EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY OF HONORIA LUCASTA, DOWAGER DUCHESS OF DENVER
10 January. - Back in London and glad. Ahasuerus celebrated by bringing Franklin a dead mouse.
Peter has fled to Italy, which seems to me like an over-reaction but then Helen has been particularly awful this year, what with being cross with Gerald and Saint-George and not wanting to quarrel in front of the neighbours. (Have resolved to be more charitable to Helen this year, as she is a good person really and not very happy, but goodness isn’t really a very attractive quality in itself without some human feeling to soften its edges). Helen does at least seem to have picked up that it’s her fault but appears to be ignoring it, which is probably best course of action. Imagine Peter would have been happier spending Christmas gallivanting somewhere abroad with Bunter (does Bunter gallivant? He must be able to but it’s rather difficult to picture, like trying to see the women’s faces in the puzzle when you’ve just seen the candlestick) but am selfishly glad he came.
Peter’s old enough to do what he likes, including marrying who he likes, and anyway one can’t really know anything about someone from what you read in the newspapers as Gerald ought to know. Helen managed to imply, and this was really rather impressive, that she (Miss Vane, not Helen) was both a man-eater and a Lesbian, but then Helen has never been a terribly logical thinker.
Enough of that. Everyone is well and that’s the important thing, and little Peter continues to be adorable and not at all spoiled (except by me, but that’s a grandmother’s prerogative).
12 January. - A virtuous day of letters. Franklin a great help in organising me - so easy to get side-tracked and spend all day rambling in one, and then more come the next day and before you know it you’re buried in them, especially at this time of year.
There really isn’t anything nicer than a long letter from an old friend. It’s funny, some of the people I exchange letters with at this time of year I haven’t seen in over twenty years, but I still think they know me better than anyone.
Take Jane – forty years at least since we met at that finishing school in Florence, and we’ve met only a handful of times since, but when I read her letters her voice is as clear as if she was sitting next to me.
Jane always has the most marvellous stories about village life and all the adventures she has, which inevitably seem to involve getting caught up in some scandal or other but dear Jane has always had a nose for that (as that dreadful M. Emanuel found out). Such a nice, clear, logical way of setting things out too - not at all like her nephew, whose books are so dreadfully florid.
Must remember to recommend Miss Vane’s books to her when I write back – I think Jane would approve.
13 January.- Went to St Peter’s in Vauxhall today to hear the Archbishop preach the sermon for Candlemas - such a beautiful service, the church looking so nice in the winter sun and the choir sang Mr Noble’s new set of canticles very well. Cosmo spoke quite movingly on the subject of church unity - must remember to add a prayer for togetherness tonight.
Stayed for tea at the vicarage afterwards and bumped into Peter’s Miss Climpson, who apparently normally attends St Saviour’s in Pimlico but made an exception for the Archbishop. Miss C the spirit of churchly rectitude, glowing like the candles after such an uplifting service, and also full to bursting with all the latest gossip. Not only did they have an escaping bank robber run to earth in the church grounds last night, but the vicar’s wife had contrived to upset the organist so badly this morning that he refused to accompany the choir for their rehearsal until one of the curates managed to talk him round.
Offered Miss C a lift home in the car but she was staying on for a Working Party, which always sounds like it should be oxymoronic - is that the right word? ask Franklin - but isn’t really, because work like that can be jolly when you’re doing it with a group and miserable if you’re stuck with it by yourself. Came home to finish writing letters.
Read first two chapters of Luke before bed and thought about Simeon, waiting all that time to meet our Lord so that he could finally depart - such a melancholy sort of gladness, especially at this time of year when the sun sets so early. Makes one feel rather old.