One of the best things about working in the world of hospitality is that I get to meet some wonderful people. I was Head Concierge of the Randolph Hotel for many glorious years, and it’s fair to say that many of its guests have ended up as dear friends. The same goes for the family of hotel staff who keep the wheels turning behind the scenes, and some of the many local business characters who worked so hard to make the guests’ stays so special. High fives to all of you; from taxi drivers to private doctors. Most of these people are as lovable and charismatic as the hotel itself and, well frankly, need to be celebrated.
So, imagine how excited I was when this magazine, together with Rivet 360 (a phenomenal Chicago-based media company famous for making videos and podcasts) asked me to collaborate on a new Ask William production. The idea is that each month, I get to talk to someone with a great story to tell. The fantastic folk at Rivet turn it into a feast for the ears, and each issue will be shared on the OX website (oxmag.co.uk). Of course, we’re hoping that all our friends and followers might want to share it, too.
The first episode is to launch in February, the month of love. And it’s very special as I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with a dear man called Stuart Jarvis. I first met Stuart around fifteen years ago, although he’d been visiting the Randolph since the 1970s. Patron of the arts, theatre and showbiz (even owning his own cinema at one time), he was a much-loved local character with fans and friends extending world-wide. He was a champion for workers’ rights (a big Union man) and active in his local Oxfordshire parish council.
I say ‘was’ because this podcast records Stuart’s last conversation before he sadly passed away, two months ago. It was both a humbling and joyful experience for me to be able to spend these last hours with a man who had such love for his work, his world and his friends. The fact that he wanted to leave this interview as a legacy farewell is a testament to what a star he really was.
The podcast was listened to by Stuart’s friends and family at his funeral and we are delighted to be able to share it with you and yours now.
Why this interview now, in February, with all its themes and connotations of love? Because Stuart Jarvis talks endearingly about how important love is within a life well lived. He tells tales not just of his adoration of the theatre and the world of entertainment, but of the people he met in it. He speaks lovingly of those behind the scenes in hospitality and show business – the unsung heroes –who work tirelessly because ‘the show must go on’.
I’m very proud of this little ‘conversation between friends’ and would be thrilled if you would listen to it and perhaps share Stuart’s legacy with your own friends. Look out for it on social media – coming your way soon.