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Middle Ages [it's all mine now?]

I was bought up in a small township in Eltham (Leslie Townsend Hope's also) in South London, now live in The-Garden-of-Kent aerial during the fifties Elvis was beginning to make a noise and ....in contempt of court

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Category : Society ragtime

Who knows Diana Melly or even Diana Quick Terry Colman has an article in the Telegraph Review about the stormy relations between Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier when she was making "Gone with the wind" ..and according to Andrew Walker they used any means at their disposal.. like blood, sweat and even tears.. she died of TB much to her discust..Oh! the article I can't have that?

I'm a non-starter at dinner parties... is an extract from Mary Killen's item in the Telegraph

Giles was visibly wilting at the
Other end of the table. It was 1.30am
And we were attending a dinner party in
London where the assembled guests were
exclusively, apart from Giles and myself
Left-wing intellectuals.
There was Joan, a philosophy teacher; Christopher, who had just come back from
Venice where he had been lecturing on
Tiepolo. James, the renowned Graeco-Roman expert, with his art historian wife, and Andrew, an artist from New York, and his wife, a clothes designer.
Giles seemed locked into mortal combat
with a portion of duck and was not engaging in the conversation at his end.
The following morning he explained why.
"The whole dinner party was like Melvyn
Bragg's Start the Week," he complained.
"It's the first time I've been unable to
bluff my way through by having read the
blurb on the back of books. I was completely out of my depth. I couldn't
even talk about Bruce Chatwin"
In the past, Giles has always boasted
about having been unable to finnish
Chatwin's On The Blackhill.
Suddenly the omission made him feel
inadequate. "It must have been difficault for them to see what the point of me was," he said. "All they could see was this heavy breathing asthmatic with sinus trouble sitting there inable to join in."
My own performance fell short of the adequate. Addressing Andrew's wife, I asked: "What sort of paintings does Andrew do?"
"He paints on plastic?" she said, in an interrogative style of some Americans.
"He uses ceramic paint? It's very much to do with colour, but he can tell you more about it himself?" She carried on nodding and staring meaningfully into my eyes. Andrew was sitting next to me, but I was lost for words.
Although we were both inadequate, there were mitigating circumstances. En route
to the dinner party, we had been to see Hugh. He had plied us with champagne to celebrate the fact that he was obliged, through penury, to sell his flat and move to a basement. And we had also driven up from the country following a day of childcare, we were ready for bed as we walked through the door of James's
House, where we were also staying the night.
But not for us the flavour of country dinner parties, where guests lounge on sofas before taking up their positions at table in their stockinged feet then yawning all the way through the courses while talking nonsense and gossip.
No, these townmice were raring to continue even at 2am when Joan finally mounted her bicycle and rode home and the others, after many Cherry Orchard-style false departures, eventually wove their own ways out. Only then were Giles and I able to climb the 74 stairs to our attic bedroom and collapse in comas.
The following morning Giles stared bleakly out of the window at the Notting
Hill roofscape.
"If life is a journey then that dinner
party was a sign," he said, "a sign that
instead of gossiping about our friends
having affairs or losing their money we
should be having conversations about ideas, plays, books, the theatre. All
the women at my end were lionising that
man Christopher. I could'nt join in the
conversation about Stendhal since I
hadn't even read one of his books,
let alone all of them. And as for dislectical materialism…"
"That doesn't matter," I said. "As long
as you nodded every so often and passed
the wine, no one would have minded…
they also serve who only sit and listen."
"No," said Giles. "I think we were getting stuck in our ways down in the
country. I should have more than a passing fluency in the arts, sciences,
the history of feminism… and I had no
way of projecting what the point of myself was."
"Well," I said "What was the point of you then?"
"I used to think it was the fact that
I was one of the few people who hadn't
read On the Black Hill. Now I'm not
so sure."
"But how come none of them were tired
at two in the morning?" we worried.
Suddenly it dawned on us. None of the
Stimulating intellectuals had small
children. Could it just be that we
were tired and they were not? We certainly hope so.

FEBRARY 9, 1997
Family Life Mary Killen

(Throw back your head and whimper
Judy Rumbold) is another story altogether


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