My First Encounter With Quentin Crisp

by Frances Ramsay

My first encounter with Quentin Crisp was in 1946 on my first visit to London as a gauche 16 year old, up from the country. My parents decided that we should meet him at the Great Western Hotel, Paddington. Not the best of venues for someone who at that time was really only accepted in his own environments of Chelsea and Soho.

I had been told that my Uncle was eccentric but that didn't really prepare me for the red red hair, bright green suit, thonged sandals, painted nails and make-up. I can remember being somewhat embarrassed by the whole encounter, especially as people at the neighboring tables were whispering "Is that a man or a woman." The climax of this lunchtime episode was an aghast waiter walking backwards carrying a tray of glasses staring at his strange customer, causing him to fall down some steps backwards and drop the whole tray with a resounding clatter.

In retrospect we must have looked a strange group: my father was a parson complete with dog collar; my mother, Quentin's sister, in country tweeds; and me straight out of boarding school! But as Quentin always says, after the initial shock he is quite cozy underneath and this is certainly true. We have had many, many encounters since and had a great time together and I must say he has been a wonderful Uncle to me and I am very proud of him.

Copyright © 2000 by Frances Ramsay for the Quentin Crisp Archives. All rights reserved.

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