Back in Business. December 2015.

Dear Rowley,

Oh my Lord, it has been too long. Where have I been? White slaved to Latin America to Juan’s tart shop in downtown Buenos Aires? Crushed under the weight of Henry Poole & Co ledgers in the new Archive Room at No 15 Savile Row? The chapel where I have earned some well deserved rest? No, darling, my laptop has been as poorly as I have been and has just come back from the hospital. It seems Apple Mac machines are as indestructible as I am.

So what’s new? Well, while still recovering from the cough from Act Three of La Boheme, we opened the new Archive Room at Henry Poole & Co with an intimate, gin-fuelled reception. I worked like a Trojan for ten days straight to get the room in shape. You know me, dear, I can never get the result I wish without going into manic marching mode. I was whirling like a dervish banging pictures into walls, hulking ledgers, archiving papers into boxes like a heat of The Cube  and sweating like a stallion.

Anyway, it is all worth it. The party was a super success and I had the chance to thank Angus ‘The Godfather of Savile Row’ Cundey for making the preservation of the archive his life’s work. I also had the opportunity to thank Mr Levett without whom the project would have fallen at the first hurdle. It pleased me for the ladies and gentlemen in the workshops to see me graft like a docker. There is nowhere more belly laugh amusing in the world than a tailor’s workshop and I’ve spent more time in them than any other so-called Savile Row ‘hexpert’.

The publicity for the archive opening was spectacular thanks largely to our PR queen Merrie Ashton. The party ended with a dinner at the staff canteen that wound-up around about midnight. By 5am i was saying adieu to a trucker from Leeds and high tailing it to the Today Programme studio at BBC Television Centre for a 6.30am call.

Well, I made it and found myself in a studio staring at John Humphries who was doing the interview. We had Winston Churchill’s ledgers to show him and the stories about Churchill falling foul of Poole’s because he didn’t want to pay his bills. It went terribly well despite me being dead on my effing back. When the interview was over, I left and Mr Humphries followed me to say ‘that was a bit of terrific’. I walked to The Wolseley for breakfast on air.

In addition to the Today Programme, I was called back to do another interview for the World Service and we had super half page spreads in The Times and The Telegraph. My throat was still a bit raspy after the cough and I asked the waiter at The Wolseley for a glass of Champagne. ‘No’, I was told, ‘we don’t serve before 10am’. Whatever happened to the customer always being right? Could you imagine Lady Randolph Churchill being denied a glass of bubbles for breakfast at The Savoy in the 1920s? We have regressed.

My health is still not 100% hence having to cancel the India trip this Christmas. After antibiotics, steroids and God only knows what else, the last thing one wants to do when convalescing is go to Jaipur, drink the water or eat the street food and end up on the funeral pyre with no one to commit suttee in sympathy?

So what on earth am I going to do for Christmas in London? Well, I will go swimming and take a sauna and steam on Christmas morning, go to St George’s Mayfair for the Christmas morning service then throw myself on the mercy of mates for my Christmas lunch. Truth to tell, I am rather relieved to be in London for Christmas because, as Dorothy Gale so rightly said in The Wizard of Oz, there is no place like home.

How’s your love life petal? I am a little in love but – department of no surprises – it is complicated. I cannot have the one that I want exclusively. So I am guessing that timeless adulterer’s classic I Know Him So Well sung by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dixon will be taking a few spins on the turnstile over the festive season. I am not as it turns out cut out to be a mistress but I do like being the fun and the affection and the romantic dinners kind of man. Rather this than be stuck in a rut.

It never ceases to amaze me in the age when gay men can marry and have everything that anyone else in the civilised world could want, we still manage to f**** it up. There are countless friends of mine who are in sexless relationships and have to play away to keep their sanity but still persist in staying together. That’s all very well but I am a hopeless romantic. I think it is entirely possible to find a man who you like, respect, and fancy beyond all reason for life.

I recall my old editor Marcelle D’Argy Smith saying that gay men are promiscuous not because they are gay but because they are men. She might have a point. Then again, I am with my lifelong friend Tessa who has also been a mistress for most of her life and who believes that true romantics do not compromise. If we can’t get the man we want, then God help the man we get. Better to be a bit on the side with someone we adore than ball and chained to someone we really don’t feel for.

Anyway, enough about my love life. I wish I could be Madame de Pompadour but I think I am more the girl who walked home alone. It has always been that way and possibly always will be. Happy Christmas darling.