Possession. August 2011.

Dear Rowley,

Can we talk about possession? No, not of the Satanic variety although I did have an experience many years ago that would make Rosemary’s Baby look like Home Alone but that’s for the memoirs. Do you know it isn’t even a year since the Savoy reopened on 10.10.10. I recall Mrs T and I discussing a profound sense of loss when the hotel finally opened to the public after months of being our own private playground. We had much the same feeling on Friday when, after presenting the Maria Callas suite to the GM, we had to hand back the keys knowing we might not see that suite again for a long time.

The presentation went well and I was very conscious that practicality would always trump aesthetics when it comes to decorating a suite. However, I think we struck the correct balance. The thing about possession is that you become incredibly protective about the angle of a picture or the ruche of a curtain. This is healthy for a presentation but at some point you have to let go. Other people have opinions equally valid and once our work is done we have to walk away and move on to the next suites. It was a lesson I had to learn with the Archive Room at No 1 Savile Row for Gieves & Hawkes but you still feel pangs of Gollumesque ‘leave my precious alone’ about a space one has given so much attention to.

The best response I find is to walk away for a while and come back refreshed and ready to begin again. Nothing, let’s face it, lasts forever and there will be new eyes and hands considering every inch of the Savoy. That said, Brett did mention that like the the Grandstand at Ascot, the Savoy doesn’t undergo such a transformation for at least fifty years. It is, in conclusion, rather marvellous to be a part of its history then – in the words of Alan Bennett’s The History Boys - ‘pass it on’.

So what else is new? Corfu is now a mere fortnight away and I must say I relish wearing shorts for a couple of weeks and starting work on my Greek Island novel. One of my favourite film titles was the Louella Parsons/Hedda Hopper biopic about the two golden age Hollywood gossip queens entitled Malice in Wonderland. My novel will not be malicious. It will I hope be souffle light and an antidote to all the grimness that seems to be pervading life in London if not the world at present. It will aspire to be Vile Bodies, Mapp & Lucia and Love in a Cold Climate in tone. I think the plan is to start in Corfu this August and finish in Corfu the next. Would you be a reader darling if I sent you the first chapter? I do hope so.

The blood boiled again today when I heard two of the looters on Radio 4 saying they blamed the government for their appalling behaviour and targeted local shops because ‘they were the rich and they deserved it’. As a former nation of shopkeepers, we should indeed find this attitude rich if not rather nauseating. Is an eighty-year old Asian shopkeeper who has run an electrical business in Clapham their idea of ‘the rich’ and a worthy target for their ire? My virtual taser was twitching just to listen to this self-pitying, aggressive bile.

En route from better half’s this morning to Bloomsbury Towers, I noticed the rather battered old bike parked outside the house (no comments please Rowley) had its basket filled with rubbish by considerate passers by. What makes one weep is the lack of respect for someone else’s property. What kind of people think a bicycle basket is an acceptable receptacle for their detritus? Still, recent events in London have made me think that I don’t really do enough for the hood apart from picking-up litter in Bloomsbury Square. I must ask Rector Roddy at St George’s, Mayfair, if there is anything I can do of purpose and use. It takes a riot to make you think how selfish and introspected most of us are in London.

After a week such as Mrs T and I had at the Savoy, I always feel the need for a little peace and quiet writing at the window of Bloomsbury Towers. I popped in to Thames & Hudson on Friday to see Adelia and have a catch-up about Handmade in England. Glorious tintanabulations, my art director for Fashion at Royal Ascot has been appointed to lay-out the dummy for Handmade. This is very good news because it allows me to spend a week writing the text for the Frankfurt Book Fair presentation and will mentally gird my loins for finishing the book by Christmas.

Well, the sun is struggling to shine and better half and I have lunch at Rules with New Yorker chum Eric. We can’t go to the dining room a Rules more than once a year but it is always a joy. The bar upstairs is a great favourite. It was a private trysting dining room frequented by Edward VII and Mrs Langtry. Rules reminds one that London is still civilised and any time after the Glorious Twelfth is the time to book a lunch when the game is in season.

We had a cracking dinner with Susan and John at the Rivington after the Savoy presentation. I was hoping better half would come to the Savoy to raise a glass of champagne at 6pm in the Callas suite before dinner but he couldn’t make it so Susan and I took a pew at the little dining table by the Thames view window and both considered how breathtaking the views are. There isn’t another hotel in London that can touch the Savoy for views that would be broadly familiar to Monet who painted the Palace of Westminster from his Savoy suite in 1900. Until next time…