As La Farmer would say, I feel like I’ve been shot out of a canon; rather in the spirit of Carol Channing in Thoroughly Modern Millie hollering ‘raspberries darling!’ . As the old boiler said to the taxi dancer, I don’t think my feet have touched the ground. It was Guy ‘Dashing Tweeds’ Hills’s birthday party a couple of nights ago. Scott ‘Bespoke Banter’ was on my arm that evening: he in a DJ minus the shirt and me in the Tom Baker sequin coat. As the cab driver said, ‘what have you come as?’ Anda quite rightly observed ‘you’re a Kooples ad made flesh’.
We arrived to discover Guy in a velvet smoking jacket mixing cocktails that would fell an elk and spinning vinyl records of long lost musicals such as The Earl and the Girl on a wind-up. Is there a more pleasing sentence in the English language than ‘would you like another cocktail or would you rather move on to champagne?’ The Savile Row Massive was out in force and Guy’s subterranean playroom had been transformed into a pop up restaurant complete with upright and pleasantly woozy, bluesy jazz singer. I don’t know another man in London who can comfortably seat fifty for dinner. Imagine a candle-lit dinner comprising two monolithic ribs of beef that would have defeated Collins’s Count Fosco and oceans of sinful Valpoliparrot.
The guest list was a cast that would make those in a Fellini movie look like positive wallflowers. Guy’s father is pure Blithe Spirit and an absolutely charming man. The night concluded with Mr Wimsett and I dancing the Charleston while Guy plucked out the melody on his ukulele. There was more than an aroma of the 1920s about the whole proceedings and you half expected to turn around to find Cecil Beaton in armour, Tallulah Bankhead en travestie as big Bill Tildon or Stephen Tennant dragged up as Queen Marie of Romania. Still, one mustn’t live in the past…particularly when it isn’t one’s own.
Can you remember a thousand years ago when I was at Newcastle University and I was asked to pose for a theatre poster advertising Entertaining Mr Sloane? The inspiration was a Boucher portrait of a courtesan. Little did I know the producers had chosen a nude rather than clothed Boucher. Anyway, I posed and the posters were plastered all over Toon on graduation week when everyone including my parents were in town. I think in retrospect I’m more proud of that ‘tasteful’ poster than my First in English Lit. Anyway, my new friend Timothy Morgan Owen is a terribly talented painter and said he would like me to sit for him. I wonder if we should recreate Sloane now 20 years have passed?
Cannot even begin to tell you how fascinating this week’s research was on the new tome The Perfect Gentleman. Tuesday heralded an appointment at Fox on St James’s Street: one of London’s most august purveyors of cigars to gentlemen of quality such as the Emperor Napoleon III, Churchill, Oscar Wilde and the Duke of Windsor. Mrs T and I spent a very fruitful morning in the Fox museum poring over a glass casket made for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and glories such as the inlaid humidor made for the Duke of Windsor’s billet Fort Belvedere when he was still Prince of Wales and Mrs Simpson was a diversion rather than a constitutional crisis.
The most inspiring appointment this week was a visit with Mrs T to see the divine Geoffrey Munn at Warstki. Geoffrey is a world class historian with a particular expertise in tiaras and the Russian Imperial jeweller Faberge. The treasures he has in the shop would, quite frankly, make the late Queen Mary kick a hole in a stained glass window. Imagine a jewelled gold diary locked by a delicate gold pencil tipped with a solitaire diamond. Western civilisation has indeed regressed now objects such as this are no longer crafted or desired by the impossibly wealthy. My favourite piece was a guilloche and diamond lighter in its original box with a note inscribed ‘from Nicky and Alix’: Russia’s last Tsar and Tsarina.
The catnip in my bowl this week came courtesy of NBC. About a month ago I did a talking head interview about William and Kate for a doc titled ‘Inside the Royal Wedding’. I thought nothing of it. Anyway, thanks to Agent G, I was part of a show that scored massive ratings in the US and apparently a couple of my lines were zingers. The Queen’s cousin Lady Elizabeth Anson garnished the show with a sprinkling of controversy because she suggested that David and Victoria Beckham were rather miffed to be put in the cheap seats at the Royal Wedding. This has ‘gone viral’ as they say on t’Internet and has made William & Kate a must see.
So, with impeccable timing, 2011 has perked up considerably and just in the nick of time. It’s ghastly to stagger into the New Year with all the fleet-footed willingness of a Dead Man Walking in Sing-Sing. Not that the hi-jinks are over quite yet. A meeting yesterday at Thame & Hudson confirmed that we’ve got a lot of work to do on The Perfect Gentleman if we’re going to get the art direction done in six weeks. Anyway, off to do a few laps and have the sauna and steam that prevent me looking like the chief petty officer on the Raft of the Medusas. Until next time…