Well love-a-duck, we’re about two weeks away from putting Fashion at Royal Ascot: Three Centuries of Thoroughbred Style to bed. Speaking of which, I’m lounging on the divan in Bloomsbury Towers in my Ted Sexton blue silk dressing gown smoking a Pall Mall and supping a glass of Chablis. It’s the night shift again working on captions for Fashion at Ascot and sincerely wishing I was still at the Savoy with my mate Tracy the rare prints dealer from Cecil Court. Tracy sold me many of the Royal Wedding prints for the Savoy Museum and, not coincidentally, for the Ascot book. She’s terrific fun and a real crusader for Cecil Court and all who sail in her.
I’m sending you some of the outtakes from the book. We’ve got about 500 pictures so far so goody. Don’t you love the image of the lady draped in a full fox pelt? Not tenable these days in the Royal Enclosure more’s the pity but reminiscent of the days when if someone asks where you got your fur you’d snap back a la Judy Garland ‘I just shot it’. Speaking of Garland, we’ve had something of a Raiders of the Lost Arc moment in the Savoy archive. Apparently, there were several large crates languishing in the warehouses at Hackbridge that I was not privy to the contents. If only one had known, one would have saved a couple of thousand on autographed photographs and I will tell you why.
I popped into the Press Office at the Savoy tonight and there were two large framed montages of signed photos of celebrities at the Savoy: Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, Dinah Shore, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Durante, Mary Martin, Frank Sinatra etc etc etc. And the band played ‘believe it if you will’. Those autographs are worth thousands of pounds and many are shot at the Savoy. Many I had bought from various dealers to fill holes I thought were in the Savoy Archive that actually never existed at all. There will be developments…
I started my new Jane Fonda workout early mornings at the spa today. I got there by 7am, sauna’d, steamed, swam, showered and shaved and was back at Bloomsbury Towers by 8am. This is the way forward I think. It set me up for the day writing-up the jewellery section for the Louis Vuitton Guide to London 2012 and rewriting my programme notes for the Fashions of 1947 piece I am writing for Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s new musical Betty Blue Eyes. Sir Cam’s archivist Rosy Runciman quite rightly made some notes after my first draft and steered me towards a much better creative writing piece compared to the fashion history tome I filed in the first place.
Sir Cam is coming to the Savoy on Thursday for the Noel Coward Society party and he will be at the Queen’s Theatre on Wednesday evening to show off the mahogany wings that Noel had in his house in Switzerland that have recently been shipped to London for display. I’m quite excited about Betty Blue Eyes. It is based on the Alan Bennett screenplay for the film A Private Function starring Dame Maggie Smith. The Maggie role is being taken on stage by Sarah Lancashire who is a terrific little actress. We’ve got tickets for the first night so I’m like the proverbial pig in muck. If only first nights were still white tie.
I’ve got Ian Richardson’s starring role as Francis Urquhart (known as FU) in House of Cards to accompany my writing marathon this evening. Perhaps I should do it for Comic Relief. Comic Relief. Discuss. What does it mean? As Lily Savage says, ‘giving Ken Dodd a wank’? House of Cards is, I think, the most accurate depiction of British politics on TV to date short of Yes Minister. The deviousness, Machiavellian politics and ruthless killer instinct of Urquhart is quite, quite inspiring. I shall take this to heart next time I negotiate a contract.
How is the Coalition Academy as Private Eye calls the present government holding up at present? Not too clever in Libya, not too clever on the home front and, well, simply not too clever. Someone in the media clearly has the knives out for Prince Andrew and yet government ministers line-up to defend his position as International Trade Ambassador. I have never met the Prince and have always admired him for defending the indefensible Duchess. However, consorting with kiddy fiddlers however cash rich, romancing dictator’s sons at Buck House and taking entourages on jollies in the Middle East is rather more of a challenge to rationalise. I fear the Daily Mail will be like a dog with a bone until Prince Andrew is forced to comment about his international activities.
Then again, there’s an awful lot of people in government and in the sphere of power who are in glass houses and should really not throw stones. Our EU representatives probably spend more profligately than Prince Andrew and lie down with much dirtier dogs in the interest of international trade. There aren’t many of us who could stand up to the scrutiny of a Daily Mail witch hunt. I was thrilled to see Madonna and daughter Lola at the Vanity Fair Oscar party both dressed in a totally inappropriate fashion for their respective ages. Madonna in thigh-splitting skirt, fishnets and a basque? Go for it girl. If you’ve still got it, flash your nickers and keep your knockers up. Jealousy is the key to most of the tabloid disapproval of the Lady.
So Rowley, how’s your head, your heart and your wallet? My head is spinning, my heart is racing and my wallet is a size zero but putting on weight by the day so there’s hope for us all, no? Until next time….