LUCINDA LAMBTON AND PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE : HowWe Met
Sunday 29 January 1995
I didn't see her again until the programme on the Great North Road that she did was re-shown. I was very struck by her; I was then editing the Sunday Telegraph, and I asked a columnist to do a feature on Lucinda Lambton. Arising out of that piece, Lucy was invited to a Sunday Telegraph editorial lunch. The subject - had I known better, it was totally inappropriate for her - was the future of the class system. Not only did she arrive very late, but she made it perfectly clear, as soon as she was asked her opinion, that she hoped the upper classes would have as short a future as possible. Not a successful lunch - her contribution was not exactly in keeping with the Sunday Telegraph line.
Then I didn't see Lucy again for about five years, until 1990. In the meantime, my first wife had died of cancer. About six months after this happened, I ran into Lucy at a party. I took her by the hand and pulled her into a corner to talk to her. It wasnot long before Christmas and I was feeling terribly depressed and bereaved; I must have been in rather a confessional frame of mind, because I told her about my sorrows, and we spent the whole party talking together. We went to dinner the next day. Then I went away to France for Christmas. I came here to Hedgerley, Lucy's house, for the New Year; and shortly after that we became engaged. We were married in May 1991.
I'd been married over 40 years when my first wife died. It's an enormous shock when someone you know so well dies - it is difficult to exaggerate the extremity of shock. I was in a shaken state, very sad and sorrowful. I think that falling in love again and getting remarried is probably the only thing that makes it possible to start again.
How one falls in love is almost impossible to analyse or describe or define. Everybody knows when it happens, but the difference between meeting someone you love, someone you like, someone you desire, or fancy - as the modern phrase is - I don't think the dividing line can be explained. I think falling in love is a mystery, like the moment when people discover faith in a religious sense.
Lucy is 19 years younger than me. To begin with, I was conscious of the difference in age, but four years on it's not uppermost in my mind. I suppose I get tired more easily, while she is indefatigable once she's on the hunt for a new building or a new gravestone or a new piece of gothic furniture. She is tireless in pursuit and I think I probably fall by the wayside faster than her.
There are a whole host of strands to the main tapestry of a happy marriage. Enjoying each other's company, being full of admiration for certain aspects of your partner's character and appearance, the pleasure of creating a home, entertaining friends together - it's an enormously cumulative process of learning more about the other person all the time.
A marriage is an organic growth; the roots get deeper, and each new season produces different colours to the branches and so on; I think it's a bit like a tree in that respect. The longer it lasts the better; ours has lasted now for four years, and its resonance gets more and more rich. It's like a picture by one of the great masters that shows different depths, colour, meaning the more you look at it - and in the same way human beings don't remain the same. Just as they are changing you by what you lea rn from them, they are themselves changed by what they experience in your company.
Each does have to try to change, to stop jarring on the other's nerves. Lucy's enthusiasm carries her away from such mundane matters as ever turning off a light or being ready on time. I don't think I can ever recall getting into the car without Lucy jumping out having forgotten something. Lucy is more extravagant than I would be and rather greedier than I am, so we have richer food than I'm accustomed to or really enjoy. But it would be rather boring if both partners put the same things into the commonpool.
She is more visual than I am, she loves buildings, she loves objects - if she goes into any churchyard she will spend hours noting all the inscriptions. Patience is being instilled into me, which is good for my character. But I admire her enthusiasm, andI've learnt a lot. I must have passed the hotel at St Pancras station thousands of times - it's one of the great glories of metropolitan architecture - and now I love looking at it.
LUCINDA LAMBTON: Meeting Perry at that party remains weirdly fresh in my mind, because it was so urgent when he dragged me across the room and closeted me behind the door. Perry's behaviour was weirder than mine, because I do charge around like a bull ina china shop, but Perry doesn't. When it was time to go, I realised I would have to abandon everything to see him again the next day, which I did at enormous expense because it was a working day.
The thing I most admired about him, from the beginning, was his elegance of mind and manner - and that has stayed, solidified, triumphed. He's clever, able to hone a thought, which is a side of him I relish and enjoy.
We went out to dinner in London, and said a courtly goodbye at the end of the evening. But all evening I'd been trying to remember the name of Clementi Susini, who was a man who made beautiful anatomical waxworks in France in 1749. He made fully- clothedmen and women dressed in velvet - you lift off the clothes and all their insides are underneath. Just after I had said goodbye to Perry, I suddenly remembered the name, and this seemed to me an important bit of news, so I charged across London followinghim, and when he came out of his flat, I said: "Clementi Susini is the name of the man who did the waxworks!" And we sailed into his flat together and the first words of affection were spoken.
Then he went off to France for Christmas. While he was away, one day I called home on the car telephone and was told he'd rung up - there was nearly a major accident as I swerved across the road, I was so excited. Later, when he actually said, "Will you marry me," I was so excited that I ran across the room and jumped into his lap, and as I weigh 13 stone, I expect his knees cracked. I'm wholeheartedly for marriage, 110 per cent. It seems to me the greatest tribute you can pay to a person. I can recommend it as a perfect way of living life, of self-sacrifice and developing one's self. The obligation is a glorious one.
If it doesn't work, you must try and try and try, because it's the ideal state. Twice it didn't work out for me. It's a lot to do with me being a thundering, selfish bully-boss, a hell of a lot to do with that - though not with Perry. If you're a person of the same age married to a boss and a bully, you've got less chance, but if you're 20 years older than a boss and a bully there is an innate authority, which must be a great help. I'm sure it's been a very good thing in tempering my selfishness and thunder. I also love arguing with him, knowing that he's there with the ball and can hit it back every time.
I spent 15 years furnishing and collecting here at Hedgerley. Perry loving the house was so exciting - it was as if it had been waiting for him. I lived here alone, I never lived here with another husband. I yearned for a knight in shining armour with white curls to come galloping in in red socks and plus-fours and love every inch of it. It was like a miracle.
Perry's got a study upstairs and mine is downstairs. Poor Perry - I get completely obsessed with the Duchess of Windsor one month, then architectural prisoners-of-war for another month, then Heathrow for another month, and can talk about nothing else. After breakfast we both work until lunch, then we have lunch, then there's the long walk with the dogs, then work until tea, then work until dinner. Meals are a great, exciting, gluttonous ritual. After dinner Perry usually listens to thundering classical music, and I might watch an old film.
Food is the devil of a business with Perry. I like slurping treacle puddings with cream and custard, and he would rather have a grape. And he would rather have a cupful of warmed mock-turtle soup than a bowl full of nachos and soured cream and guacamole.It's a daily misery. Perry's such a meanie on the food front, a real Jack Sprat.
Before we married, I didn't dare put my toe into the political arena and he didn't dare put his toe into the artistic arena - and I dare say it's pride for both of us that now we don't dare show grotesque ignorance in these two fields. I remember well the first dawning of architectural realisation for him: it was in Santa Fe, when he saw a multi-storey car park that had been built in the adobe style next to the cathedral and actually saw the point of what architecture could do. It properly pierced his heart, rather than just making him say "How beautiful". !
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