Labor Day Roundup: Waugh by Design

–Bristol-based interior decorators Jane Clayton & Co have announced a new line of household fabrics called Marchmain. As described on their website:

The decadence of a bygone era is evoked in this collection of richly coloured velvet and chenille woven designs inspired by textiles from the 20’s and 30’s. Marchmain takes its name from the fictional Lord Marchmain in Evelyn Waugh’s novel, Brideshead Revisited.

These were designed by Nina Campbell and in addition to Marchmain, there are three other designs called Flyte, Brideshead Damask and Sebastian. The various patterns and colors are illustrated at the above link.

–In another article relating to British design expertise, the Daily Mail includes a London hatter that was patronized by Waugh. This is Lock & Co:

Established in 1676, Lock & Co. is the world’s oldest hat shop and one of the oldest family businesses in existence. The family still run the business from the same shop at 6 St. James’s Street in London. The brand’s hats have topped Admiral Lord Nelson, Queen Elizabeth II, Sir Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin and Evelyn Waugh. They are designed in the UK and, wherever possible, Lock & Co. works with British suppliers. The store holds two coveted Royal Warrants for the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh.

–In different fashion context, the US-based menswear magazine GQ (formerly Gentlemen’s Quarterly) mentions Waugh in connection with a new trend in men’s fashion. This is based on a recent study commissioned by Women’s Wear Daily which

… shows that over the past year, men have gravitated away from “directional brands”—the ones that ply luxury streetwear—and are instead reaching for “pure luxury players,” a list that’s topped by Gucci and also includes Moncler, Givenchy, and Ralph Lauren.

That’s right: the hypebeast hath become the hypegent.

Maybe men, like me (a woman), have been reading nonstop Evelyn Waugh, and what else can you wear while having a champagne picnic with your teddy bear? Maybe these men read the Fall 2019 Trend Report, which predicted the return of good taste and a renewed interest in heritage brands and new designers who just act like their forebearers.

–The Oxford Mail has a review of Auberon Waugh’s recently reissued Waugh on Wine. The review by Christopher Gray opens with this:

In fact, though a considerable expert on drinking of all sorts, [Evelyn] Waugh wrote surprisingly little on the subject, except in his diaries and letters where his massive benders, especially in Oxford, figure prominently. In his celebrated ‘Oxford’ novel Brideshead Revisited, when Charles Ryder and Lord Sebastian Flyte are caning into the contents of Brideshead’s cellars, their descriptions of the wine become absurdly picturesque.

After a largely favorable discussion of Auberon’s book, the review catches him out on this:

Monty Python came […]  into my mind as I read Waugh on Wine when, discussing ‘Little-known wines of France’, he writes: “The sad truth is that the best wines in France come from the five greatest wine producing areas of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Beaujolais, the Rhône, Champagne and Alsace.”

Five! Only if Alsace and Champagne are one area, which they’re not. Wasn’t this like Python’s Spanish Inquisition whose “three weapons are fear, and surprise, and ruthless efficiency . . . and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope”?

The Guardian has reviewed D J Taylor’s new book The Lost Girls, mentioned in several recent posts. The review is written by Aida Idemariam who is concerned with whether the “Lost Girls” may have been precursors of the 1960s feminists. She concludes:

As for their place in history as feminists, [the Lost Girls] cannot, as Taylor acknowledges, really be called that – but their sense that “what mattered most was not material comfort but autonomy” makes a case for the importance of their example. Beautiful they might have been, and that is a kind of power, but they were handicapped before they began, not by lack of funds (though that happened frequently) but by a lack of education, entitlement, cultural capital and sheer expectation, which gave a manipulative, charming, horrible man like Connolly untold power over them. Taylor seems depressed by their servitude to this “pudgy figure hanging over the playpen rail”, and it is depressing. Even when they begin to detach themselves, “deep down they suspect that his are the sensibilities that matter most” – and, as even the last lines of Lost Girls, which is meant to be their story, attest, they are not wrong.

–Finally, a podcast called Screen Spiel is working its way through a list of the 100 greatest novels and has recently posted a discussion of Waugh’s Scoop which is #28. The two participants, identified as Mark and Sarah, consider the 1987 ITV adaptation as their “text”. The same approach is taken to other novels on the list, unless no adaptation is available. Here’s a description:

Hear all about it! Scoop was a 1938 novel by Evelyn Waugh. It’s a parody of the writers time as a war correspondent for the Daily Mail. We watch the 1987 ITV drama adaptation starring Michael Maloney in the starring role of William Boot. Garanteed no one else has ever produced a podcast about this obscure piece of TV, Mark & Sarah discuss the story and how this book has been brought to the small screen.

The podcasters admit they have never read the book and know Waugh only as the author of the equally unread Brideshead Revisited. Indeed, they struggle with the pronunciation of Waugh’s name and have a considerable problem following the story. They attribute their difficulty to a suspicion that the adaptation was required to drop parts of the story to fit it into the two-hour TV format, concluding that storyline was sacrificed to preserve over-long comic scenes. They compare Scoop to other adaptations discussed in previous episodes such as Lucky Jim and Cold Comfort Farm as well as to Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean’s Holiday.


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