Musings of a book event organiser
Thursday, 10 May 2012
Three pals, one possibly in need of a shave, another of a haircut
RIP Vidal Sassoon. As I have recorded here (ref to earlier post), I sort of shared a flat with him in 1960 when he was newly divorced from his first wife (of 3). To be more precise, aged 16, I lived in the same tiny building -now demolished -, as Vidal, in Curzon Place, Mayfair. He lived and partied with the likes of Roger Moore and Terry Stamp in the flat directly above mine and we sometimes shared the coffin-sized lift, just big enough for two if you breathed in. From my window, I could see the agent's door across Curzon Street where Albert Finney and other film stars would wait on the doorstep after buzzing the doorbell. A neighbouring resident in Curzon Place was the elderly dancer and actor (eg The Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)Robert Helpmann. Because of the proximity of the flat to a brothel just down Curzon St, next to John Aspinall's gambling den and various expensive couturiers, leading to Shepherd Market, a notorious centre for prostitution, as well as home to a wonderful record shop called Discurio, it was assumed that I was 'on the game'. As a matter of curiosity, I shared a flat some time later in the same relationship (ie in the flat below) with John 'Ministry of Funny Walks' Cleese, in Lincoln House, Basil St next to Harrods (which in those days was a friendly and reasonably affordable family store where one could buy a bottle of milk in an emergency without taking out a second mortgage). The reason for the flat in Curzon Street, which might seem an odd place for parents to lodge their teenage daughter studying for 'A' levels, was that my father belonged to the Dorchester Group. This was, to put it bluntly, a cartel consisting of a small number of successful private developers, who met privately from time to time at the Dorchester hotel just two minutes walk along Park Lane from Curzon Place where they discussed strategy and carved up territory where competition might have been to their mutual disadvantage. Unlike other friends at the time, I never had my hair cut by Vidal, because I went (with Twiggy) to his apprentice and protege Lionel in Mayfair, near the flat, in Upper Brook St. I hoped to interview Vidal in 2010 when he was in London to launch his autobiography, but sadly it was not to be.