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Home: The Toast

81ug2oD8FKLThe Toast accepted this piece prior to the death of Debo Mitford, and is running it now in her memory. You would probably enjoy the book in question.

“He begged plumes from the hats of his women friends and, picking one up, would sigh with nostalgia and say things like, ‘Ettie Desborough, Ascot, 1921.’ Once the flies were ready, he lay in the bath imagining he was a salmon while Edward, the butler, pretending to be a fishing rod, jerked them over his submerged head.”


“I once asked him what his idea of hell was. ‘Honey on my bowler hat,’ came the answer.”


“Herbrand, the Eleventh Duke of Bedford (whose best friend was a spider)”


“An unloved was dismissed as ‘some mournful woman’ and whatever this anonymous female did was wrong. She (and other people’s babies) might also be ‘a meaningless piece of meat’ and that was that.”


“Under the headings ‘rent, rates, wages, heating, cleaning materials, food, clothes, travelling, and other necessities’, she instructed us to account for an income of £500 a year. We pored over our sheet of paper, trying our best to apportion the money. Nancy finished almost before the rest of us had started. We read out our proposals and when it came to her turn, she waved her paper and said, ‘Flowers: £499. Everything else: £1.’ Muv gave up.”


“One night he [Evelyn Waugh] poured a bottle of Green Chartreuse over his head and, rubbing it into his hair, intoned, ‘My hair is covered in gum, my hair is covered in gum,’ as the sticky mess ran down his neck.”


“When Unity was about eight she made an unforgettable picture of a man walking in a field wearing a turban and little else. He had a bag hanging around his middle and was broadcasting seed as though it were peas and beans. The title of the drawing was ‘Abraham and his Seed Forever.””


“Farve drank water out of Grandfather Redesdale’s magnificent goblet made from the melted-down gold medals won by his Shire horses.”


“She used to pick up poor Miss Dell, the governess, who was rather small, and put her on the sideboard.”


“(My mother told me that their father, Geoffrey Howard, had a glass eye and used to surprise people by tapping it with a fork at meals.)”


“One wet day Granny looked at the tapestry that hung on the curve of the magical stairs between the first and second floor of the house and thought it rather gloomy. She got out some poster paints and encouraged the children to do their best to cheer it up”


“My engagement book for the week in California reads: ‘Tuesday 12 February: dinner with Communists.’ ‘Wednesday 13 February: dinner with more Communists.”


“He arrived one evening when no one had been in to tidy and everything was lying about. His first words, in a trembly voice, were, ‘Secateurs on the mantelpiece, saws on the hall table.””


“‘There is no excuse,’ he wailed with emphasis on each word, ‘for coarsely mashed potatoes.””


“There was a troublesome chef who was given notice several times but refused to leave. In order to get rid of him, Grandfather decided to shut the house and go to China, taking Weenie with him. On the day of departure the trunks were packed and stowed in the ‘growler’ that was to take them to the station to catch the boat train. Grandfather came down the steps and said, ‘It’s raining, my dear Piggy. We won’t go.”


“When loyally accompanying her second husband, Robert Treuhaft, on a hiking holiday in an American national park, she intoned, ‘Nature, nature, how I hate yer.””


There was a bidet in our hotel bathroom and Nanny, Decca and I, who had never seen such a thing, hurried out to buy goldfish assuming that was what it was for.


“After breakfast he refilled his coffee cup and took it to his study. He let it get cold and drank what he called his ‘suckments’ at intervals during the morning. A tidy, new-to-the-job maid took the cup back to the pantry, emptied and washed it. This enraged my father: ‘Some monkey’s orphan has taken my suckments.’ Thereafter he locked the cup in his safe.”


“Some monkey’s orphan has taken my suckments.”


“SOME MONKEY’S ORPHAN HAS TAKEN MY SUCKMENTS.”


Ella Risbridger writes chiefly about food for fun, books for love, and pretty much anything at all for money. Like everyone else, she is currently working on her first novel. Just to mix things up a bit, she is also attempting to make food/mental health blogging a thing. It's not a thing, but you can read it at eatingwithmyfingers.com anyway.

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