Easter Food goes Well, But Paul A. Young Questionable

Tuesday 10th April 2018

In the Far West, the fish shop closed down so I had to go to the bigger town to get fish. But it was a triumph. Every cloud has a silver lining etc… I got lemon sole straight off the boat and smoked haddock. The Gay Mother’s menu idea was kedgeree. When the time came, though, she left the kitchen. Only the central lamb with preserved lemons was a dip, the actual Easter Day feast. The Gay Mother declared she no longer likes meat, although she’d chivied me to order the shoulder from the butcher. I had some oregano left over from a London supper (it had been slipped under the skin of a guinea fowl) which was much better than Mary Berry’s suggestion of thyme. Really tangy. The preserved lemons came from Wholefoods, Piccadilly and tasted of something, unlike the Belazu ones.

But the Gay Mother doesn’t like meat any more so that’s the last of the meat we will eat.

But the kedgeree… that was menu-ed for the night before. Abandoned in the kitchen (the Gay Mother was in her chair by the fire in the drawing room, surrounded by antiques) I had no idea what to do. Except that before departure, the Gay Mother had made it clear that the rice was not be cooked risotto-style but boiled separately and then mixed. That turned out to be the stroke of genius. I fried shallots with a tiny bit of mild curry powder got from one of those rather dusty wholefood shops where there are numerous items in little plastic bags. How long have they been there? Then really just mixed in the cooked, flaked haddock and the rice. Oh and the boiled eggs. Parsley. We were thrilled with it. Very light in flavour. Incredibly authentic. Just like Indian food is in India. Dry. I’ve never been to India, of course (the hygiene) but take it from me. I know. Real Indian food isn’t all gloopy like it is here. It’s dry. And pure. And rare.

The Gay Mother said she must have a lot of kedgeree. She needed to be comforted. There’d been a set-back. A little private Crucifixion, not quite on the scale nor getting the publicity of the original one. But a Crucifixion all the same.

We tackled the Easter egg from Paul A Young (branches in Islington, the Royal Exchange and Mayfair only) when Cousin Smurry came over on the Monday. £35. That was the price of the egg. Our lunch for Cousin Smurry had been v. successful. Potatoes Gratinee, Beetroot Sliced, Panzanella. A Vegetarian lunch. The Easter Egg from Paul A Young required heavy equipment to get it open. Inside was a plastic bag full of chocolate drops. It was a plain egg but jewelled at one end with tiny sugar balls in many colours. A great chocolate spectacle. But for days afterwards, everywhere we looked.. there they were. Tiny little balls all over the place. They got everywhere. Impossible to pick up except with the vac or a wet finger (then placed in the mouth). Thank you very much, Paul A Young.

Finally the cake: I put in extra baking powder, as Mary Berry suggests in her Aga cookbook, written before she became what she afterwards became. The cake was nice but grainy. I got the icing wrong. Too loose. It got everywhere. A new decree: the correct Easter cake is: a Vic sponge with orange juice added to the cake mixture (I put in too much: perhaps why cake was grainy). The icing is made with orange juice also. The cake is decorated – this the absolute coup, the key note – with crystallised violets. These you must get well in advance from online suppliers.

The other thing to say is: how well primroses arrange themselves in the garden. ‘They’re very welcome,’ the Gay Mother said. They dot themselves about in just the right places, never over-doing it. Well done, primroses!

Paul A Young: His Egg

Paul A Young: His Egg

Thanks very Much, Paul A Young. Little Balls Everywhere, from Your Egg. Lovely to Look at but Practical....?

Thanks very Much, Paul A Young. Little Balls Everywhere, from Your Egg. Lovely to Look at but Practical….?

The Classic Easter Cake: the Keynote is Crystallized Violets and Orange Juice

The Classic Easter Cake: the Keynote is Crystallized Violets and Orange Juice

How Well Primroses Arrange Themselves

How Well Primroses Arrange Themselves

I Also Did Lime Plastering over Easter

I Also Did Lime Plastering over Easter

 

 

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The Art World

Tuesday 3rd April 2018

Art has been very preoccupying this month less so opera.

But I did take Lady Windermere’s Fan with Jenufa Saunders. A matinee. Laura Malcolm and I had were veiled for fear of being seen there. My dear! The audience! At a matinee. But really it’s rather a good play and they judged it well with a certain amount of contemporary TV nonsense and send-up balanced successfully with the more serious aspects. That actress who plays Mrs Merkel’s Assistant in the Tracey Ullman Show is The Wronged Woman.

Finn Magnus bid me last min to the Modigliani Exhibition at the Tate. Really we didn’t like it. Funny skin tones. They all had the same face, with pencil eyebrows. The bodies are often mis-shapen, oddly swollen below the waist as if the artist were not entirely competent in that area. In the Members’ Coffee Room afterwards, Finn showed me his knitting which was more fascinating.

The last of the Private Breakfasts took place at the Royal Academy. Disaster! Private access is receding fast. The next thing is: how to get into the opening party for the new extension? Royston King has already got his invitation, of course. As have quite a few other Poor Little Rich Gays, you can be sure.  Aunt Lavinia has supplied me with a telephone number for sponsorship and donations. I’m going to ring and ask: How much do we have to give to get in?

What did we learn from the private curatorial tour of the Exhib?  Royston says the Charles 1 Exhib helps us to understand Brexit. I can’t quite remember how. Charles 1 travelled in Europe, his wife was a daughter of the French king. He got the idea that one had to have an important collection from Europe and Italian artists of the Renaissance such as Titian and Mantegna formed an important part of it when it was formed. But there was also the appropriation of artists such as Van Dyke and Rubens, who became, as painters, honorary English not least because of the subject matter, which was mainly the King himself – and his family. So I suppose it’s that we have strong connections with Europe but are separate from it. Although there are barely any English artists in the exhib.

The great thing from the Private Tour was the tapestries. Our private curator did illuminate. These are the Mortlake Tapestries of the Raphael Cartoons. Or rather that’s the wrong way to explain it. The Cartoons were made by Raphael for the purpose of making tapestries. At the tapestry works they were cut into strips and laid below the loom (they had to be cut up to fit) for copying. Only later did someone realise the strips were original works by Raphael and glue them back together and put them in the V&A. When Desmond Shawe-Taylor and the Director of the Tapestries in France (where they are kept) had them unrolled and hung for their private viewing before the exhib, this was the first time anyone ever had seen them hanging all together in all their history. Tapestries are v. expensive for obvious reasons. Hours and hours of labour just to produce one square inch. The Royal Academy thought France might lend them two or three tapestries but never all six. But they did. They got all six.

It’s a shame that, after all that, the tapestries are tiny bit dreary. Although if one owned them and had them hanging in one’s drawing room one would love them of course.

Finally, early in March, Miss Mina organised a community outing to the British Museum. We had to pretend to be part of the Bangla Community of Bow and Mile End. Odd choice of Exhibition – for it was Posh English People in Greece (well, with one actual Greek, but privately wealthy). Patrick Leigh Fermor we decided we couldn’t bear. Just from the photos. Even Robert Nevil agreed. Frightfully conceited. No need to mention the fearsome purple prose and total inability to describe anything accurately, a bit of a failing in one who sets out to write about places. There was disagreement about John Cranko though. Robert Nevil brought a friend with him and they ganged up on me. I liked the privately wealthy Greek painter, but they said he was just decorative daubs. His grand residence in Greece was burnt down. Later he acquired another on Corfu. John Cranko was the thing, they said. Miss Mina chimed in as well. She’d know him. She had a postcard from him with. I thought they were all done with a ruler. There’s one of some sailors in a bar that’s a bit common. But they all were raving over the work. Anthony Mottram, of course, took one Oboe lesson from his sister, Janet Craxton, who was terrifying and incredibly old-school conservatoire. Back home I looked up the prices. Quite good and rising. A John Craxton sold recently for quarter a mill. Maybe if one owned one…

We thought This was Freya Stark, Glimpsed Outside British Museum. Anyway, a Classic Robert Nevil Lunch Guest

We thought This was Freya Stark, Glimpsed Outside British Museum. Anyway, a Classic Robert Nevil Lunch Guest

'Paddy' Leigh Fermor and Grand Friends. Yuck!

‘Paddy’ Leigh Fermor and Grand Friends. Yuck!

'Paddy' Leigh Fermor. Horrid

‘Paddy’ Leigh Fermor. Horrid

John Craxton: Better

John Craxton: Better

John Craxton Painting: a Bit Common

John Craxton Painting: a Bit Common

Painting by Rich Greek Artist: Nice

Painting by Rich Greek Artist: Nice

Painting by John Craxton: Done with Ruler?

Painting by John Craxton: Done with Ruler?

Useful Sign at BM. What would Inaccessible toilet be?

Useful Sign at BM. What would Inaccessible toilet be?

Finn Magnus's Knitting: Seen at the Modigliani Exhib at Tate Modern in the Members' Room

Finn Magnus’s Knitting: Seen at the Modigliani Exhib at Tate Modern in the Members’ Room

 

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This Year’s Easter Meaning

Sunday 1st April 2018

A Matthew Passion was given at San Paulo in London last week. It was freezing cold but marvellous mu. I followed the words in English and had a revelation. I never knew before how Christ suffered. Well, I did, but not properly. In his grandeur and greatness, how he suffered. ‘My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?’ he cried as he died on the Cross. Everybody knows that. Just as a thing he said, on its own as it were.  But the whole lead-up to the Cross was agony for Christ – the mockery, the isolation, the irrational behaviour of the mob, Pilate’s humanity that mysteriously could not save him, the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, his dread of his destiny which he knew.

In a smaller way the Poor Little Rich Gays suffer and are human, unlike the Earls’ Court Gays who are hard and glossy with their bleached teeth and full denial of wrong-doing or error, even in decor. The Poor Little Rich Gay trembles in doubt and uncertainty, yet soars high in greatness, as Genevieve Suzy soared high on Hastings West Hill that sunny day of false Spring in February; then plunge as low again.

Only to rise again. There could have been no Resurrection without the Crucifixion. Only from disaster can the true heights be achieved. Poor Little Rich Gays defy Death but know it. Without Death they are nothing.

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Harry Rollo Phones Dvorak and That Socket

Friday 30th March 2018

Good Friday: I ate a small piece of choc after lunch: bad.

Still no word of those sausages: what did Val do with them? And what became of Genevieve Suzy and her up-do? On that Sunday she was down and in Carmens. But still potent. Extraordinarily so. She soared high. From Hastings West Hill she soared almost to the sun’s height, the sun that blazed that day of false Spring. A while later, Merle Barr’s Sixtieth Birthday took place in the Chinese Restaurant: the cost rocketed to £40 a head. Merle absolutely refused to be paid for. Do you know, I think in the end people preferred to self-pay and be simple. Not to be burdened with grandeur and the effort of living up to it and being provided for. What a charming uncluttered occasion!

Last week, Harry Rollo and Mercury, Mr Kitten were in a hotel, as you know, in Prague. I said, ‘You must visit the Muller House, by Adolf Loos. But they only let half a person at a time. Booked beyond the Apocalypse. You’ll have to phone Dvorak.’ Do you remember how Val and I were repelled from the Muller House in November, owing to it being ‘booked’? Harry did phone Dvorak: he also phoned Smetana and Janacek, and finally remembering that Prague was once Austrian, he phoned Mahler, Alban Berg and the Second Viennese School. It was touch and go. Not everywhere is performance valued and performers given special entry. ‘In Turin, when the shroud was resting and not on public view. I thought somebody might Know Somebody. But Nobody did. Doors were not opened. Apparently contemporary performance and the Roman Catholic church don’t get on. Not like our own dear Church.’

In Firry once, Harry and Reggie Cresswell were offered a special private tour of the Vasari corridor for special private price of €4000.

Well, in Prague all the known Czech and near-Czech composers combined with the Minister of Culture  – yes, Harry and Mercury, Mr Kitten were given a private tour as honoured guests of the Nation.

They gained the Muller House and loved it. ‘What surfaces!, Harry proclaimed. ‘The genius of Loos: something for everyone – those who love clean lines and no clutter think he’s on their side – but for those of us who love the rocaille and ornament he combines it with Japonaiserie, Persian carpets, Watteau and Toile-de-Jouy, cipollino marble etc.- the two tastes in harmony. Many a marriage must have been saved by Loos although of course catastrophic to visit when our own house is just finished as now we have to rip it all out and start again.
So many hooks, bliss.
The door knobs are plastic on the servants’ side, bone on the other. Quite right!’

I’m thrilled with these comments on Adolf Loos, whose interiors I’ve never seen. But I do love decoration, swirl and Persian carpets. Now almost it is unnecessary to move Heaven and Earth to get into the Muller House myself.

Finally – that socket. In last week’s episode it was at last re-attached to the wall and the three mosaic tiles that had became dislodged were secured. Only the grouting remained. This was applied on Sunday night. On Monday morning it was found to be the wrong shade. The original grout was specially mixed from several different greys and re-done several times before the tone was right. That was a job,, I can tell you. Gouging out grout from a large area of mosaic tiles, each one 1 inch square. Dimly I knew, the special mixture being lost, any replacement would be wrong. I had some other grey grout that might do. So I scraped out the Sunday night grout and applied the other one. It’s not perfect but will blend in over time.

So the socket is declared complete – whether it is or not. By decree, it is complete

My Socket at Wrong Grout Stage

My Socket at Wrong Grout Stage

 

 

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Tormented by the Home: Harry Rollo in an Hotel

Friday 23rd March 2018

Where is Genevieve Suzy? And where, more importantly, are Val’s Hastings sausages? They must have gorn awff by now, even if frozen. One thing we do know: not all Genevieve’s power resides in her up-do. That Hastings morning, her do was down. In fact carmens were installed. But still, high soaring above, she lavished a classic sea-side breakfast. Later she was to soar yet higher, commanding the sea before her and as well as all else in the world.

Meanwhile Harry Rollo and Mercury, Mr Kitten have been installed in an hotel in Prague. On Monday they dined with Anthony Mottram at the Museum Apartment. It was quite a do. Harry was bewildered though, at the hotel.  ‘We are at the Intercontinental. They have a shop selling Rolls Royces donwstairs. Can you believe they put us in a room with just one room? Two people. Hello? Mercury, Mr Kitten insisted on a suite. Said it’s what he’s used to… Breakfast is included. It says on the hotel thing “fashionable breakfast”. What can this mean? Slightly apprehensive. Will find out in a minute.
Change of room was very efficient. In the new Suite was a bottle of wine and arrangement of dried fruit with two apples and some saltine bicquies. Compliments of. As we walked in the phone rang. It was a lady saying, “There is a treatment in the room but it is for another guest – we will come and remove it”.
Ten seconds later a man appeared and started to take the plate away saying, “You come from room 555?”No, we came from 742.
He looked puzzled – “Not 555? So then, this is for you” and went away leaving us with the Autumn fruit platter.
Kafka?’

For those of you that don’t know, Kafka’s home was Prague. Prague is the home of Kafka and therefore of Kafka-like moments.

Speaking of homes, don’t speak to me of my own. Just as I was thinking I could get on with more gilt frame buying, perhaps even adding to the Collection, acquiring even a Carel Weight while gently touching up paint work with an artist’s brush – well, utter agony, the dining room ceiling has come adrift. No way of fixing it back up again. It’ll have to come down, or part of it at least. Absolute dread. 170 years of debris descending. And, while in torment, more torments are piled on. What about the under-the -pavement cellar, the nether-regions in general, in fact, of the residence, the front steps, the part under the front steps?  Are they about to collapse? So ££££ to go on dreariness, cement render and so on, as well as unspeakable mess and filth. Bruce McBain has been a great comfort. Where would I be without him?

All this means there’s just no point in dusting the chandeliers or polishing the silver. The home is suspended for the foreseeable future. And what I crave and crave is a home, a finished home.

But it was an electrical socket that was my termination. My project of renovation has included, as you know, removal of all the bog-standard plastic light switches and sockets. There’s so much that can occupy a person whose mind is properly adjusted, in the home. Well, I chose the Victorian Heritage Chrome series for the kitchen and in January the final phase of upgrading there was completed. But three mosaic tiles were dislodged in the process.  Five times I attempted to fix them.  The adhesive bought on that great visit to B&Q (or is it B and Q) Bexhill with Val (when sausages are promised for the evening but not taken) was worse than useless. There should be a law against it. I had to build up a base with Polyfilla strengthened with PVA. Then my plan was to glue the 3 tiles back on with glue. I did this and screwed the socket into place. The tiles somehow were forced off. It seemed they stood too proud. So Evostick glue solvent (it makes you high) to remove glue, sand down the tiny section of wall behind, re-glue the tiles. Going well. Finally all that remained was to screw the socket back (I admit I had become reckless with the fearsome wiring behind: danger of death was part of the mission to fix those 3 mosaic tiles, each a square inch). But socket wouldn’t screw back. Screws wouldn’t engage. I screwed and screwed. Scratched the Victorian Heritage Chrome work (I didn’t know they had brushed chrome in the Victorian Heritage Times). Solution: get more screws from specialist screw shop in Clerkenwell. Thank the Lord for that shop. Got screws. Screwed. Screw got stuck. Turned and turned. Neither backwards nor forwards. Got pliers. Injured hand with pliers. Blood blister. Plus cut. All the way up to my suite on the top floor for plaister. Back down. Still the screw wouldn’t screw. Begged it. Implored. No effect. Fell to the floor howling, screaming. Hope my neighbour was out.

Today Carlton the divine Jamaican leccie with corn-rows and deep rural Jamaican speaking came and knew what to do. £60. I’ve have paid anything. Even the amount of a Carel Weight. So now grouting is underway and completion of one socket in sight. There are 8 sockets and switches left in the house to upgrade to flat-plate brass. Plus one of the other ones already upgraded – it’s got to have red glaze mixed to match existing and put around – about 1mm thickness around the socket.

May the Lord uphold me in my mission to upgrade and spare me.

Socket Torment. Two Weeks to Get 3 Tiles Back in Place

Socket Torment. Two Weeks to Get 3 Tiles Back in Place: I vac-ed in that Socket, I’ll have You Know, with the Crevice Tool 

Glaze to be Mixed by Hand, plus Base Coat in Dead Salmon to Cancel This White Rim where the Socket was Replaced with this Fake Bakerlite Speciality from a shop in Ludlow

Glaze to be Mixed by Hand, plus Base Coat in Dead Salmon to Cancel This White Rim where the Socket was Replaced with this Fake Bakerlite Speciality from a shop in Ludlow. Maybe could Try a Felt-tip? 

 

 

 

 

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In the Meantime Still…

Wednesday 21st March 2018

What happened when Genevieve Suzy returned.. and did Val ever offer those sausages? Will we ever know?

But Katie Boyle has been took. Val says she ruined his childhood. It was her grapefruit diet. That terrible acid start to each day. She was the face and voice of Eurovision with her ‘Nul points’ but in truth she only hosted the thing four times. Otherwise her face was the face of Camay, although she was allergic to the soap herself. Then there were her appearances on What’s My Line. Oh and she was the agony aunt for the TV Times for 20 years. Let’s not ask what Katie Boyle amounted to exactly. She was a Greatness by willed fame alone out of nothingness. And she was, slightly, an era.

Now I happened to be in the Members’ Room at Tate Modern on Monday. My goodness, those floors are scuffed. There’s a view across to San Paulo, where I’m going this evening as a fact. The Matthew Passion by Bach. But there’s something wrong with San Paulo. Nobody seems to have noticed for the last 250 years. There’s a band round the bottom of the dome. It’s blank. They must have forgotten to decorate it. Why has nobody mentioned this before?

San Paulo. There's Something Wrong with It. Do you See? That Blank Band. Obvs Not Finished

San Paulo. There’s Something Wrong with It. Do you See? That Blank Band. Obvs Not Finished

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A Classic London Day when You’re at the Top

Saturday 17th March 2018

Just before we resume with what happened when Genevieve Suzy returned….

On Wednesday afternoon, such a classic London day…   Rocky Rock and I to a small gallery near Tottenham Court Road. An exhibition of the Male Form. Rocky in a fashion hiking outfit for gallery visiting including M&S Harris Tweed jacket and he’s a designer with a home in Palm Beach . At his dinner last Saturday he was tartan slacks from Zara. One of the guests left early to enjoy night-time excitements.  This was a young man who works 16 hours a day doing calculations, followed by two hours in the gym before bed. Otherwise, Landsdowne, Rocky’s other half, hosts a dinner in the old-fashioned way with actual conversation.

But that was Saturday. Wednesday was the Male Form in a small gallery near Tottenham Court Road. We were the only people there apart from the person presiding who said, ‘You’ll find more penises in the other room.’ After that Rocky wanted to see what Heals had to offer – and also Habitat. For Rocky, it turned out, cushions in blue velvet just right for Palm Beach, which is a blue scheme, as well as a tooth-glass and a plate with indigo brush strokes on which could be served a salad for one.

I was intensely interested in some of the Habitat cushions for the Gay Mother’s drawing room as well as a chopping board for my own home. I can’t tell you the trouble I’m having finding a small rectangular wooden chopping board. No, I don’t want fancy curves, or silly lettering carved into the side of it. I’ve been to six shops so far.

Shattered, we had coffee in the Heals Cafe and looked ahead. Rocky was due at Christie’s that evening. Something must have been beginning to whirr in my social head. The American Friends of British Art… I knew about them…. the last time I went to Christie’s in the evening… the Duchess of Rutland… By the time I got home, I was blazing. Raynham Hall! The founder of the American Friends of British Art (based in Palm Beach, hence Rocky and Landsdowne connected) was launching his book about Raynham Hall at Christie’s that evening. The last time it had been the Duchess of Rutland launching a book and he was there. My invitation came via Dainty Lady TV. Now I was in my bedroom, hurling hangers. There were two challenges. I was expected at the Antiques Fayre in King’s Road, the PV there. How to fit in Christie’s … or perhaps more urgent, how to get an invitation to Christie’s at one hour’s notice? I texted Genevieve Suzy, head of Dainty. I texted Joshua Baring, who has entree at Christie’s. And then Raynham Hall itself! I don’t recall if I’d yet seen pictures. But a gem, not open to the public, being restored. Oh the delicious creamy deliciousness of renovation! Experts, tiny artist’s brushes, paint charts… bringing back the past, not all shiny and new and Raine Spencer. The delicate work of revival and conservation.

I was in the Uber. I’d put on the Topman frock coat in honey biscuit (100% wool), the Paul Smith slim-line grey slacks … footwear. I don’t remember my footwear. I hope I had it. Joshua messaged to say he’d messaged Christie’s Head of Invitations but it was probably too late. Genevieve Suzy was not mentioning whether she had a card or not. I was alone, in the Uber, directed for Christie’s. There was to be a lecture at 7 and it was 10 to. It could all go terribly wrong. I swept in to Christie’s lobby. The right clothes.. and presumption. All I was left with.. ‘I’m so sorry,’ I said to the lady with the ipad guest list, ‘… Dainty Lady TV, Adrian Edge from Dainty Lady TV, I’m afraid we forgot to RSVP.’ Guest-list lady scrolled absolutely minimally. ‘That’s all right. I’m just putting you on the list…’

I was on the list! I was in! Up those stairs at Christie’s I bounded as have heaved many before selling their things in desperation or dead or winding down a dynasty. There was Rocky Rock in Valentino (a blue Henley blazer with bold white edging and red tabs in unlikely places) and Landsdowne in tailored office wear. With them a Greatness of Palm Beach and New York as it turned out in a semi-evening coat – cream of course. One glass of Tatt, then the lecture.

Well, Raynham Hall. I’ll leave it to speak for itself. We must have it. Dainty Lady TV must have it. The Marquis and Marchioness conduct tours. 400 came last time. But it’s not open to the public. The Marquis told me that was very important. They’re not open to the public but the public can get in. So clever. And they’d like coverage… which will mean me, Adrian Edge, visiting, just me, Adrian Edge, the Marquis and Marchioness, discussing paint finishes, floor renovation, fabric choice, brushwork…. Utter heaven.

Raynham Hall! 17th Century Dutch-style on the outside

Raynham Hall! 17th Century Dutch-style on the outside

Raynham Hall: 17th Century Dutch style without: a Masterpiece of Facade

Raynham Hall: 17th Century Dutch style without: a Masterpiece of Facade

Raynham Hall: Its Hall. William Kent! Oh Yes!

Raynham Hall: Its Hall. William Kent! Oh Yes! And John Julius 

Raynham Hall: William Kent made this Arched Screen in the Dining Room

Raynham Hall: William Kent made this Arched Screen in the Dining Room

Raynham Hall: the Non-Stone Stairs

Raynham Hall: the Non-Stone Stairs

Raynham Hall: a Drawing Room

Raynham Hall: a Drawing Room

Raynham Hall: the Red Saloon: Note the Decorative Plasterwork  Scrolls Designed to have Pictures Hanging below Them. But the Pictures Got Sold in 1904

Raynham Hall: the Red Saloon: Note the Decorative Plasterwork Scrolls Designed to have Pictures Hanging below Them. But the Pictures Got Sold in 1904

Raynham Hall: the Redundant Scrolls in the Red Saloon

Raynham Hall: the Redundant Scrolls in the Red Saloon: All by William Kent 

Raynham Hall: William Kent!

Raynham Hall: William Kent!

Raynham Hall: the Belisarius Room on the 1st Floor

Raynham Hall: the Belisarius Room on the 1st Floor

Raynham Hall: the Belisarius Room on the 1st Floor

Raynham Hall: the Belisarius Room on the 1st Floor

 

 

 

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No Sausages in Hastings

Sunday 11th March 2018

I telephoned from the Official Car (with Xenon Driving Lights) to tell Val it was running late for Hastings. The bed linen surplus to requirements I was going to give Val plus the other bed linen for mending to be done in Hastings got left behind. So it was to be a 12.30 arrival. There was hope of the sausages though. In fact Val even mentioned them in the course of the telephone call from the Official Car as it made its way to Hastings well before the luncheon hour. Finally the Official Car entered Val’s John Travolta Memorial tarmac area (big enough to park a jumbo jet, a mode first established by John Travolta at his celebrity mansion in America whose whole feeling is ‘airport building’ what with the taxi-ing and parking area around the house and then the runway itself of course).

Val said, ‘Would you like some cake? I made it myself.’ Well, it was nearly lunchtime, but I said, ‘Yes.’ Then we looked in Val’s pin-box; then we looked in his nail-box. We assembled a little collection in a self-sealing plastic bag which I popped into my hand-bag – some moulding pins to help re-attach the strip of moulding that came off the Gay Mother’s drawing-room desk when the plumber moved it before Christmas. The other thing: yes! Val did have them in stock – I noticed one missing you see in one of my bedrooms. The matlase chair Val re-upholstered over six months a year or two ago. The whole exercise cost £600.  One of the decorative studs (scalloped heads) Val used to mark the cloth’s boundary with the wood was missing. But Val had got them in stock ! He donated five to me, Adrian Edge.

So as far as scallop-headed upholstery pins are concerned, I should have enough to last me all my days, be they long or short.

Then Val began to speak of Bexhill, where the B&Q is. But I was wondering about the sausages: they weren’t even started and I know Val likes them well-done. It was nearly 2 o’clock. Was there not to be a luncheon option of any kind, even if sausage-free? It seemed not. The Official Car set out for Bexhill, with us in it. Turning onto the main road, Val pointed out the Co-op: ‘That’s where I got the sausages,’ he said. ‘It was a two-for-one offer. So I’ve got two packs. I suppose I could put one in the freezer.’

I didn’t comment but forged onto to Bexhill. People we know saved the Bexhill Hill Pavilion. So it was suitable we should go to it. I nearly died in the car park crawling in a state of starvation towards luncheon there, dreading the service would have been discontinued. It hadn’t and we lunched more than adequately. The pavilion was looking better than the last time I saw it when it had been saved but was purposeless. The sun was coming in, unfortunately, showing up smears. These modern buildings have too many windows. On the Art Deco stairs we saw some real fur coming in, which would have upset Reggie Cresswell, although I doubt he would have committed an outrage.

Then we took B&Q Bexhill. Or is ‘B and Q’? It’s a sea-side branch. Car park quite pleasant. Val bought a lawn-mower. I got some tile adhesive and grout in one to repair where the mosaic tiles came off during the re-styling of the electric sockets in my kitchen. The product turned out to be useless. Returning to Hastings seemed to mean a return to sausages: ‘We could have the sausages this evening,’ Val declared. ‘One of the packs at least. The other I’ll put in the freezer.’ ‘Oh, but I’m going to Genevieve Suzy’s Hastings branch this eve,’ I said. ‘Why don’t you come too? We might have fish and chips.’ But no, Val preferred to remain in. Perhaps sausages were his main object.

I gained Genevieve Suzy’s Hasting branch, or volcano in fact, perched on the cliff-top  with tremendous magma underneath. In the kitchen Genevieve was not yet dangerous: only harmless smoke was emitting. ‘What about Merle Barr’s 60th birthday in the Chinese restaurant?’ she began at once. ‘I mean, who’s paying? Her brother’s paying for her. So what are the rest of us supposed to do? Sit there and watch the spectacle.’ I mumbled and murmured. I hadn’t really thought about it, let alone prepared for an eruption scenario. There was a sudden banging in the kitchen where Genevieve was, a crashing of metal to the floor. It could have been some kind of pre-tremor, before the molten lava blasted forth. Lord Suzy rushed in: it was almost ‘Women and children out,’ but not quite.

We all knew there isn’t much you can do with a volcano. We preceded to Angus and Fergus’s cottage (without the walls of Hastings despite the Tudor House being in Hastings) for a late lamb dinner (Iranian inspiration with dried limes. Let’s make dried limes the key-note foodstuff of the Poor Little Rich Gay summer). Genevieve Suzy said we were leaving but we didn’t leave. Some hours later, when I, Adrian Edge, asked if we were leaving, she said certainly not. A few hours after that she announced that she wasn’t leaving at all but I and Lord Suzy were. It was 3 in the morning at least. Angus and Fergus were to provide her with a bed at once. In fact Angus and I had been snoozing in armchairs wrapped in rugs for hours so one was perfectly comfortable.

Lord Suzy and I had to find the taxi in a wood in the dark. Had it not been there we’ve have died, I suppose. Or been eaten by bears.

Back at the Genevieve Suzy’s Hastings branch I managed to get a few hours sleep before activities resumed in the morning with the return of Genevieve Suzy from the cottage.

Val's Scallop-headed Upholstery Pins:  A Life-Time Supply from Val's Stock for my Bedroom Chair which Lost one of These Pins

Val’s Scallop-headed Upholstery Pins: A Life-Time Supply from Val’s Stock for my Bedroom Chair which Lost one of These Pins

 

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A Web of Coincidence That Wouldn’t be Believed in Fiction

Saturday 3rd March 2018

Years ago in the 90s there was the Gay London Professionals. It was supposed to be respectable. Respectable Gays gathered for drinks on a Monday hoping to marry someone. But really they were bored and longing for fun. Once Edwina Curry came to inspect the Gay London Professionals. I saw her peering down at the Gays with fascination from a balcony where she’d been kettled exclusively before being released for her speech. Some grand Gay knew her somehow.

There I met Errol Snowden who came from Wales. He was a lawyer for a publisher and would recite the letters sent to those about to fall by the wayside: ‘Improvements have been spoken of and looked for but unfortunately have not been forthcoming.’ It was always the same words. I walked out vaguely with Errol for a while but he preferred another who was more fun. I was already married, of course, but didn’t know it at the time. Errol’s home was in the residence of a fabulous Poor Little Rich Gay known to Robert Nevil and huge in the book world who was actually in a menage a trois – wife and children plus male companion all under one roof. Later, after I’d lost touch with Errol he met Reggie Cresswell, possibly at night-time (don’t misunderstand: there was nothing improper: they were just out at night). So Errol has occasionally been seen at functions. Dimly I was aware that he had come to live near me, Adrian Edge. Then in January I bumped into him outside the Turkish Shop (now Indian). Yes, indeed. He’s been three streets away for the last eight years. He’s also joined the book world as a producer and got huge. Finally the other Friday when I couldn’t find anybody to accompany me to the Jonas Kauffman concert at the Barbican, there he was by the self-check-out in Waitrose. So bizarre. Eight whole years and nothing. Then twice, the second time when I’ve got a spare ticket.

So we took the Jonas Kauffman concert. Simeon Bond was there, of course, but not spoken to. Also a few others who were. Errol said someone had seen me another time. Someone who knows everyone and supplies to the book world. He showed me a picture of this person and I knew the face but I don’t know why nor why this person knows me, Adrian Edge. I’ve always longed for world fame, as you know, but really it’s rather creepy when it comes and people know you and have seen you when you didn’t know you were being seen. The next thing was: we were walking back to our respective neighbouring streets, and somehow Errol mentioned someone who lives in my street with a black dog. Oh yes, I said, I had a flaming row with him when that dog wee-ed my doorstep. Well, it’s Errol’s best friend. Perhaps it’s best to live at the bottom of a well and never go out.

 

 

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On the Thames with O’Looney – Again

Friday 2nd March 2018

This time we took the special architectural tour in effect from Canary Wharf to Chelsea Harbour. A boat tour. O’Looney stood on the deck in frightful conditions of rain, wind and cold and commentated for 3 hours. The throbbing life of our great National river, at its burning central core as it passes through the very heart of Our Nation.

We saw secret things, though, not known to the public – strange outlets into the Thames, storm drains etc. Bazalgette’s hidden schemes, the great underground life of the Capital on which all depends. Now being updated, we learned – huge new sewage facilities being installed on the river bank .

Strange chains are looped all along the embankment and around every bridge pier. What are they for? O’Looney didn’t mensh but they must have a purpose – miles and miles of loops, never failing, from Chelsea to Canary Wharf. One could have asked him, had the weather not been so awful. He’s bound to have known.

The great revelation was the statues on Vauxhall Bridge, which you never see when on dry land. Various allegorical figures. That Victorian thing. Fancy putting them there, where nobody would ever see them.

Otherwise what a plethora – by the end we were shattered but thrilled: Bruce McBain was with, of course, my private architect. He pointed out a work of Arno Goldfinger near Vauxhall Bridge, apparently overlooked by O’Looney. Also Archie Armitage plus one. He’s the great fitness man and architect as well, but not private to me. There’s great optimism in the river – the buildings on its banks. They never stop, they grow and grow. Constant renewal.  They’ll all important in their way, although you might not like them. That prison-like structure on the north side of Lambeth Bridge. It’s the ‘Beaux Arts’ style apparently. Thought went into it. It’s supposed to make a grand statement on the other side of the bridge, a palatial kind of entrance to the Westminster area. Then you’ve got Millbank Tower. Not as hideous as thought: subtly curving in all aspects. When O’Looney doesn’t like something he says, it’s a ‘bit scary’, as with St George’s Wharf at Vauxhall. But he likes the MI6 building – the high garden terraces, with spies hiding, the Minoan influence – well, one of the ancient civilisations. They’ve all been busy on the riverbank – Norman and Richard. New blockies hurling up, new materials. There’s a firm from Manchester that specialise in a glass case round the building. Then the new American Embassy at Vauxhall. By that time, I was overwhelmed. I’m not even sure exactly which one it was. At Canary Wharf there’s incredible new bracing being applied. Oh, and the ironwork on Chelsea Bridge. So decorative. Like a cake. Bedroom colours. They wanted to get rid of it in the ’60s, but it was saved. Too fragile and narrow.

I never knew the Royal Dolton Sanitary and Tile Works were all along the Embankment between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges. Had to go after the Clean Air Act of the 1950s. The Head Office survives, actually in a side street and now used for some other purpose, but visible from the river. The facade displays all the Royal Dolton ceramic art, although not actual toilets of course. The Clean Air Act did for a lot of the industry along the Thames, including the great power stations, of course.

Incredible Art Deco building by Tower Bridge. 1928. Police station at Limehouse by London Metropolitan architect of late 19th who conceived of the London police station as we know it. More flatties hurling up. New young firms of architects firing away. What a hive! The Royal Festival Hall itself, the National Theatre, the National Liberal Club – and don’t forget, the Houses of Parliament, which aren’t by Pugin on the outside. I never knew that. Charles Barry. And actually great because by rights it should be a very monotonous building but somehow it isn’t and has a air of fantasy and not beginning or ending. Bruce McBain said something about the roof – could it be made of iron?

I could go on and on. So many buildings, facilities and bridges.  What a life of our great National river as it passes through the core of Our Nation.  What hope for the future.

Lots Road Power Station: Development in Progress Here. You can See there was an Inlet Provided to Access It

Lots Road Power Station: Development in Progress Here. You can See there was an Inlet Provided to Access the Original Power Station 

Vauxhall Bride: Her Unseen Statues

Vauxhall Bride: Her Unseen Statues: Various Ladies Inspiring Improvement but Never Seen by the Public on Dry Land 

Archie and Bruce Thought this new Wavy Blockie Could Have been Better

Archie and Bruce Thought this new Wavy Blockie Could Have been Better

'A bit Scary', O'Looney Said: St George's Wharf at Vauxhall

‘A bit Scary’, O’Looney Said: St George’s Wharf at Vauxhall

I think This is the Arno Goldfinger Building at Vauxhall, by Chance Quite Near the M16 Building where James Bond Operated. Ian Fleming got the name 'Goldfinger' from Arno Goldfinger

I think This is the Arno Goldfinger Building at Vauxhall, by Chance Quite Near the M16 Building where James Bond Operated. Ian Fleming got the name ‘Goldfinger’ from Arno Goldfinger

Possibly the New American Embassy: Archie Said It was Impossible to Get into It, even if you Work There

Possibly the New American Embassy: Archie Said It was Impossible to Get into It, even if you Work There

There is the Great Art Deco Building by Tower Bridge

Here is the Great Art Deco Building by Tower Bridge: St Olaf House by Harry Stuart Goodhart Rendel (what a name!) The Decorative Outburst in the Middle Suggests the Influence of Adolf Loos Perhaps 

Incredible New Bracing at Canary Wharf

Incredible New Bracing at Canary Wharf

 

 

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