November 13th, 2008


I may have posted this picture earlier in the year, but never mind if I did. This is Kipling's Sussex home, "Bateman's". 

And here's the water mill at the bottom of his garden, where Dan and Una met Hal O' The Draft- and where,  in Below The Mill Dam, he imagines the spirit of the Mill wheel- somewhat senile- repeating its own entry in the Domesday Book to itself...

"Here Azor, a freeman, held one rod, but it never paid geld. Nun-nun-nunquam geldavit. here Reinbert has one villein and four cottars with one plough- and wood for six hogs and two fisheries of sixpence and a mill of ten shillings- unun molinum- one mill. Reinbert's mill- Robert's Mill. then and afterwards and now- tunc et post et modo- Robert's Mill. Book- Book- Domesday Book!"

Charles At 60

Prince Charles is 60. Funny bloke.

I'm of the same generation as him- two years younger. He's always been there, just a little ahead of me- enjoying his schooldays (ha!) going to university, travelling abroad. I got married before he did. We both made a horlicks of our first marriage.

When Ailz comments- as she so often does- on my thinning hair, I say, "No, that's Prince Charles you're thinking of."

There was a specially commissioned, entirely grovelling BBC documentary about him last night. He seems to spend his life talking. He says he listens, but we didn't see any of that. His staff say that when he's not there to talk at them he sends them handwritten memos. Has there ever been a man so full of opinions?

Perhaps he should write a blog.

The Prince's Trust seems to do good work. We saw him in Burnley- on a mission to save the town from itself. Believe me, Burnley needs saving. His views on agriculture and architecture are harder to swallow. Actually I think they're batty.

We got a stroll round his gardens at Highgrove. They're very lovely. The Prince's walk (so-named) has topiary to die for. In a nook of the garden- beyond the arena of tree stumps- very creepy- which he's dedicated to the memory of his gran- is a private chapel. So private we didn't get to look inside. The Bishop of London ("We were at Cambridge together") consecrated it for him. All the measurements are based on the measurements of Charles' own body- the length of his outstretched arms, of his finger joints. Solipsistic? Yes, just a little.

He says that when we switched from traditional measurements to decimal, we "lost our connection to the universe".

Ailz and I were discussing him in bed afterwards. We agreed that he seems happier, more at ease with himself since he married Camilla. He twinkles as he talks, talks, talks.

That twinkle reminds me of Olivier's Lear in the opening scene of the play- a man entirely sure of his welcome, of his own charm and amiability. And who wouldn't be sure of his charm if everyone in the neighbourhood bowed or curtsied and called him "Sir" and listened with smiles while he talked?