A Dandy Day in Mayfair. July 2011.

Dear R0wley,

Isn’t it lovely having a break from the Today Programme on Radio 4? The work shy pension guzzling BBC staff are on strike. Quite what they have to complain about is beyond me. I switched to Radio 3 and am having a much nicer morning with the odd organ symphony recorded at the Proms than listening to Evan Davies who, incidentally, really shouldn’t call his evening programme the Bottom Line. Conjours up all sorts of pictures you’d rather not have in your head of Evan’s bottom.

And another thing…The council in its infinite wisdom has taken to hanging banners all over Bloomsbury declaring that ‘Midtown’ (?!) is a carbon neutral quarter of London and proud to be so. Now I’ve nothing against the green lobby bar the fact that I think they are venal, money-grabbing stealth taxers who bamboozle us with nonsense about inefficient wind farms and tidal power only to squeeze some more cash out of our pockets and tax our conscience. Oh please my nerves. If I hear one more bleeding heart saying they agree with green taxes on behalf of their children or grandchildren I will vomit. We’ll all be long dead by the time the globe warms up sufficiently to be an ‘issshoooo’.

Reminds me of a divine Lily Savage routine about the safety drill on aircrafts. ‘Be sure to apply your own oxygen mask before helping children and senior citizens. ‘Too f****** right’, says our Lil, ‘the only thing I want to know is can I smoke through this thing’. Glad I got that off my chest Rowley. Now, I promised you some more photographs of the launch party for Fashion at Royal Ascot hosted by Heywood Hill and here they are. Don’t you think the window looked a picture?

It was an immense honour for me to be hosted by Heywood Hill. It is a magical bookshop and one true Londoners cherish. As you know, Mrs Rodd (the authoress Nancy Mitford) worked at Heywood Hill between the wars and made it something of a literary meeting point for her intimates such as Evelyn Waugh. The Duke of Devonshire gave a terribly nice speech, responding to the news that in my salad days I was the diamond correspondent for the Financial Times. ‘Yes, you were in between a rock and a hard place’. Bravo.

Rather sad that there wasn’t a picture of Mrs T and I at the party seeing as the Ascot book is dedicated to her. But I am enclosing a super shot of my friend Guy Hills who is the maestro behind Dashing Tweeds and a cracking good photographer who will be working with me on Handmade in England. At his side is the divine Miss M, aka Miss Lara Mingay who is quite simply one of my favourite people in London. We are plotting a little escape later this week to drink champagne on a late summer night in the Chelsea Physic Garden. Don’t you love her DvF?

I had an absolutely magical day yesterday that I will tell you all about in another letter. But long story short, Guy and I met for lunch at Franco’s. Who knew you could enjoy a lunch without ordering wine? Quite the revelation. We then had a private tour of the Burlington Arcade with their head beadle Mr Lord who was quite simply a terrific performer and a mine of information. There are some super salty stories about Edwardian ladies soliciting in the Arcade who, upon closer inspection, appeared to have stubble. Turns out it was two dissolute aristocratic dandies who were enticing ‘gentlemen of quality’ back to the Cleveland Street brothel. Plus ca change.

After the Burlington Arcade, we high tailed it to the Khalili boys’ new gallery Shizaru on Mount Street opposite the Connaught. I have sent some snaps Guy took to Rupert at The World of Interiors because I think what the boys have achieved in the gallery is amusing without being kitsch and – most importantly -something new to delight the eye of even the most jaded Londoner. I will post you some pictures of Shizaru with my next letter. Guy and I were enchanted.

We ended the day at a table outside Cecconi’s with the rather marvellous Nick Silver and his chum who is about to climb Mount Everest wearing Dashing Tweeds. Nick is an incredible raconteur and told a terribly amusing story about Ribbentrop junior who, when at a party in New York wearing a name badge, was accosted by an elderly Jewish gentleman saying ‘I know who you are! Your godfathers were Goerring and Goebbels!’. Mr Ribbentrop tried to diffuse the situation but the chap got louder and drunker and returned three times to hector Mr R. Finally Mr Ribbentrop snapped. ‘You are quite mistaken Sir. My godparents were not Goerring and Goebbels. They were Rommel and Hitler’.

I had a lovely phone call from Tamara Moussaieff who has a history of British hatters to loan me for my Handmade in England research. It looks like we may be able to have lunch with she and Mrs M before they go on their travels again. Right ducky, I’ve got to dash to the Savoy to see Bretty, pop in on Don at Hardy Amies and wave goodbye to Inga at Henry Poole & Co before she goes on maternity leave. It’s all go. There’s more darling, there’s lots more.