Last night I was lucky enough to be invited along to the unveiling of Johnny Yeo’s portrait of Michael Parkinson at the National Portrait Gallery. Johnny is one of the artists my husband exhibits at his gallery ‘Eleven’ and an old friend. In fact he’s one of the artists in the Britpop show that is on now until the 2nd July.
The painting, when unveiled, was brilliant and captured the man we’ve all grown up watching on the telly looking thoughtful yet faintly amused, with bold brushstrokes. When the big moment happened there were some great noises. It certainly required some noises, deadly silence would have been a massive anti-climax but for a moment I wasn’t sure what noise to go for. There were lots of ‘Ooh’ some ‘Aah’s and from some of the art world a sort of hurrumph that I think was supposed to convey gravitas and respect. In the end I opted for a girly ‘ooh.’
Anyway, the painting is a triumph and now hanging for all to see.
Afterwards we got in a cab with journalist Giles Coren, his wife Esther and a chap called Andy and headed for the dinner that was being held in Parky’s honour. In the cab we were laughing a lot about, amongst other things, what it must be like to have to appear on stage naked a la Daniel Radcliffe or Johnny Lee Miller. At a certain point I turned to Andy and said ‘And what do you do Andy? Are you a journo too?’
‘Er yes,’ he said.
Like a dog with a bone I ploughed on ‘Oh brilliant, are you freelance, or do you work for a paper?’
‘Um, I used to edit ‘The News of the World.’
‘Oh right,’ I said, sounding more and more like Bridget Jones with Giles giggling opposite me and hubby rolling his eyes.
In my defense there’s no reason whatsoever I should have known what he looked like (apart from the fact Andy Coulson was headline news for quite a long period of time) and anyway he seemed like a lovely bloke who didn’t care a jot. In fact, I think he preferred it.
As you can probably tell by now this was a dinner for the great and the good (and me, still not sure how I swung an invite. Having come straight from work I even had a plastic bag with me.)
The food was amazing, catered by The Ivy, and I was sat next to the host David Ross (of Carphone Warehouse fame), artist Jason Brooks, and opposite Anya Hindmarch’s husband. I felt like a very lucky girl and toward the end of the meal was just wondering whether it would be appropriate to ask anybody who’d left their tarte tatin (weirdos) whether they wanted to shove it my way, when hubby who was down the other end of the table caught my eye and smiled. In the next second I felt my phone (which was on vibrate in case the babysitter needed to get in touch) vibrate. I glanced at it discreetly under the table.
It was a text from hubby. ‘Love you for asking Andy Coulson what he does.’