ON 20 MAY 1967 Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell were at a louche dinner-party in Tangiers when they met an opium-smoking, toupee-wearing Marquis who took them home. Joe Orton recalls the event in his diary:
"The Marquis' home was crammed with junk. It looked like a Chelsea antique shop. Rubbish from the rag-bag of 18th-century culture. Mirrors with the original glass - so cracked that to see one's self in them was to have a vision of what one's face might look like on the Day of Judgement, the marks of the grave on it.
`What shall you have to drink?' the Marquis said, leading me away from a monstrous, over-sized, headless nude statue of a man.
`Coca-Cola,' I said, feeling the mere pronouncing of the word would dispel the mucky grandeur of the past.
The Marquis looked put out.
`Would you not prefer ... ?' and he said the name of some unsavoury drink to match the furniture.
We sat drinking and he told us of `the Princess Marina' and `What do you think of the Earl of Snowdon? Do you not think he is an unhappy man?'
`The Royal Family is a noose,' I said. `You don't have to put your head in it. If a man does so, he must expect to be unhappy.'
`Ah, oui,' said the Marquis, shrugging his shoulders and trying to look like a character in Proust.
We were sitting in the most uncomfortable chairs I have ever bummed. Near me was a table and most conspicuous on it were three photographs, a coloured one of Paul VI (unsigned), a small block of John XXIII with something written on it in the Holy Father's own fair hand, and a large, obviously Forties studio portrait of the wartime Pope which said, across the white robe, `Yours very sincerely, Pius XII'."Reuse content