Thursday, 27 March 2014

"Miss Alice in her palace" is a perfect English Fairy.

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Fortnums, Selfridges and Harrods reminds me of my childhood. I remember the food halls, vast and stunningly arranged with towering flower arrangements. My grandmother had a saying "You can buy it anywhere, Fortnum's, Harrod's, Selfridge's anywhere" I have been fighting this inherited  DNA.  I used to dream of castles , I used to dream of being a Princess, I have done my best to achieve this childhood wish.  I used to sit at school thinking why on earth was I there?
From the barren land of the Wiltshire Downs to the wildness of London. Biba, Way in, I always loved clothes. At the time I could whip up a skirt in an afternoon, but there was nothing like Biba. I knew I had to leave the country from a young girl..
Although I was not rich, my grandmother was. Squirrel had so many pairs of shoes by Raynes. She loved them. Squirrel was a hoarder of food, unusual items, beautiful 1950's paintings and I remember the village tut tutting when she painted her bedroom gold and peach. Squirrel was born to a cabinet maker in Bath and with a talent for piano and a great pair of legs she married my Grandfather, son of the Editor of the Evening Standard , Sidney Gilliat, a writer, film producer, and director.  She gave 'salons' of culture and while she practised I lay under her piano. Squirrel supported the arts, The London Mozart players. The pair of them were obsessed by opera which my son Charles has inherited. My mother was an opera singer, but because of giving birth to me she taught in the local schools in Wiltshire.
I grew up being pushed in a pram.  My aunt and Mother saying "Marry a millionaire, fall in love with one though, never marry for money" I followed their direction.  I was ambitious, I did not have a full on father, he was busy writing at the Foreign desk of The Daily Mail.


Tonight I went to Fortnums,  to congratulate another friendly blogger Miss Alice in her Palace, Alice Naylor Leyland. She celebrates everything British, affordable and pretty.  Her ideas, her talent.  Alice, I have known since she was born. She popped out perfect. . She was of course a huge fan of mine. She chose me to be her godmother, despite her mother thinking I was totally unsuitable. Her mother Serena is perfect too, making stunning cuffs that can make any black dress look a little different. Talented in the home, she cooks delicious Christmas cakes in October and creates the number one roast chicken in the world. Some friends you just have to see, and thousands of memories flood back. Tonight I went back to my past. Everybody is pretty round Alice, there is Poppy, Mary, Chloe and co.  In the famous pale blue surroundings with large vases of blossom, all was so F and M tasteful. Afterwards there was a dinner at Annabels a wonderful club.  I swear you can smell the country air in the centre of London.

Yesterday I went to the best club in London. 5 Hertford Street. It is one of the most interesting night places in London. Robin Birley son of Mark Birley, has perfected the word "Class" The men are gorgeous, the girls are gorgeous.

I once shared the dark room with his wife Lucy, ex wife of Bryan Ferry. They also love whippets and lurchers, my favourite dogs. As a child I used to sleep with one every night.

I  enjoyed seeing  food in wicker baskets, marmite bottles with silver lids, stunning pots of real marmalade, where the doormen open doors for you in livery and in the middle of it all,  a perfect fairy, Miss Alice in her Palace.

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