Tell you a secret about London in the summer when it sizzles. As you know, Bloomsbury Towers is like Rear Window and I can happily report that all the urban foxes go naked in their apartments the minute the temperature passes twenty degrees. Nobody’s squeamish and nobody thinks any the worse of the neighbours for getting a bit of air on them.
So far, it has been a glorious summer in London aided immeasurably by my not even having a sniff of the barmaid’s apron for six weeks now. No, he’s not going to miss an opportunity to talk about the new mood in Bloomsbury Square right now. Suffice to say that I have experienced happiness that has eluded me for years. It is as if the poster of Vivien Leigh as Titania outside the London Library has waved her wand and the dark clouds have rolled away.
Word has clearly got around that I’m no longer lifting the elbow because my dance card has never been as full. In the past week I’ve been invited to a jolly dinner at the divine Vicki Sarge’s house, afternoon tea at the RAC Club, a night at the boylesque circus in the South Bank’s Wonderground and a super Saturday garden lunch in Berkshire. Perhaps the fear that I will burn the place down and seduce the hostess’s husband has subsided somewhat.
Said jaunt to Berkshire was at the invitation of my former Gieves and Poole’s partner-in-crime Inga Ruby. Inga and I feel as if we’ve been in the trenches together on Savile Row and we have remained thick as thieves ever since. Inga had my back on the Row and anyone who annoys the Ruby has me reaching for my poison darts and blow pipe. She calls me Dame Sherwood and even embroidered a sampler with my motto ‘No Dough, No Show’.
Speaking of books I had, well, let’s just call him a gentleman caller the other day and he asked to look at my back catalogue. When I was in the serious doldrums, I couldn’t look at those books without seeing a whole lot of work, a whole lot of expectation and no little disappointment in the big sales small royalties ratio.
I did sit down with the books and made friends with them again; remembering how much they brought to my life in the making and my favourite part working with Mr Dawson and Miss Condell choosing every damned picture and raking over every word until the triumvirate was pleased as punch. They are beautiful books and I am pleased to say that all my darlings bar Fashion at Royal Ascot are still in print in hardback. Ascot is selling for over $700 on Amazon not that I’ll see a penny but it’s good to know!
Recently I also happened to revisit the Hall of Fame on the Henry Poole website and that has built into a formidable body of work. Now I am getting to the end of indexing all the great and the good in the 126 ledgers, I am thrilled to report that the history-making ladies and gentlemen who Poole’s dressed now make a roll of honour stretching from Savile Row to Bloomsbury.
Can’t even begin to tell you how much I look forward to getting on the flight to Toronto in less than ten days’ time. I spoke to Mistress Keegan this morning who has been cooking all sorts of plans not least Niagara Falls, a baseball game, an outdoor production of Hamlet and picnics on the beach by the lakeside. Seeing as we are both still a size ten, I’m not packing an awful lot and will just crib the odd outfit from Anthony’s wardrobe if we have to go cocktail or black tie.
Bloomsbury Towers is looking lovely at the moment. All the window boxes are in bloom and I have amassed a jungle of tall plants on a ledge parallel to the bookshelves in the bedroom. From the bed, it looks like a scene from Gorillas in the Mist. Apparently plants are marvellous air-fresheners which is a good job. Since I stopped caning the booze, I am rarely without a fag jammed in the corner of my gob like Andy Capp.
I had a lovely Sunday mooching around the West End, doing a little holiday wardrobe shopping at Uniqlo and a bite of salmon sashimi at Abeno Too in Covent Garden. Tonight it is back to the RAC club for drinks in the garden and an early Sunday supper with a charming American from the Deep South with a voice as mellifluous as molasses.
For the first time in a long time, life seems to be working like clockwork rather than unravelling like a witch’s knitting. People seem pleased to see me and very complimentary with it too. Let’s face it, I did dodge a bullet learning to moisturise at the tender age of twelve. Without that bit of pre-planning I think I would have had a face like W. H. Auden by now.
I no longer walk to the off license in Bloomsbury like Grizabella in Cats dragging my old fur coat behind me like roadkill. Of course the profits at Waitrose Holborn and Sainsburys Southampton Row have plummeted like Britain’s interest rates since I stopped buying Prosecco in bulk. So two cheers for me. Anyway, for many years I never believed that life could change so dramatically for the better or that I would be walking on the sunny side of the street again. But it did and I am. Can I get an Amen in here?