One of the few benefits in being laid-up on a day bed in Bloomsbury Square after wisdom teeth surgery is the chance to watch the entire 1981 Brideshead Revisited in one greedy gulp. Anthony Andrews is perfection as Sebastian; so much so that one underestimates the genius of Jeremy Irons and the beauty of his narration. The fools who rushed in to make the film remake must rue the day.
The highlights of the early episodes of Brideshead are Nikolas Grace’s pppp-erfect exotic bloom Anthony Blanche and Sir John Gielgud’s absolutely masterful comic timing as Charles’s quietly sadistic father. Brideshead was the ruin of many a young man like me who dreamed of recapturing the Oxford idyll painted so exquisitely by Evelyn Waugh. I am in awe of Waugh and return to Black Mischief, Vile Bodies, Scoop and Decline & Fall once every two years.
In Brideshead, Waugh examines the seduction of Charles Ryder by the entire Flyte family. As the title suggests, Brideshead itself plays a part in the romance. It is this dazzling quality of the aristocracy that boosts the National Trust’s membership every year and, thanks to public opening, has saved the stately homes of England such as Woburn, Chatsworth and Castle Howard.
Now that I’ve accepted guilt is an entirely pointless exercise, one of my not-at-all-guilty pleasures while convalescing is the 1985 film Clue: a ridiculously camp screenplay based on the board game Cluedo starring Tim Curry as Wadsworth the Butler and a brilliant trio of comediennes as Mrs Peacock (Eileen Brennan), Mrs Black (Madeline Kahn) and Miss Scarlett (Lesley Ann Warren).
I think Clue came to mind because my brother and his Sherwood Massive have been inspired by Cluedo for their Goodwood Revival ensembles this year. Wish I was going so I could give my Mrs Peacock tiara another whirl but I am frankly not fit to be seen until the cheeks like Kim Kardashian’s bottom go down rather more considerably. Thanks to Patricia I have discovered a new detective novelist, Ngaio Marsh.
Marsh’s detective Inspector Alleyn and his wife Troy are new friends to me after reading her first six novels. I was particularly taken by Death in Ecstasy whereby a a lady in a religious cult is murdered with poison in a ritualistic goblet passed around a circle of sinister aspirants. This is how Ngaio Marsh rolls: a situation is established with a large cast of suspects and we follow Alleyn step-by-step through his investigations with sidekicks Fox and Nigel. Evidence is worked over and over and over until a re-enactment is made and the crime is solved.
Marsh wrote in the 1930s and the language is jazzy, peppy and smart. Alleyn is a gentleman detective and a rather attractive silver fox at that. He’s more pragmatic than Lord Peter Wimsey, more professional than Miss Marple and less pretentious than Hercule Poirot. The body count is considerably less than Agatha Christie who swings from one murder to the next until we reach the big finish. I still consider Dame Agatha the queen of crime but have enjoyed Ngaio Marsh’s slow, clinical pace and superb storytelling.
We have something of a whodunnit? on Savile Row right now. A Twitter account under the name Rogue Tailor has been spreading crude bile like so much silage about various people on the Row. God knows why he thinks having a pop at me is a suitable way to pass time or let off steam. As the voodoo queen of Seven Dials once said to me ‘if them bitches ain’t paying your bills, don’t you pay them no mind’. I blocked the Rogue Tailor after the first bite that, incidentally, was wide of the mark as it happens.
Anyway, I had an e from Pierre Lagrange asking if I could put on my Miss Marple pince-nez and discover the identity of the Rogue Tailor. From the foul-mouthed, sexist, filthy language in the Tweets I deduced that the Rogue was probably downstairs not up on the Row, ill-educated, possibly ex-Huntsman and probably has a dick like a bookie’s biro. What I found unforgivable was the ungallant comments about the First Lady of Savile Row Kathryn Sargent.
A finer woman than Kathryn cannot be found on Savile Row. There isn’t a bad bone in that woman’s body so for some neanderthal cloaked in anonymity to ‘read’ her is despicable. That said, we all have our heroes and villains on the Row and I must admit to no little mirth at some of the Rogue’s comments that do hit home.
Lying on my sick bed I have been pondering how fortunate I am to have the friends and family that I do. They are all that matters so whatever poo that monkey the Rogue Tailor throws at me I can throw it right back. And I think I know precisely in which direction to do so. I have also made peace with a professional-personal fall out that caused me much anguish in recent years because it was so vicious and so unexpected.
I think we are drawn to people who share characteristics. I know for example that La Farmer and I share an ever so slightly caustic sense of humour and a fundamental sense of decency. Scott plays to my camp side and is the only man in London who can make me ache with laughter. Then there are the ones who share your less appealing characteristics ergo manic drunken sluts with anger management issues. I’ve got a lot of time for my drunken slut friends but am delighted that the anger has melted from my life like a witch doused in water.