Nipped up to London on Friday afternoon to attend a chat session at the Lyttleton in the National Theatre, which was all about a new biography of The Astaires - Fred and Adele by Kathleen Riley which I reviewed here. Took the train this time and made sure my iPod was charged and ready to go to block out mobile phone chat - I find I get quite panicky if I don't do this and dread the journey. Thirty years of commuting takes a bit of forgetting...
Trolled across Westminster Bridge and though it was a grey and rather dull day the view never fails to lift the heart. Houses of Parliament and the London Eye one way, St Paul's the other and river boats and craft milling to and fro. Always think of the Wordsworth poem when walking along 'Earth has not anything to show more fair, dull would he be of soul who could pass by a sight so touching in its majesty'
Time for cup of coffee before the off and found my seat - place was packed. As well as the author Kathleen Riley, who was obviously talking about her book, we also had Fred's daughter Ava and choreographer Matthew Bourne who makes no secret of the fact that he watches Fred and Ginger dance over and over again when planning a new ballet. 'I pinch it really' he said 'Oh no' said Ava 'It's an homage...' which I thought was rather sweet.
Lots of interesting chat and some questions from the audience and then up to the foyer afterwords with my copy of the book which OUP, lovely people, had sent me a few weeks earlier. I had exchanged emails with Kathleen and she said to say hello so joined the queue. Lots of copies sold I was pleased to see and interesting chat and laughter with others waiting. I still had some way to go when I spotted Ava Astaire not far away so legged it over and she was very kindly signing copies as well. She was absolutely charming and chatted to us all and did not hurry you along so I was able to tell her that I first fell in love with her dad and his dancing when I saw Swing Time on my little old TV at home and that was that. Totally enthralled. She happily posed for a pic and I just found it so difficult to believe I was talking to Fred Astaire's daughter.
OK so back to the queue and just as I reached the front and introduced myself to Kathleen, we were interrupted by a gentleman who wanted to have a word with her. ' My dear I do apologise' he said. I turned round and there standing at my left elbow was Lord Peter Wimsey AKA Edward Petherbridge. Dear Readers, I nearly had a caniption. 'Oh that is fine' I squeaked in a strangled voice and then blurted out 'May I say how much I loved you as Lord Peter'. He must have had so many women gushing over him in his lifetime and he responded beautifully 'Oh how wonderful of you to remind me of when I was young and lovely'...by this time I was in full Random Gush Mode 'Ah but now you are older but still lovely' was my response. YES I KNOW, cringe cringe but really he had given me my cue and what could I do but take it? He then took my hand 'Ah dear lady such a pleasure to meet you' at which point I realised that any claims I might make to being witty, intelligent, incisive and mistress of all I survey, vanished as I practically passed out.
Managed to collect my wits together to thank Kathleen for a lovely evening and for signing my book and then hyperventilated my way out of the National Theatre and across the Bridge and onto a bus and back to Liverpool Street and onto the train in a state of bliss. Sat smirking until I became aware that the man sitting next to me was shooting sidelong glances at me as I beamed beatifically at everyone in the carriage. Assumed Commuter Deadpan Face for rest of journey.
So a lovely evening - what larks and today I painted the kitchen.