The Public are Admitted

Saturday 15th June 2019

There’s been the visit to Frogmore Gardens (where she walks her dogs and in whose Cottage Harry and Meghan live – bored to death, I should imagine, alone in the Cottage, being Royal), the Private Breakfast at the Royal Academy for the Summer Exhib, a Queen Victoria Event at KP, the Leonardo Opening at the Queen’s Gallery climaxing in a superb encounter with the Head of the Royal Collection just as he was coming out the Palace (I mowed him down with all my Queen Mary stories ever and worked in that Cousin Paquita’s father was the Royal Librarian through four reigns), a 2-hour piece to camera on the Royal Jewels (Dainty Lady TV), a meeting actually in the mine pit in a hut (the man on the gate said into walkie-talkie, ‘There’s an Adrian Edge here to see the Director’. ‘An Adrian Edge…..!’ I wore my Topman dress coat which was suitably quite filthy). Moira McMatron had a barbecue, and I took two plays, ‘Our Town’ at Regent’s Park and ‘White Pearl’ at the Royal Court. This week I took a Brexit Play at the King’s Head, Islington. Val said, ‘Do you still have to endure the terrible school dinner sit-down before the play?’ We went to the King’s Head in the 80s specially to see how Jill Bennett was getting on with her new teeth. Val had witnessed their poor start previously in another venue. Her progress was minimal and she didn’t live much longer, full stop.

I’m sure I’ve left something vital out – oh yes! Glyndebourniana. I opened Glyndebourniana with The Damnation of Faust. Amusing encounter with the butler at the next door German table on the lawn. He said, ‘Is it just Richard Jones wanking?’ re: the production. He was a Cambridge grad, of course, filling in. Born within Glyndebourniana’s sacred brow, enjoying same view, he said, from his parental cott in Glynde. Degree in Old Norse and something .

I also took Longborough Opera for the dress rehearsal of Rheingold. Will now have to go there for the next three summers (if spared) to see the rest of the Cycle. Damn you, Wagner. The expense. Rheingold rendered much nicer than at C Garden last Autumn. Never realised before that the lovely yearning, tragic motif that goes all through the last act of Walkure, when Wotan and Brunnhilde are in such agony, is first sung by one the Rhinemaidens or rather played by the orch the very first time the Ring is mentioned in Rheingold.

The public were admitted to my garden last Sunday between 2 and 5.30 as every year. Nine lunched privately beforehand and ten took a seated tea afterwards. A new baby was possibly coming. Thank goodness he didn’t because the milk was one-day past its sell-by date.

One young man of the public wanted to know what to grow on the balcony of his flat so I took him up to my own terrace which involved entering my private bedroom. Much sniggering from Robert Nevil and Bruce McBain, needless to say. Prince Dmitri and Joshua Baring had an encounter with two fierce women. Joshua said, ‘It’s a very small garden, so I’m afraid you have to wait to get into it.’ ‘Oh, how precious,’ said one of them. The other’s idea of a contribution was: ‘If it’s so small, why are they taking so long to see it?’ Clever. Otherwise the public were delightful and admired my alliums as always. My theme this year was Decay in the Garden. I had a dying euphorbia in a central position, to demonstrate that in a garden something is always dying. Gardens have death just as much as life, even ones where life is encouraged. But nobody took much notice of my dying euphorbia so I never got a chance to mention my main theme.

I was quite pleased with the cold collation for the private luncheon – even though the tomato, basil and parmesan tart spilled out of its pastry case in the cooking and the salmon trout – I’d not thought that it was quite small (cost-cutting exercise this year) and left it in the kettle a little too long. But Joshua Baring pronounced it not over-cooked. If it was good enough for him…. Do cook your summer salmon trout (never a salmon, please, always a salmon trout) in a kettle though. Otherwise your summer will be plagued by hard, dry salmon trout flesh. The same with chicken for the cold table. Must be poached. Otherwise hard, dry chicken will thread your summer.

For the seated tea, this year I overrode Mary Berry entirely (she really doesn’t like me, that woman. Always glares whenever she sees me. It’s because I had the effrontery to address her directly about her gardener, Keith. I said, ‘Is Keith going with you to Henley?’ Ever since, she has always glared at me with unlimited loathing at every encounter). Anyway, I didn’t put any extra baking powder in the Vic Spong and it was perfect. The only disadvantage of the seated tea was the milk one day past its sell-by date.

During the seated tea, Joshua Baring revealed that two members of the public had peered into my dining room during the afternoon, both elderly, probably a husband and wife. ‘It’s very old-world,’ said one. ‘Just like your mother’s,’ said the other. Thrilling.

My Garden: Actually Quite Nice

My Garden: Actually Quite Nice

My Quite Nice Garden

My Quite Nice Garden

My Garden Looking Quite Nice

My Garden Looking Quite Nice: Note the Half-Dead Euphorbia 

My Old World Dining Room: 'Like your Mother's' one elderly person said to Another

My Old World Dining Room: ‘Like your Mother’s’ one elderly person said to Another

My Mine from Within

My Mine from Within

Leave the first comment

Poor Little Rich Gays Make Remarks

Wednesday 12th June 2019

In Leipzig where I attended recently, somebody attempted to interview Harry Rollo. This is unheard of. ‘How do you juggle your dual roles of performing and creating… which makes extraordinary demands …. on the one hand…. but on the other…. and as I know from my own experience……? ‘ V. long question. ‘Well,’ said Harry eagerly, ‘the important thing is to make sure the diary’s in order and that I’m not doing one thing while I’m supposed to be doing something else.’ It’s hard to imagine a more Nancy Mitford answer. In other words, Mind your own business.

At Frogmore gardens the week before last ( a rare opening under the National Garden Scheme, this year with added security because of Harry and Megan being in Frogmore Cottage. You weren’t even allowed to peer over the fence at them) Royston King said, ‘This is so much better than Chelsea. I thought Chelsea was rather silly.’ I like Frogmore more and more. It’s a landscape garden, not a flower garden, which you have to get used to.

The Gay Mother is much preoccupied with the over-mowing of verges and roundabouts. Insects are desperate for habitats apparently. She also mentioned that she only had one email on 15th May, which was about Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell. She doesn’t like the Cotswolds and it served the Leader of the her Council in the Far West right that he got voted out. That disgraceful scheme to build a hotel where Bond’s Garage used to be… a lot of councillors didn’t even know about it. There was an inner cabal. At last it’s rained.

Frogmore: a Landscape Garden

Frogmore: a Landscape Garden

Lawns and Trees: Frogmore Landscape Gardens

Lawns and Trees: Frogmore Landscape Gardens

Frogmore: the Lake

Frogmore: the Lake with Public Dotted

A Tulip Tree at Frogmore: I've Never seen its Flowers before

A Tulip Tree at Frogmore: I’ve Never seen its Flowers before

Marvellous lawns and Choice Specimens Trees at Frogmore. When not Open to the Public, She walks Her Dogs Here

Marvellous lawns and Choice Specimens Trees at Frogmore. When not Open to the Public, She walks Her Dogs Here

Leave the first comment

Tiara Heaven

Wednesday 5th June 2019

Text from Rufus Pitman: ‘The Cambridge emerald brooch this morning – the Burma ruby Tiara this evening – I can’t work out if it means anything… I can’t STAND the Burma ruby tiara…’ I wondered if it was a crap tiara for a crap president. Soon there was a massive flowering of tiara talk, with some of the greatest of the land piling in on Facebook medium, where Rufus re-launched the topic. One of our leading Vicars revealed that in his time at St Paul’s Knightsbridge, parishioners were encouraged to bring in their old tiaras so that they could be broken down and attached to sacred vessels for diamond uplift, but the tiara shards could be dangerous especially when priestly arms were raised to elevate the Host. Rufus said he couldn’t find any use for his old tiaras except to strain peas. The Queen Mother’s tiaras – could we recall them? The Oriental Circlet and the Glamis Tiara, like a fender for a fireplace. But the Vicar said it wasn’t the Glamis Tiara, it was the Greville Tiara, made by Boucheron for Mrs Ronnie Greville and bequeathed by that lady to Her Late Majesty. I never knew that. Mrs Ronnie Greville – Lady Desborough said she’d rather have an open sewer in her drawing room. It seems to me that the Queen Mother borrowed tiaras and never gave them back – the Delhi Durbar tiara, for instance, she never returned to Queen Mary. The Strathmore tiara also, borrowed for her own wedding and clung on to thereafter. Now worn by Princess Kate Middleton. Rufus thought that the Girls of Great Britain tiara had been broken down – but it hasn’t. Where, though, is the Boys of Great Britain tiara? Surely now its time has come. Come on, Boys of Great Britain, you’ve really got to crowd-fund a tiara. It would be a perfect leaving present for Mrs May. But Rufus said, In that case it’ll have to be made of string. The Vicar wants the Princess Katharina Henckel Von Donnersmarck Tiara to wear for gardening and the Countess of Aberwristwith agreed that the Burma Ruby tiara is rubbish – such tiny rubies, not even the size of peas. If £100,000 came his way, Rufus said, he’d buy a emerald and diamond necklace to wear for eating spag bol on a Tuesday. But I don’t think £100,000 is enough. Grannie’s Chips are supposed to be worth £40 million. What are we to do? A glass substitute wouldn’t get you anywhere. You just can’t get cut-price diamonds. Debo came up, of course and how she arrived at Windsor to find nobody in tiaras, not even the Queen, so she took hers off and left it under a chair. Her view was that only at Windsor could you be sure of finding it again later. And also how Debo started her article about the Tiara Exhib at the V&A (greatest exhib ever), ‘What are tiaras for?’ Alternative uses for tiaras, other than as headgear, should be considered. How about a Christmas book – 100 Ways with Your Tiara Round the Home? You could place a tiara, for instance, in a chair you didn’t want anybody to sit in, instead of a tiresome dried teasel like they do in National Trust homes. Or you could put your cake tin inside your tiara and put it in the oven. Ideas on a postcard please.

Oh the Royal Tiaras! Will we ever grasp them? The Greville Bequest is shrouded in mystery, Rufus said. Nobody knows its extent. Suddenly Princess Eugenie appeared in the Greville emerald bandeau for her wedding, which had never been seen before ever… The Vladimir Tiara, though, we do know and indeed I gazed at its actual self in the Romanov Exhib last autumn, its greatness unsurpassed. In a delightful chance encounter with the Head of the Royal Collection outside Buckingham Palace last week, it was revealed that when the tiara arrived for exhib there was an unprepossessing piece of elastic attached to it. Could they remove it?  they asked. Word came back: Certainly not. Without that elastic there was no hope of Majesty being able to keep it in.

Can I say, though, how this State Visit has shown the enormous prestige of the British Royal Family and supremely of course Her Majesty the Queen? Trump at last required to behave and subsumed totally in his inept white tie into the greatness of our ways.

The Vladimir Tiara: the Greatest of All Tiaras

The Vladimir Tiara: the Greatest of All Tiaras: You can See the Elastic that Holds it On 

 

Leave the first comment

Chelsea – the Last Gasp

Wednesday 29th May 2019

I didn’t take Chelsea Flower Show Press Day this year, owing to being in the Far West, which is far from Chelsea. So there was nothing for it but to attend on a public day with the public. Not encouraging that the first sight was my favourite Museum Head still wet from swimming (he swims any river from beginning to end), equipped with champagne, actually ‘on’, as they say only at Chelsea, the Best in Show garden and not so much in the mood for waving at me. Crushing to be fenced out as a member of the public.

I was wearing an Instagram girls dressed-down look for brunch in Beverley Hills – light grey jeans by Replay, a brief Tiger of Sweden black jackette and a cream Prada shirt with double row of blue stitching. Laura Malcolm homed straight in. She’s an eye for quality of stuff, always has had. ‘Look at that stitching,’ she said. ‘One row is slightly different from the other. And the fabric – the weight! ‘ Matt Driver was in an unstructured black suit by Folk, with white shirt with extra-broad button strip feature by Margaret Howell. But not even he, despite a salary exceeding Robin Smallmeal’s (who is Head of Refuse for the entire Nation), is not permitted to spend £175 on a shirt, which is what mine cost in the January sale. Poor Little Rich Gays whirl in a vacuum, with minimal dependents and only themselves to think of, no heirs, the future a blank after death, so all resources able to be drained in advance.

Laura Malcolm said, ‘Every time you wash that shirt, you’ll be thinking how it’s declining little by little.’

We quite liked the Best in Show garden. It wasn’t without flowers in fact despite promotion claiming otherwise. But a pleasant rill, with varied textures but not a mess and an interesting tree like a hawthorn called a Southern Beech. The slabs of burnt wood were quite attractive although in a real garden they’d look silly and have to be removed. But at Chelsea you’ve got to have something like that or everybody will say, ‘But it’s just a garden.’ As they did about the Lock garden, which was just a copy of any lock but at a cost of £1 million. The garden opposite the lock was perfectly horrid – great lumps of garish flowering plants and shrubs. The usual ghastly ‘hard landscaping’. One of the other efforts had only scored ‘Bronze’ which apparently means ‘Poor.’ Laura Malcolm was full of how disappointed designers being given their rubbish medals had spiced up the Chelsea coverage on TV.

There were only 5 show gardens in Main Avenue this year. The other one we liked was the Dubai Garden. It was dusty and Bedouin, in orange and silvery grey. The designer was a friend of Aunt Lavinia’s son and we struck lucky. Aunt L was taking an interest in some Frink-like sculptures ‘on’ the garden. ‘We must get a closer look,’ I said. ‘There, isn’t that the friend?’ Before I knew it, Aunt Lavinia in the fray. ‘I’m Laver’s mother,’ she was saying. ‘Now those sculptures… I’d really like to see them close up. Do you think…?’ Already the rope was being lifted. We were in! Or ‘on’. We were ‘on’ a Chelsea Garden. Just no champagne.

So that was the main thing at Chelsea really.

By the way, we decided not to wait 30 minutes to get inside Kate Middleton’s caring environmental complex. You could see enough from the outside.

One of the Artisan gardens round the back (where I met Sir Timothy Lawrence with Royston King on Press Day one year) was the third thing we liked. It was made of old bits of scrap iron and rubbish with orange flowers. Very touching and loved it.

After two and a half hours bolt upright at Chelsea, it was a relief to get the weight off for a private supper at Laura and Matt’s mansion home. Aunt Lavinia was very taken with the lentil and salmon salad with red onion and wrote to the Gay Mother describing its every aspect.

Best in Show: Andy Sturgeon with Burnt Wood Dividers

Best in Show: Andy Sturgeon with Burnt Wood Dividers: Nice 

Morgan Stanley Garden. Chris Beardshaw, What were you Thinking of?

Morgan Stanley Garden. Chris Beardshaw, What were you Thinking of?

Morgan Stanley :Chris Beardshaw: Prison Horror Booth

Morgan Stanley :Chris Beardshaw: Prison Horror Booth

The Dubai Garden: Loved It

The Dubai Garden: Loved It

The View of the Public while 'On' the Dubai Garden

The View of the Public Penned Out while ‘On’ the Dubai Garden

The Public: Without Hope behind Rope

The Public: Without Hope behind Rope

Display of Lupins Doesn't Look Real

Display of Lupins Doesn’t Look Real

V Bad Planting in the Trailfinders Garden: Berberis just Makes it Look a Tangle

V Bad Planting in the Trailfinders Garden: A Tangle 

Forgotten Quarry Garden: Artisan Garden: Loved It

Forgotten Quarry Garden: Artisan Garden: Loved It

Forgotten Quarry Artisan Garden: Great

Forgotten Quarry Artisan Garden: Great

An Interesting Shorts Suit at Chelsea

An Interesting Shorts Suit at Chelsea

 

Leave the first comment

An Irish Visit: Walk-On Luggage Only

Monday 13th May 2019

I thought I was going for one night only but as soon as I got there I realised it would have to be two. My funeral outfit was the Topman frock coat in real wool (shaggy tartan). It had to double up as a travelling coat owing to being in a walk-on luggage only trap.  Otherwise I had only one extra day outfit and insufficient foundation garments.

Prince Dmitri had briefed me about Ireland beforehand. He lived many years of exile there. A cupboard is a ‘press’. They say, ‘I’m after buying a Wedgwood dinner service’ which doesn’t mean ‘I hoping to buy a Wedgwood dinner service,’ but the opposite: ‘I’ve just bought a Wedgwood dinner service.’ On the plane it all zinged into life on Aer Lingus. They were Irish. ‘I’m after getting a gin and tonic,’ one stewardess said to another. Thrilling. On the radio in the hire car from Cork airport to Waterford, a reporter was describing a court case going on in Dublin. ‘His mother lost the run of herself,’ he said. Can you be surprised?

Strange countryside – very green, of course, huge open spaces with fields, then mountains, bleak little villages, often hideous 19th or 20th century buildings. It looks like England but it isn’t. Much ruination. Any gentleman’s residence, such as might be a parsonage or a solicitor’s goodly house, almost certain to have been wrecked with replacement windows. And very few of them – good residences, I mean. The terrible history, I suppose. Really nothing but wretched peasant dwellings that fell down or were demolished. Somehow no sense of a peaceful rural life, but strife and wrong.

At Waterford, hotel not progressed since 1981. Amazing long-haired carpet with nylon sheen, the vast expanse of it the main feature of the room, obliterating the need for pictures on the walls. Spanish receptionist suggested a bistro in the town but when I get there crazy parking arrangements: there were parking spaces in the pedestrian zone and vehicle access permitted, but actual parking forbidden – or so they said when I asked in the restaurant. So had to re-park. But no provision made for getting out of zone again – i.e.no traffic light at the junction, lights only at the other three junctions of the cross-roads – so just had to drive out randomly. Terror of ticket.

In the restaurant there was an enormous woman saying to the waitress: ‘Can we have three puddings? It says here “3 courses for 25 euros”. But we only had one 1st course between us.’ She got her three puddings. I longed to lean over and say, ‘The last thing you need is 3 puddings.’

The funeral was to be of the Gay Mother’s oldest friend who passed at 95, always known as Miss B. This was because a very snobbish neighbour said to the Gay Grandmother in 1930,’ How fortunate the Gay Mother is to have Miss Bigby to play with, the charming little grand-daughter of General Sir Morgan Bigby.’ Miss Bigby at that time was only six, but still the grand-daughter of General Sir Morgan Bigby without escape. This same neighbour, when the air-raids came, announced that Hodges, her maid, was in her proper place under the kitchen table, while she was beneath some Sheraton in the drawing room. Sheraton did not design his furniture with air raids in mind. The same might be said of the kitchen table but I think we know which would have been the stronger. Also the kitchen was in the basement.

But I agree that placement and prestige should take precedence over life and death.

The funeral wasn’t until 2pm the next day so I was able to fit in Mount Congreve in the morning. Important Spring garden and fabulous Irish Georgian mansion (no inside visits), so bare and grey, the only feature an elaborate black stone front door portal. In fact Miss Bigby’s son-in-law had been the agent to old Mr Congreve who died aged 103 in 2011. Completely feudal set-up and carry-on so what has changed in Ireland? Trespassers all but gunned down and staff abolished at will.

I gained the grim Church of Ireland barn in a Cornish-type of sea-side town with golf links and knew no-one. Within it was pitch-pine lined. I was summoned to the front row by Miss Bigby’s daughter whom I last saw in 1968. Every summer they stayed in the 60s. Now for a moment we were revived and strangely thrown together at her mother’s funeral. And I hadn’t seen her since 1972. My placement meant that at the end of the service when the mourners filed by the family as is the Irish tradition apparently I was showered with condolences. But it was all for the Gay Mother who had known her the longest and could hardly be there herself at 95.

Miss Bigby had lived quietly without men mostly and in her mind had dwelt on Proust and the struggle to produce art in the emptiness of the 20th century. She left a body of hard-line abstract paintings which seemed less important on the day of her funeral than her lovely life of the mind. Awfully brainy woman vicar, explaining all this, full of culture and learning.  Miss Bigby’s void was full of light. Although her form was lowered brutally into the grave in its wicker coffin. In her day she had been whacky in a salmon-pink leather mini-suit on the train from London arriving in the Far West. Now laid in the earth. I’d not seen that before. In Ireland there’s only one crematorium.

We returned to the same nylon and rice krispies hotel where I was staying for the funeral baked meats which was a hefty sit-down chicken dinner on a potato base. Not much drinking. Then it was over.

The next morning I schemed to fit in Lismore on the way back to the airport. Much mentioned by Debo as the Devonshire branch in Ireland. Arrived in the town and at once a door in the wall painted in the same blue as at Chatsworth. The Estate colour. Marvellous Magnolia Campbellii towering over the wall – the King of Magnolias. I have never seen such a specimen before. The town of Lismore – well, really it might have been 1958. That red and cream scheme for the shop front. Just glimpsed the Castle high above the river. Debo and Andrew could never stay there because the IRA could have got them from the road. In church was glad to see that the Duke’s agent had been simply marvellous during the Famine and got a a big monument plus window.

Irish Hotel Bedroom at Waterford with Luxury Sheen on Carpet

Irish Hotel Bedroom at Waterford with Luxury Sheen on Carpet

Mount Congreve: Superb Irish Georgian

Mount Congreve: Superb Irish Georgian

Magnolia Campbellii at Lismore

Magnolia Campbellii at Lismore

Lismore Church

Lismore Church

Tablet to Curry, the Duke's Land Agent who acted so Admirably during the Famine

Tablet to Curry, the Duke’s Land Agent who acted so Admirably during the Famine

The Land Agent's Window at Lismore

The Land Agent’s Window at Lismore

Lismore Church Cat

Lismore Church Cat

 

 

 

 

 

Leave the first comment

Tulips Still Came On

Wednesday 15th May 2019

The tulips have just finished. Somehow I managed to have them this year inspite of everything (not auto-correct, ‘inspite’ is not wrong!)

A little relief that they’re over,  for now the garden can calm down. Funny how the first flowers are the loudest, especially the tulips. There’s nothing like them. Just screaming, ‘I’m a flower so f..ck awff!’

Only a handful will dominate the garden. Two years ago the Gay Mother had 20 Appeldorn, bought for her by me. She was horrified at the quantity. Appeldorn is a very old variety, bright red. She contrived four clumps of five and they just glared. Her large garden was fully illuminated by twenty red tulips. I think it’s bad at Dixter where they plant billions of them in one pot, all crowded together. They must be separated.

As always entirely the wrong ones came up. Not what was ordered. A bit like Glawdys Cooper being simply marvellous in that play by Noel Coward except entirely the wrong lines.

Abu Hanza and Spring Green were Intended but the Third was Meant to be Light and Dreamy, not This Electric Orange Thing

Abu Hanza and Spring Green were Intended but the Third was Meant to be Light and Dreamy, not This Electric Orange Thing

The Tulip Gaudiness, About Three Weeks Ago

The Tulip Gaudiness, About Three Weeks Ago

How It Was Three Weeks Ago

How It Was Three Weeks Ago: Also Wrong Yellow Ones: I’d Forgotten About them 

Top Terrace Tulips: Entirely the Wrong Ones: Ballerina the Only Hit: Otherwise was Meant to Be Sapporo, which is an Interesting Primrose Yellow. No Third Intended so What's that Purple?

Top Terrace Tulips: Entirely the Wrong Ones: Ballerina the Only Hit: Otherwise was Meant to Be Sapporo, which is an Interesting Primrose Yellow. No Third Intended so What’s that Purple?

Dixter Tulips: Too Many at Once, Plus Weird kind of Anti-Tulip

Dixter Tulips: Too Many at Once, Plus Weird kind of Anti-Tulip

Tulip Carpet: I prefer them Dotted

Dixter Tulip Carpet: I prefer them Dotted

 

Leave the first comment

Val’s Great Project

Saturday 11th May 2019

Val was given an old-fashioned kitchen scales 30 years ago by a school-friend. Restoration was called for, so they have remained in a cupboard this last third of a century.  Suddenly Val got to work, just the other day. Off with the cream enamel and turquoise piping, dismantle and re-colour. Racing green they were to be. Enamel spray. But some of the metal was rusted quite away. Val stuck. Also, how to re-assemble the device? Then some women came to tea, one of them an engineer. She got the thing back together in no time. Also recommended car filler, and even knew where to buy it: Val trolled off to Kar Krazy. ‘Huge place,’ Val said. ‘Nothing in it. The man was glad of some company.’ Then Val back home with filler and finished off the scales. Now to be used as a fruit bowl.

Val's Great Restoration

Val’s Great Restoration: Note also Val’s Three Graces to the Left. How Many have the Three Graces on their Kitchen Worktops?

 

Leave the first comment

Quite a Lot Went Wrong

Friday 3rd May 2019

There was dog poo on the doormat. I thought that was the extent but no! Next morning traces tramped up the stairs. Then a pillow burst. Feathers. I was leaving for Althorp, to be received by Earl Spencer at a champagne tea at 3pm. My outfit hadn’t come through, hadn’t been imparted. Only minutes to spare. So difficult. Important not to be too town. Semi-travelling, semi-country, semi-afternoon but Earl Spencer and the Library at Althorp. Ants in the bedroom when I was already late for picking up Genevieve Suzy might have broken some. Somehow I was not broken but sprayed.  The pillow had previously been placed in isolation in an isolation room and carpet cleaner had been in stock, thank God. The Zara Admiral’s coat (navy, brass buttons, shoulder tabs, worn for the visit to the Catherine Palace last year) with the hemp breeches by Topman, the Prada brown brogues, the office-blue shirt by Balenciaga, White would have been too London. Blue was intended to give a Prince William feel – the outfit kind of crashed through the window of my poor shattered mind. At Newport Pagnell services I looked in the mirror and didn’t like it, not the Cambridge blue of the shirt, with the navy of the coat. Wrong. Earl Spencer would condemn. So we gained Althorp. Parked right in front of the house. I said, ‘It’s quite small’. Genevieve Suzy said, ‘You’re not to say that.’ We toured and were exclusive. It was divine. Then the champagne tea with Earl Spencer entering from elsewhere. So a button came off my Zara faux-naval coat. Such a mercy one of the party noticed and I was able to bag the button. It was like the time the button fell off my Prada mac in the Prada shop, onto the faun carpet where it could be seen. The thing about that button, you see, is it had ‘Prada’ incised into it. If lost, all would have been lost. No hope of replacing at Button Queen, which is a button shop in Marylebone. For all that, even when in Prada in the Prada shop, one was treated with contempt by the staff. Aunt Olive, of course, lost a button from her Hardy Amies suit in the car going to the Royal function for which it had been made – not very well, she said. Many re-fittings. The button coming off was the last straw. But she had a needle and thread with – luckily.

I did not have a needle and thread in the Library at Althorp but you would have thought Earl Spencer could have produced an effective maid. On leaving Althorp Genevieve announced that she wasn’t feeling well. She hadn’t taken bread for a while, she said. What about Newport Pagnell services? I said. No, she said, drive on. By Luton it was getting desperate and then too late. We didn’t reach London Gateway Services in time. Genevieve had to convert the Althorp going-away goodie bag for other purposes, remaining utterly regal throughout of course. Poor Genevieve, so wronged. She was abed all the next day.

Finally I gained my home and went up to change out of my outfit. A mouse was quivering by the bed with a certain charm and pathos. I reached to pick up and it ran away. Next morning it was dead beside but not in the trap I had laid.

Althorp: Not Very Big

Althorp: Not Very Big

We Were Allowed to Sit in this Reynolds Drawing Room

We Were Allowed to Sit in this Reynolds Drawing Room

Leave the first comment

I Learn New Things

Thursday 2nd May 2019

The Gay Mother said that you can have a day off from Lent on Mothering Sunday. So sherry and chocs permitted on that day.

I never knew what Stabat Mater meant. Maybe something to do with stabbing? But, no, it’s the Virgin standing at the foot of the Cross or maybe outside the Tomb of Our Lord or both. ‘Stabat’ means ‘he, she or it stands’ in Latin.

The Gay Mother was asking about Fleabag. I tried to put her off. But she was cross because it was on too late. I suppose word had reached her because of the Vicar in it, even though a Roman. The Church Times has been abuzz, possibly.

The Gay Mother spoke about donkeys. When one donkey is wounded or ill, the other donkeys gather round it and care. There was a programme about a woman who’d devoted her life to donkey-rescue. I don’t think it was just an item on Woman’s Hour. Definitely a whole programme. She said she was inundated with donkeys in the early days. We wondered where they came from. I could only remember ever seeing a donkey at Carisbrooke Castle, on the Wight’s Isle (Brexit Central), being made to drive a wheel that hauled up water from a well for the amusement of tourists. It would never be allowed these days. Like the Chimpanzee’s Tea Party at London Zoo – abolished because disrespectful to make a spectacle of the chimps. Everyone of my generation saw that donkey at Carisbrooke though – or has heard of it. But where did all the other donkeys come from that had to be rescued?

There are a few fine points to be made about Resurrection, which you might like to remember for next Easter – if spared. It’s not the same as a basic rising from the dead. That’s just a dreary old miracle. A Resurrection is a new start; one is completely re-programmed to begin again. I’m not quite sure how this played out in practice. I’ve always thought Christ’s time post-Resurrection was a bit ghostly and unconvincing. The supper at Emmaeus; nobody knew whom he was. Not surprising he just evap up into Heaven. On the whole probably better to thoroughly die the first time and not come back. One wouldn’t want to be tiresome. Once you’ve done the big farewell, really that’s it. You don’t want to be like one of those legendary actors, always retiring, only to comeback.

Harry Rollo commented on rich people, among other things. He has a wide range of views beyond the narrow confines of performance. Rich people, Harry said, always want everything replaced at once if not working or not satisfactory somehow. New 3-piece suite not quite what was expected – get another immediately. This extends to people, of course. Even wives or husbands found to be lacking can be simply whisked away and substituted with what is hoped will be a better version.

Matt Driver was in an incredible outfit. Only once every ten years do you see an outfit that is just perfect and always it’s impossible to say why. Why is this outfit perfect and another not? Perhaps this explains that fashion people are usually unhinged. Nor does a graph catch it. This was a jacket by Folk (not a house I would have thought of) in a thick spongy wool, little slacks by Uniqlo and an under-jumper by ???, shoes by Hogan.  How it came together – colours quiet but surprising in combination, navy and grey, just a touch of pattern on the trews, the shoes just the right emphasis and the jacket, because in a thick fabric actually creating a barrel effect but just right. An ideal harmony of form and content, actually, so hard to achieve and why clothes are so difficult. Because of endless variation in the human form. Why oh why can’t we all be a standard shape to look fabulous in clothes at all times?

Matt Driver's Miracle Outfit: Graphs Don't Begin to do it Justice

Matt Driver’s Miracle Outfit: Graphs Don’t Begin to do it Justice

Matt Driver's Premium Outfit

Matt Driver’s Premium Outfit

Matt Driver's Outfit: So Fabulous

Matt Driver’s Outfit: So Fabulous

Matt Driver's Outfit: If Only I could Graph It

Matt Driver’s Outfit: If Only I could Graph It

 

 

Leave the first comment

What does Easter Speak ?

Monday 22nd April 2019

I’ve been reading Debo’s old book of her newspaper articles, ‘Counting My Chickens and Other Home Thoughts.’ How far away she seems now although only 5 years in the grave. Her world is fading away – the Old Families, Old Money, the impatience with logos and re-branding and people saying ‘absolutely’ and ‘quantum leap’, her confidence that Chatsworth would go on, the public adoring and adoring that the Duke is in res and she being just a weeny bit casual with the truth (did she really never read a book?) and rather making things up to suit herself in the aristocratic manner. It’s not going on much longer – all of that. All soon to be swept away. Me, I don’t know what I’ll do. Will it be total confiscation, do you think? Or perhaps just Inheritance Tax put up to 80% above a certain limit under Corbyn. And Wealth Tax too – why not? There’s always the option of committing, of course. I’m too old now to begin again. But just general dread of destitution actually, with or without Corbyn. There’s no glimmer now. The days of prosperity are gone. Little tin cars for everybody. Maybe it will be better. Less to worry about.

So in one way and another I did not think that the Lord would rise again on Easter Morn as usual. Not this year. I was low. All through Good Friday and Easter Saturday, I was low. I went through the motions, of the Hot Cross Buns, the Easter Saturday tea so important. But I was low. We’ve had no visitors and I’ve had no strength. I’ve dragged through my tasks.

Yet, when it came – Easter Morn – there was a flicker. A small faint surge of the Lord rising. But today it’s gone again. Yet on Palm Sunday I was buoyant and alive at San Paulo for the Palm Sunday Service by kind arrangement of Genevieve Suzy.

Donkey lead into San Paulo for Palm Sunday Service with the Bishop (a Woman)

Donkey lead into San Paulo for Palm Sunday Service with the Bishop (a Woman)

Triumphant San Paulo - at Our Nation's Core for Palm Sunday

Triumphant San Paulo – at Our Nation’s Core for Palm Sunday

The Gay Mother found Three Daffs Remaining in the Garden for her Easter Church Flowers

The Gay Mother found Three Daffs Remaining in the Garden for her Easter Church Flowers

Paul A Young Obliged as Always: this Year a Monet Egg

Paul A Young Obliged as Always: this Year a Monet Egg

 

Leave the first comment