I left you on the Boulevard des Anglais in Nice luxuriating in the Ruhe beach club with the artist. Four days of sheer bliss as it happens. I did find the architecture in Nice heart-meltingly faded and grand. There’s a softness to the light that makes all of those pastel and white stucco facades absolutely magical. By day Nice is gentle and civilised. By night it offers everything one could possibly wish for – even if one shouldn’t – though we didn’t. Instead, we found ourselves either in the casino or at a late night beach bar listening to very cool jazz with a Ricard and water.
Possibly the highlight of the beach club was a lunch when Suzi Perry – my partner in crime at Royal Ascot for the BBC – and her better half motored down from their house down the coast to join us. Suzi is on very good form and has a new series working with ex-Servicemen. She’s the forces sweetheart. I think we all misbehaved over lunch and made rather a show for fellow diners but a good time was had by all. I had looked-up David Shilling who has a house in Monaco but he wasn’t in town so we didn’t catch-up with David on this trip. Still, next time…
We did manage to get rather tanned frolicking in the sea for a good hour every day. The sea bumped and ground like a stripper in Reno so much fun was had being forcibly washed up on the shore like Daryl Hannah in Splash. Another highlight of Nice was our regular paper and cigarette shop whose patronne was rather amused by the Artist and I. Every morning she’d comment about our pretty beach wear and wish ‘bon plage’. I’m sure she was having rather a snicker but it made us feel at home.
Isn’t it incredible that though one never looks forward to a flight, I could barely wait for the Wednesday morning when we had our return tickets to Paris on the train. The journey positively whipped by aided in no small way by a Ricard and water to dull the sinuses. We had a couple of hours in Paris to kill so high tailed it to the Tuilleries Gardens to look at the new borders that have been planted in to the formal gardens: stunning and so different from English herbaceous borders.
Every summer, the Tuilleries Gardens plays host to a fair of terrifying proportions. I recall losing a pair of Gucci sunglasses on the Ferris Wheel back in the 90s when I was at the couture with the Telegraph’s garrulous fashion editor Hilary Alexander. Now wild horses wouldn’t drag me onto a Ferris Wheel let alone this terrifying contraption like an oil well whereby people are strapped onto either end of what looks like a wind turbine and are plunged up and down like lab rats being tested for thrombosis. I have appalling vertigo and a strange desire to live for another twenty years so declined a go on said contraption.
The Eurostar from Paris to London is always a joy. The staff are as affable as the beach boys in Nice and the Champagne flows as long as you wish it to. On returning to Bloomsbury Towers, I went straight to bed to catch-up on Twenty Twelve and a couple of old comfort movies such as the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton/Noël Coward three-hander Boom and Julie Andrews as Gertie Lawrence in the biopic Star. The costumes in Star are some of the most elegant ever made for celluloid.
Today’s fun and games at Anderson & Sheppard included a state visit by Adrian Gill who has the ability to make me laugh like a drain before he’s even opened his mouth. It is always a joy to spend time with Adrian; particularly when we have profound conversations about what a chap should wear when escorting a lady wearing haute couture. Such burning issues of the day.
Tomorrow sees me recommence work on the Corfu novel. Wouldn’t it be fun if I got the damned thing finished this summer then moved the cast of characters to a larger stage such as Nice perhaps. I’m not longing to speed up again until after No 17 Clifford Street has opened. I was supposed to have started the Savoy book at the beginning of July but as the old saying goes ‘no dough, no show’. Next week I am spending some much needed time at Henry Poole & Co working on the archive. I can no longer work with the dusty and damp ledgers in the basement so we’ll have to think again how best to proceed. Health first from now on I am happy to say. All together now, ‘On a clear day…’.