Emma Thompson, an Oscar contender for both "The Remains of the Day" and "In the Name of the Father," has a younger sister, Sophie, who some Brits think is nipping at her heels. Sophie has a new TV series in England (it's called "Nelson's Column," and it's all about newspaper reporters) and the prospect of more film work to come. But Sophie says all that talk about being a threat to Emma is a load of rubbish. "We've never been competitive," she tells the world. Whew. That's a load off our shoulders.
John Richardson, the Wicked Wit of the East, is one of the most distinguished writers of our time, a splendid critic, a superb biographer (Volume I of his four-part Picasso biography won Britain's coveted Whitbread Prize) and a spellbinding conversationalist. There is really nothing about the worlds, literary and haute, that John doesn't know -- and that he won't tell you, if he loves you. There's a book in every little chat on the phone, and if there's a more desirable dinner guest in the city, point him out to me. No. You're wrong.
For everyone John loves, there must be 10 who love him and many of them were at Mortimer's the other night helping him celebrate his 70th birthday. Mortimer's has had many metamorphoses, as we all know, but for John's big night, it was transformed into a reasonable facsimile of a literary gent's library in a charming English country house. The walls of the restaurant were covered with billiard-green felt and hung with photos of John with Picasso in the South of France and -- the great crowd-pleaser -- John as a lad with his mother, his brother and his sister, rusticating in the English countryside. "I was picking wildflowers," said John. And he still is.