Susie Craigie Halkett, who hailed from Scotland, was disarmingly engaging, with a smile that blended sophistication with natural diffidence. She went about her work responsibly and with diligence. Her low-key approach to things endeared her not only to the Quartet enclave but also to those on the outside she had to deal with in discharging her duties. Her unassuming presence was charmingly unencroaching and that was in essence the secret of her popularity. Looking back, I remember being struck by the way she conducted herself and glided through life, seemingly unflappable. I wanted to discover more about her. It was not simply her beauty that aroused my interest but an instinct that told me there was more to her than was visible to the casual eye: there was an intriguing depth to her that I was determined to plumb. In pursuit of this aim, I arranged for her to accompany me to New York on two occasions, and once to Frankfurt to attend the book fair. On all of these trips she stayed with me and I found her company both stimulating and relaxing. The differences in our characters produced from time to time some innocuous ripples but these never lingered on to have any destabilizing effect on our working relationship. Her time at Quartet as editorial assistant and publicist was remembered with great affection. I retain fond memories of our travels and am certain Scotland could not have sent forth a better child to enchant and capture the English.

Meanwhile, at my Regent Street office, a new light appeared in the form of Jess Collett, a young, attractive blonde who could have dazzled the socks off any red-blooded youthful male, let alone a man of my age. Her presence enlivened the atmosphere, and in her own words she sums up that time with a stylish cheekiness.

Getting Away with Murder

Jess Collett

When I walked into the marketing department of Mappin & Webb in 1995 as office skivvy, the only thing I knew about Naim was that he and my dad used the same hairdresser – and still do, what class! I was surrounded by nubile young ladies accredited with brains, looks and charm. The only man to be seen in the office, apart from Naim himself, was the postman!

I seemed to fall into position of youngest (who gets away with murder) with extreme ease, and was soon known affectionately as ‘Blondie’. On Naim’s bad days I hopped on to his knee to cheer him up, and on his good days I did the same. After a month, I was presented with a beautiful watch for my services. I might have left at this point, pawned the watch and got the money I needed for going to Mexico. But I didn’t. Instead I had the most exciting, amusing and of course instructive six months. I met some lovely people, posed in a very short pvc skirt, modelled thousands of pounds’ worth of jewellery and watches up my arm, sat at the wheel of a couple of Ferraris in Bond Street, drank fine champagne in Winston Churchill’s underground cabinet war rooms and stuffed a lot of envelopes. So, as my only experience of working in an office (I am now a milliner), I would say it was a very good advertisement.

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