Harry Rollo Writes and Rufus Pitman Comments

Saturday 25th July 2020

I think a bridal trump for Beatrice – the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara. The other brides had to make do with unworn Queen Mary tiaras. The Fringe was not only the Queen’s tiara at her own wedding (although broken and hastily mended just before: you can see the gap in the graphs) but still worn by Majesty. And Beatrice had the beauty of it properly repaired. Then her gown: Rufus Pitman comments, ‘an old frock that Granny wore to the pictures.’ Incredible that these things are kept. The little added puff sleeves were odd with the shoulder straps and why was the skirt altered to hang just above the ground? Conservation perhaps? To keep it off the stones when worn outdoors. Originally it was a great puff of silk with no hem. The Beatrice skirt was quite different with a band of different fabric at the bottom.

Funny how women often wear each other’s clothes. Men never do. Merle Barr visited Hastings this week. Genevieve Suzy supplied her with a dress for after sea-bathing and then said, ‘Keep it. It suits you better.’

At least, from this Time of Wrong, Poor Little Rich Gays here and throughout the World, have acquired a sure grasp of the tiaras.

Rufus told me that Conrad (a novelist) wrote a novel called Chance which is about how a family lost both their tiaras at once but rose above it. I must read it.

Meanwhile Harry Rollo writes: my entire world has been murdered – no perfs, no tours. Nothing but tiny pathetic shoots, weeds in a scorched landscape.

In normal times I would have circled the world twice so far – two trips to America, Japan – also perfs in Amsterdam, Paris – and every night would have been a different scene, friends, colleagues, bores, other people.

Instead: just family circle and interior of own homes month after month. Of course wonderful and totally grateful but I not being a nineteenth-century lady novelist am increasingly tendu.
Mother took to National Gallery yesterday to see the seven Titian poesie reunited for the first time in 550 years.
Worth it for the dogs – all the different expressions of dog in each story – sometimes, it can now be revealed, the same dog in different moods.
Worth, but only just, the dark, dystopian atmosphere! Herded into queues by demoralized guards in plastic vizors – Member or Non-Member? (Awful shades of schwitz.)
Neither! Trustee!
But VIP ticket not recognized by them until it was too late and precious time already lost in queuing.
Then inside – more queueing – only twenty allowed in room at once -people getting arsy “why then give us times…” . Much masking.
One-way system – directions all over the floor and art routes with timings (25 minutes baroque, 35 minutes if you add Impressionists…)
Then suddenly on the dot of four all the walkie-talkies explode into life – closing time! and we are abruptly thrown out – all at once, from the same exit – so all that strenuous separating is thrown away in a moment.
Surely reform is needed. Why not finally go the whole hog and make it VIP only again? – As in the days of Titian.
E.g. one has to know the director (or c.1 degree of separation) to gain.
It was clear from their dress that many were the opposite of VIP.
VUP – very unimportant person.
We live on in the ruins…
We will prevail!

 

 

 

 

 

Leave the first comment

I’ve Been to See the Gay Mother

Saturday 18th July 2020

Luckily she hopes that hugging and kissing won’t come back. Still terrible dread of contamination – but as of today we’re in the clear with the time lapse all being well. Greatly encouraging is that she’s shrunk and hooped so much now that I’m a good 3 feet above her, so not breathing into her air space on the whole. Maybe this is how older people protect themselves in general, by diminishing and thereby getting out of the main airwaves.

We found some old basins that hadn’t been used since 1956. The Gay Mother said they were in the house before she came. I never knew that. I always thought they’d been put in in 1956, when the Gay Mother and Father bought the house. One of them was convenient for my room so I pressed it into service. The tap worked better after application of WD40. Suddenly I’d got an ensuite up to a point. It’s incredible how much you can do with just a basin if that is all you have. It was also available for W.H.Auden-type activities.

For years I’ve been wanting an ensuite at the Gay Mother’s. Strange that it’s taken This Time of Wrong to jolt one into life that was already there.

So often do we overlook our gifts and in seeking more, especially more and more bathrooms, not know that already those things for which we yearn have already been conferred, although not quite in the expected form.

The Gay Mother has rejected television in almost all its forms. Her book, by Mungo Park, didn’t arrive from Abe Books. There was a parcel addressed to her but it was my new foundation garments from Harvey Nicks whose arrival was just in time because I’d left all my pants behind, as well as all my shirts. Only had T-shirts, which just lasted the week.

The Gay Mother couldn’t believe that the parcel of undergarments had been directed to her.

The next day her book arrived from Abe Books and she set to reading it at once. She is much concerned about BlackLivesMatter  and the solution seems to be to read an account of an 18th century visit to The Gambia. There was also the matter of the cover of The Tablet, featuring a black sculptress from the Victorian Times.

One day the Gay Mother found a Fritillary butterfly in the garden. On another a different butterfly settled on the kitchen windowsill resulting in the toast being burnt. But she said it wasn’t a butterfly of any importance, unlike the Fritillary. The pizza which was being re-heated also got not quite burnt but high-baked to a biscuit but that wasn’t because of any butterfly but from trying to meet a furniture polishing target at the same time.

A Sculptress on the Cover of The Tablet

A Sculptress on the Cover of The Tablet

A Less Important Butterfly. But a Butterfly is Always an Event

A Less Important Butterfly. But a Butterfly is Always an Event

 

 

 

Leave the first comment

I Become a Monster

Wednesday 15th July 2020

It’s all about me. It’s worse for me. Others are suffering more. But they don’t have my nerves. You see in extremity how different are the temperaments. Others don’t suffer from nerves. They settle comfortably to the News on radio or TV. No sick dread. I can’t bear to turn it on. They settle to the whole horror. This is not a presumption. They must be settled for why else they would be cheerful at all?   All my life my nerves have been bad. At Prep the school spaghetti made me sick at the table. Matron (horrid, cruel woman) was furious. Her car had no brakes. She had to drive round and round until it stopped. It was propelled by wound up rubber bands.  I was used to proper Neopolitan at home with tomato sauce that included a bay leaf and cloves. Not radioactive orange waste and slimy tinned worms.

The other boys were not wracked like this. They were better adjusted.

People have folded into themselves. Those in couples have ascended without fail to a sunny upland. Suddenly the intimate companion is wholly satisfactory, when there is no chance of a preferable alternative or even a playful diversion.  A permanent Time of Wrong might resolve permanently those tendencies in domestic life – the roving eye, the 7-year itch, the signal of the buxom secretary immeasurably lesser in age or the lusty Scandinavian au pair, readily available in the laundry room. But whose left alone in their drawing rooms with nothing but their nerves have little chance as terror stalks the carpets.

Perhaps I am nursing Post-Traumatic Stress disorder. You can get that from little things, as well as large. You don’t have to have been blown up in a tank. Muriel McGlorian suffered the loss of her earrings, stolen by a wicked neighbouring girl, the first time she went out to play at the age of 3 or maybe a little older. She never recovered.  She didn’t know that she had never recovered until shortly before her death. I can well believe it. If some are blown up in a tank and not afflicted by Post Traumatic Stress disorder as is known to be the case, then it follows that it is not the severity of the event that causes it, but the severity of the reaction.

I have gone back. Progress has been overturned. I dread the return home after company as the return to school after the holidays but with the waiting added in that nothing bad as come from company.

 

Leave the first comment

The Garden Museum Opens

Sunday 5th July 2020

Garden Museum completely the first to re-open. With an exhibition about Derek Jarman who always knew me but I don’t know why. Royston was buoyant. I arrived too, but wracked with fear and dread. The masks and visors.

So we re-start, if that’s what it’s to be, as we ended in dread March – in the museum world.

Reggie Cresswell, Robert Nevil and Eddie Sedgwick were at the same school as Derek Jarman but years later of course. Somehow he was meshed in. With great randomness I was taken to a flat in Newcastle in the early 80s. The idea was to meet a spectacularly yuppie Gay of about 19 who had already gained the best terrace in the city as well as black and chrome decor, all from computers. This person was Keith Collins, later the partner of Derek Jarman, and described upon his own recent death in 2018 as a train driver. So I do sometimes wonder if it was Keith Collins that I met in that flat. But who else could it have been?

The Garden Museum exhib is immersive: a total visit to Prospect Cottage, the unusual Jarman home on the waste sands at Dungeness where I visited with Val last year. Once again I was crunching on the Dungeness pebbles with Royston. That was noisy and Royston was noisier. We had our actual memories, the films, Royston at the 40th birthday party, me trying to say that I’d actually been to the place only last year and there were notices plastered all over the hut saying ‘Go away’ and why and Royston saying It was obvious and thus we were making so much noise an American woman said, ‘Can you keep your voices down?’ We didn’t like her. Inside the cottage, as I hadn’t been before, not least because of the signs saying, ‘Go away’, Royston said he was foremost a designer and look at his remarkable handwriting. It was the handwriting of a designer. Royston said the paintings were a bit gloomy. What with the strain and nerves, whenever I bent towards an exhibit there was a need to talk. All I could gather was a life with more suffering and energy than is usual in a life: painting, film-making, writing and gardening. But really Prospect Cottage was an anti-chamber to Death, where Jarman laid out his wares knowing he would soon be cut off. He was not diminished but braced.

Once I glanced at his autobiography and sensed humanity, not squeaky and political like some of the Gays.

It’s cost £3m to save the real Prospect Cottage – which is a lot for a small hut.

After bellowing in Prospect Cottage, we roamed through the permanent exhib at the Garden Museum. Who should be there but Edmund Haakon, the opera critic, horrified by the masks and the separation. We found from a display that Beth and C. Lloyd had been picnicking at Dungeness (extraordinary choice of picnic site) and by chance come across Prospect Cottage and its owner who was astonished to discover whom he was talking to. It ended up with Beth writing to D.Jarman for advice on plants for her gravel garden which she was planning.

In another hut in the perm exhib is a film of Royston talking to his sister in her garden about it. Charming. And important as a leading Black gardener.

Then it was lunch outside in the windy conditions. The restaurant semi-open. Screens, visors, masks, gloves. Royston and the semi-aquatic Head of the Garden Museum were above it all, eyes only on the future. The Head’s going to have that roundabout at the foot of Lambeth Bridge taken away and the Old Lambeth Road marked out in a new garden next to his Museum. Then there’s the September swim to Tresco. I was the only one wracked. Maybe it’s my time of life. Or my nerves.

Derek Jarman: Handwriting of a Designer

Derek Jarman: Handwriting of a Designer

Derek Jarman: Painting of Dungeness: Gloomy, Royston said

Derek Jarman: Painting of Dungeness: Gloomy, Royston said

Derek Jarman: His Books. A Lively Mind

Derek Jarman: His Books. A Lively Mind

 

 

 

 

Leave the first comment

Diary Filling Up

Friday 3rd July 2020

Already a pressure of engagements. Back to normal. Not quite. O! the Performing Arts. I can’t bear it. The cruelty and wrong of it. Why can’t anybody see? I haven’t dared to turn on the BBC for fear of the Government line being spun: alarm, blame, ‘lock-down’ (I won’t hear that word: the correct term is This time of Wrong.  I’ve had to switch off Radio 3 because they kept saying ‘lockdown’), rules, droplets… But yesterday the Gay Mother happened to mention that she’d heard Matthew Parris on The World at One. She wasn’t pleased. So I listened on iplayer. Absolute Heaven. Professor after Professor, plus MP, a really glorious canter of common sense at last. On the BBC. So the message must be getting through. Not just the Graph and the Spec.

Royston says the theatres won’t open this year. I won’t have it. Agonising cries re: the death of the Arts. Never fear. The Government will have to give in. It’s the mass gatherings at the other end, as it were. There’ll be such a clamour to have them back. The Pop Concerts, the Magic Shows, the Boxing matches, the Graham Norton Show … They can’t allow one without the other.

I had such a soothing talk with Sebastian Archer last week. He said, It’s all a question of temperament. You’re either an optimist or a pessimist. Quite a lot of people get furious at the slightest hint things might not be quite so absolutely terrible. The cure for anxiety is more anxiety. Don’t I know it. The more anxious you are the more it won’t happen. So suggesting less anxiety is incredibly dangerous, an invitation for total infection and rocketing deaths, plus the end of the world from the economic point of view, which is also life, it’s worth pointing out.

Otherwise there’s the voice of doom, which is a role many like to play. These ones might be avoiding the nightmare of hope also but there’s the advantage of a tough front excellently combined with being able to look down on those not up to it: ‘I’m not a fool, I’m facing up to things as they are. Just you wait and see…. ‘

Probably it’s best not to think about it.

Today for the first time I felt I could breathe. As Mary Soames, Churchill’s daughter, said, of the summer of 1940, ‘You felt you couldn’t breathe’.

How long will it last? Being able to breathe, I mean.

Journeys are being planned. I’m going to a concert actually, on 21st July. Somehow there’s to be a concert, followed by a dinner. So the Performing Arts not totally cancelled. Pavel Kolashnikov – yes, really. Great coming pianist.  Terrifying at the piano. Saw him last year. Glyndebourne is to be out of doors. They haven’t even bothered to say what the programme is, but attendance is total. Well, that’s enough for two months. Plus visits, in this country and abroad.

Tomorrow is the Opening at the Garden Museum. My favourite Museum Keeper will be there. He’s to swim to the Scilly Isles within minutes of becoming a father for the second time – in September. As I’ve mentioned before he was born part-water-vole.

Already  – busy, flapping, worried, outfits, getting everything done. As predicted that trolley never got tortoiseshelled. I wonder now if I’ll live to complete it.

The Trolley and Headboard: have Been Docked here for 4 years at Least: Will they ever Acquire their Paint Finishes?

The Trolley and Headboard: at the beginning of This Time of Wrong there was hope they would be Finished. But not. The Gold Brackets are Up though. The Headboard has been Taken up to a Disused Bedroom and I’ve Managed 2 more Coats of Gesso on it. 

Brackets Up but Trolley Still not Tortoiseshelled

Brackets Up but Trolley Still not Tortoiseshelled. Ornaments on Brackets Stop-Gaps. But Will Probably be There for 10 Years – If I’m Spared. No Funds, Of Course, for New Ornaments, Thank you Very Much. 

I Made a Pizza with Dried Yeast Yesterday. A Recipe by Diana Henry from the Graph. Artichoke Hearts, Onion, Olives and Mozzarella. Finalised with Rocket, Parsley, Lemon Zest and Parmesan. Make Sure you have Your Wits about you to Remember all That

I Made a Pizza with Dried Yeast Yesterday. A Recipe by Diana Henry from the Graph. Artichoke Hearts, Onion, Olives and Mozzarella. Finalised with Rocket, Parsley, Lemon Zest and Parmesan. Make Sure you have Your Wits about you to Remember all That

I Forgot to Put This  Picture of the Fly-Past When President Macron Visited the Other Day. Buckingham Palace is the Fly-Past but they Fly Past Me First

I Forgot to Put This Picture of the Fly-Past When President Macron Visited the Other Day. Buckingham Palace is the Fly-Past but they Fly Past Me First

The Fly Past Flying Past Me First - for President Macron

The Fly Past Flying Past Me First – for President Macron

 

Leave the first comment

Know Your Tiaras

Sunday 28th June 2020

How can Gays not know their Royal tiaras? I started off with a simple multiple choice on our Zoom quiz (oh never to see Zoom again. So many are going into Clinics, I hear, because they don’t like how they look on it). Which of the following is NOT one of the Queen’s tiaras? The Poltimore, the Vladimir, the Burmese Ruby or the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland? Not a clue. All Gays, Angus Willis, Fergus Strachan, Charlie Hurling, Bonnie Blue; Merle Barr and Fern Willis not strictly Gay but really – data neutral, shall we say, in the currency of these days. Not one of them picked out the Poltimore which of course is the non-Queen tiara. The Poltimore was brought for Princess Margaret on the occasion of her marriage in 1960 for £5500. Quite why, I can’t explain, when there were so many tiaras already in stock in the Royal vaults. None perhaps that suited her idea of a coiffure. The Poltimore is narrow in diameter, but high, so perfect to be lodged in a bee-hive. After her death it was sold at Christie’s. I saw it in person in the sale preview. It was destined for $1.7 million.

Back to the Quiz. It got worse. These Gays didn’t know where Cullinan I is to be found, let alone III and IV (Grannie’s Chips, of course). In the ensuing weeks, I fed endless pics from Insta to the Quiz WhatsApp group. No tiara was left unturned, I can tell you, even the lesser ones: the Brazilian Aquamarine, the Belgian Sapphire. I regaled with the prize story of how the Vladimir was sent round to the Queen’s Gallery for the Russian Exhib in 2018 with, according to the Head of the Royal Collection whom Royston and I met in the street outside, ‘an unprepossessing piece of elastic attached at the back.’ They asked if they could remove it but answer came back: ‘Certainly not.’ Without that elastic it wouldn’t stay on.

After four weeks or so I re-launched the Tiara Quiz, this time with pictures. All they had to do was name the tiara. They’d had the answers in advance to all intents and purposes. Would you believe it – still prone to error. Still straying. No perfect ten. Some plunging to six or even five.

The Vladimir, with its 'Unprepossessing' piece of elastic

The Vladimir, with its ‘Unprepossessing’ piece of elastic

Queen Alexandra's Koloshnik Tiara

Queen Alexandra’s Koloshnik Tiara

The Vladimir as Worn: Surely the Best

The Vladimir as Worn: Surely the Best

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara: a Tiara of Charm

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara: a Tiara of Charm

The Queen Mary Fringe: Not to be Confused with the Queen Alexandra Koloshnik. This Tiara was worn by the Queen on her Wedding Day. Just beforehand, it Snapped. In the Wedding Graphs a Gap can be Seen to the Left of the Centre where it had been Hurriedly Mended

The Queen Mary Fringe: Not to be Confused with the Queen Alexandra Koloshnik. This Tiara was worn by the Queen on her Wedding Day. Just beforehand, it Snapped. In the Wedding Graphs a Gap can be Seen to the Left of the Centre where it had been Hurriedly Mended

The Belgian Saphhire: All right but a Bit of an Everyday Tiara

The Belgian Saphhire: All right but a Bit of an Everyday Tiara

The Brazilian Aquamarine: Not Liked, except by Lord Arrowby. Lumpy and Awkward with Ill-Suited Bedroom Elements

The Brazilian Aquamarine: Not Liked, except by Lord Arrowby. Lumpy and Awkward with Ill-Suited Bedroom Elements. Lord Arrowby Deliberately likes the Coloured Ones

The Nizam of Hydrabad, Tragically Dismantled to Make the Burmese Ruby

The Nizam of Hydrabad, Tragically Dismantled to Make the Burmese Ruby

The Burmese Ruby: Described by Rufus Pitman as an 'Edward Heath Tiara' because Constructed in the 70s. Looks a Fire Guard. Fussy and Unimportant Stones

The Burmese Ruby: Described by Rufus Pitman as an ‘Edward Heath Tiara’ because Constructed in the 70s. Looks a Fire Guard. Fussy and Unimportant Stones. She is said to have Designed it Herself, which is a Shame

 

Leave the first comment

The Challenge of Management

Saturday 27th June 2020

Incognito visits are important. Elevation must never equal remoteness. Those at the top have to know what’s going on below. Sometimes the only way is to mount a wheeled pedal machine and mingle. Royston King and I have paid visits to Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regents Park and Hampstead Heath (for comparison), thus equipped. Nobody knew who we were – or rather who he is. A Trustee of the Royal Parks. There’s to be huge re-arrangement of traffic around Buckingham Palace, but that wasn’t our mission on these visits. Our challenge was Cycle Paths. ‘This isn’t a cycle path,’ Royston hailed a number of off-piste cyclists who sailed on. We were looking at signage which is often faded or peters out. My idea is that somehow it’s got to be made clear that there is only one cycle path through Hyde Park, from the Decimus Burton screen at Hyde Park Corner straight up to West Carriage Drive, where it rather awkwardly connects with the one cutting through Kensington Gardens to Kensington Palace. If it were understood that otherwise there is no cycling perhaps it might be better. But it’s not easy to convey the message. Bossy notices everywhere are disfiguring. Royston didn’t approve of the ones that have been put up temporarily saying, ‘This is a Royal Park not a toilet’. He doesn’t think this is how visitors to a Royal Park should be addressed.

Royston favours enforcement. What are the Parks Police doing? Nobody will take any notice of any regulation unless it is enforced.

We went up to Hampstead Heath which is not a Royal Park. We first of all toured on the west side where I’ve never been before. Quite extraordinary. Thickly wooded, with clearings. In the thicker woods, a larger number of lone gentlemen that statistics might have laid down for our guidance were walking but rather obviously not going anywhere. One part of this section is old gravel pits, now an eerie many-branched wood where branches writhe in the shadows, tormented possibly that they can’t be heard or get out. Underneath, the forest floor, is bare. It was there that a neurasthenic American woman in need of a square meal (don’t say ‘meal), flapping like a trapped bird, squawked at us that it was No Cycling. We got off our cycles at once but on she squawked. Royston got annoyed. We encountered her later on the edge of the wood by the road still squawking. This time the cyclist said, ‘Who are you?’, then, ‘It belongs to everybody’ – all this without stopping on his cycle at all. ‘Not true,’ said Royston. ‘The Heath belongs to the City of London.’ I lingered to have a little snobbish conversation with the American woman about who Royston actually is and how we were visiting quietly precisely for the purpose of reviewing Cycling Path Policy in the Royal Parks. You’d have thought she’d have dropped to the floor. Royston was signalling impatiently from further away by a bramble bush. He didn’t want that woman talked to.

He showed me another hidden corner of private houses on the left side of Kenwood Road. So much history. The gravel pits have history. The Heath was nearly built over there. We crossed over onto the Kenwood side. First of all the dairy where Dido Bello, the black great-niece of the Earl of Mansfield, supervised the dairy work. Royston had been involved in its restoration. There was something about the colour chosen… then on through enclosures to Kenwood House itself. At this time the Heath is taken over, and every secluded corner is occupied by youths with ghetto blasters. An unbelievable racket was coming out of a rhododendron. When we got there it was just three youths and no ghetto blaster. How do they do it?

We were perturbed by the state of Kenwood House, only restored at vast expense a few years ago, now with paint peeling and wooden sills rotting. Why aren’t they maintaining? Royston said they’ll probably let it all go then some grandees on the committee can seek another £35 million for works and that will be their legacy.

Otherwise, Hampstead Heath really is incredible. The central vale, the ravine, could be the wildest Yorkshire moors. Quite untamed. I’ve got been there for years. Then corners more manicured, with lawns, statues and specimen trees. Strange billionaire mansions to be glimpsed through fences, another world of tennis courts, swimming pools, statuary and a Georgian mansion. ‘What road is this one on?’ I kept asking Royston. ‘It’s not on any road,’ he said. How do you get in then? We descended to a row of Deco residences in a private road full of walkers then back onto the Heath by the ponds. Massive works there, Royston said, to stop them descending onto Kentish Town below. £50 million easily. Finally we racked down to the corner by the Royal Free Hospital and ended outside Keats’ house in Keats Grove.

The Former Gravel Pits on Hampstead Heath

The Former Gravel Pits on Hampstead Heath

Writhing Branches in the former Gravel Pits on Hampstead Heath

Writhing Branches in the former Gravel Pits on Hampstead Heath

The Dairy at Kenwood where

The Dairy at Kenwood where Dido Bello Supervised 

Kenwood: I'd Forgotten how Fancied and Doll-House Like the Facade is

Kenwood: I’d Forgotten how Fancied and Doll-House Like the Facade is

Kenwood: No Maintenance. Only Restored a Few Years ago for £MMMM

Kenwood: No Maintenance. Only Restored a Few Years ago for £MMMM

Leave the first comment

Val Rang

Wednesday 24th June 2020

Val rang from Moscova, Hastings.

‘Cabin fever, or what?’ he goes. His main news was a cheesecake which might or might not be made, depending on whether certain visitors were definitely coming or possibly the cheesecake being made was the deciding factor that would determine their arrival. In any case, an ingredient was missing from his Co-op. Could it have been Yarg? What is Yarg? I said, ‘What about Philidelphia Cream Cheese?’ But that could result in a claggy cheesecake. The other thing would avoid that.

He doesn’t think much of this pandemic. Wild life will be just as much in danger afterwards as far as he can see. What is the point?

Speaking of testing, for which there is a tremendous vogue at the moment – drive-by testing, testing centres, testing, testing – Val said he’d gone down a different path. He’d taken a genetic test. ‘What for?’ I inquire. ‘To prove that I am Anastasia, of course.’ I was stunned. How perfectly ridic. All these years. How could I not have realised that Val is the tragic missing Grand Duchess of Russia?

It just goes to show how these things get overlooked. Anastasia would be 119 years old by now whereas Val is 63. But that’s a minor detail.

 

Leave the first comment

Joshua Baring – I’m Taking a Running Leap

Thursday 11th June 2020

I’ve been tormented. I wanted to mark Joshua Baring’s cuisine, one of the great features to emerge, via Insta, from this Time of Wrong. But it required Research, in particular studying a text called ‘Patience from a Weed’ … no, that’s not right… ‘HONEY from a Weed’ by Patience Gray, Joshua Baring’s great influence.

Well, it’s impossible. I’m going to take the Nancy Mitford approach, who when questioned over certain omissions from her book about Louis XIV, ‘The Sun King’, said, ‘I suppose I could have brought in the peasants more. It’s all a matter of temperament.’ One must also remember that Harold Nicholson said that scholarship was just ‘middle-class pedantry and caution.’  Bedint, in other words.

So I’ll stick with what I know, which is colour, atmosphere and impressions. The colour of Joshua Baring’s cuisine is pale green. There has only been a tomato once in six weeks.

I was looking through my cookery books the other day wondering how to manage fish for one and ended quickly in despair. I don’t want great loud flavours, anchovy, caper, chilli, whole sliced lemon, olive, with fish, thank you very much, Jamie. Thank you very much, Ottolenghi. Where’s the quiet note, the gentle pale green or grey? Then I realised it was staring me in the face – on Joshua Baring’s Insta.

Joshua Baring’s cuisine is wrought; there’s a lot of tart work, detail and rigorous restraint. You wonder if anyone else has made a milk jelly this century. He says No to Otto, no to Jamie and no to Asia, no to noise and blare, no to scattering pomegranate seeds and slamming in the oven. The sources are Jane Grigson, Elizabeth David and Theodora Fitzgibbon (her memoir I once reviewed).  Also someone called Richard Olney but I’ve never heard of him as well as Alistair Little, in whose restaurant we all dined in the 90s. Joshua will be straining, sieving, managing stocks, building up flavours with care and attention. These delicate ingredients, lettuce, asparagus, celery, can so easily be ruined. Anyone can daub rose harissa or tapenade and call it cooking.

Remarkable to see a young person going back, pushing back into the past and making it new.

Joshua Baring's Lettuce Soup

Joshua Baring’s Lettuce Soup

Poulet au Sauce Concumbre by Joshua Baring: So Quiet!

Poulet au Sauce Concumbre by Joshua Baring: So Quiet!

The Asparagus Risotto: Alistair Little Receipt

The Asparagus Risotto: Alistair Little Receipt

The Pea Tart: Incredible puree-ing and detail

The Pea Tart: Incredible puree-ing and detail

The Cheese and Leek Tart

The Cheese and Leek Tart with Rare Leaf 

The Pasta (Self-Made) with Weeds

The Pasta (Self-Made) with Weeds

Milk Jelly (!) with Apple: Ghostly.

Milk Jelly (!) with Apple: Ghostly.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave the first comment

Harry and Mega – I didn’t Quite Penetrate

Sunday 7th June 2020

I feel I didn’t quite penetrate why Harry and Mega are so absolutely gawn. We’re all agreed that being Royal is mystic, wondrous. Yet it rays forth from certain banal realities, such as NOT being in a Californian celebrity mansion? But rather residence on British soil, in something resembling a Royal residence.

Rufus Pitman is so brilliant. He compares H and M with the Winds: ‘… the only thing that went on being fascinating about the Duke and Duchess of Winds were the jewels and the fashion. Since Harry dresses from C&A and Mega hasn’t got two tiaras to rub together, we’re not interested.’

He supplied pictures to prove it:

The Duke and Duchess Fascinate with Beachwear

The Duke and Duchess Fascinate with Beachwear

Semi-Weekend - the Winz

Semi-Weekend – the Winz

The Duke of Winz - Suiting

The Duke of Winz – Suiting

Harry and Mega - Chronic

Harry and Mega – Chronic

 

 

 

Leave the first comment