Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Rupert Everett: The Arrest Of Oscar Wilde At The Cadogan Hotel

Rupert Everett has written a really good article for The Times today.
Will wonders never cease?
Regular readers of Rupert's column will know that he is currently staying at the Cadogan Hotel in Chelsea in the room where Oscar Wilde was arrested.
Mr Everett has been meditating about this - it was the anniversary last week, and Oscar died 110 years ago this winter.
"I am lying on Oscar Wilde’s bed in the Cadogan Hotel in Chelsea. It’s late, the night is cold and I am sipping at a weak hock and seltzer in his honour and gazing through the same Nottingham lace curtains that John Betjeman describes in his marvellous poem The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel."
That's one of fagburn's favourite poems, incidentally.
Cracks me up every time.
"Through the haze of gauze that still shrouds the bay window it could be 1895 outside. Pont Street still “towers red under the London sky”. Inside, the room is grey and high and luxurious with wooden floors and a huge bed, the perfect hideaway for an exiled movie queen..."
Each man creates the Wilde he wants, and Mr Everett's is Wilde as the world's first celebrity; "the most successful playwright in London at the time, but also a rather silly fairy sometimes."
His libel action against Queensbury was "a tragically blind example of early celebrity madness."
His fall is seen as not the wages of sin but the price of fame; "Success befuddled him. Add alcohol and sex to the mix and an almost syphilitic (maybe) sense of self unfurled, flapping uncontrollably in the changing wind."
After considering Wilde was caught up in a great political conspiracy, and surrendered himself to martyrdom, Mr Everett concludes; "Wilde may have been a silly fairy, but he is also one of my heroes...
"For me, he had the perfect blend of brilliance and silliness, of pride and humility. He was one of the first “stars” in the tradition of Byron and, with Paul-Marie Verlaine, one of the last great vagabonds of the 19th century."

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