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Images (V0l. 5) - Cecil Beaton Images

Updated: May 8, 2020

The whole point of Camp is to dethrone the serious. Camp is playful, anti-serious. More precisely, Camp involves a new, more complex relation to "the serious." One can be serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious. One is drawn to Camp when one realizes that "sincerity" is not enough. Sincerity can be simple philistinism, intellectual narrowness. The traditional means for going beyond straight seriousness - irony, satire - seem feeble today, inadequate to the culturally oversaturated medium in which contemporary sensibility is schooled. Camp introduces a new standard: artifice as an ideal, theatricality.

- Susan Sontag, Notes on Camp

Image No. 1

Bored of their prolonged incarceration, Margaret and John thought, bugger it, let's jolly well throw caution to the wind and invite our chums Dilly and Dennis over for wine and canapes. They did just this.

'But do you think it's wise, Margo?' Dilly asked over the telephone. 'I mean with the lockdown still in full force. And the virus still, you know, out there.'

'Now really Dil, since when have silly little rules ever stopped us?'

'Well, let me check with Den. Actually I'm probably sure he's dying to get out for a bit. You know what cabin fever's like with old tops? He's started casting his fly fishing rods into the flower beds again. Torn some of my gorgeous hydrangeas to shreds, the blithering man. Well, I'll get back to you. Is that okay Margaret dear?'

'Yes, yes Dilly old thing.'

Image No. 2

'I don't think Dilly and Dennis are going to come,' said Margaret.

'No?' replied John, lowering the copy of that month's Golf Digest he was reading.

'Always been prone to putting a bit of a dampener on things if you ask me.'

'Well, they've never really been gun-ho types have they?'

'No I suppose not. Sigh. It's all so 2020. What happened to the good old days when folk had a little spunk?'

'Hmmm. Still, each to their own.'

'Each to their own darling.'

Image No. 3

Still, Dilly did telephone back later that evening to say Dennis and she would very much like to accept their kind invitation to come over for wine and canapes and a 'good old chin-wag to boot' she added.

'Den says we'll all practice social-distancing while being social,' Dilly joked.

'No, we won't be doing that,' Margaret replied, coldly.

Image No. 4

'Darling, it's positively frightful at the shops today,' said Margaret as she returned mid-morning from an excursion into the disaster zone.

'Oh no old fruit, you poor thing,' replied John. 'All a bit of a hoo-hah is it?'

'Dashed nerve of these places. First they bloody well hose you down with that God-awful sanitizer concoction. Slimy as hell. Wreaks havoc on the old grabbers. Thereafter everything's as sticky as treacle.'

'I'm sure it's basically tap water with a dash of vinegar or something equally horrid chucked in.'

'Of course it reeks to high heaven. Distinct whiff of something all too prissy for my liking. Then they go and shove some sort of thermometer jobbie in your face. You feel positively violated before you even traipse through the door.'

'Oh you poor thing. How testing.'

'Then every Tom, Dick and Harry is strutting about wearing those hideous contraptions over their faces. It's like bally bandit-central at the OK Corral. You can't make out who the blazers is gawking at you half the ruddy time. It's all very sly and shame-making. John, I must say I felt very exposed.'

'Travesty old girl. I say, is it too early for a snifter? After all, it is after eleven. A little late morning peach schnapps perhaps?’

Margaret plonked herself on the Chesterfield.

'Oh go on then darling. I've got time for a quickie while Sixpence unloads all the supplies.'

Image No. 5

Later that afternoon Sixpence was instructed to haul the booze trolley out onto the veranda and lug the floral embroidered cushions for the wicker chair set out from the garage. John and Margaret brought out the good set when they had visitors. Yum-Yum had a formed a habit of roosting in the comfort of the wicker chairs and was prone to the odd act of begriming them. There was nothing for it; the bird had proven incorrigible. Best let her be.

Image N0. 6

'It's all such a scandal of course,' said Margaret as she sipped her first glass of chilled Belvino Pinot Grigio. 'Personally I blame that miserable bunch they call the snowflakes nowadays. Or is it the millennials? Or are they the same lot? God, one never knows which tribe to fling stones at, does one?'

'Grim, humourless lot they are,' John added.

He and Margaret chuckled.

'Quite. Can't be bothered to see the lighter side of anything. Spines made of floppy jelly if you ask me,' Margaret continued.

'Well, yes, but all the same.'

'All the same nothing Dilly old thing. The world's gone bonkers. Complete hysterics and all because a handful of old biddies kick the bucket in a couple of coffin-dodger digs here and there. Whatever happened to putting the best foot forward, carrying the torch and all that?'

'A quarter of a million people is a bit more than a couple here and there, Margaret, surely there's legitimate cause for alarm?' Dennis said.

'What's that Den? I can't quite hear you behind that infernal mask you seem to insist on wearing.'

'I said it's a very serious thing - the whole virus!'

'Nonsense. More peg it a year from the common sniffles.'

'I'm surprised our lot have fallen for it here hook, line and sinker,' said John. 'What, with all we've been through. Not much of a hurdle to lumber over is it? Not compared to that dreadful death sentence of a thingy they get from munching rats up in the Congo and the like?'

'Yes, now that's what you call a real disease,' agreed Margaret. 'Not this complete whipper-snapper of a contrivance.'

There followed an uneasy silence accompanied by a stiff simultaneous shuffle in their seats by Dilly and Dennis.

'Now do try one of these gorgeous butter grilled mushrooms,' suggested Margaret. 'I buy them from a dear old chap on the side of the road. Practically dishes them out for next to nothing. Always fresh as a daisy.'

Image No. 7

'I think Dilly and Den have quite lost the bally plot,' said Margaret later on as she was sitting in front of her dresser applying her nightly regimen of L'Oreal to her hands and face. 'I mean who would have thought they'd just ruddy well up sticks and barge off like that? We'd barely knocked back our first glass of Belpingri.'

'Incredible. I've never seen such an OTT reaction. One might have been mistaken for thinking one was at the opening night of some god-forsaken melodrama at the Old Vic. Was it something we said do you think?'

'I can't imagine what. But it's just not cricket. And to think I went to such trouble venturing out to that positively hostile supermarket, getting drenched to the nines in that ghastly fluid stuff. Not to mention all the hassle of explaining to Sixpence what to prepare for the canapes. I call it very bad form indeed.

'Quite. Well, darling, these are strange times we're living in. Let's just chalk it up to a bit of balmy battiness and call it quits, hey?'

'Well, I guess so. Silly old tarts. Very blinking peculiar though.'

'Very,' agreed John.


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