Dinner upstairs at Eric Fologwe’s in Higgovale last night with Luan and artist Jan du Toit and strangely, no Yazoo was played and no Alison Moyet, either. Jan was wearing flip-flops and Christo Coetzee’s Salvador Dalí gold ring – two lips around a diamond. Jewellery aside, the painting which caught my eye was a sub-Edward Hopper white-car-with-café number by John Kramer, brother of David. So no surprise then to be invited to David’s Kalahari Karoo Blues show at the Baxter on Wednesday by Paula Wilson.
Clearly the invitation came from Nancy Lady Astor (above), who has a new biography out: Nancy the story of Lady Astor by Adrian Fort. For the wines to be served will be Solms-Astor (the range is after all inspired by “the traditional folk music of the rural Cape”) and the Astor in question is Nancy’s grandson, Richard. Who remembers his granny coming to visit as “the circus coming to town.”
Not that Nancy would have approved of David or his Blues for “she disliked music in all its manifestations, though for form’s sake she sometimes hired the best bands to appear in the entertainments at Cliveden” her fabulous Palladian mansion wedding present from father-in-law William Waldorf Astor who called it “the most magnificent wedding gift ever made, I should imagine.”
Nancy would also not have approved of Richard’s investment in a wine farm as she was a life-long teetotaller who was responsible for raising the drinking age in the UK from 14 to 18. Nor would she had approved of Richard’s partner Mark Solms, as psychiatry was one of her “dragons” – things she intensely disliked – and Mark has something of a reputation in that field.
Nancy would have fitted in very well at Eric’s as her favourite son, Bobbie, was the gay one whose boyfriend Frank she described as “the prettiest of all my children’s girlfriends; the rest of them are just overpainted hussies.” Alas Bobbie was sent to prison in the thirties for “importuning a guardsman” and serious strings had to be pulled to keep the scandal out of the papers. Not so easy when you own the Observer.
But the past is another country and today the UK debates gay marriage and a pardon is demanded for code breaker Alan Turing for his conviction for being a homosexualist. So perhaps Richard should dedicate the next vintage of Cape Jazz Shiraz to Uncle Bobbie. I’m sure Nancy would approve of the sentiment, if not the alcohol.