Striptease. December 2014.

Dear Rowley,

A date tomorrow evening to see the revival of Lloyd Webber’s Cats at the Palladium with Patricia. I never saw the original and am much more of a dog person but have read the reviews and heard that the production is a triumph. X-Factor judge Nicole Sherzinger – paramour of F1 champion Lewis Hamilton – is playing once glamorous feline Grizabella. The role was created  by Elaine Paige who has made her eleven ‘o clock number Memory a career-defining moment. In X-Factor parlance, apparently Nicole ‘gives it a thousand percent’ and ‘smashed it’.

Memory is something we all need to exercise and treasure don’t you find? Of late I’ve noticed the most appalling lapses. Yes I know Rowley we all had nights when we woke up not remembering where we were, who we were with and whether we’d actually left the house wearing underwear. But hopefully we have all grown up a little bit since then. The memory loss I worry about these days has little to do with one too many grappas. It is more the day-to-day desperation trying to remember the name of someone I was introduced to 48-hours ago or the first line of a Wilfred Owen poem I knew by heart.

I do think t’Internet rots the memory like flies on overripe fruit. It is so easy to look up whatever one lacks ergo the memory is not stretched. The point is memory has to be tested harder than Katniss Everdeen. I was doing my accounts last week. Setting aside the horror at spending more last year at Sheekey’s than on suits, charities or dry cleaning, I was appalled to realise I couldn’t even remember my times table. Well, long story short my virtual calculator on the iPad was playing up so I had to add up huge columns of hand written figures. At first I resorted to fingers and toes but in time I became as swift as a Medici banker.

My grandmother Edith Gandy owned a Sheffield steelworks. She did the books until well into her nineties. What a remarkable generation they bred before World War One. I remember my grandmother lifting hand-held weights until a year before she died. Parsimony, endurance and strength were written through her like a stick of rock. We are pussycats compared to that vintage of human being. Just adding up brought back very fond memories of Nan Gandy and made me admire her all the more.

The verdict on 2014 can wait for the New Year’s Eve letter Rowley but this past couple of months have made me reconsider an awful lot about life in London. There are many occasions this year that I have thought my memory was shot. I have made excuses that the older one gets the more information is in the brain and it is quite simply impossible to retain new facts. At least people of our vintage have knowledge. The kids who rely entirely on Google only have facts as disposable as Kleenex. But exercising the memory is going to be as important as my morning swim.

So what else is new on the Rialto? Miss Perry was in town this week and we booked a table at Sake No Hana for a Saturday evening dinner. Suzi’s had a great year with the F1 on the BBC and she’s clocked up more air miles than Judith Chalmers but we always catch-up when she’s in London. When I arrived at Sake suited and booted as if going to my prom the lady on the desk asked if I wanted a corner table and winked. When Suzi arrived in a short, sparkly number we kissed and she whispered ‘my dress has come undone’. So I had to hook her back up. I glanced up at the waiter who gave me a pantomime wink Kenneth Williams would have been proud of.

I have loved Suzi Perry ever since our first Royal Ascot for the BBC back in the day when Fanny was still by gaslight. We had planned to go on to the Ritz casino but bailed because Miss P had a flight up to Glasgow for the BBC Sport Awards early the next morning. God knows what the staff at Sake would have done if we’d asked for a taxi to The Ritz…throw confetti? Oh my Lord Rowley, Bette Midler is on ITV performing an ‘In Person’. Adore Miss M almost as much as Miss P. Bette is promoting her new album It’s The Girls. Admiration isn’t in it for a woman who recently said she’s contented because she now has nothing to prove.

At what stage in a writer’s career can they say ‘I have nothing to prove’? I suspect never. Perhaps writers aren’t alone in this. What do you make of Madonna’s latest photographs for Interview magazine shot by Mert & Marcus? I can’t send you any of them because they are of the bondage and boobs variety. I can’t remember when Madonna first exposed herself in the name of feminism but I think it was 1992 when she released her book Sex. At the time Madonna was thirty six: the same age Marilyn Monroe was when she died.

Marilyn eschewed nudity apart from the Miss Golden Dreams calendar when she was a starlet and the swimming pool shots taken in 1962 on the set of Something’s Got To Give  the year she died. Madonna’s entire career seems to have been a losing battle to keep her clothes on and her mouth shut about sex. As a young woman it might be liberating. Hauling ones boobs out in your mid fifties does not suggest an artist who has nothing left to prove.  Dignity might be the way forward in 2015.