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Song and dance

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A brilliant speech by the critic and author Bevis Hillier proved the highlight of the Twentieth Century Society's 25th anniversary party, held in the ballroom of the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair. Hillier worked for the organisation when it was still called the Thirties Society, before departing these shores to spend five years on the Los Angeles Times.

He could not be more English, as he proved in a speech which incorporated his witty rendition of two songs. The first was adapted for him and his mother by Noel Coward, and played to them on a baby grand in Coward's suite at the Savoy. Responding to a current conservation initiative, it adapted the song about Mrs Worthington, and went: 'Don't let your son save the Oxo Tower, Mrs Hillier?' The second referred to a Twentieth Century Society stalwart, an adaptation of a Maurice Chevalier hit: 'Thank 'eavens, for Alan Powers?' Hillier also praised the Millennium Dome as the sort of magnificent structure which might need protection at some future date, quite amusing given the well known antipathy of the society's president, Gavin Stamp, to Lord Rogers. Earlier, Gavin reminded the audience of how the organisation had come into being, and that every cause needed its martyr, in this case the destruction of the Firestone Factory by Nigel Broackes (like the building 'no longer with us').

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