A rather theatrical week. Saturday to the new Alan Bennett at the National Theatre. It is a vehicle for Frances de la Tour otherwise known as ‘Frankie’ by the hair and make-up ‘girls. I have adored Alan Bennett’s writing ever sine I fell in love with the Talking Heads series of television plays starring Dame Maggie as a sex-starved vicar’s wife and Julie Walters as a very frustrated bit part actress: ‘that’s interesting Simon’. But the new play was more opaque than The History Boys. I found it hard to grasp the thrust of the diatribe.
Imagine the scene. Frankie is playing an aged chatelaine of a stately home circa now. Well, if my experience of chatelaines and dowagers is anything to go by they do not give up. They man the gift shop, throw up Christmas decs and sell the family pile into a trust fund. But no. This lady lives alone with her companion (Linda Bassett) in squalor and mourns the advances of the National Trust or sharks such as a film crew wanting to film porn in the family manse.
Frankie plays a lady who was a model. When? 1951? She transforms herself from Lady in the Van to Dovima decked out in vintage Balenciaga and Hardy Amies. It does not ring true. A lady who was a model in the 50s or even 60s would be commercially savvy and know how to run a stately home. She would not moulder like Mrs Havisham unless she was living in 1866. We left the theatre thinking ‘what are we expected to think?’ Is this a critique of the National Trust, a comment on the decline of the aristocracy or a plea for life to be frozen in aspic?
I was however gratified that the auditorium was sold out and le tout London was talking about the merits or flaws in a new play. This I find healthy. On Sunday the Artist and I attended a theatrical benefit at the Royal Albert Hall comprising Champagne (not enough of it) and tea (lumpy sandwiches) to benefit the backstage boys and girls of the West End. The chairwoman was the Artists’s foxy friend Jane. I adored the afternoon as I did Freddie Fox who drew the raffle and laughed at the filthiest jokes that Issy, Kit and The Widow threw at the audience.
My friend the cabaret chantoos Issy van Randwyck was performing and my Lord was she hot as Torquemada’s barbecue. Issy began her set with a song I had suggested to her first sung by Dorothy Loudon called Vodka. YouTube it sweetie for twelve bars of bliss. Issy rocked it out and proceeded to give a set that was a pleasure and a privilege to witness. She flirted, bumped ands ground but – more pertinently – sang like a nightingale. Issy is playing Brasserie Zedel this coming week so beg, borrow or steal for a ticket.
So what else is new on the rialto? I had the ‘fortune’ to judge a fashion awards courtesy of WGSN this year and was obliged to attend the dinner tonight. at the Savoy. I am not a great fan of awards dinners. I recall being the Burberry mascot at the British Fashion Awards back in the day when they always won when I was at the table. This was in the Jurassic Period when the animals came in two by two to the ark.
I am now inured to the rag trade crowd. I like fashion but disapprove as to what the industry has been reduced to celebrating. The only A-lister in the room was Hilary Alexander: the legendary Fashion Editor of The Telegraph. I had the privilege of working with Hilary when I was a child and spent the couture season with her at the staff billett on the Rue de Rivoli doubtless being a burden but she took my contribution seriously and with grace.
I am a huge fan of Hills as I am of Suzy Menkes and the few great ladies left in fashion journalism. It breaks my heart to see La Alexander attending an event of this ilk when she has been in the presence of Saint Laurent, Ungaro, Cardin and Ferre who were giants when most designers today are pygmies. I think the scribes deserve awards not the designers. It was and is we who talk them up, fluff their egos and promote their businesses while we lurk in the shadows. I do not now lurk in the shadows and steal as much limelight as possible but I wish the goddesses of fashion journalism would stand up and take a bow. We should all be throwing rotten tomatoes at fashion bloggers curse their talentless untested souls.
I am a total coward when it comes to fashion awards. I always have a hoot with whoever I am sitting next to but cannot bear the announcements. I don’t mind the winners but do feel conspicuous when someone wants to point out the judges. With this in mind, I entered the Savoy very late and spent the best part of half an hour talking to my favourite gent’s loo attendant before heading into the Lancaster Ballroom to seat and dine. I had the fortune to be on an amusing table with an editor from Hello but felt the urge to leave after the main course and did.
Call it being agitato or whatever you like, I cannot bear being in a room at a table with strangers drinking plonk. No offence to the Savoy. My bed bec0mes more and more appealing these days whether full or empty. I have a shed load of work to do for the next few months on the Louis Vuitton Guide to London 2014 and this will see me through to Jan 2013. Thank the lord for certainties and prompt payers.
Until next time….