Garden Party July 14th 2007
The following notice appeared on the Flâneur in June of 2007:
Outdoor event of the year! Victorian/Edwardian soiree at exclusive south Liverpool venue 14th July: Ruritania meets Salad Days. The organisers emphatically wish it to be known that the date being Bastille Day, the 218th anniversary of the French Revolution, is entirely coincidental, and in no way implies any celebration of said occasion whatsoever. Needless to say, The Flâneur sees it very differently, and will be enthusiastically waving le drapeau tricoleur.
The soiree was a great success, attended by sixty or more guests in splendid attire. Even the weather took a brief holiday from relentless rain to allow a beautiful afternoon of sunshine, just a summer's day ought to be. Crown Prince Harpik evidently sold his soul to someone for such a day (probably the Devil, but whoever he sold it to was ripped off).
THE GARDEN PARTY ON 14th JULY 2007. FROM THE OFFICE OF THE CROWN PRINCE.
Forboding, mysterious, yet calm, but always a reliable and trusted advisor to the house of Harpiküshlarni... but who was she and what was this strange power behind the throne? How could an enlightened and thoroughly modern autocrat such as his Most Glorious Majesty the Crown Prince come to rely on the predictions of a wizened old woman known as „THE WIDOW OF VARNA„?. It is quite simple my friends... his majesty is very old fashioned and puts great faith in the ancient and trusted ways of old... for who is he to question such mysteries?
The „Widow of Varna“ was duly consulted and asked for her predictions concerning the long range weather forecast for the summer and in particular on the date of the Crown Prince`s garden party. Court officials tell of her arrival and an uncanny silence as her wizened hand slowly appeared from below her garb and moved towards her face. To everyones surprise she removed her glass eye and lovingly polished it while muttering strange words under her breath. General Glassbach recalled „I was taken abeck by the whöle epizode... neffer bevore did I see such a thing“. Her forecast was ominous... the summer... it would in her words „be the time for the frog and the duck“. Suddenly... as if gripped by strange forces, she began to cry out... „But on the day of his Majesty’s garden party... he the ordained and chosen one... will have eternal sunshine... God will hold him in his hand this day and deep joy will come to all who are with and beside Harpiku! Harpiku the magnificent! Long may he be!“. With that she fell back, seemingly drained of her life energies and had to be revived with a pint of brandy and given her taixi fare home. She had served her sovereign master once again... as she had his father and his father before him.
The very day before the garden party was friday the 13th and it rained heavily all day. It did not look good and it seemed disaster was near... but the Crown Prince knew differently... he trusted the predictions he had been given. Dawn broke on the 14th of July in all its glory and the sun shone brightly... meanwhile boffins at the Imperial Meteorological Institute in the capital were beyond themselves in explaining the dramatic change in the weather.
The garden party opened promptly at 2pm and the venue was most remarkable, set in the grounds of the old manse, a fine victorian building of red sandstone in which rooms were placed at our disposal, however, the glorious weather rendered their use unecessary. Guests were amazed and taken aback by the magnificence of the garden with its mature trees, carefully tendered lawns and superior views out accross to the Shropshire hills. The entire garden was bedecked with union flags, bunting and the flags of many other nations and empires while awnings provided shelter from the sun.
As for the ladies, they looked magnificent in an array of impressive summer attire of a most superior design and quality, while the gentlemen accompanying them were most respectable and of smart appearance as befitting the occasion. Those officers representing the various principalities and empires of europe were a credit to their uniforms and regiments and were the most dashing figures of manhood.
Croquet was played continually and this, along with perambulation of the garden proved very popular with all three sexes. One „lady“ overcome by the extreme temperatures insisted on playing croquet in her undergarments. Her indiscretions were overlooked as she had spent some time in a bad girls institution. She was known to the Crown Prince through his charity work and his Majesty suggested if she didn’t bite anyone we ought really to leave her to her own devices.
There were one or two oiks who had the audacity of coming improperly attired. These dastardly types were devoid of any imagination as to the dress code and they looked like a poor crop of dandelions in amidst the hybrid roses. We say Can’t Bother? Then Stay Away!. Putting this minority of beastly types out of the gilded frame, one has to say the majority made a supreme effort, bringing boundless delights, a gay sprinkling of wits and all round good humour, making it a garden party to remember.
As the afternoon proceeded our tranquility was thrown into disruption with the noisy arrival of a disagreeable and inferior group of trollops who, in their number contained a „woman“ in the guise of a young gentleman, apparantly an acquaintance of Mr Oscar Wilde the infamous sodomite! Alarm and Horror! These unsightly creatures with their placards and loudness petitioned for women’s votes... how incredible and unnatural! A constable on secondment from the Royal Irish Constabulary was called for and thwarted their vile ambitions. His Majesty the Crown Prince said they were known lesbians who lived in a dirty outhouse. These creatures were subdued at their own hands as they over indulged in cheap beer, gin and wine of dubious origin.
As the hampers opened and closed and the chink of champagne glasses resounded across the lawns the sun shone even brighter and the afternoon became blurred as a result of the heat haze. A central figure, elegant and refined was Mr James Schorah who provided the wind up musical machine (a most recent Ruritanian invention) which proved so popular with the guests. Mr James roused the assembly to great enthusiasm throughout the grand raffle with the assistance of Madame Francoise Le Fi Fi of the French Republic. The Crown Prince awarded the rather excellent and much sought after prizes. Between the prizegiving, his Majesty the Crown Prince enthralled the audience with his interpretation of the folk dances of his beloved homeland, proving (if proof were needed) in his versatility and the clever foot manoeuvres for which he is rightly famous.
It was hard to beleive how much fun everyone was having when up leapt William Tagg R.N. (Retired) who, exhibiting his usual boyish good humour began arranging the musical chairs. While the raucous gypsy refrains distracted the participants who gadded playfully about... he struck! By jove!... gout played its part that day! Quite a number went on their arses and at one point an undignified squabble broke out! Fortunately Nurse Goodwright and Matron were close at hand to tender the wounded and thankfully only one casualty was shot out of compassion due to the seriousness of their injuries.
Meanwhile out of sight and sound of pistol shot, in the Imperial Kitchens the Princess Luminitsa, the Princess Hildegaard and Prince Tarquinoff worked tirelessly in preparation of a truly Regal feast. For it being St. Stavprovsky day, tradition laid down that on this feast day only the highest of Royalty were to prepare and serve food for those less fortunate than themselves. The Royal trio worked like camels and even the Crown Prince assisted in taking out a tray of celery.
When this feast was put before the assembled it was so well received that many gorged themselves into madness and decadence... returning for third and sixth helpings... so much was there for all... as is our way!
With the sun beating down mercilessly many later succumbed to the heat. One victim was the Reverend Beade who found it necessary to lie down in a dark room. Captain Jolly, having been in Malaya and India felt quite at home, while Lady Vague came out in a heat rash.
And so as the grand garden party drew to a close... a truly splendid time was had by one and all who made such a sterling effort turning out in large numbers and good spirits. The phrophesies of the „Widow of Varna“ months earlier came true... and deep joy was felt by all. Many asking... „Oh do tell us when is the next one?“.
More photos on