Abdications etc. February 2013.

Dear Rowley,

Long time no write. Let me guess, you thought I was at the Davos Summit tearing a slice of Sloppy Giuseppe with Messers Cameron, Osborne and Johnson. The Davos World Economic Forum, that Alpine January jolly for the men and women who rule the world, always makes me hoot. It is like Bilderberg in lederhosen. Where else would one find a member of Greenpeace lurking behind a potted palm sharpening his pen to castigate Cameron’s posse for behaving like Bullingdon Boys while recklessly spending taxpayers’ money on gourmet pizza? More to the point who invited the sandal-wearing tell-tale in the first place?

It is always terrific fun guessing who life’s winners on the social snakes and ladders board will invite to Davos as a plus one. This year’s invitees included Queen Rania of Jordan, model Lily Cole and DJ Mark Ronson. Can’t make it up can you? A journalist at the Davos Summit could report a midnight fondue party attended by Kofi Anan,  Heston Blumethal and Tulisa and nobody would bat an eyelid.

Weren’t you surprised to hear that Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands had decided to throw in the tiara and abdicate? This will date me but I recall quite clearly watching the abdication of her mother Queen Juliana on the television in 1980. Abdication is, of course, anathema to the British monarchy. We haven’t seen the like since 1936 and that unfortunate episode is still etched on the mind of our present Queen whose mother never forgave ‘Uncle David’ for shirking his responsibilities to run off round the world with a double divorcee. Still, if Edward VIII hadn’t bolted The Queen wouldn’t have come to the throne until 1972 and there’s no saying there would have been a crown to inherit. Good subject for a ‘what if?’ novel, no?

Queen Beatrix has always struck me as rather a jolly cove. When I was commentating on the royal wedding in 2011 I was seconds away from a classic case of misattribution. Queen Bea is a dead ringer for former House of Commons Speaker Betty Boothroyd. Both ladies look as though they could lead a knees-up down the Old Bull & Bush. One can only wish Queen Bea well in her retirement. I wonder if there will be a coronation. I get the impression that the Dutch monarchy is more of a sign on the dotted line affair than bells and a crowning.

Seriously Rowley I do apologise being incommunicado for so long. I’ve been like a battery hen peck, peck pecking away at the Vuitton Guide to London and have barely left the coop in Bloomsbury Towers. Still, I will be demob happy come tomorrow and the Artist has invited me to the opening night of Dear World at the Charing Cross theatre starring the great Betty Buckley. I’ve got a meeting at The Ritz tomorrow afternoon for a potentially thrilling new project on which I’ve been sworn to a code of secrecy and omerta. But it should keep me off the streets for the next few months.

Do you like the Artist’s rendition of my conclusion to January? It is of course inspired by Gone With the Wind when a grittily determined Scarlett O’Hara as played by the glorious Vivien Leigh faces Tara and emotes ‘if I have to fight, cheat, lie and steal I ‘aint never going to be hungry again’. Christ, I know how she feels. The new portrait cheered the heart considerably although I think I’m doing a Picture of Dorain Gray in reverse. The portrait stays the same and I age by the second.

I haven’t been to the old West End haunts for aeons. Light relief was provided a couple of nights ago when La Farmer shot the dark mark into the sky for us to gather at a table outside Ciao Bella to celebrate her godson Louis’ jour de naissance. Better Half and I bundled up in our sables and chowed down on the mandatory minestrone (the best in London) and the pinkest pork chops this side of salmonella.

I think we all showed remarkable restraint eschewing the end of dinner bottle of grappa that Ciao Bella always serves with coffee. I quite simply don’t have the stamina these days for the white stuff. Like invading Afghanistan, grappa always seems like such a good idea at the time. It is only the morning after when one is ululating with misery while a winter sparrow shrieks outside the window that you realise grappa is the devil’s dewdrops. Still, never say never again.

So what’s new on the Rialto? I have broken my Skype virginity with a two-hour marathon ‘with apologies to the Academy’ broadcast with one of oldest friends Anthony who is currently shacked-up in Union Square having just returned from a design assignment in Hong Kong. Anthony and I used to work the bars in Soho in the early 90s. That sounds worse than it is. We were both hosts with the most at The Yard and have been bosom buddies ever since. The fact that we haven’t talked eyeball to eyeball for almost a year makes me think I’ve been focusing far too much on work and not enough on my dearest friends.

Apropos of this, our compadre at The Yard Lee paid a visit to Bloomsbury Towers last week. We cracked a bottle of Prosecco and talked as only old friends can. Lee thinks the early 90s in Soho was a golden era. He might well be right. Apparently there are websites and YouTube strands celebrating the good old days when the bar boys ruled the school and got a free pass to The Atlantic, The Astoria and Balans where we dined nightly at midnight and were serenaded by a Creole beauty who sang as she perched at our table slugging champagne. They were heady days and I wouldn’t have missed them for the world. Until next time…