June 24, 2010
We WASPS have a long tradition with the London “Season.” The Chelsea Flower Show, Royal Ascot, Wimbledon, Henley, Glorious Goodwood in mid-summer, it’s very old hat to us. It began during Victorian times, when rich in land but poor in cash Anglo aristos came over to our shores across the pond and landed our daughters. Eastern seaboard American money built plenty of English stately home roofs, and we got some funny looking people with handles in their names to call cousin.
When I was younger, I remember my parents, Popsy and Topsy Mortimer never missing a London season. More often than not they stayed at Blenheim Palace, with the then Duke of Marlborough, Bert. He was an awful bully and all that, but he was very friendly with my parents. They reciprocated by having the old goat stay with them in Palm Beach for months on end, especially during those post war years when England had no central heating and the coalminers strike had frozen the tight little island solid.
Needless to say, things ain”t what they used to be. Too many Americans, n.o.c.d’s actually, (not our class, dear) have discovered the joys of the season and are – as I write – overweight, overfunded, and over here. Last week I told you about Ascot, and how the gratin has been removed. At Wimbledon this week, while having my tea and strawberries, I found myself in a sea of sweaty, loudly dressed Americans, none of whom I recognized. No one like Bill Clothier, of the old Philadelphia Clothiers, none of the Woods of Long Island, not even another Mortimer. Names like Schwartzman, Richard Wiseman, a friend of John McEnroe’s, and others new to mention, if you know what I mean.
Mind you, change is inevitable, and London itself is not the London I knew as a child. Great hostesses like Lady Hartwell no longer entertain. We now have one Rena Sindi, an Iraqi woman of a dark hue that tries to lure celebrities to various parties but they”re much too horrible to even entertain attending them. Instead, I headed down to Devon, where the Hanburys had their annual cricket party and weekend. One of the Hanbury girls is married to David RockSavage, Marquis of Chomondelay, pronounced Chumly for you not in the know, the other, Marina, is engaged to be married to Ned Lambton, Earl of Lambton, so you get the picture. People like Tom Parker Bowles, Ben Eliot, son and nephew of Camila, the Marquis of Worcester, Bunter to us insiders, and the spiritual head of Takimag, Taki himself, were some of the 80 odd weekend guests.
A word of caution. I like and admire Taki a lot, but he’s much too old to be playing cricket with 25-year-olds, and, worse, far too old to be chasing 20 year old girls around the grand house all evening “ as he was seen to do. Still, it was the loveliest of weekend house parties, and now I”m back in London for the second week of Wimbledon and the grand party of Lord and Lady Derby.