Puppy Power. September 2015.

Dear Rowley,

As you know, I am a terrific fan of Round the Horne and no character more so than Betty Marsden playing an ancient actress who has had – how to put this delicately? – a colourful past. When asked if she’d ‘known’ many men, Betty would say ‘Many men. Many many men. Oooooh, many many MANY men’. I know just how she feels and it has taken me forty three years to work out that I’m not the marrying kind.

Though it may sound selfish, the most important relationship in your life is you. If you’re not happy with yourself then how on earth is anyone else going to be? I find there are many men who like to point out what’s wrong with you but only a precious few who take the care to point out what’s right about you. What was that play called? I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Can I get an Amen in here?

A couple of weeks ago, I met someone who proved to be half my age but a really fascinating young man. I’m at that point where I don’t really want for very much emotionally or financially (touching a whole lot of wood) and am grateful for what I’ve got. I’m enjoying Bloomsbury Towers again and the Bedford Estates are doing a bit of touching-up next month. As you know, October is my birth month and is usually kind. In fact, most of my favourite people are born in October or May.

There was some rather sad news last week when Mum’s horse, Emlyn, had to be put to sleep. I have never seen anyone so shattered with grief and thought it best to invite myself up for the weekend to disrupt routine, generally misbehave and take Mum’s mind off Emlyn. Fortunately, we have the two pups Bertie and Wooster to offer further diversion. I am in love with those pups and had a super weekend indulging in two of my favourite pastimes: gin and hounds.

By some miracle, the weather was a perfect Indian summer so there was opportunity to lounge in the garden with a cig, a drink and a dog or two feeling totally ‘fla-ze-da’. I’m not a brilliant house guest because my sleep patterns would  give Kandinsky a run for his money and, in the absence of my laptop, I tend to have a few sips and relax. Mind you, I am house-trained and I don’t really need much attention.

The one thing I don’t have in Bloomsbury Towers is a large bathroom. There is nothing I like better than pouring oils of Araby into a hot bath and lounging with a copy of Bring Up The Bodies and a cup of tea. I could easily bathe twice a day. Fortunately, when in London I have the camp Greco-Roman swimming pool, sauna and steam and visit on the dot of 7am every morning. I am quite Romanesque in my love of steam, heat and water for their restorative qualities. I swear, I’d look like Zelda from Terrahawks if I didn’t have my membership.

We really are within a gnat’s crotchet of finishing the Turnbull & Asser book and a whisper away from signing to write Project Sparkle with Thames & Hudson. What a difference a year makes. I tell you, there were times last year when I didn’t think I’d make it. This is nothing new. I’ve had a few close shaves and one particular episode in hospital when the porter had one foot on the brake of the gurney to wheel me off to the morgue. So long story short I am not particularly squeamish about the game of life.

I think there comes a time when you have to accept yourself, flaws and all, and you have to raise a right hand and say ‘I am what I am and if you don’t like it…’ well, you know the rest. Not that I haven’t had help to get where I’ve got to as of today. For the past twelve weeks I’ve been seeing a remarkable chap at an organisation called Living Well that operates from the St Charles Hospital in Notting Hill. To say it was life-changing is an understatement.

So what is to do with this strange existential problem in Savile Row suits? I don’t believe in five or ten year plans. As I often say – joking I hasten to add – I’ll be lucky to make it through the night. Speaking of which, weren’t you so relieved when that Geordie pensioner singing random uplifting anthems on The Archers carked it? I couldn’t have stood another minute of the folksy old twit wittering away on my radio like a demented canary.

You know two of my least favourite words to emanate forth from Radio 4? ‘Diversity’ and ‘agenda’. When did the English language become hijacked by the immigration lobby? I cannot tolerate intolerance. Did you see that a bunch of smelly, dirty anarchists thew paint all over a Shoreditch ‘hipster’ cafe with beardy boys serving breakfast cereal? Apparently, they were protesting about the bourgeois take-over of East London. Excuse me? On what level does ruining an independent business set-up by young entrepreneurs anarchic?

I instinctively loathe anarchists. They seek to destroy when all decent people wish to make the world a more interesting and tolerant place. I love London and I love Londoners. I’m not talking about people who work here. I’m talking about those of us who live in the city centre and that means you, you artisan coffee-drinking, high-haired, chain-smoking, hard-drinking, good-looking peeps with smart phones glued to our palms and hope in our hardened hearts.

It takes a lot of guts to live in London without a millionaire’s income. We know we’re at the centre of the universe as far as Londoners are concerned and that we’re lucky to be here – to survive – despite all the crap that gets thrown at us on a daily basis. So here’s to us. Who’s like us? Damned few.