Aren’t you thrilled that Strictly Come Dancing is stitching up The X-Factor like a kipper this season? Does this mean the British public are tiring of the cynical, no-talent schlockfest we’ve had to suffer in recent years and is finally coming back to a more elegant and amusing age? Strictly comes into its own at half time. This weekend’s fun and games was a pure unadulterated joy.
My favourite moment has to be the dance-off when the losing couple is surrounded by the survivors and brushed with elephant trunks of protective affection. This week’s casualty was the marvellous Fern Britton who, for a woman d’un age, rocked them into a coffin with her Salsa. I adored Fern Britton’s performance and loved the way she shook it like Salma Hayek to Party Time. Wild abandon wasn’t even in it.
The shock horror was that she was joined in the ‘dance off’ by girl band chantoos Kimberley Walsh who waltzed like Ginger Rogers. Just goes to show that the British public is if not fickle then populist. They’ve kept in a rather marvellous ten tonne Tessie soap actress Lisa Riley who is a revelation and don’t be surprised if said spinning top doesn’t get to the final. I think we’re seeing a backlash against unreal reality TV and the public sticking it to the producers.
Strictly is working this season largely thanks to new judge prima ballerina Darcey Bussell. Like all Royal Ballet dancers I’ve ever encountered in the fleshpots of London, Darcey is a fox masquerading as a porcelain doll. She looks like Princess Grace but then again we all know what Judy Garland said of Grace Kelly when told she was a nymphomaniac: ‘only when they calm her down’. Compared to pantomime dames Bruno and Craig and veteran cheeky Cockney Len Goodman, Darcey is class with sass.
Who do I think will win Strictly this year? For pizazz I’d vote Denise van Outen, for pose I’d vote Kimberley Walsh but I suspect Olympic fever will win the day and the Pommel Horse Prince with the dodgy haircut will take the prize. Tonight I am in mourning for the end of Downton Abbey series three. How ITV can follow Downton with a new series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here is a slap after tickle.
This week has been entirely taken over by the Louis Vuitton Guide to London 2014. I like ‘getting stuck in’ to a new project and do come to life when wired to a deadline like a murderer to an electric chair. Focuses the mind don’t you find? Doing a solid 12-hour day’s work does make me feel marginally less guilty about sampling the delights of London by night.
Highlight of the week was an evening at Brasserie Zedel’s Crazy Coq’s Cabaret to see Issy van Randwyck. Issy is arguably the greatest cabaret performer in London today. She earned her spurs at Madame JoJos in Soho about twenty years ago when I used to watch her midnight show with legends such as Ruby Venezuela who used to dress up as a prawn cracker and sing If You Knew Sushi Like I Knew Sushi Oh! Oh! Oh What A Gal! and long lost performers such as Teddi Bear, Becka and the Venus Mantrap.
Issy went legit and graduated from the sin bins of Soho to star at the National Theatre in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music with Dame Judi Dench and spend the last ten years of Larry Adler’s life touring with him and recording the definitive rendition of Stairway to Paradise. Crazy Coq’s is an Art Decoesque circular cabaret space in what used to be the old Atlantic Bar & Grill back in the day. Then it was decadent. Now it is a glamorous subterranean brasserie and cabaret showcase.
Issy acts every song and understands how to pace a one-hour set of cabaret classics. She can work an audience, she can shock an audience and she can titillate and thrill; changing tempo and mood at the flick of a wrist or wink of an eye. I always like a naughty song and Issy could write the book about double-entendres. But I also adore it when she goes into fifth gear and rocks out Love for Sale or takes a chance with an ingenious mash-up of Bond themes Skyfall and Diamonds are Forever.
En route to the cabaret I spent the afternoon at Henry Poole & Co on Savile Row recording a royal fashion documentary for Back to Back that has already sold into the US, Australia and Asia. The director stopped the show mid-recording and said ‘there’s a series in this’. One is always tempted to reply ‘no s****’. I also popped in to see the family at No 17 Clifford Street: Anderson & Sheppard’s new shop for whom I consulted for the best part of this year.
It is lovely lovely to see a project one has been close to reach take off. Adrian Gill, another partner-in-crime at No 17, was in the house and much flushing with pride was to be done seeing very hard work come to life. All in all it was a very good week. The reviews for The Perfect Gentleman have been good as has a series of portraits shot for The Rake by the supremely talented George Garnier of me and my Picture of Dorian Gray painted by Timothy Morgan-Owen.
I’ve sent you a snap of my Momento Mori desk at Bloomsbury Towers complete with all the magnum opus Thames & Hudson editions and a huge bunch of flowers sent by Better Half to cheer me up after flood damage that would have bewildered Noah struck earlier in the week. Don’t you love the view from Bloomsbury Towers? It is what keeps me sane…well, only just. Until next time.