Hatchards November 2010

Dear Rowley,

What a jolly super day. This pm I signed one hundred Savile Row books at Hatchards: arguably the most august bookshop in London and one of the oldest. Can you imagine the bums that have sat on that Regency chair and scribbled their names in the noble cause of revenue and prestige? Hatchards has been my only bookshop in London for more than a decade. If there is any other bookshop that I would prefer to sign I have yet to find it.

The pictures are of me posing next to a stack of books gurning like a monkey. I have also thrown in a Christmas bedecked exterior of Dukes Hotel in St James’s that should give you a clue to where my final Horcrux is buried (just making sure you are paying attention). You thought I meant the American Bar, didn’t you. I adore the Savoy but Dukes was my first love. I popped in to see Alessandro at 6pm for a Dubonnet & Gin and took a breather from my day. There is nothing more elegant than a cocktail at Duke’s as served by the finest head barman in London: Alessandro the Great.

After Duke’s, I did a spot of Christmas shopping (no peeking) and then went to see Lara Mingay at her office on Old  Bond Street and had a 6pm sharpener of champagne before her date at Cecconi’s. Apparently he’s a Royal Marine so that rules out one of the following three: rum, bum or concertina. Lara is one of the few in town who serves champagne in cups. Did you know champagne cups were initially modelled on the breast of Madame de Pompadour?

So how are you tonight Rowley? I am slightly ‘tired and emotional’ as Private Eye would have it. I am tired of people worrying that I am the Judy Garland de nos Jours and slightly surprised that people think that I can do what I am alleged to do after dark then get up at 7am with excess energy to work on a new book a week after the last one launched. As Lara reminded me, I have been working on Savile Row longer than the two years it took to put together. Do certain people realize this is the conclusion of a long, long project? If I happen to have one too many sherries, then I don’t expect to have certain people mal y pense-ing as Kenneth Williams would have it. Frequently.

Listening to Stephen Sondheim’s Passion. Why is this a new favourite? Obsession is a very interesting emotion. I am obsessed by my work but I think in a healthy way if obsession can be healthy. Makes me cross when outsiders call a judgement when they have no clue of the back story. You know the back story apropos that if I knew what I had to go through to to get to where I got to, maybe I would have opened a tea shop instead and had less ambition and more peace.

Sorry to have a little rant Rowley but I am feeling rather weary tonight and tiring of professional rather than personal contacts offering me life coaching. Physically I could be at work at 3am. Mentally I must not be. We all need our rest and relaxation. How is your health my darling? I have never felt better thanks to Relax massages, the odd steam in Dukes Turkish bath and the constant support of friends and family.

So what next for both of us? A good, restful Christmas and a lot of fine fare that will allow us to sleep for a week. What else can we ask for? People make so many demands every day in one’s professional life – if you give it out they will always take more – so it is nice to spend time with people who ask for nothing over and above your old bones on a sofa being grateful to be fed and watered and loved.

So what are our New Year’s resolutions? Yours I think would be go back in time and think twice about some decisions. Mine is to go forward and, in the words of the Divine Miss M, ‘F*** em if they can’t take a joke’.  I do not wish to dwell on the past. It has passed. My eye is now on the long game with a Henry Poole & Co exhibition on the table for 2016 at one of London’s most revered national galleries and an Ascot book to launch in June 2011.

As Gail at Capri said only yesterday, ‘rest when you are six feet under. Keep going my love’. I won’t be on the go slow until Christmas week – too many do’s to attend – but when I leave town on the 20th, I will not open an email or pick up a mobile unless I recognize the number. Any ‘Unknowns’ don’t even bother to leave a message because I won’t get it until Jan 2nd 2011.

Why do they who must not be named seek to control while feigning kindness and concern? Have people in the past upset us? Many times. Did we take offense or take action? Rarely unless we had known someone long enough to give license to. You can never judge other people by your own moral code, can you, and only in the case of your closest friends can you guarantee that their motives are wholly benign. Too much game playing Rowley. I sometimes wonder if people don’t overly criticize to keep your fees down and you on the back foot. As Mrs T said, Team Sherwood is has plenty of business to be getting on with even if one Horcrux is destroyed. As Judith Watt always says, ‘don’t cross James Sherwood’. They have been warned.