It is lunchtime on Saturday and can this really be two weeks ago already...where on earth is the time going. But at this point I still had my glasses so all is well, and what a great time we had talking with Hannah Rothschild about Nica her Jazz Baroness aunt.
We all absolutely adored that necklace by the way...
I keep saying 'great' and 'fascinating' about these events because it seemed like it from where I was sitting, a gift to have such interesting speakers, so much so that I kept having to remind myself that whilst it is fine to listen and be engrossed I am also supposed to be coming up with the next question.
We coped and I started by asking Hannah to give us a potted history of the Rothschild banking family from its beginnings in the ghettos and the establishment of the banking business from there in the 1760s. Five sons sent out to the principal financial centres of Europe...London, Paris, Frankfurt, Naples and Vienna and from such humble but prescient origins was the empire built.
Hannah did that and more so it was good to get a sense of the world into which her aunt Nica was born; a world where the role of women was to entertain and to breed, but never to set foot in the bank, and to hear from Hannah her own sense of excitement as a teenager about 'owning' such an interesting and dare we say 'edgy' relative.
Nica's interesting war changed everything, and her escape to New York and the jazz scene, from that life of dependence and privilege and being pampered to the point of infantilism, gave us much fruitful and fascinating discussion, especially around the subject of the children that were left behind.
Once Hannah had explained so clearly the attractions of Thelonious Monk, the jazz scene on 52nd Street, Nica's hair-raising driving around the city, the freedom and the cats...let's not forget the 360-something cats...well I think we all understood a great deal more. Whilst one Rothschild man had once said...
' For every Rothschild who made money there were a dozen who spent it...'
Here was Nica making her sliver of a great fortune go a little further, and in return making a difference and perhaps gaining something that her life had never been able to offer her before, the gift of friendship.
We touched too on the Rothschild family's losses during the Second World War.
The family had been in possession of 3978 pictures most of which were confiscated by the Nazis, and Hannah's next book, a novel, will touch on this subject. Hannah is a trustee of the National Gallery and the book, due out in May 2015, will tell the stories of the journeys that a painting makes in its lifetime. It is a fascinating premise and I for one can't wait to read it. You might also be interested to read this article by Hannah, The Art of War.
All too soon our time was up and it was Knitsuke and Quiltsuke time.
The Quiltsuke a version of Cat's Cradle which I had called Jazz Cat's Cradle. Cats abound on the orange fabric, and the stars and the music meant to evoke that first piece of music, Round Midnight, that convinced Nica to change the direction of her life.
And the Knitsuke... well here's the Knit Angel's account... you might laugh but the pair of us had a nao-second of horror that we had got it wrong...
I dismissed trying to make a Thelonius Monk, or a piano or a Bentley, and was grateful when Lynne suggested a cat. I settled on a ‘British Shorthair’ from my ‘Best in Show’ book – this was a tad complicated and did require special yarn, but it all turned out well until it was time to actually present it to Hannah. She had by now confirmed that she personally detested cats, but when Hannah realised it was a small ‘knitted cat’ she fortunately recovered the situation and declared “she loved it”.