Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Favourite Books - Wait For Me by 'Debo' Devonshire

Ashtall Manor
Wait For Me by the youngest of the Mitford sisters, Debo Devonshire, is a delight, describing their lives and as well as hers in a warm and humorous way. It is a life full of public service as well as glamour and beauty and she writes simply and movingly about hers and her family's many tragedies.

Delightful stories abound: her irascible father walking to the Army & Navy Stores in Victoria with a lurcher and labrador at his heel and have them sit in the entrance.

Eddy Devonshire tying flies and lying in the bath imaging that he was a salmon while Edward, the butler, pretending to be a fishing rod, jerked them over his submerged head.

Tom Egerton (a friend of Andrew's) being famous for rescuing the marmalade from the officers' mess at the Siege of Tobruk.

'When Uncle Harold [Macmillan] was very old he came to stay for weeks on end. I met him one afternoon in a passage looking rather anxious and forlorn. 'The trouble with this house,' he said, 'is that you have to throw double sixes to get out'.

James Lees-Milne advocating friendship with Germany and her father turning him out of the house. 'Poor Jim went to his motorbike but it was raining hard and would not start. In despair he found the back door and and was rescued by Mabel (a parlourmaid) who hustled him upstairs . As he was creeping out of the house the next morning, he met her father. 'Good morning' he said. He had forgotten the whole episode and offered Jim our usual generous breakfast. 

Her mother believed in wholegrain, stone-ground bread - 'nothing added and nothing taken away.' She was critical of Lord Rank, 'the wicked miller' and regarded his ghost-white loaves and pale brown Hovis a confidence trick because because the germ of the wheat had been removed.  

Her husband, Andrew Devonshire was painted by Theodore Ramos (as was Ayako).

For me too it was particularly interesting to read about her early life at Ashtall Manor, where my step-grandfather Sir Alfred Herbert lived and the Mitfords acquired after he moved to Dunley.