Friday, 9 September 2011

Return of the Party Season: Cressida Connolly and Global Party

Cressida Connolly: prams in hall make good novels
August has mooched past in its far-from-augustan way, in its now customary widow's weeds. But now September approaches, and brings with it a bumper harvest of parties, starting with the launch of Cressida Connolly's first novel, My Former Heart. It's a lovely book (I'm currently only halfway through, but a review will poke its nose out soon) and has already been receiving lots of acclaim. Her husband Charles mentioned Cyril Connolly's famous maxim about prams in the hall being enemies of art, and said that this was a book which couldn't have happened without prams in the hall - three, in fact (and all three pram-products were visible: the lovely Hudson sisters Violet and Nell, and their brother Gabriel, although none of them spent very much time in the hall.) Plenty of literary people thronged the Chelsea confines, including Wyatt biographer Nicola Shulman, Literary Review's beloved editor-at-large Jeremy Lewis, (who has himself written a biography of Cyril Connolly, and was sporting this season's must-have green trousers, as noted before), and much-loved Literary Review Contributing Editor, explorer Sara Wheeler. I was wearing black tie, and was luckily not mistaken for a waiter (very much).

Lee from Blue
The reason I was penguined up was that it was then off to the Natural History Museum for the launch of Global Party, which will see 80 parties around the world celebrated on the same day in aid of several charities. The beginning was a little like the sort of psychedelic Sixties dream that you see in The Avengers sometimes, where there are lots of flashing lights and you're not really sure who you are or where you're going or indeed what you are doing in the Natural History Museum being corralled up an escalator into a womb-like structure whilst a man (in top hat and tails) shouts at you: "This is going to change your life!" I suppose we must have experienced some sort of rebirth as we came out of the escalator, for there waiting for us were a Glee tribute band who yelled "you all look wonderful!" as we went past. Herded, like well-dressed cattle, we were pressed with drinks and led past lots and lots of thin Russian girls waiting demurely in a line to have their photographs taken – they all turned out to be models. I wonder if you can rent them by the foot? How much is a foot of models? There was about ten foot worth there, and they were all about as tall as two John Bercows, or if it helps you to imagine it better, about a third of the length of Brutus the monster crocodile, with whom they certainly shared a smile.

Somehow, a little disorientated but much refreshed by champagne, we came out of the miles and miles of corridors (where I did see a dodo, which was possibly the best thing that ever happened to me, although of course it was dead. I feel that there ought to be some serious consideration of redirection of funds into reviving the dodo, because I feel that the world would be a much better place if only we had them wandering around. They could become quite a feature – "have you seen the Psmiths recently? Their new dodo's just laid, they'll save you an egg if you like." And then we could all discuss the problems of dodo training, and how difficult it is to find dodo sitters, and so on. Anyway. So there we all were, minding our own business, in an enormous hall underneath a dinosaur. There was some confusion over where we were meeting, as some of our party thought that the head of the dinosaur was in fact its tail, but nevertheless we managed to find each other. There was plenty of food, although it was very difficult to see, as the light was red; therefore one had to be very careful when eating as if you weren't lucky you might find yourself chomping down on sashimi when you were convinced you'd picked up a plate of lamb. There was a cocktail that tasted like alcoholic lemonade. Several proud-looking Indian women wandered absently through the throng; the crocodile of models wound its way around; I think Bryan Ferry played at some point although it was difficult to hear. Also there was a dinosaur in the way, and I don't know if you've ever tried to watch a concert through a dinosaur, but – well. It was all thoroughly enjoyable, and we were even given a goody bag, which contained not cake and marbles, but a compact disc and a short film about a hotel. Possibly the highlight of the evening (apart from the dodo, of course) was when we spotted Duncan - no, sorry, Lee, from dodo-like boyband Blue – or are they still together? – who looked rather sweet, and much smaller in real life, naturally, which, if you think about how small he looks on TV, is actually quite small. Also I thought I saw Naomi Campbell but it turned out it wasn't, although apparently Katie Melua was there too, although since I don't know who she is, I wouldn't have recognised her if I had poured my alcoholic lemonade all over her. Right, I must go, the dodo needs feeding.

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