Friday, 14 November 2014

SUSAN BOYLE PUT ME BEHIND BARS ...

Now it can be told. I confess, I had parked it on the top shelf of my mind, along with countless other embarrassing and demeaning mishappenings, those wince-inducing memories that remind us who we are. Hey,we were all young once. I think I got away with it.
But then I bumped into him: the nicest man in the music business. Yes, there are Great Pretenders. A myriad cool contenders who have my vote. I'd be skewered for not mentioning Jonathan Morrish,Simon Napier-BellDavid StarkDavid MindelDavid SymondsCharles ArmitageKeith AlthamMike Charidemou and Judd Lander - he who lent his lips to Boy George on 'Karma Chameleon', the superlative harp solo of recent times. Judd it was who hosted last night's most hedonistic showcase of the year, at Camden's Cob Studio & Gallery, where we feasted our minces on painted horses, and tickled our tongues with garlic quails' eggs and white chocolate tits. Perfectly pint-sized singer-songwriter Laura Jeanne, quintessentially both English and a rose, was the featured artist. She is beautiful and fragrant in every way.
Long time no see, Andy Stephens.God, but he's nice. As is his Mrs, Hilary. I used to see a lot of him when he was managing George Michael. Then not a glimpse for yonks. After that, it was Geri Halliwell for five minutes. By the time I ran into him at Utopia Village, he had become the personal manager of Susan Boyle.
Not long after, in December 2009, Spandau Ballet invited me to a launch party at the Groucho Club for the DVD of their friends-again comeback tour. I had just been commissioned, that day, to write a  spread on the 'Hairy Angel'. Quelle gift. Andy, over here, mate, long time no butcher's, have another Laurent Perrier, single or a double, tell me everything. Rarely does it fall in your lap. Yesss. I remained stone-cold - this is relevant - jigged with John Keeble, and made a run for it back to my car, intent on hitting my desk as soon as possible to record all that Andy had imparted about SuBo.
Back home, I did something I rarely do. A single parent of three, I almost never drink alone at home. Slippery slope. Libation can only liberate among close friends. Toute seule, it is almost degrading. Not for you, perhaps. That night, however, I was on a high, a roll, a mission. I'd had a great night, had caught up with loved ones, and was in a buoyant mood. I know, I'll celebrate. I poured myself a goblet of Merlot, gulped it back, glugged in more, kicked off my Choos - also relevant - and legged it upstairs to my desk.
The Susan Boyle CD had landed on the mat only a day or so earlier. Where is it? I know, it's in the car. I'll go and get it: a bit of background Boyle while I'm sketching the piece won't do harm, and should get me in the groove. Down the stairs and out into the freezing December night air I go. The car is right in front of the garden gate, I'll get away without shoes if I hop. No coat, either, come on. I was a Queen's Guide.
I'm in my car. No ignition key, but a fangled key-card that must be inserted into the slot to activate lights, sound, vision, everything else. In it goes. Glove compartment, CD, action. The digital clock catches my eye: it is almost 2am. Oh. I can hardly go blasting the abode with Boylie at this hour. It's a school night, the kids'll go nuts. I know: I'll sit here and listen to it for a couple of tracks. In the car.
As rude awakenings go, it was award-winning - courtesy of the strong arm of the law. Literally. Two burlies dressed as police officers had me up against my own railings, reminding me that I did not have to say anything, but that anything I did say may be taken down. Do fill in the gaps. I was breathalysed, despite my protests that I'd not driven anywhere under the influence. Tell that to the Beak. But look, I protested, I have no shoes on. So what, sneered Plod. You won't find them in the car, I reasoned: they're in my house, right there. There, on the stair. But you've been out for the evening? Yes, I have. I came home, sat down to work. What, at this time of night? Yes, it's common. Writers are weird. We are. It's why we do it. Anyway, then I was looking for a CD, I came out here to get it, stuck it on to listen to it, must have fallen asleep. Your headlights are on. I suppose they are, yes: the keycard does that, automatically. You're under arrest. I haven't even got a bag or a coat on me. Please, think about it: how the hell would I have driven home from an event without shoes, bag or coat? Get in the van. Can I just go inside and tell my kids? Mind your head.
I spent the night in a cell, at Peckham nick. How low does it go. I was there until well after 4pm the next day, when my eldest daughter and a friend came to rescue me. All that day, my family had no idea where I was. Even my former husband spent several hours calling hospitals. If you know me well enough to know the facts of the breakdown of my marriage, you will understand how traumatised my children were. My office lights and my computer were on. My coat and bag were on the banister, my shoes at the bottom of the stairs. So far, so Marie-Celeste.
Come the February hearing, SuBo's Angels were on my side. A female magistrate, for a start - I don't want to be sexist, but you get it. She got it. As she explained, she had no choice but to find me guilty of being 'drunk in charge of a vehicle', because I was. She had to do her job by the book. The fact that I had consumed alcohol in the privacy of my own home, then gone outside and sat in the car, could not be accepted as mitigating. According to the law, I should have lost my licence. I didn't. The Mag was merciful. I received ten points. A further mishap over the coming three years, and I would have been banned.
I saw Tony Hadley a few months later, in 2010 - I was interviewing him for my show 'Me & Mrs Jones' on Vintage TV. 'A funny thing happened to me on my way home from your party at Christmas,' I told him. 
'F- me,' he exclaimed, 'you couldn't make it up.'
Andy and Hilary, this one is so going in the book. 


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