Val Latest – Planning a Sarcophagus

Monday 25th February 2019

Glorious sunshine for my visit to Hastings to see Val. He has a plumber in to tend to the underfloor heating in the Los Angeles-style low rise. We lunched over or around him. Our lunch-time entertainment was me reading from The Quest for Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessey, particularly the visit to the Gloucesters and the amazing Royal gardening episode when Princess Alice of Athlone dead-headed the irises. Of course we couldn’t help being lured aside to explore Queen Mary’s Würtemberg ancestry. Oh, where would we be without minor Germany Royalty as a topic? What a fathomless mine! So many memoirs still to be written. The plumber said listening to us was most instructive. He was Polish.

Val’s welcome lunch was gougere aux champignons with chicken liver on a bed of rocket. Decorative and nutritious as Barbara Cartland would have said.

On the way to the garden centre, Val said he was planning a sarcophagus. ‘Are you going to self-monument in your lifetime, like Mrs Shamefoot?’ I enquired. Mrs Shamefoot, by the way, is the heroine of Vainglory by Ronald Firbank. She tours the cathedrals of England, trying to crowd-fund a window in one of them to her living self. Val didn’t seem best pleased. The sarcophagus will be the bath he doesn’t like in his second bathroom, which he thinks to move into his garden and paint with lead-effect paint. Later in the garden centre we saw a palm and suddenly Val was having a palm garden. ‘What about the sarcophagus?’ I said. But the sarcophagus was a thing of the past. ‘Palms!’ Val repeated with emphasis. ‘And other exotics.’

We drove up to Great Dixter which was closed. We wandered in the nursery. There was nobody there. The garden over the fence was resting with the door firmly shut. I was reminded of that time I went with Anthony Mottram to the National Gallery after hours for a private tour and all the pictures looked a little bit cross and in retreat as if they hadn’t got their make-up on.  We could have stolen all the Dixter foxgloves from the Not for Sale area, probably reserved for their own use. I was wanting foxgloves.

Back at the LA low-rise …  I nearly forgot – the visit to Lidl. Then, there was barely time before we had to leave for the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne for the PV. Val said, ‘I must have a quince … and a plum.’ ‘There’s not much room in your garden,’ I said. ‘Oh but blossom followed by fruit,’ Val said. At the Towner Gallery we got told off by Genevieve Suzy for eating chips. ‘What about my dinner! I’m doing Angus Willis’s lamb. Angus Willis is dining and having his own lamb.’ Could it be like the origin of Mad Cow Disease? What happens if someone eats their own published recipe? There was a big moment at the PV when they gave out chips – after the speeches. It was funny how the radical-looking metal-studded woman still managed to sound like a vicar in her speech about the art school. ‘Now I’d like to thank… ‘ List of names tolling like a bell in traditional manner for list of names to be thanked.

Everyone at the PV was from the art world. Many come because otherwise they’d get nothing to eat or drink. The clothes and look are interesting but Val said I hadn’t caught it. Heavy-framed glasses are essential and severe fringes. Clothes are almost shapeless and not seen elsewhere. The best example was a spherical woman of a certain age in a baby-doll frock made out of  thick blanket material, so the ruffles quite tremendous. The glorious finishing touch was arm-in-a-sling. We didn’t make much of the art. Of course Virgil Grayson built the gallery. I was there for the opening, with Bruce MacBain. The big room was very modern: installations etc. Sarah Lucas: tights filled with stuffing and twisted into a shape. Quite interesting if you made an effort but I recall nothing of it now. Two glorious Eric Ravilious, one of my favourite artists. His son, James, photographed the Far West and the Gay Mother knew him. On the way back to Hastings, Val said his French was going. He couldn’t remember the French for Haddock. On the other hand, perhaps he’d never known it. He said he could call his LA-style low rise ‘Sea View’. ‘But there’s no view of the sea,’ I said. ‘If you brought in a cherry-picker to the charabanc park (that’s Val car-park outside the residence) , and climbed to the top of it, you could see the sea,’ he said, wounded.  We had a run thinking of names for homes that are near the sea but can’t quite see it: ‘Sea-Feeling’ ‘Sea-Sensation’ ‘Sea-Dream’ ‘Sea-Idea’ ‘Whisper of the Waves’

Genevieve Suzy’s slow-cooked Angus Willis lamb was heaven. With Angus Willis present at the table, what could be more authentic and exclusive?  Genevieve had applied for a special dispensation to add carrots – which was granted.

How many had an Elizabeth David menu with Elizabeth David as one of the guests? Joshua Baring recently weekended with Nigella. But they didn’t have a Nigella menu.

Val's Welcome Luncheon: Gougere aux Champignons with Chicken Livers on a bed of Rocket

Val’s Welcome Luncheon: Gougere aux Champignons with Chicken Livers on a bed of Rocket


Val's Lidl Shop

Val’s Lidl Shop

What you Can Get at Lidl

What you Can Get at Lidl

Eric Ravilious at the Towner Gallery

Eric Ravilious at the Towner Gallery

Eric Ravilious at the Towner Gallery Eastbourne: They have the Biggest Collection

Eric Ravilious at the Towner Gallery Eastbourne: They have the Biggest Collection




Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2019 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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