I Knew It

Monday 15th October 2018

I did wonder. We saw her at the Royal Academy Opening of the Oceania Exhib. I lobbied Genevieve Suzy for admission and it was granted. Then Royston King invited me to be his plus-one. What it is to be at the top. This was when she caused a sensation by shutting her own car door. Nobody could believe it. So busy were they with this event, plus her departure therefrom they missed the main thing. But I saw. She was not absolutely flat in the middle regions. There was definitely a bulge. Really astonishing that nobody noticed, when you think of it. When the outfit is the main point of attention. We were stood so close (thanks to Royston for foreseeing exactly where we should stand) I could see the shoulder seam of her Givenchy. She was brought in from a neighbouring room where super-Greatnesses had been presented. Her heels were so high she could barely walk. ‘Will she make a speech?’ Royston wondered. I said, ‘Only one small enough to fit into that tiny box clutch.’ But ultimately she simply stood while others made speeches. So simple. Then she rubbed noses with the Maori musicians. That was her wow-factor. But all the press had scurried out beforehand, desperate to get the departure. Only Arthur Edwards, the veteran Royal photographer, refused to budge. He knew. Then vultured on the event when it happened. Really all that Royal couture and outfitting to be off-set by a figure such as Arthur Edwards, the Royal Photographer, who is well past retirement age and at the extreme end of unfinished as to frockage.

The other thing is she’s quite small. Delightful of course but complexion just a little worn in reality consonant with age, as they say on eBay.

We also viewed the Oceania Exhib. It was great.

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Closing Down the Summer

Friday 28th September 2018

I’m actually mid-Cycle. It’s getting better and better. The darling new Swedish Wotan called John Lundgren whom we adored at Bayreuth suffered near collapse in Rheingold on Monday. But better by Wednesday. More of The Ring later. I hope he keeps going. Four Cycles! The thought of it! The main thing just now is outfits: The Ring demands 4 different outfits, as well as vast amounts of money to attend, not to mention the sacrifice of time. How did he manage it? Wagner: 140 years later still ruling lives. I’m pushing summer modes into Autumn though. A brown/gold summer suit for Siegfried tomorrow, I think. No bright colours for Siegfried – all that dreadful forge work calls for dun shades. Monday for Got, I think it will be colder, so red velvet.

But looking back and saying goodbye to the summer. I opened my garden for unpaid carers for one afternoon. It was the National Garden Scheme Mental Health Week. Really it was a tea-party. Only three came. They disliked each other and had many grievances which took several hours to work over. Then two turned up who weren’t actually Macmillan Nurses but worked in the fund raising department thereof. I was worried about who cared for the carers though. My icing worked! But cake still grainy, despite reducing Mary Berry’s amount of baking powder.

Then Aunt Lavinia came down to the Far West for five days with her dog, Millicent, who sat in my chair while we were at luncheon (the roast bird was near perfect). Millicent got out of her floor basket and into my chair. The great thing was the way she re-arranged the cushion for her comfort, as you can see in the graph. I had to get the vac at once. Hairs all over the chair.  No sooner was I back from the Far West, with just enough time for the Berlioz Prom (Mrs May was present but I never saw her: it was great: I know nothing about Berlioz but love the idea of him: completely impossible, excessive, manic and near-barking. Mu is kind of gloriously obvious yet delicately wrought) … oh and don’t forget the closing Glyndebourniana…. Vanessa: really rather loved.  By Samuel Barber. Nobody had ever heard of it before. Weird reverse Sleeping Beauty story, intriguing, mu elusive, possibly ironic for long passages, like film mu, many different styles, great moments for important sopranos as in a grand opera but all seen through strange refracting distancing prism, production by same man as did Covent Garden Ring, Warner, but much better. Had mirrors that sometimes you could see through partially, generally black and glossy, borderline real, somewhere legendary in winter, yet cossies where 1950s rich. So no ideah what it was all about but impact was tremendous. An occasion but just a perf, which is what one expects at Glyndebourniana. We picnicked in the loggia. Cold rack of lamb: preserved lemons v. sour. Won’t be doing it again. Prince Dmitri did a brilliant bean, tuna and egg thing. Must get the recipe. My apricot tart let down by second-rate apricots.

Left Glyndebourniana for the very last time this year, leaving it in a very much better state than we found it.

I was going to say: sudden call from the Mid Far West. The damsons were ready. Robert Nevil and I had to leave London at once to pick. We ran over the dog with the pick-up truck on the back of which we stood for picking. Thank God not a heavy cropping year. Dog yelped and has lived. Dog also ate enormous qualities of apples and plums that had dropped on the ground in the orchard which it shouldn’t have done. Dogs, really. Terrible consequences. Robert Nevil has taken up coughing like a really old man; also defiant flatulence. We visited a nearby Gay in an Arts and Crafts mansion and had an agreeable hour picking over rich people in London known to the Gay who go on art tours and give millions to museums: also know all the Head of Museums. I felt very at home. Heads of Museums is very much my world. The only drawback was, on arrival his dog leap up and stained my pale stone slacks by Tiger of Sweden with its muddy feet. Nobody thought anything of it. But imagine if that had happened in London. It would have been la fin de Monde.

My Icing Worked! My Mental Health Open Garden Afternoon

My Icing Worked! My Mental Health Open Garden Afternoon

The Cucumber Sandwiches for the Mental Health Open Garden Tea: We Must have Things Daintily Done

The Cucumber Sandwiches for the Mental Health Open Garden Tea: We Must have Things Daintily Done

Glyndebourniana: The Final Thrust before the Winter

Glyndebourniana: The Final Thrust before the Winter

Where Millicent was Supposed to Be

Where Millicent was Supposed to Be

Where Millicent Actually Was: At Once had to Fetch Mr Henry: Hairs

Where Millicent Actually Was: At Once had to Fetch Mr Henry: Hairs

My Outfit for Solicitor-Visiting on Estate Matters

My Outfit for Solicitor-Visiting on Estate Matters: Zara, Prada and Acne Studios (but Bleach-Damage from trying to Remove a Stain)

Stained on An Important Visit to Neighbour who Cruises with the Sacklers in the Far Mid-West. A Horror Dog Jumped Up. Tiger of Sweden Slacks Compromised

Stained on An Important Visit to Neighbour who Cruises with the Sacklers in the Far Mid-West. A Horror Dog Jumped Up. Tiger of Sweden Slacks Compromised

Costa Tea-Cake Taken on Way back from Damson-Picking in the Far Mid-West

Costa Tea-Cake Taken on Way back from Damson-Picking in the Far Mid-West

Forged into the Launch of this, I can Tell You. Beamish O'Halloran Flagged the Event for Me. All the Royal Correspondents present at Hatchard's Launch

Forged into the Launch of this, I can Tell You. Beamish O’Halloran Flagged the Event for Me. All the Royal Correspondents present at Hatchard’s Launch

 

 

 

 

 

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A Private Tour of Highgate West Cemetery

Saturday 22nd September 2018

Ed Jasper, the bed linen expert, arranged a private tour. They were very strict that George Michael’s last resting place would not be revealed, no matter how much money was offered. In fact a private tour is the only way of viewing this part of the cemetery. Karl Marx is buried in the East Cemetery, where one may roam at ease, for a fee.

We stopped at a tremendous military grave. The guide said, ‘Guess what the uprights forming the surrounding railing are?’ Quick as a flash, Ed Jasper said, ‘They’re upside-down canons, but what if a porn star was buried here….’ i.e. Would they be penetrative devices of an extreme nature? The guide was turned to a heap of ash but bore up. Highgate West Cemetery is fabulously gloomy and over-grown. Not how it would have been in its day. Vegetation has sprung up wildly since. So now it’s a dank wood with graves, no sense of a park like Brompton where I was for the launch with Tristram Hunt and Royston King. The Victorians did Death is every known style, except, it would seem, the Christian. Astonishing lack of Crosses. The favourite style is Egyptian, or some idea of Egyptian. There’s the Egyptian Avenue, a kind of creepy semi-underground grotto and the Circle of Lebanon where the tombs have front doors in the Egyptian style. Radclyffe Hall is installed in one, with a defiant message from Una outside: ‘… And if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death. Una.’

But beneath all this gloomy grandeur really are buried here a load of chancers, upstarts, illegal prize fighters and horse-slaughtering moguls who rose from the seething streets of Islington, Hoxton, Shoreditch and King’s Cross to splendid entombment at Highgate. What a picture of London life in the mid-19th century zings forth from these dour groves to this day!

Highgate West Cemetery: the Circle of Lebanon with Egyptian-style Doors: No Occupants Come to the Door, though

Highgate West Cemetery: the Circle of Lebanon with Egyptian-style Doors: No Occupants Come to the Door, though

Radclyffe Hall: Her Hutch in the Circle of Lebanon: She Answereth Not to a Knock at the Door

Radclyffe Hall: Her Hutch in the Circle of Lebanon: She Answereth Not to a Knock at the Door

The Mausoleum of Julius Beer to his Daughter: Cost Millions in modern Money

The Mausoleum of Julius Beer to his Daughter: Cost Millions in modern Money

The Tomb of Thomas Sayers, 1826-65, the Last of the Bare-Knuckle Prizefighters

The Tomb of Thomas Sayers, 1826-65, the Last of the Bare-Knuckle Prizefighters: Huge Dog with 

The Newest Tomb, by the Entrance at Highgate West Cemetery

The Newest Tomb, by the Entrance at Highgate West Cemetery

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Extreme Poor Little Rich Gay: Normandy 2018

Tuesday 18th September 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Norman Visit: My Hostess Gift from Waitrose

The Norman Visit: My Hostess Gift from Waitrose

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

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

The Toerag: Onboard Facilities

The Toerag: Onboard Facilities

The Toerag: Prosecco for Priority Boarding Passengers

The Toerag: Prosecco for Priority Boarding Passengers

The Laird's Laminated Reference Number for the Eurotunnel

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

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

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

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

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

We Visit Honfleur and Lunched

We Visit Honfleur and Lunched

The Norman Fastness: Not Quite Laid for Lunch

The Norman Fastness: Not Quite Laid for Lunch

Me Adrian Edge: a Classic Evening Ensemble for Normandy

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Château de Saint-Germain-de-Livet

Château de Saint-Germain-de-Livet

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The Road to Bayreuth

Tuesday 11th September 2018

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

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

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

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

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

This is the Famous Shield

This is the Famous Shield

 

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We So Agreed about the Petting Zoo

Saturday September 8th 2018

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

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

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

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

This is how capitalism works.

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

Karlovy Vary: its Petting Zoo

Karlovy Vary: its Petting Zoo

Karlovy Vary: Classic Ware on Sale

Karlovy Vary: Classic Ware on Sale

 

 

 

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I’ve Been on Holiday

Saturday 25th August 2018

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

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

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

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

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

The Great Hydraulic Moving Bookshelves of Prague

The Great Hydraulic Moving Bookshelves of Prague

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

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

Parquet Agony in Prague: Not Matching

Parquet Agony in Prague: Not Matching

Where the Firemen Hacked

Where the Firemen Hacked

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

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

Toilet Innovation: to Ensure Anal Tidiness

Toilet Innovation: to Ensure Complete Anal Tidiness

Oh No! Silicone Work not Up to Scratch

Oh No! Silicone Work not Up to Scratch

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

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

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More Things Happened

Monday 13th August 2018

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

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

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

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

Some of Merle's Strange Eats from the Soviet Union

Some of Merle’s Strange Eats from the Soviet Union

Merle's Edible Cherry Dishcloth from the Soviet Union

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

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

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

A Young Man in Evening Outfit: Hastings: July 2018

A Young Man in Evening Outfit: Hastings: July 2018

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

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

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

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

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These Things Happened

Sunday 5th August 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Marianne North Pavilion at Kew: Fab

The Marianne North Pavilion at Kew: Fab

Queen Charlotte at Buckingham Palace

Queen Charlotte at Buckingham Palace

My Royal Cake: Buckingham Palace Opening Press View

My Royal Cake: Buckingham Palace Opening Press View

 

 

 

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Royston King Launches a Cemetery

Thursday 2nd August 2018

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

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

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

Once you’ve rescued one cemetery…

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

Not quite sure

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

A Good Grave Option for a Military Person

A Good Grave Option for a Military Person

Emmeline Pankhurst: Her Grave

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

Not sure

The Family Still Polish this Grave 

The Mistress's Tomb: Caused Outrage

The Mistress’s Tomb: Caused Outrage

The Burne-Jones Grave: I Mean By Him

The Burne-Jones Grave: I Mean By Him

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

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

Sir Tristram Hunt Addresses the Throng

Sir Tristram Hunt Addresses the Throng

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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