A Night to Remember. Wasn’t that an early film about the sinking of the Titanic? Well, stick with me darling because last night was the social equivalent of going down with all hands on deck. La Farmer (in the role of the Unsinkable Molly Brown) invited me to the Natural History Museum to attend the 6th International Green Awards with De Beers up for a Conservation gong for the Diamond Route. So far so fabulous. Lifers on the London party circuit have all torn a crab claw under the diplodocus at black tie awards dinners at least a dozen times and thoroughly enjoyed the show.
Well, all I can say is if the Green Lobby run the planet the way they ran last night’s Awards dinner we’d all have died of dehydration and malnutrition if the frostbite queueing to get in hadn’t finished us off first. After we’d queued for days with nothing to entertain us but two stilt-walking ladies with balloons up their bloomers and finally came in from the cold, La Farmer thought it heroic to go back out into the bitter cold to look for fellow guest the Jewellery Editor Maria Doulton. I had visions of Captain Oats in the Antarctic. ‘I could be some time…’.
The dress code was Black Tie with a touch of green. Imagine dodgy blading geezers in suits you wouldn’t volunteer for Penny-for-the-Guy wearing green glitter Dickie Bows that would make a kiddy fiddler think twice and you’ve got the gist. The De Beers table, of course, looked immaculate including the model Lily Cole who had the demeanour of Bambi having fallen asleep in a forest glade and woken up in Brixton. Having been fed an execrable British sparkling wine at the reception, we were corralled onto our round tables under the diplodocus and abandoned for the next hour with only one bottle of carbonated water (Oh, Ambassador, you’re spoiling us) between ten.
The Awards began with a projection on the vast Gothic great hall walls of the Museum accompanied by a soundtrack that I could only surmise was the sound of an industrial saw felling a rain forest mixed with blood-curdling screams and the sound of roaring flames. Christ, thought I. That’ll teach you for not recycling your food waste. Now despite thinking biodiversity was a sex club in Soho, I am all for a bit of tree-hugging in the Chelsea Physic Garden. I even recycle my bottles outside the British Museum with the dead-eyed resignation of a Texan fatty feeding the slot machines in Vegas.
But if the Green Awards is an indication of what we’ve got to look forward to in the ‘New Economy’ of Climate Change then I felt like telling the fossils nailed to the walls of the Natural History Museum to move over. It’s all so joyless, self-indulgent and worthy. You don’t invite people do dinner at 8pm and leave them starving and parched until 9.30pm with the only entertainment being ‘The Green Poet’: a monstrous creature who looked like an extra from The Whicker Man delighting the crowd with rhyming couplets ending in ‘tree’ and ‘bio-diversiteeee’. I distinctly saw La Farmer draw blood as the fork dug into her palm.
Still, you’ve got to laugh and I’m ashamed to say we had much low amusement when dinner was finally served. OK, it’s not easy to serve a couple of hundred people a three-course ‘eco sustainable’ meal and organic British wine. But by the time the bread basket arrived we fell upon it like like Robinson Crusoe discovering the message in the bottle concealed a chocolate eclair. Let’s face it, the only dietary requirement at any British gathering is that one’s glass is never empty. After the starter, I thought the assembled company would rise as one and re-enact the Rape of the Sabine Women in order to get an extra bottle for the table.
Since when did waiting on at a big bash involve clipboard Nazis with headsets and walkie-talkies directing the troops like General Blucher at Waterloo? Reminded me of that game show we all used to watch on Saturday nights in the 70s when Marti Caine would shout ‘press your buzzers NOW!’ and panic the cat. The entertainment inter-course was a couple of bozos in gorilla costumes capering around the Museum. I think Miss Doulton would have thrown one on the barbie given half a chance.
The highlight of the evening was when Giselle Bundchen won ‘Green Celebrity of the Year’. Then came the inevitable ‘Giselle couldn’t be with us this evening…’. I’d have been less surprised if Lady Gaga had pitched up dressed as Godzilla and sang eight bars of Purple People Eater after pudding. Anyway, I think they’d awarded the first 57 gongs before the De Beers category came up. Did we lose? Do dinosaurs shit in Jurassic Park? La Farmer and I staggered out into the night bloodied but unbowed. We did contemplate a reviving glass of champagne – French and preferably imported – at Kettner’s but agreed to quit while we were behind.
As I said Rowley, I’m all for planting trees and keeping bees but must admit my heart is more in preserving London’s history. This week I spent a marvellous morning in the cellars of Berry Bros & Rudd – the oldest vintner in the world I believe – on St James’s Street studying their company ledgers. It was the fashion from the mid-18th century for the haute ton to weight themselves on the scales that still hang on the shop floor. Berry Bros has a priceless collection of ledgers recording the weights of Regency beaux such as Lord Byron, the Prince Regent, George Brummell, Lord Alvanley and William IV. The history of Mayfair’s historic luxury goods houses is, I think, my rainforest to be protected and preserved. Until next time…