Tuesday, July 11, 2017


It is mid-winter. More-or-less. Many would disagree, depending on the hemisphere. Midwinter brings the Nelson Book Fair where the Lions Club - or it might be the Rotarians or the Freemasons - same diff. - charge you an exorbitant two dollars to wander about a freezing hall and examine millions of old books, and then charge you a far from exorbitant fifty dollars for a sackful of them.

This year I struck gold, viz., a List of Wedding Gifts at the marriage on 20th November 1947 of HRH The Princess Elizabeth and Lt Philip Mountbatten, which publication I have been looking for for, oh, approx. no years no months no weeks and no days whatever. But I bought it instantly. And better than gold, the previous owner had gone through it and diligently marked every person/persons who gave the royal couple a pair of nylon stockings. Mrs. L. R. Talbot started it off with two pairs of nylon stockings, followed by Mrs. H. Fielding who only gave them one pair. Miss Doris D. Crockett gave them a pair, Mr. Philip Ponder gave them two pairs, Miss Elizabeth Byerly two pairs, Mrs. Davis and Miss Sara Davis likewise, Mrs. Ella Wehage Pair (it doesn't specify the number), Mrs. H. Walters and Mrs. D Chamberlain two pairs, and Miss Elizabeth Cameron McCahill an extravagant six pairs.

Well, not all that diligently. He gave up by page 52, when with Mrs. T. J. Hume's stockings he'd reached a hundred, and that was only item 580. The book goes on to enumerate gifts all the way to 2,582 (Eight lengths of woven material, from the People of Blackburn), and since that was page 234 we can calculate that between them, they accumulated 450 pairs of nylon stockings.

Actually I rather feel this shows remarkable good sense. 1947 still saw rationing, and the more thoughtful of folk must've thought that Her Royal Highness was going to need quite a few stockings what with laddering, and they didn't want the future Queen appearing in careworn leg attire. I can imagine the Princess thinking "Yup, pop those in the suitcase when the Royal Train goes up to Edinburgh" whereas I can't imagine her getting so enthusiastic about A black basalt urn-shaped vase and cover on a pedestal bearing a medallion portrait of Louis XVI, carved with cupids in relief and mounted with ormolu with which they were encumbered by The Hon. Sir Jasper and Lady Ridley. Nor can I imagine Lt. Mountbatten settling down to an evening's reading of seven volumes of the Pocket Poets even if they were bound in morocco. I can rather imagine him looking at the donor's surname  and wondering if he could come up with an anagram (it was The Rev. Walter Fancutt).

Page 55 of 234pp

I, alas, cannot boast any nylon stockings, nor a Gold-mounted glass snuff-box with pheasant decoration on the mother-of-pearl lid (Viscount and Viscountess Portal of Hungerford) which must've got the royal couple pretty excited. I don't even have an Old lace handkerchief (Dear Mrs. Glass, the thank-you letter started). Not that nylon stockings or old lace handkerchiefs or a Paris porcelain Cabaret decorated with panels of figures in 18th century costume on turquoise blue ground overlaid with foliage in burnished gold (The Lady Duff) would keep me terribly warm in a New Zealand mid-winter.

All I can boast is my old sleeping bag and not-quite-matching Berghaus duvet coat, the latter a little frayed in places but, I'm proud to say, still keeping me as warm as when I was first given it.

Self-portrait in winter. Unf. I was the photographer (obv.) and therefore up a ladder, rather obviating the portrait bit.

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Blogger Mr Larrington said...

One is tempted to wonder what Phil the Greek did with all those stockings. A string of armed robberies would be my guess.

August 23, 2017 at 3:47 AM  
Blogger richard middleton said...

*Naughty* Lazzer! Phil the Greek *no* armed robber! Mr. Middleton hav word with Cousin Kate. Mr. Lazzer go to Tower. Mr. Lazzer hav head chop off. Mr. Lazzer better go Battle Mountain *fast*.

August 29, 2017 at 11:27 PM  

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