William Brice’s 1970 diary and sketchbook, open to its
first page that lists Brice’s destinations
June 28, Sunday
Three hours of sleep and rushed in parking and preparations. Hard pressed for time, finally hustled John [Brice] out of the house and took a cab to the airport.
Getting set on the plane for the ten-hour flight was awkward and we were pleased that a plump New Zealand wife (disgruntled because she had hoped she could sit in the window seat assigned to John) decided to change with her husband. He was a pleasant, hardy New Zealander on a tour, having spent two-and-a-half hours in Disneyland as his total time in visiting Los Angeles. The tours sounded absolutely monstrous! We talked a little and he told me much about New Zealand. Intermittently he coughed dryly, explaining that many in his group had suffered a mild case of flu. I am certain this was the origin of the cold I was to have during my days in London. Our trip was long, the plane was crowded, and because of our size, we were quite cramped. We saw a poor movie, slept fitfully, ate tasteless airplane food and waited the time to pass. Fortunately, it was a smooth trip.
June 29, Monday
London, 1970 Kings Road, London, 1970
We arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport at 10:30 a.m. on schedule. The drive in from the airport stimulated us. We felt enthusiastic at being in London again. The feeling of familiarity was particularly pleasant. We were delighted to find that we had exactly the same flat at Marno’s in Kings Road we had had in 1968. Miss Snell, who presently cares for the arrangements at Marno’s, was attractively casual/a bit older than a London “bird” but with much of that character. Arminda was as dear as ever, smiling in fractured English in her Portuguese way. The refrigerator had been filled with all that was needed for a good breakfast. John and I each got a copy of the London Times and sat down to a breakfast I prepared. We were hungry and tired from the long plane trip.
Shortly after we had arrived, our phone rang and it was Kathy Van Praag, who invited us to dinner out at Wargrave, Reading, Berkshire that evening. She told us what trains to take, etc. We were not sure we would make all the directions correctly and so I suggested she give us a little leeway in time. John and I decided we needed sleep to manage the evening enjoyably and so we slept from 1:30 to 5:30.
Fortunately, and not entirely by accident, we met Louis Van Praag in the train station. All our concerns about trains were over. We boarded a crowded commuter and talked animatedly of many things. It had been two years; although Louis is quite reserved, it was obvious he was as pleased to see us as we were to see him. Due to a delay of a train we were to change to for just one stop, Louis decided it would be better if we walked. It was fun. It took about forty minutes and we chided him in jest as we heard the train we were to have taken roll by.
Finally, we arrived at the Van Praag’s new house – a lovely brick building, curving gravel driveway, informal English garden. The interior, extremely pleasant, sparse in furnishing, but the whole ambience very appealing. Kathy welcomed us warmly and introduced us to her other dinner guests of the evening. Joanne and Fred Dubery (he is an artist and teacher; she is head of Fashion Design at the Royal College). I did not spend a lot of time with Dr. and Mrs. Bailey, but they seemed quite pleasant. We talked of many things in particularly painting in England and the U.S. and later much about recent films.
At the end of the evening, the Duberry’s drove us to Sloane Square. Joanne very generously invited us to lunch at the Royal College on Wednesday, July 1, in order that John have the opportunity to see the entire college and possibly meet some of the faculty. It is certainly not out of consideration as a school for graduate study for John. We got to sleep at around 3:00 a.m., having thoroughly enjoyed our evening and happy with seeing Kathy, Louis and their absolutely lovely Katherine (about 14 months old).
June 30, Tuesday
Breakfast in the flat. Called Mildred and Sam Jaffe [producer and collector] and made a date to drop by to see them for a few minutes in the afternoon. They were both harried, in the throw of their having to move to a new apartment.
After breakfast, John and I went to Just Men [Kings Road clothing store and tailors]. Saw Nikki again and ordered three pairs of trousers each. At Mildred and Sam’s (they were quite disorganized standing in the midst of parking crates, etc.) we got tickets for “Home” at the Royal Court for Friday evening. Sam called and John dashed over to get the tickets. Since John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson are the stars, tickets are hard to come by.
We made a date to see Mildred and Sam and Frank Perls [William Brice’s former Los Angeles dealer and still then close friend] at Marcia Panama’s on Thursday evening at Marcia’s new flat.
That evening we dined with Charles Alan [William Brice’s New York dealer], who had just arrived in London and had the flat above ours at Marno’s. Charles’ friend, whose name I do not recall, was a pleasant, quiet person. Dinner at Le Carosse was tasteful but the service was slow; and in reaction to that and to our conversation about the disturbing events at home, Charles suddenly jumped up—he could stand it no longer and needed air. We finished our coffee and went upstairs to find he had paid the check and was waiting outside. Since we all knew Charles well, this behavior was neither very surprising nor disturbing. We talked for a few minutes over a drink at Charles’ flat and went off to our own downstairs.
July 1, Wednesday
After breakfast in our flat, we joined Joanne Duberry at the Fashion School of the Royal College. She showed us all through the building and showed us clothes, which had been designed by the students. They design and make the garments. Some of the most known young British designers attended the Royal College as students. After lunch at the faculty dining room of the Royal College, we toured that entire building, which encompasses facilities for all areas of design and of printmaking. Later we walked over to the “old building,” that houses the grand old painting studios. Three of the painting faculty generously took us through. We were not able to have tea with them as we were already a bit late for our appointment to visit David Hockney and Peter Schlesinger at David’s flat.
We arrived and met a few of David’s guests, who had also come to tea—a young, rather affected American and a plumb wide-eyed (stoned?) American sculpture student (female) planning to study at UCLA next fall. Later, Ron Kitaj came in. He was interesting and energetic. Charles then joined us. David’s flat is most attractive—interesting and not fancy. It was pleasant to see Peter again. He was leaving in a few days for summer in the U.S. He is attending the Slade School of Art. David was as enjoyable as ever. He showed me his new book (illustrations of Grimms Fairy Tales) of etching and also a double portrait in progress. He works in a large room in his flat. I was sorry to have to leave. We had enjoyed our time there. Ron Kitaj drove us to Knightsbridge, where we picked up a taxi and went back to the flat.