Clem calls with the best news of the 80 Days transmission thus far – the viewing figures actually built, on the second episode, to 8.6 million.
Back home and into a hectic hour of packing for JC’s 50th birthday party. JC’s present, a 1939 bottled Armagnac arrives, as well as his Margaret Thatcher plate. Neat timing in view of Lawson’s resignation.*
Leave for Stocks at 7.15, arrive at the house less than an hour later. We’ve been given a room with a waterbed. Already guests gathering in the hall with their obligatory funny hats on.
Jeremy’s sheep on my head is easily the biggest and silliest and most inventive. David Hatch later says it’s a hat which grew more silly as the evening went on.** Every time he looked up and saw me talking earnestly or toying with white wine and smoked salmon, the sheep on my head, wobbling and nodding, gave him more and more pleasure.
The ‘entertainment’ works extremely well. All my props, especially the parrots and the spangly jacket I found at the last moment, are greatly appreciated, and I read the This Is Your Life joke intro smoothly, despite this being the first time I’ve worn my specs in public. David Frost, John Lloyd, David Hatch (very, very funny in a deadpan BBC way), Stephen Fry (‘Some men are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness faxed through to them’) and Peter Cook – not as good on his feet as he is at table – make the awards, and Shamberg shows some video tributes, including one from Jamie who is seen at home greedily apportioning her Wanda money – ‘house’, ‘education’, ‘divorce’.
It’s all a great success and it’s a quarter to two before Helen and I climb aboard the waterbed, bringing on distinct memories of the dhow.
*Nigel Lawson, Chancellor of the Exchequer in Margaret Thatcher’s government since 1983, resigned over the role played by Sir Alan Walters, the Prime Minister’s economic adviser.
** David Hatch was an ex-Cambridge Footlight and close friend of John’s who rose to become Head of Radio at the BBC. He died in 2007. The upturned sheep on my head was made for me by my nephew Jeremy Herbert.