Saturday, 21 April 2018

This weekend, I am mostly dressing casual... Her Majesty the Queen, on the occasion of her 92nd birthday.

Gawd bless ya, Ma'am!

Monday, 16 April 2018

That living-on-the-edge quality

“All the things that have happened in my life are meant to happen. Having done the ’Rent A Diva’ bit, and having had some success with the Pet Shop Boys thing, there was no more mileage in it. I’m not a dance act. I felt if I was to do music again I'd have to be where I felt comfortable and was allowed to be less of a Diva. Where it wasn’t necessary for me to sound as if I was about to explode if I changed key one more time.”

“I think the Diva only came with various overwritten dramas that come along when people make up all sorts of stuff. I mean you do one thing and it gets blown up into this legend of 'Pop Callas' proportions and it was - most of it was - rubbish, but I also ran with it for a while. I almost started to believe it for a while. But I’m not a Diva at all... In the pop world I was probably given to more waving of arms and general noise making, sort of directing traffic.”

“I think Divas have this rather... neurotic is the wrong word... but there’s this sort of tension, and it's very real. I am tense, not now, but I certainly am when I am worrying about things on stage, and I think that edge makes it an uneven performance, but in the high parts, it creates an atmosphere of 'God, is she going to explode, or is she even going to get through this song, is she going to finish this act, what's going to happen next?’ and I think that living-on-the-edge quality makes audiences quite enjoy themselves."
Dusty Springfield OBE (born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien, 16th April 1939 – 2nd March 1999).

We still miss you, Dusty, Diva or not.

Friday, 30 March 2018

This weekend, I am mostly dressing casual... the beautiful (and ultimately notorious; he was one of the plotters who killed Rasputin) Prince Felix Felixovich Yusupov, Count Sumarokov-Elston!

He was a divinely decadent character, as these extracts about the Prince's exploits (from the faboo The Esoteric Curiosa blog) confirm. Described by one confidant of the Tsarina as "that effeminate and elegantly dressed young man", his close relationship with Tsar Nicholas II's favourite Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich (who was for a while the fiancé of the Tsar's daughter Olga Nikolaevna Romanova) caused somewhat of a scandal:
"Almost every night we drove to Petersburg and carried on a merry life in restaurants, night cafés, among the Gypsies. We invited performers to dine with us in private rooms. And often Pavlova would join us!" But it was not only Anna Pavlova who joined, Felix’s unconventional tastes, which he writes about himself in his memoirs, attracted to the private rooms male ballet dancers who shared these tastes.

The Imperial Family was horrified. "Their Majesties, knowing of my scandalous adventures, looked askance at our friendship," Felix recalled. Or, to put it more accurately, knowing of Felix’s homosexual propensities, which at the time were punishable by Imperial law, the Tsar’s family regarded Dmitri’s passionate attachment to Felix with fear...

...The encounters with Felix continued. Rumour had a simple explanation: Dmitri was bisexual. And Dmitri was madly infatuated with Felix. In the idiom of the salons of the day, it was called ‘making mistakes in grammar!’ Dmitri preferred to move out of Alexander Palace. Now he was lodged in his own house in Petersburg, and Felix helped him to furnish it in the luxury for which his own home, the Yusupov Palace on the Moika Canal, was celebrated. With precious furniture and paintings.

And so Dmitri had made his choice. Now with a clear conscience [the Tsarina, who never liked Dmitri] could, or, more accurately, was compelled to, break off Olga’s engagement. Dmitri had compromised himself by his scandalous friendship.
The rest of the story, especially that involving Rasputin, is well-documented. Both men survived the Russian Revolution - Dmitri died in 1942, and Felix lived until 1967. It is unclear whether either man saw each other again, and (eventually) both denied the rumours about their relationship.

Ohhhh, those Russians...

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Lo! The bird is on the wing

Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly - and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

- The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

The clocks went forward last night, meaning we've lost an hour. Despite all appearances to the contrary, it is now officially British Summer Time! The daylight hours are henceforth longer than the nights - so make the most of it...

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The Queen of Eurovision is dead

"My whole career really started by accident. There was a time when I was on the BBC three times a week - it seems very strange to think of that now, but it was the only thing people watched."

And so, farewell to another British icon, the former model, TV personality and doyenne of the Eurovision Song Contest - against whose genteel manner every subsequent hostess has been judged - Katie Boyle, Lady Saunders, who has departed for Fabulon.

You just do not get glamour and poise this this anywhere any more:

  • Her first marriage (to Richard Boyle, later the Earl of Shannon), which lasted eight years, was dogged by rumours of scandal - including a supposed affair with Prince Philip.
  • She became well-known across the UK not just for her elegant appearances on chat shows and variety shows, nor merely for her stint as the hostess of the Eurovison Song Contest (she presented her first Eurovision Song Contest in 1960 and hosted the programme a further three times in 1963, 1968 and 1974), but as "the face of Camay soap" in TV adverts; though she admitted in private that she didn't use it because it brought her out in a rash.
  • When Katie presented the contest in 1974, the year Abba won with Waterloo, she almost diverted attention from that spectacular victory as the tabloids had a field day with the fact that she wore no knickers under her slinky dress - of the occasion, she said she spent the whole show hiding behind the podium, but when she had to step out from it, her cards and hands were strategically placed to hide her private areas.
  • Her marriage to Viscount Boyle meant that technically she was aristocracy, despite their divorce; third husband Sir Peter Saunders was a theatre impresario and the producer of Britain's longest-running show The Mousetrap, and when he was knighted she gained her second noble title.
And here she is again, singing(!) this Lerner and Loewe classic, with erstwhile telly show host Michael Barrymore:

RIP Caterina Irene Elena Maria Imperiali dei Principi di Francavilla (aka Katie Boyle, 29th May 1926 - 20th March 2018)

Saturday, 17 March 2018

The wearing of the green

Loretta Young

Nicole Kidman's green parrot frock from the Screen Actors' Guild awards 2017

Jackie Kennedy wearing a pale green Givenchy dress

HM The Queen in 1954

Vivien Leigh's green "curtain" dress from "Gone With the Wind"

Happy Paddy's Day!