Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Chapter 14 “I’m a game young lady!”

Here are some notes on the latest chapter of The Lust World. The opening scene takes us back to the dining room of the Ritz Hotel, once more, somewhere we have covered in a previous post.  I have arranged to have lunch there with a lady shortly, although it is some years since I have been there.

Britten notes that Molloy takes Hoshimi 'like a dog'  It was not, of course called 'doggy' at that time, although the slightly more formal description 'dog position' was in use.  In erotic pictures of the time it was not, however, a position that was illustrated that much compared with, for example, women on top positions.

Devilled kidneys were a popular breakfast dish at the time and although you rarely come across them these days they have made something of a comeback with TV chefs.  Triple P's father was particularly fond of them.  The kidneys are  fried and served in a spicy hot (hence the name) sauce made from Worcestershire Sauce (itself made from a number of ingredients including vinegar and anchovies), cayenne pepper, butter and mustard.  Sadly, although the Ritz still offers those other Victorian and Edwardian breakfast specialities kedgeree and grilled kippers, they no longer offer devilled kidneys.

Lord Hoxton's birthday party is to take place in his house in Meon Bridge Hampshire. Meon Bridge does not exist, although there are the villages of West Meon and Meonstoke, which sit on the banks of the Meon river, which is really not much more than a shallow, meandering stream, popular with trout fishermen. I have relations who live in the Meon Valley, which is a very pleasant part of the Hampshire countryside, some seventy miles south west of London.  The Meon Valley is famous for being the site of watercress farms which produce most of Britain's supply of watercress.

Edith gives us some more information on Lady Caroline, who will feature extensively in future episodes of the story.  Many music hall stars of the time had nicknames and Lady Caroline's, 'the Romney Marsh Warbler' compounds her birthplace, Romney Marsh (a sparsely populated coastal wetland that straddles Kent and East Sussex in the South East of England) and the marsh warbler; a songbird whose population has been declining in Britain since the nineteen thirties and  is now almost extinct in this country.

Molloy mentions the Hellfire Club, the name for a number of largely debauched gentlemen's societies originally set up by Sir Francis Dashwood in the eighteenth century.  There was much drinking, pagan rites and ladies of easy virtue involved.  His nephew set up a similar club in my old Oxford College called the Phoenix Society; so named as the idea behind it was that it would be like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of the late Sir Francis' original.  The Phoenix remains in existence at my old college to this day and has a membership of 12 (men only) and a statue of silver Phoenix. Their attitudes to drinking and women have not changed!

Edith, Molly, Britten and Daisy have lunch in the 'cavernous' dining room of the long demolished Euston Hotel.  This picture of it set out for a banquet gives an idea of its appearance.


  1. As a Yank, I've never eaten kidneys or watercress. Am I missing out?

    As usual -- wonderful period details.

    1. Kidneys are readily available in British supermarkets but are not, these days, as popular as calves liver (a colleague had liver when we went out to lunch this week). You do see them occasionally in a cooked breakfast although rarely devilled. British people are most likely to eat them as part of a steak and kidney pie, a British classic recipe which is still very popular. Watercress used to be used as a garnish or in salads but is now very popular in watercress soup.
      I'm not that fond of kidneys (or liver) myself as it is very variable. When good it is superb but if poor can be dry and tough.