Friday 27 December 2013


The Tiniest Trefusis, when asked by her friends what her mother does at work, always says 'She goes to parties.' This makes me feel like Bubbles Rothermere, but since the end of November, I've started to believe it might be true. I know it will make me sound appallingly spoilt, since the parties are lavish and imaginative, but now Christmas is nearly here, all I long for is an evening on the sofa and some rubbish telly.

However, by the time parties-for-work cede to the neighbour-and-friends kind, I feel as if I'm short-changing everyone: I can barely bring myself to struggle into my false eyelashes and my liver would rather I drank hemlock than another glass of champagne (though, I note for future reference, the trend in West London is to liven a slightly dull fizz with a slug of Sloe Gin - quite delicious, I recommend it). 

By the time the last party before Christmas arrives, I've also exhausted my small talk: I end up standing next to a vaguely familiar man, who introduces himself by first name only, not that I can hear what it is over the party din, and am too embarrassed to ask him to repeat himself. I attempt the usual chit-chat but he's the kind of man who never asks one a question back, which is so peeving at a party - one ends up in interviewer-mode, but without notes, like an ill-prepared journalist, so one quickly gets to  hairdresser-specials like 'where are you thinking of for a holiday this year' and so on. In desperation, aware it's bad form, I ask him what he does for a living  - 'Well, I used to be in politics,' he says, giving me rather a hard stare, which makes me think the reason I know his face is possibly not only because I've seen him in the local Co-Op, 'Really?' I say, floundering madly because what on earth does one say to someone who used to be in politics, particularly after three glasses of SloeGin Fizz, 'Was that, um, fun?' 
'I wouldn't call it fun, exactly, but the Cabinet was quite something, I suppose.' And he gives me the polite smile politicians reserve for really dull constituents, and turns to talk to the man on his right.

I sneak off to the lavatory and google him, which takes less time than I imagine searching for 'Man with grey hair used to be in the Cabinet' might, partly because he was so prominent in parliament I can see why he might expect to be recognised. I think of a few really incisive things to ask him about Syria and fracking and the Global Economy and stuff so I can redeem myself, but by the time I'm back in the room the party has moved on.

Mr Trefusis and I have promised the babysitter - down from his first term reading Physics at University  - not to be very late, so we go home to find the Infant Trefusii still up, sitting cross-legged on the floor with the babysitter, surrounded by pages of diagrams, rapt expressions on their faces. 'They didn't want to go to bed so I've been explaining Escape Velocity to them,' he says as I give him his cash, 'They got the trick question about where gravity is strongest.'

I think I need to go to fewer parties.

Saturday 21 December 2013


Every year the task of decorating the Trefusis Christmas cake falls to the Tiniest T. This elaborate confection is her most ambitious yet.

Sunday 15 December 2013

14th-18th December; Mrs Trefusis Diary

At breakfast, the Tiniest Trefusis calmly announces that God talks to her.

Mr Trefusis & I look at each other, wondering if we've spawned a junior Joan of Arc.

'What does he say to you?' I ask.

'Well, I ask God if I can have a biscuit, and God says 'No'.'

Sensible God, Supreme Super-ego.

Another breakfast. This time at Dean Street Townhouse, where a significant proportion of the male diners is sporting hats. I could three beanies, two pork pies and a trilby and something that looks like a Fez, though it cant possibly be.

I was brought up with the -evidently archaic-view that it was not considered good manners for a man to keep his hat on at table, though I'm reminded of the story about the Royal Marine who happens to be spending the night at the officers mess of one of the Guards regiments. At breakfast the following morning, he is alone save for a single Guards officer at the far end of the table reading The Telegraph and wearing his army cap.
'Please would you pass the butter?' Asks the Marine.
No reply.
'Excuse me, please would you pass the butter.'
Still no answer.
The Marine raises his voice and tries again. 'I said, please would you pass the butter.'
Eventually, the Guards officer lowers his Telegraph and says, testily, 'when a ______Guard wears his cap at table, it means he wishes to breakfast in complete silence. The Marine leaps up and strides along the table, planting his foot squarely in the Guards officer's breakfast, 'And when a Royal Marine stamps in your f***ing breakfast, it means pass the f***ing butter.'

Friday 13 December 2013

13th December: Mrs Trefusis' Diary

The Infant Trefusii have discovered pop music. This is extremely wearing now that I am middle-aged enough to deem the latest chart hits a noisy banality. Anyway, as I'm driving us to my parent's this evening, there's the usual pleading to switch channels. Since Radio Four is experiencing one of its occasional longeurs (plants, or something gardening-y), I oblige.

Eventually, something comes on that doesn't make my ears bleed, so I try to get down with the Kidz and ask Trefusis Minor if it's Florence & the Machine.

'No, Mum, it's London Grammar.' He says, but, trying to be nice, adds, 'They do sound slightly Florencey in this one.'

London Grammar? Trefusis Minor is nine; How does he even know London Grammar exist?

MRS TREFUSIS' DIARY, 10th December

I'm off to an appointment with the eminent Dr Russo, of which more later, and, taking one look at the traffic near the office, deduce it will be infinitely quicker to walk to Harley Street. Flicking into google maps on my iPhone for the quickest route, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with Trefusis Minor a few weeks ago.

I'd picked him and the Tiniest T up from school which is an uncommon enough occurrence for me to have got us lost on the way back to the tube.

"What would we do without google maps?" I remark as I steer us back in the right direction.

"Well," says Trefusis Minor, who thinks rhetorical questions are pointless, "We would look at the sun, or the North Star or the moon if it's night."

"But what if the weather was bad, like today?" I say.

"If it's cloudy we find a cathedral and wherever its front entrance is, that is east."

"We're a bit short of ready cathedrals in Parson's Green, I think."

Trefusis Minor - ever resourceful - says, "Actually, we could find a spider web - whichever side of the web the spider is on, that is east. If you are superstitious." He adds.


I'm seeing Dr Luca Russo to show him the new creative I've come up with for his advertising in Harper's Bazaar - he's a cosmetic dermatologist of some repute, with a rather glittery client list - top secret of course - of the rich, famous and exquisitely beautiful. So beautiful are some of his clients, I wonder what work they might possibly have had. This is his hallmark, I deduce: if you're one of Dr Russo's clients you can pretend you've had nothing done, you simply look as if you've been at livery for a few months, all fresh and glossy and polished.

Anyway, we talk about business for a bit and in the course of conversation I'm suddenly very curious,
"So, " I ask him, " what could you do for me, if I were one of your patients?'

He looks at me consideringly and says, "I could not make you look ten years younger."

"Really?" I say disappointed, "But I thought that was why people came to see you, to look younger. I feel about a hundred and four."

"Well, maybe I make you look one hundred. But no, is ridiculous to try to be younger, what you want is to look marvellous." 

"Oh yes," I say, rather cheered by the thought of looking marvellous, and also thinking he's quite right, people who try to look young again always look a bit wrong, "I think I'd like that."

"You see," he says, "One look old because one look exhausted, stressed, worried. I get rid of all of that. You will look bright, fresh, as if you have never been tired."

I like the sound of this enormously, no scary Nicole 'surprised' Kidman eyebrows, but with a little light Botox, mesotherapy - which involves lots of tiny yet painless micro injections  of a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, hyaluronic acid into the face - and some light fraxel to remove sun damage, I can have a face that no longer looks knackered and careworn.

He tells me in absolute cross my heart scouts honour secrecy about one of his patients, an extremely 
well known British actress, not young but wonderful looking.

"Really, "I say, astonished,  "You do her? But she  doesn't look like she's had any work, she looks marvellous."

Dr Russo smirks, evidently pleased with his own handiwork.

"That's what I told you: marvellous"

"Where do I sign, I say."

Dr Luca Russo, The Rejuvenation Clinic, Harley Street, W1.0870 243 2230

Sunday 8 December 2013



I take the bus to work. This is a huge indulgence, because it takes forever, unlike the tube which is practically teleporting, but I have downloaded a 'Georgette Heyer bundle' onto Kindle-for-iPhone, and am so utterly gripped I'd take the slow boat to China if it meant I could spend more time reading A Convenient Marriage. Anyway, I've not long settled myself into a window seat on the top deck, when I become distracted by the conversation between a man and his son, evidently on the way to school.

 'Great Granny is dead isn't she? Where did she go?'

'Well, to heaven, I suppose. That's where you go when you die. If you're good. And she was very good.'

'What if you're bad. Where do you go then?'

'Oh, people used to say you went to hell if you were bad. But people don't tend to believe in the devil so much any more.'

'To hell?' says the boy, in extremely disbelieving tones.

'Yes, where did you think people went?'

'To Rotherhithe.'

'Rotherhithe? Really? What do you think it's like there?'

'Cold and dark.'

'Well, yes, I rather think that's what Hell's supposed to be like.'

They lapse into silence. I think that if Milton had described hell  as 'Rotherhithe' rather than as 'a dungeon horrible' full of 'darkness visible', Paradise Lost would have been a rather different sort of poem.


The Christmas decorations on Carnaby Street are defiantly secular and terrifyingly large robins, suspended over one's head. I am not wildly in favour of small animals blown up to monstrous proportions, it reminds me too much of the nightmares I had as a small child after watching 'Kitten Kong', an episode of The Goodies f , in which Twinkle, a sweet white kitten, terrorises London.


I take the Infant Trefusii ice-skating, about which the less said the better, other than the Tiniest Trefusis is like Bambi on the ice, skinny flailing limbs akimbo. She slides twenty feet on her face and knocks her head on the barrier, but soon dries her tears when she discovers she is to have an Accident Report written about her. No mention in dispatches could have made her feel more important. We will never hear the last of it.


The Jesus Man is back at Oxford Circus - not, alas, the entertaining 'Are you a Sinner, or are you a Winner?' evangelist - who I think went to Australia - but someone much more old-school, who shouts 'Repent, for the fires of Hell await you.' as you struggle through the dawdling tourists, trying to make your way home. I'm tempted to tell him about Rotherhithe, but think better of it. 
Friday seems to be all about religious preoccupations: later, in his bath, Trefusis Minor announces he doesn't think much of Reincarnation. 'Why ever not?' I ask. 'Well, if people came back as animals, cats would be more intelligent, and be able to do morse code and stuff.' Really, there's no arguing with his logic - irrefutable, I'd say, but then, unless I repent,  I'll probably go to Rotherhithe.