Sunday, 27 January 2008

Peter Cook & H.G Wells's House

Wandering around Hampstead village yesterday afternoon I went in search of Peter Cook (and HG Wells) house at 17 Church Row NW3 Map HERE
Wendy Cook, Peter Cooks wife talks about the house in 2006 - "I found our beautiful house in Church Row, Hampstead, in 1965 when I was pregnant with our second daughter, Daisy. Peter was entering one of the busiest and most creative moments of his career, making the first Not Only . . . But Also shows with Dudley Moore for the BBC. The plaudits were raining down.
I was in my element improving our new home. The nursery was on the third floor, and on the fourth floor was the study where Peter and Dudley would spend hours together in hysterics, improvising with the help of an impressive state-of-the-art recording machine.
Daisy has very early memories of being pushed about by Dudley in a wicker shopping basket on wheels. Sue Newling-Ward, our nanny at the time, remembers the growing celebrity element in our lives. Alan Bennett, in his usual self-deprecating way, says he was unsettled by these starry line-ups in our new house. “I remember coming to a party and the Beatles were there and I thought, ‘I am nothing really now’.”
We entertained around a large scrubbed pine table in the basement kitchen. When John and Cynthia Lennon were coming to dinner I made a special expedition down to the French butcher in Soho in order to do filet de boeuf en croûte — fillet of beef smothered in pâté de foie gras with truffles and wrapped in a jacket of puff pastry. It is the kind of thing that needs a quick blast in the oven and not to sit around after that.
The Lennons were invited for 8pm. The other guests — including Dudley and and his wife Suzy Kendall — were all there on time. Eight-thirty came and went. I retrieved the filet from the oven. Nine pm and we got a phone call from Lennon’s Rolls-Royce. Their driver was lost. It was nearer 10 when they arrived. My special meal eventually appeared, looking rather forlorn, and judging by the expression on John’s face I might as well have opened a can of beans.
The occasion made me realise the age of deference had passed; good manners and punctuality had flown out of the window. The fact that a lot of people smoked dope and did other drugs interfered with any sense of time too.
Paul McCartney was more able to adapt to good manners, including punctuality and keeping your elbows in at the table. Jane Asher, his girlfriend, was stunning and intelligent, and Paul always gave her a chance to join in the conversation, something Peter often failed to do with women. In fact, thinking about it now, the female guests were nearly always playing a supporting role at those dinner parties."

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