Forgive the deafening silence. I popped-up to Derbyshire with Mrs T to view Sotheby’s Chatsworth House attic sale. You would have adored an 18th century gilt and cobalt blue brocade set of ballroom chairs from Devonshire House. The sale room was actually a marquee pitched on the West lawn. My favourite moment? The rain was torrential and squalling which made a trophy deer’s head hanging on a canvas wall tremble as if one of the Devonshires’ deers in the park had poked its head through the wall to have a gander. Fun supper with the parentals, lunch with Mrs Ts Uncle and Aunt and a miniature bottle of British Rail vino on the train back to London. Now there’s a jolly day.
I heard two of the most bawdy jokes recently that I have to share with you. The first comes from Bernadette Peters’ new concert recording DVD (the woman is arguably the finest musical performer of her generation) as told to her by the actor Eli Wallach. ‘In honour of grandpa’s 99th birthday, the family clubbed together to send him to Las Vegas. As a bedtime treat, they had a gungho hooker go up to his room. The lady of the evening rapped on his door. Grandpa opened. The lady said “I’m here to give you super sex”. Grandpa replied “I’ll take the soup”.
This is my favourite gag and comes from a Bette Midler concert recording. Imagine it told in Brooklyn accent and you’ll get the gist. ‘I will never forget it you knoooow. Doorbell rang the other day and there was a delivery boy on the steps holding two dozen red roses. The note read “Love from y0ur boyfriend Ernie”. I turned to my girlfriend Clementine and said “You know what this means Clementine? For the next two weeks I’ll be flat on my back with my legs wide open”. “What’s the matter with you Soph?” she replied, “aint you got a vase?”
“Aint you got a vase!” Well darling, this time next week the Savoy will open its doors for the first time in three years; two of which I have spent working on the museum and the Sig Suites. The end is nigh. Yesterday, Mrs T and I had a very fruitful morning buying huge looking glass picture frames to sit in the main showcase in the American Bar corridor and very shish they looked too. The GM came to see us and I think he likes our endeavors. Last week Mrs T went to Wartski on Grafton Street to take delivery of a Faberge framed photograph of Imperial Dancer and Tsar’s mistress Mathile Kschessinska, the Princess Romanovsky.
Mathilde introduced Lac du Cygnes at the Royal Opera House in 1911; staying at the Savoy bedecked in two million Roubles’ worth of Faberge cabochon sapphires. The Savoy stories are magical. I have a collection of black and white photographs of Savoy bellboys (some of them as young as seven) to illustrate the story of Gucci’s founder Guccio Gucci being employed as a bellboy. Gucci was apparently so fascinated by the fabulous steamer trunks and luggage that he had to handle that it in inspired him to return to Italy and found his luxury luggage label.
Yesterday Mrs T and I were thrilled to see that the Legally Blonde billboard that covered the Savoy facade was removed to reveal a newly gilded Count Peter of Savoy. I got rather teary eyed on clapping eyes on Count Peter. Couldn’t resist taking a few snaps of Mrs T and our friends Keith (the most talented ceremonial tailor on Savile Row) and Giles posing at the Savoy. I did think on leaving the Savoy via a rat run through the kitchens and out to security that I should pinch myself because in a week’s time the hotel will once again become public property.
There is so much to tell I might have to write you another letter toot sweet and send all the snaps taken over the weekend. The nicest surprise on Sunday was a telephone call from my friend Chris Skelton saying she was in London and would like to swing by the Savoy. Chris’s son Peter and I were at pre-school together. We don’t see each other so much but Chris and I have become great friends. Well, Chris arrived not only with Peter but also with his wife Justine and baby son Leo.
Leo was adorable (I would set him to work on commercials to help pay the student loans off come 20 years’ time). He toddled across the marble floors of the lobby repeating ‘mazing’ ‘mazing’. It struck me that Leo was probably the first tot to visit the Savoy since it closed three years ago. I wonder if anybody has had a quickie in one of the state rooms yet in the name of another first? Note to self. Must try harder although I did get chatted up by a Polish sparkie last week in the museum. Don’t you love the photo of Mrs T and I posed in the Savoy Tearoom in the manner of a Victorian carte de visite? It’s a bit dark but I think we definitely look in the mood.
I must admit to be a little weary. This is maybe inevitable and I can always have a week off after the Toronto Savoy event and book launch. Did I tell you we’ve been asked to host a book launch at Old England in Paris in November? Truly honoured. I do hope Anda and Jerome will be in town to join the festivities. And still the London book launch at the Savoy continues to cause consternation and divisiveness. I am leaning more towards a discreet do in the American Bar and the Museum Room for 150 rather than the all-singing all-dancing do for 300 in the River Room. Whatever we decide, I do wish you could be the guest of honour. Until then…