A Cringe-Making Soap Opera

As expected, this royal wedding wasn't like other royal weddings. Royal weddings are never zeitgeisty, never political and they follow since time immemorial a strict protocol.

This one didn't.

Not only did it do away with thousand years of tradition, it pushed a political agenda. It pushed it, for example, through the sermon by a clownesque black Episcoplian pastor swaggering folksily about "social justice" or a Gospel Choir embracing "diversity" to round out the picture of a Black Pride pageant.

Why? Because the bride is "black".  She isn't any darker than most South Europeans. The mother isn't "black" either. I'd say she is a quarter black which would make the bride what was once called an "Octoroon". She hasn't got any negroid features, her hair is straight. (Should she have straightened it, it would be a deplorable case of "cultural appropriation", because nappy hair is part of her heritage as any defender of the MoB's dreadlocks is fond of saying.)

Thus, and not just in this case, the despicable "one drop" rule from the times of slavery comes back with a vengeance IF IT BENEFITS A MEMBER OF A "MINORITY".

If I were black, I mean REALLY black, I would be disgusted by such a shameless attention-seeking travesty.

So far for politics, but there are other aspects as well.

The times when a bride with a royal background used to be conditio sine qua non are long gone. The groom's great grandmother wasn't royalty, but the daughter of a high-ranking Scottish nobleman. (The family probably hoped they might hit the jackpot again with Lady Diana Spencer because she came from a similar background. Well, they didn't.) In the meantime, the Queen's youngest son and the one of her grandsons who may one day be king, married young women from the middle classes, her eldest son in second marriage a lady with an upper class background and it worked all out splendidly. Her second son married a young upper class woman with a past to whom three epithets applied: vulgar, vulgar and vulgar. This did, somewhat predictably, NOT work out well. So why bother in this case at all?

Why? Because there are limits. The Rhys-Joneses and the Middletons were and are perfectly respectable people and Pa Middleton was a picture of dignity when he gave the future queen consort of England away...

but... THAT?

One more aspect? Here it goes.

The times when a virgin bride was expected at such events are over as well, last but not least, I suspect, because this particular scheme didn't, again in the case of Lady Diana Spencer, work out as hoped for, or did it?

But what SHOULD BE required, so I think, is at the very least a modicum of respectability. This bride has ridden the cock carousel for 20 years, has jettisoned her first husband with utter ruthlessness, her lauded acting career consisted mainly of a cheap, albeit popular, American soap opera.

The Daily Mail regales us with this juicy bit of morsel. I spare you the pictures:
This one's a bit dirty, Harry!
... her latest role revelation might make the Royal family cringe, as it's been discovered that she once appeared in a very raunchy scene that saw her character getting caught performing oral sex on a high school hunk on 90210.
This is not, repeat NOT, royal material.

But whatever, let the show begin. The bride first, the others in no particular order.

She wore Givenchy. Many predicted she'd wear something unconventional. Of course she wouldn't. She's a clever girl. A 6-figure price-tag was rumored. For a tenth of that she could have gotten something REALLY nice (and probably better fitting) at one of the upmarket prêt-a-porter lines some of which I've outlined here.
White isn't anymore, and probably never was, a symbol of bridal pureness, but the veil undoubtedly still is. How a divorced woman, not to mention her sleazy past, could get away with it, mystifies me.

Not even the Duchess of Windsor in all her shame- and ruthlessness, who was, by the way, only 41 when she married the Duke, went to that length. The dress was light blue by the way.

Her Majesty the Queen looking dejected in one of those awful bright green outfits she sometimes chooses.

The Prince of Wales with the MoB. If I weren't convinced that he is a nice man anyway, I would it be now. How he looked after the MoB without the slightest trace of condescension was touching.
MoB's outfit is quite nice and appropriate, but dreadlocks and nose-stud... well, what can one say. The usual argument is that "it's her heritage", which makes it worse.

The Duchess of Cornwall, classy as always. She overdid it a bit with the hat, though.

The Duchess of Cambridge three weeks after the birth of her third child with little Princess Charlotte. Classy, picture perfect, yet unassuming as usual.

Her sister Pippa with new husband and a VERY nice dress (£495 from The Fold) that echoes the spring feeling.

The Middletons, as usual picture perfect, dignified and unassuming - royal in-law-material as it ought to be in spite of "humble origins".

The Princess Royal with her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence. Nobody would ever accuse her of being well dressed, but it could have been worse, MUCH worse, see picture below from the royal wedding 2011.
Point made!

The Clooneys, in fact in spite of all the media-hype the only REAL Hollywood-A-listers attending.
That woman would look good in a potato sack, but here she got it SO right. That yellow dress by Stella McCartney is perfect in each and every aspect, colour, material, cut, style and she is one of the few women who got the hat size just right.
But George! GEORGE! Did nobody tell you that a gentleman never, NEVER wears matching tie and pocket handkerchief? And wasn't a royal wedding, however tacky, important enough to get a morning coat? You look cheap and out of your depth in your ill-fitting lounge suit, not to mention the shoes.

This is the Michelin Man in a condom Oprah Winfrey in Stella McCartney. Words fail me.

Here we have the lovely Lady Kitty Spencer, cousin to the groom, who came in my book a very short second to Amal Clooney dress- and lookwise.
(No idea who the baleful-looking thang in the obviously home-crocheted horror is.)

Lady Jane Fellowes née Spencer, aunt to Lady Kitty and the groom, reading at the service.

Earl Spencer, who hasn't aged well, with a daft-looking version of the caped crusader.

Sir John Major, who HAS aged well, with his wife Norma.
Sir John, whose father was a tight-rope walker, was the only politician invited, because he was appointed special guardian of Prince William and Harry after their mother's death.
The couple couldn't have turned out more perfect. Another prime example of how "little people" (which used to be the epithet for them when John Major came into office) can sometimes nail it better than their "betters".

I don't know who that is, but I sometimes feel a burqa isn't ALL bad.

Serena Williams and husband.
And no, dear co-commentator, her fitted Versace dress with the gathered detail at the waist, did NOT give her an "hourglass shape". It highlighted her enormous mammilae and natibus, which made me ask myself how she lugs them across the tennis court.

The stylish and beautiful Cressida Bonas (29), former girlfriend of the groom, wore a fully bespoke cotton dress made by hand in the EPONINE Atelier in South Kensington.
SHOULD her intention have been, which I doubt, to upstage the bride, she did it successfully and in the most classy and reserved way and that's why she gets a second picture.

The Beckhams. Victoria wears her usual pout and one of her own creations, which I quite like. It's modern yet classy. She got a lot of flak because of both, the pout and the dress, although some other women wore dark blue as well. I like her because she comes across as quite competent AND because she isn't the kissy-huggy-type who craves for approval.
But, dear David, you committed the mortal sin to wear your pocket handkerchief in a straight line on top. That's a BIG no no!

This is some polo player whose name I haven't caught. He wears an ill-fitting double breasted (DOUBLE BREASTED - UGH!) lounge suit because he didn't want to sell one of his ponies to acquire morning dress. His tie isn't tied properly  and he's committing the same mortal sin as David Beckham with his pocket handkerchief. His armpiece either wears a nightdress or the bedroom curtains.

"Can somebody show me the way to the buffet?"
Sarah, Duchess of York in a suit which would be quite nice if worn by somebody else, no matter who, even the stable cat.

Well, what can one say? Maybe they needed at least SOME old queen crying at the wedding.

The much overlooked Countess of Wessex, absolutely perfect in every respect. It was a bit difficult to find a picture, I guess because she isn't within the "glamorous league" anymore and not vulgar.

Zara, Mrs. Michael Tindall, the Queen's granddaughter, with her rugger star husband a few days before the birth of her second child.
Nobody would her, like her mother, accuse of being particularly well dressed, and she is, like her mother used to be 40 years ago, one of the best three-day-event-riders of her generation. She runs a professional eventing-stable and is, again like her mother, a thoroughly tough cookie.
Point made!

The Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie of York with their father The Duke of York.
Nobody will ever accuse them of being well dressed either, although it could have been much, much, worse if you look at the below picture from the royal wedding 2011.
Point made. I'll save my snide remarks for the Hollywood exhibits.

No, dear glossy magazine gutter scum, this is NOT Sofia Wellesley, the grand-daughter of the 8th Duke of Wellington, with some singer, this is James Blunt, an officer, gentleman and close friend of the groom who is a singer now with his wife Sofia.
Her Red Valentino dress isn't butt ugly, but with its textured macramé-embroidery it looks like something to survive a harsh winter and wow - DO I hate the coy Peter-Pan collar. Some idiot fashion commentator said: "This look is very sophisticated... she gets it just right for a spring wedding." Yes. For a spring wedding in Siberia.

Some more fashion commentator idiocy?
When Meghan's friends arrived there was a definite sense that here were some ladies who meant business.
[You bet your arse they did.]
With their bold tailoring and confident struts there was an unmistakeable non-Britishness going on.
[I guess one can put it like that. Good that somebody noticed.]
"I loved all the American glamour-zons [Gosh, how embarrassingly punny!], who showed up. They were just so much better groomed than everyone else."
[Words fail me.]
Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra  wore a pale lavender Vivienne Westwood skirt and blazer and Suits star Abigail Spencer [left, NO relation] stood out in her forties-inspired polka dot tea dress.
[The one on the right looks like another Michelin Man in a condom with an overflowing icecream cone on top, the one on the left looks at least not vulgar, just ridiculous.]
"Abigail Spencer looked just divine in her Alessandra Rich dress... Polka dots never go out of style, and she just nailed the look."
[She did indeed - should you have a Mary Poppins re-enactment in mind.]
Predictably, the media gushed about all this but very few seemd to notice, that particularly the royal family, maybe with the exception of the Duchess of Cornwall, markedly dressed down. The men, apart from the Duke of Cambridge as best man and the groom, didn't wear uniform, the Prince of Wales' morning dress was of the variant where all parts (coat, waistcoat and trousers) are the same colour and material, which is considered less formal.
The Queen wore nothing she wouldn't have worn at any less formal event, the Duchess of Cambridge had probably recycled again one of her outfits.

Apart from members of the Spencer family, I haven't spotted any entries from Burke's Peerage or Debrett's, but maybe that is because the glossy magazine gutter press was too busy covering the antics of the Hollywood dregs to notice some boring, fuddyduddy old gentlepeople.

Apropos glossy magazine gutter press and Hollywood dregs. There was much brouhaha about all the Hollywood A-list attending. I'm not "into" this sort of entertainment anymore, so I may be wrong, but apart from George Clooney I didn't spot any A-lister.

There are, as far as I could make out, two (self-proclaimed) British "leading etiquette experts" in the media. None of them seems to find, apart from little details like, for example, "Meghan's" style to wave at the public, which has room for improvement, anything objectionable about the latest addition to the royal family. One even had the nerve to gush over her "adorable giggle" (yes, that of a woman fast approaching 40) and that after he had appreciatively mentioned just in the previous sentence that she went to acting school. Somebody please explain men to me.

Why all this could take place at all I have discussed here already.

Now, after the fact, I'm additionally asking myself why it could happen in the way it did. Did the royal family fear that their name would be shit had they not submitted to every whim and fancy of the bride-to-be? After all, the accusation of "racism" has become, whether justified or not, a razor sharp tool in the hand of the proverbial ape, i.e. the judgemental politically correct public.

When all is said and done, it seems that the more traditionally minded part of the public does NOT seem to be so enamoured with all this (at the peril of being accused of racism). I wonder whether the royal family has chosen her side wisely.

Is this really all that important? Let them lie about how wonderful the wedding had been, what mega-important people had been there, how glamorous even the fattest cow had been turned out.
But I'm afraid all this is part of a larger picture. Looking at it with dispassionate eyes, it seems to be of rather secondary importance whom and under what circumstances the nth in line to the British throne marries. But as something like this finds huge public attention worldwide and because people are dumb, gullible and in search for a vicarious life, it IS interesting how something like this is handled by an increasingly manipulative media. This gushing approval of everything that goes against tradition, established, proven and tested values, common decency and good taste, THAT is frightening.

When a Country Bumpkin Hits a Metropole

Or rather "When a Metropole Hits a Country Bumpkin".

My time in London 1998 was a tumultous and not entirely happy one. Even a less overpowering city than London would have intimidated me. I'm a country bumpkin at heart, after all. So I commuted every day from semi-rural Oxford to Cavendish Square, W1. Apart from the financial necessities, nights and weekends in that city would have driven me over the edge, or so I felt at that time.

However, the few moments I felt at peace was, when I discovered "the mews". Around Sloane Square, habitat of the "mildly retarded Sloane Ranger" (Jilly Cooper), Lady Diana Spencer used to be one of them, that was. The peace, tranquility and orlde-worlde charme right in the middle of a overheated cauldron of precipitant hustle and bustle always at the edge of exploding, so I felt, was like Alice transgressing through the looking-glass.

In the course of my humble research for this, I was a bit put off by the pictures of the interior of those houses, all from real estate agents' sites. One category of those abominalities I dubbed "expensively modernized to the point of destruction", the other one "cheap and tasteless". It will never cease to amaze me how people who can afford a million (at the very least) for such a house, in most cases several more, can have such awful taste. I have chosen the few I found at least bearable to illustrate the interiors of such houses.


They are much more spacious than one would think, quite a lot even have a small garden at the back.

Those lanes had not always been what they are today. In fact London's iconic mews have humble origins as service roads behind the grand town houses of the Georgian and Victorian elites.

Mews were built when London expanded to the west in the 18th century, when grand terraces of town houses where established on the fields in areas such as Mayfair, Kensington and Marylebone. Most mews houses had stables and a coach house on the ground floor, the first floor a hayloft and a couple of rooms where the coach drivers, the grooms and sometimes other servants as well could sleep. Mews were utilitarian places, with hard-wearing cobbles and a drain down the middle to take away the waste from the horses.

There was usually a tunnel under the garden connecting with the basement of the main house, so servants could slip out to the stable without disturbing the residents. A curious feature of almost any mews house is that it had no windows at the back, so servants could not spy on their employers enjoying a stroll in their garden.

This solution was different from most of Continental Europe, where the stables in wealthy urban residences were usually off a front or central courtyard. The advantage of the British system was that it hid the sounds and smells of the stables away from the family. 

Today, mews houses have been in their majority more or less tastefully restored to provide everything for a 21st century lifestyle. An authentic mews property will still retain the approximate appearance, form and footprint of the original mews but it may have been re-developed to a degree and no longer retains all original features A mews is a safe, virtually traffic-free environment, often found along quiet cobbled lanes. Due to their past as coachhouses, many of them have retained garages, a very useful feature in a huge metropole.

The name "mews" comes from the Royal Mews, gigantic stables on what is now Trafalgar Square. the word, again, is derived from the original use of the stable buildings which housed the king's falcons. Falcons work was called to "moult" or "mew" (from the French verb "muer"), so the place where they performed was referred to as a mews.

Today's Royal Mews are open to the public and surely, at least for the non-horsey but rather glossy-magazine-inclined visitors the iconic coaches we all know from royal weddings will be the prime attraction.

Mews lost their equestrian function in the early 20th century when motor cars were introduced. At the same time, after World War I and especially after World War II, the number of people who could afford to live in the type of houses which had a mews attached fell sharply. One place where a mews can still be found put to equestrian use is Bathurst Mews in Westminster, near Hyde Park, where several private horses are kept.

Some mews were demolished or put to commercial use for small businesses and workshops, but the majority were converted into homes. Mews became a byword as scruffy back-streets, often used as locations for gritty gangland dramas on black-and-white TV. Then, in the swinging 1960s, racing drivers such as John Surtees and James Hunt discovered they could buy a mews house for not much money and live above their cars.

One of them was rally driver Antoine Lurot, founder of Lurot Brand, now one of the leading agents in the market for mews houses. Antoine realised that mews houses might become very fashionable as they were originally built to serve the aristocracy and are thus located in the very best areas.

In short: the concept worked.

No doubt, a lot of time, sweat and money will have to be spent on this one.

I got all the pictures from the website of Lurot Brand and  from the London Perfect Blog.