Moira McMatron Left Normandy

Friday 15th September 2017

Nobody has ever left Normandy before. But Moira McMatron left Normandy although not until she’d sung her song about Miss Pineapple, charming, innocent and being worked off the back axle by her mother to lure paying men. Moira twirled her imaginary parasol and was a perfect picture. Then she left Normandy. Her sister’s back was broken at Jerez. She had to fly out.

The Laird and Lairdess also left but they were scheduled. Moira McMatron was put in the back of the Laird’s Toureng for transport to England, whence she would connect by air for Jerez. Through the back window she beamed and waved, still the perfect picture. Prior to departure, the Laird asked what is the difference between a warranty and a guarantee –  the answer is none. Before even that, at the day’s opening, he announced that he had bulimia and amnesia, which worked out well, because he ate then forgot to throw up, although it is questionable whether in that case he had either, because most people forget to throw up after eating.  The Lairdess was confined to her room without fail in the mornings until, at 11, she emerged completely finished and assumed a lounger. On the other hand, the Laird was underway much earlier; he said, Why does all left-wing food stick to the roof of the mouth, such as lettuce and peanut butter? In Waitrose, he’d asked for the Left-Wing Food section.

But they left Normandy. The Lairdess’s prosecco stock had been replenished in the glove compartment for the journey. Matt Driver was still marked as  ‘Matey Matt’, though, by the reduced party of me, Adrian Edge, Beamish O’Halloran and Laura Malcolm herself, of course. So ‘Matey Matt’ decided to age his chateau fragment by daubing it in cow pat and milk but Beamish took little notice. In the afternoon we found that a nearby supposedly whole chateau was open and couldn’t resist. But a country house visit in France is nothing compared to what it would be in England. This one had nothing in it. It was a modest family home. We were shown one medieval nook in a bedroom. ‘Et le salon?’ Laura snapped at the hapless girl-guide, as we were bundled off the premises and into the cider-selling department. Like yappy dogs, Laura and I jumped up in protest at what might have been the salon windows, to get a glimpse.  Ikea within, by the looks.

Later Laura’s cardy caught fire at dinner. ‘That’s my favourite cardy,’ she cried. But it was saved in time and continued in service, although slightly charred.

It was the next day that ‘Matey Matt’ began to dig a grave outside the front gate. Or perhaps the day after. The sun shone as he dug, but it didn’t shine when we went over to Villerville for a restaurant lunch with one who’d been a guest at the fete champetre. That’s how it is in Norman life – one function spawns another. The previous guest now hosts. We had canapes in her parlour. After the restaurant lunch she encouraged us to raid the town allotment. My designer handbag was stuffed with runner beans and we scuttled for the getaway car, just in time. Furious French allotmentiers were rumoured to be looming.

When the sun came out again, ‘Matey Matt’ continued his digging while Laura was in the kitchen. She said,  In London you can have tomatoes in entertaining different colours. There was a bizarre collective mis-memory as we watched Up Down after dinner. Roberts arrived back in Eaton Square, still dripping wet from having gone down in the Titanic. She might have been saved, but Milady was lost and there was only her jewel case to cling on to at all costs. Eventually Roberts had to be put away from the trauma. Rose said she’d been put away. A Seccie was got in to answer the letters of condolence and began stepping out with Captain James. Very wrong. Especially as she lived in Putney. But we were all quite certain it was Mr Bellamy she married in the end. We persisted with this idea even at the extremes of her courtship at the Café Royale and all through Captain James’s proposal of marriage and no sign of Mr Bellamy marrying her instead. We’d only viewed this epi a year or two before as the highlight of a classic Norman evening.

A New Bucket Donated by Me, Adrian Edge, to the Norman Chateau Fragment is Immediately Pressed into Unforeseen Service

A New Bucket Donated by Me, Adrian Edge, to the Norman Chateau Fragment is Immediately Pressed into Unforeseen Service

'Matey Matt's Pot Corner

‘Matey Matt’s Pot Corner

'Matey' Matt Digs a Grave - Right by the Front Gate

‘Matey’ Matt Digs a Grave – Right by the Front Gate

Laura's Cardy Caught Fire: But Saved in the Nick for Further Wear

Laura’s Cardy Caught Fire: But Saved in the Nick for Further Norman Wear

 

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En Normandie

Friday September 8th 2017

I took the Newhaven-Dieppe crossing this time to make a change: never again. No wifi and filthy food. Spent six hours in Samuel Beckett brown lounge of death. The Official Car was piled high with bagged outfits, some of which have subsequently gone missing. Where is my Paul Costello grey jumper, bought from TX Maxx last autumn for £9.99?  Also the Zara sub-Alexander McQueen black T-shirt with skull and roses print, about the same price? I think left at the Gay Mother’s. I feel like a desperate washwoman at the clothes’ line in a gale, outfits flying away in all directions, no ideah what’s going on re: wardrobe.

I’m going to go back to TX Maxx and see if they’ve got any more merino jumpers by Paul Costello for £9.99. It was a lovely little thing. Such a shape. But had lost its efficacy, gawn fuzzy, by March, if the truth be told.

Wools are such a trial.

The weather forecast for Normandy was dubious but a fete champetre was achieved regardless. But I never thought I’d be close to the Throne. All the white European British of the neighbourhood plus one American and one actual French who had to leave for New York, had been summoned. The table stretched as far as the eye could see and groaned with the famous pate de Usk, self-made by the Laird, an imperial salmon and all the tarts and elegances that grace the summer outdoor luncheon table at summer’s height in France.  Monet achieved the same at Giverny. It was not on this occasion that Laura Malcolm’s cardy caught fire, her favourite cardy. Beamish O’Halloran of the Mail gained 65 years at luncheon but said it would cost him dear. ‘I’ll be paying 40% taxes,’ he cried. Two other men at the table were considerably older than 65; one had purple hair and the other is living in an old factory heaped around with disused London buses. ‘Are you well off?’ Beamish said to one of them, causing a sensation. Beamish often causes a sensation. Was it a woman Sky TV presenter who often said, allegedly, stepping off the set, to any nearby cameraman, ‘Take a shower and report to my dressing room in ten minutes?’ She only wanted a little donation to her favourite charity when this story appeared in the Mail, or one like it. Such a nice lady, completely enthralled by Beamish, of course.

But can you believe who was at the lunch otherwise? Introduced by the man with purple hair? Yes! Close to the Throne. The sister of one who has fitted the Middletons!  The Gay Mother’s got a cardy by the sister, from when Cousin Barley worked there and we gained the sample sale, Aunt Lavinia and I. And also saw, while at the sample sale, the mega purring perfectly honed and very respectable German Euro-Gay who was the business head of the sister’s couture house and known to Joshua Baring. I could see he sensed danger and took on a very German look of imminent world war when I mentioned the name of Joshua Baring. Why? Anyway the Euro was dressed for duck-shooting, although in Upper Berkeley Street.

And that’s just the half of it. I gushed the story to the sister of the Gay Mother’s cardy and how one of its buttons fell off in the drawing room and we almost couldn’t find it which would have been disastrous because it was faceted jet. Otherwise it wasn’t necessary to speak to her, just to gaze. It never is necessary to speak to a connection. The connection is all. She throbbed with Royalty and the core of English life.

Then there was her husband. Blue-eyed, almost blond, weather-beaten, posh, plainly given to manly pursuits out of doors. ‘What do you do?’ I purred. ‘I’m a conservation builder,’ he said. Utter heaven. My favourite thing, light-touch conservation building work. I was fully engaged. Lime-plastering, reclamation yards, tongue-and-groove…. He knew a lime-plasterer in the Far West. I was sure they must exist. Such a thrilling confirmation. ‘What are you doing at the moment?’ I inquired. ‘We’re working at Windsor… must be finished before she comes back…’ ‘Who?’ ‘The Queen.’ I was on the floor. He was mending some steps for the Queen, in her private garden at Windsor.

I’m not surprised she chose him.

So double throne in one day and looks.

The Samuel Beckett Lounge of Death, Newhaven - Dieppe Ferry. Never Again

The Samuel Beckett Lounge of Death, Newhaven – Dieppe Ferry. Never Again

 

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Catapulted Straight to the Remote Marches from the London Bowl in London

Tuesday 5th September 2017

Harry Rollo gave a children’s performance at the London Bowl in London. He’s never deployed children before, particularly en masse. They stretched as far as the eye could see. I had high outfit satisfaction although in an old Prada factory shop white summer short-sleeved and Zara spray-ons in black. But nobody knew I was there. Not even Reggie Cresswell, who knows everything, so Harry says. It didn’t help that I couldn’t do backers nor the pre- in the Prince Gloom Room nor the interval in the Prince Gloom Room – owing to pressure of engagements. If it goes on like this, I’ll disappear altogether. On the other hand, rarity can be successful, but you don’t want to push it too far.

The children performed a fertility rite with Harry, under strict supervision of course and it was art. Some of them had the most incredibly challenging banging to do on a high platform in full view of everybody. It was vital that they wacked at the right moment. Harry was incredibly caring and they felt they could manage their tremendous roles. Then there was a perf of Harry’s own devising (the fertility rite was by another), about the stars and how the world started and what it was like in the early days – just so pure, floaty but rigorous. Princess Irina, Prince Dmitri’s sister, said she preferred it to the fertility rite. She’d devoted the day to watching Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 9 on Netflix, having never heard of Rupaul’s Drag Race at all until the day before.

I couldn’t even go to the hotel for the eats afterwards. I had to cavort directly to the remote Marches for Anneli Dumbarton-Nevil’s Sixtieth Birthday the next day. She is Robert Nevil’s sister. I changed into the Topman Limited Edition Queen Mother Powder Blue suitlette on arrival. As you know, (and what could be more topical with this new film out, God’s Own Country, about farming) farms are not especially tidy. In Robert Nevil’s mother’s day, cats swirled in the sink, and Morgan la Fay, the femme de menage, had never been known to penetrate beyond the kitchen whose floor she washed miserably only for it to be instantly churned with a 1st World War of gumboots and labradors. No wonder she died before her time.

But on the occasion of Anneli Dumbarton-Nevil’s Sixtieth Birthday the first thing you saw was a horse-box converted into a luxury toilet-block and then a massive marquee flung up on the lawn. It was to be a seated luncheon. I had no idea. The equestrian glamour element, brought in by Anneli, had prevailed although the raw drive of the farm persists, of course. Respectable relations had been summoned from Budleigh, with good braying voices, and the 104-year-old mother-in-law remained in her place for 8 hours. She said the first thing they taught her at school (this would have been in 1919) was how to knit. She’s remained a champion knitswoman ever since. Still knitting today but only small projects in case, as she says, she doesn’t live to complete them. Her grasp of the outlying villages of Birmingham is complete as well as which of her relations are not on speakers. They all speak to her.  She does not crave death but will take it when it comes. As she said last year, when it seemed there was nobody to look after her while Anneli and Dale were on holiday: ‘If I fall, I fall. Maybe nobody’ll come for me and that’ll be it.’

Anneli’s school friends were all at one table. Once they had each had their own pony. Anneli herself went to school on her pony. They may not have their own ponies now, but there was a distinct equestrian roar of hooves in the air, a sense of rears being whacked as mounted women took to the field in hot pursuit. Robert Nevil made an impertinent speech. He described the Clubhouse at the nearby airfield as a wife-swapping opportunity. He said that Anneli, aged 6 or so, had driven her pony right into the path of the cine camera that was supposed to be filming him and made horrid faces.  But it did no good, possibly merely provoked the horsewomen to drive their animals on even harder. Even, I, Adrian Edge, was not spared.  My tiny powder-blue suitlette, straining at the thighs, so commonplace in London – well, it had to be conquered. Later another horsewoman emerged, a key player in Anneli’s stable. She was up for knocking back until late into the evening. Her man was securely strapped to her side; he’d been living undiscovered in her street for years apparently and appeared to be reeling still from the thrilling shock of her discovery.

The other guests were neighbouring farmers and the tenant farmers, in the distinct Sunday best of the farmer, outfits gained from those country outfitters only found in country towns and unwillingly worn most intermittently. Their faces were red to begin with from their lusty farming and animal spirits transmitted from the animals and soon were even redder as Anneli administered the fizz. The statement pearls of the farmer’s wife spoke of a good tax-free easement to an electricity company, a sudden squirt of thousands. The tenant farmers were bulging with money, a father and two splendid sons; you could see it when they stood up and advanced gleaming on the buffet with frank, manly strides.

In the end, only the Budleigh cousins were upright, although growing less respectable by the minute, and ready for a second assault on the buffet. Returning the next day to London, the Official Car with Zenon driving lights was several times to be seen lurching to a sudden halt in gateways and lay-bys for the emergency emergence of Robert Nevil.

 

 

 

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We Meet the Minister, Have Conversation, and almost Levitate in Marylebone

Sunday 3rd September 2017

Valèry and Conrad gave a summer luncheon on a Saturday. In the carriage I could have died, but somehow revived and was poised. This often happens. When feeling at one’s worst pre, the event itself passes well. It must be that one can sink no lower. When buoyant before, one’s in for a crash. Lord Arrowby said we had almost married. Well, I never. He was a vision of the Sea Seas in prints. The young man who tries to house the needy, is a Labour supporter and has many followers on Twitter cared for me. I actually had conversation. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. I long for union and compromise, mainly so that I can carry on as a Poor Little Rich Gay without feeling so awful about those less fort.. But also so that business and wealth creation can thrive which must be a good thing. Not too many taxes, please. I wasn’t mown down in fury. The youthful Labour supporter couldn’t have been more solicitous. I think he’s seen the tragic side which you do see when you try to help the desperate. I went back in a railway carriage with Reggie who’s recently completed a ceramic. There’s tremendous excitement throughout the world. I don’t think he had any gossip.

Then Miss Mina staged an event in the Marylebone Parish Church. Sebastian Archer was present with Robert Nevil. La Vie en Rose was sung as well as poetry given in Bengali and Indian chanting, Israeli singing and all the world suspended in a kind of trance and just allowed to be without any fussing. Levitation was a possibility possibly; you could have lifted off if properly cleansed of preoccupations and simply subsumed. Miss Mina had some shapes in different colours that constantly pulsed and translated themselves into other shapes on a screen before the altar. It was quite an event, full of absence. Her next project is plane trees. Afterwards we pounded to the fish restaurant in Marylebone High Street, passing The Orrery for which the poor Multis once had a craze. Possibly we’ve sunk down a little to a chain fish restaurant. The Multis would certainly see it like that. But as a restaurant for older people dining after Indian singing in Marylebone Parish Church (the Vicar made a caring speech) it was enough.

After that it was the Mall Galleries for an opening. The Minister was present, as well as the Head of Phoenix Park, Dublin, which once was a Royal Park. The exhib was memorabilia, photographs, paintings etc to do with Hyde Park and Phoenix Park as a matching former Royal Park. Royston made a brilliant speech. He said the Minister had been born in a garden centre. There was tremendous hilarity because it was actually a proper nursery. Lloyd was on holiday, Royston said, so they had to put up with him, the only non-holidaying Royal Parks Trustee left. I was at sea to begin with at the function, knowing nobody, and Royston taken up with all the greatnesses from Dublin and so on, not to mention the Minister. But after the speech, I got in with the Minister’s minder, who was fashionably dressed for a civil servant. He comes from New Zealand and minds the Minister, quite young. The Minister was about 12 years old himself and had opposed Gay Marriage. No idea what he was the Minister of… Arts and Culture, perhaps.  But you could speak to him and I did. The nursery he was born in was at Corsham Court. I said, ‘We’ve always had family at Bath, until now.’ At least as a Tory, he might have understood. ‘The Minister will be dining,’ everybody was saying. There was much scurrying about and a sense of cars coming to the door, although none did. I thought the Minister had absconded. Maybe the minder had forgotten to mention that he was dining. But in fact he did dine, so Royston told me later, and it was riveting. Because the Minister had been bidden to dine with Mrs May herself who is a very retiring woman not given to dining.

Finally Royston and I went to Hyde Hall  for the Plant Fair. Hyde Hall is the RHS garden in Essex. It was a mass event. We had to park 1000 metres from the entrance at least. Everybody there was a uniform type. Honey-blonde hair not as nature intended, retired, white, middle class, monied but Sky TV, not BBC2, Leavers, I should think, embattled against new ideas or ideas of any kind most likely. Never seen anything like it. Such a uniformity of attendees. Royston was the only black person of course. We caused a sensation in the flower arranging tent by barging the queue – or some snappy lady said we’d barged the queue. We managed to give the impression that a queue was something we’ve never heard of, coming from London. There was incredible hiss and hatred. Then Royston told a nurseryman his phlox were all the same. But that went better because the nurseryman was quite up to it, especially with a black person and didn’t have that wretched craven, sour suspicion of everything that plagues some quarters of our society, I’m afraid.

We lunched in a gale and the server admired my jackette, part of the Scottish trousseau bought for the 1st Scottish visit last year, from Zara. Then we went round the garden, trying work out what was wrong with it. Somehow no soul, bitty and restless. It isn’t just the dismal nothing house that must be ‘Hyde Hall’. Also too much. Great borders have been established recently on the outskirts of the garden. This is wrong. You don’t want to give away your secrets straight away. The viewer is exhausted before they’ve even begun. But these institutions like the RHS are always having to dream up something new. The best bit was the New Zealand garden. It really had a distinct character whereas the rest of it was perfectly nice but one part not different enough from another.

Best in Show: Hyde Hall Plant Fayre Flower Arranging Competish: Not Our World

Best in Show: Hyde Hall Plant Fayre Flower Arranging Competish: Not Our World

 

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Two Openings and a Wedding

Friday 18th August 2018

Hurled almost directly from the Royal Academy Private Breakfast to the Far West to gather for the Wedding. The Gay Mother took her cardy to Tescos for pre-wedding shopping and donned it for the cold aisle. Many were doing the same. Back-up outfits, bags and bags of suits and dress coats, acres of powder blue, but sadly no diamonds… all to be transported back from the Far West to Gloucs where the great dynastic union between the daughter of Frankie-Doreen and Giles and my cousin was to take place. In the end I wore my Topman dress coat for the pre-luncheon at the Relais et Chateaux hotel in the Cotswolds, changing later into my Topman power-blue mini-suit with the Paul Smith vole bootees for the reception. ‘Everything of the very best,’ the Gay Mother said as the Wedding Service closed – the music, the private singing, the absolute quality. The Church setting – but God was declared on the service sheet  to be the mystery of the universe rather than actual God although the Vicar was pushing in a different direction quite hard.  Frankie-Doreen was one of the greatest mother-of-the-brides that ever lived. Not in tangerine with cafe-au-lait lace overlay as Val specifies for the role, but pewter with rose flush and cream trim, the coat shorter than the dress and an incredible front-bow, statement pearls and a hattinator. Then there was tea on the lawn with champagne or tea and cake brought by the guests. Laura Malcolm emerged in a floral print, wide straw hat and statement pearls, very fitted and shapely,  the boiled-down essence of the wedding guest, We were rustic and natural and done-up-to the-nines, a dream of pastoral, fairy children playing by the lake in the platonic ideal of little girls’ bridesmaids’ dresses.

Frankie-Doreen had done all the flowers – everywhere you looked, flowers, lacy and fine, cow parsley, no hint of fat florist horror. What a dream of rural simplicity, such art, hand-made, the floral wedding of Shakespeare’s time! But our family are riven. Too many deaths, starting with the unexplained suicide of the unknown Gay Grandfather in 1922, despite his excellent connections with grocery at the highest level. And then other misfortunes followed, some arising from the original trauma and some disasters occurring randomly. So the bridal pair must rise phoenix-like from the ashes. I’m sure they will. All bridal pairs are in the same boat, more or less, beginning again, as those who are passing already into the twilight years look on and think they know best.

Back in London via Hestercombe, back into outfits but a shadow of the wedding outfits. The National Trust have gone gay and in Hackney at Sutton House a new gender-neutral toilet marks 50 years since Gays were semi de-crim . They mean well but really. Dainty Lady TV were bidden to Sutton House and taken round by its alternative gay curators. They’ve encouraged angry black people to scrawl on the walls and an artist described as ‘non-binary’ to produce de-faced versions of well-known paintings. ‘Mr and Mrs Andrews’ with an Ikea catalogue was quite funny. The national policy is to out past owners of National Trust properties, even ladies only remotely connected with Lesbianism, and to make volunteers in the properties wear rainbow ribbons. At Felbrigg Hall there was resistance and they had to be let off. I don’t suppose they were anti-gay but embarrassed. Who wants to be thinking about sex while trying to show antiques?

The National Trust Summer Drive for LGBT – maybe it would have been better if they hadn’t bothered. It’s just not for them.

Rather a relief to arrive at Buckingham Palace for the Royal Gifts, which is this year’s special exhibition for the greatly treasured summer opening of this world-class interior. How I love that Blue Drawing Room which is actually cafe au lait and blue. What a scheme! Very few were in for the Press opening. Often I was alone in a drawing room except for a footperson, rather aware that this is the home of a very old person where nothing much has changed for years. That stain on the banquette in the Picture Gallery still there. The Royal Gifts! Two hundred Royal Gifts. Rather shattering. V. few one would really want but it’s the thought that counts. Then a Diana shrine corner of certain pecularity, with a photo of her in her best outfit over – the pink Versace suit for the Buenos Aires Visit. But why did she have her ‘childhood typewriter’ with her always? What is a ‘childhood typewriter’?

Frankie-Doreen and Giles Fecit: The Wedding Cake de Charme

Frankie-Doreen and Giles Fecit: The Wedding Cake de Charme, So Pared Down, Recalling a Rustic Wedding of Shakespeare’s Time from the Point of View of Highest London Today

A Royal Gift: From Russia

A Royal Gift: From Russia

From the People of the Falkland Islands: A bit Dreary

From the People of the Falkland Islands: A bit Dreary

A Pair of Fish Gurgle Jugs Given by Dartmouth Naval College

A Pair of Fish Gurgle Jugs Given by Dartmouth Naval College

HM Not Looking Best Pleased with the Columbian Hangbag

HM Not Looking Best Pleased with the Columbian Handbag

Really Gorgeous: Scarf Given by Nelson Mandela

Really Gorgeous: Scarf Given by Nelson Mandela

Botswana! Don't You Love it

Botswana! Don’t You Love it

Diana's Best Outfit Ever: the Versace Pink Suit for the Buenos Aires Visit

Diana’s Best Outfit Ever: the Versace Pink Suit for the Buenos Aires Visit

Diana's Childhood Typewriter. What is a Childhood Typewriter?

Diana’s Childhood Typewriter. What is a Childhood Typewriter? Plus Her School Tuck Box, which She Always Kept By

 

 

 

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Height but no Depth

Thursday 17th August 2017

The next thing that happened was that Jonas Kauffman gave his Otello at the Garden. He wore his own jeans but was marvellous. Except he can’t be really frightening. But so supple and thoughtful instead. The lady was great as well. I was struck by how long the willow scene is – nearly 20 minutes, I should say, of just her. Incredible to enjoy the opera for itself, rather than the rich outer life of the opera. Forked massively for the seats and took Miss Belliver for her 80th birthday. Wore my Topman linen suit with short trews – didn’t get footwear right: had socks not sockettes with slip-ons. Glimpsed Simeon Bond also in the stalls who is easily £25 million. So I achieved the appearance of being on that level.

One house-keeping note for Poor Little Rich Gays booking the Rich Ladies Supper Tables in the Paul Hamlyn Hall for the interval – when it says ‘Any allergies’ on the advance online booking, don’t ignore. I chose a main course for Miss Belliver; it didn’t say it had cheese in it, which she doesn’t take. But when it came, lo and behold, cheese! V annoying.

So it was home with barely time for sleep before arrival at the Royal Academy the next morning for the Private Breakfast. I wore part of the Scottish trousseau. Great novelty – the brekker was given in the main gallery rather than the Reynolds Room as usual. All the great ladies present, including Aunt Lavinia, were discussing the buses in which they had gained the venue. What of the millions they were supposed to be giving the Academy? An exquisite elderly petal attached herself to us. She greatly admired some ghastly daubs of Venice, threw off the wrong artist’s name with great aplomb (I checked in the catalogue) but said the Legacy department had been simply marvellous. Aunt Lavinia and I escaped to a neighbouring room. But she followed. ‘That must be Tracey Emin,’ she said of something that couldn’t possibly have been. ‘I know her. Completely ghastly.’ We scuttled away again. ‘Just too many pictures; they ought to have narrowed it down.’ The lady was once again at our side. ‘Is this the African blanket?’ At least she had been partially listening to the curator’s talk. Suddenly she was animé and making a bee-line: ‘Oh do look. There’s that lovely lady who does the flowers.’ Elizabeth Blackadder. Aunt Lavinia and I did like some of things, as best we could. The Summer Exhib is always a trial because it’s so hard to know what to like without being told.

Summer Exhib: I have Many of This Artist's Work

Summer Exhib: I have Many of This Artist’s Work but This not my Fav

Cornelia Parker: Coffee Pot Suspended

Cornelia Parker: Coffee Pot Suspended: Better in Graph because you Can’t See Support

 

Aunt Lavinia and I Liked This

Aunt Lavinia and I Liked This

We Liked This Even More

We Liked This Even More: Broken and Smooth Like so Much of Life

Aunt Lavinia Loved This

Aunt Lavinia Loved This: Reminded her of the Puppet Performance of ‘Crow’ in Greenwich Which Caused a Member of the Audience to Have a Panic Attack in the Middle of It

Gorgeous Indian Work

Gorgeous Indian Work: So Many Doilies

More

Motor-Cyclists with Tinned Frame and No Faces

Brocade Ship

Ship: Pearl Over-Spill: ‘Those are Pearls that Were His Eyes.’ But I expect Artist Just Likes Pearls

 

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Socks and Sockettes Shape the Poor Little Rich Gay Summer

Tuesday 8th August 2017

Hampton Court Flower Show Press Day – couldn’t be bothered. Had enough of Flower Shows for the time being.

The National Garden Scheme London Owners’ Garden Party was held at Lambeth Palace this year. No sign of Justin. Garden only so-so although must be one of the oldest gardens in London. But gardens don’t last. Rather a muddy lake and inclined to peter out at the edges to heaps of weeds and rubbish. The whole thing had the modern C of E feel, earnest, nice but meekly in reverse as to ferocious elegance. Horror of unexpectedly being called up to be given a certificate for having opened for 5 years. Especially since hadn’t opened for five years but at length remembered to count in this year. Wore some stripy canvas Manolo Blanik sand shoes given me by Cousin Barley – very Côte d’Azur – but my first attempt at the sockless look was a failure. My sockettes were so tiny (Dore Dore from Harrods) they wouldn’t stay on. Later, at dinner under a railway arch in Hackney, Fergus Strachan said the Blaniks were not his favourite of my footwear.

Lord Arrowby gave a party of great lavishment with his usual waif-like wood-faery attendant. So many people knew me but I didn’t know them – it was awful. We discussed socks and hot weather management thereof. One lady said she was always quite without stockings in the summer. Someone told me to get sockettes at Uniglo rather than Dore Dore at Harrods – so at last there was hope I could get right the ridiculous new sockless look with trousers at half mast. It’s marvellous the way themes emerge linking one event to another.

The great revelation was the tremendous freedom and newness of Rufus Pitman and Raj Zoroaster. Raj’s new metal addition was much mentioned. Really they’re having a wail of a time in Europe, rising quite above the constrictions of marriage as usually known. Meanwhile, Lord Arrowby whizzed in and out, cat-walking a new outfit every ten minutes. Rufus also was re-thought several times and Raj suddenly appeared in a shirt showing many monkeys which couldn’t have been more suitable.

The Lord was either in electric blue and orange with yellow flashes, or violent yellow, snakeskin and heavy metal or extreme green, red and tribal accessories, all the time growing more and more bouncy and delightful. The Lord outfits he wore, the more bouncy he became.

Outfit swapping has been a major theme of the Poor Little Rich Gay summer, as we shall see. Outfit swapping is the latest thing. You have to try it.

I couldn’t stay long because the next day was Glyndebourniana. I only had one course to do which was duck with redcurrants, port and redcurrant jelly. The picnic went off well; Fabien-Boris and Archie bought the 1st course from the supermarket and Prince Dmitri’s suppliers were Jeroboam and Ottolenghi. We discussed bodies as much as possible and Archie showed us exciting pictures of himself doing the Iron Man Marathon. The weather was glorious for once. Hipermestra was the opera. It’s by Cavalli. Had never heard of it but there was nothing else much I wanted to see at Glyndebourniana this year and somehow one is condemned to go. Well, it was worth it, although, as with so many ‘rarities’, you could see how it had become so. V. restrained, high, pure mu, surely not hurling itself into the arms of the audience, tiny little orch consisting only of unknown pucky, scrapy instruments, no brass or wind. But beautifully done, faultless high pure singing and clever production re-locating creaky ancient story to the Middle East of today with good effect. Frightful War-lord ambience and pointless destruction with love the only hope. It made a touching story.

Glyndebourniana as Always

Glyndebourniana as Always

Laura Malcolm's Zara jacket as Also Worn by Fiona Bruce on Antiques Roadshow, who is Making Do on £350,000 a Year

Laura Malcolm’s Zara jacket as Also Worn by Fiona Bruce on Antiques Roadshow, who is Making Do on £350,000 a Year

Laura Malcolm on a Visit to Bordeaux in Very Hot Weather

Laura Malcolm on a Visit to Bordeaux in Very Hot Weather

 

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The Summer Cycle

Friday 4th August 2017

So it goes on, one year to the next, the radiant summer cycle, untroubled, unchanging, while beneath rage boils. Already my forthcoming 60th birthday has become a battlefield although it’s not until October; the Multis have sounded the first cry for blood, backed up, it would seem by certain unknown individuals. Genevieve Suzy, as often, is suffering from summer madness; she’s remarkably seasonal, utterly to be relied on. She blew up in the Viet Garden and wasn’t seen again until the cafe at the Buckingham Palace press view where she was coming to the boil re: lack of a traditional cream tea in that cafe. The Queen almost had to come back from Balmoral. I bought Genevieve a Royal teapot and cream jug (mezzo prix) to have in her suite at Dainty Towers. So at last the Dainty Lady TV  teapot drama is over. It’s almost two years since the lid of the 1940 English Chintz Royal Albert got broken and was sent to the basement to be mended, never to be seen again.

At the beginning of July Royston King took me as his guest to the new Grange Park opera at West Horsley Place. You may remember I went there in June for another reason and was desperate to get intimate with Bamber as we toured the ruined house he inherited. This new Grange Park opera is a major thing. Wasfi has built a whole new opera house. We’ve known about her since Uni days. Royston too; that’s how he got the comps plus she wants to do an opera in one of his parks. But no-one seems to have noticed the first new opera house in Britain since Glyndebourne was re-built. Wasfi is clearly aiming high. She wants another Bayreuth and may well get it. The house looks like Bayreuth. Die Walkure was given and was thrilling. The only let down was the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. One harp just isn’t enough. But in these smaller houses the singers shrine and are fresh and joyous, not booming and strained. Royston was utterly gripped, never having seen it before. We didn’t get private confab with Wasfi. In the interval she was selling cake and didn’t seem to know us. A.N.Wilson also was sadly at sea when hailed by Royston although suitably humble: ‘I’m sure I should know you.’  Royston addressed him as ‘Sir’ and congratulated him generally on his life with great gusto. A.N.Wilson is very shy and looked as if the wind would blow him away.

Glyndebourniana as Always

Glyndebourniana as Always

The Gay Mother's Flower Bed (one of them) This Year

The Gay Mother’s Flower Bed (one of them) This Year

 

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Don’t Get Me Wrong

Saturday 29th July 2017

Re: my previous, don’t get me wrong. Thinking back 50 years to 1967 and Gays getting partially decrim. We did our bit for Gays and were Gay, the first phase really. Anthony Mottram and I at Barrowborough all those years ago, from 1970 to 1975. In my case, class helped: when the Gay Mother and I arrived at the Gay Granny’s, Dinner was required to come out of the Lodge and curtsey as we went by in the half-timbered vehicle. Or so I like to think. Remember Blanche Dubois: ‘I don’t tell the truth.’ I carried grandeur whether you like it or not. Anthony Mottram, now supreme of Prague, was ten when the Master said, ‘Eat your custard. Think of the children of Biafra.’ And Anthony Mottram said, ‘Well, put it in a parcel and send it to them because I don’t want it.’ Oh the terrifying, cold, crystalline purity of AM! We loved the truth. Anybody who stood in our way – loathsome fat-arsed Clayton or seething, hypocritical masters of an unmarried persuasion – was subject to an onslaught of fashion, mink, Twinings Teas, Landed Gentry and relentless glinting truth pellets. Nobody dared even to try to get the better of Anthony Mottram. Many were on the verge of self-wetting in his presence.

We were not afraid.

Think of Robert Nevil and Eddie Sedgewick at the neighbouring school: their underground pamphlets and dangerous liaisons. Later the mohair jumper in the green blancmange shade. Gay, gay, gay. Then on the front line in Brixton in student days. Below them was a male brothel. They were burgled every 15 minutes; the Police blamed their choice of race amongst whom to live, whom they called ‘coons’ which behaviour of the police later gave rise to the burning down of Brixton by enraged black people and their supporters in 1982. The main advantage of Brixton for Robert Nevil and Eddie Sedgewick, though, was Morleys of Brixton, a department store where you could get ladies’ high-heels in larger sizes owing to the Afro-Caribbean lady clientele.  Otherwise they never failed to expose themselves every time a suburban train halted outside their windows at the back – so it really was ‘outraged of Tunbridge Wells’.

The world had never seen this before. Out gays being gay and atrocious and nobody being able to do anything about it. The more abuse they hurled, the more we ridiculed: it was great and it was history.

 

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The Gays Today

Thursday 27th July 2017

Today it’s 50 years to the day since Gays were decriminalised – up to a point. Not a happy day for many Gays. Curiously, official celebrations, such as on TV, look back to a time of suffering and oppression. Gays are all right now but ideally they should be respectably married and tucked up in bed in pyjamas. Unmarried Gays are another matter. What are they up to exactly? And do we want to know? Many Gays look back to the time after 1967 and before AIDS. It was fab causing outrage and being a screaming queen. With their waspish tongues and superior ways, Gays were ideally suited to conflict. But once you’ve started on that path it’s hard to give up. So now conflict has to be generated artificially: have the bi-sexuals, the asexuals, the non-binaries been included? Usually not, so let’s make a scene.

At the Queen’s Gallery the other morning for the Press View of the Caneletto Exhib, Royston King said, ‘Most Gays have got something wrong with them.’ He was regaling me with his romantic news while the curator was giving her talk. He’d got entangled with a gardener. He doubted he’d try another gardener.

It’s all very well liberating the Gays but is it not too late? Were they too early somehow wounded or set off on a higher, more difficult path? Even our younger Poor Little Rich Gays, as we know, are tormented just as much we ever were, regularly meeting trains from Bournemouth bearing a Grindr liaison who blossoms at once into nightmare.

It’s the other Gays, really. If you could get rid of them, everything would be all right. So competitive, particular, prickly, inclined to describe a loving if persistent suite as ‘sexual harrassment’, quietly running down, belittling the other Gays, not realising they’re doing it. Such a legacy of harm. Will it ever end?

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