Wednesday, 12 May 2010

('Micky' and 'Debo' - photo copyright Scott VanOsdol, 2010)

During April, we completed our final major shoot for the Michael Burn documentary. Highlight of the trip was lunching with, and interviewing, an old friend of his, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, who he had first met when visiting the Cotswold home of the Mitford family, of whose six famous daughters Deborah ('Debo') was the youngest. At the Old Vicarage, Chatsworth, where she lives now, an elderly guest-book was produced which contained Micky's signature dating from the early '30s, the turbulent decade in which they were each destined to meet with Hitler in Munich - in Micky's case the introduction being made by Deborah's sister Unity ('Bobo') Mitford, in one of Hitler's favorite restaurants, the Osteria Bavaria. The Duchess, who, by the way, is an avid Elvis fan, could not have been more welcoming, nor more open in recalling a time of great stress for the Mitford family, as they, as with so many others from that 'Lost Generation', vacillated between the equally unpalatable extremes of Communism and Fascism. A glimpse, not easily forgotten, into another, perhaps grander, era.

Sadly, towards the end of our stay, Micky suffered a slight stroke, from which he is now recovering in Alltwen Hospital, Tremadog. There remains some physical impairment; however, his legendary wit and acuity remain undiminished - as does the desire to see 'his' century, with all its turmoils - social, political, sexual - recalled on screen.