I’m back in London with Her Royal Highness Princess Charlotte, Duchess of Hammersmith for the second and last tranche of staffing and management duties. The Secretariat or Charlottery, is running like a well oiled machine with expertly and freshly served kibble-shaped bikkies, clinically proven to reduce plaque and combining fibre matrix technologies, and Science Plan chicken chunks & gravy – all by Hill’s and Veterinarian Recommended – a diet to tempt all feline epicureans. She is fastidious and dainty and has the appetite of a sparrow though her neediness for ecstatic experiences, strokings, tender touches, jumpings on and off, on and off, on and off beds indicates an indecisiveness bordering on psychosis but which the current staff are able to satisfy, exhausting though it may be. She is of course a spinster though her predilection for men borders on embarrassing. Poor Libbie, Charlotte’s other manager, with a big heart and a love of all animals, gets no attention at all. I have tried to explain to Charlotte that she should really treat the servants with greater even-handedness but she gazes at me through those big, green Marschals quite unperturbed by the hurt she inflicts on the feelings of those not privileged to been in the orbit of her affections.
And so we approach Christmas on an uncertain path. Omicron seems to be queering the pitches of holiday and party planners with different signals emanating from the Downing Street Circus where Bojo and his Shudder amuse and confuse, deceive and ashame us with hypocrisies and mendacity.
Lets see where the science leads us, not our leaders!
Lovely reunion with friends at the Polish Ognisko Restaurant in Exhibition Road. Always a great place to go but it’s what happened as we walked there from our bus stop at Princes Gate. We turned right into Exhibition Road. It was dark save for the sodium glare of the street lights which shone over a cluster of policemen and their van, and a traffic warden, all inspecting a sleek, magnificent, state-of-the-art, stealth-bomber grey, all-electric Porsche Taycan which had been illegally parked and dumped on the corner of Exhibition Roads and Princes Gate.
The police told us it was uninsured, unlicensed and customised and accessorised so that it’s value was well in excess of £150,000. It had only a back number plate.
“It’s been abandoned by its owners,” said the cop, “they’re members of the Royal Family of Qatar and on their way home in a private jet. Rather than pay shipping and court costs for recovery, fines and so on, they’ve just abandoned it.”
“What will happen to it? How will they get it back?”
“They’ll just buy another one when they get home. They don’t care.”
“Can I have it?” I joked.
“It goes to the car pound and if never claimed will either be auctioned off or just destroyed.”
We walked to Ognisko’s for quite a lot of buffalo grass vodka, Kopytka Dumplings, Blinis and Kaczka Pieczona – don’t ask! But it was all very nice.
I like Polish cuisine. We often eat at Daquise in South Kensington and in fact had a merry time with friend Mary Omond there last week.
We saw a preview of a revived Peggy for You last night at the Hampstead Theatre. Directed by Richard Wilson who was sitting in our row taking notes. It opens tonight but not to a full house. The Omicron scare is biting and people are staying away. Once more the entertainment and leisure industry are taking a hit. It’s a pity because this was a wonderful production. I never saw the Maureen Lipman version back in 1999; in fact I’ve never seen it at all though I did read Simon Callow’s Love is Where it Falls when it was published, also in 1999. Tamsin Grieg is excellent in Alan Plater’s play which I found funny but also moving.
Writes Michael Billington in 1999: “Drama like sex, should never be rushed. Hollywood producers and agents are pimps turning her [Peggy’s] writers into whores: “If any of my clients are rich,” Peggy claims, “it’s entirely by accident.”
And a play to her is an event that should tell us something we don’t already know………Plater’s play transcends gossip to achieve the dignity of metaphor: his agent-heroine suddenly stands for all those who believe that art is more important than fame or profit and that living requires more courage than a drunken suicidal death.”
Talking about postponements and cancelations in this run up to Christmas we have had a few already. We’ve just learned that Tony’s son Zac is stuck in a ski resort in Tignes for Christmas because of the new French rules preventing unnecessary cross-channel visits. So we’ll not see him or grandson Tyger for the duration. Sadness.
Zac in the French Alps. Do we feel sorry for him? No!
Still, just in time Friend Jane B- and I squashed in a visit to the Portobello Electric to see Steven Spielberg’s offering of Sondheim’s slightly re-worked Westside Story which has been controversially received though I can’t think why. We thought it excellent. Does anyone else have an opinion on this? See it on a big screen.
Lloyd-Webber’s new Cinderella was diverting too though I do find his music repetitive: old themes re-visited and blatant use of others’ tunes. Did I hear some Gilbert & Sullivan coming through there?
But it was brilliantly staged with clever use of the revolve in the Gillian Lynn Theatre and a whole new take on the Cinderella story which more than made up for any other short-comings.
And Verdi’s Macbeth at Covent Garden was sensational too. Phyllida Lloyd’s 2002 production revived with Simon Keenlyside and Italian soprano Anna Pirozzi in the “Jock & Jean” roles were mesmerizing. Why I’ve never seen this opera before defeats me. I think it’s one of his best. Daniele Rustioni conducted. Rumour has it that he may well be taking over from Antonio Pappano who has been in residence since 2002. A popular choice.
And Queer Life, Queer Love has been published and launched, a new anthology in which Tony’s sweet story, Man Dancing is one of forty-two. I’d be crackers if I didn’t recommend it! Give it a whirl, Friends!
There have been Covid postponements and cancellations of course. I’m sure all of you have been affected in this run up to Christmas?
Tomorrow I relinquish my position here on Charlotte’s staff and Lateral Flow Tests willing join what’s left of the family in Cambridgeshire.
May I make passing mention of some other film streams I have enjoyed here at Charlotte’s home – she even joined me briefly on the sofa during a news cast but was unimpressed and retreated rapidly when Jon Snow appeared. Nothing personal I’m sure, and she hates violence. Passing was lovely; moving and beautifully filmed. And Tik…Tik…Boom! too.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s latest offering, The Power of the Dog was intriguing though I don’t think I saw it at its best. My date at the cinema was Covid cancelled and I watched it on the small screen at home. I don’t think that helped! Jane Campion’s epic style production with sweeping landscapes needs a huge space to view properly so I think I’ll re-visit it.
Otherwise what, dear Friends? Oh yes – the Christmas Lights in London this year are the most spectacular I have ever seen with many, many more areas lit up, not just the usual Bond, Regent and Oxford streets – I think it’s a concerted effort to cheer us up and persuade us to get into the festive mood.
And on that note we both wish you, Dear Friends everywhere, a very very Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year. Please stay in touch!