Waning Powers

Thursday 30th June 2022

Acres of engagements since the Spring include:

But waning powers to record.

Bodnant Gardens – glorious, although an acid garden and not my usual inclination. The mysterious power of Bodnant. Harold Nicholson and Vita visited and remarked on the money. Huge wealth to create a dell. But vision. They can’t have hoped to see it grown in their time, whose who planted it. Staggering quality. Every plant the best of its kind.

Powis Castle again on the way back from Bodnant. Royston wanted it recorded in the Clive of India Museum that he’d not been offended, speaking as one of Jamaican origin.

Caerhays Castle Garden, Cornwall – a ‘stamp collection’ as described to me last week by Stoker Devonshire’s head gardener at Chatsworth. Bitty and messy. Muddy paths. The biggest magnolias ever.

The Isabella Plantation – a visit with Royston King who pumped money into this Richmond Park glory. Azaleas on a massive scale. How did somebody explode outrageous puffs of powder paint in furious shades into the glades?

A Blue Plaque unveiled for Fanny Wilkinson at the top of Shaftesbury Avenue or rather not unveiled. Rachel da Thame in attendance. They put a hoarding right in front of the building the week before so ‘unveiling’ had to take place in the basement of Baptist Church opposite. Typical. Whole point was Fanny Wilkinson had been forgotten. So they go hoarding up her plaque. A landscape designer, responsible for 23 of London’s parks. Speeches, but Royston felt that more effort could have been made to find out about Fanny. She got a bit more forgotten at her own unveiling. A quite hot man said before proceedings – ‘I’m the Mayor of Camden’s driver.’ It seemed the Mayor of Camden couldn’t be brought into existence (i.e. extracted from limo) until driver gave the go-ahead. So much for socialism as practiced in Camden.

Operas have included Carmen at Holland Park, The Wreckers at Glyndebourniana (had to drive all over the country to get smoked chicken for the picnic since was moved to revive Jane Grigson’s avocado with strawberry vinaigrette from the 70s). Oh the massiveness of the Glyndebourniana challenge!  The linens. Days of laundry after…

My Fair Lady was also taken.

Numerous private dinners. Reggie Cresswell gave an entertainment. Incredibly intimate.

Garden opening on June 8th. V. poor attendance. Another this Sunday. Poached a bird for the Ristorante al Carmine Insalata di Pollo to have at the post-opening dinner – Robert Nevil, the Maharajah, Anthony Mottram and Her Royal of Prague, American Prague Royalty who handed back the Blanquette de Limoux saying it had sulphates

Had only just forged through a Corrie Chicken done for Holland Park Carmen the Saturday before, with a lot left over.

All the usual estate work and visiting the Gay Mother. She slammed her Church Times on top of the Radio Times. ‘That awful face. I can’t have it.’ It was Joe Wicks in glamour shot on the cover.

People ask what I’ve been doing.

I washed my Topman dress coat, even though it says ‘Dry Clean only’. Total triumph. I wore it last week at the Garden Museum Literary Festival at Chatsworth, with Reiss slightly baggy slacks (horror! baggy) and Dries huge clucks and no socks. Result too dressy, even for Chatsworth where no clothes were worn at all, even by Lady Riblat. I saw some ordinary members of the public who’d paid to visit sniggering.

Parsifal was on Sunday at the Royal Festival Hall. Rufus Pitman created the engagement. HRH the Duke of Kent was once again present, as he had been at Peter Grimes in March, when Aunt Lavinia had somehow penetrated the Royal Box but actual Royalty was seated elsewhere. George Osborne was at the perf. He is my relation. Parsifal was glorious. Finn Magnus, the hot boy doc, was of the party. I didn’t have to pretend to have enjoyed it at all. Parsifal is completely mesmerising although nothing happens. I’ve seen it at least 15 times before but couldn’t remember how it ended. Not the point really. Just unbelievable tension and drama conjured in the mu. Wonderful. In a concert performance it glares how religious it is and the end of Act 1 is just the communion service as an opera. But it’s not really religious, it’s human. Toby Spence, whom we know, ventured as Parsifal himself. Not loud but such artistry in the phrasing. One of the secrets of Parsifal must be that the man parts such as Gurnemanz, Titurel and Amfortas on the whole the singers are able to sing, even though quite old. These massive great man voices last well. Unlike The Ring where nobody can sing Brunnhilde and Siegfried – or at least only once or twice a century at the most.

Did I mention that I was at Longborough for Siegfried? Lord Heseltine couldn’t find his car in the car park. Lady Anne was bellowing on sticks – ‘Where is it?’ This is the man whom brought down Margaret. Siegfried at Longborough fascinating. The craziness of attempting a Ring Cycle with no resources. Always worth seeing how they manage. Quite well. Some lovely tableaux. Staging highly agreeable and simple. Orch more than okay. Singing – Wotan (now the Wanderer) and Mime sounded as they always do. Mime not caricature, thank goodness. Woodbird great bellowing voice. Siegfried himself – odd. Australian singer. I don’t think it was German he was singing. Voice intermittent but I’ve heard worse in the great houses. None of that terrible straining-on-the-lavatory feel of the rock-bottom Siegfried one often sees. Brunnhilde was frightful.

I took the Tower of London press view for the new meadow. Boring. Only went to see what the Press Boy there would be wearing. Waxed jacket. Disappointing. His indoor outfits and accessorising are second to none.

The National Garden Scheme Garden Party for London owners was last week at Lambeth Palace. Garden there no better than last time. Frightful neglected corner said to be the Archbishop’s private garden. Gloomy 19th century palace (mostly). No sign of Arch peering out of the window. Random woman said slugs weren’t foxes top menu choice but they do eat them. I said, ‘Foxes go, “Oh no, not slugs for dinner again!” ‘ Royston said, ‘You’re quite funny sometimes.’ He was furious with me for saying Lambeth Palace was mostly 19th century. But it is. Looks like a dreary old girls’ school of no particular use to anybody.

Church is in fact at the core of our Nation. From the garden of Lambeth Palace you can see Big Ben and the towers of the Abbey, which Royston said are by Hawksmoor.

Afterwards he insisted on visiting some awful bit of park nearby. Sense of drug use and London going to the dogs.

Oh I forgot the Ramsgate Visit: Pugin House and Church/Monastery Complex, followed by tea with Hilly Bee, the famous Commie novelist. Novelist-like she asked me what I felt I’d missed out on in life. I didn’t dare say All I’ve ever wanted is to be Royal. Instead, I said, ‘I should have been Managing Director of Shell.’ But that was only because it was always remarked that that’s what the Duke of Edinburgh would have been if he hadn’t been Duke of Edinburgh.

On the other hand, if only I’d gone into business and made £150 million. Then one  would have been able to start to get on top of all the things that need doing in the home and begin to move towards getting frockage, decor, clothes, face and hair right at last.

Joshua Baring’s gone to Copenhagen for lunch, by the way.


Joe Wicks on Cover of Radio Times. Gay Mother Blanked Out with the Church Times: 'That Awful Face'

Joe Wicks on Cover of Radio Times. Gay Mother Blanked Out with the Church Times: ‘That Awful Face’


Posted Thursday, June 30, 2022 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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