Is It Over? That’s What You Think. May 2014.

Dear Rowley,

Bloody Islam! A lady has been branded as shaming Islam for kissing one of the judges at Cannes on the cheek while wearing a headscarf and long dress. What rotten intolerance! At the risk of a fatwah on Bloomsbury, isn’t it about time all religions respected each others’ differences? As the lovely lady vicar on Gogglebox said apropos the Anglican church being anti-gay marriage, ‘if we’re going to take the Old Testament at its word then all adulterers should be taken out and stoned and we can’t eat pork or shellfish on the Sabbath’.

I thought the Archbishop of Canterbury was entirely wrong to say he didn’t believe in gay marriage because it would alienate the radical element in the African Christian church. What has Britain come to when the church can’t roll with it and keep in step with evolving public opinion? That said, while I was wandering round the Wren churches in the City this Sunday I did notice that there was a huge contingent of African ladies and gentlemen in the congregations. Perhaps they are the future for the C of E.

Anyway, rant over. Did I tell you I’d signed my new contract with Thames & Hudson? Do bears crap in the woods? Today was my first full day working on the first tranche of text. In order to write this book I need to be on an up. Fortunately, the sun is shining over London and I am as it happens in rather a happy mood. Not before time I hear you cry. The ‘Troubles’ at the beginning of this year are only now being consigned to a locked box in my memory.

I had a lovely day yesterday having booked an al fresco table at Ciao Bella on Lamb’s Conduit Street for Gail and I after my visit to the Tower of London. Gail and I were separated at birth. I think we share a perspective on life that could be best summed up using one of Mae West’s most famous aphorisms: ‘I used to be Snow White but I drifted…’. Saturday night was jolly super too. We got tickets for The Pyjama Game at the Shaftsbury Theatre and a more energetic, life-enhancing musical I have not seen in many a year. Do catch the show if you can Rowley.

Who knew that Hernando’s Hideaway, Once A Year Day and Hey There were penned for The Pyjama Game? I remember John Galliano used Hernando’s Hideaway for one of his early Paris shows. That was a fashion moment to end all others. I do hope Galliano makes a comeback in fashion. His Nazi rant when high as a kite and/or drugged was just not him. It was momentary madness and if he hadn’t been caught on camera, I think John would still be designing at Dior.

Speaking of atonement, I have been gratified that all of my clients have decided to ‘bear with’ during ‘the Troubles’ and I’m now back in business and writing like a zephyr. You’ve got to be contented to write. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: writer’s block is basically a manifestation of depression. Churchill knew it. Virginia Woolf knew it and I know it…not that I’m lining myself up with the greats.

I’ve struggled with a novel – the Corfu Novel – for years now and it just won’t come through. Perhaps I don’t have the fiction gene and need fact and historic events to inspire. Still, it’s good to know one’s limitations and one’s possibilities. The former usually dictates the latter. You know I’m a lifelong fan of Marilyn Monroe. A more complicated cat’s cradle of insecurity and supreme egotism it would be hard to find.

Marilyn’s chronic lateness on set derived from a childhood in orphanages when baths were rationed to once a week and an understanding that now the world would be willing to wait for her. One of my favourite Marilyn moments came from her last uncompleted film Something’s Got To Give…a prophetic title if ever I heard one. When not happy with the script, she told director George Cukor – who was a shit to Marilyn despite being famed as a women’s director – ‘remember you’ve got Marilyn Monroe. You have to know how to use her’.

Ordinarily I would say anyone who speaks about themselves in the third person is loop the effing loop. But Marilyn was a construct. She was a product of Norma Jean’s possibilities. And she was right. When you’ve got a product it is silly not to use it. Apropos of this, I was asked to write a guide to dressing for the Season in the US and UK citing four occasions in less than 800-words for Turnbull & Asser. Couldn’t do it.

I had to say that I had written 50,000 words on Royal Ascot for my Thames & Hudson book. Condensing this into 800-words would be a stretch. So I did it. Let’s face it, the American Social Season doesn’t begin until September anyway and Royal Ascot’s dress codes for the Enclosure deserve full attention. When the story goes live online I will send you the link.

Isn’t it funny that I’ve made the crossover to online? Never thought I would. I still fundamentally believe in print – books as well as magazines – but it is folly to ignore the march of media on t’Internet. It is faster, sexier and has the possibility to use moving pictures as well as text and stills. You know I’ve taken to Twitter like a Victorian housewife to Laudanum. I love Twitter and have met so many interesting and informed historians and writers. It kept me going through ‘the Troubles’ as did friends and family. For this they have my eternal gratitude.