As has become our motto at No 17 Clifford Street on the new Anderson & Sheppard shop, ‘can you take it?’ After the usual morning swim, sauna and steam, I high tailed it to our temporary offices in Heddon Street for the day. The gang was all there: Anda, Audie, Emily, Andre and Connor. We are packing-up to relocate to the shop next week and I have to admit a twinge of nostalgia for Heddon Street. It’s like moving from the rehearsal room to the theatre come showtime.
The most excitement of the day was completing my first 10,000 words of the Corfu novel then reacquainting myself with Philippe at Relax for an hour of calming massage. In my absence, Audie and Anda had an audience with Johnny Pigozzi who is a customer of A&S, a superb photographer and a man who makes husbands jealous. He also makes all manner of special items that we will stock in the shop not least a canvas weekend bag that could be the final solution.
After Johnny, we decamped to Robin Birley’s new club on Shepherd’s Market. You know the story. Robin’s father Mark was the founder of Annabel’s, Mark’s Club, George and then some. The group was sold to Richard Caring and Robin made his comeback with the new private members’ club. I have to tell you it is the most glamorous property in London. The smoking terrace is populated by hedge fund big beasts sucking on Havanas and dressed in the uniform (a blue bespoke one-button suit and open necked white shirt) while below stairs is quite simply the most sinful private dining room suite with a nightclub, bars and naughty little alcoves in what used to be the coal holes designed by Rifat Ozbek.
The glamour was quite hard to bear. Apparently, Tom Ford and Tony Bennett were letting off steam there last night. It is a speakeasy par excellence. The membership is not cheap but I think worth gold. I am not a joiner but I must say felt terribly at home at the club. I had a brace of champagne cocktails then had to dash for the press night of Chariots of Fire at the Gielgud theatre. I was a guest of Mrs Hall – Issy van Randwyck – who is the wife of the director and, more to the point, a legendary cabaret performer.
I arrived within a whisker of curtain up. Issy was resplendent in claret velvet embroidered with crystal beads and very sparkly shoes. We were front row centre of the dress circle and I have to admit to feeling pleased as punch to be friends and family at such a night. Chariots of Fire is the story of the British Olympic running team in the 1920s. The major competitors were an English Jew and a devout Scottish boy. How the hell Ed managed to project the sheer physicality and drama of men going at it full pelt within the confines of a theatre defies belief.
The stage is in the round with a revolving mechanism and a running track built in and around the audience. The boys actually do run, jump and hurdle at breakneck speed around the space. They also sing, dance and play instruments like a dream. It is quite simply one of the finest, most physical and emotional piece of theatre I have ever had the privilege to see on the West End stage. I laughed, cried and sweated buckets on behalf of the boys. The cast included Nickolas Grace and the marvellous Henry Bowman as the butler who balanced cups of champagne on the hurdles to encourage Lord Lindsey to throw his legs ever higher and wider.
The music was divine: lots of Elgar, the famous Vangelis theme and scads of Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. When the curtain fell – or rather the boys and girls of the company stretched, wound down and walked it out – the audience was on its feet. It was the least we could do. The boys in the cast must lose half a stone for all of eight shows a week. What do they eat? High protein I would guess. After the show, we decamped to Floridita for the cast party. It was all going on and very starry. I was the cat’s pyjamas turning up with Issy. We descended the spiral staircase in Floridita to be greeted by a bank of paparazzi and scads of TV cameras who couldn’t have been less interested in me because Biggins was there.
And so to bed. Can you take it? Tomorrow’s activities include a lunch at J. Sheekey’s Oyster Bar with my agent Geraldine. Love G, don’t you? Thursday beckons a gala performance of Henry V at the Hampstead Theatre and Friday a cocktail with my friend. Then we have the MTBA summer party at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall whereby the royal family of Savile Row get together to lift a few and shake a tail feather. If only my black chenille Tom Baker ‘Northern Line’ was ready for the MTBA party. I love wearing Sir Tom to Savile Row parties because he totally understands bespoke but executes it with great flair and flamboyance.