December 06 2012
It is suddenly freezing, but chocolate helps stoke my
ample internal boiler. My tastes in chocolate bars ebb and flow like a pregnant
woman's – not the only similarity, as I catch sight of my profile in Heal’s
At the moment I am on a Snickers jag. This excellent bar was once called Marathon and changed its name, along with Opal Fruits, I suppose in the interests of globalisation. Bantu warriors must be relieved to find Starbursts are made to make their mouths water.
Louise, my brilliant and saintly wife, remains steadfastly loyal to Turkish delight (once full of Eastern promise), which has always seemed to me to be the Babycham of bars and very refeened, but there is no shaking her from this low taste.
We have our annual boys’ lunch here at the Fulham Road shop today. It has become a tradition to which we ask an eclectic bunch of friends and supporters. The cast of 40-odd changes each year from a base of about 100 agreeable and amusing boys, and a few new faces are added so the mix is never quite the same.
We have nursery food – Scotch eggs, steak pie and crumble – and a cabaret with pudding. This year we had no rude act, but the superb Johann Lippowitz (aka actor David Armand) who brings the house down. He has done his incredibly funny turns for us for many years, and has since, happily and deservedly, found fortune and fame on the small and large screens. You should look him up on YouTube, where he has become, I am told, a sensation. His two pieces are interspersed with a couple of songs from the delightful and jolly group The Rockabellas, who do an Andrews Sisters close-harmony Christmas act. Johann also makes AA Gill laugh out loud – a rarity.
Later, we go for dinner with the Croesus-like John Caudwell and his feisty and fabulous partner Claire in their enormous new house in Mayfair, once owned by Prince Jefri of Brunei. A few of us set out to explore and get lost, a first in a London house for me. We have dinner in the ballroom as left by the previous owners, into which you could comfortably fit the Albert Hall. It is like being in fin de siècle Vienna on acid, while gently suffocated by baroque marshmallows. Wonderful.
John has a charity, Caudwell Children, that does an awful lot of what a civilised government should do but leaves up to people like John and Claire. The charity really does transform lives.
Louise and I get back late, in the freezing cold, to my daughter’s flat and
can’t get the door to open, so have to wake her up to let us in. An
embarrassing sense of role reversal creeps over us. We then can’t get the
heating to work so sleep in our clothes, which heightens the sense of being
back 30 years. The test match is going really well.