Val Moved to Hastings plus Mary Berry had an Evening Clutch for her Talk

Sunday 26th November 2017

Finally it’s happened. Val got to Moscow – well, Moscow Road, Hastings. Val’s moved to Hastings. His grand piano went down in a small Polish van, rocking; we followed in the Official Car. The installation of the grand piano was the great feature of the day really and me dusting it. I dusted and windolene-ed a lot of Val’s possessions – and his bin. Everything’s got to be sparkling for the new home because it’s a Los Angeles-style low white L-shape with throw-open folding glass doors all down one side. He’s got three ovens and two bathrooms. He’s quite cross about a lot of it but he’s going to call it Lubiyankova – or something like that. He consulted with one of his friends who’d been Ambassador to Moscow. He could become Madame Yeveshenko there – tragic but agreeably crazy, welcoming guests with a spoonful of gooseberry jam and enjoying samovar life.

At the end of the day, we had fish and chips down on the seafront and I went back to London – blocked and re-routed three times on the way back. What is this country coming to? Had to call the Police since totally trapped in Tunbridge Wells. Biffed off A21. Diversion signs petered out at once. Sav Nav took me back to the place where first biffed off – twice. I wondered if I had not been condemned to circulate Tunbridge Wells for eternity.

So to Mary Berry’s evening lecture for the National Gardens Scheme at one of the institutes in South Kensington. August venue for a brainy lecture. All the garden owners always look funny and less garden-like at this annual event in late October. Mary Berry had a little black dress with ridging, a pink jacket (I think real silk, not her usual polyester) and a black evening clutch studded with jet. Also considerable heels, especially for one of 82. She did stumble once but one of her fellow speakers had some kind of crisis on rising to speak and had to be massively heaved onto the stage. He was a Lord and more advanced into the 80s. The third talk was by a man from the Times who had never actually opened his garden – or only once years ago. They were supposed sound on the theme of opening their gardens but maybe with a brainy dimension. Mary was quite charming and more quavery than on TV. She said, ‘If it’s a hot day when you open, put your chocolate cakes back in the freezer. Nobody will want them.’ Gales of laughter. But what of the actual garden? There was one picture of it on a screen behind Mary that didn’t change all the time she was speaking. It was hedges and a lawn. Nothing further was divulged. She said that alstroemeria had been picked and brought into the house that morning. Later a member of the audience expressed astonishment at alstroemeria in late October and Mary became even more quavery and said something unlikely about pulling it not cutting to keep the flowers coming. I wondered if she really knew anything about gardening. There was much mention of someone called Keith who works out of doors. Finally she said they were giving it all up and moving to Henley. Afterwards she was thronged. Royston and I bore down on her. She looked absolutely furious when I, Adrian Edge, addressed her on the subject of Keith and was he moving to Henley as well? I seem to be obsessed with other people’s staff. ‘Keith’s absolutely invaluable,’ she said.

A week or two later I saw alstroemeria flowering in the Gay Mother’s garden. So maybe Mary more clued up than appeared.

Val's New Home

Val’s New Home

How Well We Know that Hair

How Well We Know that Hair

More Hair

More Pre-Lecture Hair: Mary at the Institute

This Lord Almost Didn't Gain the Stage

This Lord Almost Didn’t Gain the Stage

Mary Thronged after Her Lecture: She was to Dine at Mossiman's After

Mary Thronged after Her Lecture: She was to Dine at Mossiman’s After


Posted Wednesday, November 29, 2017 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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