Coales' Notes: Double negatives: Gordon Coales attends the Ars Longa Christmas party, and regrets it

WEDNESDAY: Our Christmas party. I really hadn't planned at all. But I thought, this might possibly be the last thing I do for Ars Longa: may as well. I arrived as late as possible, and walked straight into Rory and Silver, who was swanning about like a king: 'Well, Gordon, they're all here, aren't they? They're all here. The whole bloody arts world. That's the magic of Kirsty and Siobhan, eh? They can get everyone.' I said, marvellous, yes. Rory gave me a broad wink.

I looked around. I had had very little say in the guest-list. I went over and asked Siobhan, was that really Salman Rushdie over there? She replied: 'We-ell. But it's not bad at all, is it? It really is not a bad likeness. Kirsty says the agency is very reliable.' She began searching. 'And we've got an Alan Yentob somewhere, I believe, and a Brian Sewell - who does the voice brilliantly - and apparently two Michael Ignatieffs. Kirsty says they can do practically anyone. And it does raise the tone.' I circulated.

Silver buttonholed me again: 'Just to say, I will be making a short speech later, in support of the arts. Oh look - Lord Gowrie]' I said, I wouldn't be too sure about that, but he was off. Almost at once I bumped into Di. She said: 'Gordon, thank God, the very man. Now you haven't seen Wilf here have you? I just resigned from PVC Dance today. I think he is literally going to kill me. And he could do that. He is a choreographer after all.' She looked about nervously. 'So, still on for the great escape?' I mentioned that there was the small matter of finance to be considered. She said: 'Oh Jesus, there he is,' and vanished.

A moment later I found myself standing in front of one of the Michael Ignatieffs. He caught my eye, and immediately began: 'So - do we say that the . . . irrigating spring of European culture has at last run dry?' It was quite uncanny. 'Is it now finally - as Cyril Connolly once said - closing time in the gardens of the West? Or . . . ' I said, Oh shut up, you annoying man. I left him open-mouthed. It was like a dream come true.

I then noticed Wilf, speaking to the 'Brian Sewell'. Wilf: 'Yeah, basically I created that work out of anger. Anger with men.' The Sewell: 'Oh - with men?' Wilf: 'Yeah. Naw, where is that bitch?' I went to find Di, but I was intercepted by Kirsty. She muttered: 'Look. Sorry, Gordon. It was just, like, a joke. We genuinely didn't think you were coming. I mean it was Rory's idea.' I said no doubt it was, whatever it might be - and I hurried over to Di.

She said: 'Now quickly. See this?' She produced a bottle of Schlacht. 'D'you know what this means?' I said yes, it meant she had smuggled it in, because we had actually tried to get Schlacht to supply the beer, and got absolutely nowhere. She replied: 'Well, they're not going to have anything to do with Ars Longa. But so far as we're concerned, this could be it. They're moving into serious sponsorship. I'm talking to them. German money, right. Think about it.' She added: 'Oh, one thing. I'm afraid I told Wilf that I was leaving him to start something up with you. So, you know - watch yourself. You might need this.' She handed me the bottle, and vanished again.

I thought I'd better make my own exit pretty fast, but I was waylayed by a man who insisted on knowing what was my film of the year, play of the year, arts-sponsor of the year, etc. And I was just thinking I was lumbered - at great personal risk - with the most tedious individual in the whole room, when it struck me, very strangely, that this man bore more than a passing resemblance to myself.

I said, sorry, I hadn't quite caught his name. He put out his hand: 'Oh, sorry, Gordon Coales. Awfully interesting to talk to you.' I was speechless. I spotted Rory coming towards us, frantically waving. Then everyone went quiet.

Silver was up on the stage. 'My Lord, Ladies and Gentlemen. Four years ago, one man had a dream . . .' I suddenly felt a sharp grip on my shoulder. It was Wilf. He raised his arm, but then froze. He looked uneasily from me to the other man, and then back again. He said: 'Right. Someone here is Gordon Coales.' The imposter extended his hand to Wilf and whispered: 'Hi. So what's your book of the year?' I took a step back. Wilf lunged. Several other people went down too, Rory among them. Silver started calling out: 'Oh, now please, Ladies and Gentlemen, please, don't break my dream.'

I was able to slip away in the struggle. A narrow escape - and I think it puts the cap on the bottle, so to speak.

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect