Thursday, 27 February 2020
Wednesday, 26 February 2020
REMEMBERING THE 80’s YUPPIES
SEE ALSO “SLOANE RANGERS” in https://tweedlandthegentlemansclub.blogspot.com/2009/04/sloane-rangers.html
The first printed appearance of the word was in a May 1980 Chicago magazine article by Dan Rottenberg. Rottenberg reported in 2015 that he didn't invent the term, he had heard other people using it, and at the time he understood it as a rather neutral demographic term. Nonetheless, his article did note the issues of socioeconomic displacement which might occur as a result of the rise of this inner-city population cohort. Joseph Epstein was credited for coining the term in 1982, although this is contested. The term gained currency in the United States in 1983 when syndicated newspaper columnist Bob Greene published a story about a business networking group founded in 1982 by the former radical leader Jerry Rubin, formerly of the Youth International Party (whose members were called "yippies"); Greene said he had heard people at the networking group (which met at Studio 54 to soft classical music) joke that Rubin had "gone from being a yippie to being a yuppie". The headline of Greene's story was "From Yippie to Yuppie'". East Bay Express humorist Alice Kahn claimed to have coined the word in a 1983 column. This claim is disputed.
The proliferation of the word was affected by the publication of The Yuppie Handbook in January 1983 (a tongue-in-cheek take on The Official Preppy Handbook), followed by Senator Gary Hart's 1984 candidacy as a "yuppie candidate" for President of the United States. The term was then used to describe a political demographic group of socially liberal but fiscally conservative voters favoring his candidacy. Newsweek magazine declared 1984 "The Year of the Yuppie", characterizing the salary range, occupations, and politics of "yuppies" as "demographically hazy". The alternative acronym yumpie, for young upwardly mobile professional, was also current in the 1980s but failed to catch on.
In a 1985 issue of The Wall Street Journal, Theressa Kersten at SRI International described a "yuppie backlash" by people who fit the demographic profile yet express resentment of the label: "You're talking about a class of people who put off having families so they can make payments on the SAABs ... To be a Yuppie is to be a loathsome undesirable creature". Leo Shapiro, a market researcher in Chicago, responded, "Stereotyping always winds up being derogatory. It doesn't matter whether you are trying to advertise to farmers, Hispanics or Yuppies, no one likes to be neatly lumped into some group."
The word lost most of its political connotations and, particularly after the 1987 stock market crash, gained the negative socio-economic connotations that it sports today. On April 8, 1991, Time magazine proclaimed the death of the "yuppie" in a mock obituary.
The term has experienced a resurgence in usage during the 2000s and 2010s. In October 2000, David Brooks remarked in a Weekly Standard article that Benjamin Franklin – due to his extreme wealth, cosmopolitanism, and adventurous social life – is "Our Founding Yuppie". A recent article in Details proclaimed "The Return of the Yuppie", stating that "the yuppie of 1986 and the yuppie of 2006 are so similar as to be indistinguishable" and that "the yup" is "a shape-shifter... he finds ways to reenter the American psyche." In 2010, right-wing political commentator Victor Davis Hanson wrote in National Review very critically of "yuppies".
Yuppie Handbook: The State-Of-The Art Manual for Young Urban Professionals
by Marissa Piesman, Marilee Hartley
Yuppie or Yuppy pl. Yuppies: (hot; new name for Young Urban Professionals): A person of either sex who meets the following criteria: 1) resides in or near one of the major cities; 2) claims to be between the ages of 25 and 45; 3) lives on aspirations of glory, prestige, recognition, fame, social status, power, money or any and all combinations of the above; 4) anyone who brunches on the weekend or works out after work. The term crosses ethnic, sexual, geographic - even class - boundaries. Adj.: Yuppiesque, Yuppie-like, Yuppish. --- from book's text
Publicada por Jeeves em 08:01
Monday, 24 February 2020
THE INSPIRATION - My Grandfather worked for Courtaulds Textile his whole working life. Starting at 18 years old as a tea boy, his association with the company continued until his retirement! His service at the company was interrupted by the Second World War where he commanded a fleet of minesweepers. He was a well dressed "English Gentleman" always enjoying the fashions of the day and his other passion, Motor Cars, the two went hand in hand! Many of our designs are inspired by what he wore both in war and peace time.
OUR STORY BEGINS IN BORANUP, WESTERN AUSTRALIA - Whilst on a road trip in W.A. I came up with an idea to get a local knitting club to knit sweaters from vintage knitting patterns. Fast forward 8 years and now working in Brancaster, England, we had our first sweaters knitted by an elderly lady called Dorothy. Our attention soon moved to trousers, disappointed with the way golf fashion was moving, we decided that a 1930s style high waist corduroy and moleskin was the way forward....or back, depending how you look at it !
Our first trouser order was placed with a factory in Yorkshire, we had a small space in the pro-shop at Brancaster, later that year we launched our first website. The 1930s trouser sold well so we decided to try and make shirts from the same period. We produced a Jersey cotton shirt, with various collar styles, which was very practical and easy to wear. Over time we added more products to the range.
Always true to our core beliefs of using authentic patterns and designs to create stylish clothing taking inspiration from we consider to be the "Golden Era of Fashion" , manufacturing using only the finest British Fabrics made by craftsmen & women in British tailoring houses. Our clothing is worn by Golfers, Motoring Enthusiasts, Hipsters, The young, The old and even the odd Television Celebrity.
"Quality & Style Never Go Out Of Fashion"
Publicada por Jeeves em 14:14
Sunday, 23 February 2020
The Queen doesn't own the word 'Royal', say Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Couple complain about their treatment in lengthy statement
The Queen doesn't own the word 'Royal', say Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Couple complain about their treatment in lengthy statement after Her Majesty forces them to drop Sussex Royal brand
Buckingham Palace told Harry and Meghan not to employ the name when they are no longer working royals
Duke and Duchess said neither the government nor the Queen herself have 'jurisdiction' over the word 'royal'
Even so, they would not use title from spring onwards as they are no longer working members of the family
Significant blow for couple, who have spent hundreds of thousands building Sussex Royal-branded website
Trademark applications, covering items from clothing to stationery and bandanas, were filed under the brand
By JEMMA CARR and JAKE HURFURT and JACK ELSOM FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 19:36, 21 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:05, 22 February 2020
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have posted an extraordinary statement on their website claiming that the Queen does not own the word royal across the world after they were forced to drop their 'Sussex Royal' brand.
Harry and Meghan put a new statement on their own website hours after announcing they would stop using the word 'royal' in their branding after the Spring.
In the statement, the Duke and Duchess said that while neither the government nor the Queen herself own the word 'royal' internationally, they would stop using the title.
The statement read: 'While there is not any jurisdiction by The Monarchy or Cabinet Office over the use of the word "Royal" overseas, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex do not intend to use "Sussex Royal" or any iteration of the word "Royal" in any territory (either within the UK or otherwise) when the transition occurs Spring 2020.'
The statement continued: 'While there is precedent for other titled members of the Royal Family to seek employment outside of the institution, for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, a 12-month review period has been put in place.
'Per the agreement The Duke and Duchess of Sussex understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties and not undertake representative duties on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.'
They also confirmed that their office - based in Buckingham Palace - would be closed, a move they said was 'saddening for The Duke and Duchess and their loyal staff'.
The announcement follows the Daily Mail’s revelation this week that Buckingham Palace had told Harry and Meghan not to employ the 'Sussex Royal' name when they are no longer working royals.
It is a significant blow for the couple, who have spent tens of thousands of pounds building the Sussex Royal-branded website and creating a hugely popular Instagram feed.
In an unprecedented legal move, the queen has drafted in top lawyers in a bid to enforce the ban.
A string of trademark applications, covering items from clothing and books to stationery and bandanas, were withdrawn.
It comes after MailOnline yesterday revealed that Meghan has told friends there is nothing 'legally stopping' her and Harry from using their Sussex Royal name.
Meghan complained to her inner circle that using the name 'shouldn't even be an issue in the first place and it's not like they want to be in the business of selling T-shirts and pencils,' the insider said.
They added: 'Meghan said she's done with the drama and has no room in her life for naysayers, and the same goes for Harry.'
The friend added: 'Meghan said the global projects they are working on speak for themselves and they chose that name to protect the royal name, not profit off of it.'
But, the insider added: 'Meghan has told her inner circle that their success is inevitable with or without their current brand name.
'She said regardless of the name, Harry and Archie have royal blood and no one can take that away. And that as a family, they will always be considered royalty.'
Harry and Meghan are in the process of setting up a new charitable organisation after their split in August last year from the Royal Foundation Charity, which they shared with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The pair wanted to use Sussex Royal branding but a new name will now have to be found.
Meghan's friend added: 'Meghan said the name of their brand pales in comparison to the foundation they are building and the enormously positive impact it will have on people and the environment.'
Losing the name is the latest humiliation for the couple who announced last month they were stepping down as senior royals and moving to North America.
The pair have already agreed to give up their HRH titles for work purposes, and their official patronages on behalf of the queen, including Harry’s honorary military titles.
Complicated negotiations concluded that it was untenable for them to use the word ‘royal’ in their branding.
A spokesman for the Sussexes said last night: ‘While the Duke and Duchess are focused on plans to establish a new non-profit organisation, given the specific UK Government rules surrounding use of the word “Royal”, it has been therefore agreed their non-profit organisation, when it is announced this spring, will not be named Sussex Royal Foundation.
‘The Duke and Duchess of Sussex do not intend to use Sussex Royal in any territory post-spring 2020.
‘Therefore trademark applications that were filed as protective measures, acting on advice from and following the same model for The Royal Foundation, have been removed.’
Harry and Meghan first began using Sussex Royal this time last year after they split their household from that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, known as Kensington Royal.
The Sussexes’ Instagram page, @sussexroyal, has amassed 11.2million followers – the same number of fans as William and Kate’s account.
But the Mail revealed this week that the Queen and senior officials had decided the couple would have to drop their name.
A source told the Mail at the time: ‘In many ways this is inevitable given their decision to step down.
‘But it must surely come as a blow to the couple as they have invested everything into the Sussex Royal brand. The Queen would have had little choice, however.
‘The Sussexes’ original plan – of being half-in, half-out working royals – was never going to work.
‘Obviously, as the Queen has made clear, they are still much-loved members of her family.
‘But if they aren’t carrying out official duties and are now seeking other commercial opportunities, they simply cannot be allowed to market themselves as royals.’
Harry and Meghan announced on Wednesday that they will step down as working royals in less than six weeks and close their Buckingham Palace office.
The statement Harry and Meghan sent to the press
'As shared in early January on this website, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex do not plan to start a "foundation", but rather intend to develop a new way to effect change and complement the efforts made by so many excellent foundations globally.
'The creation of this non-profit entity will be in addition to their cause driven work that they remain deeply committed to.
'While The Duke and Duchess are focused on plans to establish a new non-profit organisation, given the specific UK government rules surrounding use of the word 'Royal', it has been therefore agreed that their non-profit organisation will not utilise the name "Sussex Royal" or any other iteration of "Royal".
'For the above reason, the trademark applications that had been filed as protective measures and that reflected the same standard trademarking requests as done for The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have been removed.
'While there is not any jurisdiction by The Monarchy or Cabinet Office over the use of the word 'Royal' overseas, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex do not intend to use "Sussex Royal" or any iteration of the word "Royal" in any territory (either within the UK or otherwise) when the transition occurs spring 2020.
'As The Duke and Duchess of Sussex continue to develop their non-profit organisation and plan for their future, we hope that you use this site as the source for factual information.
'In Spring 2020, their digital channels will be refreshed as they introduce the next exciting phase to you.
'The Duke and Duchess of Sussex eagerly await the opportunity to share more with you and greatly appreciate your support!'
The statement went on: 'Based on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s desire to have a reduced role as members of The Royal Family, it was decided in January that their Institutional Office would have to be closed, given the primary funding mechanism for this official office at Buckingham Palace is from HRH The Prince of Wales.
'The Duke and Duchess shared this news with their team personally in January once they knew of the decision, and have worked closely with their staff to ensure a smooth transition for each of them.
'Over the last month and a half, The Duke and Duchess have remained actively involved in this process, which has understandably been saddening for The Duke and Duchess and their loyal staff, given the closeness of Their Royal Highnesses and their dedicated team.'
They will take part in six more engagements before formally withdrawing from frontline roles on March 31.
Their final official engagement is expected to be on March 9, when they will join the Queen at Westminster Abbey to mark Commonwealth Day.
The statement also addressed the controversy surrounding the cost of the Duke and Duchess's security.
Protection for Meghan and Harry is estimated to cost taxpayers in Canada and the UK between £3million and £6million a year, as staff work round the clock two weeks at a time.
The statement read: 'It is agreed that The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue to require effective security to protect them and their son.
'This is based on The Duke’s public profile by virtue of being born into The Royal Family, his military service, the Duchess’ own independent profile, and the shared threat and risk level documented specifically over the last few years.
Publicada por Jeeves em 12:09
Friday, 21 February 2020
(…) Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh was born in a suburb of London in 1903, the son of a busy man-of-letters. Waugh's origins were gentlemanly but in no way aristocratic, a point he seems to have been inordinately touchy about even as a boy. He was sent to Lancing, one of England's less fashionable public schools; and from there he won a scholarship to one of Oxford's decidedly less fashionable colleges. At Oxford, however, his wit, good looks, and resolute preference for the elite carried him into the company to which he aspired. There is a striking portrait of him at this time in Harold Acton's Memoirs of an Aesthete: "I still see him as a prancing faun, thinly disguised by conventional apparel. His wide apart eyes, always ready to be startled under raised eyebrows, the curved sensual lips, the hyacinthine locks of hair, I had seen in marble and bronze at Naples ..." Other Oxford contemporaries have spoken of him in a harsher vein: "A bitter little man" -- "A social climber."
After two years, Waugh voluntarily left Oxford without a degree, and, like Paul Pennyfeather of Decline and Fall, took a job in a school for backward boys. Later, he worked for sixteen days on Lord Beaverbrook's Daily Express. His ambition was to be a painter, but a stint at art school left him dissatisfied with his talent. At this time, he has said, he was a pagan and "wanted to be a man of the world" -- a well-rounded English gentleman in the eighteenth-century tradition. He joined in the whirl of Michael Arlen's Mayfair. He "gadded among savages and people of fashion and politicians and crazy generals ... because I enjoyed them." But he was a worldling who could relish all this and still find it wanting. In 1930, after instruction from the celebrated Father D'Arcy, Waugh entered the Catholic Church.
A few months earlier, his marriage to the Honorable Evelyn Gardner had ended in divorce. In 1937, he married again. His second wife was a Catholic: Laura, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel The Honorable Aubrey Nigel Henry Molyneux Herbert, second son of the Earl of Carnarvon.
For nine years, Waugh had traveled often and widely, by preference to wild places. The best parts of the four travel books written during this period were later reprinted in When the Going Was Good, and they are still lively reading. One is periodically reminded, however, that Waugh's touch is surer and more sparkling when he is using these same materials in his comic novels.
At the outbreak of the war, Waugh joined the Royal Marines, and later, as a Commando, took part in a succession of desperate actions in which he became famous for his phenomenal courage. Years earlier, when Waugh had taken up foxhunting, his recklessness had awed even veterans.
Waugh is now settled at Piers Court in a secluded part of Gloucestershire, from which he occasionally makes sorties to his London clubs. "I live in a shabby stone house," he wrote in Life, "in which nothing is under a hundred years old except the plumbing, and that does not work. I collect old books in an inexpensive, desultory way. [His major avocation is the study of theology.] I have a fast emptying cellar of wine and gardens fast reverting to jungle. I have numerous children [three girls and two boys] whom I see once a day for ten, I hope, awe-inspiring minutes."
A few years back Randolph Churchill said of Waugh: "He grows more old-fashioned every day. He seeks to live in an oasis." Waugh himself has affirmed with pride that he is "two hundred years" behind the times, and that there is no political party in existence which he finds sufficiently (in the strictly literal sense of the word) reactionary. He has refused to learn to drive a car. He writes with a pen which has to be continually dipped in the inkwell. And he prefers to communicate even with his neighbors by written message rather than resort to the telephone. A literary friend of Waugh's once delivered a summation which neatly reflects the tenor of the anecdotes about him. As nearly as I recall, it went: " Oh, I adore Evelyn. He's so frightfully witty and so fearfully rude. Terribly conceited, of course -- and, poor sweet, rather ridiculous. But such a good writer!"
COMPLETE rejection of the modern world is the source from which springs the best and the worst in Evelyn Waugh's writings. The artist who repudiates the realities of his time must of necessity either work in the ironic key, as Waugh did in his earlier novels which transmute repudiation into blandly destructive laughter; or, if dissatisfied with a negative criticism, he must offer alternatives to the status quo which can be taken seriously. But when Waugh abandons the detached stance, when he seriously articulates his opinions and attitudes, the results are often distressing, and sometimes disastrous.
His fierce nostalgia for medievalism represents (as he himself recognizes) a yearning for an irretrievably lost cause; and as social criticism, it is therefore merely frivolous or petulant. Moreover in the Catholic content of his novels to date, there has been little accent on religious experience such and a really shocking absence of that human compassion which is so much a part of the Catholic spirit. (What ounce of compassion Waugh can muster is reserved for the few who meet with his approval.) In fact, the Catholicism of Waugh's fiction -- it is not, of course, his faith which is under discussion, but his expression of it -- is inextricably bound up with worship of the ancient. British nobility, so laden with contempt for "lesser breeds without the law," that the Church is made to appear a particularly exclusive club rather than a broad spiritual force.
At his best -- that is, when he remains detached -- Waugh is the finest comic artist to emerge since the late 1920s. His style is swift, exact, almost unfailingly felicitous. His inventions are entrancing; his timing inspired; his matter-of-fact approach to the incongruous produces a perverse humor that is immensely effective. Even that ancient comic device -- the use of suggestive names -- is boldly put to work by Waugh with the happiest results. Mr. Outrage, the leader of His Majesty's Opposition; Mrs. Melrose Ape, the phony evangelist; Lord Copper, the press tycoon; Lady Circumference, Captain Grimes, Viola Chasm, Ambrose Silk -- their names bespeak their nature.
Behind the extravagant facade of Waugh's burlesques, manners and social types are observed with a dazzling accuracy. The Bright Young People are illuminated with a glow which spotlights the fantastic -- but they are profoundly "dans le vrai." The Ministry of Information passages in Put Out More Flags are, of course, a parody; but I can vouch from firsthand experience that the parody is solidly founded in truth. In countless scenes throughout Waugh's farces, a lapidary phrase or incident brings home with terrible directness the tragic quality in the lives of his frivolous, gaily cockeyed, or unscrupulous characters. Waugh's cosmos is, in the literal sense, funny as hell.
Like Eliot, Waugh looked out on the world around him and saw it as a wasteland. His temperament and special gifts led him to transfigure the wasteland into a circus, within whose tent we are treated to a riotous harlequinade. But every so often the flap of the tent is blown open; a vista of the wilderness intrudes; and the antics of the clowns suddenly appear, as poor Agatha Runcible would say, "too spirit-crushing."
This core of tragic awareness gives to Waugh's comic vision the dimension of serious art. The paradox, in fact, is that when Waugh is being comic, he makes luminous the failures of his age, confronts us vividly with the desolating realities; and when he is being serious, he is liable to become trashy. For without the restraints of the ironic stance, his critical viewpoint reveals itself as bigoted and rancorous; his snobbery emerges as obsessive and disgusting; and his archaism involves him in all kinds of silliness.
WAUGH'S first novel, Decline and Fall (1928), depicts a world in which villainy has the innocence of man's primeval state before The Fall. The story opens on the night of the annual orgy of Oxford's most aristocratic dining club: "A shriller note could now be heard from Sir Alastair's rooms; any who have heard that sound will shrink from the recollection of it; it is the sound of the English country families baying for broken glass."
Paul Pennyfeather, a colorless young man reading for Holy Orders, is debagged by the rowdies and then expelled by the authorities for indecent exposure. Presently he is taken up by an immensely wealth young widow, whose fortune comes from a far-flung chain of bordellos; and when the police get on her track. Paul goes to prison for white slavery, and the lady marries a Cabinet Minister. The fun is incessant and the comic portraiture is pure delight, especially the hugely disreputable schoolmaster, Captain Grimes, and the inventive butler-crook Philbrick -- in his plushier moments Sir Solomon Philbrick, tycoon. Decline and Fall is an unqualified success.
Vile Bodies (1930) is almost as good. The combination of calamitous happenings and gay insouciance is marvelously sustained as the story follows the Bright Young People in their giddy dance through the condemned playground. But the farce, now, has grimmer overtones; and the climax finds Adam on history's greatest battlefield, clutching a bomb for the dissemination of leprosy.
Waugh's next novel had its origin in the "crazy enchantment" of a visit to Addis Ababa for the coronation of Haile Selassie. The Abyssinia of the early thirties -- with its ancient Christianity and its enduring barbarism; its strivings to be modern, frustrated by picturesque ignorance and limitless inefficiency; its motley foreign colony, authentic savages, and wily promoters, big and small -- provided Waugh with materials ideally suited to his talents, and he worked them into what some critics consider the most amusing of his novels, Black Mischief (1932).
A Handful of Dust (1934), the most somber of the comic novels, is memorable for its horrifying ending: the hero finds himself trapped in the recesses of the Amazonian jungle, condemned to spend the rest of his life reading Dickens to a cunning madman. In the next two books, Waugh's violent prejudices show their hand. His biography of the Catholic martyr, Edmund Campion -- in many respects a distinguished performance -- is marred by a partisanship which flagrantly distorts Elizabethan history. Waugh in Abyssinia (1936) -- the product of an assignment as a war correspondent -- is simply a piece of Fascist propaganda. Strangely enough, the Ethiopian setting is again fictionally handled in Scoop (1937) with the same detached zest as in Black Mischief. There is perhaps no more uproarious burlesque of the workings of the press.
Put Out More Flags (1942), a novel about phony war period, reintroduces Waugh's finest pirate-hero, Basil Seal, more ingeniously iniquitous than ever. His use of three loathsome evacuee children as a source of blackmail is just one of several episodes in the book which are Waugh at his best. The story ends with Basil's volunteering for the Commandos -- there was "a new spirit abroad." The war apparently aroused in Waugh high hopes that victory would open the way to return to Britain's former greatness. His deep and bitter disillusionment at its actual outcome probably explains, at least in part, the marked difference in temper between his pre-war and his post-war fiction.
Brideshead Revisited (1945) is a romantic evocation of vanished splendors, which brings into dismal relief the aridity of the present. In the first part, in which the narrator reverts to his youth at Oxford, Waugh's artistic sense seldom falters. Ryder's discovery of a magic world of freedom and intoxicating pleasures through his friendship with Sebastian, the younger son of a noble and wealthy Catholic family, and the accompanying contrast between the dryness of Ryder's home life and the charm of the Marchmains -- these passages are among the most memorable that Waugh has written. But, in the second part -- Ryder's unhappy marriage and love affair with Sebastian's sister; Sebastian's descent into alcoholism; Lord Marchmain's irregular and resplendent life in Venice, and his death in his ancestral home -- those failings of Waugh's which were discussed earlier run riot. And, as they take command, the characterization grows unreal, the atmosphere becomes sententious, the style turns overripe.
Charles Ryder is shaken out of his ill-mannered anti-Catholicism when the dying Lord Marchmain, who has lived outside the Church, makes a sign indicating his consent to receiving the final sacrament. But Ryder has been portrayed as so insensitive to religion and so sensitive to the prestige of great families that one is left, as Edmund Wilson has observed, with an uneasy feeling that it was not "the sign" that made Ryder kneel beside the deathbed, but the vision of this Catholic family's greatness conjured up in Lord Marchmain's earlier monologue: "We were ... barons since Agincourt; the larger honors came with the Georges ..." (and so on).
The Loved One (1948) is one of Waugh's most savagely amusing books. As a lampoon on the mortuary practices of Southern California, it is a coruscating tour de force. When, however, the satire reaches out to other aspects of American folkways, it is sometimes either hackneyed or crudely exaggerated. The trouble is that Waugh can no longer maintain the same innocence of observation as in the pre-war farces. The éclat of his performance in The Loved One is slightly marred by traces of spite, and smudges of acid snob-distaste for all things American. "There is no such thing as an American," he wrote in an explanatory note about the book. "They are all exiles, uprooted, transplanted and doomed to sterility."
Men at Arms (1952), the first volume of an unfinished trilogy about military life during World War II, describes Guy Crouchback's period of training for a commission in the Halberdiers. Crouchback is a lonely, frustrated man, revolted by the modern age, and the regiment -- with its proud traditions, its esprit de corps, its rituals, its severe discipline and taxing duties -- restores to him a vitalizing sense of dignity and purpose. The novel is written throughout in a much lower key than Brideshead Revisited. Its major characterizations are impressive; and though neither dramatic nor particularly moving, it is a very polished and readable work. Its great weakness is that Waugh treats with respectful admiration materials tinged with the ludicrous, which call for the saving grace of irony.
Waugh's latest book, Tactical Exercise (Little, Brown, $3.75), is a collection of short fiction which more or less spans his writing career and is very varied in range. It is probably better entertainment than any of the other books of its kind that have just come off the presses; but there is not much in it that is near to the top of Waugh's form.
One item is unquestionably unique: an edifying melodrama, entitled "The Curse of the Race Horse," which Waugh composed when he was seven; the spelling, which foreshadows Waugh's genius for bold improvision, is utterly delectable. "Excursion Into Reality" gives the movies the treatment Waugh gave the press in Scoop. "'Love Among the Ruins" is Waugh's nightmarish vision of the brave new world; but his total incompetence as a sociologist makes this fantasy a nursery effort compared with those of Huxley and Orwell. The most interesting item in this volume, "Work Suspended," consists of the two chapters of a novel which Waugh abandoned in 1941, and which has certain intriguing affinities with the book that took its place: Brideshead Revisited.
Now fifty-one, Evelyn Waugh has published twenty-two books. Considering the high quality of his artistry, it is a remarkable output. He has himself defined, with a characteristic touch of belligerence, the direction in which he plans to move: "In my future books there will be two things to make them unpopular: a preoccupation with style and the attempt to represent man more fully, which, to me, means only one thing, man in his relation to God." It sounds as though, from, now on, the "serious" side of Waugh will fully take command.
However laudable Waugh's objectives, I find it impossible to discount the evidence that he has chosen a course which runs counter to his special gifts as an artist. From the comic standpoint, Waugh's less amiable traits are actually an asset. Arrogance, snobbery, and contentiousness -- when they work hand in hand with irony -- are a corrosive solvent to satire. The religious writer requires at least four qualities of which Waugh has so far displayed only one. Faith he has; but little compassion and no humility -- and in his entire work there is not a single truly convincing trace of love.
“Evelyn Waugh: The Best and the Worst”
by Charles J. Rolo
Thursday, 20 February 2020
A pea coat (or peacoat, pea jacket, pilot jacket, reefer jacket) is an outer coat, generally of a navy-coloured heavy wool, originally worn by sailors of European and later American navies. Pea coats are characterized by short length, broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, often large wooden, metal or plastic buttons, and vertical or slash pockets. References to the pea jacket appear in American newspapers at least as early as the 1720s, and modern renditions still maintain the original design and composition.
A bridge coat is a pea coat that extends to the thighs, and is a uniform exclusively for officers and chief petty officers. The reefer jacket is for officers and chief petty officers only, and is identical to the basic design but usually has gold buttons and epaulettes. Only officers wear the epaulettes.
Today the style is considered a classic, and pea coats are worn by all manner of individuals. The style has evolved to the addition of hoods.
A few of the jackets seen on the street are genuine navy surplus; being a classic garment, it is frequently available from retailers, though often with small design changes that reflect the current fashion trends. The standard for historical pea coats was 30 ounces (approx. 850 g) wool, most often made of heavy Melton cloth through the 1970s in the U.S. Navy. Presently coats are made from 22–32 oz (620–910 g) wool. While pea coats are offered in many colors by retailers, the US Navy-issue pea coat is dark blue.
A black leather version of the reefer jacket was worn by Kriegsmarine U-Boat officers during World War II, including Admiral Dönitz. It was also worn with a peaked cap by Red Army commissars,tank commanders and pilots.
According to a 1975 edition of the Mariner's Mirror, the term pea coat originated from the Dutch or West Frisian word pijjekker or pijjakker, in which pij referred to the type of cloth used, a coarse kind of twilled blue cloth with a nap on one side. ’’Jakker’’ designates a man’s short, heavy, coat.
Another theory, favoured by the US Navy, is that the heavy topcoat worn in cold, miserable weather by seafaring men was once tailored from "pilot cloth" – a heavy, coarse, stout kind of twilled blue cloth with the nap on one side. This was sometimes called P-cloth from the initial letter of pilot, and the garment made from it was called a P-jacket – later a pea coat. The term has been used since 1723 to denote coats made from that cloth.
Publicada por Jeeves em 09:52
Tuesday, 18 February 2020
Its current owners market the castle as being the most haunted castle in Britain. It has been investigated on television, Most Haunted, I'm Famous and Frightened!, Scariest Places On Earth, Holiday Showdown, Alan Robson's Nightowls), The ParaPod, Ghost Hunters International, and A Blood Red Sky (2013). Some of these ghosts are referred to in a 1925 pamphlet by Leonora, Countess of Tankerville. Others, such as John Sage, are of more recent invention.
The most famous ghost of the castle is the "blue (or radiant) boy", who according to the owners used to haunt the Pink Room in the castle. Guests supposedly reported seeing blue flashes and a blue "halo" of light above their beds after a loud wail. It is claimed that the hauntings ceased after renovation work revealed a man and a young boy inside a 10-foot-thick (3.0-metre) wall. Documents dating back to the Spanish Armada were reportedly also found within the wall.
Chillingham Castle is a medieval castle in the village of Chillingham in the northern part of Northumberland, England. It was the seat of the Grey and Bennett families from the 15th century until the 1980s, when it became the home of Sir Edward Humphry Tyrrell Wakefield, 2nd Baronet, who is married to a member of the original Grey family.
A large enclosed park in the castle grounds is home to the Chillingham cattle, a rare breed, consisting of about 90 head of white cattle. The castle is a Grade I listed building.
The castle was originally a monastery in the late 12th century. In 1298, King Edward I stayed at the castle on his way to Scotland to battle a Scottish army led by William Wallace. A glazed window in a frame was specially installed for the king, a rarity in such buildings at the time.
The castle occupied a strategically important location in medieval times: it was located on the border between two feuding nations. It was used as a staging post for English armies entering Scotland, but was also repeatedly attacked and besieged by Scottish armies and raiding parties heading south. The site contained a moat, and in some locations the fortifications were 12 feet (3.7 metres) thick.
The building underwent a harsh series of enhancements, and in 1344 a Licence to crenellate was issued by King Edward III to allow battlements to be built, effectively upgrading the stronghold to a fully fortified castle, of quadrangular form.
Anne of Denmark and her children stayed in the castle on their way to London on 6 June 1603. In 1617, James I, whose reign unified the crowns of England and Scotland (James I of England was also James VI of Scotland), stayed at the castle on a journey between his two kingdoms. As relations between the two countries became peaceful following the union of the crowns, the need for a military stronghold in the area declined. The castle was gradually transformed; the moat was filled, and battlements were converted into residential wings. A banquet hall and a library were built.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the grounds underwent landscaping, including work carried out by Sir Jeffry Wyattville. The once extensive park is now under a separate ownership from the castle.
The Prince and Princess of Wales stayed at Chillingham Castle en route to Scotland, in 1872.
Great hall, used as a filming location for Elizabeth. The fireplaces are film props.
During the Second World War, the castle was used as an army barracks. During this time, much of the decorative wood is said to have been stripped out and burned by the soldiers billeted there. After the war, the castle began to fall into disrepair. Lead had been removed from the roof, resulting in extensive weather damage to large parts of the building.
In 1982, the castle was purchased by Sir Humphry Wakefield, 2nd Baronet, whose wife Catherine is descended from the Greys of Chillingham, and Wakefield set about a painstaking restoration of the castle.
In 1997, the castle was used as a filming location for Elizabeth, featuring as Leith Castle and as the hunting lodge. The fibreglass fireplaces from the film remain in the great hall, covering 18th century white marble fireplaces from Wanstead House.
As of 2020, sections of the castle are open to the public including for late night ghost tours, and eight apartments within the castle and its outbuildings are available for holiday rentals.
Publicada por Jeeves em 22:49
Publicada por Jeeves em 22:48
Monday, 17 February 2020
The youngest of the legendary Mitford sisters reminisces about her life and her correspondence with the charismatic Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, considered to be the finest English travel writer of his generation. An evening filled with wit, eccentric characters, and a celebration of courage and friendship. Charlotte Mosley, her niece and editor, joins the Dowager Duchess in conversation.
The Duchess of Devonshire: 'When you are very old, you cry over some things, but not a lot'
The Duchess of Devonshire, youngest of the Mitford sisters, talks about meeting Hitler and why she doesn't like change
Stephen Moss @StephenMossGdn
Fri 12 Sep 2014 14.24 BSTFirst published on Fri 12 Sep 2014 14.24 BST
'Oh, you're punctual – how very unusual," says Deborah Cavendish (AKA the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire) as she enters the drawing room. I'm not sure whether I'm being congratulated or castigated; either way, I feel she has the advantage, one she never loses. I was already nervous about this encounter. The duchess has just published her memoirs, and journalists are not spared. She describes how, after she had talked about the deaths of four close friends in the second world war, a particularly dumb interviewer asked her, "So, did the war change you?" She also says in the book that you should never believe anything you read in newspapers. As well as representing the dodgy fourth estate, I'm also wondering whether I'm supposed to call her Your Grace.
The duchess says she embarked on her memoirs because she felt her family, and her parents in particular, had been portrayed unfairly in the media, with journalists working from ancient press cuttings. At 90, she wanted to put her version of her upbringing on record. And what an upbringing it was. Debo, as she is called by people who eschew titled formalities, is the last surviving member of the six Mitford sisters, an afterthought (or so she implies in the book), dismissed because her parents had wanted a second son, patronised by her glittering sister Nancy, overshadowed by the fame (or notoriety) of Jessica, Diana and Unity. Her memoir – called Wait For Me! because she says she was always running to catch up with her older, longer-legged siblings – is a touching, funny memorial to a vanished age of debutantes, balls and young men with fancy titles making the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield. She only started to write in her 60s – first about the ancestral seat of Chatsworth, then more generally – but belatedly she is catching her writerly sisters up.
Her life has been remarkable, and only her languid, laconic, matter-of-fact style allows her to shoehorn it into 370 pages. There is enough here for a dozen books. She must be one of the few people to have met both Adolf Hitler and John Kennedy, has been a familiar of the Queen for her entire reign, and was related by marriage to Harold Macmillan and used to go shooting with him. "When he became prime minister [in 1957, having previously been chancellor]," she tells me apropos of nothing in particular, "he told me it was wonderful because at last he had time to read." She laughs. Her sense of humour and recognition of the absurdities of life are apparent throughout both her book and our conversation, bearing out her friend Alan Bennett's remark: "Deborah Devonshire is not someone to whom one can say, 'Joking apart . . .' Joking never is apart: with her it's of the essence, even at the most serious and indeed saddest moments."
She may have deemed my punctuality worthy of remark because she lives in the middle of nowhere, in a hamlet called Edensor on the Chatsworth estate in Derbyshire. The duchess occupied Chatsworth itself, perhaps England's finest country house, until the death of the 11th duke in 2004. Soon afterwards she moved about a mile away, to a vicarage on the edge of the estate, far enough from the house to give her son Stoker (nicknames are important in these circles – his real name is Peregrine), the 12th duke, and his wife Amanda, the new duchess, room to breathe. Dowagers have to know their place, and recognise their moment in the sun has passed. Nothing, she emphasises, belongs to the person; it all goes with the title. "I've lived in furnished rooms all my life since I was married."
Her final set of rooms are in the Old Vicarage at Edensor, which she occupies with her butler Henry, who has been with the Devonshires for almost 50 years, an ultra-efficient secretary called Helen, who has been with her for almost 25, and large numbers of chickens, pictured on the cover of her book. She enumerates the several breeds she keeps, and seems a little disappointed that I am unaware of the differences. Another dumb journalist who will probably confuse a Derbyshire redcap with a Scots dumpy.
We talk in the drawing room, silent save for the ticking of the clock on the mantelpiece. Her piercing blue eyes unnerve me, though she tells me towards the end that, because of macular degeneration, she can barely make out my face. That also makes reading virtually impossible, and it is remarkable that she has managed to write this book, scribbled in bed early in the mornings ("I wake up very early – I love the shipping forecast at 5.20"), with Helen typing it up. Her hair is steely grey and voluminous; she is elegantly dressed in high-necked blouse, lemon cardigan and sensible skirt; on her left wrist, beside her watch, she has a band with a small red disc that I mistake for a bracelet; she tells me it is an alarm in case she has a fall, but that she likes to pretend the red button she has to activate is a ruby.
I begin by asking her to recount her meeting with Hitler in 1937, when she, her mother and her sister Unity (who was besotted with the Führer) took tea with him in Munich. In the book she recalls him noticing they were "grubby" after a journey from Vienna, and showing them to the bathroom, where he had brushes inscribed "AH". She has a passion – and a talent – for details. "I didn't know Hitler," she tells me. "I only went to tea with him once. He was very fond of my sister Unity." She starts recounting the meeting, but soon gets bored. "The story's been told so often I think it's pretty old hat." She would almost certainly rather talk about chickens.
Her sister Unity was an enthusiastic Nazi; her other sister Diana married Sir Oswald Mosley, had extreme views on race, and spent part of the second world war in Holloway prison because she was deemed a threat. I suggest that in her memoir, she is a little kind to both, given their views. "Quite kind?" she says incredulously. "I adored them. I really loved them both. When we got old, I liked Diana better than any other person in the world." So she accepted their politics? "Their politics were nothing to do with me. The same with my sister Jessica." Jessica, who spent most of her adult life in the US and is best known for her book The American Way of Death, was a communist and civil rights campaigner. "She was as outlandish as any of them," says the duchess.
I ask her why the Mitfords have exercised such perennial fascination. "I can't imagine," she says in her very deliberate, almost regal drawl. "I know it sounds stupid to say that, because I realise they were good writers. All Nancy's books are in print again. She would have been amazed at me writing this book because she thought I was completely half-witted. She called me 'Nine' [Debo's supposed mental age], and used to introduce me to her smart French friends long after I was married by saying, 'This is my little sister aged nine.'"
The sisters were educated at home, because their mother didn't believe in exams, and Debo spent most of her time hunting, skating – she was good enough to encourage interest from professional coaches – and going fishing with her father Lord Redesdale, an eccentric who only read one book in his life, Jack London's novel White Fang, and enjoyed it so much he didn't believe it could be bettered. Her father – handsome, fearless, irascible – is the central presence in the book, and no doubt the figure who shaped his dangerous, disputatious daughters. "Farve either liked you or he did not," she writes. "There was no middle way. My mother sometimes tried to reason with him, but reason was not part of his makeup."
The deaths of her friends in war are not the only bereavements in the book. She had three children who died within hours of her giving birth. Her first child, who was born 10 weeks premature, died in 1941, the year in which she had married Andrew Cavendish, second son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire. "It was in the war and people were thinking of other things, so it was skated over by everyone as a fact of life. But it was an awful blow for Andrew and myself. Then there were two more, but for different reasons. They were just a few hours old." How did she cope? "How can you not? You've got to if you're faced with these things. Life had to go on in an ordinary way."
Reawakening the ghosts of her past for the book gave her no pain. "When you are very old, you accept what has happened. You cry over some things, but not a lot. It's too distant. It's as if part of you gets nearer to it yourself, and then you think the churchyard here [in Edensor] is very handy, whereas Andrew [her husband] had to come all the way from Chatsworth. Paddy Leigh Fermor [the writer and one of her greatest friends, now 95] insisted on walking behind his coffin. Well, he won't have very far to walk for me." Lucian Freud, who has painted her on several occasions, is another close friend. "I see him when I go to London and I leave him eggs on the doorstep. He seems to like that. I really love him and I always have."
She realises she is a survivor, but she doesn't want to be seen as an anachronism, and another journalist gets it in the neck for calling her a "lilac relic of bygone days". But as befits a duchess (and someone who has little interest in politics), she proudly proclaims that she has voted Conservative all her life and inveighs against change. She dislikes the modern obsession with health and safety, and mourns the decline of the English language, the destruction of the postal service and the disappearance of Punch. But she accepts modernity is not all bad, welcoming the advances in dentistry. "You've no idea what it was like when we were children," she says. "It was like going to a torture chamber."
Why are you a Conservative, I ask her, which later I think may be a stupid question, given that the Devonshires own Chatsworth, thousands of acres of the Derbyshire countryside, a castle in Ireland, and half a dozen other residences. "I like conserving things," she says circularly. "I like people to stay as they are, though I know they can't." Stumblingly, I point out that at the Guardian we do not wholly approve of dukes, duchesses and other feudal throwbacks. How does she justify them? Her answer is characteristically lateral. "There are two retired head gardeners here," she says, "both of whom have done 50 years at Chatsworth, and they are just such extraordinary people that if you could sit and talk to them you would learn some things that you would never have known. They are just wonderful, and it's really the company of them and the people who work on the farms that I like best of all."
She says time-honoured hierarchies are better than faceless modern conglomerates; the 600 or so people employed at Chatsworth know who they should moan at if things go wrong. "There's always been access to the top here. There's a human. You can laugh at them, you can dislike them, but they're there."
When she married Andrew Cavendish, as the second son he did not expect to become duke, but his older brother was killed in the second world war and he inherited. I am intrigued to know whether at some point the duchess, this regal persona, took over from the real person. "I was very unconscious of it, because I've been a duchess for so long, more than half my life. And now it's become rather unfashionable to have a title of any sort. If you are one, how can you tell how other people feel when they meet one?" What did her sister Jessica, the communist, think of her becoming a duchess? "She thought it was very comical. She takes people as she finds them." I like the way she slips into the present tense when describing a sister who has been dead for 14 years.
We have been talking for more than an hour and I fear she may be tiring. Are you OK to carry on, I ask her? "Yes, very happy," she says, "but haven't you had enough?" I laugh at the way she says this, as if the interview is a boxing match. I learn later from the photographer that she was disappointed I failed to floor her with a killer question, which irks me because I thought I had plucked up the courage to ask one.
In the book, she describes her husband's alcoholism and how that almost ended their marriage in the 80s. But she doesn't mention his infidelities, widely hinted at elsewhere. Was he unfaithful, I ask her? "Oh yes, of course," she says. So why didn't you write about his affairs in the book? "It wasn't my aim to write about them," she says. "People are so odd in England about marriage and what it means. It's not something I would dream of writing about, because it seems to happen to everybody, so what of it? Sex and money are all that interest the press." She describes her memoir as "an antidote to Lord Mandelson's" – a book born of loyalty and love.
I don't get a strong sense of her husband in the book, and ask her to describe him. "He was quick and funny and sharp as a razor, and had great love for his friends. He may have been difficult at times, but he was never boring." Not being boring is important to her. A dull marriage would be unthinkable. "You know how you can't listen to someone who is very dull?" she says. "At least I can't." Now my terror is complete. I know I am boring her. "I love you being terrified," she says. "That's so funny."
She would probably go on all afternoon, but we get into a dispute about the date of the Countryside Alliance march in London and consult her secretary, so the drawing-room door is opened and the world intrudes. The contest is over, and I have been soundly defeated by this 90-year-old who retains the grace on the ice she had as a child. She asks Henry to offer me drinks. I hear her telling him he needn't put his jacket on to serve them, but he insists on doing so, not wishing to change the habits of a lifetime. He is about to retire, but will stay on for two days a week at the dowager's request. Not, I suspect, because she needs a butler, but because she is so attached to him as a person. People. Those tricky things that get in the way of political theories. Yes, we must sweep away centuries of privilege, but I do hope Henry, Debo and her chickens survive.
Why the Enduring Fascination with the Mitford Sisters Won’t Die
What explains the endless obsession with six British socialites of a bygone era? Probably their beauty, wit, eccentricity . . . and epic split over Hitler’s rise.
BY JAMES WOLCOTT
APRIL 29, 2016
In those footloose days when I thought little of popping off to London once or twice a year to pad around Piccadilly and catch the latest shows, I found myself at a new musical called The Mitford Girls. Why I chose that concoction over so many other marquee-blazers remains a muddle and a mystery, my awareness of the Mitford clan and their fabled rap sheet being somewhat sketchy. Perhaps it was the Brideshead Effect that prompted me. The lavish mini-series adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s elegiac postwar romance, Brideshead Revisited—starring Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews, Diana Quick, Claire Bloom, and Laurence Olivier—premiered within a week of The Mitford Girls’ opening in 1981, and the sumptuous trappings and muffled intrigues of the landed nobility made for a cultural moment that had everyone abuzz then and has endured, all the way up to Downton Abbey. Anyway, there I was. It was not an evening in the theater to bring Kenneth Tynan springing out of retirement. What I recall through the fogbank of jet lag is that the musical started off on a fishy note with the six sisters (like the Andrews Sisters, times two) greeting the audience onstage with a harmonizing “Thanks for the Memory,” a song so familiar as Bob Hope’s sign-off that planting it here seemed like borderline larceny. Other numbers included piano-bar perennials (such as Cole Porter’s cheeky “Let’s Do It”), the entire score a pastiche of paste diamonds dressing up a script heavy on hubbub and girlish antics until things went darker in Act II, when Adolf Hitler made an appearance. The Mitford Girls ran only a few months, not simply because it was creaky but because not even the Brideshead Effect in lilac bloom could salvage the Mitford mystique from looking spindly, dated, played-out—or so I halfway figured.
Wrong. The Mitford cult not only survived the 20th century but has made a spirited go of it in the 21st with no sign of becoming winded. What was known as the Mitford Industry in its heyday has not slowed production, even after the deaths of the six sisters, as individual and group biographies (coming this September, The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters, by Laura Thompson), docudramas, documentaries, reminiscences, volumes of letters, and even a self-help title (The Mitford Girls’ Guide to Life, by Lyndsy Spence) quench an apparently unslakable thirst for Mitford lore. The Mitford sisters have become the stuff of myth, a glittering constellation no matter how much tarnish remains. Why? It can’t be just because the Bloomsbury cult ran out of gas.
For the sake of clarity, not to mention sanity, let’s fill out the lineup card first. Scion of an aristocratic family that traced its heritage back to the Norman Conquest, David Freeman-Mitford, who would become Baron Redesdale, and his wife, Sydney, bestowed upon the world six daughters—in order of birth, Nancy, Pam, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah—and a son, Tom. They grew up in a series of country houses and cottages where their eccentricities and enthusiasms flowered like orchids. Only the son was formally schooled (owing to finances as much as to male entitlement—the Mitfords were socially privileged but not economically flush); the girls’ education was a more spotty, haphazard affair, with their mother and an array of governesses teaching lessons in reading, arithmetic, and French, leaving big blanks in the curriculum. Left to their own madcap devices, the girls formed a tribal bond, speaking their own slanguage and minting a clattering thicket of nicknames for their parents (Dad was Farve, Mum was Muv), one another (Unity was Bobo, Diana was Honks, Jessica was Decca, Deborah was Debo, and so on), their nannies, governesses, menagerie of pets, and anyone else who strayed across their radar. Although taken to extremes by the Mitfords, with their “shrieks of laughter and floods of tears,” as Nancy would later put it, this sort of upper-class twittering was very common in the pre- and postwar eras among the smart set, as anyone who has waded knee-deep through the footnotes explaining nicknames, barnacled in-jokes, veiled allusions, and genealogical connections (who was whose idiot cousin) in the biographies and journals of the period can wearily attest.
What elevated the Mitfords above the prattle and privileges of their upbringing and put their reputation on a collision course with history was the fissure in the household between the two raging ideologies that would rip apart the 20th century: Fascism and Communism. “When they talked about what they wanted to be when they were grown-ups,” writes Mary S. Lovell in The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family, “Unity would say, ‘I’m going to Germany to meet Hitler,’ and Decca would say, ‘I’m going to run away and be a Communist.’ ” And so they did. Flighty as they might have appeared, the Mitford girls did not lack for follow-through.
In 1933, Unity and Diana traveled to Germany as delegation members of the British Union of Fascists, whose chrome-domed leader was Oswald Mosley, with whom Diana was having an affair—both were married to others at the time—and whom she would later secretly marry in the home of Nazi propaganda maestro Joseph Goebbels with Adolf Hitler among the guests. To many, Mosley resembled a knockoff version of Hitler, the black moon to Hitler’s black sun, but he possessed his own magnetic exertion. Decades later, Clive James, writing about a television interview with Mosley, observed, “As always, the streamlined head of Sir Oswald looked simultaneously ageless and out of date, like some Art Deco metal sculpture recently discovered in its original wrappings. Nor have his vocal cords lost anything of their tensile strength.” Where Hitler had his Brownshirts busting chops and smashing glass, Mosley recruited his own paramilitary band of bullyboys, the Blackshirts, which the sainted P. G. Wodehouse would parody as the Black Shorts in The Code of the Woosters. Mosley wasn’t the demonic orator Hitler was. He lacked the infernal throb. Attending the Nuremberg rally on their 1933 visit, Unity and Diana saw Hitler in oratorical action for the first time, and he more than lived up to advance billing. The spectacle was spellbinding, the message drum-pounding. Compared with the maundering walruses running England and Europe downhill, here was a man who had dynamized, industrialized, and mobilized a nation—destiny incarnate.
A year later, Unity, reborn in the spirit of fanaticism, alighted in Munich, took a German-language course near the Nazi Party headquarters, and put out her feelers for an opportunity to meet her hero. Didn’t take long. In 1934, Hitler’s movements and routines were well known, and one of the frequent stops was a restaurant, the Osteria Bavaria, which Unity staked out. They soon met—he couldn’t help but notice her—and into his orbit she was drawn. It wasn’t just that she was young, attractive, English, self-possessed, and shared his vision. Hitler was steeped in superstition, susceptible to portents, and here was Unity, who was conceived in a Canadian town called Swastika and whose middle name was Valkyrie, in honor of Richard Wagner. (There was a family connection to Wagner and Bayreuth through her grandfather Bertie.) According to Unity’s careful tabulations, she met Hitler on 140 occasions, their flirty friendliness causing great distress to Hitler’s mistress, Eva Braun, who attempted suicide to swerve Hitler’s attention back her way, which it did. Braun was probably never in serious danger from Unity as a romantic rival. Unity was too uninhibited and tongue-flapping. Secrets weren’t safe with her, which would never do in the tense, pin-drop deliberations of the Nazi high command.
It’s become somewhat customary to contemporize Unity’s behavior as that of a groupie supplicating herself before a rock deity, a crush gone supernova, but Unity wasn’t content to pay homage offstage. She craved her own stardom. She snapped a Nazi salute before thousands at a Hitler Youth rally (for which Hitler awarded her a gold swastika badge that she swanked around in) and wrote an open letter to Der Stürmer, the scurrilous anti-Semitic propaganda rag edited by the surpassingly odious Julius Streicher, which ended, “We think with joy of the day when we shall be able to say with might and authority: England for the English! Out with the Jews!,” then added a PS in which she asked that her whole name, not her initials, be used. “I want everyone to know I’m a Jew hater.” And as a Jew hater, what befell the Jews didn’t disturb a hair on her head. “We know she thought Streicher’s act in making Jews crop grass with their teeth amusing, and that she approved when a group of Jews were taken to an island in the Danube and left there to starve,” writes Lovell in The Sisters.
Despite Unity’s mad devotion to Hitler, she insisted that if Germany and Britain went to war she would commit suicide. She couldn’t bear the prospect of the two countries she loved shedding each other’s blood. This wasn’t a verbal pose. As I say, the Mitford girls had follow-through. When Britain declared war on Germany in 1939 after Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Unity went to the English Garden in Munich, took the small pistol Hitler had given her for her protection, pressed it to her temple, and fired. The bullet lodged in her brain, but she survived—she had somehow bungled the self-hit. She was spirited off to neutral Switzerland, where her mother and Debo retrieved her and returned to England to an understandable firestorm of flashbulbs and tabloid snoops. Why was this little Fascista given such special, protective treatment? Despite her intimate proximity to Hitler and his trusted lackeys, Unity, brain-stricken, was not searched or questioned, even after her faculties somewhat recovered, thanks to the intervention of her father with the home secretary. She would lead a placid, child-like half-life until the bullet residing in her brain led to meningitis and she died, eight years later.
Sister Diana wasn’t as lucky staying out of the clink. The outbreak of war led to a sweep-up of the Fascists in England, and Oswald Mosley and Diana Mitford (who had given birth to her fourth child weeks before) were arrested without charge and interned for security purposes. Interviewed by authorities in prison, Diana was asked if she agreed with the Nazi policy on Jews. “Up to a point,” she replied. “I am not fond of Jews.” There were those who would later try to extenuate this remark. In The House of Mitford, written by Jonathan Guinness with Catherine Guinness, the authors deplore Diana’s statement. “One should never condemn a whole group in this way. Yet we have never seen anyone taken to task for saying they were not fond of, for example, Germans.” Given the context, this is remarkably obtuse, not to mention tasteless.
The Nazi divide made it impossible for the sisters to maintain a united front. As a teenager, Decca had etched a hammer and sickle into her bedroom window with her diamond ring, and her first husband, Esmond Romilly, was the antithesis of Oswald Mosley: “Mosley with a red flag,” as Laura Thompson puts it in The Six. So when Diana was finally released from prison, Decca petitioned Prime Minister Winston Churchill, whose wife Clementine was a cousin to the Mitfords, to have her put back in. “The fact that Diana is my sister doesn’t alter my opinion in the least.” (It was Decca who, when confronted with Nancy’s affirmation that “sisters are a shield against life’s cruel adversity,” riposted, “But sisters ARE life’s cruel adversity!”) Unlike many who start out on the Communist left only to sag sideways into religion or, worse, neoconservatism, she stayed put as an upright underdog defender. Immigrating to the United States in 1939 and making it her home base, Decca became an opponent of the Red Scare and a crusading reporter on civil rights, but her American reputation rested less on her political writings than on her best-selling muckraking book about the funeral industry, The American Way of Death, and her memoir Hons and Rebels. She became a doyenne of the Old New Left (the 60s radicals who had entered middle age), defying the stereotype of the aging dour lefty by fronting a band called Decca and the Dectones, who I’m sure whipped up quite an earful.
Of all the Mitfords, Nancy is the one who means the most to me. (Pam is the most inconspicuous and hence most uncharacteristic Mitford sister, though The House of Mitford informs us that she would “become well known in the poultry world” for importing “a picturesque breed of chicken” into Britain, and the poultry world doesn’t accept just anybody.) Nancy is the one with the lasting literary eminence—her comic novels (Christmas Pudding, The Blessing, Don’t Tell Alfred, among others) a staircase rising to the twin pillars of The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, a conjoined classic of beauty, wisdom, acuity, humor, affection, and bruised worldliness, as close as one could get to Colette without cats underfoot—and her life is in many ways the most poignant in its final punctuation. Unity toyed with evil, but after she put the barrel to her head, her life was a drawn-out anticlimax, her consciousness packed with clouds. Nancy’s romantic disappointment was an extended letdown leading to physical anguish. Falling in love with a French politician of Polish origin named Gaston Palewski, she moved to Paris so that the two of them could be together, and so they were, but they never married, and he was prolifically unfaithful, eventually marrying an aristocrat whose name was an impressive mouthful: Hélène Violette de Talleyrand-Périgord. The Horror of Love, the title of a biographical study of the Mitford-Palewski liaison by Lisa Hilton, smacks of melodrama, but it was a love unfulfilled. Suffering for years from headaches and other ailments, Nancy was diagnosed in 1972 with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the final six months of her life were a rack of pain. Diana, unrepentant to the last for her adulation of Hitler, would outlive Nancy by 30 years, proof that health and mortality are the most fickle monsters of all.
Debo, the youngest, would outlive them all and give the real-life roman-fleuve of the Mitfords the closest thing to a happy ending that it deserved. Treated as the runt of the litter by her older, splashier sisters, who nicknamed her “Stubby” because of her legs and “Nine” because that was the mental age Nancy said she was stunted at, Debo would grandly come into her own after years of feeling left behind. (Wait for Me! was the title of her memoir about Growing Up Mitford.) At the age of 21, she married Andrew Cavendish, the second son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire. “An heir and a spare,” as the saying goes, and when Andrew’s brother, Billy, who was married to John F. Kennedy’s sister Kick, died in action during the Second World War, Andrew would become the 11th Duke of Devonshire, and Debo thereby the mistress of Chatsworth, a stately pile of 126 rooms with gardens covering more than a hundred acres, stables—the works. Quite the emerald spread. (It was used as a location for Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon.) Debo, who would die at the age of 94, nipping Diana’s longevity record by a year, devoted herself to the preservation and promotion of Chatsworth, writing book after book on the estate, an entrepreneurial Earth Mother who named one of her memoirs Counting My Chickens, its cover showing her holding a big clucker. The buoyant aplomb of her reign at Chatsworth in her last decade as Dowager Duchess (her husband died in 2004) had a healing, redemptive grace, as if the spirit of Demeter moved through her to repair some of the damage done by her sisters’ association with destroyers and restore a portion of paradise. Reichs rise and fall, sisters shriek and sob, beauty fades, famous names come and go, and in the end ain’t nobody here but us chickens.
Publicada por Jeeves em 03:02