Sunday, November 26, 2006

What's Nicky Haslam for?

Susan Hill wonders aloud through the medium of Madame Arcati what the royal and celebrity interior decorator Nicky Haslam is for.

I must counsel that it is not for mortals to wonder at the purpose of a fellow human being. After all, M&S's very own mature model and sometime musical entertainer Bryan Ferry saw fit to make Nicky a godfather to his fox hunting son Otis, last seen leading a posse through the Commons chamber in protest against animal rights legislation. Mr Ferry's keen sense of high society and its uses has never deserted him: what better entree into the most exalted salons of London could Otis hope for than via Nicky's incessant networking?

I do not know what he is for, precisely, but my psychic sense tells that his memoirs will present some sort of answer. What he writes will matter less than what he illustrates, and whom he knows - everyone who matters, natch - may serve as useful research for novelists of a certain satirical interest.

Literarily, I have always thought Nicky a combination of Mann's Gustave Aschenbach (Death In Venice) - except that Nicky would have ensured that the eyeliner was waterproof - and Proust's hedonistic and comic Baron de Charlus (A la recherche) whose several homosexual intimacies bridged the social spectrum from many a royal palace to the gutter. There is also a touch of Mme Verdurin about Nicky in her false teeth and monocle, hinted at in his epic cosmetic surgery, painted hair and dirty ripped Levi's.

Nicky is one of the templates of literary character creation because quite frankly you couldn't make his sort up. And I adore him.


Susan Hill said...

I am so sorry if I seemed to have insulted a friend of yours MA. It came out wrong when I said 'what is NH for..' of course he is a human being and that is enough reason. No, I meant, I didn`t understand him..I can`t see where he is coming from let alone going to. is knowing a lot of famous people all ? I have always found him - and of course I don`t know and have never met him or, so far as I am aware, been so much as in the Ivy at the same time -rather a sad seeming man.But perhaps I am way off the mark. I was really asking for guidance not trying to be unkind.

Susan Hill said...

p.s. p.s. sometimes the rolling ads on the side of your blog come out quite wonderfully.. I just spotted 'buy Christopher Hitchens on ebay.'

Arcati said...

Darling Susan! I wonder myself what Nicky's for sometimes. Last I sat next to him at the theatre - for Blithe Spirit would you believe - I concluded that his furry coat (which he refused to take off) needed a thorough laundering.

Susan Hill said...

I can see why he no longer wanted to look like someone behind the counter of the fabric department in Peter Jones.. all silvered quiff and shot cuffs.. but then he, er, went a strange alternative route..still, I daresay he adds to the gaiety of nations in all senses and I`m for that,