Real People: Party on

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Having afternoon tea with Harry Hill at the Ritz is about as bizarre as it gets. But there he was, plugging his new Channel 4 series and wearing a comedy tweed-set that would have made Bertie Wooster proud. A 'select' crowd, tittering politely at clips from his new show, seemed to be more interested in the gargantuan display of scones, cakes and itty-bitty sandwiches on offer. This suspicion became a reality when the PR announced after the screening that Harry would be happy to talk to anyone. Anyone. Alas, the hacks cared not, and continued to stuff their faces, leaving the great comedian shuffling his feet under the chandeliers. Not a great PR moment. Let's hope for Harry's sake the new series doesn't screen at dinner time.

The thought of throwing a party in a museum is as unpalatable as taking afternoon tea in a graveyard; it's creepy, damp and full of dead people. So it was with reluctance that I went along to the Victoria & Albert Museum's centenary celebration of illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, an occasion which seemed destined to offer up half a dozen OAPs, some warm Liebfraumilch and a mother of a headache.

So it was a shock, on walking in, to be caught, first in the light of a German camera crew (filming one Tara "PT" around town for a week), and then by a dishy waiter in black feather masquerade mask who masterfully thrust a glass of champagne under my nose.

So I stand corrected. Actually, this soiree should be a lesson to half the "trendy" joints in town, since it reminded me of that practise, long forgotten in London, of making an effort. The dress code was black and white (a la Beardsley's doodles, I presume; I came in grey, which counts under "mixing" rules), and there was no holding this lot back. Canes, cravats, ruffs, ostrich feather, acres of naked flesh, face paint, you name it. Never mind the V&A, it felt more like particularly risque night at Madame JoJo's.

The curator of the exhibition, Stephen Calloway, arrived looking like a totally bonkers Tsar Nicholas II; Richard O'Brien - Mr Rocky Horror himself, who was there to open the exhibition - was looking pretty as a picture in a sheer chiffon dress (nipples proudly evident), floaty outer gown and white clown face. "I know I should have made more effort," he sighed, gesticulating at his clothes, "but you see, I've been working on my car."

In amongst this madness were a thousand Bartle-Browns, Wilson-Smythes and Nice-but-Dims. And strangely, one David Baddiel, either a huge Beardsley fan or a bit of a naughty fruit on the sly, presumably using his wild facial hair growth as his mask.

Meanwhile, amongst all the frivolity, canapes and feathers, the pianist tinkled away. "Why are they playing this German crap?" spat one guest (an OAP actually), "what's wrong with a bit of English music?" At last, the party I recognised. I walked out into the night.

No surprises at the GQ "Men of the Year" party. Well, one - there was no awards ceremony. Instead, guests at the Cafe de Paris were treated to a "GQ New Media" video where the likes of Robbie "lad" Williams, Johnny "lad" Vaughan, Chris "lad" Evans, Irvine "lad" Welsh and Michael "first lad" Caine were greeted by the diminutive GQ editor James Brown, and an award that looked like it had been made in GCSE woodwork class.

Call me old fashioned, but honestly, I quite like it the old way: the cringy speeches, the occasional heckle, the appalling food. Still, no- one else in the VIP area seemed to mind the new arrangement. In fact, they weren't taking any notice at all. Ian Brown nuzzled his amour, Tamara Beckwith flirted with Ozwald Boateng, Iris Palmer was completely sozzled, while Howard Marks - ever the Mr Nice Guy - seemed much more comfortable out of the celebrity enclosure and mixing with the little people.

Naturally, there were the usual persuasive accoutrements - champers, cocktails, nibbles etc. But sorry lads, this time not enough pizazz to keep this bird from her bed.

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