By Julian Fellowes
“Damian Baxter was once a chum of mine at Cambridge. We met round the time whilst i used to be doing the Season on the finish of the Sixties. I brought him to a couple of the ladies. They took him up, and we ran approximately jointly in London for a while….” approximately 40 years later, the narrator hates Damian Baxter and may gladly put out of your mind their disastrous final stumble upon. but when it's friendly to listen to from an previous pal, it's extra fascinating to listen to from an outdated enemy, and so he accepts a call for participation from the wealthy and loss of life Damian, who begs him to trace down the earlier female friend whose nameless letter claimed he had fathered a baby in the course of that ruinous debutante season. the hunt takes the narrator again to the intense international of swinging London, the place aristocratic mom and dad schemed to discover compatible fits for his or her daughters whereas an individual was once placing hash within the muffins at a ball at Madame Tussaud’s. It was once a time whilst every thing changing—and it was once, yet now not constantly fairly as anticipated.
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But Mrs Finch from Godalming was no pushover. She was deaf to any advice on schooling and it was only with the greatest difficulty that her permission had been gained for Candida to do the Season, for which, so one gathered, Lady Claremont was footing the bill. Obviously, all this placed the girl in an invidious position, which one might have sympathised with more, had it not been reflected in her loud and awkward manner. Nor was she helped by her appearance, with her dark, unruly, frizzy hair somehow compounding the complexion of a navvy.
A few coming-out parties still tried for it and one event where it was worn without dispute was Queen Charlotte's Ball. Now, when, apart from a state banquet at Buckingham Palace or Windsor, or something rich and rare at one of the Inns of Court, it has almost vanished, it seems strange to think that forty years ago we still got enough use out of our tails for it to be worth owning them. Queen Charlotte's Ball was not a private party. It was a large-scale charitable event and, as such, did not conform to the normal rules.
You are kind to come,' she said, holding out her own gloved hand. ' 'Lord knows what we'd have done if you'd said no,' added a bluff, soldier type, whom I took, correctly, to be Sir Marmaduke. ' One often suspects that a late invitation signifies that a certain scraping of the barrel has gone on. But it is a little depressing to be told it. 'Pay no attention,' said his wife firmly and led me away to where the other young stood. The party was more of an age mixture than usual as most of the mothers and fathers of the girls, if not the boys, were to be with us for the evening, so I met a couple of pleasant enough bankers and their wives, together with a rather pretty, Italian woman, Mrs Wakefield, married to Lady Dalton's cousin, who'd come up from Shropshire to begin the launch of her youngest daughter, Carla.