Friday, 14 November 2014

Slumber party

I sat and listened to the most extraordinary conversation between two middle-aged men at the gym today. It seemed to be nothing but a string of names. One of the guys would say: "Gappy Brown. You know him?" And the other would say, "Gappy? Yes. He was my sister's first boyfriend! Gappy Brown is Gloria Brown's nephew." "Oh, I know Gloria Brown. Big tits. Lovely girl. She used to go down the Nag's Head" "I tell you who used to go down there... John. What's his name. John..." "...Stephens?" "No. John Stephens is the cabbie who lives on Green Estate. He's the one one who crashed his cab with customers in it." "I used to live down Green... It was alright in its day..." "Gappy Brown lived on Green." And so it went on. Like an enormous game of word association, never reaching a point, constantly evolving, but going in giant circles, like a rotating door.

This evening I went to Philip Sallon's birthday party, which was at the Groucho club. The theme was slumber party, and I felt like a proper dickhead sitting on the tube in a fluffy dressing gown. It was spectacularly mortifying. I kept trying to remind my face to wear it with panache. People are far less likely to be embarrassed for you if you own what you're doing, but instead I shuffled about, like an escapee from a mental hospital.

The party itself was a lot of fun, although god knows most of the people there had managed to make bedroom attire look a great deal more sexy than I had. Nathan was working, so Julie Clare came as my plus one, wearing a beautiful laced neglige. Philip looked like a Frida Kahlo self portrait, in a floral print floor-length silk kimono gown and a glorious tall black turban, which he confessed to having crafted from an old T-shirt. All the other men at the party looked vaguely Victorian, in an opium den sort of way, though there was a level of self-obsession in that space which almost defied gravity. In these sorts of instances I tend to retreat inwards, and avoid talking about myself or my work, largely because I'm not really interested in watching someone's eyes glaze over when I begin to talk! Instead I have lots of fun asking people questions about themselves and talking about inappropriate things. One girl did manage to extract herself from her ego for long enough to notice the wedding ring on my finger and asked what my wife was called. "Nathan," I said. Embarrassment forced her to make a deeply patronising "isn't that sweet" noise before asking to see a picture. I actually don't have one of Nathan on my iPhone, so hastily googled "Our Gay Wedding: the Musical" and handed her the phone. She spooled through a number of pictures, never once thinking it was a bit strange that all my wedding photos were online and thereby, in my view, demonstrating a whole new level of self absorption!

I went home clutching a doggy bag of cakes for Nathan, looking more shambolic than I had on the way there. I stopped on Oxford Street to help hail a taxi for my friend Jo, and was horrified when they all refused to stop. In fact, one switched his light off as soon as he saw us. Alex swore it was because of my dressing gown. "You look like a proper nutter" he said. "Like Amy Winehouse, in the middle of a bender, going down Camden High Street for a kebab." He wasn't wrong. Someone even took my photo on the tube!

My first letter to Cameron Mackintosh from a Brass cast member arrived through the post this morning. It was very exciting to see it sitting on the doormat. It came from Laura, who plays Eliza, and was beautifully decorated and stained with tea. She subsequently told me that the letter says how Brass means the world to her, and that "for the first time, this year, during the 2 minutes I cried... I finally understand why we wear our poppies..." The comment meant more to me than she could possibly have known.

Again, if you are moved to make a donation to the pot, which has currently raised about £1,500, you can do so by going to...

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