In 1843, after six weeks’ writing, Charles Dickens saw A Christmas Carol published in London by Chapman & Hall. It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser who is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley, his former business partner, and the spirits of Christmas Past and Future. Interestingly, Dickens was among the first authors to do a reading of his own works – apparently he read sections on a later visit to the USA and another author, Mark Twain, was not impressed: “There is no heart. No feeling—it is nothing but glittering frostwork“, he is reputed to have said.
Skip forward to the author’s great grandson, Gerald Dickens, born in 1963 in Kent, England in 1963 and now living in Abingdon, where Girlahead was brought up (in those days Abingdon was in the Royal County of Berkshire but they moved the boundaries and now it is in the pleb county of Oxfordshire). Gerald, having been inspired by watching a performance of Nicholas Nickelby, is an actor, and tonight and tomorrow he performs one-man A Christmas Carol dinner shows at THE CAFE ROYAL HOTEL, The Set Collection’s trophy on London’s Regent Street.
This is all so appropriate. Café Royal Hotel was, long before it had beds, a hang out, designed in 1865 by John Nash f,or the famous and the infamous. Oscar Wilde hung out with Lord Alfred Douglas here. Aubrey Beardsley debated with Whistler. David Bowie retired his Ziggy Stardust at Café Royal, and Mick Jagger and the Beatles were among regulars three decades ago. Now it is a 160-room hotel, with interiors by David Chipperfield and Piero Lissoni.
Hotel GM Guillaume Marly has been working on this Christmas event for some time. The three hour performances come with set-meal dinners. Start with Royal Smoked Salmon terrine, Horseradish cream, Pickled Baby Vegetable, trout roe. Go on to Braised beef Cheek, creamy Polenta, Wild Mushroom and Black Truffle. Finish with Mango-Vanilla and Ginger Log, Coconut Dacquoise. And drink is all French. When you arrive there’s a glass of N.V Veuve Clicquot, Brut. You can then choose, a half-bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, Le Vin de Levin, Loire Valley 2017, or Château Gardegan, Bordeaux Superior 2015 (Guillaume Marly is a Bordeaux boy, by the way).
Listen to The Set’s boss, here: