Ras Tafari in Botolph St.Otto









Spume has just sent me this photo of His Imperial Majesty Haille Selassie visiting Botolph St Otto in 1939. Spume is on the far right, aged 16 or so, behind his father, Sir Bufton Spume, who was shortly to be interred for the duration.

Spume has also announced that he is changing his name. Again. For a 90 year old man, he seems hell-bent on confusimg his readers. From now on, he wishes to be known as Lionel Alaric MacFaddean Spume.

The photo reminded me of a piece about the visit from his Journals, which Spume extracted in the sadly short-lived Cotswold Review, which in turn reminded me that when I finish my current project, my next task must be the editing of Spume’s journals.

Lionel, as we must now call him, has been kind enough to allow me to extract a short extract from the published extract.

Brewer St. 3/04/2007

‘Life has been one dizzying round of social obligation since I returned from Thailand. Here in Botolph St Otto, for example, we have had the Grand Final of the Haille Sellassie Memorial  Dominoes Cup. It is, I think, a little known fact that The Emperor Haille Sellassie spent a few months of the war here at Botolph Hall. It was the glorious summer of 1940, just before I started at Bedales. I remember him well, with his distinctive red green and gold bobble hat and his habit of referring to himself as ‘we an’ we’. He became a fixture in The Turks Head, rising to the position of captain of the Dominoes team, and it was in grateful remembrance of those happy days that he sponsored the Cup, which is hotly contested all through the winter months in this part of the Cotswolds. This was the first year for many years that The Turks Head team had made the final, which was against The Shepherds Hut from Cottlescombe St Leonard. My brother Sir Leslie’s redoubtable housekeeper Mrs Cutler is the team’s lynchpin, but unfortunately at a key moment in the match, she was visited with one of her flashbacks (stemming back to the days when she was a volunteer at Porton Down), which caused her to remove her clothing and run screaming from the bar, thus forfeiting the leg, and, ultimately, the Cup. Still, it’s an ill wind, as yours truly had had a side bet on the lads from The Shepherds Hut. Mrs Cutler later accused me of spiking her tea in order to nobble The Turks Head’s chances, an accusation which I refute in the strongest possible terms.

Then down to London to see some rushes from the on-going production of ‘Hilary and Mimsy’, which is based on the occasionally stormy relationship between my late wife Mimsy and I. This film, somewhat in the vein of ‘Iris’ or ‘Sylvia’ has been shot on location in Torquay and features a galaxy of stars. Les Dennis plays yours truly, Ant and Dec appear as Burgess and Maclean, with Rihanna as Dame Edith Sitwell, whilst Richey Edwards from The Manic Street Preachers has a beautifully observed cameo as dear old Dylan Thomas. My late wife Mimsy is played by Helena Bonham Carter.  What red blooded man has not dreamed at one time or another that he were married to the orchidaceous ‘Ms’ Bonham-Carter? Imagine, then, if you will, watching her playing the part of your wife as she entertains the great and good. I must say, the production of the film has had a reviving effect in areas of my existence which I imagined largely moribund. Staying for a few days in the old flat in Brewer Street which was for Mimsy and I, a warm and loving refuge just as much as it was a cockpit for the worst kind of domestic horror, I was overcome by nostalgie de la boue, and found myself longing once again for the days when I lay, quite literally, in the gutter outside the French House, looking up, not so much at the stars, but at Mimsy’s fine legs as she gave me a probably well-deserved kicking. Seeing ‘Ms’ Bonham Carter lay into Les Dennis… well, suffice to say, I spent a not-unpleasantly disturbed night.’


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