Aristocracy and Landed Gentry in PV Clash

Tuesday 12th March 2019

There was quite a scene at the Garden Museum opening last week. Before that, Conrad and Valery (it just won’t do the accent) ordered an incredible Indian lunch for 14 in a former bank in Kensington High Street done as a Moroccan palace. It was Conrad’s 56th birthday. I was one of the few that knew. Conrad said it was important to keep a grip on the years by marking even the smaller birthdays, as if digging a trench against the rising tide. Or something like that. I said to Reggie, ‘I’m looking towards the end. Suddenly it’s a different view. No need to endlessly horde (or is it hoard?) money. Why not release?  My curtains could see me out. Even my overcoat, if I only have another 5 years.’ ‘Or maybe another 40,’ Reggie said, whisking away to the champagne source. He was boarding the next morning at the crack for New York because Harry Rollo was giving a perf in Boston. It wasn’t just that neither he or Andrew Gold had even begun packing, they hadn’t finished their novels and ceramics either – writing and making, I mean, not mere reading and viewing. At table I was honoured to have both the Queens of Brixton in rotation. I can’t now remember how it is that some Lesbians got wrong with the Trans people – but they have. I think a certain Lesbian announced that she wouldn’t entertain intimate relations with a woman who was once a man, provoking terrible fury. The other Queen of Brixton said that if Mrs May had got Brexit right, then we’d be having it, so you can’t win. Rufus Pitman said something very important – was it a new writer to look out for? But my poor head in decline – it’s gone.

Also gone a top-class Debo story or maybe it wasn’t about Debo at all, at the Garden Museum opening for Emma Tennant last week. Can’t even remember who told it to me, if anyone. Quite a lot said about the Barclay brothers re: the Graph which they own but one doesn’t dare repeat. I do remember that.

There are so many people called Emma Tennant and they’re all Tennants and related to Debo. This one paints flowers and was neé Mitford possibly. ‘You look very like Nancy,’ I said and she didn’t seem best pleased. The Head of the Garden museum gave the speech in his own unique style, like a glorious firework going off, far from the usual dreary Vicar-like dreariness. Tolly or Tollemache had suggested the exhib. When the Head telephoned Emma Tennant she was delighted; they spoke for a while and eventually she said, ‘Would you mind awfully …  someone’s having a heart attack in the garden…’ But Emma marvellous, she captures flowers and plants at an exact moment, even in decay, the Japanese paper, they’re brimming on the brink of life or death.. the Head himself had a Saturday job in youth; now he has a son who’s a great strapping lad of 15; the Head spent all the money from the Saturday job on seeds. (the son wouldn’t have done possibly; anyway the son didn’t approve of something the father was doing or had done). Then it was back to Emma Tennant and her art. So a great cascade unfurls in the sky, a dizzying whirl that disappears as soon as it is seen but somehow something remains – unlike most other speeches. I was compelled into the exhibition room after hearing the Head.

Meanwhile Royston was talking to a Lord and I got into trouble for saying that in the Far West the aristocracy never know who we are. It’s because we’re Landed Gentry. Or they bolt out of their chairs mid-sentence if another title comes into the room. That happened to the Gay Grandmother who was talking to the Hon Mrs Parker, mother of the Earl of Morley when Lord Roborough made an entrance.  Royston said, ‘The baron doesn’t want to hear your life history.’ Later Royston told of how this Lord was walking along a corridor in his Stately (now partial National Trust) about to meet the public for some reason. He said, ‘You never know whether you’re going to get Trollope or Dostoyevsky.’ Royston is lunching with both Lord and Lady later in the month. Lady said she’d fetch him from the station.

We dined in the top class Garden Museum Cafe (skate). I said, re: the waiter/waitress, ‘She’s coming with a cloth…’ The Head Gardener of another of the great aristocratic houses nudged me… for we were plunged into a gender identity crisis. It was impossible to know what to do and ‘they’ were quite frightening.

My Place Card at Conrad's Birthday Lunch in a luxe Indian Restaurant in Kensington

My Place Card at Conrad’s Birthday Lunch in a luxe Indian Restaurant in Kensington

Emma Tennant: Artichoke. Quite Pricey but Good

Emma Tennant: Artichoke. Quite Pricey but Good

Emma Tennant: Magnolia Campbelli

Emma Tennant: Magnolia Campbelli: you see it’s so more More than a Botanical Drawing 

Posted Tuesday, March 12, 2019 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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