Saturday, 2 April 2011

Groovin With Diamonds: Launch Party for Nicola Shulman's Book

To Chelsea, and to the First Party of the Summer (official), for the launch of Nicola Shulman's new biography of Thomas Wyatt, Graven with Diamonds. A fire gently crackled in the hearth, whilst outside in the garden it was musky and warm enough to not wear a jacket even as twilight fell. Champagne was abundant. The author thanked her family in her speech, not least for their efforts in googling 'Graven with Diamonds' to see if anyone else had ever used it as a book title: 'Grooving With Diamonds' was the nearest that they came to it. The book has been in gestation since Nicky was at Oxford (the clipping shows her modelling at the time, from an interview that appeared in the Evening Standard HERE), and the author said it was an absolute dream to see it out there and on the shelves (and beautifully produced by Short Books). Guests feasted on little steaks, mini-half burgers of exquisite taste; quails' eggs of truffled hue; the canap├ęs were of Henrician quantity and enough to satisfy the feasting habits of a whole court of early-modern quaffers. We were only short of a whole roasted hog. Several people (including me) managed to fall down the stairs, despite the fact that there were only three (and they were broad and flat, too).

Present were the extremely tall Will Self and his wife Deborah Orr; the novelist Cressida Connolly and her family, including beautiful daughters Violet and Nell; satirist Craig Brown, whose face beams from under a frizz of hair; writer Ferdinand Mount sitting on a sofa; explorer Sara Wheeler, historian Antonia Fraser, poet Edward Barker, editrix Rachel Johnson; a full complement of Phippses and Shulmans of all generations, and many bookish and non-bookish types alike, who caroused until the early morning. When Nicky came into the garden after her speech she received a standing ovation; we were later treated to a reading by the author of 'Whoso List to Hunt'. There was no actual grooving (unless you count the falling down stairs); there may have been some diamonds; but we certainly heartily grooved with diamonds in spirit. I am sure that the shade of Thomas Wyatt looks down and approves.

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