Monday, 11 February 2008

Abby and India’s Glamorous Thursday

10 am. My mother takes Abby and I to the station in her small, very clean, Renault Clio—nearly killing us all on a roundabout. This is not a very glamorous start to our trip, but things improve when we get down to the platform (early— because my mother is like that ). Abby buys a copy of Vogue and then hot chocolate and pain au chocolate for us (do you spot a theme there?). I decide that I am never leaving home without her, ever again.

1pm. London is bathed in golden sunshine as we take a cab to our hotel. The glamour stakes are rising by the second. The Mandeville boasts a doorman in an oversized scarlet coat, a lobby that looks like a cross between the starship enterprise and a Victorian gentleman’s club, and—as we discover when we reach our room—a bathroom door made of frosted glass.

4pm. We return from lunch and a trawl through Selfridges and Oxford street having purchased an eyeshadow and a packet of hairgrips between us. (A slight dip in the glamour quota here.) We lounge around on our beds for a while, fiddling with the TV and looking out of the window before Abby goes for a shower. I inform her that, when steamed up, the frosted glass becomes completely... unfrosted.

5.30pm. Lovely Natalie Rivers arrives just as we are finishing getting dressed, and we go down to the insanely stylish hotel bar for a drink before leaving. Perched on tall stools at the etched mirrored bar with its changing light display, we sip champagne and talk frenziedly about work, with all the animation of three women who spend long weeks alone with nothing but a computer screen for company.

6pm. I realise my camera has no batteries in it. (Therefore all the following pics are scrounged from Abby, on whom I'm blaming the bizarre sizing...)

6.45pm We walk across the road from the hotel, into Manchester Square. The Wallace Collection is lit up like a fairytale palace, with flaming torches on either side of the majestic doorway and the night is stained pink from the lights of the party inside. Two feathered flamingo-ladies on stilts welcome guests. Needle on the glam-ometer shoots up several notches.

7pm. Inside the atrium of the Wallace Collection it’s a bit like I imagine Paradise must be. Trees are hung with pink paper lanterns, Gorgeous, half-stripped butlers wander round distributing champagne and long-stemmed roses, and all my favourite people are there to talk to. I guess if I was being really picky I might substitute Alan Titchmarsh for Johnny Depp in my perfect paradise, but that just shows how shallow I am because lovely Alan does a great speech, makes us all laugh and is a real gentleman.

9 pm. The vast marble floor, which two hours ago was filled with people, is now almost empty as everyone has sought out one of the delicate wirework benches around the edge of the room to sit and rest their aching feet. I have caught up with old friends Sue Stephens, Julie Cohen, Fiona Harper and Sharon Kendrick as well as had the huge pleasure (and fan-girly excitement) of meeting Sarah Morgan and Chantelle Shaw for the first time. I have also had a chance to chat to the editors—including Tessa Shapcott, about a very exciting forthcoming project—and got hopelessly sticky and covered in (very unglamorous) crumbs eating oversized, Alice in Wonderland-style fairy cakes with a gorgeous man from Midas PR. It has been a fabulous party.

11pm. We are back in the Elle-Decoration-esque bar of our hotel, drinking champagne with wonderful Kate Walker and the ever-charming Babe Magnet, Trish Wylie (exhausted from a round of interviews and photo calls with all kinds of media giants) Fiona Harper and Natasha Oakley. We delve excitedly into our party bags, unearthing from layers of pink tissue books, magazines, pens, one of the brilliant new range of retro Mills and Boon greetings cards, a bookmark and calendar and most fabulous of all.... a bar of Galaxy chocolate. I am so hungry I am beginning to hallucinate about pizza.

Midnight. Up in our room we change into pyjamas and order room service. When I was little my ultimate idea of grown up decadence was eating chips in bed... Writing for Mills and Boon was one ambition fulfilled, and now I can tick another one off the list.


Anonymous said...

I applaud your perfect recall Ms Grey. Apart from the fact that the frosted glass on our designery loo door did not become unfrosted...or perhaps that was the steam clouding my vision. Ah well, what's a lump or two of cellulite between friends eh?!
We had a great time, pity we won't be around for the 200th celebration, unless we get deep freezed. Brrr.
x Abby

Rachel said...

India, You didn't?! Chips in bed-such wonton decadence-I love it!

You both looked utterly lovely in your party clothes and those waiters! (sounds of over excited glee at this end). Were any of them Greek?

And Chantelle Shaw-I love her books.

Such bliss! Thanks for sharing the fun.

Lots of love,

Anonymous said...

Oooohhh, felt like I was there--eating in bed is SUCH decadence (unless you're ordering clam chowder and spill tabasco sauces all over the goose-down duvet (story for another time)).

So thrilled you had fun--you deserve it!


Julie Cohen said...

You were v. v. glam and I am envious of the chips in bed!

Lovely to see you.

Kate Hardy said...

Sounds as if you had a fab time - excellent! And you looked as lovely on the pics as I thought you would (having been privileged to see a pic of the dress beforehand) :o)

Amanda Ashby said...

Wow - it sounds like you guys had SO much fun! Oh, and Sarah Morgan is one of my fav writers - I stalked her at an RNA conference once and she was very kind about the whole thing (which in turn only encouraged my stalker tendancies. Whoops!)

Kate Hewitt said...

Sounds absolutely wonderful--a once-in-a-lifetime event. I'm jealous!! And what a perfect way to finish a glam evening :)


Ray-Anne said...

I see a heroic journey pattern here. The fairy godmother/herald takes you off on your mission [ your mum] which is fraught with danger [ the roundabout] but you pass the Threshold Guardian [ hotel concierge] to enter the hidden new and strange world which you have never seen before.

As you can see I am not a bit envious. Sniffle. :-)

Eva said...


India said...

It so DID become unfrosted, Ms Green (or should I call you Aphrodite from now on?!) Anyway, it all provided a great conversational ice-breaker later on at the party...! (was there anyone left by the end of the evening who didn't know about it?)

Rachel I don't know if any of the waiters were Greek because I was too busy gawping to actually talk to any of them! I totally agree about Chantelle's books-- she's brilliant.

Tabasco sauce and goosedown, Brown? Sounds like a great starting point for a love scene! Whereas chips... just aren't working.

Julie, I should have mentioned your shoes, which were another element of paradise in an evening of total gorgeousness. (It was also lovely to see you-- not just your accessories!)

Kate I wish you'd been there so we could toast your Romance Prize success in peach bellini!

Amanda, you've totally explained the nervous, slightly hunted look in Sarah Morgan's eyes as she kept looking over my shoulder as I talked to her...

(Not true actually, she's far too polite. She was also extremely nice about my incoherent gushing about her books. A total star in fact!)

Kate, all afternoon when we were getting ready Abby and I kept saying 'I can't believe we're actually doing this!' It really did feel like the stuff of fantasy. (The bathroom door aspect was stuff of an altogether different kind of fantasy though...) I know that 2 years of planning had gone into the party and it completely paid off!

Ray-Anne, you're a genius. Have you ever considered becoming a writer...?! (wish my mother was a fairy godmother, by the way, then I wouldn't have had such a nightmare shopping for that dress!)

Eva-- Penny sends her love!

Natasha said...

See now if you and Abby had been in our hotel - with Fiona Harper, Trish and I - you'd have had sandwiches from Sainsbury's ... and been grateful. We had perfectly solid bathroom doors tho so not repining! :)

India said...

Ah Natatsha, but then I would have missed out on the fantasy fulfillment of eating chips in bed. (Not to mention the other fantasy about seeing Abby Green in the shower...) Although, by the time we left the party I was so hungry you could have easily sold me your sainsbury's sandwich for the price of a meal for four at the Ritz!