After the most bountiful spring for years, the garden at the Hunting Lodge, my house deep in the Hampshire countryside, is a cornucopia of flushed pink roses and raggedy-petalled pinks. The scent of nicotiana and rosemary drifts over pools of shimmering blue lilies into an indoor-outdoor room where I’ve just installed a carved rococo fire-surround below a naive C18th portrait of the man who wrote the words of Rule Britannia. Hard to tear myself away to fly with Fares and Tania Fares to their hometown, Beirut. Once-war torn, its now a buzzing, rebuilt, hive of art and fashion…Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman was amazed to see clothes London will wait seasons for in the dazzling new department store Aishti.
I bought some intricate cedarwood place-settings from designer Nada Debs, and a wonderful fake beaten-gold cuff for two dollars from a souvenir seller in Baal’bek. It turns out that immense temple complex was originally dedicated to thunder and lightening, and three hundred or so years later rededicated, by the Romans, to the Sun. Maybe this signifies cyclical warming, as evidenced by Ian Plimer in his brilliant book Heaven and Earth which pretty well proves the much-heralded global catastrophe is bunk.
Next week I go to New Orleans to work on a new project for my friends Rodney and Frances Smith. A secret, and immensely rich, figure has insisted on buying the house I did for them a decade ago. I’ll stay at the Soniat House hotel, the most romantic in that most romantic of places, the French Quarter, eat oysters Rockefeller at Galatoires and get legless on Sazaracs, the original of all cocktails. From there I go to New York to correct the proof copy of my memoir “Redeeming Features’ which will be published in November. A. N. Wilson has already written ” this…evocation is indeed a masterpiece’.
I’m pretty sure the film on me that Hannah Rothschild has been making over the past year will be a masterpiece as well. Anyone who’s seen her latest, “The Jazz Baroness” knows how brilliant Hannah is. She’s spending August cutting me down to size for airing mid-November. Beautiful Kirsty Young kept me in stitches while recording my Desert Island Discs. It’ll be broadcast on Sunday the 2nd of August on BBC 4…..put on your dancing shoes!