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Partying the American Way

Astragal is intensely upset to have missed out on what sounds like the social event of the season, the bash our New York cousins enjoyed on Monday to celebrate the opening of Norman Foster’s Hearst Tower. Guests including new tower resident Oprah Winfrey and TV news anchor Dan Rather gasped in wonder as they got to grips with Normski’s acclaimed structure. Those childish people at the New York Observer were led to report on the event under the rather disturbing headline ‘Oprah touches gleaming shaft at opening gala’. Now, one would expect the highlight of this bash to be the gobsmacking appearance of Norman himself, who strode on stage surrounded by well-built shirtless men atop pedestals and declared: ‘I give you Hearst Tower!’ as the sound system kicked in and scantily-clad women swung down from the rafters trailing satiny-white fabric in their wake. One would expect that to be the highlight – but one would be wrong, for better was to follow. After Norman had been dragged from the stage, possibly foaming at the mouth with megalomaniacal glee, the curtain dropped and silence descended across the awed atrium. This quiet was then broken by the insistent driving keyboard rhythm familiar to all lovers of early ’70s funk. One member of the crowd yelled ‘oh shit! Stevie!’ as the curtain rose on the grinning figure of Stevie Wonder, who belted out his big hit Superstition before delighting grooving revellers with an hour-long run-through of his greatest tunes. It all sounds a long way from warm white wine at Portland Place.

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