'Dear Cecil arrived wearing armour/Some shells and a black feather boa.' At other parties he appeared in a pink satin tailcoat, or with his hair dusted with gold powder.... .
Every Friday, preparations were made for his guests: the lawn-mowers would hum; hampers of lobster, peach-fed hams and fruits drowned in liquers were collected from the train station...
Beaton himself would arrive with a carful of flowers bought that morning at Covent Garden and spend hours arranging them; the latest books and magazines would be scattered artlessly about. .
That evening, motor-cars with hot, smoking brakes would appear on the drive, lade down (at their host's request) with fancy dress, and Beaton, resplendent in a Tyrolean suit, would welcome his friends to wonderland.
Days at Ashcombe were filled with fun: picnics, egg-and-spoon races, backgammon, bathing at the waterlily-filled pool at nearby Fonthill or dancing to jazz records imported from New York. Eccentricity and frivolity were the order of the day..... .
- excerpt from Beauty and the Beholder by Lucy Moore in UK Harper's Bazaar April 2009 . . .
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