Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Roger Lewis book party: Adult nappies, posh gits and names galore, darling

Party reports from guests Molly Parkin, Jonathan King and Duncan Fallowell. And a letter from host Roger Lewis on his glorious celebration.

'Roger was wearing sandals. The last person I remember wearing sandals at his own book launch was Jeremy Sandford, circa 1985.' So reports Duncan Fallowell, one of many notable guests at Roger Lewis' launch party for What Am I Still Doing Here?, his fabulous and funny autobiographical follow-up to acclaimed Seasonal Suicide Notes.

Madame Arcati couldn't make it, of course. but she had not one, not two, but three famous appointed ambassadors dispatched to the Chris Beetles Ltd event on Tuesday (Oct 18) evening in London's SW1: the blessed Duncan (a biped concordance on party lore), the divine fiancee Molly Parkin and last and never least - oh yes - Jonathan King, lately the recipient of an apology from the BBC DG Mark Thompson himself.

Molly Parkin portrait by
Darren Coffield
JK tells me: 'My dear friend Lynn Barber just e-m'd me to say Duncan Fallowell was terribly keen to meet me because of our mutual friend Arcati! I'd have liked to have seen him with his clothes on.'

He adds: 'Molly Parkin looked gorgeous and took most of the attention in a room which ranged from Richard Littlejohn and Quentin Letts through Barry Cryer to Lynn Barber and Valerie Grove. Literally anyone who is anyone in London literary society was there and most had read about the BBC apology on Madame Arcati's site, so I spent the time fielding journalist questions. But the main puzzle was - how does Arcati know everything? I'm sorry to say I revealed the existence of the crystal ball, the cards and the stars.'

Isn't he adorable? OK, if you're a tabloid cunt he isn't adorable.

Duncan Fallowell
Molly Parkin reports: 'The party was full of posh gits - literary, artistic and fashion types I normally avoid - and loads of old Colony people, and Gyles Brandreth and (film director) Joe McGrath (82 now!) who worked a lot with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. Even Clair Woodward, the Arts & Ents Editor of the Sunday Express, was there. Men at the party kept on coming up to me and saying, "I want to shake your hand so I can say I shook the hand of Molly Parkin."'

A little confusion attended the opening minutes of the do. 'We couldn't get in initially and it was already 6.20 pm,' says Moll. 'Then a funny little girl opened the door; a bit of a cock-up. It was in a gallery of sorts with loads of water colours on the wall; the party was split over three separate areas.' Duncan adds: 'It was such a weird basement of cramped chambers.'

Moll continues: 'I met that wonderful journalist on the Independent Matthew Bell who was there with a difficult girl - he told me Duncan was trying to get my attention - it was terribly crowded. By the time I was free he'd gone - Roger wasn't happy about that. Roger said, "Duncan's prematurely disappeared."'

Moll paraded in a self-made tall magenta turban which excited the interest of author and journalist Valerie Grove - 'What have you stuffed the turban with?' she asked after calling it a 'fantastic hat'. Moll replied: 'Adult nappies.' Poor Val gave a disgusted 'Oh' and hoped the nappies had not been used first.

Jonathan King
Moll confides to Madame Arcati: 'Actually, the nappies were not used but I had bought some after someone told me about incontinence in the elderly. I'm not incontinent but I wanted to see if they work. So I put one on and went for a piddle - and not a drop leaked out. So next time I go to the theatre or cinema I'm going to wear a nappy and I can have a piddle without getting up. Nappies make great padding for turbans.'

And as for Duncan's early exit... he explains: 'I had to leave Roger's launch to go on to the Keats-Shelley party at Carlton House Terrace - followed by dinner at the Academy Club.

'But I then caught up with Roger around 11 pm at the Groucho where he was staying with his wife [Anna] and 3 sons - they'd been for a slap-up at Rule's. There were more drunks in the Groucho than in the Academy which must be a first. And so the Groucho was strangely quiet, several out cold slumped in armchairs. Roger on the other hand was just warming up and waving a glass of champagne around in the air and chatting up the pianist.'

Moll pays tribute to the surprising youthfulness of their 50-something host Roger and the 'beauty' of his sons. Duncan adds: 'I asked Roger, "Where did you find your handsome barman?" He replied "That's Sebastian". I didn't recognise his youngest son who last time I saw him some years ago was a hippy in embryo.'

How annoying! Madame Arcati regrets not attending this party. And yet she feels she walked among Roger Lewis' guests after all, in three persons, one nappied.

What Am I Still Doing Here? can be bought here.

Oh, and a letter from Roger Lewis himself....

Dear Madame Arcati,

Yes -- a great do. Barry Cryer said, "It's your book come to life!"

Luckily, the Booker Prize dinner siphoned off the dreck.

A highlight for me (in addition to your Molly) was the presence of Biddy Baxter! It was as if Dame Sybil Thorndike had turned up. She said: "Did you get a Blue Peter Badge" and I said, "No I bloody well did not!"

Also, we had Lord Archer, who unsportingly refused to exchange Belmarsh tales with young Jonathan King.

Judi Bowker
But also sneaking in -- the divine Judi Bowker. That's right, that vision of loveliness from Black Beauty and Clash of the Titans, where she was last seen lashed to a rock being menaced by Laurence Olivier. She was also blonde and gorgeous in The Shooting Party, with James Mason. But best of all -- Brother Sun, Sister Moon, where Zeffirelli got all these English lads to Tuscany and tried to, well, you can guess the rest.

We also had Eric Potts, the world's greatest pantomime dame -- this Christmas he's doing panto in Wimbledon, but with Barry Humphries. How can that work? Dame Edna as one of the Ugly Sisters ?

Perhaps Chris Beetles was still mourning his chum Rob Buckman, the celebrity doctor, who died on a plane heading for Toronto last week, but he was so gloomy, Rachel Johnson went up to him and said: "Are you Hungarian?"

Beetles shut the lights off at 8 sharp and 30 seconds later we were all on the street. A humorous sight, Gyles Brandreth, Barry Cryer, Stephen Frears, Joe McGrath, Molly Parkin, Francis Wheen and documentary-maker Tony "All You Need Is Love" Palmer tottering up the spiral stairs, from this dungeon where we'd been boozing. Everyone hung around for so long on the pavement, I thought, Christ, I'd better write another book so we can carry on celebrating.

A cab then drew up at the kerb, and executive editors from the Daily Mail piled out. A mob from the Sunday Express squared up to them, as if about to have a fight out of a Western.

Myself, Lady Lewis and the 3 little Lewises then went to Rules. The rest is as Duncan described, including my orthopaedic sandals for my diabetic foot.




Anonymous said...

How clever of you to get others to do your work, 'Madame'. Are you a mong?

U-Know-Who said...

I was one of the men who shook Moll's hand. What a beauty she is, a London jewel whose sparkle is undiminished.

Anonymous said...

Are you now Jonathan King's PR?

Anonymous said...

That Duncan bloke, no pecs, delts or biceps. Needs to hit the gym!

The Duchess said...

I think I'm right in saying that the cumulative age of your correspondents is over 200 years. Virtually Ptolomaic.

Anonymous said...

How I'd love to have been there. But why no photo of Mr Lewis?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Methuselah was there too

Tyrone's ex said...

Tyrone Power wasn't there

Anonymous said...

Wasted on a blog. Get a proper job.

Lulu said...

I greatly enjoyed Seasonal Suicide Notes. And I highly recommend Roger Lewis's Charles Hawtrey biography. The late Carry On actor bears a curious resemblance to the drag queen Johnny Robinson on the X Factor.

Anonymous said...

So if all literary London were here, as King says, the Booker Prize at the Guildhall must've been empty then?

The late Edward Heath said...

I'm starting to wonder whether this blog is run by a committeee of self-important veterans posing as an astrologer.

Anonymous said...

Any sex?

'Dank' said...

Sounds like a nightmare party. No wonder Fallowell pissed off. The Keats/Shelley do was where it was at. And most book people didn't bother with the Booker.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea that that wonderful face was Judi Bowker or that she was still with us. Wow.

Ronaldo Biggs said...

Lord Archer. Jonathan King. Say no more.

Anonymous said...

Utterly sublime piece, Madame.

Lowhanger Farm said...

a right ol knacker-rattler

Thomas said...


The Crasher said...

Where's this week's must-go party then?

Madame Arcati said...

Madame Arcati is not a social secretary. The very idea.

Anonymous said...

What a treasure trove of stars! I feel like an attendee myself now. The presence of J King among them just adds to the peculiarity. said...

I wish you would remove the comment that speaks of a 'mong'. This is a disgraceful attempt at levity in the wake of Ricky Gervais's meltdown of any taste at all. It smacks of playground bullying.

Someone who should know better said...

Molly is an inspiration to us all and I'm insanely jealous of U-Know-Who who got to shake her hand. If only I could carry off a hat like that.

Is Madame still engaged to her and is this union ever going to be consummated?.

Anyone who wrote about Charles Hawtrey is OK in my book!

Madame Arcati said...

Thank you for your kind words on what is a very windy day by the sea.

Molly and I are indeed still engaged and we fill our days thinking of the ultimate ceremony to end them all. Possible venues include a nuclear-powered submarine, a multi-dimensional experience (ie one us 'dead' but married by a clairvoyante medium who could hear me or Moll saying our vows) or one at Paul Dacre's hunting estate in Scotland while His Lordship is in residence (occasional weekends).

As for consummation, Molly has announced the passing of her libido (though from time to time I think I detect a flickering on the orgasmo-monitor).

Watch this space, poppet.

Anonymous said...

Ab Fab pardee!

Anonymous said...

A fraudster, a perv and a bunch of show-offs. Brilliant.

Jan/Winter Cunty said...

Given your past stunts, how can we know that any of the famous people quoted here actually talked to you? You probably wrote the Lewis letter yourself.