Go It Old Girl! January 2014.

Dear Rowley,

Two words: Stan Wawrenka. I so would though chance would be a fine thing. I hope our boy wins the Australian Open today. He deserves it. There is something very odd about Nadal over and above the OCD. He’s a super player and I’ve always supported him over Djokovic, Murray and particularly Federer. I used to get told off for disliking Federer but have always noticed that he’s a very sore loser. The Australian Open was no exception. Love Sue Barker, don’t you? She’s the best sports presenter out there right now: no competition.

Now, can you remember me lending you the marathon that is the Timothy West TV biopic Edward VII? Apart from the lovely lady who played Queen Alexandra so convincingly, the standout performance was Annette Crosby as Queen Victoria. She plays the part from the start of the reign in 1837 to death in 1901 and never, ever loses pace. My favourite bit of the action occurs in the mausoleum at Frogmore where Prince Albert is buried. The old Queen and her eldest daughter Vicky (the Empress Frederick of Prussia) are discussing the Diamond Jubilee parade to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Queen Victoria pulls herself up to full height, flares her nostrils, arches her eyebrow and says, ‘do you know, when we were driving up Fleet Street a cockney voice shouted at the top of his lungs “Go it Old Girl!”‘. She pauses, turns to Vicky and says ‘…and do you know I rather like that: Go it old girl!’ This lovely phrase has been an awful lot on my mind this week. Dame Angela Lansbury is back in London to revive her Broadway role as Madame Arcati in Coward’s Blithe Spirit and she is I believe in her late 80s. Go it old girl!

Suffering a little from my sinuses again (thank you Henry Poole & Co archive) I haven’t been sleeping much and happened to catch a late night showing of the campest made for TV movie ever made: These Old Broads starring Shirley McLaine, Joan Collins, Debbie Reynolds and Dame Elizabeth Taylor. At the end of the final number Dame Elizabeth (playing a character based on Hollywood super agent Sue Mengers) turns to the audience to holler ‘get off your asses for these old broads!’

Joan Collins turned 80 this year. I do find Joan an absolute mensch. I love the fact that she’s still at large wearing Breton T-shirts and oversized flat caps like Dick Emery while retaining glamour and poise. I find Joan a life-enhancer and a very funny lady though I don’t know her at all. I admire from afar and that’s probably a very good thing. I could say the same about The Queen though for seven years at Royal Ascot as fashion critic for the BBC I’ve been in close proximity on many occasions.

Whenever I see The Queen beaming ear to ear as she never did until the 2000s, I am tempted to think – and no disrespect Ma’am – ‘Go it old girl!’ Unlike most of the tabloid press and the public I’m not hugely enamoured of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Don’t get one wrong, I think they are terrific and very good for the country in a roundabout way. However, it is Her Majesty who holds the affection and respect of the British public and I think the world. When she goes – and it is treason to say so – England will be much diminished.

By the bypass Nadal’s making a comeback at the Aussie Open. Know how he feels. As Garland said, whenever I return from the powder room someone says I’ve made a comeback. Last night I had the great pleasure to be invited to my dear University friend Columbine Strickland’s home to dine. Came many old faces from the Newcastle years. Beenie has two very lovely young boys both of whom I spent most of the evening entertaining. Didn’t know I had it in me. We even did bath time, jim-jams and bed. This made me think that maybe I could make rather a good Auntie Mame or Uncle James.

I think the trick with children is to borrow other people’s and know when to leave before they tire of you. I also think one should talk to them as adults and not indulge any nonsense. Kids know h0w to push it with adults and you are perfectly justified to take no nonsense and tell them they are being boring sometimes. I had a lovely evening despite drinking enough to float Fire Island. Still, got myself home, got up at 8am and went to the sauna, swim and steam as usual. Go it old boy!

Don’t you love it on the tennis that we’re all on nickname status with Raffa and his Uncle Tony? And of course Stan the Man. Nadal is a great champion and makes Federer look like a hoity-toity poodle in comparison. I lost respect for Roger when he pitched up on Centre Court wearing a Ralph Lauren blazer with seven gold buttons for his seven championship wins. Get over yourself love, no? I think sometimes we all need to get the hubris in check; a lesson there for the Wicked Witch of the West End…

Until next time…