the loyal toast (not the one with marmalade) and Doric Columns

decked out in a long black dress, pearls and ballet shoes, we paused outside the private club on the upper east side, Very near Central Park and decided to take another quick walk-around-the-block before entering the hallowed portals of the establishment.

It’s been a Very Long Time since we wore anything but Prada motorcycle boots or Dr. Martens or slightly camp chunky patent shiny sandals so the dainty shuffling of a long dress floating out behind us and the low shimmy of a ballet shoe was Rather Odd.

Eventually we did our best grande dame expression and swept into the joint, trying to keep our gloria-ness intact among the swirling staff offering canapes that would not have been amiss at a bash thrown by Henry VIII, love.

we cannot divulge the nature of the event but there were Strong Pillars of the British establishment and hence a swift recall was required of English Etiquette (bidden to Stand for the Loyal Toast! we are slightly embarrassed to say our cry of “THE Queen!” was a Tiny Bit behind the others and we tried not to giggle as we imagined a stage in south london festooned with bunting and a drag act on next).

In America, as we’ve been for over a decade now, there are (in our humble opinion or IMHO as the chaps on dial-up bulletin board chat rooms used to say – of both genders – or all three genders – that got you scratching your head ;) there’s a blended gender in tech. That’s all we’re saying for now…..) Definitely Rules of Life. But they are usually straight forward. One has to Learn the english ones. And to be honest, we’re not sure we were paying attention all those years ago.

Yet it was a lovely evening.

As you can see from the image below – a beautiful place – and we Adore beauty.

As Noel Coward suggested (in his diaries, we’re not channeling him, but OH how we wish we could….), we had three pieces of conversation prepared – amusing anecdotes, twinkly eyes engendering, that sort of thing………but we can’t recall them now – in the soft sunday light of morning – ah, yes, there was one – a school-days-reverie about Larkin, too involved to recount but Very Precious.

Have you read any Larkin recently?

The Establishment adore him.

May we share one with you? We are Catching a Train ourselves, in a couple of hours, so this one feels apt…..

Whitsun Weddings – Philip Larkin

That Whitsun, I was late getting away:
Not till about
One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday
Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out,
All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense
Of being in a hurry gone. We ran
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence
The river’s level drifting breadth began,
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet.

All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept
For miles inland,
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and
Canals with floatings of industrial froth;
A hothouse flashed uniquely: hedges dipped
And rose: and now and then a smell of grass
Displaced the reek of buttoned carriage-cloth
Until the next town, new and nondescript,
Approached with acres of dismantled cars.

At first, I didn’t notice what a noise
The weddings made
Each station that we stopped at: sun destroys
The interest of what’s happening in the shade,
And down the long cool platforms whoops and skirls
I took for porters larking with the mails,
And went on reading. Once we started, though,
We passed them, grinning and pomaded, girls
In parodies of fashion, heels and veils,
All posed irresolutely, watching us go,

As if out on the end of an event
Waving goodbye
To something that survived it. Struck, I leant
More promptly out next time, more curiously,
And saw it all again in different terms:
The fathers with broad belts under their suits
And seamy foreheads; mothers loud and fat;
An uncle shouting smut; and then the perms,
The nylon gloves and jewellery-substitutes,
The lemons, mauves, and olive-ochres that

Marked off the girls unreally from the rest.
Yes, from cafés
And banquet-halls up yards, and bunting-dressed
Coach-party annexes, the wedding-days
Were coming to an end. All down the line
Fresh couples climbed aboard: the rest stood round;
The last confetti and advice were thrown,
And, as we moved, each face seemed to define
Just what it saw departing: children frowned
At something dull; fathers had never known

Success so huge and wholly farcical;
The women shared
The secret like a happy funeral;
While girls, gripping their handbags tighter, stared
At a religious wounding. Free at last,
And loaded with the sum of all they saw,
We hurried towards London, shuffling gouts of steam.
Now fields were building-plots, and poplars cast
Long shadows over major roads, and for
Some fifty minutes, that in time would seem

Just long enough to settle hats and say
I nearly died,
A dozen marriages got under way.
They watched the landscape, sitting side by side
—An Odeon went past, a cooling tower,
And someone running up to bowl—and none
Thought of the others they would never meet
Or how their lives would all contain this hour.
I thought of London spread out in the sun,
Its postal districts packed like squares of wheat:

There we were aimed. And as we raced across
Bright knots of rail
Past standing Pullmans, walls of blackened moss
Came close, and it was nearly done, this frail
Travelling coincidence; and what it held
Stood ready to be loosed with all the power
That being changed can give. We slowed again,
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.
Philip Larkin, “The Whitsun Weddings” from Collected Poems. Used by permission of The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Phillip Larkin.

Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux,

Isn’t that lovely?

We must Pack.

A night in the country awaits…………

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2 comments on “the loyal toast (not the one with marmalade) and Doric Columns

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