The Filthy Pinko Ginger 2.0

Jane. 24. Harry Potter nerd, Anglophile, political junkie. I want to be Jessica Mitford when I grow up.

June 5, 2013 8:49 am May 8, 2013 8:40 am
"Perhaps most young lovers share in common to some degree this feeling of oneness, of having ‘eyes only for each other’; certainly literature of all countries and ages is full of such references. In our case, we had more reason than most to feel bound to one another in a way that excluded people around us. Estrangement from our families, the circumstances of our marriage, our constant wanderings about, the death of the baby, all had conspired to weld us into a self-sufficient unit, a conspiracy of two against the world."

Jessica Mitford, Hons and Rebels
May 1, 2013 8:50 am April 17, 2013 9:37 am
"I was completely, deeply committed; I hadn’t been able to take my eyes off Esmond all weekend. I had watched the Scotts succumb to his extraordinary charm, like trees slowly falling before the wind. Although Esmond was the youngest person in the party, he had seemed like a star around which everything revolved. A wind, a star, he represented to me all that was bright, attractive and powerful, and I did wonder what he thought of me. There had been one slight indication; one night the party at Cousin Dorothy’s had played a primitive sort of parlor game, then popular, in which each guest gave the others marks for various qualities — beauty, sense of humor, intelligence, sex appeal and so forth. The scores were added and announced, and the papers kept anonymous. Terrified of being discovered, I had gone down in my dressing gown after everyone else was asleep to salvage the crumpled sheets from the wastebasket. I discarded two neatly penned papers as Scott products; another, in a spidery and old-fashioned hand, must be Cousin Dorothy’s; and I recognized my own. That left an untidy penciled scrawl, in which I had got straight “10’s” — the top mark. This must be Esmond’s paper. Other than that I had no clue."

Jessica Mitford,  Hons and Rebels
April 3, 2013 8:45 am
"Well here’s a description of Esmond which you ask for. He has got blue eyes & beige hair about the colour of mine and he talks rather like Michael Farrer only with a slight cockney pronunciation – for instance he says riowd instead of rood for rude. Also he can do awfully good imitations of people like Winston Churchill & he talks French so well you’d take him for a Frenchman, because once a Frenchman said to him ‘cous etes Alsacien, Monsieur?’ which proves it. (He is frightfully good at languages altogether & has already learnt enough Spanish to talk in quite easily, but your poor old Hen can hardly speak a word.) I expect you know most about his doings such as scramming from Wellington etc from seeing it in the papers so won’t bother to tell you. Didn’t you guess slightly what your old Hen was up to in London the week before I left, for instance when I hurriedly rang off when you came into the room one day & you asked me why I did & I was cross?"

Jessica Mitford to Deborah Mitford, 1937
March 20, 2013 9:10 am

We still had almost two hours before the boat would leave. Esmond suddenly became preoccupied and silent. He suggested walking down by the quai. We passed rows of waterfront cafés with their bright, painted fronts and inviting handwritten menus tacked on the doors. We leaned over the railing and watched craft of all sizes and shapes manoeuvering about in the rough, windy Channel.

“There’s something I’ve got to talk over with you,” he said, very seriously. (Had he decided after all that the search for Senor Lopez was too difficult and time-consuming, and that he must continue to Spain alone?)

Another long silence.

“I’m afraid I’ve fallen in love with you.”

We selected a suitable café in which to celebrate our engagement over fines à l’eau.

Some sailors joined the festivities, offering toast after toast to les fiancés, and we almost missed the sailing of the channel steamer.


Jessica Mitford, Hons and Rebels
February 27, 2013 9:08 am

“He was one of the most attentive husbands I’ve ever seen and one of the most devoted… I’ve never seen two people more completely in love as they were. I’ve never seen any two people that seemed to be so completely one.” — Virginia Durr

February 20, 2013 8:52 am
"Which brings me to the painful subject of PAIN.
What follows is just an account of my own (admittedly cowardly) ducking of some of the unutterably beastly experiences. For example, in Hons & Rebels I simply couldn’t bear to write about getting the telegram that Esmond was missing and the gradual dawning of the fact he was actually dead— Winston Churchill got the classified info— so all I did was put a footnote: ‘Killed in action, November 1941.’ Very weird, I reckon, but that was all I could bring myself to do."

Jessica Mitford
February 6, 2013 8:38 am

[Philip Toynbee] did, however, come to our farewell party held unsuitably in 4 Rutland Gate Mews, downstairs from my parents’ house in 26 Rutland Gate, then let to Ann Farrer, a year older than I, who was starting her career as an actress.

'And as that party grew noisier and noisier through the night, Esmond was always hoping that the “Nazi baron” would come knocking at the door to make a protest,' Philip writes. He describes the assembled guests –'all the odd strata of the Romillys' social life.' (Who were they? Of my family, only my brother Tom came, bringing with him a rare beauty, Janetta Woolley, aged perhaps fifteen – cradle-snatched, I could see – I think I did ask her how she ever got away; climbed out of the nursery window? Quite so, she said.)

Eventually Esmond and I ‘became bored,’ Philip writes, ‘and left their guests to shout and drink without them.’ All true, no doubt.


Jessica Mitford, Faces of Philip
January 23, 2013 8:44 am

[Philip Toynbee’s] amazingly versatile love life, and the high drama which he invested his accounts of its fluctuations, were an unfailing source of wonder and amusement; as good as going to the theatre, Esmond said, whenever he came round to chat. Esmond was constantly demanding the next act: ‘We’ve paid our money and we expect a full evening’s entertainment.’ Philip seldom disappointed, and we must have been a good audience: ‘Both of them listened with that greedy smacking of lips which I found so rewarding,’ he wrote. ‘It was one of Esmond’s most charming characteristics that he could listen with almost inexhaustible pleasure to other people’s stories.’

I remember those stories— and us, Oliver Twists, asking for more, or sometimes a repeat of one that we had heard many times.


Jessica Mitford, Faces of Philip