I'm apprehensive because the rooms have been designed around my photographs and tonight is the first time I'll see them. Sophie (manager) commissioned two sets of prints- Cabaret for the new games-room and Fuerzabruta for the restaurant. The Cabaret photographs set a seductive and heady tone. All the details have been precisely worked out by interior designer Louise Begley, right down to the red felt cover of the pool-table.
The adjourning restaurant is in contrast light and airy. The suspended Fuerza dancers look down on the diners like sirens from a basilica fresco. To celebrate the occasion Sophie has laid on food and drinks. I've invited some friends on the condition that they're on their best behaviour.
Javier is already here, lounging resplendent under one of the Cabaret prints, cocktail in hand. He's talking to Josephine (Darvill Mills), cast member of Cabaret and subject of one of the photographs. Everyone is gobsmacked by the floor-to-ceiling print of Clemmie Sveaas and James Dreyfus that greets them.
Ralph (Brown), the only friend I know to be immortalised on celluloid and in cellulose, has turned up with that glint in his eye. We met when I was shooting the NT Auditions and hit it off like on-coming mail trains.
Ralph's a gifted pianist and saxophonist, you can find his recordings on CD and vinyl. He's about to perform at the Brighton Fringe Festival in the tribute band The Brighton Beach Boys and revels in the story of when I met Brian Wilson. As a side-line he's also an author, director, screenwriter, producer and prize-winning playwright. He is a polymath who just won't let go of his infatuation with acting.
Gerry (Cottle Jnr) arrived brandishing his Aussie amour, Sue. He's going through his Mungo-Gerry-fro-phase - the dude's a walking Van De Graaff de-generator. Hair apparent to the throne of the Cottle Dynasty, Gerry was born in a side-show, weened on midget's milk and has an incurable case of congenital showmanship. Gerry's the Philippe Petit of these occasions. When a party slackens and sides split Gerry gets out his metaphorical unicycle and stitches the void with a tightrope act of death-defying wit.
Rebecca (Daly) came up to me and took my arm for support. She'd been star struck and was still reeling. This involuntary reaction had never happened before. Bex, Avid Master and doyenne of the edit suite regularly rubs shoulders with the glitterati. Being confronted by her hero from adolescence 'Danny' (Withnail and I) was a disorienting experience. He'd obviously made a deeper impression on her than she'd realised. Ralph has that effect on people, beware!
As Abigail would agree "a party's not a party without vol-au-vents". Patrica (Lima) was that missing patisserie. She took the party up a gear and homed in on Iffat, the two of them committed social reformers.
By day Iffat fights social injustice with a rolled copy of British Vogue under her arm. Tonight she was keeping a watchful, little-sisterly eye over me, making sure I was distributing myself equally.
Brother-in-arms Ed Webster (photographic producer at 4Creative) was casting a critical eye over the images. Ed's commitment to getting me representation is now taking it's toll. My photographs meet with his approval and he promises that the quest will not end until an agent sees sense.
Michael (Hulls) is a luminary in the world of theatre lighting design. The last time I spoke to him was to tell him his epitaph had just been read out on the radio. A panel of Saturday Review critics had savaged a performance he'd just worked on - 'in-i' by Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan. The critics agreed that the only saving grace was the lighting genius of Michael Hulls who eclipsed the show by turning 'Kapor into Rothko.' Michael was modestly horrified by this news; Anish Kapoor had designed the set!
When the final daiquiri was demolished we retreated to the roof-top garden and whiled away the night under the stars and smoke.