Friday, 11 September 2009


Here I sit at the Cipriani in Venice, lapping up the sun and drinking virgin Bellini' by the lagoon, listening to the river boats chugging past. I am happy, why wouldn't I be? Late last night I received a heart rending tale of Trinny Woodall's life in some Leeds council estate, where she is helping some poor old dear turn her life around with the help of a new wardrobe from Primark. Hell's bells, what would I do in the same predicament? Can't we add some glamour to this woman's life and bring her out here, to lap up the luxury and see the Eurotrash? Surely she would be just happy if she could spend a day and a half with me, going to Tom Ford's film at night and hanging with Rick and Michele Owens and The Single Man's leading man Colin Firth? I would like a Granny with me - mine was terrific, but she unfortunately died in 1981. She was an incredible character, and taught me everything there was to know about the sybaritic life. Her name was Squirrel but she should have been called Mink (and she called me her funeral gnome, as I only wear black). She had a love of all things beautiful and over-the-top, but at the same time taught me that to have talent was of no use unless you were prepared to work hard at it. Beryl Gilliat was born in Bath on October 31st, Halloween, sometime around 1910. She was a formidable pianist, not pretty but possessed of incredible legs. My grandfather, Sidney Gilliat, said that although she looked like a horse, she looked like a nice horse. Stylish, she went to couturiers for her dresses - Jo Mattli, celebrated by Vogue, was her particular favourite - and one day, when asked where somebody in the family could buy something, she said: 'You can buy it everywhere, Harrods, Selfridges, Fortnums, everywhere.' Squirrel taught me how to lay a table, cook, play the piano, ppreciate music and clothes, and decorate. Fabulous flowers were everywhere, her garden then was one of the best I have ever seen. She could even have dared telling my lovely friend Trinny what not to wear.

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