August is the silly season for print journalists where any damn thing gets past morning conference just to fill the pages while those who can afford it take a well-deserved holiday. Lovely to see Princess Beatrice yacht hopping between Team Abramovich and Team Geffen. That’s one passport with more ink than David Beckham. Princess Bea has taken so many holidays this year she’ll have to apply for non dom status.
I’ve been rather perplexed by the media campaign to prosecute the late Prime Minister Sir Ted Heath for historic paedophile abuse from beyond the grave. Am I the only one who thinks naming the dear departed is a diversionary tactic for the guilty who are still alive? It is so much safer to choose scapegoats who are pushing daisies rather than target those who can still be prosecuted and jailed.
I do not have a shadow of a doubt that there was indeed a cabal of paedophiles in public office or the public eye who abused boys. In my days at The Yard (not Scotland Yard, the gay bar on Rupert Street) there were invitations to parties at Dolphin Square. I never went. But suffice to say the scene was buzzing with names of high profile men who were up to no good. Ted Heath was not one of them.
Speaking of people who aspire to respectability but fall short weren’t you fascinated by the demise of Kids Company and its charismatic leader Camilla Batmanghelidjh? Miss B has always been on the peripheral vision of Londoners. I remember seeing her with Prince Charles, David Cameron and Alan Yentob lapping up the limelight like a cat with a bucket of cream. I saw echoes of Eva Peron behind the crocodile smile.
Of course she’s not neat or petite so we can’t demonise her for choosing to wear all those outlandish patchwork dresses and turbans. That said, I was always suspicious of that lady’s beatific smile whenever she posed for pictures with Gwyneth Paltrow, Stella McCartney or Damien Hirst. There was a bit too much entitlement for my liking considering this woman was supposed to be all about underprivileged kids not Champagne socialising at The Ivy.
I am as guilty as the next man of dressing in a vaguely colourful, unconventional fashion even though I maintain I do it for myself not to get noticed. But I have to say Camilla Batmanghelidjh’s get up can’t be for anything other than hogging limelight. If she were looking for a twin sister I would say look no further than Greyson Perry. I quite like Greyson’s pots. I don’t like his alter ego Claire’s drag.
Claire is basically a Tokyo Harajuku girl who dresses like a doll and carries one around as a stunt. This is OK for a Japanese teenage girl but for an older London male it’s a little bit uncomfortable. I do appreciate that in this life you have to get a gimmick to stand out and of course the liberal elite in the arts and media love Claire. They would, wouldn’t they? What I find ludicrous is everyone feigning not to bat an eyelid when a grown man in frilly knickers and a bonnet chinks glasses at No 10 Downing Street.
Transvestite pottery isn’t even a new gig. Andy Warhol was wont to photograph himself in fright wigs, lipstick, T-shirt and jeans. The random nature of Warhol wigging out was shocking in the 70s. Holly Hobby drag in the 21st century is all a bit Zandra Rhodes. In the absence of substance, style it up.
But back to Camilla. There seemed to be an awful lot of money swimming around Kids Company. Mr Cameron signed off another £3 million just days before the charity folded. I’ve got a huge problem with the government spending tax-payer’s money on a charity. Britain is hugely generous and doles out millions at the drop of an appeal. If we wanted to give to Kids Company we would have.
Do you donate to charity? I am one of those Londoners who crosses the street to avoid a Big Issue seller. I do donate money every month to St. George’s Mayfair because I think it is the most handsome church in the West End. It is an early Georgian beauty with a huge amount of heart and wonderful people affiliated to it. I don’t often go but whenever I do accept an invitation from Roddy to Holy Cocktails at the rectory it is a blast.
My most amusing charity case was an evening when photographer Paul Musso and I had been out on the lash in Soho. We needed more cash for a cab so pressed for assistance on Oxford Street. The homeless chap huddled by the cashpoint looked emaciated so I gave him a fiver. He was happy and asked what he could do for us. Paul piped up that we needed another drink so our boy leapt up and said follow me.
Well, we ended up in a crack den on the waste ground opposite the Windmill Theatre that is now the Ham Yard Hotel. I had had a few sips so don’t remember too clearly but I do have a picture of it being terribly genteel. Our vagrant offered me something smouldering on a piece of kitchen foil and I demurred asking instead for a G&T. The drink came, Paul and I chinked glasses and a good time was had by all.
Oh my lord Rowley what we go through on an average night in London. Perhaps that’s why we live here. I have London in my blood now. We are inseparable. I have dreams of rose covered cottages in Somerset but let’s face it I wilt without the elixir of London. Until next time….