13 April 2010

from The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (Helene Hanff)

We went outside and saw the playing fields where all those wars were supposedly won. Boys were playing cricket, a few strolled by swinging tennis rackets. On Saturdays the boys are allowed to wear ordinary sports clothes but we saw several in the Eton uniform: black tail coat, white shirt, striped trousers. PB says they don't wear the top hat any more except on state occasions. (Those top hats kept the boys out of trouble. If an Eton boy tried to sneak into an off-limits pub or movie, the manager could spot that top hat from anywhere in the house and throw him out.)

The faces of the boys are unbelievably clean and chiseled and beautiful. And the tail coats - which must have looked outlandish in the 1940's and 50's - look marvelously appropriate with the long hair the boys wear now. What with the cameo faces, the long hair brushed to a gleam and the perfectly cut tails, they looked like improbable Edwardian princes.

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