February 4th, 2006


Mistakes of London: An Occasional Series

I left my lodgings with some anticipation yesterday evening, since I had received an invitation to jermynsavile's birthday party. I was a little uncertain as to why the event was not taking place in his home town of B_______, as opposed to a hostelry located by Smithfield Market. However, Savile's employment (whatever that actually may be) often brings him to this area of London and I have met him on a number of occasions in this same quarter. I presumed this leg of the celebrations was perhaps intended for his metropolitan friends and work colleagues. For the record, I will admit that the second of these items caused me some concern, given his occasional revelations about their drink-sodden misbehaviours, and I was not entirely convinced that I might not prefer the horrors of the ghost train returning from the town of B______ to the moral abandonment that I might be privy to witnessing that very Friday evening.

Arriving at the said hostelry, the Charterhouse, I was a little uncertain as to why Savile had chosen this establishment, but presumed that it offered one of the few function rooms available at short notice. The ground floor of the bar seemed like that of a hundred others: a reasonably well-stocked bar but with no staff that looked capable of doing much more than pouring lagers or emptying ashtrays. I was pleased to see a bottle of Toussaint café liqueur on the shelves, since that offered the chance to drink a decent vodka espresso, but the coffee machine was "off". Disconsolate, I made my way to first floor.

The sign at the bottom of the staircase read "Will and Alison: Private Party", but I suspected nothing amiss at this point given Savile's mastery of disguise and subterfuge. After all, what could be more fitting than for Savile to pose as this Will, and just possibly, Alison also. I made my way to top of the staircase but was unable to spot anyone in the room who bore the least resemblance to him. He's outdone himself this evening, I thought, tapping a table with my foot to ascertain whether he may have disguised himself as furniture for the purposes of the soirée. I felt a hand against my back and, turning to face this mysterious frotteur, recognised my friend Bioshan! What an incredible coincidence that she had shared a connection with Savile for these many years and I had never known anything of it! I admitted as much to her.

"But you're here for Will's party, aren't you?"

Suddenly it all became terribly clear. The text message I had received from Savile a week previously ("Break out the bacardi breezers, it's my birthday..." was not particularly Savilean and therefore only all the more so, I had thought...) had not been from him at all, although the phone indicated as much. Indeed, the final word in the message had been "Will", but since Savile's text messages were never written in the digital vernacular (thankfully!), they did sometimes overreach the character limit and extend to messages that would be received in two separate portions. What I had assumed to read "Will [call over the weekend concerning pie and mash]" or similar, the latter addition having been mislaid within the communications aether, had in fact just ended: "Will"

Once I had adjusted myself to this fact, I soon realised that I did indeed recognise a large number of people at the party. I introduced myself to the host, whose birthday party I would still nevertheless have attended, and offered my tale as a conversational gambit for the amusement of my peers. For reasons as yet unknown, it appears that his telephone number has indeed been registered as that of Savile's.

This is more or less the conclusion of the tale concerning this minor gaffe, save that I'd had the good fortune earlier in the week to secure a short Joseph Beuys monograph from the 1960's in a second-hand shop for the most reasonable sum of one pound and had taken the work as a birthday gift. Will himself was previously unacquainted with the work of Beuys, or indeed the Fluxus movement, but looks forward to a greater understanding of the artist and his work. Provided he overlooks the item's previous dedication to Savile, which is still clearly visible beneath a swift cross-hatching, and concentrates on the one freshly penned at the table, the entire matter can be considered to be concluded.

Obviously, Savile may feel a little put out by not receiving the said monograph, but since he was neither expecting such a gift nor indeed celebrating his birthday, I don't think he has too much to complain about.