To Osborne with Prince Dmitri and Professor Krishna

Sunday 23rd July 2017

Professor Krishna we’ve known about for years. Robert Nevil lodged with his family on visits to Cal and now at last he was over here again after years and years and mad keen on Queen Victoria. So finally, finally, after a lifetime’s yearning, an outing to Osborne was planned. I’d yearned myself for Osborne, and Queen Victoria, for so long both had long ceased remotely to be real. Somehow that barrier of the Solent…. to cross to the Isle of Wight. Laura Malcolm always says it’s UKIP incarnate, the Isle of Wight. She’s been there. You do have to be a brain-box to work out the best route, especially there and back in the day from our Sacred Capital. But finally I managed to match trains and hydrofoils and taxis. Not cheap either. Only the privileged few could rise to it.

So we gained Osborne by taxi and took a yellow curry lunch themed for Osborne where Queen Victoria had her Indian phase. And then into the house. Just incredible. Why did nobody ever say? The level of access  – even her lav on view, her bath, the bed where she died. The bizarre nursery with rows of matching grandiose cots in maghog designed by Prince A. A sort of prison really. The whole place has this marvellous machine-finished, Great Exhibition feel of an institution or an hotel. Horrifyingly complete. No quoin-ed, painted ceiling unfinished, no set of bronzes or marble statues incomplete. Professor Krishna remarked on the incredible level of marble nudity in the drawing room. Oh quel drawing room! Swirly gilt sofas, yellow silk damask, matching, matching –  the absolute hotel feel. Paintings crammed the walls – copies of this and that, 19th century ideas of Renaissance paintings of the Madonna, ghastly but of a piece. And then the Durbar Room. Queen Victoria went mad for India. The Professor said, ‘It’s very odd being Indian and here.’ Preliminary photos and portraits of Indian persons in the corridor leading up to … finally the room itself like a wedding cake inside out. All whirled up in no time. Not quite sure how it was done. Real Indian people were employed but they used paper and moldings. The result resembles what one imagines some burgers of one of the Northern cities would have produced had they decided to have an Indian town hall. Again, devastatingly complete.

Down by the bathing place, we had general conversation. Prince Dmitri surveyed the great Steppe as always and regretted the debased modern world. The Professor said that India is horrifying – the caste system still rampant and intolerance coming steadily to the boil. But looking more to the West, he observed how offensive people are in taking offence.

We looked at the new bright yellow terrace brilliantly restored to alarming newness. At Osborne originally the budget was not unlimited. The walls are cement, painted to look like stone and there are, of course, the Italianate features – the belfries and loggias. So many civic buildings followed in the 19th century, built by the British all over the world, with the same quality of  ersatz fantasy run up in the machine age but marvellous.

Arrival at Osborne: a Lot of Asphalt

Arrival at Osborne: Municipal Vista

Osborne: the Newly Restored Yellow Terrace

Osborne: the Newly Restored Yellow Terrace

Osborne: Blissful Hotel Drawing Room

Osborne: Blissful Hotel Drawing Room

Osborne: the Drawing Room: Dividing Screen

Osborne: the Drawing Room: Dividing Screen

Corner of the Dining Room: Family Portraits at Osborne

Corner of the Dining Room: Family Portraits at Osborne

Osborne: the Level of Art

Osborne: the Level of Art

Queen Victoria her Lav: Osborne

Queen Victoria her Lav: Osborne

Her Bath: Osborne

Her Bath: Osborne

The Military-Style Nursery

The Military-Style Nursery

Ranks of Cots Designed by Prince A

Ranks of Cots Designed by Prince A

The Actual Durbar Room: Can you Believe It?

The Actual Durbar Room: Can you Believe It?

The Munshi: Queen Vic Mad Keen

The Munshi: Queen Vic Mad Keen

 

 

 

 

Posted Monday, July 24, 2017 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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