A television interview for Thames’ ‘Afternoon Plus’ programme. God help me in this new experience - He does. Mavis Nicholson, interviewer and Leslie Clark, take me out to a chic luncheon beforehand.
October 14 1981
A morning flight to Dublin for a Telefis interview with Anita Leslie - her newly published autobiography is so vivid and so dryly entertaining. I’m nervous again at the encounter. But she is as human and beautiful and funny as possible.
October 16 1981
The Booker is very near and so is Virginia’s operation. She puts it all aside in her concern for me and her pleasure at the book’s success. Like all daughters she rather worries over my appearance and sets out to guide and subdue me a little - ‘Mummie you must buy a proper evening dress.’
‘No, darling. I’m wearing the blue caftan Dellie gave me in 1976 - it’s Gucci - it’s dateless - and it was Dellie’s.’ That settles that but clothes troubles are not finished with yet. Sheila Murphy - Publicity Boss in André Deutsch, whose job includes being prop, stay and advisor to authors, rings me up to say: ‘Booker McConnell would like you to bring an Escort’.
‘An Escort? What do I want with an Escort? At my age? I’m going with Andre and Diana.’ ‘Well, if it’s possible, an Escort,’ Sheila says.
She puts me on my mettle. A bit degrading not to have an Escort. But where is he? I think of John Perry, friend of my hunting days and collaborator in my plays. He hates London now and avoids parties. Still, perhaps… As any ugly deb I ring Christall 666 - ‘Darling, I’d love to come. But you know my dinner jacket went when my house burnt down. Yes - alas, it’s burnt up,’ he says.
Finally I telephone my troubles to my friend, Stephen Vernon in far away Kinsale. ‘Of course, I’ll lend him my dinner jacket,’ Stephen says at once. ‘You gave yours to your step-grandson in Australia - don’t you remember?’ ‘But I have three dinner jackets,’ Stephen says deprecatingly, ‘John can have the one with the velvet shawl collar and my watered silk waistcoat.’ It’s the tailor of Gloucester come true - and another hurdle over.