New Balls Please. June 2012.

Dear Rowley,

As they say down the souk in old Tangier town, ‘Trust in Allah but tie-up your camel’. This has been my philosophy for 2012. Once we’d put The Perfect Gentleman to bed in March, I started to enjoy the year: in particular my consultancy with Anderson & Sheppard working on trouser blocks for the No 17 Clifford Street shop. We move back in to No 17 next week would you believe and open in October. It is personally and professionally one of the most thrilling projects I have ever worked on and the team are quite simply perf.

Audie ‘Poppy’s Mum’ Charles and I snuck out for one of our gruesome twosome lunches yesterday at the Henry Poole & Co canteen in Heddon Street for an al fresco. As Audie often says, ‘hold this thought’. We’re having a terrific time, lots of laughs and so much fun but it is all going at breakneck speed that one doesn’t take enough time to stand back and say ‘can you Adam & Eve it?’

With this in mind, I am now legs akimbo on the day bed in Bloomsbury Towers with The Spectator, a plate of quail’s eggs and a bottle of fizz watching Maria Sharapova on magnificent form thwacking balls at some poor oriental who is I believe on Court No 1 merely as target practise. I love Maria. She has the elegance of Chrissie Evert and the power of the Williams Sister tuskers. There is no sight as glorious or English as a grass court in high summer with all the girls in tennis whites and all the linesmen in, er, Ralph Lauren.

Mind you, I do keep pressing my red button to cop a look at Novak’s bum in terribly tight white Uniqlo shorts. I’ve had fun times at Wimbledon but not of late. The last time Chris Skelton and I had No 1 Court tickets, I was dismayed that the chav element of England is allowed to take crisps, cans of lager and untidy bosoms into the arena. Surely these dreadful biffers can sit through a set of tennis without a bucket of chicken wings and a six pack of Strongbow.

I had a rather depressing morning in the camp Greco-Roman steam, sauna and swimming pool this morning with the Daily Mail. I’ve now come to the conclusion that there are decent people in trade be that tailoring, writing. barbering or bricklaying who pay our taxes, like a drink, work hard and play hard. We’re the honest Johns of this world. And then we have the bankers, the politicians, the spin doctors, the marketing people and the work-shy, PC public sector who don’t know they are born who suck the life force out of our economy if not actively embezzle and steal. The news that bankers think that the British public are dupes and only little people pay taxes is hardly a surprise. It’s been the form since Cosimo de Medici ruled Florence.

But doesn’t it make you spit with rage and righteous anger that in an age of global financial catastrophe, recession and uncertainty that our politicians and bankers don’t think we’ll notice that while we suffer they feather their own nests dipping a hand into our collective handbags? I want to give it up for the great British tax payer. Let’s face it, we are the real bankers of the United Kingdom and Europe. It is our money the political class play Monopoly with. The ruling class are more stupid and venal than the Sherwood inner circle and yet they condescend and corrupt with a smiling face and a patronising pat on the bonce.

As Ute Lemper once sang, life’s a swindle kids. But then you meet someone so honest, so talented and so true that it restores one’s faith in human nature and good old fashioned honesty and decency. This morning I had the thrill of visiting my bespoke cocktail suit maker Sir Tom Baker at his Soho atelier. Tom is a philosopher. On paper we are a very odd couple of friends. But in person we endorse every statement each of us makes about the crapola in the bespoke business who are all in it together to promote each other and make zero talent stretch like a piece of chewing gum.

Tom could be Prime Minister. He’s got it figured out. He is a total lone wolf and one of the most emotionally intelligent men I have ever had the privilege to meet. I was at Sir Tom’s for a fitting. The ‘Northern Line’ vest and coat he is cutting for me is made in black chenille shot through with silver thread. The waistcoat is cut with a horseshoe breast: terribly hard to achieve without the garment gaping. He cut it corset tight and I have to tell you the coat is pure poetry in motion. I will wear it for the London book launch for The Perfect Gentleman.

We were joined at 10am by Gorgeous George Garnier who is taking pictures of the fitting process for a Rake feature. George is quite simply the best of British. He’s got a cheeky sense of humour and irony and he lights up a room with his energy and enthusiasm not to mention talent. Gorgeous has offered to do a portrait sitting with me in his Bermondsey studio. I know George’s work. He takes incredibly good nudes. Not that I’ll be dropping the kimono like Kate Winslet in Titanic. Comes a time in every Salome’s life when she cannot afford to drop the seventh veil.

As I type, the poor Asian playing tennis against Maria Sharapova now looks like a rickshaw peddler with a ruthless passenger in the carriage pummelling her with golf balls. It is like the Boxer Rebellion all over again. Until next time…