Yesterday morning I found myself with a few hours to kill on the west side while getting Mr Foodinsita’s car serviced, and so I walked over to my favorite breakfast spot in Santa Monica, Huckleberry Café. I ordered an ENORMOUS bowl of trifle (which they passive aggressively brought with two spoons) and settled in with a cup of coffee and The Unexpurgated Beaton: The Cecil Beaton Diares as He Wrote Them 1970-1980. It’s a tough call on which is more delicious—the divine raspberry-soaked cake with a gooey mess of whipped cream and custard, or the viciousness with which Beaton describes a television appearance by his aging friend Marlene Dietrich. I wish I could share a taste of that trifle, but instead here’s a sampling of Beaton, unexpurgated:
Even for a hardened expert like myself it was impossible to find the chink in her armour. All the danger spots were disguised. Her dress, her figure, her limbs, all made to appear like those of the youngest. When one thinks of this old doll rattling on and coining in the money, and then when one thinks of Greta, lined, grey, unhappy, never doing anything to stave off boredom, one wonders that they are of the same stuff. I sat enraptured and not a bit critical as I had imagined. The old trooper never changes her tricks because she knows they work, and because she invented those tricks she must be given credit for being a virtuoso in the art of legerdemain.
“You know me,” Marlene is fond of saying. You don’t. Nobody does—because she’s a real phoney. She’s a liar, an egomaniac, a bore, but she has her points. She’s never late, she’s generous and she’s, as a performer, on a grand scale in a period of pygmies.—Cecil Beaton, 1973