Last week I had the pleasure of being part of a very special event.
Julian Fellowes, the hugely- gifted writer behind Downton Abbey, joined the Wellbeing of Women team for a coffee morning in Parliament's River Room.
He was joined by our redoubtable chairwoman, former newspaper editor Eve Pollard, for an 'in conversation with...' Also in attendance were Julian's charming wife, Emma Kitchener, (an earl's niece,) and a team of our much-valued supporters.
Needless to say there were some very important questions to be asked - could the show really go on without the waspishly witty Maggie Smith, would Lady Edith ever find love and why is it the Americans so love British costume dramas?
I gather the show is a ratings winner because of viewers' sheer curiosity about such a privileged lifestyle. However, as Julian pointed out, a fast-moving plot with believable and winning characters is essential - whether we're talking CSI New York or a period drama.
Certainly Julian's characters are both well-drawn and well-acted and he doesn't diminish the importance of the characters living discreetly below stairs.
I had prepared for the meeting with such an eminent author by listening to him on Desert Island Discs.
Among other things, I learnt Julian married at 40. Until then, he had felt too poor to support a wife and, 'neither my face nor my figure empowered me to womanise a lot.'
Having met Emma at a party he proposed to her within twenty minutes but she wasn't having any of it.
'When you are desperate to get someone who isn't all that interested in you, you lay siege as hard as you can,' said Julian, 'It was quite a while before I got anywhere at all.'
Twenty years on and it seems that Julian and Emma are a great team. Certainly, they displayed an easy chemistry as we all chatted in the River Room.
Speaking of the River Room - the gentleman in charge apologised for not staying to help with the seating because he was off to see Black Rod to prepare for the Queen's impending visit. (Fair enough!)
Apparently, the room is often used for charitable purposes and cross-parliamentary functions. It's all oak panels, embroidered benches and a massive marble fireplace. The walls are an impressive shade of green.
My staff and I perched on a window seat which boasting views of the two houses of parliament and the River Thames as Lord Fellowes regaled us with his witty banter. We felt really rather privileged.
A big thanks to all of you who came along, joined in the fun and support Wellbeing of Women.
Wellbeing of Women was established in 1964 and has been raising funds ever since then to invest in medical research and the development of specialist doctors and nurses working in the field of reproductive and gynaecological health.
We are the partner charity of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities.
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