Ready to Begin Again. August 2015.

Dear Rowley,

Isn’t gratitude the most marvellous feeling? If I were to describe my career path I’d say it was not dissimilar to Atilla the Hun whose war path might best be summed up as ‘we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it’. It is a miracle to me that my tribe are still on side particularly after ‘The Troubles’.

I think even my best friends and family would admit 2014 was an absolute shocker. Circumstances and my reactions to them gathered into a perfect storm whereby rhyme, reason, moral compass, physical and mental health imploded spectacularly. My career was like Cher’s anthem to self-pity You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me and on the richter scale of alcohol consumption I was registering Elaine Stritch.

All I could say every damned day was ‘stop the insanity’. I was so tired of swinging from one pay check to the next like a demented spider monkey and could not compute that after a lifetime of ball-breaking work I felt like Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables singing I Dreamed A Dream. There was a month after I paid back tax that I thought I’d end up selling matches or giving tours of Savile Row dressed in a tatty Beau Brummell costume.

Do you know what I put it down to? I have a very clear picture of where I ought to be at every moment of my life. When I can’t make it work I turn into Blanche Dubois trying to hide the truth with a fragile painted paper lantern. Usually one can snap out of it but 2014 was such a s**** storm of negativity, I lost perspective and hope. Christ Rowley! Isn’t this turning into a barrel of laughs?

Mercifully 2015 gave a happy finish to that run of ill luck and ill judgement. I’ll tell you what got me through that period where I truly thought it was game over: my friends, my family, my writing and Majestic Wine’s six-for-four offer on Prosecco.

I delivered my Discriminating Guide to London to Thames & Hudson in January. I was at a low when writing it so threw every joke I’d ever heard at it and I think – I hope – that it has paid off. A day I don’t write is a day wasted as is a day when I don’t sally forth from Bloomsbury Towers and drink deep of the city I love: London.

I know a few people who think I’m being pretentious in calling myself an author rather than a journalist but there is a fundamental difference between the two disciplines. And as the Voodoo Queen of Seven Dials once told me ‘if them bitches ‘aint payin’ your bills, don’t you pay them no mind’. Can I get an Amen in here?

I am so damned proud of the Discriminating Guide. Next to my letters to you, it is my favourite piece of work to date. We’re starting the publicity and launch plans and – whereas once I would have felt equal parts of entitlement and fear – now I can only feel gratitude to be given the chance to have a new book in the stores.

I’ve enjoyed filming again (get you Norma Desmond) and so look forward to have the chance to wear my cocktail suits again. The Discriminating Guide was a necessarily solitary endeavour and that probably didn’t help me escape the slough of despond in 2014. This on top of leaving the Savile Row Bespoke soap opera also known as At Home With the Borgias in 2013 with a generous push from Lucretia. I’m with Miss M on this one – ‘fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke’ – though I wasn’t laughing at the time.

The 2015 turnaround was thanks massively to Turnbull & Asser who commissioned Grade Design’s Pete Dawson and I to produce another of our private editions (out in November). Writers are, I think, like actors in the respect that they love to engage in an intense relationship with a creative family then have to walk away when it is over.

I’ve particularly enjoyed being part of the T&A family and feel like I have made some new friends … probably a good job after the profit and loss on that particular account in recent years. Actually the one thing I am is a very loyal friend. I love the Sherwood Massive with a passion not least because they have walked with me through fair weather and foul as has my family.

I’ve always thought those people who say they don’t have time for new friends are monstrous. I adore meeting like-minded people and let’s face it anyone who has chosen to pound the treadmill that is London has got to be of a type. In fact things haven’t changed significantly since Thackeray wrote Vanity Fair.

Apropos new friends I have to say a highlight of 2014 and 2015 was the annual Tiara Lunch when Mr Loxton, Mr Prince, Miss Martin-Guiterres and I convene in a West End watering hole and wear the magnificent tiaras made by Mr P. Tiaras have an extraordinary effect on people. We get glasses of Prosecco sent over to the table and waiters Tweeting pictures. They nearly die when Mr Prince tells them that the tiaras we are wearing were made for Downton Abbey.

Right-ho darling, I’m off to Sheekey’s with Nathalie Galustian to enjoy a final crab claw before going to UCL tomorrow to have my wisdom teeth out. Yes, I am still dreading it. No, I won’t bottle it. At least if I don’t come round from the general anaesthetic I’ll have had my dream last meal. Until next time…