22 October 2009


Do indulge me in a bit of ranting, but I feel that gossip, the way it is practiced today, is a mere shadow of its former glory. My mother didn’t like to watch Ingrid Bergman. “She left her husband and daughter and ran off and had twins,” my mother told me the story as if she had been left. Had she done the same thing today, Ingrid Bergman would have been made an Ambassador at the United Nations.

I inadvertently (honest it was inadvertent) saw the last few minutes of one of those “entertainment” gossip shows the other evening. It was appalling. I suppose we once gossiped about what went on behind closed doors because there was no access. Now we have access 24/7. We have lost the notion that to be a “celebrity” one should do something to be “celebrated.” Today if you can get naked and shout profanity, you just might get your own show.

To be gossiped about today you seem to need:

A grainy sex tape, to be sold at a later date on the Internet. It is best if the woman is under 20 or the man is a football player, or both!

A lot of children, all born with in the same 24-hour period. Frankly the Dionne Quints wouldn’t even turn a head today.

To be designated a “housewife” which seems to denote you are rude, profane, vulgar, tasteless, self-centered and greedy. You don’t actually take care of a “house” and you don’t really have to be a “wife” and on most days, you couldn’t tell someone which side of the plate a fork is placed. I believe that the housewives of American should band together and file a class action suit for defamation!

A father so intent on being on television that he has his profane, out of control children, lie on national television, pretending to be in danger and costing law enforcement nearly $20,000 and untold man hours that could have been spent looking for children who were really in danger.

I moved some books the other day and found Andrew Barrow’s Gossip. I remembered another book he did as a corollary entitled, The Gossip Family Handbook and I took them home for diversion.

Gossip covers the 1920 –1970’s and is drawn predominantly from British gossip. In my opinion, the banner decade for gossip was the 1930’s. Here are just a few of the tidbits.

Augustus John’s painting of Tallulah Bankhead scandalized the Royal Academy. (And she was fully clothed)

Sir Francis Laking, 26, died from drinking yellow Chartreuse. In his will he left all his motor-cars to Tallulah Bankhead. Alas, Laking was lacking any motor-cars. (I’m now thinking of willing things I don’t own to people. How much fun would it be to leave your Swiss bank account to your smarmy sister-in-law!)

Cecil Beaton acquires Ashcombe, home to a decade of merriment. (Madonna now lives in Ashcombe)

Wallis Simpson is presented at Court. With in five years, Edward VIII would give up his crown to “marry the woman I love.” (There is a “housewife” I would watch.)

Unity Mitford was reportedly “dating” Adolf Hitler. (Imagine a sex tape with Osama bin Laden, that’s gossip and National Security!))

With all of its tantalizing tidbits, the most intriguing thing about Andrew Barrow’s Gossip is the endpaper. The writer, Hugo Vickers, suggested that there was a way to form a “family tree” as it were, that linked people in a sideways fashion. He envisioned these endpapers.

For his next book, The Gossip Family Handbook, Barrows expanded Vickers’ idea and constructed just over a hundred pages linking 3,800 individuals through birth, marriage and siblings.

Here is an example with some well-known Americans in the mix.

The pages leave something to be desired in a blog, but on the page they are fascinating! I would love to see this book expanded into this century! In the meantime...

if a producer out there would like to do a serious, thoughtful, truly entertaining show featuring "housewives" they should look at blogs. How much fun would a show be featuring, Mrs. Blandings, Pigtown Design, little augury, An Aesthete's Lament and on and on...

I'll watch!


  1. Oh, That's good! Who Knew-Tallulah & Augustus Johns. I am still waiting for my close up. la

  2. I need a good make-up artiste, please!

  3. I so agree. Gossip is so common and devoid of intrigue these days. Fascinating, however, to view the comparisons over time. And most definitely, there are scandalous tidbits to be mined begging for their own high-def debut.

  4. You should read "Who's had whom".

  5. You've got an immense gift for compiling interesting subjects and sharing them in perfectly witty ways!


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