I do like an occasion to dress up posh! And the Square Mile Salute was definitely one of those occasions. This amazing evening saw the City of London come together for the finest banquet in town, in support of five military-related charities.
The banquet was served in the splendour of magnificent Guildhall. The raw beauty of its twelfth century crypt provided the setting for Monica Galetti’s caviar reception. The celebrity chef, presenter of Masterchef: the Professionals, provided an exquisite array of canapés – none of which, I’m pleased to report, ended up in my bra!
The elegant meal, served in the glorious Great Hall, was created by a team of chefs from the Birley Clubs and served in style with ambient lighting that reflected the medieval atmosphere enjoyed by kings and courtesans.
We ate in the shadow of gargoyle-looking mythical giants, with gothic and Romanesque windows providing the colours of ancient stained glass. Monumental statues of British heroes peered down, possibly counting the bottles of carefully-chosen wine that accompaied each dish.
I didn’t meet a king there, but I did meet some charming senior military personnel involved with various charities linked to The Soldiering On Awards. The event was organised by my friend and colleague Anne, and I couldn’t have been more impressed with the attention to detail, fabulous entertainment and flawless execution.
The evening’s after-party was held at Annabel’s, arguably one of the most elegant private members’ clubs in the world, with a three-year waiting list to buy your multi-thousand pound membership. Boasting a celebrity clientele over the past five decades that’s included Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor, I didn’t get to meet any Hollywood stars, but I did manage to corner the evening’s very handsome host: Comic relief’s Come Dancing winner and former Royal Marine, Cassidy Little. Or he cornered me, I’m not sure now.
We share a love for Captain Picard and country driving – well, I don’t actually like driving, country lanes scare me a bit, but what’s a blind 70mph bend between friends..? I do love Jean-Luc though, no question about that. Martyn maneuvered Cassidy into agreeing to buy me lunch based on our conversation about sci-fi podcasts (lunch being a step up from champagne). He wasn’t intentionally matchmaking; it was mainly because he wanted me to leave the club so we could share a taxi home before the 3am London cab rush. We haven’t confirmed a lunch date yet, but I’m hopeful. I’m recording his late-night TV chat show just in case!
Another charity evening followed on Saturday, when the gorgeous Hotties launched their raunchy 2016 calendar in aid of Soldiering On. The launch party at Stringfellows in Covent Garden involved a steady flow of complimentary alcohol, teriyaki salmon served by hostesses in white fishnets and not much else, and an array of strippers, doing their stuff around the poles.
While you may be thinking this was not an appropriate place for a lady to spend her Saturday night, I should point out that I was, in fact, with my clients, so that was okay. I was also with my sons, so possibly not quite so acceptable. Although, we had a brilliant evening and they seeemed quite happy being there with me. Yes, one of us danced around a pole on the main stage (and no, I’m not saying who it was). No, no-one in our party took off their clothes. Yes, we met some incredible people; yes, we helped to raise money for the charity; yes, I was the last woman standing that wasn’t a stripper or employee… Tasteful? Some would say. Tacky? Not really. Fun? Definitely!
The highlight for the four boys in my entourage was the honour of meeting Air Commodore Charles Clarke OBE, a war hero who survived being shot down over Germany and captivity at the notorious Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp. This awesome 92-year-old veteran has more charm and charisma than most men I’ve met, a razor sharp memory and a twinkle in his eye. What a gentleman! We sat together at a dinner a couple of years ago and have enjoyed various events to raise the charity’s profile together ever since.
I did think about closing with a wartime tune today, but this hit won out. Tina Turner is a lady who’s fought and won her own battles, and this song can play in circles around your mind today, just like it did in mine during the furnace-like ride home on the London Underground. “I’m your private dancer, a dancer for money – I’ll do what you want me to do. I’m a private dancer, a dancer for money and any old music will do.”
I’m not a private dancer but I am a private ghost blogger. If you’d like help to create a regular on-line presence and increase your website’s SEO, give me a call. Or message me here: @WeekendWitch.
(With thanks for the Guildhall pic, courtesy of www.guildhall.cityoflondon.gov.uk.)