Many years ago I was present at a Sunday Lunch at “the other Charleston” the home of Oswald and Rhoda Birley, Oswald was long dead but Rhoda was still an exotic beauty. She invited the painter Duncan Grant and we brought with us the “Impressionist” Paul Maze and his wife Jessie. Their painting styles were very different and the Grand old men fought like rats in a sack and Rhoda ( herself a considerable artist) looked on like a large cat waiting to consume the remnants for lunch. It was quite a gathering when you come to think of it but as Oscar Wilde said “youth is wasted on the young.” I never thought about those privileged interludes just as I didn’t think about the time I ate lunch at Harold Acton’s villa with Steven Spender and they talked about DH Lawrence their friend. Watching the beautiful rendition of the “Real” Charleston Idyll ,Living in Squares on TV filmed in a actual farm house on the Firle estate I was in seventh heaven; whoever researched it got it exactly right. (The trust who runs it needs more money by the way to preserve Vanesa’s murals and fabrics not to mention the painted furniture), East Sussex takes some beating. Then I recalled how Angelica Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bells daughter Angelica used to come to our house and accompany moi as I sang Schumans “Frauen Liebe und Leben” and Shubert Lieder. These were magical moments, sadly for all the beauty those people left to the world they did not have undiluted happiness. They didn’t have pets as I recall too busy being them. Paul Maze did though, at one time six spaniels whose distant descendants I have.
I took the spaniels to Battersea Park the other day at dog walking time. A basset hound called Hobo ate my sandwich box and all before I had a chance to open it. Dogs are brilliant there were twenty-seven of them and they all stay in a pack, each knowing their place its all about the pack you see and that is what the Bloomsbury lot were they would have been far less powerful on their own.