‘I get Used to the Muck as I go Along’

Sunday 22nd March 2020

This remark is made by either Vladimir or Estragon (it really doesn’t matter which) in Waiting for Godot.  It refers to a carrot one or other of them is eating but also of course to their whole predicament of being alive.

For the 3rd time since the Poor Little Rich Gays began we face catastrophe. In 2008, money very nearly came to an end, in 2018, my mineral interests blew up in my face and I faced ruin and termination. Now this. Not just Pestilence and Death, but Money Ruin and Starvation all at once. Several times this week, crawling up the stairs of my official home, I longed to merge for good with the stair post. But yesterday Anthony Mottram of Prague telephoned from Prague and I was bucked up.

Who would believe that in a trice we would be reduced to this medieval condition: walled in, scrabbling for food, eeking out and bleach wiping to ward off pestilence?

In the last week before closure, I was delirious with events, although, truth to tell, attendance had dwindled to almost nothing by the Thursday. On the Friday I took my last lunch in an almost empty restaurant. At the National Portrait Gallery on the Tuesday, for the Cecil Beaton Opening, Royston King was talking to Jacob Rees-Mogg when I arrived. He (Mogg, that is) held out a hand. ‘No, no,’ I said, offering my elbow. He began a vague discourse, as a matter of remote interest, about how he’d heard that a family took to washing their hands more often and it seemed that they were transmitting less virus as a result.

This View was packed though.

Mrs May arrived with her husband. Black suit, some kind of light jacquard material, and red difficult heels. Flash of red at the neck. Definitely an outfit. Her idea was that she’d come to see the exhib and like any dedicated retiree inched round the walls speaking to nobody. Two security officers lurked near her at all times. It was easy to tell who they were. One of them was quite large. Why doesn’t she know that nobody at a PV looks at the art? I was informed privately at an earlier function by someone who’s known her since youth that she’s grown odder and odder with the years. Otherwise Royston was besieged by people in the museum world and Philip Mould also was addressed.  Always the chat was of things to come, plans and schemes.  Except for the woman who casually let slip that her daughter was at home with a temperature!

So that was that. On Thursday morning at the Royal Academy fund-raising breakfast, panic was mounting. Hand sanitiser beside the buffet. That great name known to Harry Rollo was present and couldn’t have been more charming. Royston got out of him that he’s now living in St James’s, having given away various properties to a former partner. Art did have a small triumph though – more later.

By the evening though, audience for the Winchester Boys Concert at the Merchant Taylor’s Hall substantially reduced. Nobody touching the eats. I waved my hand near an old Wykhamist. ‘I’m using Mould and Mildrew Remover,’ I explained. ‘It’s got bleach in it.’ The Wykhamists are famous for their dryness and distain for the random.

By last Sunday, thump. That was it. All gone.

In February Harry Rollo and Mercury Mr Kitten dined. Harry’s theory of Brexit is that Nations are like people. They grow old and become confused. That’s what’s happened to our Nation. Or had before Corona Virus overtook it. At Rufus Pitman’s launch – so, so long ago now – Raj was murmuring with an Indian friend, ‘It’s a Hindu takeover.’ Because of Rishi replacing Sajid. Also Priti, of course. Lord Arrowby (he’s not using his other title) lounged against a bookcase saying ‘F..k’ as often as possible with one of his underground ‘mates’. The Gay Mother was withering about Mary Beard. ‘I don’t care. She looks awful.’ ‘No, Mary Beard we don’t want to see you nude. So boring.’ Lucy Worsley also crushed. Had nothing new to tell her about the Armada. The Gay Mother gained 96 in February. She’s getting younger and younger. ‘How have I done it?’ she proclaimed upon being congratulated by numerous relations in the hall of our ancestral mansion. Later she said, ‘I am worried about being this age. Pollution, you know. And climate change.. taking up space.’

All that quite, quite gone now. Shock, loss and grief, plus crashing markets and bare shelves in the mart. Then yesterday Anthony Mottram telephoned from Prague. As you know he’s a huge ‘consultant’ in Prague, worth a fortune for some reason. Well, he’s quite chipper. V. strict regime in Prague. Only allowed out with masks. The Vietnamese corner store left a free supply (which they’d made themselves) on the pavement outside their shop. No gatherings of any kind allowed. But he foresees greater knowledge. There must be a breakthrough. Every virus brain in the world bent to the task. As for the money side, well, this has never happened before. All governments of every country in the world will have to bail out. Unprecedented. A difficult year, Anthony Mottram thinks, but then recovery…

In the meantime, whatever happens, we’ll get used to the much as we go along.

Just to Remind of Simpler Understated Days of Frockage

Just to Remind of Simpler Understated Days of Frockage

Posted Sunday, March 22, 2020 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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