He’s be­hind you!

Country Life Every Week - - My Week -

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

Sit­ting tight.

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:

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