He’s behind you!
RORY BREMNER really is astonishing. Some impressionists never manage to row onwards from their high-water marks: Mike Yarwood’s Harold Wilson, a political gift at the start of his career, eclipsed his later efforts and Steve Nallon’s Lady Thatcher has, thankfully, risen again from 1980s Spitting Image to stalk our theatres in Jonathan Maitland’s fine comedy Dead Sheep. Unless Jeremy Corbyn can get his act together, the nation may soon be denied the fabulous Jan Ravens’s Diane Abbott on Dead Ringers.
Rory’s newly minted Donald Trump is absolutely pitch-perfect; it’s the only reason to hope that Trump remains in power for a while to come. It deservedly earned him a 600-man standing ovation at the Saints and Sinners Club Christmas luncheon at the Savoy Hotel. Michael Gove, who had the unenviable task of following him, had a rather tougher ride.
As Kapellmeister of the scratch choir, I then marshalled my choristers for the end-of-year carols. Choirboy Alexander Armstrong, whose unexpected success as a vocal recording artist began (I like to think) on this stage, I had lit in cheesy star-cloth twinkles as his platinum larynx launched into:
Still a knight
Wholly a knight Philip Green’s
A“New lamps for old.” This year, I’m Abanazer, armed with my pet viper
nd then the dash across the Thames, to Waterloo, thence to Guildford, to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and to Old Peking: ‘New lamps for old.’ This year, I’m Abanazer, armed with my pet viper (it’s named, co-incidentally, Gove).
I’m up against the doubleOlivier-award-winning fragrance that is Janie Dee. Having just played Cleopatra at the Hollywood Bowl, her first entrance as the Genie—standing on her head— beats, for my money, Elizabeth Taylor’s when she played the Egyptian queen.
Guildford is sold solid. We open on Friday. The performance schedule is relentless, but, in the infrequent chinks, I’m hoping that there might be seats still available for London Palladium’s Cinderella. It’s the theatre’s first pantomime for three decades and my beautiful chum Julian Clary is playing Dandini to Paul O’grady’s wicked stepmother. As they live bang next door to each other in a tiny, tiny Kent village—mapp and Lucia isn’t in it—i imagine they’ll be journeying up to London together. Just imagine the fun of being their chauffeur, eavesdropping.
The Lyric, Hammersmith, is also staging Aladdin. Its Abanazer received rave reviews: ‘I doubt we’ll see a finer performance in pantomime this year.’ Oh yeah? Vipers at 50 paces, Vikki Stone, and shazaaam!
Genie Dee asked me to read poems at a concert for Glasshouse, a charity for the homeless, in her local church, St George’s Notting Hill. Baddie though I am, I could hardly refuse—we are, after all, in neighbouring dressing rooms.
The church, in Aubrey Walk, is architecturally bizarre: a latevictorian melange of Fra Filippo Lippi and Game of Thrones. Curious internal arcades with Norman hound’s-tooth decoration vie with Westminster Cathedralish multi-coloured brickwork and a hammer-beam roof. It’s unlovely, but has an undeniably fairytale feel. I wasn’t surprised to learn from Janie that J. M. Barrie had the Darlings living in Campden Hill Square and that this was, therefore, the church tower around which he had Peter Pan circling on his way to Neverland.
Temporarily homeless, I guess, will be Her Majesty, when the builders move into Buckingham Palace to repair the boilers. It was thrilling to discover at the Savoy luncheon that her distinguished son-in-law turns out to have a rather good singing voice, as the room discovered when he good-humouredly piped up: Away in a manger, no crib for Our Sovereign Lady lay down her Buck House needs re-wiring, there And Philip refuses to try B&Q. The horses are flatulent: her Consort awakes. Says our Sovereign Lady, Calm To sleep in a stable, in muck fathoms deep This is no worse than Gatcombe,
Aa bed sweet head are bathrooms to do down, heaven’s sakes so go back to sleep.
nd a star was born. It’s a first-world problem, of course, but still not as good as the one I overheard in a recent conversation. It went like this: ‘I’m not sure how to ask this, but, at this time of year, does one put anti-freeze in one’s fountains?’ Ho, ho, ho. Kit Hesketh-harvey is appearing in Aladdin at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, Surrey, until January 8, 2017 (01483 440000; www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk)
In December 28: