Thursday, 26 August 2010

Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect is a novel centred on the top drawer social whirl that the sixties forgot, seen through the eyes of someone who seems to be like the author, Julian Fellowes. Fellowes describes himself, self-effacingly, as from the bottom end of the upper crust but he is an engaging novelist, as well as a prize-winning screenwriter (remember the film Gosford Park? That was his) and actor - Killwillie in Monarch of The Glen.

There are a couple of observations in Past Imperfect, which are especially illuminating: describing the social code, which was fast fading in his own youth, he describes: "The girls who wouldn't kiss on a first date, the boys who were not dressed without a tie, those mothers who only left the house in hat and gloves, those fathers wearing bowlers on their way to the city. These were all as much a part of the sixties as the side of it so constantly revived by television retrospectives. The difference being that they were customs on the way out, while the new, deconstructed culture was on the way in. It would, of course, prove to be the winner and, as with anything, it is the winner who writes history."

Mentioning the white tie revival after the Second World War, he says: "Of course, what Dior and so many others failed to understand was that white tie was not just a costume, it was a way of life that was already dead."

Published by Phoenix, it's a jolly good read. The picture shows Fellowes in an inadequate looking hat but he appears as pleased as Punch.

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