An Evening With Dame Joan Collins

An Evening With Dame Joan Collins
Dubai Opera December 12th 2017

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

TV ALERT : QUEENS OF DRAMA .. POP TV .. APRIL 29TH 2015 ..8/7C ...


Tune into the latest episode of 'Queens of Drama' as Joan makes her entrance.. Catch all the action on POP TV at 8/7c ...

EVENT UPDATE : THE LYRIC HAMMERSMITH .. REUBEN FOUNDATION WING REOPENING PARTY .. APRIL 28TH 2015 ..

 
Joan had a great night at The Lyric Hammersmith where it reopened it's Reuben Foundation Wing.. Joan is good friends with Simon & Joyce Reuben..
Joan with Simon Reuben..

 
Lyric Hammersmith
The Reuben Foundation Wing at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, is a two-storey extension, offering a range of brand new facilities to benefit young people, wishing to learn and gain experience in the creative industry. The new wing marks the first major facelift for the theatre in 30 years and further reinforces the theatre’s growing reputation as one of the capital’s most sustainable cultural buildings.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson visited the theatre and commented on the positive effect of the expansion through the Reuben Foundation Wing will benefit young Londoners: “The Reuben Foundation is having an enormously positive impact on the lives of Londoners, as we have seen with its support for our own Team London Programme [which is also in partnership with the Reuben Foundation]. This is a fine example of philanthropic giving, which is hugely important for our cultural institutions and it means the Lyric will be able to expand and sustain its excellent work for years to come.”
The brand new state-of-the-art facilities will provide thousands more young people with opportunities to engage with, learn about and gain experience of different aspects of the creative industries. The Reuben Foundation Wing will offer drama, dance and recording studios, an editing suite, music practice rooms, a film & TV studio, a screening room, a digital playspace, a sensory space for children with disabilities, props and costume stores, wardrobe and scenic workshops, meeting and seminar rooms, staff offices and social spaces.

PHOTO OF THE DAY : ROYAL JOAN IS ALWAYS WORD PERFECT!

Joan reads though her script..
Here is a great promo from The Royals which aired in the USA on Sunday night and will air in the UK next month...

Monday, April 27, 2015

EVENT ALERT : ANDY WARHOL ..THE GAS HALL .. BIRMINGHAM MUSEUM & ART GALLERY .. 25TH APRIL TO SEPTEMBER 6TH 2015 ..

Warhol tapestries exhibited in Birmingham

Andy Warhol image of Marilyn Monroe
Andy Warhol's tapestry of Marilyn Monroe is on display in Birmingham
An Andy Warhol tapestry of Marilyn Monroe & Joan Collins has gone on show alongside others ....
Logo bmagThey are part of an exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery put together by Turner Award-winning artist Jeremy Deller.
Also featured are Warhol's portraits of Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Collins.
Grey line

Andy Warhol

Warhol portrait of Joan Collins
Joan Collins by Andy Warhol
  • Born in 1928
  • A leading proponent of the "pop art" genre, a post-war style based on vivid imagery from popular culture
  • Famous for producing works featuring Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, as well as pieces highlighting everyday items such as soup cans
  • In 2011, a self-portrait sold for £1.8m
  • Died in 1987
  • This summer, take a once in a lifetime opportunity to see world famous masterpieces by a giant of art history, right in the heart of Birmingham.
    Making surprising connections between this unlikely pairing, the spectacular exhibition explores the artists’ common interests in mass production, popular culture and mythology.
    Highlights include Warhol’s iconic portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, plus archival material including a signed photograph of Shirley Temple posted to a 13-year-old Andy in 1941.
    This exhibition is in the Gas Hall at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
    Admission charges:
    Adult: £7.00
    Concession (student / senior): £6.00
    Child (3-15 years): £3.00
    Child (under 3): Free 
    Family (2 adults & 2 children): £17.00

    To book tickets phone 0121 348 8038 or Book Online.

    Images
    1. Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol, tapestry, 1968
    Credit line: The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Founding Collection, Contribution The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. The Collection of Marla and Larry Wasser, Toronto, Canada. © 2015 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London. Image: Maciek Linowski.
    2. Dame Elizabeth Taylor by Andy Warhol, offset lithograph, 1967
    Credit line: © 2014 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London
    3. Joan Collins by Andy Warhol, silkscreen ink on synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 1985
    Credit line: © 2014 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

PRESS UPDATE : IRISH INDEPENDENT .. APRIL 26TH 2015 ..




As he teams up with MAC to launch a new make-up collection, we talk to Philip Treacy about beauty, Ireland, copycats and the 'rebels' who wear his hats....

By Andrea Byrne

Philip Treacy stands to greet me when I walk into his hotel suite, shaking my hand warmly before sinking into the comfy couch directly opposite. "I like your boots," he tells me with a smile, rising off the couch again for a closer inspection.
Philip with Joan at Lou Lou's evening before investiture.

We had met briefly the previous night at the V&A Museum in London, current home to the Savage Beauty exhibition - the first and largest retrospective of designer Alexander McQueen's work in Europe.
At a private tour of the exhibition, organised by MAC make-up with whom Treacy has teamed up to create a new signature collection, the Galway man was in great spirits - mingling with guests and engaging in playful back-and-forth with the exhibition's curator Claire Wilcox during her speech.
They had had a fight working together previously, we were told, but neither can remember what it was about. Even when Claire was off mic, I overheard them laughing about the rumble. As Treacy walked around the exhibition, I also overheard him offering those in his select company - which included actress Kim Cattrall - some insight into Alexander McQueen's stunning designs.
So, it comes as a surprise this morning when I arrive to our interview at the famous Claridge's hotel to be told that Treacy will not be answering any questions about his relationship with his late friend and collaborator. Our interview had been already subject to some approvals and a strict stipulation that Philip wouldn't be discussing arguably his most famous clients, the Royal family (he has created headpieces for Kate Middleton, Camilla Parker Bowles and the Queen, not to mention the infamous bow hat he made for Princess Beatrice which quickly went viral online). Discretion with the royals is understandable, but a ban on questions about Alexander McQueen is a rather surprising development.
Nevertheless, there is still plenty to talk about. After all, this is a man who is arguably Ireland's greatest design export and who boasts a client list that reads like an Oscars' seating plan, but who rarely puts himself into the spotlight.
With his collection for make-up heavyweights MAC sitting on the coffee table in front of us, it seems like the most obvious place to start. "I have worked with MAC for 15 years. I was in New York one time and they said, 'will you do some make-up?'" Treacy says of how the collaboration came about. "It's beauty. It's beautification - like hats are too - so it enhances and makes people look better. A lipstick can change your day." Taking inspiration from his own work down through the years, Treacy designed three headpieces (one of which is pictured above) that accentuate the structure of the face, around which the make-up collection was built. The 12 products in this limited edition collection, include rich cream shadows, statement-making eyeliners, and a gorgeous highlighter for the skin, which looks almost too pretty to use. There are also lipsticks in three strong but wearable colours, that are made to last. "I like colour. It's very, kind of, rich," he says.
Treacy's love of colour clearly extends to his own style - today he's wearing cobalt blue skinny jeans that emphasise his slender frame. His hair style hasn't changed over the decades - it's blonde and floppy, falling somewhere between a Byronic hero and a 1990s boyband star. He looks great for a man who turns 48 next month, easily passing for younger.
Born in Ahasgragh, Galway, as the second youngest of eight children, Philip Treacy's father was a baker and his mother a housewife. He made his first hat while studying at Dublin's National College of Art and Design. After completing his degree, he was accepted to the prestigious Royal College of Art in London.
Grace Jones
A year later, a meeting with Tatler magazine's style editor Isabella Blow would change his life. He began designing hats for the colourful Blow, who would champion him to anyone who would listen. Soon he was designing hats for all the top designers' catwalk shows, including the then-emerging Lee Alexander McQueen.
From the outset, Treacy's style was whimsical, elaborate, at times radical. Fashion rejoiced at the genius of his ships and butterflies, and during the early 1990s, he was awarded the title of British Accessory Designer of the Year on five occasions.
Today, the self-professed Royalist has an OBE before his name, is unquestionably the world's most famous and most successful hat designer. Treacy's achievements are even more admirable given that they've taken place in an industry ruled by big conglomerates with endless budgets and powerful PR machines. The Philip Treacy brand might be big, but the team behind it is small.
Almost 30 years living in London at this stage, it's understandable that he should have lost his Galway lilt. He speaks with a clear, pronounced, well-spoken, soothing tone, but if you didn't know his origins, it would be hard to place. It's not overly English, but it's not noticeably Irish either.
For the most part, Treacy eschews social niceties and keeps to the point when answering certain questions. To get him to elaborate often requires coaxing. Like when I ask whether he thinks his Irishness has helped him in his career. His reply is succinct: "Of course."
In what way has he found it has helped, I probe. "I don't know how to answer that. It's like asking you what it's like to be Irish. You are Irish. I am Irish. It travels with me everywhere I go."
Does he visit home much? "I don't, really", he says, almost apologetically, prompting me to ask whether that is regrettably so, "Eh yes", he pauses, "I travel a lot, so every couple of weeks I'm going somewhere in the world. My parents aren't alive anymore so there isn't the same reason to go home."
What does he think his parents would make of his career, I wonder? Did they get any sense of how successful he has been? "Not really, my father died when I was 11," he says, grimacing slightly. "I don't want to talk about my parents if that's alright, because sometimes they take it to another level."
I move on to Ireland's upcoming marriage equality referendum, and his thoughts on whether it will be passed. "I hope so, of course," he says, looking slightly flummoxed at the direction the interview has taken. Would he lend his name to it? "I haven't been asked." Would he, if he was to be asked? "It's not really a question I can answer because I haven't been asked."
I wonder did Treacy - who is in a long-term relationship with partner Stefan Bartlett - experience any homophobia growing up in rural Ireland? "I don't really want to talk about that, I want to talk about this," he says, his eyes moving to his make-up collection and then to a MAC representative who's sitting in on our interview.
Then despite his initial reluctance, he musters a response: "Everyone encounters homophobia, it's not just in Ireland. I have had a great experience. I haven't had a victimised experience." Despite the fact that the likes of Lady Gaga publicly gush about his prodigious talent, Philip Treacy manages to keep a relatively low profile. He's not one for red carpet events, or for hanging outside Somerset House during London Fashion Week hoping to be photographed. This is a man, I suspect, who likes to keep his private life private. However, even though I may have asked questions he'd rather not answer, and given that our interview is occasionally peppered with awkward pauses, Treacy is never rude, and at no point does he show any annoyance or frustration.
I steer the conversation back to the safer territory of hats. Well it's relatively safer - as long as you don't call Treacy a milliner. "Millinery actually means a different thing", he clarifies, adding that he prefers to be known as a 'hat maker'. "It's a 17th-century term, what it means is decorating dresses, and I make shapes. I design hats rather than decorate hats."
I tell him that it's remarkable in a youth-obsessed industry that most of the women who've worn his hats best are older - Jasmine Guinness, Isabella Blow, Sarah Jessica Parker who recently turned 50, Grace Jones, Dame Joan Collins to name but a few. Does he think that it takes a level of maturity and an acceptance of oneself to have the confidence to wear a hat well?
"No, not really. All these people are kind of rebels. Hats were worn for conformist reasons at one time, and now they are worn for the opposite reason. All those people that I make things for, they occupy their own space. It's impossible to define someone like Sarah Jessica Parker, she inhabits a kind of," he pauses, searching for the correct words, "people like her, they don't know why they like her. Fortunately because I work with her, I know her, she's a very nice woman, but because of the character that she represents to people all over the world, she can get away with more. She likes fashion, that's her character or persona.
"And then with the other ones, Grace is a tough cookie. I think they're strong women, really. Lady Gaga is very strong. Grace Jones is, Joan Collins. I think what makes them different is they're not worried about what anybody else thinks."
So do you need to be an extrovert to wear a hat? "No, you don't, but it's part of their make-up, really. You don't become those people by conforming on any level, regardless of a hat, so they're fearless. Isabella was fearless," he says referencing his mentor and patron, who took her own life in 2007. "People are afraid of hats, but they shouldn't be afraid, there's nothing harmful about a hat, it's just entertainment on the head."
The reason, I was told at the start of the interview, that he doesn't want to talk about Alexander McQueen - who, like Isabella Blow, took his own life - is that four years on from his death, Treacy still finds it upsetting to discuss. Understandable, they were great friends - a rare thing, I'd imagine, in an industry so renowned for its fickleness.
Having been introduced in 1992 by Isabella, McQueen and Treacy began working together, a collaboration that produced some of fashion's most iconic moments, including Treacy's Butterfly hat. In the years since, there have been countless copies of the hat produced - is Treacy flattered or annoyed by mass imitation?

Joan with Prince Charles
"It's very easy to say it doesn't matter but I wish people would get their own ideas, that's really the point of developing, you know. I get requests off people all the time, 'how can I develop my business?' Or 'how can I start to sell hats to stores?' You need a style that's particular to you. The stores aren't going to buy it if it looks like my hats because they buy them from me," he says matter-of-factly.
"People are international today. So the person who is shopping in Ireland is also shopping in London, or Paris, in New York. It's not so provincial any more, people are very clued in, so they know when something is completely different and that's what brings about success. People want something that they haven't seen before."
In terms of diversity of customers, no other high-end designer can rival Philip Treacy. His hats are worn by everyone from royalty (36 guests at the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton wore his creations) to wacky popstars to winners of a Best Dressed Lady competition at a rural Irish race meeting. Yet, despite their popularity and ubiquity, they remain a much coveted item across all international social classes. It's accessible luxury.
And while I'm sure there has been the temptation, and indeed the encouragement, to expand his brand to include maybe shoes or handbags, Treacy has remained entirely loyal to his craft. Admirably so.
"Everybody does that. Everyone is doing shoes. Everyone is doing handbags. Everybody is a designer today," he says flashing a smile. "I would love to do all those things but you can't do everything. I could do that if a shoe company approached me and said we'll do the shoes and then you just put your name to it, but I don't work like that."
I'm told our 15 minutes together is up, and swiftly make a plea for one more question, which Treacy agrees to: does he have a career highlight? "I have a career highlight every week, so Dame Joan Collins in Buckingham Palace in a week is a bit of fun. You asked me about my parents earlier, and when I was about 10 going to school, I wasn't allowed to watch Dynasty. I remember, my parents they just thought Joan Collins was a trip. So now when I am talking to her sometimes, I just think, 'God if they only knew who I was talking to'", he says laughing. "Every week is a different project. This week is MAC. Next week is Russia. I am lucky that I have such an interesting job because it makes for an interesting life."
Philip Treacy for MAC is available in Brown Thomas and BT2 stores nationwide and from MAC, Henry Street, Dublin 1

Sunday, April 26, 2015

CAMPAIGN UPDATE : FANCY PANTS... THE EVE APPEAL .. APRIL 24TH 2015 ..

To raise funds for The Eve Appeal Cancer charity, many celebrities have created their own doodles on pairs of ladies knickers! The campaign entitled 'Fancy Pants' will see all the pants auctioned of to the highest bidders.. Joan's daughter Tara has created the pictured item.. Also contributing are Joanna Lumley, Mary Portis, Zandra Rhodes and Jennifer Saunders among many others... Watch this space for more details...

EVENT UPDATE : VARIETY ... APRIL 24TH 2015...



TV Review: ‘Queens of Drama’




Queens of Drama Review on Pop

The gradual disappearance of soap operas has significantly reduced opportunities for actors in that genre. So what better way to exploit the situation than “Queens of Drama,” a Pop series that assembles a group of actresses for the ostensible purpose of trying to produce their own show, but really functions as an excuse to create a reality-style serial on the cheap. There’s no harm done, unless A) you once wrote soaps, and are thus rendered obsolete; or B) you have a functioning cerebral cortex, which will struggle to buy this as anything other than unconvincingly manufactured melodrama.
Granted, there’s something so deliciously meta about the concept — following the soapy sextet as they try to craft and sell a show, when in fact what you’re watching is the show — that some fans will accept the series strictly on its own bogus terms. Moreover, Pop is cleverly launching the half-hour format with back-to-back episodes behind its telecast of the Daytime Emmy Awards, which certainly provides the most hospitable platform imaginable to get the goods sampled.
Familiarity with the actresses and their daytime-drama roles isn’t even a requirement, since the project pretty quickly shoehorns them into types, deriving most of the tension from the catty relationship between Lindsay Hartley and Crystal Hunt. The latter even has the audacity to crack wise about her co-star’s age now that she’s auditioning for mom roles. Meow.
Leading the pack, sort of, is Vanessa Marcil, who enlists Donna Mills (sorry, “guest star” Donna Mills) to help advance the project. But Mills brings in Hunter Tylo without asking, which irks the others, and then takes a network meeting (at the CW, synergistically, given CBS’ ownership role with both that network and Pop) without informing her new partners.
The gang is so irritated by this, or at least professes to be, they seek to enlist another diva as a possible replacement for Mills. And when Joan Collins comes sauntering in, the music swells as if it’s 1985 all over again.
Chrystee Pharris rounds out the cast, largely presented as the voice of reason and sort-of referee between Hunt and Hartley. And “cast” is the operative word, since everyone is playing some variation of themselves, just with less sex than they used to have in soaps.
Of course, there are two ways of looking at this. Charitably, it’s possible to admire the ingenuity at work in finding an avenue to employ these actresses, albeit in a slightly different capacity; by contrast, it’s just as easy to lament that they only get to ply their trade in this context by pretending that they’re not really acting, in an “If life gives you lemons” kind of way.
Then again, the divas brought together here join a pretty sizable list of performers who have done just that by going the reality-TV route. And as Kim Basinger’s Veronica Lake look-alike put it in “L.A. Confidential,” “We still get to act a little.”

Friday, April 24, 2015

PRESS UPDATE : NEW YORK DAILY NEWS .. APRIL 23RD 2015 ..




'Queens of Drama' review: New reality TV show is pretty good with Donna Mills  

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
 
Thursday, April 23, 2015, 

SO THESE half-dozen female soap actresses get together and the most amazing thing happens: The drama feels surprisingly life-size.


That's one of the good things about “Queens of Drama,” wherein these actresses form a production company they hope can develop a new show with solid roles for women.
The core five are Vanessa Marcil, best known from “90210” and “Vegas”; Chrystee Pharris from “Passions”; Hunter Tylo, who spent nearly a quarter century on “The Bold and the Beautiful”; Crystal Hunt from “Guiding Light” and “One Life to Live”; and Lindsay Hartley from “Passions,” "All My Children” and “Days of Our Lives.”
What they need, they agree, is someone with, frankly, a higher profile. Someone whose calls will always be returned and will get them through doors.
Enter Donna Mills, best known from “Knots Landing” but also familiar from a series of movies and recently a new guest role on “General Hospital.”
Mills won the coveted Soap Opera Digest designation as “best villainess” three times for “Knots,” and while she doesn't play a villainess here, she does come across as no-nonsense.
While the project is a collective effort, Mills is clearly first among equals, an unspoken social-order acknowledgment that also surfaces when Joan Collinsdrops in for a guest appearance.
This being a reality show and all, there's running drama about who is being properly supportive of whom, and who may be putting personal interest above collective mission. Plus of course some people in any group will get along better than others.
But the story also moves along toward an actual goal, and that voyage gives “Queens of Drama” something more than catfights for which to live

PRESS UPDATE : E! ONLINE .. APRIL 24TH 2015 ..

NEWS/ 

Joan Collins Flawlessly Dishes All About Her Delicious "Manipulating" Role on The Royals


Are you ready for some major mama drama?
The Royals is getting a healthy dose of it on this Sunday's all-new episode, because the flawless and absolutely fierce legend Joan Collins makes her highly anticipated debut, and it's going to give you major nostalgia for her Dynastydays! And the part she's playing? It's oh-so-perfect.
She's playing the queen mother, of course! It was the juiciness of the role that attracted Collins to The Royals in the first place.
"It was a great role," Collins tells E! News. "When I first heard about The Royalsbeing made a long time ago, about a year ago, I mentioned to my agent, 'That sounds like a really interesting project, particularly being done as a scripted series on E! because I think there's not enough scripted series that are particularly glamorous.'"
And the fact that her role on the show is playing Queen Helena's (Elizabeth Hurley) "manipulating" mother was just the cherry on top.
"The character that I'm playing is actually the one in control," Collins says. "She knows what's going on with all the madness and naughtiness and decadence that's going on with the royal family, the fictional royal family. She decides it's time to step in and stop it all. She is the manipulating mom."
The Royals airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on E!

EVENT UPDATE : THE IN-SYNC DIET BOOK LAUNCH ... THE ALDWYCH THEATRE LONDON... APRIL 24TH 2015 ..

Joan popped into The Aldwych Theatre earlier to help friend Glynis Barber launch her new book 'The In Sync Diet'.. The book co-written by Fleur Borrelli is out now.. Also at the launch party was 'Eastenders' star Rita Simons and agent Stuart Piper..

Thursday, April 23, 2015

PRESS UPDATE : THE SPECTATOR .. APRIL 24TH 2015 ..

‘About time too!’: Joan Collins curtseys to Prince Charles

Parties, hats and dancing around handbags – everything you need to know about becoming a dam
 25 April 2015
notebook
The day of my investiture at Buckingham Palace dawned bringing freezing rain and fierce winds, which lashed at the windows as I regarded the outfit I had painstakingly planned — a lightweight, cream wool suit. A little damp didn’t bother me, so I didn’t care if I’d be shivering as Prince Charles pinned the medal on to my cape. No — it was the fate of the hat that worried me most. Designed by milliner Philip Treacy, it was a frothy creation of white grosgrain, chiffon flowers and delicate veiling, and I was concerned about the wind whipping it off. My best friend Judy Bryer said soothingly, ‘Philip has put so much construction inside that even a gale wouldn’t shift it.’
After much primping, my husband Percy, my two oldest children and I drove to the Palace. We averted a potential disaster when, at the gates, Percy confessed to having left his photo ID behind. ‘Will you vouch for this gentleman?’ the helmeted bobby inquired. ‘Well, I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but he is my husband,’ I joked. The policeman smiled politely, stared at me to make sure I was the real McCoy, and ushered our driver into the outer courtyard.
Once inside we were separated, and I was shown into a vast hall. There we were instructed in protocol and the ladies made to practise our curtseys. The future knights weren’t let off, as they had to practise kneeling on a velvet stool and rising again, amid much creaking of joints. Walking through the hallowed passages on the way to the Investiture Hall, I couldn’t help but feel slightly giddy as my moment approached. ‘Walk, stop, walk, stop, turn, curtsey, walk, stop, curtsey, stand, wait, curtsey, walk backward, stop, curtsey, turn, walk,’ I repeated to myself. Suddenly a hand propelled me forward and I was facing Prince Charles. ‘And about time, too!’ he said, flashing a charming smile. My nerves evaporated.
Although I’d already received an OBE, my damehood for services to charity means so much to me. As patron of the Shooting Star/Chase Hospice for children with terminal illnesses, I know how much these families depend on the charity to help them provide the best care for their child. They receive next to no support from the government when their child is sent home, and would be left to cope almost entirely alone if not for the valiant efforts of the hospices.
After the ceremony we repaired for lunch at the Wolseley, where I was greeted by my dearest sister Jackie and my brother Bill and his family, along with several friends. Most of them were a touch hung over because the previous evening my friends Joyce and Simon Reuben had thrown a spectacular soiree at Loulou’s. The club had created a special drink called the Joan Collins — a lavender Tom Collins — as well as scrumptious canapés.
My guests and I had hit the disco like over-ambitious Anton du Bekes and Abbey Clancys. But I was surprised to see a few curious trends on the dance floor. Three or four young ladies placed their handbags on the floor and tripped the light fantastic around them, leaving the hazard for others to trip over. Others showed off tipsy moves while clutching cocktails, occasionally sprinkling liquid around them. Add to this hapless waiters trying to mop up the drink while avoiding those embracing their inner Beyoncé, and it became more like dodgems than a dance‑off.
At home for a well-earned break, I stared at the once-beautiful brocade curtains in my sitting room and realised that it was time for a change. After almost two decades of faithful service, they were so ragged and ripped that I was beginning to feel like Miss Havisham. There was nothing for it but a trip to Chelsea Design Centre to order new ones. I arranged to meet the designer in the great foyer, and as I stood there waiting, a lady slowly approached. She stopped in front of me, raised her head and asked my favourite question: ‘Do you remember me?’ I hemmed and hawed then mumbled: ‘Of course, mmm — now, where was it?’ ‘We were at school together,’ she beamed. ‘You were in my class?’ I asked, embarrassed not to remember. ‘No, I was in Jackie’s class, and I’ll never forget you chiding me at lunch one day for refusing to eat my lumpy custard.’ ‘Why did I do that?’ ‘You were my prefect, and you were quite bossy!’ I’m glad some things haven’t changed.
On the night of my investiture, we hosted a big party at Claridge’s for friends and family. I’d been working on the perfect placement for months, so I was panicking hugely about no-shows. I needn’t have worried. Everyone turned up beautifully dressed and on time, which never happens. The speeches were warm and witty and after many wonderful tributes, Percy stood up wearing a sailor’s hat emblazoned with ‘HMS Dame Joan’ and began singing the opening verse of ‘There is Nothing Like a Dame’. I steeled myself to be thoroughly embarrassed, but I needn’t have worried. Christopher Biggins took the second verse, and then they sat me on a Bergère throne in the middle of the dance floor while Theo Fennell, Charles Delevingne, Billy Differ, Jack Rich and Nickolas Grace took on various parts with gusto. This was without a doubt the best night of my life.
The following day, my sister Jackie gave us a post-mortem lunch, and later our mayoral hopeful Ivan Massow threw a grand kitchen supper. A final lunch on Saturday, then tea at home before everyone flew off, leaving Percy and me to rest.  Waking up the next morning I felt very Jack Lemmon-ish inSome Like It Hot, as I recited: ‘I’m a Dame! I’m a Dame? I’m a Dame!’
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated