One of the sadder subjects in this book is Dave Lycett Green, John Betjeman’s 32-year-old grandson. Since 1995, Dave has been sectioned forty-seven times. On the rare occasions that he’s been out of institutions, Dave has lived out of dustbins, slept in squats and become fixated with magic and freemasonry.
Calling himself the Lord of Kensington, he likes to get up at six, put on white gloves and dance outside Tube stations in front of City workers on their way to work. Or he makes pretend drug deals on a toy mobile phone painted gold. His aim is to entertain bankers and so have a positive effect on the world economy.
This is all rather engaging in a ghoulish sort of way. But it also shows why this study of British eccentrics – including the Marquess of Bath, Pete Doherty and Vivienne Westwood – never really takes off. Dave Lycett Green is, I suppose, eccentric in the strict sense of the