Ready to Begin Again. October 2011.

Dear Rowley,

Do you know one of the best things I’ve done in the past 39-years is join the Greco-Roman pool, sauna and steam at the Holborn Hotel. An early morning dip, sizzle and sweat is quite simply manna for the mind, body and morale. It’s also quite easy on the eye when there’s a convention of South American athletes booked in for the week. Reminds me of a polo weekend in Antwerp when I was given a tour of the changing rooms next door to the stables. It was empty and they still had to pass the sal volatile.

I promised you another couple of snaps of Coworth Park. My first shot – taken from an electric golf buggy tour of the grounds with Mrs T and I like George V and Queen Mary trundling down the Royal Mile at Ascot – is of one of the turreted follies in the grounds that quite reminded me of the Petite Trianon at Versailles. Bang on queue, a swan glided under the stone bridge as the dying sun hit the water. Knowing Coworth, that swan’s been trained to hit its mark on cue every night.

So another day another dollar as Marlene Dietrich said in Destry Rides Again. Resolution number one as I approach 40. Tear through the morning paper in the sauna without becoming apoplectic. I positively skimmed through Greece declaring that they fully intend to default on their debts and be propped up by Frau Merkel. Hardly sets a good precedent for us poor buggers trying to live within our means. Next! The Conservative conference diary is heavy on caring and doesn’t mention an EU referendum. Rather like the Pompeiians applying fresh lipstick as Vesuvius erupts. Next! See?

The Today programme at conference time becomes positively toxic. This morning we were treated to Sarah Montagu ‘worrying’ George Osborne about the economy in much the same way a toy poodle tries to nip the ankles of a patient labrador. I am increasingly inclined to cross the floor to Radio 3. When they read the news on Radio 3 it’s like someone with perfect RP soothing you to sleep with a warm brandy and a lullaby. You should try it Rowley.

This week I hope to join the London Library in St James’s Square and get to work on the primary source research for The Perfect Gentleman. I showed the dummy to Mrs T en route to Windsor and she quite rightly pointed out that the layouts are beautiful but far too similar to Savile Row. For this book to pack a punch and say something new I need to delve back into first person reports of luxury Mayfair from 1800 onwards. I need to bring the age back to life and move way beyond just Jermyn Street, St James’s and Savile Row. If I can do this, then we’ve got a winner. I still prefer my subtitle The Pursuit of Luxury in London to the Frankfurt Book Fair one The Pursuit of Timeless Elegance & Style in London, don’t you?

Wednesday will see my first trip back to the Savoy since our Corfu escapade. It’s for a shoot that Japanese magazine Leon has asked me to model for in a My London feature. I do enjoy these kinds of features because – in the words of the kids – I can give a ‘shout out’ to my favourite London addresses such as Duke’s, Sheekey’s, Turnbull & Asser and Anderson & Sheppard. The chaps I always love to support are the antiquarian book and print dealers on Cecil Court in Covent Garden. It is my favourite street in the West End and always a pleasure to visit.

Not entirely sure what the next step will be at the Savoy. Agent Geraldine – as bright as Stella Rimmington and infinitely more glamorous in a shift dress and heels – is meeting with the brass this month and then we’ll see whether it is onward and upward or over and out. Similarly, today is royalties day at Thames & Hudson. I didn’t open the golden envelope this weekend for fear of having to order the black crepe armband and sombre orphan in top hat to lead the cortege. I will have a peek this afternoon and report back. That’s another case for Agent G.

I have a nice diamond dinner to look forward to tomorrow evening at No 1 Mayfair for Stephen Webster. No 1 Mayfair you’ll recall was the deconsecrated church where Hardy Amies showed at London Fashion Week. It should be spectacular. I will have to dust off the Vladimir tiara for the occasion. Speaking of which, I had a lovely conversation with a royal watcher at my Fashion at Royal Ascot talk at Coworth for the Windsor Literary Festival. Said lady was fascinated by my nuggets about the private royal jewel collection and urged me to think about a new book about the subject. My favourite comment? ‘We are serious royal watchers. We’re not flag-wavers’. Quite.

I think it is high time a new study was made of the Windsor private jewellery collection. Lord only knows where to start but I think it is a book that I would donate a kidney to write. Another project still bubbling under is Spectacular! The History of Parisian Cabaret. We’ve almost finished a dummy for the project and it should be ready to show to T&H fairly shortly. Wouldn’t that be a jolly start to 2012 and my 40th year?