"It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas". My Christmas playlist has been dusted off and is improving the lives of the Masterpiece staff via Spotify. Yet it all seems too early. It is cold enough but somehow I want Christmas to begin nearer the actual day.
The parties this far out, tend to have a corporate, networking feel. More like good sense and less like a riotous rout. Last week was the SLAD (Society of London Art dealers) lunchtime Christmas drinks party. The board members all had badges to wear. We drank and ate snacks and chatted about eating and drinking at other places. No one wants to talk about business. SLAD is art whilst the BADA (British Antique Dealers Association) Christmas drinks last week at Mallett was all about furniture and there was of course LAPADA's Christmas party too (London and Provincial Art and Antiques Association). LAPADA and BADA both have London fairs, and they both have an individual identity and demographic. SLAD has a slight advantage in that the top dealers do all become members and the organisation adds great value to the market and lobbying clout. Nonetheless it would be nice to see these three associations as one.
A true micro party was had by Nicola and myself with Katherine and Geoffrey from Wartski. The lunch was at Sumosan in Albemarle Street. They have a fantastic lunch menu, which can be nuanced endlessly. But spicy fish soup followed by a delicate plate of sashimi, including yellowtail. Then yakitori tuna with rice, pickles and vegetable tempura. Washed down with warm Sake. Geoffrey and Katherine are full of stories and anecdotes but at the same time they are making plans and developing ideas. We love them because they seem to enjoy their work and their lives. It is very inspiring to be around.
A visit to Hatfields to see my elephant was squeezed in. The workshops, that I set up in my Mallett days, are in Clapham and inhabit a beautiful Georgian ex school in the high street. The office is run by Anna who despite her flowing blonde hair and generous smile runs the workshops with a rod of iron. Ten grumpy old men cow tow obediently to her relentless fairness. The ultimate employment weapon. Anybody can bear a grudge but it is very hard when wherever you look you see fairness. Her side kick is known as the Princess of Nebraska in respect of her origin and noble bearing. Anna loves to tidy. And the office is being given its annual overhaul. A bustle is going on and I am co-opted into furniture moving. Eventually I see my carved wooden model of an elephant. He is lovely and I am loath to sell, I think I will take him home for a bit.
The Mallett party was graced, as is traditional, by the leavers from this year. Mallett has always been a breeder of fine expertise and entrepreneurial spirit. Nick who has set up on his own after 15 years at Mallett and works alongside Tarquin in the Pimlico road has a sharpness of eye and eagerness that he is putting to good use now. Tess has gone to be a painter and possibly a mother in due course (she married her long term boyfriend in the summer) she is a pocket sized ball of fire. The party goes with a swing with her energy and insanity.
And the best cure for a night on the tiles? Well, food takes the place of tiredness and aspirin and caffeine soften these dehydrated and shrunk meninges that are the pain we feel in our heads. Lunch is therefore at Le Petit cafe in the cut through between Dover and Albemarle Street. Upstairs there are 6 tables and they serve pasta which is as good as anywhere in London. The sauces have good oil levels and appropriate saltiness and the pasta has softness but also a proper sense of bite. Add pasta to a glass of red wine and slip in an aspirin and a bright afternoon awaits you. The final challenge is conversation. Michael joined me; he is the Masterpiece and Mallett Finance Director. We had prepared an analysis of an aspect of sales; it was fascinating to feel the brain slowly come back to life. By the end of lunch I felt ready to go out and party again. Roll on next week.