Thursday, May 21, 2015

Happy May, Thanks, and Top Tip (Cecil Beaton), as Promised

Pansies and my pigeon toes
May is dwindling and I'll be sorry to see it go.  We are coming off the coldest January - March temperatures in Vermont in more than 90 years.  I'm not making this up.  Go check with NOAA if you doubt me.  (So much for all those old timers who like to boast about how cold winters were when they were young).  Reprieve from our hard, cold winter arrived, at last, this month in a blaze of flowering glory.

Thanks to all who picked up the e-book this last week during the kindle countdown deal.  My enjoyment of May was boosted by sharing the Amazon best seller lists with the likes of Neil Gaiman and Philip Pullman (two of my writer heroes), however briefly.  A UK deal e-book will be coming in June so stay tuned.

Of course, I understand that news of my e-book deals is of limited interest but to thank you for bearing with me I have a top tip...  Ready? "Cecil Beaton."

I've been an admirer for years.  He's most famous as a photographer, and for good reason, but he was also a writer, a painter, a high society flibbertigibbet and, perhaps most importantly for my purposes, a diarist.

I have been drifting through the last volume of his unexpurgated diaries for weeks now.  This volume contains entries written in the early 1970s in the twilight of his years.  Beaton was a social climber and prey to appearances all his life, but he was not a shallow person - or maybe he was a deep person with shallows. He's a terrible moaner every time he is inconvenienced or gets sick ("I've had the worst cold of my life these last days...") and can be very fey (a room requires un note de rouge) but he was also very perceptive, hardworking, and tough minded. 

I was touched that he was touched by a passage from The Pilgrim's Progress that was read out at a friend's funeral.   He rebukes himself for not having read it himself and (correctly) admires the beauty of the language.   He writes vividly and well (most of the time) and there's lots of fun gossip and the occasional brilliant insight.  He is genuine admirer of Queen Elizabeth II for good reason (she's good at her job and presents herself perfectly) but he doesn't hesitate to criticize her hair-do.  He is knighted in this volume and his details of the ceremony and the after-party are fascinating. He is sharp eyed and sharp tongued, but he doesn't spare himself, even describing the sad state of affairs of his genitalia following a prostate operation.  Here's a link to a New Yorker article about his diaries, FYI.

Thanks again for following along.  Thanks to all who downloaded the book. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have anything to tell me.