All in One Basket
All in One Basket by Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire.
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Picador;(September 4, 2012)
Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire, is the youngest of the famously witty brood of writers, agitators, and icons. Here she recalls anecdotes about famous friends from Evelyn Waugh to John F. Kennedy; her struggles and success at Chatsworth, England’s greatest stately home; and of course tales of her beloved chickens, which the Duchess began raising as a child for pocket money. All in One Basket brings together two volumes of her writings and provides a disarming look at a life lived with great zest and originality by a "national treasure"
Since first reading a book on the Mitford Family I found a fascination with them, and with the happenings in the world surrounding them.
Deborah Mitford is the last of the Mitford children and is the Duchess of Devonshire… and I love her sense of humor, almost as much as she seems to love Elvis Presley!
This books consists of learning who the Duchess “really is”. Her love of Flowers and Animals, her views of society both yesteryear and today, and he love of Elvis. (Elvis’s name does get dropped here in there in the book and one quickly realizes that he is special to her as he was to so many American females.
Her sense of humor over rides the book for me. So many times I found myself laughing and agreeing with her thoughts! But how can this be? She’s a Duchess! I’m nobody! But I would love her for a neighbor because I am sure she would always have me laughing!
I just have to put some of her thoughts here on this review:
On page 20 I knew that I would like this lady!….
A beautiful new television has been installed. Well, no beautiful, but a big dark object which is dead when turned off and spends a lot of time describing death when turned on.
Bit it isn’t the programs I’m complaining about, it is the difficulty of making it work. The last one was so nice and simple, you just pushed a sort of matchbox-shaped bit to turn it on and then 1,2,3 according to your whim.
It never failed to do as it was told. Now I have had to engage a tutor to coach me in Television A-levels. I have failed the exam.
There are so many tiny rubbery squares to press on two (why two?) hand-held, nameless objects that unless you have got long pointed nails (which I have not) and are dead accurate in your aim you end up with a picture of a rowdy midnight hail storm instead of racing at Kempton Park or Jon Snow setting about his victim.
My tutor tells me to pay attention and explains that only four little bits of rubber need be pressed, two on each of the objects, which I clutch in both hands like castanets.
With this vital information ringing in m years, I go to Bakewell and buy a lot of sticking plasters to cover the unwanted buttons. By this time I’ve forgotten which the right ones are and my tutor has gone home.
I shall never know what the other forty are for, and I wish to goodness that the manufacturer would resist putting them there in the first place. Oh, for a telly of yesteryear, just On/ Off and channels 1,2,3 and 4.
Ok.. so I find it so funny because I grew up with those old televisions and know EXACTLY how she feels!
On page 209:
Much of Derbyshire is Robin Hood country. Inn signs, plantations, a group of rocks near Elton and a big stone outcrop high up in the woods above the old park at Chatsworth carry his name. The legend is the Robin shot an arrow from this stony height saying he would be buried where it fell. It reached Hathersage, eight miles away as the arrow flies, and although there is no sign of Robin Hood’s grave, Little John is indeed buried in the churchyard. His grave was opened in the nineteenth century and a 32 inch long thigh bone was found, which must have belonged to a man at least seven feet tall.
And on page 315:
In 1994 I wrote a piece for Country Life about changes in our language on rural matters: country turning into countryside, hedges into hedgerows, bogs into wetlands and so on. Weather forecasters have changed the age-old Scottish “hills” of poets, shepherds and sportsmen into “mountains”. “Home is the hunter from the mountain”? Surely not. The new words are longer and sound more important but the additions are unnecessary for meaning.
We know that language changes. Sixty years on, who would say “great scott, by Jove, vamp, scram, mannequin, blighter, shut-eye, copper,(or Bobby for that matter)? Many would not even know what the words mean. ………
I could go on and on…what a delightful lady with such insights!
Before I end this I want to also mention her chapters (dear to me) about her being at the inauguration of John F Kennedy and her memories of that special time. Also of coming back to America for his sad funeral. Seeing it from the view of a friend/ relative through marriage, was unique.
I have enjoyed learning more about her! The book is probably not for everyone, to be honest, had I never read the tome of a book about the Mitfords sisters I would never have even knew who the Duchess was, let alone want to read more about her. But I did. And I have yet one more book on her waiting in the wings..but for now.. It is time for a little RIP reading so that one will have to wait.