What’s been Happening in May

Thursday 25th May 2017

I took 42nd Street and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I was at the Hockney Retrospective at the Tate and the Queer Art Exhib (joint ticket). Down at the Gay Mother’s we gave and took a lunch. I vac-ed and weeded. I schemed to get her to replace the pittosporum with a cypress such as marks a demesne in Tuscany – ‘Well, this isn’t Tuscany,’ the Gay Mother said. Otherwise she remarked upon The Archers: ‘Matt Crawford came back…. so why shouldn’t Rob Titchner come back… and his horrible mother.’

Val took sixty years at the Chiswick Cafe Rouge. It was a very restrained party of just two Oxford sewing and fabric ladies, plus me, Adrian Edge. Wayne Sleep came and sat nearby. It turned out he’s bought Nancy Mitford’s first married home, Rose Cottage, which is right next door. There was a flicker of recognition from that time Bruce McBain brought him round to see my stone worktops with a view to him having similar. I thought of hurling at him, but it was better that he hovered on the fringes, lending a glow. Nothing could detract from Val, who’d been watching TV. The film had simply everything: she was besieged by the Bolsheviks, stampeded by Red Indians, tied to a railway line and hung out of an upper window of the Empire State building. ‘I thought it must be “The Perils of Pauline” ‘, Val said. But it wasn’t. Pauline was tied to a railway line in sepia, of course, while frantic piano music played, and a sign flickered on the screen explaining her dire plight. Also of note were the hymns at a recent funeral of a rellie at Arnos Grove. ‘Might as well have been by Neil Diamond,’ Val said. Terrible, drifty mu, no tune, ghastly long-winded, crippled fervour of the words.

There was lunch before 42nd Street at Delaunay. Raj had recently undergone an interesting procedure and pretended to squeal at any approach to his chest area. Burna said he shouldn’t tell Rufus to clean his glasses and Rufus said semen gives you acid, just as the waiter was leaning over. He looked as if he’d had a rough night. The matinee audience for 42nd Street astonishing: the entire contents of Colliers Wood surely present. Glittery cardies and middle-aged women on the move in their seats throughout: the numbers! the tap-dancing! Raj said the Busby Berkeley floor work where the girls pulse and scissor as one was a mollusc or something worse. It was all completely thrilling of course. She only had 12 hours in which to become a star – as usual.  Rufus said no sense whatsoever could be made of the show in which she was to be the last minute replacement. Nor was there any hint as to why the whole piece is called 42nd Street. But one mustn’t quibble when you have show girls, tap shoes, hit numbers and stardom.

I’ve also taken a Wyndham Lewis Tour of London with lunch in the Orpen Room at the Imperial War Museum, had private confab in the library at Highclere with Carnarvon’s Countess and another private tour conducted by Bamber at West Horsley Place. ‘You’re the only one that keeps up,’ he said to me as the rest of the party straggled. That was because I was chronically keen to work in my own landed connections. At last we saw a rabbit so I was able to tell the story of Lord Seaton running up his bedroom window on a Sunday morning and shooting rabbits and that led very comfortably to the sash he kept on the hall table, mixed up with the current gloves and scarves, upon which Sir John More had been lowered into the grave at Corunna. Bamber didn’t quite cotton on actually but at last he knew the poem.  He never said, ‘Starter for ten’ or ‘I must hurry you’ but he did say, ‘We’re very short of time… you’ll have to be getting on… really very little time left…’ so presumably he’s permanently locked in the time-frame of an epi of University Challenge.

Posted Thursday, May 25, 2017 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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