A full-on day at the Savoy is over and it all went rather well. Famous last words. This is usually the point in my life when the Gods arrange a conference call between Fate and Nemesis to do a little knocking down a peg or two. True to form, Fate and Nemesis led me by the nose to Majestic where I acquired a bottle of red wine that had definitely passed the voting stage. I reach up to the drinks cabinet in Bloomsbury Towers to retrieve a crystal decanter when the stopper plummets like a suicide victim from Waterloo Bridge and shatters three of my four brand new Champagne flutes. Makes you weep Rowley.
I swear, I am so cack handed these days that I’m amazed I don’t sever an artery every time I shave at the camp Graeco-Roman swimming pool and steam room every morning. Speaking of the set from Spartacus that is the Holborn Health & Fitness Club next door to Bloomsbury Towers, I have to say that without my morning sauna, steam and swim I would have a face like a wheel of brie and an rump that has gone so far south it can dance the Argentine Tango. We had rather a hottie in the pool this morning that always brightens the day.
We also had the regulars who I am familiar enough with to give nicknames: Svetlana the Russian shot putter who wears a terribly sturdy one-piece, the High Court Judge who has just discovered his second youth and Villebrequin shorts simultaneously, Shelley Winters who swims as if she’s in the last reel of The Poseidon Adventure and Frosted Tips Boy who wears Speedo trunks so tight you can guess his religion. God knows what they call me.
But back to the Savoy. The Savoy famously spent £250 million on the refurbishment so are understandably keen not to unnecessarily strain the corporate cards. However , it has been noted that where the Signature Suites are concerned, the brass used budget in the way women use pepper spray: they liked having some handy but only produced it when physically threatened.
Felicitously, I did not need to punish the corporate card at all when curating a new showcase in the Savoy Museum. This month’s offering is all about Art Deco Savoy and we have some beauties from the archive. The Savoy archivist – a lady for whom Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door spas was invented – has brought some of the hotel’s legendary collection of guest cards up town from whence they have been hiding in a warehouse. Imagine the thrill of finding guest cards filled with juicy insider gossip about Laurence Olivier, Katherine Hepburn, Josephine Baker, Enrico Caruso, Charlie Chaplin and Ava Gardner hiding in the archive boxes.
Fortunately, I have scads of images of these icons and dressed a Jazz Baby cabinet with a perky collection of Deco Savoy menu art, specially commissioned fans and portraits of the privileged classes enjoying their privileges at the Savoy. A good morning’s work and I send you the pictures to prove it. Brett and I then had a tryst in the Maria Callas Signature Suite – chance would be a fine thing – to discuss vamping up the glamour in the hotel’s flagship staterooms. Now I’ve worked on these rooms on paper for a year before the reopening. We had big plans for these tribute suites but the Savoy erred on the side of caution.
So now comes the realisation that the Signature Suites need to have the impact of a Busby Berkeley production number at the climax of a great MGM musical so I am called to do a few more high kicks for the hotel. Reminds me of that marvellous line in Evil Under the Sun when Maggie Smith reminisces about her days in the chorus with Diana Rigg’s character. ‘Oh yes’, says she, ‘Arlene could always kick her legs higher than any of the other girls in the line…and wider’.
So Mrs T and I have a month to turn the Maria Callas suite into a bower of bliss stuffed full of antiques, floral extravaganzas and portraits of La Divina. This is right up my strata and something I was gagging to do from the get-go but was prevented from doing so by budgets and time and all the usual tiresomeness of doing a creative business in a corporate world. Sorry to sound like a tortured artiste but, let’s face it, I doubt Cecil Beaton took no for an answer when he was designing Audrey’s frocks for My Fair Lady.
As Streisand sings, everything you do you still audition. These are wise words for any ambitious kids who think once you’ve made it in any particular profession it is all plain sailing. You have to sing for your supper every day of a creative career like a drunken drag queen. The best news this week was that Mrs T has been signed-up as part of the BBCs Royal Ascot Fashion Team. But, then again, Mrs T is no stranger to the Ascot Authority Box and will be peerlessly elegant in her demeanour and her handling of VIP guests who we have to entice before the BBC cameras like a latter day Siren leading sailors to be dashed across the clashing rocks.
I jest. We are always terribly nice to our BBC Ascot guests. This isn’t the X-Factor may the Lord be praised. So I’m snuggled under the duck down now with my vintage vino rosso watching the new Bernadette Peters live concert from Adelaide. Nothing camp about that…