March 2013

  / April 9, 2013

[John Swannell, Helen David & Colin David – Photo by Alan Davidson]



The Roundhouse [Click to visit their website] has wonderful Galas every other year. They raise much-needed funds for all the young people who benefit from the roundhouse trust. This year’s entertainers included the fascinating Imogen Heap, my fellow ex-Blitz-kid, Boy George, and the evergreen singer songwriter Ray Davies. We were on a table with the artist Conrad Shawcross, who had donated a wonderful piece to the auction, and the actress Lindsay Duncan, who shares with me a passion for the song “Waterloo Sunset”, which luckily for us, Ray Davies sung! Accompanied by the Crouch End Choir.

[Boy George at the Round House]

[Imogen Heap at the Round House]

[Ray Davies at the Round House]


CASABLANCA at the Troxy

My sister Judy and I donned our 1940s outfits and headed out East to the incredible Troxy building for a night of Casablanca. I wore a brilliant 1940s black velvet hat with turban styling and little grapes and vine leaves in the front, a real 1940s jacket over a Dolce and Gabanna rose print peplum top. Before we even arrived we were approached by a young lady who whispered that we looked as though we might have sympathy with the resistance….and handed us a copy of the words to La Marseillaise.

 [Judy outside the Troxy]

[Helen outside the Troxy]

[The Casablanca Bar]

[Casablanca performers]

[Judy Purbeck and Julian Arendt]

[A dramatic scene taking place]

[Helen David and John McLauchlan]

 [Dancers in the bar]

[Another dramatic scene]

Next we entered the building through a non descript door, up a threadbare staircase, to a tiny door that opened onto an extraordinary scene-a perfect, huge, art deco dance hall.

There was a house band, a piano where “Sam” could play, and a dance troupe; tables at the front and a bar and casino at the back. We were given some fake money to gamble with. Nearly the entire audience were dressed appropriately for the era of the film. Actors played the Nazis, the residents of Rick’s café and the main characters. We all joined in Knock on Wood and the Marsillaise of course, and then we actually saw the film- a brilliant night!



Suggs, the genius behind Madness, Bette Bright, his wife and lead singer of Deaf School, and his daughters Viva and Scarlett, organised a wonderful night to raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer [Click to visit their website]. Compeered by Phil Jupitus, and held at the Porchester Baths, it featured performances from Suggs, Bette and a farewell performance from the iconic guitarist Wilko Johnson, who sadly suffers from Pancreatic cancer. Colin met up with bag and leather designer Bill Amberg, who declared himself to be another great fan of Wilko.

[Bette Bright and Helen David]

[Suggs performing]

[Suggs’ Monologue]

[Phil Jupitus Performing]

[Wilko Johnson on stage with Phil Jupitus]

[Porchester Hall]



An afternoon away from the drawing board is rare for me, but I was persuaded by my friend Cathy Rees to attend a tea at the Savoy in aid of the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity [Click to visit their website], which provides emotional and practical support to families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness. The fashion shop Matches provided a fashion show of Max Mara and D.V.F. in the splendid River Room. Cakes and scones were enjoyed by all, and Cathy got a bit hyper on her rainbow cake, later there was an opportunity to shop from some exclusive stalls in an upstairs room, including fashions from my pal Selina Blow.

[Rainbow Trust Tea at the Savoy]

[Helen David  and Cathy Rees at the Rainbow Trust Tea]



Our friends John and Marianne Swannell launched a new appeal, Transforming Lives, for the National Autistic Society [Click to visit their website]. An intimate and stylish dinner at Leighton House, it was a wonderful evening for a really important charity.

Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, made a heartfelt and well-informed speech about Autism and families. Guests included the glamorous Jane Asher, fresh from her role as a snobbish and racist mother in Dancing on the Edge, the brilliant Poliakoff play on BBC. [She told me it was quite fun playing such a horrible character]. Her husband, cartoonist Gerald Scarf, had also been on the BBC recently, but on the radio, in a program about helping the U.K.’s young animators. Celebrity photographer Alan Davidson very kindly let me use his wonderful images of the event for my diary.

[John Swannell, Helen David & Colin David]

[Marianne Swannell, The Countess of Wessex and John Swannell]

[Gerald Scarf, Jane Asher, Helen David and Colin David]

[Leighton House – The Peacock Fireplace]

[Leighton House – Iznik Tiles]



Ground Control to Major Tom! This was the busiest opening party ever at the V and A [Click to visit their website]. Queues formed around the block, in the freezing cold. “What happened?” I asked my friend Hilary Alexander, “They ALL came!’ was her reply. The great man himself was there in spirit but not in body, but in a clever move, Tilda Swinton, another beautiful, androgynous and almost unworldly being, stepped in to replace him. In fact it turned out I was going around the show at the same time as Tilda, and she was bopping away to the magnificent soundtrack. I met my great friend the illustrator and print-maker Christopher Brown, who at 6 foot 6 stood up above the crowd. Steve Strange was at the bar with the lightning strike make up from Bowie’s Aladinsane Album cover .

[Christopher Brown and Fiona Dealey]

[Helen David at Bowie Is]

[Helen David, Hilary Alexander and Betty Jackson]

[Eduardo Sant’Anne, Naveen Puri and Christopher Brown]

[Bowie opening party at the V&A]

[David Bowie – Aladdin Sane album cover]



This month’s retrospective music, both at the Roundhouse and the V and A, has left me listening to another unique voice, that of singer-songwriter Peter Sarstedt. Peter made some early tracks that have been updated and added to by the producer Ray Singer, to great effect. I especially love the track, Valentine. Sung in his distinctive velvety, sensitive, and almost hesitant voice, it is a really expressive love song and here it is as an MP3 for you to enjoy. The Album can be found on Amazon [here].

[Peter Sarstedt – Restless Heart]



We went to Norfolk for Easter. It was freezing cold but the skies were beautiful. Simon bought us this dear little cartoon chocolate mousse bunny. I never know whether it is crueller to eat these things from tail to head or other way, but in this case we went for tail first and I must say it was YUMMIE! Back in London I felt I had to do an extra set of sit ups at Pilates to make up for it…..

[Norfolk Sky at Easter]

[Easter Bunny Cake]