Thursday, 15 September 2011

Coco at Blenheim Palace: the Independent Woodstock Literary Festival



All went well in Hampstead on Monday -- thanks to everyone who came (and I have been musing over the connections between Chanel and Wallis Simpson since then). Feeling feeble after a subsequent trip to hospital (nothing too serious, but groggy after a general anaesthetic), though the sunshine was warm enough this morning for me to sit outside in the garden reading the Ham & High.
Anyway, I'm going to be speaking again at 10.30am on Sunday morning in the Marlborough Room at Blenheim Palace, as part of the Woodstock Literary Festival. It should be the perfect setting to discuss Chanel's relationship with Winston Churchill (he was born there in 1874, and proposed in the Blenheim gardens to his future wife, Clementine). Which reminds me, have you heard the anecdote about Churchill's response to a question about the circumstances of his birth? Apparently, when asked whether his mother, Lady Randolph, had been dancing at a ball in the Long Library or out with a shooting-party in the park, he replied, 'Although present on that occasion, I have no clear recollection of the events leading up to it.'
I was lucky enough to go to Blenheim earlier this year, whilst researching the story of Christian Dior's fashion show there in 1954, and it is the most incredible place -- the vast scale is staggering, yet its myriad details the catalysts for an infinite number of stories.
But on Sunday I'll be keeping to the many-layered tale of Chanel and Churchill -- with several new elements, I promise...

10 comments:

enid said...

I have visited both Blenheim and Chartwell- I loved the gardens at Chartwell but found Blenheim very imposing and cold. I am sure that you will be a hit. I too had an anaesthetic yesterday for an eye op so I too am groggy. I hope you feel better and I really am impressed how far Coco has taken you ( literally and figuratively ) I wish she had come to Cape Town so that you could follow her here.

Lilacs In May said...

Glad you got a good turn out. Winston had a ready quiver full of verbal arrows, I remember reading that when he was challenged by a woman with "Sir, you are drunk" Churchill replied, “Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.” Respect for coming up with that one when drunk!

Justine Picardie said...

Enid -- I'm so sorry to hear you've been under the cosh, as well -- sending you all good wishes from London.
Lilacs -- what a brilliant quote! Never heard it before, so you've just made me smile.

jaywalker said...

I agree with you about Blenheim and Chartwell, Enid, Blenheim certainly doesn't feel like a home.

We recently re-watched DVDs of the 1974 TV series "Jenny" and enjoyed it all over again. It hasn't dated much and is worth another viewing.

My OH who has an almost photographic memory said the Churchill quote mentioned by L-in-May was addressed to Lady Astor. That should interest you even more, Justine.

He was right. See bottom of this article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Astor,_Viscountess_Astor

HB said...

Justine - sending you healing wishes from Highgate.

Would have liked to have seen you at Ham & High talk, but had a bereavement coaching session that day. Seeing you would have lifted my spirits more, but hey ho, there we go.

Love Helen xx

Lazywell said...

Mm, I'd always thought that Lilacs' Churchill quote was in fact directed at the firebrand Labour MP Bessie Braddock. After all, Nancy was many things - she was a remarkable MP in Plymouth during the war and worked hard for women's causes, but I fear she gradually became a rather embarrassing presence in the House of Commons - but she certainly wasn't ugly.

jaywalker said...

I agree, lazywell, that she wasn't ugly, far from it. I checked again and it looks as if Wikipedia has it wrong and you're right. Funny that Colin immediately thought it was her too but it's probably one of those quotes that gets incorrectly referenced.

Justine Picardie said...

Helen, hope this week's September sunshine is helping a little bit...
JW and Lilacs: have just caught up with the Nancy Astor thread -- glad P can clarify!

Steve Green said...

Very nice discussion about the palace.

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