We’re back in St Tropez after a whirlwind week in London. The party season is in full swing so I dipped my toes in a couple, and what a difference between two of the most high-profile events that week. One, an exhibition of paintings at a Dover Street Gallery, was given in a large airy room with a wide balcony and pretty garden, in which one could stroll. There was enough space and enough time to chat with groups of friends and acquaintances, who could wander around admiring the great pictures and eat the hors d’œuvres without getting jostled and poked. An affable Michael Winner, Steven Berkoff, Ivor Braka, Frederick Forsyth, Christopher Biggins, and apparently even the elusive Banksy, who reportedly stuck his head around the door for a few minutes, were just some of the guests at this extremely civilised drinks party. By contrast, two nights later, in a narrow storeyed house in Old Queen Street, a heaving mass of wall-to-wall people, many seemingly gargantuan, crammed together in such a tiny space that Percy and I, despite our ardent efforts, could not make our way through the crush to greet our host. We lingered in the lobby to chat briefly with an irritable Michael Winner, Jeffrey Archer and Taki and then took off after 15 minutes, entirely defeated.
So who hosted these two oh-so-dissimilar parties? The painting exhibition was my son Sacha Newley’s (call it nepotism, if you wish, I thought the party was truly wonderful, as was my son’s work). The sweaty crush alas was the Spectator summer party. I know you meant well, Matthew, but next year, need you invite quite so many people? Or how about a room-ier venue? I know you want to be on hand in the event of some late-breaking development, but an exclusive about a stampede at the Spectator offices caused by someone yelling ‘breaking news’ would hardly be good PR.