Liza! Liza! Liza! February 2018.

Dear Rowley,

Forgive the loooong radio silence. As I think you know from my infrequent Twitter posts, the past four weeks has not been without incident. I have had four burglaries in Bloomsbury Towers in as many weeks. All the family jewellery went including my Grandmother’s diamond and ruby ring: all in all £20,000 worth and all not insured. The final burglary was a conundrum because it did not follow the pattern.

I was in bed asleep for a start when the sneak thief snuck in and took an old MacBook Air, an iPhone with a shattered screen, my iPad, my iPod, my wallet, my disc drive and my monogrammed spectacles. This was not on a par with the three jewellery robberies leading me to believe that it was a ‘Me Too’. Perhaps I should order one of those badges they were all wearing at the BAFTAs.

I believe the final robber had keys cut and that he was not unfamiliar to me. Karma Karma Karma Chameleon will skewer him good and proper I am sure. Enough about all that now. I feel healthy and happy and ready to rock again being back online with no small thanks to my Parentals and reconciling myself to the fact that things don’t matter: people do.

So what’s new on the Rialto? I am signed off from work for three months and the enforced rest has been wonderful not least the months that the thief did me a service by depriving me of a mobile and Internet access. I went back to the old days with only a landline and the Yellow Pages to get in touch with people. It certainly sorts the wheat from the chaff. I have seen La Farmer, Lee, Pete and Su Thomas all of whom are life-enhancers.

I am now back online and not before time. Liza Minnelli – my spirit animal – has decided at the age of seventy-one to host a sale of her costumes, her Halston collection and memorabilia relating to parents Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli. The auctioneer is not Julien’s Auctions but an outfit called Profiles in History. I would kill to scrabble the money together to go out for the private view in April but will have to settle for the catalogue for the Love, Liza sale.

Liza has already sold her Manhattan condo and is living with her gay best friend in LA. She has also sold the Warhols of she and her mother Judy. But there are still treasures to be had not least her bowler hat, suspenders and sequinned hot pants costume from Cabaret and a cheque written to Judy Garland by MGM before The Wizard of Oz made her a star. Liza is also selling the sport couture pieces designed for her by late gay best friend Halston.

Halston is one of my idols. He was a small-town boy who became the first true American fashion superstar. It was Halston who designed Jackie Kennedy’s famous pillbox hat when he was a milliner at Bergdorf Goodman and he who rightly said ‘you are only as good as the people you dress’. And boy did Haslston dress the best: Kay Graham, Lauren Bacall, Diana Vreeland, Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Carol Channing, Betty Ford, Nan Kempner, DeDe Ryan and Eleanor Lambert to name a few of the headliners.

Halston was a God in Manhattan. His apartment was party central and so piss elegant it informed Tom Ford’s design aesthetic for life. Halston and Liza were permanent fixtures at Studio 54. They were allegedly the kings and queens of the basement VIP room always replete with Champagne, Cocaine and cute boys. Their evenings finished in the hardcore gay fetish clubs in the Meat Packing District. What’s not to like?

Of course both Liza and Halston burnt out. He licensed his name too thinly and was eventually evicted from his fabulous studios in the Olympic Tower leaving the designer making costumes for Liza until his untimely death from AIDS. She began a career of comebacks that is still in flux. I hear from Liza’s neighbour that she is putting together a piano and microphone cabaret act to perform intimate ‘in one’ performances rather than selling out the Royal Albert Hall that she used to rock in her prime. I would love to see Liza play Ronnie Scott’s or the 100 Club.

I had a Halston fascia pink kaftan bought in a vintage store on the King’s Road for many years that was stolen from my flat (natch!). I would love to bid on a piece from the Love, Liza auction but being signed-off makes this impossible. What I will do is go to Menorca where I spent much of my youth to recover between May and September when Jewellery for Gentlemen is published.

It will be interesting to take an enforced sabbatical. I am tired. I am forty-six and have lived every second of every year to the maximum. Mistakes, I’ve made a few but then again too few to mention. As for no regrets, anyone who believes that Piaf sentiment  is clearly delusional. I have many regrets but was not in my right mind when I committed the foolishness that constituted them. I have never, however, regretted a drink I sipped, a cigarette I smoked or a man I kissed.

In this respect I can identify with Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Sally does not regret and keeps buggering on waiting for her big break even if it never came. I’ve had lots of breaks and have converted many and dropped the ball a few times. My major regret is the hurt I have caused the people who are closest to me but my only defence is that I was not ‘feeling myself’ at the time.

So here’s to Liza and here’s to life. And here’s to us, who’s like us? Damned Few!