I Went To Madame Tussauds And Had More Fun With Waxworks Than Joey Essex.

AS a celebrity interviewer, life can get pretty weird. I’ve often found myself in all sorts of odd situations, from an awkward hand hold with Lionel Blair to getting perved on by Liam Gallagher, Tony Curtis, Gerard Butler and yes- horrifically – Andrew Neil – to interviewing Hi-De-Hi’s Paul Shane in a Barnsley leisure centre while he sat on a garden chair surrounded by an enormous sack of crisps. Oh and there was the ultimate WTF story of helping June Brown aka Dot Cotton try on a pair of dead Wendy Richard’s (Pauline Fowler) leather trousers in a charity sell-off of all her clothes by her widower husband while June was dressed as a character from Pauline’s old sitcom Are You Being Served? (I tried on her shoes, felt freaked out, bought her old Blankety Blank badge for 50p….yeah, it got WEIRD).

So it wasn’t that strange to find myself on a balmy summer evening trotting up to Madame Tussauds for the launch of their new Star Wars waxworks. I arrived just in time to be the last person to go on the The Spirit of London Taxi Ride which was more or less a ghost train through history. Or rather, sitting in a creaky cart being tugged around a set of creepy-looking waxworks from a figure that resembled Shakespeare to some pal looking mannequins representing the ‘swinging 60s’ and the like…So far, so standard randomness that comes with this job.

Luckily I didn’t get trapped in this tunnel of terror for too long. I stepped off and walked into the main room where there’s a bar and some waxworks of Judi Dench, Michael Jackson and Boris Johnson. I saw Dynamo the magician posing and pretending to be one of the waxworks. I chatted to him, he’s actually well sound and would happily pull his fingers back for anyone that asked. Later we posed up together next to a terrible waxwork of Johnny Depp. Real me, real Dynamo and fake Johnny Depp, all squished together and framed in some sort of life imitates art imitates life imitates terrible terrible tragedy.

Joey Essex, Arg and Lydia Bright from TOWIE are in the room. I sidled up to Joey who was wearing a pair of 3D goggles. Not wanting to make things awkward, I put my goggles on too. Joey talked to me about his part in the election but assured me he wasn’t too bothered now it’s all over. (He stood next to Nigel Farage in a life jacket in Grimsby. Joey was there in a bid to get young people to vote. Farage was there being a mega c**t. He said it doesn’t matter that he didn’t get to meet re-elected Prime Sinister David Cameron. “Hopefully one day I’ll get to meet him but there’s nothing for me to say to him, maybe just say ‘Hello David.’” Beautiful. He also said of politics in general: “I’m not really bothered really it doesn’t really affect me or my life at all.” Brilliant.

After nine years doing this weird old job, you could say I’ve become something of a cynic. So taking the opportunity I wouldn’t get every day, I had some private time with the stars. It was like some sort of waxwork therapy. I got to release my inner feelings, have some ‘me time’ and generally fuck about.

Why We Should All Be Proud of Pride: The Film

I wrote something for The Huffington Post about the new film Pride and thought I’d share it on here too. Bit much for a Friday afternoon I know, but bear with me. And go see it this weekend!!! Have a good one peeps.


Pride: “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.”

Union: “the state of being united.”

I was born in the same cold December that tens of thousands of coal mining families across the UK were living in poverty with their gas cut off and cupboards empty because of the 1984 UK miner’s strike. For as long as I can remember I’ve been aware of the strike and it’s economic and political consequences, despite not coming from a mining family, or living in a pit community. I’d only been gurgling for a mere few months before the strike ended in March 1985 after one year, but learning about life as a young child, you pick on all sorts of things instinctively, and I picked up on the fact that a) I was working class and b) that was an honour.

My grandad, who drove a forklift truck for a British manufacturing company, would often – and still does – drop into conversation, whenever he can, just how much of a “bastard” (said with sharp Brummie bite) Margaret Thatcher was, and how awful it was for the mining communities of 1984 and beyond. So I’ve always been fascinated with unions and empathetic to the events of 84. I’m a member of the NUJ – National Union of Journalists – who, like the National Union of Mineworkers, is not what it once was in terms of numbers, but it is still a vital organisation for protecting thousands of workers in an increasingly insecure industry. I’ve also been on strikes, stood on picket lines and protested through central London for various causes throughout the years.

There’s something about the connection that comes from the chaos of uprising that really makes you feel like you’re living. And it sets people apart – those who cower, those who don’t care, and those who stick their neck out for the greater good. In 2014, an incredible 30 years since the strike (and since I was born – yelp!) we’re all searching for more human connection. The digital age, the ever-continuing rise of Capitalism and the ideology of Individualism have left us all reeling in fear, despondence – and counselling. We’re online, but out of reach. The term Social Media has kept us believing that we have a better connection than ever before (go on, buy the products, download the App) but while we’re having fun and being distracted, something is lost in the exercise of tapping into an inanimate object to talk to a breathing, beating human being. Most of the young folk I come across as a journalist and in my personal life are looking for meaning, and not just because they’ve read about it on Facebook. Several people I know – including myself – regularly volunteer at various different community projects across London, one has turned their back on a high-powered TV job to run a homeless shelter, another has ditched a top job as a theatre producer to spend 6 months in Sierra Leone, where she is now supporting doctors during the Ebola crisis, and so on. We all want connection, we want to feel united, we all want more than Margaret Fucking Thatcher.

I digress…

The reason for this post is that last night I went to see Matthew Warchus’ new film Pride, which tells a lesser-known real-life story of the strike in 84. The film begins with the miners already on strike, while at the same time, a Gay Pride march is taking place in central London. Wanting to ramp up the protest for Gay and Lesbian rights, leading figure Mark Ashton (played by Ben Schnetzer) realises that both groups have been targeted by Thatcher, the tabloid press and the police, so he launches Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) and starts collecting buckets of cash to deliver to a mining town in south Wales -picked at random- in order to show solidarity.

The film works through the initial skepticism and reluctance of both the miners in the Dulais Valley mining community in south Wales to accept help from LGSM, and of the lesbian and gay community to support a the miners, who as one young man points out “used to beat me up every day on my way to school.” But the LGSM will not be moved, even taking a derogatory headline in The Sun and using it as the name of a fundraiser (‘Pits and Perverts’) and thus bringing massive attention to the miners cause.

There are other stories weaved into Pride very delicately – young Joe (George MacKay) is terrified of coming out to his conservative parents, Gethin (Andrew Scott) hasn’t spoken to his Welsh mother for 16 years and the dark shadow of the AIDs virus creeps in, with Mark bumping into an old flame who has contracted HIV. The serious issues underpin and bring the film back to the truth of the story every time it verges on the Mamma Mia! or Love, Actually style of romp com with comedy moments from the ensemble cast containing populist actors Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton among others. I initially jarred with the jolly, swooping camera work and West End musical-style soundtrack, trying to match the tone to the tale, but as the film went on I realised that having a mainstream movie about Gay and Lesbian rights AND Socialism screened in cinemas across the globe is an achievement in itself. And if some of the more saccharine scenes (usually involving songs) have to be in there in order to reach the Richard Curtis-addled public then so be it. Indeed, Warchus, who is about to be passed Kevin Spacey’s baton as Artistic Director of the Old Vic, said that the film’s producers had told him “not to make it too political.”

Pride is a film so lively and spirited that if it wasn’t a true story would be deemed OTT and improbable. Yet it WAS a true story, (although I’m not entirely sure Dominic West’s hip-thrusting dance routine in the Dulais social club was an actual event or a two-minute distortion in my cerebrum). These two very different communities came together to support one another and while the miners were defeated, the lasting impact of the connection goes on and on. For a drama that throws stylistic convention onto an unconventional story to deliver its message, it’s the facts that speak the loudest. Sian James, one of the women in the Dulais mining community who supported LGSM went on to become a Labour MP for Swansea East and still holds the post today. And following the strike, The National Union of Mineworkers were the only group who voted unanimously to pass a motion committing the Labour Party to LGBT equality– the first time such a motion had ever gotten enough support to become an official manifesto pledge. After the screening, held in a swanky cinema at London’s Barbican centre, a world away from a Welsh pit mine, various friends of Mark Ashton stood up to thank Warchus for portraying the events in such a truthful way, some of them weeping, they were so proud.


The Libertines at Hyde Park Was a Much Needed Injection Of Rock n Roll

There were crowd crushes, there were flares, there were naked guys climbing up towers and there were bloody noses. But aside from all the ominous scenes and injured gig goers that have dogged the headlines since Saturday, The Libertines at Hyde Park was a much needed injection of much-missed rock and roll. Heading down with a group of mates who I bowled around at house parties singing What A Waster with a decade ago, we were well up for a reminisce and a stomp to some class tunes from Pete, Carl and co.

An ending fitting for the start

you twist and tore our love apart

I hadn’t been that excited about it to be honest. The last time I saw Pete Doherty was at a Babyshambles gig at the Kentish Town Forum in 2004 where three songs in – and almost three hours late – he predictably threw himself into the crowd and that was it. Early night for all. Also, when I heard that he was burying the hatchet with Carl Barat for basically loads of cold hard cash, it dampened any desire to go and support them. It felt corporate and mainstream and, well, Hyde Park. But as the gig drew closer there was a buzz going on and I bagged a ticket, thinking it would be a great summer day out on the piss if nothing else.

One summer evening drunk to hell

I stood there nearly lifeless

We got there in time for The Pogues, having sacked off the earlier nondescript whale music bands and screeched along with Shane MacGowan. I didn’t realise it at the time but it looks as though last Saturday was the Irish legends’ last gig which is well sad but having seen them each Christmas for the last couple of years, not massively surprising. Give that man a rest! I’m glad we gave it all we could for shuffling Shane and sang their hard-to-know-whether-to-go-high-or-low ditties such as A Pair Of Brown Eyes as loud as we could. Shane MacGowan, what a fucking hero.

A few pints later, confusing attempts to meet the friends we’d already managed to lose, some almost arguments that quickly collapsed into drunken embraces, and you wouldn’t be wrong to say my man and me were in a suitably pissed state by the time the drums of Vertigo started up. Heading fast to get as close as we could to the front, the sun was starting to fade and I felt the hairs on my neck stand up.

Koreema know just what it is she does

It cant be hard for her to get a buzz

Suddenly, as the crowd went mental (too mental actually, but we’ve heard all about that), I remembered how good the Libertines were back when I was at uni and how electric the combination of Doherty and Barat is when put together, with or without smack.
They were as tight as ever, smashing out tune after tune with 60,000 people slurring along. We were giving them the warmest welcome back, especially to Pete Doherty who despite still being a bit yellow, was on the best form since well, ever, probably. Greying hair, smart clothes (omitting the dodgy dog chain) he looked the healthiest he has done in years and he was just very very present. Carl Barat looked in love with his old friend, going over and patting him on the back or hugging him close in between songs. Pete even became the voice of reason and took to the mic to try and solve the crowd crush telling people to “take a step back, take a step baaaaack.” They stopped playing twice to try and calm the scary situation and get people to stop climbing towers naked (Libertines fans are fans of liberty!) I was astonished; in 2004 Pete Doherty was diving into the crowd, oblivious, and completely fucked.

Oh, I was carried away

Caught up in an affray

as they led him away, he sang

we’ll meet again some day

oh my boy, theres a price to pay

The best thing about it though, was that Pete’s apparent return to reality didn’t dampen the spirit or the impact of the gig – it actually improved it. The impeccable songwriting stands the test of time and the swirling guitars and heart-bursting drums concoct a heady mix that swishes up nicely with five pints. As the start of Can’t Stand Me Now stirred up half way through the night when the sky was now black, I got fed up of the VIP toe-tappers stood nearby and weaved further in to the front where everyone was having it, dragging my man for a riot, an adventure. What a moment. In love, in music, in a pit of people squished up and delirious. We jumped and barged and felt elated and intoxicated and all I could think about was how good it felt. Rock and roll, where did it go? The gig was for money, in a royal London park, surrounded with VIP tents and overpriced burgers, but as soon as the lights were up for the 24-song set, only fools could think that this would keep us from smashing it as hard as we did 12 years ago. What will become of the likely lads? There’s two more gigs in September and talk of a new album. Based on Pete and Carl’s explosive history, I’m not holding out on any of this actually coming together, but I’ll say cheers to it all the same.

The world is nigh
I’m glad to see we’re still tight
the bonds that tie a man are tight
yet we do what we do
with rituality
all through the night



copyright: ShowbizSludge.com

copyright: ShowbizSludge.com


copyright: ShowbizSludge.com

copyright: ShowbizSludge.com


For Rik

I’m 11 years old and I’m stood at my white MFI desk in my pink bedroom, in a bungalow, in Redditch – home to Rik Mayall, Kevin Turvey and me.
I’m holding a purple and black spotted furry photo frame about the size of a passport and wondering what to put in it. I’ve got more photo frames than desirable subjects to fill them with as a result of a recent birthday present flurry and I’m stuck. Then I remember the squished up Sunday Mirror magazine I kept because of the article with Rik in. I measure it up and it’ll fit in, so I cut him out, discard the mag and pop the cardboard back in to the frame with a considerable bashing. There he is, smiling away with that knowing Rik Mayall smile. Am I weird? I think. I feel a bit silly and self-conscious for a second, putting someone who I don’t, y’know, fancy into a photo frame and placing him next to the keyrings and posters of East 17 and David Beckham. ‘What if people think I actually fancy him?’ I pondered. But then I look to my right and see the close-up of Pepa, my guinea pig, who lives a separate, illustrated, life to the one in the hutch outside in my photo-in-a-cushion cushion (this one turquoise and lime green spots and even fluffier) and I rest assured that you can frame anything you bloody well like. I don’t care. I want to salute Rik, and this is the most fitting tribute I can think of.

It felt good to have Rik on my desk, next to my pencil holder, as if some of his genius would filter through the cheap plastic and into my young brain. And anyway, he deserved pride of place. For more hours than I could tot up the man had made me happier than anyone else I’d encountered on the telly. He was just so silly. The face with a thousand silly faces. I loved The Young Ones, The Comic Strip, Kevin Turvey, Alan B’Stard (admittedly most of the politics went over my head as a kid but I got the gist) and Fred. But most of all it was Rik as Richard Richard from Bottom that made me laugh until I could not breathe.

As Richard Richard, or Richie as he was most often called, Rik’s capability for lunacy was rocketed into a new hemisphere. I never really understood how Richie and Eddie Hitler, played by the brilliant Ade Edmondson, could really exist as they did, in a filthy Hammersmith flat, deprived of food, sex and pretty much every ounce of human respectability. But it didn’t really matter, I just knew they were pathetic and therefore everything they would try to achieve would be terribly funny. The genius of the writing was one thing, but the delivery from Rik something else. Consider this example:

In Bottom ‘Culture’ Richie has an idea to play a game to keep them from eternal boredom.

Richie: What about pin the tail on the donkey?
Eddie: We haven’t got a donkey.
Richie: Well er, pin the tail on the chicken.
Eddie: We haven’t got a tail.
Richie: Well pin the sausage on the chicken.
Eddie: We haven’t got a chicken.
Richie: Well pin the sausage on the fridge.
Eddie: Or a pin.
Richie: Sellotape a sausage to the fridge.
Eddie: We haven’t got a sausage.
Richie: Put a bit of Sellotape on the fridge!
Eddie: Not much of game is it.

Funny enough – but now watch it:

The partnership between Rik and Ade was inimitable. The comic timing between them stood out even in The Young Ones where Vivian would just call Rik “a complete bastard” at every opportunity. Me and my brother, who is three years older than me, would watch Bottom together during the rare moments of peace time between our daily fallouts and fights. In some loose vein I felt like we were Richie and Eddie. We lived in a bungalow with no other friends our age nearby (if you live in bungalow filled cul-de-sac in a new town chances are it’s 100% elderly residents) and we were trapped with each other a lot of the time. We’d play games, fall out, get violent and then realise we only had each other so would make up again within a few minutes. Just like Richie and Eddie, but with less nose-hair and pliers, (although Adam did once try and get me to tie a piece of string to his door and pull his tooth out.)

In the days after Rik’s death when all these memories came flooding back, I re-watched clip after clip on YouTube and even reminisced with my first ever boyfriend (again when I was 11) on Facebook about our mutual love of Rik. We remembered our Bottom gang, which comprised of us two and two other male friends who would sit and read aloud my book of Bottom scripts at lunchtime and crease into hysterics while the rest of the class had no idea what we were going on about. It was a lovely time of life to remember, re-reading and impersonating Richie and Eddie together, as a four, a bunch of randoms.

Now aged 29, I also looked at what else was going on in my life at the time, and I quickly remembered that Year 6 at school started out in bliss but ended with difficulty. Suddenly, my dad left home to go to work in the Far East for 6 months and it rocked our family up in a way that it would never be the same again. He’s still there, 18 years later. Contact is minimal and while life has moved on, what followed in those days were several complicated teenage years of heartbreak and loss. But during the horrible goodbyes and the sadness and confusion of losing my dad to the other side of the world, there was Rik. And this is why, I realised last week when I felt sick at the news that he had collapsed and died at his home aged just 56, I wanted to write something, to say thank you and to say, Rik, you cheered me right up.

What also propelled me straight back to those young days is the fact that Rik hasn’t really been on screens so much since his 80s/90s ‘heyday’. His recent hilarious performance in Channel 4 sitcom Man Down as Greg Davies’ psychopathic dad was a treat, but it wasn’t enough screen time for me. I did watch him do The New Statesman on stage a couple of years ago at the Trafalgar Studios in London but I was too afraid to go over and speak to him, for fear of him being any different to his characters, (this is an unrealistic expectation I know, but my job as a showbiz journalist had popped many a bubble thus far and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it if he was a real life B’Stard.) When all the newspapers paid tribute last week, his wife Barbara thanked them for their coverage. I picked up the Metro on the Tube and because of it’s huge picture of Rik on the front I thought about keeping it for a second, but I left it where I found it. When I was 11 I needed to quantify my admiration for Rik and back then the most appropriate course of action was to cut out a photo of him and frame it. Keeping the newspaper front page of his death really isn’t the same.

I B I Z A ! !

I’m sat on the floor of the press room at the IMS in Ibiza. I’m hungover and my legs hurt. This is sufficient evidence of an INCREDIBLE 48 hours. I was invited over to cover the International Music Summit held at the not-really-even-open-yet Hard Rock Hotel in Playa d’en Bossa and it’s been absolutely massive.

Pictures definitely tell a story in this case – so here’s what’s been going on:

After a day of airport strife I finally get to the Hard Rock. The place is heaving with music industry bods all with lanyards round their neck looking important and hungover. After much kerfuffle over my room booking I get to my room which has a balcony that I won’t forget in a hurry – LOOKATTHEVIEW!

Room with a view...

Room with a view…

Headed down to the Corona IMS party down at the hotel pool:

IBIZA! Corona IMS party at Hard Rock Hotel

IBIZA! Corona IMS party at Hard Rock Hotel

Then it was time to sit down with one of the biggest names in music, Nile Rodgers! Nile was ace, lots of tales about working with Bowie and Diana Ross and Madonna and of course most recently Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams. He answered all my questions with such modesty, yet he also reminded me of just HOW many records he’s sold around the world. “The great thing about my career is that for everyone I work with, I give them their biggest hit.” Nuff said.

Me and Nile Rodgers

Me and Nile Rodgers: FREAK OUT!

Nile was here to receive an award, the IMS held a big dinner for him in the hotel as part of the Legends Dinner series. I was sat on a table of nutcases, it was brilliant. First there was this lady, who apparently discovered Deadmaus, and wants me to go see her new recording studio in London. She was wearing an old wedding dress that she’d cut up and added fluff to. I can see this is going to be a lifelong friendship.

This lady is CRAY

This lady is CRAY

I turned to the man on my left who only spoke to me using playing cards with words on them. I asked if he was also press and he looked a bit shocked but kept up the card guessing game for at least five more questions. This is Mark Jones, who runs the record label Wall of Sound, I later discover. Everyone knows him in Ibiza as “the guy in pink” “the mad guy” “some old socialite who’s always fucked” but he’s actually responsible for some amazing parties and has signed the likes of Grace Jones, The Human League, Royksopp, Reverend and the Makers, Tiesto, The Bees, Propellerheads. BUT HE IS ALSO MENTAL.

Mark Jones of Wall of Sound. SILLY.

Mark Jones of Wall of Sound. SILLY.

Dinner conversation

Sublime dinner conversation

After an interview with Pete Tong, Seymour Stein and Simon Le Bon, Nile Rodgers got up with Nona Hendryx to play La Freak and We Are Family to the diners and then George Clinton from Parliament Funkadelic got up and went bonkers! They played Bring the Funk and Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker) Nona got on a table and nearly set the place alight when a candle knocked over and George was jumping all over the place (which for a man of his size is actually quite scary). It took him two attempts to get on a chair and I thought he was going to collapse but he just laughed it off and tried again. SO. MUCH. FUNK.

Nile Rodgers and Nona Hendryx

Nile Rodgers and Nona Hendryx



George on high

George on high

The next day – after seeing Pete Tong in the omelette queue at breakfast holding a carrot juice – I went exploring the sights

celebrity gossip celebrity gossip

Got some beach time in

celebrity gossip

Went to see Boy George talk about – none other than – Mark Jones’ Wall of Sound. The panel, which also featured Mark & Claire from Manumission and Danny Donnelly, was basically everyone just talking about how mental Mark was, which was fun. And then they gave him a cake. And then he ran round trying to smash it people’s faces.

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And then it was time to go on a yacht for a private dinner held by the W Hotel. As you do. This was stunning. We were all picked to attend as “individuals that have opinions about music and know what’s going on. We want to just have good conversation” Well thanks, I’ll come for a fish supper anytime Mr W! celebrity gossip celebrity gossip celebrity gossip celebrity gossip

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Our egos docked in Ibiza Town and we headed up to the D’Alt Vila to catch the Frankie Knuckles tribute that Pete Tong was heading up. It was all going off, luckily we got to go backstage where the toilet queue wasn’t a MILLION people long. And – I GOT ON STAGE WITH ANNIE MAC!! Seeing the crowd from behind the decks was absolutely ACE!

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Annie Mac from the Bac(k)

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The Return of the Pitt

Ding dong!

The Pitt is back! Just when I thought it had been a relatively meh sort of week – in walks Brad. Mr Pitt joined me – oh sorry I mean Angelina- at London’s Kensington Palace for a posh do to look at the costumes used in ol Jolene’s new scary Disney flick Maleficent. They haven’t finished making the film – the back story to Sleeping Beauty’s wicked queen – yet so I’m not too sure what this was for – maybe they had to grab Brangelina while they were in the right continent. I hate that word. It reminds me of All Bran or Orangina, both make me gag.
Brad turned up to sign autographs and pose for photos with the usual clot of fans, but also a few of us writers too. Sadly I didn’t have a moment to prepare and therefore end up looking like a gawky stalker rather than someone who he should consider hounding this instant. Brad Pitt hounding you, can you imagine?

Bransludge has got a ring to it…

The PItts

Just the Pitts

Other pics from Maleficent event:

Prior to the Pitt pic, I’ve spent my week in the company of a variety of different men this week. But before you call me Showbiz Slagpitt, it’s all been for work o’ course. Monday was Kiefer Sutherland at the preview screening of the new series of 24 which has a fancy new title 24: Live Another Day. Tres Bond-like. And Jack Bauer has the SAME INITIALS – mental. I was hoping Kiefer would be all offbeat and edgy and maybe do something crazy like when he attacked a giant Christmas tree (if you haven’t seen that then click HERE) but instead he was well mannered and even started to get a bit weepy when he talked about the last day of filming 24 after eight years. “We were a family and I went to say goodbye to the camera operator. His name was Guy and he did some of the most beautiful hand–held work I’ve ever seen in my life. I went to shake his hand and say ‘It’s been an honour’ and I’m not a real crier but my lip went and I had to look away and so did he.”

Oh, actors.


Keifer smelling the fart.

The  next hottie on my list was er, Alan Bennett. On Tuesday Alan was speaking at the National Theatre about his long career as a playwright and probably the most famous Northerner in Luvvieland. Alan turns 80 today, so three cheers to him. He told us he predicted his dad’s death by writing a similar scenario in his 1975 TV play Sunset Across the Bay. Ever the cheery sort.

I also went to the launch of a documentary for classic 70s sitcom Porridge which was good fun – they transformed the London Bridge vaults into the show’s HMP Slade Prison. I was greeted by a policeman who boomed “Come this way, we’ve been looking for you!” and stood around eating sausages with former cast members including Christopher Biggins (he was once a proper actor, you know) and co-creator Dick Clement. I also took full use of the special photobooth they had inside the “cells” and tried to do my best Lindsay Lohan:

Lohan-ing it up

Lohan-ing it up

This happened

This happened

And this happened

And this happened

HMP Slade prison van

HMP Slade prison van

Inside the "prison"

Inside the “prison”

Then I went to the Sir Peter Blake mural unveiling at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Peter has created a massive triptych of all the people that have performed at the RAH that makes his Sgt Pepper Album look like a postage stamp! Here’s Peter, Roger Daltrey, Bill ‘tiny hands’ Wyman and Brian May stood together. A new supergroup? Superhands! Golden moment – I walked past the rock trio nattering and caught the end of Bill and Roger talking about shrinking! Rock and roll is dead. “Oh we’re all shrinking these days!” Brilliant.

Roger Daltrey, Sir Peter Blake, Bill "Tiny Hands" Wyman and Brian May

Roger Daltrey, Sir Peter Blake, Bill “Tiny Hands” Wyman and Brian May

And lastly, this guy.

Elton John, the Rocket Ham

Elton John, the Rocket Ham

I went to a luxurious party at Battersea Power Station where the Rocket Ham got out his piggy hands and twinkled on the ol Joanna, playing to property tycoons to thank them for coming. “I’d buy a big house where we both could live” Elton’s chime rang through the power station and clattered through the platinum credit cards in the pockets of the rich. I thanked them too, for keeping London an incredulously expensive place to live and for stepping on my foot in the bar queue. Humph.


In other news: I went to a CAT CAFE! Yes – this exists in my neighbourhood. You pay a fiver to go and have tea with cats. Sometimes the cats go and sit up high on a shelf, sometimes they come over and sniff your laptop, sometimes they ignore you completely and go to sleep. Standard cat behaviour if you ask me but for someone who lives with an allergic-er it was HEAVEN*.
They’re booked up until June, but go check it out: http://ladydinahs.com/

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium - a room with cats in it

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium – a room with cats in it

puss puss

puss puss

*Ok it was a little itchy and after an hour I felt like I’d swallowed a fur ball but still I WANT ONE.


See you next time!


SS xx


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Beggars Beyond Belief: Meeting Dame Gillian Lynne.

Due to the incredibly ridiculous nature of my job as a celebrity gossip-er, I often find myself attending the ludicrous and speaking to the bonkers.

This week was no different to that, in fact I really think I’ve out-randomed myself. And this comes from someone who owns Pauline Fowler’s Blankety Blank badge, a bottle of Dan Akroyd’s vodka, once interviewed Status Quo in a Wetherspoons and Hi-de-hi’s Paul Shane in a back room of Barnsley Leisure Centre while he sat in a garden chair next to an enormous sack of crisps.

The top ten most random celebrity moments I’ve found myself in the middle of is a pretty tight contest. But on Wednesday night there was a new contender in town.

“Dear Lisa,

Hope you are well.

Dame Gillian Lynne would like to invite you to the Garrick Club on Wednesday 9th April, from 5.30 – 7pm where she will be making a special announcement, sharing the secrets behind her remarkable vitality and longevity.

This special event will be attended by some close friends in the industry including amongst others; Arlene Phillips, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Dame Monica Mason, Tamara Rojo, Michael Ball and Elaine Paige.

As most of you will know, Gillian has had a remarkable career spanning seven decades, beginning as a much acclaimed ballerina in the 40’s, going on to direct/choreograph over 50 West End and Broadway musicals, 11 feature films, award winning television drama and numerous television specials. She is best known for her collaborations with Andrew
Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh, and her ground breaking work on Cats and The Phantom of The Opera.

Dame Gillian continues to be as busy as ever in her 88th year, with a new ballet premiering this autumn and several other projects spanning through 2015.

Please do join us for this unique event.”

Ooh – I thought – WHAT COULD SHE BE LAUNCHING???????????? No, actually, I thought ‘Mmm they sound like good people to go and speak to and it fits in with the other job I’ve got later so might as well pop along and see what the Garrick Club is like as they still won’t let women be members so be nice to go and swipe my boobs on the doors or spray perfume in the toilets.’

So I go along and am led up to this tiny room stuffed with oldies and poshies and stare-y women, with about thirty massive paintings of earls and lords (the olden day LADS). I search among the grey crowd and see Arlene Phillips and a gaggle of skinny old ladies in baggy jumpers with scrunchies in their hair. But which one is Dame Gillian? There are quite a few that could be her so in the absence of recognising any PRs I just go for the old ‘mooch and eavesdrop’ – a honed technique diarists use where you lip read or pootle over to the loudest chatters and see if they are with who you’re looking for. CLUE: If someone immediately stares back at you, or eats Japanese cracker from the canape bowls, it’s NOT A CELEBRITY.

Finally the announcement comes, so I rest easy. A sprightly Dame Gillian, who looks a lot like a softer (nicer) version of Dame Maggie Smith, shushes everyone and her husband Peter Land, a sort of sexageneraian Richard E Grant, introduces LONGEVITY THROUGH EXERCISE: THE DVD. Slamming my champagne glass down I grabbled for my iPhone to capture what was about to come on a TV screen fixed behind the pair of them.

What the frig?

What the frig?

Here is Dame Gillian lunging

Here is Dame Gillian lunging

A fitness DVD, by an 88-year-old, in a members club that doesn’t allow women.

Yes – this is top ten material.

Dame Gillian is stood on a pathway stretching and limbering and showing off her incredible agility while telling us to “put your buttocks right up in the air, that’s it, riiiight up”. Well it’s alright for her, she’s been doing this for SEVEN decades. After five more minutes of eye-watering viewing, husband Peter, a classical actor don’t you know, then asked everyone to toast to his wife’s longevity, which was lovely, yet creepy. It felt a bit like we were all supposed to raise a glass to someone who should not be here still but is because they can still do the splits, which is creepy, right? Dame Gillian herself was pretty awesome. She’s got pins in her feet and two metal hips but she told me afterwards that “the word retirement should be removed from the dictionary.”

What a woman.

What a head fuck.


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