Open A New Window. September 2012.

Dear Rowley,

If there’s one thing you do this year I would urge you to find a box set of the Timothy West Edward VII. Weighing in at 13-hours, it is historically accurate in script and costume. We’ve just got to the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 and the accession of King Edward VII. Annette Crosbie’s Queen Victoria is a bravura performance capturing the vanity, stubbornness, majesty and eccentricities of the late Queen.

Poignant scenes between Edward VII and his queen Alexandra about her reluctance to move out of Marlborough House into the gloom of Buckingham Palace. When King Edward died in 1910 Queen Alexandra would not concede Sandringham: a home the couple built as Prince and Princess of Wales. It is something we forget to consider when discussing the lives of kings and queens. Wouldn’t we all be rather distressed to be forced to leave a family home because protocol dictates?

Well, after so looking forward to the Rake/Bryan Ferry party at Anderson & Sheppard I came down with a thumping migraine that developed throughout the day and made it impossible to attend. There’s nothing worse than pitching-up late at a jolly party like a bad witch at a christening.  So we went to Roka instead for a comforting blackened cod and a hooker of warm sake instead. I’m sure a good time was had by all. I did pop in the previous day on No 17 to see how the shop was looking. The interiors are elegantly light, colonial, masculine and inviting.

It has been terrific fun working on the No 17 project. For the rest of the year, I’m cracking on with new projects at the Savoy and my role as Luxury Editor for Thames & Hudson. We’ve got three projects in development for me to write and a further two projects that I’d like to propose to T&H with other authors and collectors. We’ve got lunch at the Savoy with Issy van Randwyck and the Artist to suggest the former performing at the Beaufort Bar and the latter to curate a Noel and Gertie exhibition in the Savoy Museum.

We also have much to do at Henry Poole & Co. The Hall of Fame online project gathers apace. It will form the basis of one of the Thames & Hudson projects. Meetings are ongoing about the Bowes Museum exhibition of the Henry Poole & Co archive. Apropos of this, I am sure the Bowes curators would love to see the Worth ball gown shown to me by the Artist’s friend Dennis in Cheltenham. The dress is a masterpiece of the couturier’s art and craft. Charles Frederick Worth was an Englishman in Paris who was the first modern couturier and dressed amongst others the Empress Eugenie of the French, Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra.

I’m off to Brussels next week for an event to celebrate a collaboration between Aston Martin and John Lobb Ltd. In the party will be Hugo ‘Parisian Gentleman’ Jacomet who has been the driving force towards Ralph Lauren hosting the Paris book launch for The Perfect Gentleman. I believe it is provisionally booked for the 17th of November. I do look forward to a little travel this Autumn. London is already turning into a chill and a headache. Still, one has to keep one’s pecker up as the saying goes. This I do in Autumn with a brace of lovely lunches every week with dear friends.

When recession bites, the trick is not to cut-off life’s luxuries but to economise around them. For example, at Roka the temptation is always to order all of your favourite dishes and feel as fat as a foie gras goose once you’ve struggled through the last edamame bean. So instead we stick to warm saki rather than Champagne and restrict our choices to spinach leaves in sesame, grilled asparagus, tempura prawns and a blackened cod to share.

There are lots of little economies that can be made to save the shekels needed to maintain standards. I’ve found the most terrific wheeze of swapping those ruinously expensive dish washer tablets with a nip of Fairy washing powder. It does a much better job and only costs £4 a box. Similarly, expensive grooming products are an absolute waste of bloody time and money. Nivea Soft cut with a blob of Sublime Bronze works more wonders than vats of Creme de la Mer.

The shot of me lurking in the kitchen at Bloomsbury Towers is the model of a full-length portrait the Artist is tackling for an upcoming Rake feature about dandy portraiture. I saw an early draft and looked as black as the ace of spades. I’d absolutely adore him to do an unfinished oil sketch against blank or at the most primed canvas. But then again I am not an artist. It is a thrill to be painted at all. Off to lunch with Keith ‘Head of Ceremonial Tailoring’ Levett at Poole’s. Nothing like a lunch with a mate to blow the migraine cobwebs away. Until next time…