Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Handsome without being gaudy

It’s been another baking hot day in the capital. I went running at 9am, all the way across Hampstead Heath, which looked verdant green and fabulous. Any more weather like this, however, and I’m sure it won’t be long before the whole place looks like it’s been covered in weed killer. Summer has officially arrived early. I don't really remember Spring, but the wisteria is out, two weeks earlier than expected - and wisteria, according to the papers, heralds the arrival of summer. The air smells of flowers... and those awful trees that stink of sperm.

I spent the day in Soho badgering the police. It's all I seem to do these days. I was called into a meeting at Marylebone police station, essentially so that someone very senior in the Met police could assure me that, following their more than shaky start, everything was on track, and that they were now doing all they could to find Philip’s attackers. They talked things through with me and very much put my mind at ease.

I then went with Andy Ricketts, the Met police's gay liaison officer, into Soho to meet a member of the Gay Pride committee; a hugely impressive bloke called Patrick. We talked about various things. At the moment the Gay Pride movement is focussing on two areas; trying to make it legal for gay men to give blood (yes, it is still illegal for us to do this) and trying to tackle the hugely complicated issue of asylum seekers and foreign nationals coming to live in Britain, seeking freedom of speech and all the other wonderful things that this country offers, without neccessarily signing up to British values, which should be totally un-negotiable. You can’t expect to live in Britain and treat a woman like a second class citizen, or go out in gangs on the streets attacking gay people. If they don’t like our values, then they can always clear off home! It sounds seriously hard-line, but I suspect too many successive liberal governments have put us in a position where we feel embarrassed, and xenophobic to even discuss such issues.

Anyway, there’s talk of my writing a Pride anthem, a glorious disco song which would be accompanied by the campest film ever made. Bring it on, I say...

In two weeks' time, I'm going to Romania to a little town called Timisoara. A Symphony for Yorkshire has won a major European Prize, called the Prix Circom. I’ve always wanted to win a Prix, I'd obviously prefer it to be Eurovision, but this will do for now! Four of us are going out there to collect it in a couple of weeks’ time. Very exciting, and it will wildly make up for the fact that Nathan is going to New York without me next week. Sadly, I can’t afford to go!

Saturday April 20th, 1661 and the Duke of York sent for all of his Navy Officers. They went to the Duke’s chamber, and watched him dress himself, Pepys noting that in his “night habit he is a very plain man.” The Duke’s closet was full of very fine objects including chests covered with gold and Indian varnish. He told his officers that the fleet they’d been preparing for the last few weeks was due to sail for Algiers. I wonder if he smelt odd.

Pepys called in on Lord Sandwich, and looked at the new liveries that he was having made for his pages and footmen; “handsome” Pepys wrote “without being gaudy”. That's alright then.
Pepys then went to the theatre, to watch the “the Humersome Lieutenant.” The King and most of the royal family were in the audience. Their party included the Duke of York’s new Duchess, Ann Hyde (who died relatively young, but gave birth to two British queens, Anne, and Mary II) The play, according to Pepys, was “not very well done" but her loved watching the royal party. Anne Hyde was “plain, like her mother” but Mrs Palmer, the Countess of Castlemaine, and favourite of the King, was “a great beauty.” Over the next few years, Pepys would develop a raging crush on the woman.

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