Circa 1950s

Why don’t we have tunes like this any more.

And dance halls?

And drive-thru cinemas?

And jukeboxes?

And suchlike.


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Duncan Grant – Bloomsbury Set

I’ve been enjoying the three-part documentary How To Be Bohemian currently airing on the BBC. Episode two focused on the sexual pioneering of the Bloomsbury set in which homosexuality and bisexuality were, as we know, de rigeur.

Loving the artwork of Duncan Grant and fascinated by his personal life:

Duncan’s early affairs were exclusively homosexual. These included his cousin, the writer Lytton Strachey, the future politician Arthur Hobhouse and the economist John Maynard Keynes, who at one time considered Grant the love of his life. Through Strachey, Grant became involved in the Bloomsbury Group, where he made many such great friends including Vanessa Bell. He would eventually live with Vanessa Bell, who though she was a married woman fell deeply in love with him, and one night succeeded in seducing him; Vanessa very much wanted a child by Duncan, and became pregnant in the spring of 1918. Although it is generally assumed that Duncan’s sexual relations with Vanessa ended in the months before Angelica was born (Christmas, 1918), they continued to live together for more than 40 years.

Living with Vanessa was no impediment to Duncan’s relationships with men, either before or after Angelica was born. Angelica grew up believing that Vanessa’s husband Clive Bell was her father; she bore his surname and his behaviour toward her never indicated otherwise. Duncan and Vanessa formed an open relationship, although she herself apparently never took advantage of this after settling down with him and having their child. Duncan, in contrast, had many physical affairs and several serious relationships with other men, most notably David Garnett, who would one day marry Angelica. Duncan’s love and respect for Vanessa, however, kept him with her until her death in 1961.

Angelica wrote: “(Grant) was a homosexual with bisexual leanings”.

Source: Wikipedia

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Will you love me tomorrow

Love Bryan Ferry.

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Last Supper

Dinner out with close friends, eating al fresco on the street at a neighbourhood restaurant. Five years ago this month I moved to this area. The chapter – a long one – is coming to an end.

These very close friends, a couple – whose relationship has been on the rocks for some time – and they’re now calling it quits and going their separate ways. They’ve done couple counselling and all the rest of it. But it’s for the best.

They’re better than they’ve been in a while. In a better place. Tonight is their final night before each moves in a separate direction. She – to West London, he to North London.

I too will be leaving. I don’t know when yet, but it will be before autumn. Late summer probably. I own a property in South London (as those with long memories will know) and my plan is to move back to zone 3 suburbia. That place of 30 somethings and their 2.5 children. I will miss the inner city dreadfully but I will go there with a plan in mind (the plan being to get abroad with work, and thus not wanting to get myself into a new tenancy). I also want to sell my property – having owned it for 13 or so years. It’s very much time to move on. To the next place.

So tonight was bitter-sweet. Remembrances of the good times. Of shared endeavour. Mutual friends. Highlights. Low lights. Shared memories.

Life is all about chapters. They begin and at some point, they will surely end.

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A peach schnapps

Peach Schnapps Diana Henry Salt Sugar Smoke

I made it two years ago when I was going through a serious cooking phase. I no longer have the recipe as it was from Diana Henry’s Salt Sugar Smoke which I’d borrowed from the library. An excellent book devoted to preserving, pickling and bottling.

I remember that a lot of peaches went into it. And vodka and I think white wine. And herbs.

It has sat unopened in a sealed Kilner jar in the back of a cupboard for almost two years, only to recently be ‘found’ by me, and cracked open. I didn’t know what to expect.

The taste is very pleasant. Smooth, aromatic. Not as strong as vodka but not far off – I’m guessing 30-35% proof. Very easy to drink.

A hint of peaches and spice. Warming. Not too sweet. Enjoyable to drink when the wine has finished and you need a digestif (or two).

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“Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!”

Kenneth_Williams_Carry_On_Doctor(1967)I watched the Kenneth Williams doc on TV the other evening. Only half an hour on ITV, I think it was a repeat.

He is a fascinating character and I especially liked the biopic Fantabulosa in which he is played by Martin Sheen, which I blogged about many moons ago.

A different age – a difficult life. Filled with self-loathing, self-enforced celibacy and dizzying levels of insecurity. Living in that age – in which same-sex relationships were illegal – must have been especially tough. People all too often laughing at you, rather than with you, in his line of work.

My father and I didn’t get on. He was sport mad and wanted a son who enjoyed that. He also liked to go to the pub for a pint of bitter. When I was old enough to go with him, I asked for a sweet sherry. He was shocked and said: “You namby-pamby sod.”

-Quoted in the Daily Mail, 31st October 2008.

Living with someone always means a denial of self in SOME way and I suppose I have always known it was something I couldn’t accomplish. So I’ve always stayed on the sidelines. Getting the pleasure vicariously. It’s not wholly satisfactory, but then of course no lives are, and you know what I think about indiscriminate sex and promiscuous trade. I think it’s the beginning of a long, long road to despair.

-Letter, quoted in The Observer, Sunday 10 October 2010.

I didn’t like the King’s Cross world: it was grimy and dirty. I always envisioned myself in much more romantic and grand surroundings. I never really thought that I belonged to the working-class area at all.

-Quoted in Daily Mail, 31st October 2008.

I bought his diaries second-hand online. Look forward to that arriving soon and to reading it.

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