Quote of the week. Having exercised Britain’s veto like a karate chop at the EU summit last night, Mr Cameron is accused by the French of being like a guest at a wife-swapping party who decided not to bring his wife. Tells you all you need to know about the French psyche. What does that make Frau Merkel? The Madame at the cash desk. And Sarko? The short arse master of ceremonies charged with doling out the car keys. I am quietly thrilled with Mr Cameron. He has defended our honour and left the rest of Europe to Bunga Bunga between themselves. Haven’t you ever wondered why these summits last all night?
I sincerely hope we can all now shut up about the Euro until after Christmas when doubtless our European cousins will have solved the crisis, saved the world’s financial crisis and forgiven us our trespasses. And the band played believe it if you will. Do you know I don’t think I’ve felt particularly well looked after by our politicos since Mrs Thatcher was beating Michael Foot over the head with her Launer handbag and stoating up to the dispatch box armour plated in Tory blue Aquascutum to give the world some welly on behalf of Britain.
Having not seen a preview of Meryl Streep’s performance as Mrs T in the upcoming film The Iron Lady, I can’t vouch for how accurate or compassionate the movie may prove. The fact that much of the film is in flashback with a melancholy Lady Thatcher in the autumn of her years hallucinating as she reminisces about her glory days doesn’t seem either wise or kind considering the Lady is still alive. Granted, Mrs T is probably the most divisive public figure in British history since Queen Elizabeth I but I would suspect the historians will judge her tenure as captain of the national ship to have been equally profound.
Apropos of Meryl Streep, I don’t think anyone in the fashion industry watched The Devil Wears Prada without cheerleading when she gave her ‘Cerulean’ speech apropos of how the Gods of international style bibles influence what everyone wears in the fashion food chain and make billions of dollars for the global economy. And today, it seems, the Inland Revenue has weighed-in about the child exploitation that is – allegedly – the lot of poor fashion interns who work for nothing with designers and editors in order to get the golden ticket into the business of frockage. To this I have one thing to say: suck it up.
I got my first internship at National Magazine House in London aged 16. I wrote 50 letters to every editor I could think of not discounting Horse & Hound and The Lady. I think my first ‘in’ was as an assistant at the Good Housekeeping institute. Imagine a young boy besotted by Jane Procter’s fabulous if short-lived W magazine – the first fashion newspaper on glossy paper in A3 format – being asked to help test Hoovers and call-in the latest Magimix. Well, within a week I caught the eye of the beauty editor Diana and before you knew it I’d swapped the apron for a black polo neck and Joseph trousers and was meeting Evelyn Lauder.
The beauty desk on GH was next to fashion where the fabulous Caroline Baker was working. Caroline was one of the great fashion editors on Nova in the 1970s and still is a true creative genius. So from beauty I moved to junior assistant’s assistant for Caroline Baker. While wandering from post room to GH I met and successively worked with Robert Burgess the fashion editor of Country Living, for the legendary Marcelle d’Argy Smith who was editor of Cosmopolitan and for the terrifying troika of Liz Walker, Hamish Bowles and Iain R Webb on Harpers when it was Queen.
Did I get paid? Eventually, I think about £50 sustenance. For the rest, I lived in vacated student digs or on friends’ couches and replaced solids with cigarettes. In retrospect, this was a magical time though I may not have thought it when working for the fashion editor who insisted I schlepped garment bags everywhere in the W1 postcode to save money on dispatch. And in doing this I got to meet every fashion PR in London, lots of designers and most of the British fashion press corps. En route, I got a front row seat at the last Norman Hartnell couture show, went on shoots with Tania Mallett, Carmen dell Orefice and Linda Evangelista and quite frankly I would have paid Nat Mags for the training they gave me.
I have to say it was nothing like The Devil Wears Prada except, perhaps, when I served a brief six months at Tatler when Jane Procter was editor. Imagine a blonde Joan Crawford and you’ve got the gist. In those days Tatler was quite simply the bitchiest, funniest and most glamorous magazine in London and Ms Procter was the absolutely perfect editor at the perfect time. And Tatler it seems has come full circle. When I was an intern, Kate Reardon was the fashion assistant. She is now editor and has given Tatler its mojo back. Funnily enough, Kirstie Alsopp was an editorial assistant on Country Living back in the day when I was the kid in the fashion cupboard.
Anyway, enough meandering down fashion’s memory lane. I still have a picture of myself in the Country Living late 80s years wearing white Katherine Hamnett T-shirts, cycling shorts and a Dinny Hall black perspex pendant. Must have looked an absolute bugger…Until next time…