A big day on Saturday, and having worried myself stupid about losing my notebook this was not the best day to eventually lose my glasses and therefore not really be able to read the notebook...no not good at all.
Our first guest was Louise Carpenter, author of the book so many of us had discovered for the first time and read in preparation for this event, An Unlikely Countess - Lily Budge and the 13th Earl of Galloway which I wrote about here.
It was good to be able to hear Louise's account of the book and its origins from that Telegraph obituary which hinted at a such a fascinating story waiting to be told. As we all agreed, so much sadness but moments of real happiness for them both, and it was interesting to discuss Randolph's lobotomy. Louise didn't spare us the details (one or two breakfasts looked like they might reappear) but in the context of medical recommendation at the time we felt we understood the family's fears about the son and heir, and their decision to proceed.
All of this and what followed only served to increase our astonishment that Randolph is still alive, and though Louise had sadly had to cancel her visit to Randolph (due to serious illness in her own family), she had contacted his carers and was able to give us up to date news of his life. How poignant to hear that he hadn't really understood the fact that Louise couldn't visit and on the appointed day was sitting ready in his kilt and best highland dress.
More of that will emerge in an article to be published when the Kindle version of the book is ready (I will give you the heads up on that) but what a wonderful and relaxed conversation we had as we ranged across the lives of Lily and Randolph, these two opposites whose planets would eventually align, before bouncing off again in opposite directions.
Each time I glanced upwards there was Louise's husband, poet Tom Payne, beaming smiles at us and clearly equally delighted that Lily and Randolph's story was being heard again (see the Happy Campers picture here) and all delight was compounded when we presented Louise with her Knitsuke...
I loved the book and decided that I would reconstruct the Galloway ring that Lily was entitled to on her marriage to Randolph. I found a ring box pattern, but then had to make up a ring in lurex – constructing it around an old curtain ring and gluing on the three diamonds. I also knew Lily had collected dolls and when I realised I wanted to make a ‘Lily doll’ of my own I set about creating a look-a-like doll, complete with her beloved cream suit, black boots and distinctive black hair. Then I made second one, just for fun and gave this one to Louise for her daughter.
My contribution, the Quiltsuke, wasn't difficult, Steps to the Altar an obvious choice and pieced in pretty fabrics which I thought Lily would have loved. More hand quilting with the Aurifil 12, this one done to the dulcet background tones of the World Cup and I have no idea what Lily Budge would have made of that...
Thank you for a great event Louise.