“Oh - that was what you meant by a party. The Edwardian notion of a party of friends. Excursions, teas, sketching in the sun with large hats and servants to carry the inanity of china and cutlery and tables and food and sketching pads, etc. Keeping a travel diary with entries like:
"April 11. A spotted curlew. Tried to sketch it for Percy (it was so like the one he shot yesterday bloody idiot, when he mistook it for a duck) but it flew away. C offered me an absinthe in the conservatory last evening but I thought it wiser to decline. Must match ribbons on my straw hat to handbag. Father back from India tomorrow. He likes to see us well turned out. Sun is really too hot today. Sent Robert back for the larger sun-shade. I don't know what took him so long. It was only a five mile walk and he's a strong lad. That's why we brought him. Beastly heat. No decent kippers for breakfast since we arrived last week. Wrote to Mother to bring some when she joins us next week. Raining in London, she says. "
In that case, as those parties used to last for months and I loved all your choices of places, let us, all of us, go to all of them in order, after the conference. They were all splendid suggestions, especially Tuscany. And Cambridge is the perfect place to start. And I thank you – we thank you – for the generous invitation(s).
But we are not friends. No. Not yet. Being semi-Augustan and definitely tribal in nature if not in circumstance, I consider friendship a marriage of sorts, with holy bonds, vows and loyalties. Never, in the case of true friends, to be put asunder. This is too soon to claim such affinity, sir. We are colleagues and comrades and wish each other well. But we are not friends. That word is reserved for depth and loyalty, for the confidence and tenderness that is both instant and has developed over great swathes of time. It is reserved for loved ones. Not someone I met last month.
In this series of house parties, then, we shall have much to discuss. Or not.”
~excerpt from a letter to a colleague on the occasion of (truly) being invited to a series of house parties after a conference in Cambridge, as though, for all the world, it were the 19th century...
Causes Harrison Solow Supports
Lupus Foundation of America
Museum of Tolerance