January 2011

After the most delicious dinner, we toured the magnificent bank vaults, then the Relationship Manager and also my bank manager John Gallup, displayed an astonishing talent for playing the piano and singing the blues, which got us all on our feet, until Andrew Parker Bowles ended up bopping with Paul O’Grady – an utterly magic evening all round.

I was also elated to be invited to the Icons Dinner, hosted by Prince Edward at Windsor Castle. Each of the icons or group of celebrities, headed a table at dinner. Windsor Castle, floodlit, is breathtaking, with marvellous portraits. Prince Edward made us all feel welcome, as did all the staff, dinner was superb, and a huge sum was raised for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I was thrilled to see old mates like Rolf Harris and Jimmy Tarbuck and to actually shake hands with Buzz Aldrin, who looked rather pale and grey as though moon dust had settled on him forever.

I was further cheered up by the ludicrously talented Quentin Letts choosing JUMP! as his Christmas book for the Daily Mail, and Alex Heminsley, who chaired the Foyle’s dinner, choosing it for the Independent. Finally, Mrs Wilkinson achieved the ultimate glory of the Guardian Christmas Quiz, when she was the answer to Ian Rankin’s question: “What was the name of Etta Bancroft’s horse?”

Then came the news that JUMP! had sold 100,000 copies, and Transworld excelled themselves, sending me a divine box of biscuits iced with the words: “100,000 cheers Jilly” Also in the parcel was a wonderful mock-up of the JUMP! jacket on which Transworld’s Art Director Claire Ward had superimposed my face, as I nibbled on a whip, for that of Tina the beautiful brown haired wife of the jacket designer Henry Steadman. Another stylish act of kindness, which makes me love my publishers even more.

Now it’s January and at the latest count JUMP! has sold more than 120,000 in hardback in England. Yippee! Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for their utterly gorgeous Christmas cards and presents, which have given my husband Leo and me so much joy. The only problem, because we were snowed up for ten days and the gallant postman didn’t get through on several occasions was that the post ultimately arrived in such vast batches that some of it got very muddled.

I received, for example, three beautiful purple glass vases containing crocus bulbs but couldn’t find the accompanying card, nor could I locate the sender of a lovely gold medallion in the shape of a rose, or the sender of a beautiful white casket, containing among other things a lovely Greyhound mug.

Similarly, so many times people don’t put their surnames or addresses on Christmas cards and envelopes so seldom have postmarks these days that they are hard to identify. I am trying to trace a ‘Victoria’ who told me her dog Bango had tragically died and a Zoe Gibson who once painted a lovely picture of Feather my Greyhound and many others.

So please forgive me if I haven’t acknowledged anything, but believe me your cards and presents caused me a huge amount of happiness.

A glorious New Year to you all.

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