Magazine article The Spectator

American Notebook

Magazine article The Spectator

American Notebook

Article excerpt

I bumped into Steve Martin dining with Eric Idle at a Beverly Hills boite, as one does. 'I really enjoy your Spectator diaries, ' said Steve. 'And I, ' said Mr Idle.

'And you and the roller-skating nuns were the best thing in the Olympic finale, ' I chirped back. Hollywood folk love to give each other compliments. I buttered up George Clooney at the Carousel Ball, where he was being honoured for his charitable work in Haiti and the Sudan, by telling him how much I adored Argo, which he co-produced, and that same night I told Shirley MacLaine how much I liked her in Downton, even though I'd gladly have maimed her for the part. I was impressed by my self-restraint.

At an Academy screening of Hitchcock (in which Anthony Hopkins was brilliant) some patrons sitting behind us told me how 'great' I looked. A few minutes later a very haggard-looking actress, much past her prime but trying hard, was hailed by these same punters with cries of 'Great to see you again' and 'You look sooo beautiful!' After she left they turned to each other and hissed, 'God she looks terrible.'

We hurtle down the winding track on the elegantly streamlined Acela service from NYC to Boston. The Connecticut countryside flashes past, the trees a symphony of colour. American train travel is superb. All employees have a welcoming smile on their face, from the Acela representative who greeted us with a porter, who proffered a wheelchair. 'A wheelchair? !' I boomed in my best Edith Evans. 'Why?' 'In case you don't feel like walking in those stilettos, ' he countered suavely. Needless to say, I eschewed said conveyance and chatted merrily to the two friendly Amtrak policemen who escorted us through the terminal. Breakfast was delicious - an omelette stuffed with capers and onions and a warm croissant lighter and tastier than anything the Cote d'Azur has to offer. If I could, I'd take a train over a plane every time.

We arrived at the Boston Hotel, which used to be a jail. It has extraordinary views over the Charles River from the full-length windows. How the convicts must have enjoyed their days gazing at the boats through their barred-up windows. While Percy went outside to have a cigarette - smoking bans are draconian in the US - I attempted to ring room service and was faced with a perplexing machine labelled cisco, the size of an old-fashioned telephone. It also looked like a telephone in that it had a handset with a cord attached, but that is where all resemblance ended. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.