01 June 2009

Lessons from Lady Idina Sackville

This weekend I finished Frances Osborne's gin fizz of a book, The Bolter. It is the biography of Osborne's great-grandmother, the notorious Lady Idina Sackville, who scandalized English society in the 1920s with her several marriages and profligate lifestyle, including being a founding member of Kenya's Happy Valley.

Idina with her third husband, Joss, eight years her junior and whose murder is the subject of the book and film White Mischief

No matter the scurrilous things said about her, Idina kept her head high and lived with elegance and flair. If you too could give a damn about society's conventions, here are a few lessons gained from Idina's spectacular example:

1. Alway be impeccable in one's appearance. It's a lot harder to have mud stick when one is immaculately turned out. Even in the devastating heat of Africa, Idina always looked fresh, and was turned out in the latest creations from Paris.

2. Have lots of sex. Many people credit a healthy appetite for being horizontal with their longevity. Idina may not have had a long life, but her enthusiasm for said activity (including a mirror on the ceiling of her bedroom at Clouds, her Kenyan house) kept her in young and handsome husbands

3. It is better to leave than to be left.

4. Entertain with style. You'll never want for guests if you make a visit to your house full of vibrant conversation, free-flowing booze, and comfortable surroundings. Idina had a pair of silk pajamas and a bottle of whisky awaiting on each houseguest's pillow.

5. If you're going to break the rules, do it with style, and for heaven's sake, don't apologize. When Idina shocked society by divorcing her very desirable first husband, Idina didn't hide. Instead, she shingled her hair, painted her fingernails green and carried her dog Satan around everywhere.

Tomorrow the book will finally be released in the States - click here to order. And go here to read An Aesthete's Lament's recommendation or rent White Mischief which depicts the love triangle then murder of one of Idina's exes, the Earl of Erroll, played by Charles Dance looking quite the thing in his jodphurs.


Blue said...

Mirror above the bed! Gosh, there's an idea! Glad she didn't get skewered - should I rephrase that?

Pigtown*Design said...

Happy Valley... White Mischief... that whole time and place was so interesting.