An interesting footnote to the death of Gordon Russell after leaving Sandy Baird’s White Party (see https://elvirabarney.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/arthur-streek/ )

can be found in Brian Howard’s letter to his mother shortly afterwards. Howard who was abroad and so missed the occasion, knew everyone involved and was, of course, at Elvira’s cocktail party some months later.

He uses the letter to offer a vigorous defence of his “louche” friends.

“The White Party sounds as if it had been very amusing.I wish I had been there.If it still shocks you when high spirited young people get a bit tipsy (though of course to drive a car drunk is monstrous) you must find both History and the USA very alarming indeed. You doubtless visualise that party as an unbridled orgy of stupefying dreariness conducted by brainless and worthless nobodies – or at least you would seem to visualise it from your tone. I see it as an amusing,wildish party given by the only people outside the continent who -motley in social status though they may be- genuinely know how to enjoy themselves, rid as they are of most of the restraints self-imposed by their more titled fellows – restraints of social aspirations and sexual taboos.”

Naive, dissembling but idealistic – Brian Howard was still clinging to the notion that there was something innately rebellious, socially and sexually, about the excesses and hedonism of his set. His relative silence about the Elvira Barney case – even his police statement is somewhat  self-distancing – shows that even Brian was having difficulties holding on to the dream.

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