Barrow, Books and dogs

On Wednesday meet up for tea with Julian Barrow one of my great heroes, a painter and a person who radiates such pleasure in his life and travels that it is always a pleasure to see him, I am writing the foreword to his next exhibition which is such an unbelievable honour I am almost overhwlemed, previous introducers include Mary Killen, Lord Norwich, Hugh Massingberd, Auberon Waugh and James Lees-Milne, what a dinner party that would have made. Also managed a lunch with furniture designer Thomas Messel at his club, to catch up on plans for a book we have in mind, and other excitements including the publication of our mutual friend Nicholas Mander’s book on The Country Houses of the Cotswolds, which I commissioned on behalf of the Aurum series, to be launched next week, a real gem of a book.

Otherwise have been chained to the more shadowy parts of the University studying the household of great houses in 13th to 16th centuries, all table napkins and saltfish for breakfast, read through the great Northumberland Household book, written c 1512, which deals with the complex detail of provisions and livery for the Earl of Northumberland’s household, among other things. Also reading 20th century stuff in the evening, from P.G.Wodehouse, who, son of colonial parents spent a great deal of time with his childless relations’s servants as a child; also reading Gathorne-Hardy’s book on the British nanny on Churchill’s relationship with nanny Everest.

Archie the Jack Russell is much calmer and more settled, I wonder if diet has something to do with it as we have given up on tinned food, although escapes from the garden, but only if he hears friendly voices; we try and fit in a good 20-30 minute walk at lunch time, which I find quite good for letting ideas mull round and round. PG Wodehouse always had Pekes, and Hardy had a dog called Wessex, in fact he had lots as I can remember seeing quite a big pet cemetery at Max Gate. Miranda the 9 year old has got the baking bug again and brownies and meringues pour forth, Georgia, 13, is about to hit party season after demanding exams; she takes an amazing interest in politics, much more than I ever did.

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