Agent Provocateur. July 2011

Dear Rowley,

I’m beginning to agree with the Daily Mail that we’re blowing the phone hacking scandal out of all proportion. The world’s economy is teetering on the brink like an Essex girl after one too many Snowballs and yet all attention is deflected towards taking down the Murdocks. Perhaps that’s why Labour MPs are making such a meal of it and behaving like McCarthy’s committee of un-American Activity in the 60s. National schadenfreude at seeing the mighty Murdocks hauled-up before the House is, let’s face it, fun.

We’d all like to see Rebecca Wade strapped to the ducking stool let alone handcuffed between two rozzers. Murdock’s power, too, can be curbed. But doesn’t it make you gnash your dentures when the oleaginous Keith Vaz and Tessa Jowell criticise endemic dishonesty in the Met when MPs are marginally lower in the public opinion than loan sharks, traffic wardens and grave robbers? MPs, like Baby Jane Hudson, just don’t get it when the public won’t buy their act any more.

I do enjoy the Mail’s Quentin Letts who is a Parliamentary correspondent in the grand tradition of satirists such as Defoe and Fielding. I adored his description today of Ed ‘waste of space’ Milliband “playing park the eyeball in the corner” as he tried to appear morally indignant. He only succeeds in looking like a stunned Kung Fu Panda trying to pass a piece of bamboo.

As for Gordon Brown wingeing about being a ‘victim’ of hacking – an uncomfortable word also used by Boris Johnson – I have four words to say: You Sold Our Gold, Mister Broon. What else can we do but KBO (keep buggering on) as Winston would have it? And just when you think you’ve seen it all, you turn on Deal or No Deal and there’s a Masai Warrior called Boniface in the hot seat. Still, it was fun seeing Shirley from Bow saying ‘aaaah, we all love ya, darlin. Be lucky’. Can’t make it up can you?

Handmade in England is cracking on apace. I finished the Garrard chapter yesterday and am working on Turnbull & Asser tonight in the Bloomsbury Towers boudoir with a large G&T  and a full ash tray gifted by Cecconi’s on the bedside table…a circular looking glass from the Habitat closing sale if you must know. On Thursday I have an appointment with Smith & Harris on Hatton Garden.

Smith & Harris are gold and silversmiths who handcraft everything from replacement pieces for the Duke of Norfolk’s 18th century silver dinner service to Mark Quinn’s famous gold Kate Moss statue. Their workshop would be familiar to craftsmen working a hundred years ago. There is something Lord of the Rings-esque about it. One half imagines a full-grown Orc emanating from a bubbling cauldron heated by a naked flame.

I’m sending you a snap taken by Guy Hills from my last visit to the forge. Not entirely sure why I wore the pink Hardy Amies Oxford bags. They were made a million years ago and I’ve only worn them once before at a polo match outside Antwerp. When the captain showed our party the changing rooms I nearly had to reach for the sal volatile.

I’ve also sent you a snap from the new Rake. You’ll recall the Sciaparelli pink linen Ralph shorts I took to Menorca last month? Well, Christian my editor on The Rake asked if he could have the shot to include in a feature about men with well turned calves who rock it out in short trews. Rather nice to share a page with Noel Coward, the Duke of Windsor and the Prince of Wales.

Much excitement at the Savoy. One of my dealers on Cecil Court who owns Notions Antiquaria has taken delivery of a vast cache of Vanity Fair Spy cartoons. The lion’s share of the 2000 plus cartoons of eminent Victorian and Edwardian gentlemen aren’t of great value. But when you get to the rarer portraits such as Wilde, Whistler, Beerbohm, Bernhardt and Edward VII, the prices can rise north of £400.  Tracey is a mate. She’s also a believer in selling to the right buyer. If we take delivery on Friday, I can curate a new Savoy Museum showcase over the weekend.

Mrs T meanwhile has been busy negotiating for another tiara for the Savoy Museum showcase and has struck gold with the lovely Geoffrey ‘Antiques Roadshow’ Munn at Wartski who has one of the finest collections of historic jewels in London. We’re going to curate a case celebrating the Savoy’s Coronation Ball – attended by Churchill with cabaret performances by Maurice Chevalier and Noel Coward – with the star of the show being a Wartski tiara worn at the 1953 Coronation.

The best news this week? I’m signing-up with a new agent. She’s called Geraldine and is the director of the Yellow Poppy agency. She is also whippet thin and gorgeous, terribly funny and I have a feeling she will be with me for life unless she gets time off for good behaviour. It will be heaven not to have money conversations with clients. My usual strategy for negotiating fees is thus:  squeal, hug client, grin like a chimp and wipe a tear from the eye then say a variation on ‘Oh I’d LOVE to. THRILLED. HONOURED. Payment? Really? Oh, no, no, no  just a token. I’m truly blessed. Bye darlings’. See, not exactly Warren Buffett am I?

I tell you Rowley, if there was a metaphor for my cash flow it would be one of those glitter cannons that explode when someone wins the X-Factor. Can’t spend it fast enough. Still, as Diane at Capri (you know the rest) alway says, ‘die poor’. Until next time…