DIARY: So nearly curtains for Cardwell at the ballet

Paul Cardwell, Doner Cardwell Hawkins' executive creative director, is no stranger to works of art - he's often to be found in Sotheby's snapping up bargains, and his Twickenham home is packed with ballet memorabilia.

Organising a charity bash at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden for the Kirov Ballet, Cardwell hit upon a novel way of transforming it into a Russian scene by stringing up the touring company's theatre curtain.

The painted curtain, which normally hangs in the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, is priceless. "It's like an enormous Rembrandt. It's never been out of the country. It's survived the Revolution and a death warrant from Stalin, Cardwell cooed. Using his twinkling Scottish charm and ruthless adland skills, he'd persuaded its owners to take it down, bundle it in a lorry, and send it to England.

All was well until, three days after the convoy was waved goodbye from Russia, Cardwell began to panic. It hadn't arrived. Where was the driver and his priceless cargo?

Luckily on the fourth day it turned up, the mobile phone-less driver grinning from ear to ear. "I'm not sure what he's been up to, but it's here, in one piece and there are no refugees wrapped up in it. I think he got lost on the South Circular, Cardwell, overcome with relief, blubbed.

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