7 MARCH 1958, Page 12

Home, Sweet Ideal Home


THE Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition was born in 1908 and so, damn it, was I: it is now a national institution—the editor of the Daily Mail says so in the catalogue—which is more than you can say of me. If only I had thought of it, and refrained from stuffing myself at home, on haddock, I could have celebrated our joint jubilee the other morning by breakfast- ing at the exhibitors' expense, at one alluring little stand after another—tinned rice pudding, a nip of tinned fruit juice (`They're juicedly good!' says the advertisement), processed-cheese spread, synthetic-cream whip by the spoonful, sliced cake in Cellophane, tinned tomato soup (ten o'clock tested) and a poifie, served with Malga Supream, the Leading Imitation Cream. Scrummy tuck.

Some day, I can see, I shall have to get down to the philology of advertising. There is a house- hold magazine here with a pull-out handi-book on gardening; a window-cleaning device called `Squeegeasy'; an 'Eezireach' kitchen cabinet (all cupboards are cabinets these days); and the `Quickunpic' stitch-ripper. What have I been doing all these years without a stitch-ripper? Or, for that matter, without a `Quickfri,' an `Ezyboir and Tri-Chem Ball-Point Painting, 'a new and fascinating hobby . . . the easiest way of paint- ing ever invented. No brush, no palette, no water and no clearing up afterwards!'

All are here, and so was the band of the Grenadier Guards, the other morning, to play me into Mr. Cecil Beaton's Edwardian bedroom, all plush and pink satin, red bobbles and gold galloon, prancing bronzes and potted palms, porcelain chairs and an electrolier fashioned to resemble a bouquet of irises—every fantastic Ed- wardian extravaganza you can think of, save Mr. Cecil Beaton. And the bedroom and bathroom designed and equipped by Mrs. Gerald Legge as was, the new Lady Lewisham, the Boadicea of gracious living—whose own programme note reads, 'People who are afraid of colour are afraid of life. I am not afraid of anything, so my ideal room is all flame and aquamarine, with glowing, golden furniture.' And acknowledgments to 'my mother, Barbara Cartland,' my grandmother, Polly Cartland, aged eighty,' my son,. William Legge, aged eight,' my brother, Glen McCorquo- dale,' my brother, Ian McCorquodale,' and 'my son, Rupert Legge, aged seven.' I don't suppose- they're afraid of anything, either.

'I suppose you'd get used to it if you lived with it long enough,' said one matron to another as they passed Mr. John Carter's not very revolu- tionary 'Plan for a Fireside.' I expect they would have screamed for the police if I had beckoned them into Sir Hugh Casson's 'serene and mysterious' music-room, designed not for making but for listening, furnished only with a 'listening- couch' that is equipped with finger-tip lighting- dimmers, and big enough for a string quartet to be psycho-analysed upon or a hockey team seduced.

Down on the ground floor of Olympia the . Grand Hall has been turned into a sort of fore- shortened France, with Notre Dame at one end and Fontainebleau at the other, and between them a leafy avenue lined with plastic plane trees and painted chestnuts, with striped café awnings above the gas-stove and washing-machine-stands. Yes; on press day you might almost have imagined yourself in Paris in the spring : the only boulevardiers among us with worried looks were those from the national newspapers whose job it was to write a story about the exhibition that didn't give too much free publicity to the Daily Mail.