Two items from last month I missed in the general rush around Thanksgiving. Or maybe I mean the particular rush. No, general rush. It’s always rushed. Rush, rush, rush. Sometimes I just want to settle back and relax a little. Calm the busy tides of commerce. Still the rapid waters of politics. There’s a whole lot more to life than work and worry. You got to stop and smell the roses. You’ve got to count your many blessings everyday. You’re gonna find your way to heaven is a rough and rocky road, if you don’t stop and smell the roses along the way.
Umm . . . sorry. This Mac Davis moment was brought to you courtesy of Bad Reference Credit Service , a New York company dedicated to preventing even the worst of 1970s pop lyrics from ever being mercifully forgotten. Meanwhile, an item from last month, in the "There’ll Always Be an England" category, the Telegraph ‘s obituary for Lady Sibell Rowley . In America, we’ve never managed to create this kind of character, which is perhaps why American newspapers have never managed to run obituaries like this:
"Lady Sibell Rowley, who has died aged 98, was the last surviving daughter of the 7th Earl Beauchamp, KG, and thus a member of the family that inspired Evelyn Waugh to write his celebrated Roman Catholic novel Brideshead Revisited .
"Sibell Lygon, the second of the four Lygon daughters, was born on October 10, 1907. The eldest girl, Lettice, married Sir Richard Cottrell. The third daughter, Mary (or Maimie) Lygon, a beautiful blonde, married Prince Vselvolde of Russia, and ended her days as an alcoholic stroking a Pekinese; while the youngest daughter, Dorothy (Coote), endured an unfortunate late-life marriage to Robert Heber Percy, known as ‘Mad Boy,’ the eccentric squire of Faringdon and former boyfriend of Lord Berners. Of Sibell in childhood, Dorothy recalled: ‘She was rather a stormy petrel¯and a great wielder of the wooden spoon; if mischief was going to be made, she made it.’
"In the early years their family life enjoyed a degree of stability, as they moved between Madresfield Court in Worcestershire, Walmer Castle (where their father was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports) and Halkin House in Belgrave Square, London. Their father read them stories from Victorian historical novels. Their adolescence was less secure, and the tensions of this period provided Evelyn Waugh with the raw material for Brideshead.
"The daughters, aware of their father’s nocturnal prowlings, would sometimes advise their boyfriends to lock their bedroom doors. Lord Beauchamp once complained at breakfast: ‘He’s very nice that friend of yours, but he’s damned uncivil!’ Unfortunately, the problems proved more serious, concerning incidents with footmen, and as a result of a campaign instigated by his brother-in-law, Bendor, Duke of Westminster, Lord Beauchamp was forced into exile in Europe. The Duke tried to explain the circumstances to his sister, Lady Beauchamp, who failed to grasp the essentials. ‘Bendor says that Beauchamp is a bugler,’ she announced.
"Lady Sibell’s own career was not without notoriety. She acted as receptionist at the hairdressing and beauty establishment in Bond Street run by Violet Cripps, one of the former wives of the Duke of Westminster, her maternal uncle. When not behind the counter, she tended to eschew society parties, though she relished hunting. She was heard to moan: ‘The time is coming when there will be no idleness in Mayfair. We shall all work.’
"Presently she became a Socialist and tried her hand at journalism . . . "
And then, in the "There’ll Always Be a Holland" category, there was this item from Der Spiegel , announcing that a Dutchman named Raoul Serrees is booking tourists on a "Liquidation Tour" through the streets of Amsterdam.
"Once suitably kitted out with bulletproof vests¯and, this being Holland, bikes too¯visitors are guided around some of the bloodiest crime scenes in the city. They stop at the spots where a host of drug-dealers and gangsters have met their maker. The turf war which gave Serrees his tour’s unique selling point began in 1991 with the slaying of underworld boss Klaas Bruinsma, but three deaths in the past week have led to it becoming a virtual sellout, leaving Serrees struggling to keep up with demand. Perfect for fans of crime fiction and TV shows like CSI, the gory guided ride is also proving popular with lawyers.
"But if playing detective for the afternoon doesn’t appeal, Serrees’ company has plenty of other offers to choose from: take tea with transvestites, meet a homeless man who tells you which tulips make the best lunch, or tour the city’s toilets. You can even visit Amsterdam’s gay hotspots under the watchful eye of Hans, a leather-clad guide who helpfully shows you the city’s best sex shops."
The nice thing about items like these is that they don’t need commentary. Each on its own is a beautiful rose, just waiting for the smelling.