project where the last details torment and never seem to be right, there’s a risk a vicious Gay will come round and find fault and they didn’t even have builders turning up to make it as intolerable as could be imagined.  It’s not like me, as you know, to suggest an easing-off, who has striven to the grave’s edge for the home to be right. But at our age you have to choose between life and death. Anthony Mottram, were the wind to be blowing in a certain direction, would choose death all the same. But on this occasion he didn’t.  It was agreed that Vadim with a friend would re-assemble the museum apartment in the boiling heat while we were at Bayreuth.

So we forged on to Bayreuth and gained the travelling salesman hotel. It was even more boiling there. There are no antique shops or art galleries. But we never stopped talking. Such talk but how will the world ever know it? Or even like it. ‘I don’t care for most people,’ Anthony Mottram announced. This isn’t exactly true but Poor Little Rich Gays are naturally superior. Even before I met him at the housemaster’s welcome tea party at Barrowborough in September 1970, when, through daintiness I fell off the edge of the chair, Anthony Mottram could wither a moron at a 100 metres. ‘Why don’t you pack it up and send it to them?’ he said when urged to think of the Biafrans because he didn’t want his rice pudding. ‘Why are you making me eat food I don’t want when others are starving?’ he added, at eight-years-old just to put the boot into Matron. In Bayreuth, I asked after a certain Hungarian protégé, who had originally been about 20 when Anthony was re-building the country after Communism. ‘He’s churlish, resentful and envious,’ Anthony said as if anybody could think of three adjectives just like that. I said, ‘Oh! Three adjectives! Like Emma: “handsome, clever and rich.” ‘ So many people one knows are handsome, clever and rich. It’s an incredible way to be. Three adjectives is just genius.

So at last we came unto the Festspielhaus. Extraorder to be there again after only three years. Couldn’t quite believe it. Still can’t. We reckoned the entire outing to see one Wagner opera cost over £1000 each. That mad Wagner still draining the purse of everyone. But worth every penny. I wore a classic crooner’s evening dress, black tie with white jacket. V trans-Atlantic liner. Quite common. Except I never put the jacket on it was so boiling. We were in the very front row. The Gays next to us from Minnesota had on well-washed polo shirts and sneakers. I mean a bit worn out with washing. The only thing we didn’t see this time at Bayreuth was any yellow Heidis in their latter years. Oh it was thrilling to be in the very front row, even if Placido wasn’t quite on top of things in the pit. We had Anja Kampe and Stephen Gould in Act 1. Loved them. Even though Gould is a great big bear. Tobias Kehrer was Hundig. Completely thrilling. Then Catherine Foster as Brunners. Before when I came with the Prince and Mrs Merkel, she didn’t really get going until Siegfried. But this time sensational. Just giving and giving. Wotan won the opera: John Lundgrun. We didn’t have him before. Incredible ringing voice, full of pain. From the front row you could see how much they were all giving, probably trying to help Placido who is quite old and didn’t really know what he was doing although great. It’s always best in a perf if something isn’t quite right and there’s a drama. Then it becomes electric.

We were conspicuous in the town afterwards in evening dress, very plainly Wagnerienne. You’ve have thought they’d have got used to it by now. The next day we returned directly to Prague. It was absolutely boiling. The Museum apartment had been put back together by Vadim and a friend. In sweltering heat we adjusted the position of the wine cooler and hung more pictures from Anthony’s important collection of post-Commie art. My favs are the ones of cement areas outside terrible flat’s blocks with people, or a ghastly park by a railway line, also with people. They cost a fortune though. £5000 for a tiny one.

Over the next few days I did a little hand-washing of outfits and travelled by UberX because more chance of air con. Even in boiling heat Prague is booming, unlike London. On the Friday I returned to London, by air, Club Class to resume engagements there.

This is the Famous Shield

This is the Famous Shield

 

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We So Agreed about the Petting Zoo

Saturday September 8th 2018

Anthony Mottram laid out a Cream Tea for elevenses in Prague. It was supplied by Marks and Spencer (Prague branch). ‘I’m on statins,’ he said. I said, ‘I’m not sure that’s the point.’ The cream tea was beautifully displayed. Then we left for Karlovy Vary. Once it was Karlsbad. In the early days after the Wall came down, we were shown the Emperor’s Suite, including toilet, at the Grand Hotel Pupp. But Anthony said the Pupp was not worth the effort these days. We took the Ambassador instead. Later there was to be a drama over a tea bag. We visited the Pupp, of course, just to get a feel for Grand Hotel and Spa life. These days it’s Russians and Middle Eastern potentates. Anthony said it was an enormous place and what were they going to do with it all. Across the way is the jewel in the crown as far as Karlovy Vary hotels is concerned: the Quisisana Palace. Its facade was superbly inlaid in an exotic fashion. I could sense its greatness but my hunger for hotels is waning. They’re all in chains these days. I don’t want a chain. I want personal touches, so it’s like a private Stately.

We climbed into a wood behind the Pupp.  Anthony kept quiet about the petting zoo on the way up, revealing it only at the last minute as an intense surprise. There were no more than two ponies and two goats in a small enclosure. No even a pig. All the creatures were busy at the manger and unavailable for petting which was probably for the best because it turned out they’d written very stern notices with illustrations begging the public not to feed them and relaying their terrible experiences as a result of consuming sandwiches. ‘I nearly died,’ one of the ponies explained.

How we roared about the petting zoo, though, and sent pictures of it to Robert Nevil in London, who roared too.

There was lunch and dinner, of course, in Karlovy Vary. It was not quite so boiling hot as in Prague. We walked in the manicured pleasure gardens which no Middle European spa town can be without. Also Harrogate. Back at the Ambassador they’d run out of tea. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Anthony entered into negotiations with the front desk and achieved a tea-bag from their private supply. Proudly we carried it back to the bar. ‘You see, you’ve haven’t quite run out of tea,’ Anthony said impishly. The staff, of course, were in a dream, never imagining that a Western mogul would be so do-it-yourself.

This is how capitalism works.

The next day, we struck the road for Bayreuth, telephoning fiercely all the way about the Museum Apartment. Would anybody ever come to complete the work of expansion and renovation?

Karlovy Vary: its Petting Zoo

Karlovy Vary: its Petting Zoo

Karlovy Vary: Classic Ware on Sale

Karlovy Vary: Classic Ware on Sale

 

 

 

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I’ve Been on Holiday

Saturday 25th August 2018

I’d like it to be known I boarded Club Class for Prague and thence to repeat Bayreuth after only 3 years. Not many repeat Bayreuth ever in their lives. No yellow Heidis this time though.

At the Museum Apartment in Prague aggrandisement has led to agony.  Paintings and furniture were stacked in the Private Parlour on the top floor. Almost a year ago Anthony and Vadim forged through the wall into the neighbouring flat. The babicka who had been eke-ing there was barely dead. This expansion follows from when, fifteen years ago, Anthony plunged through the floor, bringing the museum quarter into existence. The great lower museum room has its own entrance. American tourists  found in it, looking for the Titians, are always told they are away on loan.

I so feel for Anthony Mottram re: the home. The builders almost burnt it down. That was after they’d over-run on the job by eight months. They damaged the parquet somehow, re-did the parquet, got it the wrong colour, re-re-did it… set fire to the apartment. Still it’s the wrong colour. All they had to do originally was knock through to the granny-flat, ensuring that the entire building didn’t fall down (steels etc), install massive moving bookcases in the opening on a unique hydraulic system known only to Gays, renovate the parquet throughout and match it with the existing, create a sleek hotel bathroom, install shelves, paint the rooms and go away. It was supposed to have been finished by November 3rd 2017. On July 29th 2018 – still in agony. Builders not appearing. Furniture stacked up. Anthony and Vadim’s lives in suspension – of disbelief as much as anything.

Anthony showed me the tasks outstanding  – the missing cover for the toilet flush system, the poor silicone work, the crude edges, the bit of wall hacked at by the firemen when the apartment nearly burned down. He pushed the switch for the hydraulic bookcases to close. Nothing happened. Luckily a second time and it worked. How to get out if the system fails while closed, though? One could be trapped in the babicka quarter and but gathered as she was. No other exit, you see. Poor Little Rich Gays, you should know – there’s a hand-crank. But unlikely that you will find it before the oxygen runs out.

The thing is, Anthony said, as one declines oneself with advancing years, one’s immediate environment must go the other way, towards utter perfection. My thoughts exactly. What I didn’t say was how likely is it that one hastens one’s end in the writhing quest?

The Great Hydraulic Moving Bookshelves of Prague

The Great Hydraulic Moving Bookshelves of Prague

The Other Side: the Great Hydraulic Moving Bookcase of Prague: But How to Open Again should Mechanism Fail

The Other Side: the Great Hydraulic Moving Bookcases of Prague: But How to Open Again should Mechanism Fail ?

Parquet Agony in Prague: Not Matching

Parquet Agony in Prague: Not Matching

Where the Firemen Hacked

Where the Firemen Hacked

The Former Babicka Flat in Which One Would Die if the Great Hydraulic Bookcases failed to Open

The Former Babicka Flat in Which One Would Die were the Great Hydraulic Bookcases to fail to Open, in which it would Become a Tomb

Toilet Innovation: to Ensure Anal Tidiness

Toilet Innovation: to Ensure Complete Anal Tidiness

Oh No! Silicone Work not Up to Scratch

Oh No! Silicone Work not Up to Scratch

Missing Toilet Flush Panel: Builder has it but Won't Return

Missing Toilet Flush Panel: Builder has it but Won’t Return

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More Things Happened

Monday 13th August 2018

Did I mention that Merle Barr went to the Soviet Union for three weeks? It was specially put back for her. The countryside is glorious. Mountains and lakes like Switzerland but not tidy. Georgia features most adventurous modern architecture as well in its capital which sits in a picturesque rural spot high in the mountains. Merle travelled by pre-War sleeper train to Armenia. Upholstery and samovars.  At some point she acquired very strange snacks which she offered on her return to London – see graphs below. What on earth are they? The outer coating was chewy and derived from fruit. I can’t recall what was within. Most remarkable was the cherry wet-look face-cloth or drapery fragment. Good tangy flavour.

Later in the month I visited Val in Hastings. The incredible news is he’s made Porc aux Pruneaux. And eaten it. I just couldn’t believe it. Val once blasted all over Bulgaria when Robert Nevil was there his loathing of fruit with meat. His pain and intellectual effort were tremendous. The anguish: he could barely get the words out for the frustration of explaining the blindingly obvious. But he was gifted a packet of pruneaux, and fell into the pit of fruit with meat at last.

Val was nostaglic. His new home in Hastings is yet to progress. He is pre-occupied with memories of Milk Tray, especially the coconut choc that was always unwanted in his home.  ‘Loathsome finger-nail parings!’ he raged. ‘Just… ‘ Getting redder and more and more speechless until at last gasping, ‘so… revolting.’ It was rather a disaster when we went down into the town and someone tried to give Val a coconut macaroon. I do so agree: dessicated coconut has always held horror for me too. We looked in the shop windows. There was a handbag that resembled a piano accordion, Val said. Then we took a table at a Moroccan restaurant on the street. A male football supporter went by wearing a tiara, then a portly gentleman of later years with hair done to resemble a budgerigar – bright yellow and tufted.

Naturally Rufus Pitman was in the West End at the same time as me, Adrian Edge. So we lunched. He’d been shopping with Lord Arrowby the previous week. They’d gone to Liberty. Lord Arrowby was at once surrounded by staff, who swished with pieces. ‘Now, can we go back to 2013?’ Lord Arrowby declared. ‘Which pieces from the Dries collection did I take for Autumn/Winter that year?’ Staff rattled off the pieces Lord Arrowby had taken from the Collection.  They didn’t even have to consult their card index.Presently there was much keenness that Lord Arrowby acquire a glittery jumper threaded with actual silver and priced according to the latest metal market index. i.e a lot. But Rufus was against it and it wasn’t taken. Later I visited Liberty and saw the exact same thing. Rufus said that some of the new Dries items resembled one’s efforts in the art room at school with the ink-splatter blowing thing.

Some of Merle's Strange Eats from the Soviet Union

Some of Merle’s Strange Eats from the Soviet Union

Merle's Edible Cherry Dishcloth from the Soviet Union

Merle’s Edible Cherry Facecloth or Drapery Fragment from the Soviet Union

Man with Budgie-Yellow Hair in Hastings: You can Just see Him

Man with Budgie-Yellow Hair in Hastings: You can Just see Him

A Young Man in Evening Outfit: Hastings: July 2018

A Young Man in Evening Outfit: Hastings: July 2018

The Same Model was Worn by Sophie Wessex at the recent Royal Wedding. Seen in the Window of Susannah behind Marble Arch

The Same Model was Worn by Sophie Wessex at the recent Royal Wedding. Seen in the Window of Susannah behind Marble Arch

Important Knitwear by Dries Threaded with Silver, not Acquired by Lord Arrowby

Important Knitwear by Dries Threaded with Silver, not Acquired by Lord Arrowby

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These Things Happened

Sunday 5th August 2018

On the way back to our domains in the Far West (J. Corbyn: keep out), we stopped at a motorway service station. The Gay Mother took one look at the range offered by Costa: ‘But I don’t like any of these things,’ she said as if Costa ought to have thought of that.  Finally I persuaded her to share a Bakewell. But she ate the whole thing plus one of my ginger biscuits, almost doing me out of a sweet finish to the meal.

At Glyndebourne for Pelleas et Melissande, Rufus Pitman’s picnic encompassed all known foods, including Nigella’s lamb cutlets cold (a genius’s stroke: Nigella didn’t think of cold), the Provencal grilled tomatoes, the speciality sausages, the rare grain salad, the tarte au abricots, and Ottolenghi’s grilled aubergine salad with pomegranate seeds and saffron yoghurt. Great minds think alike for Laura Malcolm had offered the exact same dish the night before when I dined. Raj Zoraster had been to Bangladesh. So he had a box of sweet delicacies for the interludes between the courses. His complaint was lack of black people at Glyndebourniana, so we tried to find some. When I told Royston about this later, he said, ‘Well, they can buy tickets.’ He’s black himself, as you know, so can say these things.

As for the opera: Pelleas et Melissande.  I only went to try and get used to it. It was the same with Mahler Symphony of 1000 at the Proms (terrible gibberish of the libretto for that: fearful windy religiosity). But P&M – quite nice mu, vague, drifted by pleasantly like a feather on the air. Of the story I could make nothing. Who were they all and how related? Somehow P and M managed to die at the end. A day or so later, at Don Giovanni, at the Garden with Reggie Cresswell, I said, ‘Is Melissande a sorceress or a witch even?’ ‘No,’ he said. At least we were at a Rich Ladies Supper Table in the Paul Hamlyn Bar. Reggie’s artichoke thing was inedible. Donna Anna won that opera by the way: she finished miles ahead of the others. Rachel Willis-Sorensen – except it’s got a bar through the ‘o’. Reggie said Don Giovanni was ‘Not rubbish.’ Mariusz Kwiecien: not seductive, voice lacked charm.

So that was that. Simeon Bond had a party. It was luxury’s height with staff and an incredible canapé rate. Extraordinary number of people there one knows in other ways. Simeon, of course, has strange powers. How had he conjured so many former friends of the Multis? Oh those Tuscan villa days, all gone now as I predicted. Yes, there was a price to pay. Wilma said she’d been scrolling through her texts. But Lady Newell is coming up for 90. Still going strong despite breaking all the rules. Totally not under Doctor’s orders.

I went to Kew. It’s the second time I’ve been to Kew this summer. The first time was for the opening of the Temperate House when I wore my new Tartan frock coat. They’d just spent £150m or something. I said to the Head of Kew, ‘Our viewers like DIY.’ He was frightfully cross. Then we had the Head of Glasshouses and the Head of something else for a tour. ‘What’s the Temperate House for?’ I kept on asking. Royston got v. cross too and said it was obvious what it was for. But I still don’t get it. For the second visit, I took the Marianne North Gallery. Never heard of it before. Stunning. And the Japanese Garden: no flowers of course. Rocks, grass, trees and shrubs, plus gravel that has to be raked every day into a water pattern. Alarming gateway thing at the top of it, hugely ancient, but it might be a copy. Heavy, dark wood.

There could have been a third visit to Kew, for the Pagoda’s Opening, but it would have meant going twice in one week. They’ve put the gilded dragons back on the Pagoda, which were removed to pay George IV’s debts. Instead I opened at Buckingham Palace for the press view of the Summer opening. Genevieve Suzy was there, took one look at me, screamed and went away. I did think Queen Charlotte looked quite African in her portrait in the Green Drawing Room, but Royston said her black ancestry was remote if it existed at all. We met someone from Country Life who questioned the wall coverings: 1950s? In fact 1920s. Queen Mary put them there. The rose-pink flock in the Picture Gallery. Well, I love it. I love Buckingham Palace. I think one could be very cosy there. The state apartments are hardly on a grand scale. The private quarters must be miniscule. The Queen’s Head Gardener took coffee and advised watering birch trees in this drought. So I told the Gay Mother to water hers and that the Queen’s Head Gardener had said so. She said she would at once.

Kew The Temperate House Opening: Yes, But what's It for?

Kew The Temperate House Opening: Yes, But what’s It for?

Glyndebourniana: Ottolenghi Aubergine, Pomegranate and Saffron Yoghurt Salad by Rufus Pitman

Glyndebourniana: Ottolenghi Aubergine, Pomegranate and Saffron Yoghurt Salad by Rufus Pitman

The Marianne North Pavilion at Kew: Fab

The Marianne North Pavilion at Kew: Fab

Queen Charlotte at Buckingham Palace

Queen Charlotte at Buckingham Palace

My Royal Cake: Buckingham Palace Opening Press View

My Royal Cake: Buckingham Palace Opening Press View

 

 

 

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Royston King Launches a Cemetery

Thursday 2nd August 2018

Brompton Cemetery – it’s been launched. There was a tea. And tour of the catacombs where shelves are stacked with coffins so decayed they could burst and display their contents at any moment, except they are lead-lined.

By 1840, the parish burial grounds in London were full up. So statement cemeteries, seven of them, known as ‘the magnificent seven’ were established, great swathes of death on a grand scale, to solve the problem. There was also a commercial aspect.  Brompton, along with Highgate and Kensal Green, are the premier of the collection and all subject to regeneration and restoration in recent years. Under Royston King and others, Brompton has acquired an entrance cafe and the chapel in the middle of the site, built of Bath stone and indistinguishable from a bathing building in fact, has been done up. Royston has been in correspondence about policy on bramble clearance. In one way and another the whole place was been rescued from undesirable outdoor gays and needleworkers whose haunt it was before. No nice person would go near it.

Sir Henry Cole, first director of the V&A, is present as a buried corpse, along with Robert Fortune, who smuggled tea plants out of China, and took them to India, whence the great tea-drinking movement of today sprang. Speeches were given before the splendid bathhouse/chapel; it was a swirl of greatness. Royston himself, of course, Lloyd Grossman for the Royal Parks, Tristram Hunt, our friend, for the V&A (the museum to be linked in the new venture: funds to be raised from new recruits also. Yes, there’s still space. Hurry to get in. It’s well-worth it, as will be explained), the Heritage Lottery Funds’ Head, the Head of the Friends of the Brompton Cemetery, an elderly gentleman who recently had visited his daughter in Australia where nearby fortunately was another cemetery in need of rescuing.

Once you’ve rescued one cemetery…

We took a Friend-led tour of the place, except that other Friends kept chipping in, hoping to win the Best Knowledge prize and defeat the tour leader. As a leisure destination, Brompton Cemetery could overpower those not devoted to Death or recognising its bracing terrible glamour. The huge central area, modelled on Bernini’s Piazza San Pietro in Rome, was not supposed to have graves but somebody managed to get in and now it’s crammed. You couldn’t sit there enjoying your sandwiches and not be awed by the numberless dead, the endless grey graves. It’s a battle-field of the defeated. Except.. on the other hand… I say this to you, Poor Little Rich Gays here and throughout the word, money goes a long way. All you need is £20,000. Everybody’s got that, surely. You must fork for a grave in an important cemetery, but that’s not enough on its own. You must also have an interesting grave. Who’d have thought it? That’s all you need. No point bothering to write novels or stride in the highest corridors of power. All you need for immortality is an interesting grave in an important cemetery. Putney Vale – forget it. For example, get Burne-Jones to do your tomb. He didn’t normally do tombs or even sculpture, but some rich people made him. So now they’ve got immorality with Burne-Jones’s only tomb. Or, if you’re a general or equivalent, have a grave piled with cannon-balls. Then you won’t be forgotten. An important mistress got a whole house, with front door. The man’s family were enraged and to this day are still arguing about the cost of maintaining her monument. Another, cheaper, option is to have interesting writing on the otherwise normal headstone: an American lady’s got her whole life-story. She wasn’t any good at anything she did but now she’s immortal.

Not quite sure

I think she Tried Opera Singing and Novel-Writing: No Good at Either. But Here She is! 

A Good Grave Option for a Military Person

A Good Grave Option for a Military Person

Emmeline Pankhurst: Her Grave

Emmeline Pankhurst: Her Grave: But the Already Famous don’t Really Need a Grave 

Not sure

The Family Still Polish this Grave 

The Mistress's Tomb: Caused Outrage

The Mistress’s Tomb: Caused Outrage

The Burne-Jones Grave: I Mean By Him

The Burne-Jones Grave: I Mean By Him

The Numberless Dead in their Field: Modelled on Piazza San Pietro by Bernini, Rome.

The Numberless Dead in their Field: Modelled on Piazza San Pietro by Bernini, Rome.

Sir Tristram Hunt Addresses the Throng

Sir Tristram Hunt Addresses the Throng

The Catacombs: They didn't Take Off as a Burial choice In fact

The Catacombs: They didn’t Take Off as a Burial choice In fact

Stored on a Shelf: Not a Success Commercially, the Catacombs

Stored on a Shelf: Not a Success Commercially, the Catacombs: One can See Why 

 

 

 

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We Cometh Unto Bruern – Privately

Tuesday 24th July 2018

Robert Nevil accompanied me in the Official Driving Car with Xenon driving lights. The National Gardens Scheme had offered superior entry to Bruern Abbey gardens in the Swolds for £25, tea included. It was a nice day out for Robert Nevil who insists on working way past retirement age. His lastest venture is a catalogue of ponies for the Christmas market. Scholarly but jolly. It was boiling hot. Bruern isn’t actually an abbey at all. It’s a Palladian mansion with grounds, not quite a stately, but not an old rectory either. The owner is a gay Lord who used to own British Midland Airways. On Google it said his private fortune is £260 million. So imagine the horror! You couldn’t see in at the windows! They were too high. The whole place had recently been renovated to the hilt. £260 million! But, the desperation, you couldn’t see in! Only by leaping up, which Robert Nevil wouldn’t allow.

We had to make do with the gardens. Which were a perfect example of a millionaire’s garden i.e. done by a designer. There are three gardeners, but they don’t know that much about gardening. Even at that level, £260 million, you have to get by with gardeners who don’t know that much about gardening. I was terribly worried that the other attendees, all retired but not on sticks, therefore well set up to raid the tea-table. You know what they’re like, these pensioners. I was having visions of the tea-selection pecked clean as by vultures. We slogged to the end of the lake. There was a new gay statute in the water with bum, of course. You couldn’t fault the garden, but somehow … it reminded me of Robin Smallmeal’s place, where poor Simon Limpey wept and wailed in the groves. Sort of anonymous and bland. Roses used as bedding plants, tasteful colour schemes, lavender, roses, parterres, formal beds with hedging planted in a wild manner for contrast. The usual sort of thing. Only a kind of raised section with nothing in it but swathes of stumpy cosmos was declared by Robert Nevil actually to be horrid.

At last we gained the tea department but not before an agonising phase where we could see the tea through a glass door. Mercifully the tea buffet selection had been replenished by staff in black trousers or skirts. One was reluctant to return to the table to ensure that one had covered all the options. But did anyway. The tea-room was a mystery. A kind of very grand village hall in a wing at the back of the house. But what could the millionaire want it for? Rotary dinners? You could sense what the rest of the house must be like: immaculate, new mahogany loo seats, Farrow and Ball, expensive repro furniture. Out in the courtyard we met a couple who said they were friends of the Multi: had known him since he was 4. Jaguar type of people from the North. They said they were there on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis.

Abbé Bruern: Millionaire's Paradise

Abbé Bruern: Millionaire’s Paradise

Bruern Abbey: new Gay Statue

Bruern Abbey: new Gay Statue

Bruern Abbey: The Parterre

Bruern Abbey: The Parterre

Bruern Abbey: Hedge Work

Bruern Abbey: Hedge Work

Where They Actually Sit

Where They Actually Sit

Bold Gay Statue

Bold Gay Statue

Bruern Abbey: A Border

Bruern Abbey: A Border

Bruern Abbey: the Cosmos Prairie: 'Rather Horrid': Robert Nevil

Bruern Abbey: the Cosmos Prairie: ‘Rather Horrid’: Robert Nevil

 

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An Important Tea-Tasting

Monday 23rd July 2018

To Conduit Street in boiling heat. Ed Jasper, the bed linen expert, organised it: a formal tea-tasting at the East India Company. Three ladies made up the party, a soap star, a therapist to TV’s Big Brother and a publisher of magazines. Who knew that two of them would have tiny frocks with Tudor sleeves, in different colours, of course, and superbly difficult clucks? The soap star was in unobtrusive neutrals. She said she didn’t really like tea. Some of the tastings she thought ideal to be flung in any nearby flower pot. It was hard for the younger Gay in whippy business attire to conduct the tasting when the women were so anecdotal: the publisher lady, her man had insisted on a boxing match in the East End and got fearfully bashed up. There was very little left of him and he had to be prevented from another such venture. The soap star – I found out later from google-ing she’s got a ‘toy boy’. Well, the ‘toy boy’, actually about 39, had found something to do possibly. I couldn’t quite follow. When an American young woman came in to introduce the gin (after the teas were all sampled), Ed Jasper thrust out a glass and said, ‘That’s enough explanation.’ Meanwhile the therapist was saying how she’d had a regime of lemon juice in hot water every morning for healing and cleansing until her dentist said, ‘What on earth have you done to your teeth?’ She was so beautifully therapised herself, and yoga-ed and techniqued she carried out only the most minimal swivel of her head while relating horror, carrying her smile perfectly all the while. The great highlight was the production of the matcha powder. At once there was a swelling bubble of murmur amongst the women. They knew about matcha, all right. It’s new and it’s great. When mixed with water, a viscous bright-green slime occurs of the purest evil and tasting the same. But they all said, bar the soap star, you get used to it.

We removed to Sketch next door and were kindly entertained by the young Gay from the East India Company. At first we were put in a room at the front of the building. Ed Jasper had to be held and soothed. We hadn’t been put in quick enough. The room was like a bedroom but was actually a front room crammed with gold Lloyd loom chairs and the walls enamelled in bedroom pink. ‘It smells of sea-weed in here,’ the soap-star said. Ed Jasper was threatening to go home. The publisher lady said she knew the Maitre d’. There was tremendous thrashing of the hopeless reservation and showing to table girls in their ludicrous uniform frocks with the possibility of the maitre d’. ‘He was at 192,’ the cry went up. ‘In the 80s and early 90s he was at 192.’ Well, so was I, Adrian Edge. I was at 192, Kensington Park Road. We all were. Then our saviour appeared, the maitre d’. Yes, it was him. Grey now, a little smaller, but still French and divine. Ed Jasper really having to be carried, near to the end, the party moved to another room. I couldn’t understand Sketch. You must have heard of it.  It was the middle of the afternoon, yet the place was crammed with fashionables in rooms with no windows stuffed with a terrifying bombardment of chaotic decor. The requirement for attendance was legs at least six foot long, tiny denim shorts, vest, arms, blonde head and a huge handbag. We were transferred by the maitre d’ to an extraordinary kind of green and brown ancestral cave with no ancestors and a tremendous sense of encroaching vegetation. The carpet had grown tufts and even hillocks and Dougal-like falls of wool. But at least it didn’t smell and I had a cream tea. The soap-star said she was appearing in Hastings at Christmas and had turned down the chance to be the face of vaginal moisturiser. Another soap star, she said, always contrived to get arrested before the panto season to attract publicity.

 

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Norfolk Again! What a County! A Commie 60th Birthday

Friday 13th July 2018

Igor Cripps ‘s 60th birthday with Communist overtones was given in his private garden on the cliff tops of Norfolk. Incredibly exclusive venue with private sea view, although, as we shall see, the fence became compromised. Years ago, Igor had the bust of Lenin removed from the Islington Council chamber but still he craves the good old Communist days. The DDR is his idea of Heaven. His mother was vital at Greenham Common. Igor hasn’t changed a bit since first encountered by me 35 years ago in the British Library – still as youthful, and up to no good, quietly winding up and waiting for the explosion, just with Herbert Morrison glasses added. The Leader of the Council was present with his chain of office. Of course Gays have got huge in Norfolk. They have surged up with only the smallest curtailment of their normal activities. This Leader was once a Tory, I believe, and arrived in Norfolk at a low point. Then his home was flooded. Then he rose up. It’s so hard to follow the labyrinths of the Powerful.

I arrived from London with Royston King.  Igor was in his hall contemplating his valuable art collection with someone important from Radio 4, but not Jenni Murray. A magnificent tea was spread out. There were speeches. Most of Igor’s brothers and sisters were present. It was announced that none of them are married. Really? Gays were twitching. Igor himself is not married but has recently been in a camper van with his long-time companion who made a few lovingly exasperated remarks. Whatever happens, they’re never going to settle for quiet domesticity, thank God. Suddenly the tea-party was whirring with the notion of a private member being inserted into the fence beside the property. It was Igor’s hot masculine brother, Boris, who launched the idea. He runs a builders’ merchants. How had he ever heard that such a thing was even possible? Gays were in fever. Maybe at last the dream of hot manly straight gay would come true. One of the sisters though – she’d got a new boyfriend. Dead ringer for the swimmer, Mark Foster. Bronzed all over and said to be a fitness fanatic. I made sure I was watching the World Cup on TV near where he was later.

The next day, Royston and I went to Holkham Hall. We had quite a discussion about Tomato Feed or Tomorite which Royston said had a lot of potash in it. I’d always thought it was predominantly nitrogen. How wrong can you be? Holkham Hall – it’s by William Kent. Outside it’s yellow bricks and so severe as well as sitting in a lunar vastness, it’s almost ghastly although glorious. The Gay Mother said when driven past it on a previous occasion, ‘I’m glad it’s not open and we don’t have to go inside.’ But inside is wonderful. Surely one of the most successful and fully realised suites of formal rooms anywhere, somehow intimate and domestic although strictly architectural, purely design – chairs against the wall, soft cushioning comfort not the point, rooms where ‘levees’ might have taken place, whatever a levee is. I imagine they were very rigorous and ceremonial.  Yet, William Kent’s riotous inventiveness with the classical forms  – what a marvel, inducing delight.

The Entrata at Holkham, Surely Unrivalled in England, of World Stature, Easily in Complexity with the Staircase Hall of the Laurentian Library in Firry by Michelangelo

The Entrata at Holkham, Surely Unrivalled in England, of World Stature, Easily in Complexity with the Staircase Hall of the Laurentian Library in Firry by Michelangelo

The Entrata at Holkham: Incredible Ceiling, Impossible to Photograph

The Entrata at Holkham: Incredible Ceiling, Impossible to Photograph

With Coving Like this Who needs Soft Furnishings

With Coving Like this Who needs Soft Furnishings

More Coving of Great Sumptiousness at Holkham

More Coving of Great Sumptiousness at Holkham

They even Gilded the Skirting Board

They even Gilded the Skirting Board

 

 

 

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