Monday, 13 February 2017

Chapter 6

Chapter 6

It was superb to be back in my own bed and in my own house with my own treasured possessions.  To be able to do just the simplest of things like have my morning dose of caffeine and nicotine at the same time without walking for miles to a designated smoking section was brilliant.  We were allowed to smoke indoors in India which was kinda weird as I’d gotten used to smoking outside due to the recent law change in England.  It seemed somewhat awkward smoking inside and it became a battle of the conscious.  It can be compared to sitting in a cafe in Amsterdam having a ‘spliff’ while a police officer walks past.  It’s normally very naughty however it is within the law.
     Back in the UK there are no wandering ‘sacred’ monkeys or ‘sacred’ cows.  Just before we left India when we boarded the bus that would take us to the airport we heard a gigantic ‘pop’.  Vonny thought it was a gun but it wasn’t.  A monkey had jumped onto some live wires and blew itself up.  Nobody wanted to pull it down because it was hanging from live wires so it was still hanging there when we left.
     In January we found ourselves on the first class carriage of a Virgin train heading to Liverpool for the ‘City of Culture’ event.  We stayed at the Radisson.  The centre of the hotel looked like a beehive or perhaps a space ship with rooms round the edge of a hollow centre so that every floor could see the lobby.  Vonny loved it as it was quite surreal.
     Vonny opted to stay in the Radisson while I went to the ‘VIP’ drinking session before the opening of the ‘Liverpool City of Culture’ show opened.  I say drinking session – it was for me but for others – purely a networking thing.  At first it seemed everyone was quite snobbish and subdued.  I had a couple of glasses of rose wine and chatted to a few people.  It seemed I had forgotten who the fifth Beatle was.  The question came up in a couple of conversations with different people.  One person laughed while others seemed to forget also as they tried really hard to remember who the fifth Beatle was – it turns out – there is no fifth Beatle - which I found hilarious because I’m not even from Liverpool but they were.  The show started with Ringo Starr on drums and Dave Stewart on guitar.  Ringo Starr sang his ‘Liverpool I love you’ song while others around me hissed at him as he’d recently said on a television interview that he doesn’t even like Liverpool and would never go back.  I guess the ‘Liverpudlians’ found that rather hypocritical.  The most impressive band to play was The Wombats.  They were great, certainly had me jigging about and getting into the party mood.  After they finished playing they had a ‘parade’ of all the famous people that came from Liverpool to wave at the crowd of people.
     I was a bit bored at this shindig.  There were a couple of entertaining moments but it seemed everyone there was concentrating on whose arse they could lick.  It was more a corporate function.  I was getting ‘one for the road’ when I saw one of the Atomic Kitten’s (Liz McClannon) and her ‘guest’ behind me in the queue.  I said “hi” and had meaningless chit chat.  One of the questions I remember asking was “Do you get annoyed if people don’t recognise you.”  They laughed and said it was refreshing.
     I felt pretty sober when I got in the cab, things seemed pretty normal... that was until... the motocross cab driver.  He thought he was at Silverstone not the streets of Liverpool and his cab ‘cornered like it’s on rails’.  My face was pressed up against the window then sliding over to the other side and then sliding back to the other side.   It was nothing short of a roller coaster ride and my stomach was swishing and swaying and swirling away and then – it happened - I couldn’t contain it no more.  I told the cabby that I was going to be sick and I got as far as opening the door and was unfortunately sick on the outside step of the cab.  Pretty much straight away the cabby said that he wanted £30 for that.  At that point I wasn’t sure whether he was driving erratically in order to make me sick or whether that was just the normal way they drove.  Either way I was sick.  I said to him that I’d have to go get my switch to get some money out for him so I went inside the Radisson.  There was a tall, dark haired man by the desk.  He saw me and I heard him say “Look at her, she’s sick.” 
     I just wanted to crawl into a very small hole as the guy was nice and OMG! The bloody state of me!  The tall, dark haired unnamed stranger went out to the cab and paid the cabby for me and he was never to be seen again.  That has to be one of the most embarrassing moments in my whole entire life.  Others embarrassing moments include; my skirt falling off in front of everyone when I was playing hockey, teaching the girls how to pole dance on the train after the Girls Aloud concert at Wembley and unfortunately having a bout of travel sickness on the train which landed on some guys backpack as he was getting off the train... brought about by Rose Wine.  Drinking rose wine is probably not the best choice of drink for me, perhaps no wine at all.
     I got in the lift and headed for the room with my eyes not really leaving the floor, feeling very shamed but very rescued.  I got to the room and tried aiming for the bed but unfortunately I found the comfort of the floor more appealing as that’s where I ended up.  Vonny started panicking a little bit as she’d never seen me in such a state where I loved the floor so much.  I starting muttering about the guy in the lobby, the arsehole cabby and I asked Vonny who the fifth Beatle was.  Then I had a case of the giggles followed by snoring the night away.
     Vonny woke me up the next day and she was pretty cool, not stroppy at all which was a major relief.  We went and got breakfast and as we headed back to the room one of the guys from ‘Only Fools and Horses’ was in the elevator.  It was pleasant chit chat not drunken rubbish. I got my nicotine and headed outside for a ciggy.  While I was out there a couple of people came out and seemed quite friendly.   I had another conversation with a guy from Dublin about how floors are actually really comfortable and – we’re not really aiming for the bed to begin with.  Then Sven walked past with his very young school-boyish squad Manchester City.  The ‘squad’ looked so young, or... I’m getting on a bit.
     A lady at the bar ended up in fits of giggles when she was asked to put her room number/name on the bar tab because I’d said to her “Sign it Mickey Mouse.”  The ‘knight in shining armour’ that rescued my sorry ass had gone.  But then, if I did see him I would just want to hide because it was rather embarrassing.
     We spent the day in Liverpool before we had a ‘celebration dinner’ at a church.  It was really strange to be seated in a church eating.  The food was rather... pallet specific is a nice way of wording it.  We both had a look around the little exhibition they had which included the actual Anne Frank diary.  Later than evening we headed off to the arena to watch the ‘Liverpool Show’.  The show started off funny as the ‘L’ fell off the end of ‘Liverpool’ and we both thought we were in for some giggles.  However it just went on about the Titanic and some very very old old old history which became mind numbingly boring so we left.  Unfortunately with the place being new none of the security knew how to leave the building so we ended up walking completely around the whole arena in the rain.  We weren’t impressed.
     I got Vonny back to the hotel and himmed and haa’d about going to the ‘party’ at the docks.  I went however it was only for a short time.  I liked it ... but.  The good things; the ice sculpture that had vodka running out of its mouth and two groupie girlies that were giggling squealing “he’s really fit” when they got ‘star struck’.
     I was standing outside and a couple of guys came and stood next to me.  I didn’t have a clue who they were but two giggling girls came running up said to one of them “You’re so fit, you’re so fit! Can we take a picture?”  They asked me to take a picture for them.  Once the giggling girlies had gone I asked the guy standing next to me “What do you do?”  He then asked a question in return “Where are you from?”  The conversation turned into something cryptic where I had to solve a puzzle.  I said I’m originally from New Zealand and he said “Oh you get it over there”, “Get what?” I asked.  I was thinking ‘oh for fuck sake – surely it’s not that difficult to just say’.  “Yeah you get it” he said.  “Get what?” I asked.  He then said “Coronation Street.”  “Ohh”, I said while my face had the expression of an imaginary light bulb, “I don’t watch that.”  He laughed sarcastically as he started to walk off.  His mate was alright, less egotistical.  Obviously he was offended as I didn’t know who he was and asked him. ‘Grimbsy’ or something character - I googled.  Ryan Thomas was his name.  That was the end of the night for me.  We were to head back to Hemel Hempstead the next day.  It was a rather strange weekend to say the least.
     Next up was another fashion show.  I got tickets for the Deryk Walker catwalk show during On/Off as part of London Fashion Week.  I was rather excited as I expected it to be fabulous having gone to the Fashion Fringe and had a taster as to what catwalk shows are all about.  We found the venue, met up with a couple of others that were attending the show and then we were shown around.  We were taken into a ‘holding area’ where anyone could get a hand massage and have one; yes – just one, glass of champagne.  Just before the show was about to start we were led to the seating area.  Vonny was placed at the back.  She had just enough room to see and within a short space of time the show began.  The models came out and it was then that I realised that this catwalk is by no way a standard that should ever be repeated.  The models couldn’t walk properly.  They were stick thin and the girls’ shoulder blades were protruding from their undernourished bodies.  The male models were just as bad.  The female models were attempting to strut down the catwalk but had great difficulty in walking as the pencil skirts that they had on had no split at the back, front or side - making it rather a tricky affair to walk. 
     The calibre of these models was horrendous and in comparison to the models at Fashion Fringe - it was ‘skinny write-up worthy’.  These are the kind of models that are repelled by parents and health watchdogs and to see it right before my eyes was rather sickening.  The lingering odour of shit and vomit from the ladies bathroom was attempting to make itself fashionable on the catwalk by some ‘fabulous’ designer who they proclaimed as being ‘one of the best designers from the UK in a long time’.  Fool me – I thought it was a bit dire.  I was disappointed and told the rep so.  I think she got a bit annoyed as not many people are ‘honest’ at these events; it’s all about arse-kissing and networking.  I was honest - others weren’t.  My point was proven as the other guests told me that they too were disappointed - after the rep had left.  We wondered if there was some kind of ‘bizarre twist’ naming the collection and show as ‘A wolf in sheep’s clothing’ but there was none.  Glad to leave that one and relieved that I could now stop lecturing Vonny about her weight as she was ‘grossed out’.
     Shortly after that the opportunity to go have a meal with a new band came up – so obviously I went.  They were called ‘Teatro’.  They were being billed as ‘Theatreland’s First Supergroup’ as well as a ‘Theatre/pop-group’. 
     Sony BMG rang me and asked if I knew who they were.  She went on to say that they had invited other guests but only to find that a rather elderly lady showed up whom didn’t have a clue who they were, in fact; thought that the band were guests.  I felt quite sorry for them - that has got to be the absolute pits.  I first saw them in action while they were singing on BBC’s ‘One Show’.  It was just before Christmas and Shivon was at her dad’s, there wasn’t a lot to do apart from get hammered.  I cracked open a bottle of champagne that I’d been saving and drank it whilst singing ‘Walking in a winter wonderland’.  I had that tune permanently stuck in my head for ages and unfortunately I was getting rather irritated by it when I met them. 
     ‘Teatro’ consists of four guys; Simon Bailey (lead man in ‘Les Miserables’), Stephen Rahman-Huges (‘Bombay Dreams’), Jeremiah James (New Yorker) and Andrew Alexander who was a recent Royal Academy of Music graduate.  They’d not long met the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance and were busy doing their publicity stints with interviews on television etc.  Their self entitled debut album was a mix of theatrical songs.  I was to meet them in a restaurant in Covent Garden.  Tracy (who I’d invited) couldn’t make it as she was rather ill so I trotted off on my own.  It was quite a tricky restaurant to find and I arrived there a few minutes late.  I was quite nervous when I walked in and introduced myself and vice versa.  The evening began with “Hi! Sorry I’m late”, then I proceeded to give everyone a kiss whilst working my way round the table.  I might’ve given the impression that I was oozing with confidence however it was the complete opposite.  I desperately needed a drink to calm my nerves as the shakes were starting to kick in.  It’s not every day that I get to go out to dinner with four guys who also happen to be ‘famous strangers’.
     I was rather hesitant about meeting them as I was thinking that perhaps they might’ve been ‘stuffy’.  They might perhaps share the same egotistical tendencies as the ‘Coronation Street’ guy had so charmingly displayed in Liverpool - or maybe the same narcissistic tendencies as Hannah Spearitt’s dropkick boyfriend had.  I was pleasantly surprised.
      Not long after that I had a phone call from a man representing ‘OK!’ Magazine.  I’d been picked to be part of a ‘reader’s panel’ for the new Diva TV Channel and would be featured in the magazine.  He gave me a brief interview over the phone and fired some questions at me.  I answered them with the first thing that came in to my mind; probably not a good thing as one needs to think before one speaks to the media.  The next day a photographer stopped by and he brought his brief of what he needed to do. He took a few pictures of me in the house attempting to pose.  Given that I hadn’t had any ‘posing training’ before I found it quite strange.  We later ventured out to the car park and I posed in my car and then later to the canal where I posed some more.  He was the second person that had said that I looked similar to Catherine Zeta-Jones.  I can’t pick it myself.  He went on to say that he has photographed her.
     It was about a week later that I was in Sainsbury’s having a flick through the latest issue of OK! magazine to see if I was in it - and there I was.  I started shaking and giggling at the same time thinking ‘ooh look - there’s me’ - closed it and found my composure once again then flicked it open again ‘ooh look - there’s me again!’  People must’ve thought it quite strange as I was standing in the aisle while giggling and making excitable faces at a magazine.  I hurried off to the checkout, bought it and scurried home to have a good nosey.  On March the 4th (Issue 612) Jordan and Harvey were on the front cover.  Flicking through and there was me on page 85. There were three other ladies on the panel; Sarah Hendypartridge (a 30 year old married mother to two young children who lives in Bristol), Karen Peaurt (a 39 year old lady with two teenagers who lives with her partner in North Yorkshire) and Sarah Foran (a 31 year old lady with two toddlers and lives with her partner in Manchester).
     My picture was quite amusing and I became critical about how I looked in a glossy magazine.  The first picture looked as if I was in the process of having some kind of debate.  The questions were:
     “Who do you think is the most stylish female celeb around today, and why?” and the response was: “Victoria Beckham – it’s her job to look good. Stars like Kate Moss look too grungy. Victoria has taste. She’s a real lady with a bit of class and she’s obviously passionate about clothes. I like her jeans and her skinniness doesn’t bother me – even though I’ve got hips. Of course even Victoria has off days like wearing that green Ninja Turtle style dress!”
      “Do you think being judged on how you look is fair?”  “Yes. People ought to have pride in their appearance. I also don’t think people should be embarrassed about having cosmetic surgery when age starts to take its toll. I’ve recently had electrolysis on my upper lip.”
     “What was your worst fashion faux pas?”  “I went to a party which Girls Aloud also attended. I wore a pencil skirt and a purple top and my hair was a mess.”

     I read it and giggled.  I’m sure that I didn’t say that Victoria Beckham had taste, she’s a real lady with a bit of class and she’s obviously passionate about clothes.  The comment about her jeans and her skinniness not bothering me was tweaked.  What I did say was that I don’t fit into her jeans range as I have hips.  The comment about the Ninja Turtle dress was true as it was rather luminous and I did say that ‘normally’ she gets it right and looks great.  As far as the Kate Moss and Sienna Miller wannabes of the world; yes they all look grungy for my liking.
     The other ladies had varied comments.  Sarah had said that she thinks Sienna Miller is the most stylish, that you should be judged on how you look ‘up to a point’ and her fashion faux pas was wearing men’s jeans.  Karen went for Coleen McLoughlin as having a great fashion sense and ‘girl next door’ look while suggesting that you should only judge a person if they are ‘scruffy’; not if they are overweight or thin.  Her fashion no-no was wearing a green polka dot ra-ra skirt to a party.  The last lady, Sarah, opted for Kylie Minogue as being stylish.  She’d said that it’s not fair when she is judged due to the fact that she is overweight and the embarrassing attire was the lilac with green side striped shellsuit along with matching trainers.
    A week later the next issue came out so I wandered down to Sainsbury’s to get it.  Same thing again; flick flick flick... ‘oooh look! - there’s me!!’   Victoria and David Beckham were on the front cover this time along with Nicole Richie and her newborn as well as Wayne Rooney, Coleen and Jordan.  I found myself on page 116.  It was the photo of me trying to pose in my car.  I had my sunnies on and my hands looked really weird as I was holding onto the steering wheel.  In comparison to the other ladies - I looked ‘cool’.  The questions were:
     “What’s your philosophy when it comes to children’s diets and the threat of obesity?”
“It goes from one extremity to the other with girls.  One moment they want to pig out the next they want to go on a diet.  So it’s about having things in moderation and making them more attractive.  If they want to have chips let them – but make them homemade.  The same with pizza – it can be done much healthier at home.”
      “With worries about the internet and street crime, what do you think is the biggest threat to children today?”  “It’s quite scary to see what children have been talking about online and I’ve banned chat sites.  It’s easy for an adult to chat to them anonymously and banning this kind of site can have added benefits – my child now reads more.”
     “Which celebrity do you most admire for raising their children?”  “Hats off to Angelina Jolie for adopting.  She was doing it long before Madonna and seems determined that they should know all about where they came from.”

     It didn’t make any sense when I read it.  I instantly thought that the editor in charge had been on a coffee break.  ‘Having things in moderation and making them more attractive’; didn’t make any sense at all.  What I’d said was that it goes from one extreme to the other.  They either eat too much or they try not to eat; there’s never any ‘in-between’.  Perhaps I didn’t explain myself clearly as I was describing two sets of groups.  Of course it’s all about having what you’d like - in moderation, but as far as ‘making them more attractive’; that was just weird.
     There are obvious things that I could’ve said pertaining to the biggest threat to children today and that would’ve been parents not giving a shit of what their child is up to either at school or after school.
     Sarah stated that exercise along with five-a-day was essential.  She blamed bad discipline from parents as the biggest threat to kids and she admired Princess Diana for raising her kids.  Karen has a ‘if you don’t eat it you go without’ approach to children’s diets; she worries about suicide cults and cyber-bullying and admires Bob Geldof as a celebrity parent.  Lastly; Sarah would like to see more regulation to be brought in regarding children’s food and is a Jamie Oliver fan, she thinks that the government needs to put in more resources into the internet to help prevent the children from looking at ‘bad stuff’ and she admires Katie Price and stated “She’s a strong mum who copes very well given the fact that one of her children has a disability.”
     Roll on week 3… I picked up the issue of ‘OK!’ Magazine.  I was quite nervous about opening it, wondering if it was going to make sense or not.  I wondered if any other celebrities buy glossy magazines just to see themselves featured in it.  Do they inspect how they look and what they’d said and compare it to what had been printed.  Cheryl, Nicola and Kimberley from Girls Aloud were on the front cover this time along with Victoria Beckham and her son, and once again; Jordan: AKA; Katie Price.
     I opened it, had a flick and there I was opposite the horoscope page.  My photo was ‘okay’ this time.  I was sat in my car and was grinning like a Cheshire cat.  I let out a little sigh as I began to read it.  I was dreading that it wouldn’t make any sense.  The questions were:
     “What is your biggest ambition when it comes to keeping fit?”  “To look good for my own self esteem and also to set an example to my own daughter.  I think it’s important to be in proportion as a mum.  Having a little bit of meat on you is a good thing unlike some of these skinny models you see around with protruding shoulders.”
     “What do you think of alternative medicine?”  “I’m not keen on Chinese herbal medicine but I think things like aromatherapy can work in conjunction with ordinary medicine.  Scents can be quite powerful.  I also get down when it’s grey so I take zinc pills during the winter to give my system a boost.”
     “What would you most like to change about your body?”  “My bum. I’ve got a double bum no matter how many press ups or other exercises I do.”

     I thought ‘not again’.  I remembered the first question quite well as he’d asked me what I thought of the size zero phenomena.  I’d answered the question using the Deryk Walker show as an example.  We witnessed models that were absolutely grotesquely skinny and did in fact have protruding shoulder blades, shoulder blades; not protruding shoulders.  How can my bum to press ups?  I’d mentioned that when I met Sarah Harding it was around about the same time that she was getting grief for being ‘too skinny’ and looking like ‘Spock’ off ‘Star Trek’ because of her haircut.  I thought she looked in proportion and my response was accordingly so.  It’s important to be in proportion, rather than “important to be in proportion as a mum.”  I’d said that being a mum it’s my obligation to set an example.  The ‘having a bit of meat on you’ got a little graphic as I’d told him what a male friend had told me regarding wafer thin ladies.  My male friend had said that “it was like shagging a plank, feels like you’re banging a plank of wood” - obviously that couldn’t be printed.
     The ‘interview’ also covered the subject of my bottom.  I have a ‘double bum’ because; I’m greedy.  I did actually say squats - not press ups.  Everyone knows that press ups build strength on the upper half of the body - not the rear end.  Yeesh!
     The other ladies commented on the same questions.  Sarah had said that she needs to lose weight and researches mainstream medicine and that she would like to have laser surgery on her eyes but is too scared.  Karen had said that she was on a mission to keep fit as she has kidney disease and thinks alternative medicine is rubbish, also that she’d like to change her stomach as its ‘flabby’ after having the children.  Sarah said that she drinks a bottle of water a day and detoxes on a regular basis.  She gave a diplomatic response regarding alternative medicine and said that she’d like to change her nose but doesn’t think that she’ll have plastic surgery.
     The fourth week came round and Issue 615 was on the shelf.  ‘Lucky last’ I thought.  I picked it up and couldn’t resist flicking.  Kerry Katona was on the front cover with headlines ‘Kerry breaks down’, and ‘I’m the most hated person in Britain’.  News to me - I thought Chanelle was, as well as Charlie, not forgetting Nicki as well.  They just seem to be scrapping an awful lot in order to get those ‘column inches’.  Then again, there’s always Jade that used to be the most hated person in Britain.  Being hated has it’s bonus’ - it’ll get you on the front cover at least.
     I opened it up and my first reaction was ‘ooooo, it’s a full frontal this time’, somewhat proud of the fact that I looked half descent and definitely thankful that I was the better looking of the bunch (being bias of course).  The questions were:
     “What would you do if a man cheated on you?”  “A partner once cheated on me and I left him. But it hasn’t put me off men.  In fact I think women are just as bad when it comes to having affairs.  In terms of whether people should leave someone who strays – I think it depends on them and the situation.  When it comes to one night stands I don’t think people pay enough attention to what diseases they might be catching.”
     “Do famous women do enough in today’s society?”  “A lot of women seem to be spending their time in rehab treating it like a spa holiday or like a visit to church.  I think a lot of them would do better to go travelling for a while and sorting themselves out.”
     “Which woman would you most like to have round for coffee?”  “Sarah Harding.  She’d bring champagne! Sarah parties hard but still stays level headed.”

     That was the last round of questions and the final feature in the magazine and I was somewhat pleased with my responses.  I asked if I could have a party rather than a coffee and I had to pick one only; seemed unfair.  A ‘responsible’ answer regarding sexual diseases and of course the last question that I got asked was what I thought about celeb’s going into rehab.
     All the other ladies; Sarah, Karen and the other Sarah; had all said that there was no excuse carrying on the relationship once a partner has strayed and would dump him immediately. Sarah also said that some women do enough in today’s society but couldn’t understand why Rebecca Loos was considered ‘famous’ as fame should be dependent on talent and she’d have Sharon Osbourne over for coffee.
     Karen didn’t think famous women do enough; especially ‘wags’ and would like to have Lauren Bacall over and lastly, Sarah gave another diplomatic answer regarding the question of whether famous women do enough in society.  Sarah also said that she’d like to have Dawn French over for coffee saying that “She’d keep you entertained and she’s the sort of person you could pour your heart out to as well.”  It gave me the impression that Sarah might be a little depressed.
     I was quite intrigued at how the glossy magazine made the questions and answers gel in a way that could portray you in a way that they see fit.  Sure they were my answers vaguely; however some of the answers were to different questions.  What they’d done is ask a question which I would answer accordingly then they’d take my answer and put another question to the answer that I had given then tweaked it a little.      In the first week that I was in OK! Magazine it had ‘Corr’ in brackets beside my name.  I didn’t know what that meant so I asked.  It turned out that ‘Corr’ is short for ‘correct spelling’ which the editors didn’t bother to take off.  I would’ve rather kept on thinking that the ‘Corr’ meant ‘she’s really hot’ type thing - but sadly it wasn’t.  So when other celebrities claim that ‘they didn’t say that’ - they probably did, it was just probably a response to a different question that they were asked at the time or taken out of context.
     Then one sunny afternoon I had a phone call from Capital Radio and apparently I had been shortlisted to win a date with Calum Best.  I was to do a short video which would be published on their website and the public would have to vote for the winner.  There were 10 girls; some who knew who Calum Best was and others who didn’t.  The winner would also go on a shopping spree at Topshop and have their hair and makeup done by the professionals – all of which would be filmed and again published on the website for all to see.
     The filming was done by the canal.  People were walking past and making comments - I couldn’t help but giggle and that was on the final cut... me – giggling. I watched the video and had yet another giggle.  I also had a look at whom I was competing with.  It was the following Wednesday when the top three were listed on the website and I wasn’t even on the board.  I thought to myself – do I really want to go and have dinner with Mr Best?  Could I afford to lose a good Christmas present for Vonny?  How bad do I want this?  I mean – really?  Then that all guiding little voice inside my head said ‘do it, you can win’.  So I employed some teenage staff with bribery and began spamming the internet scrounging for votes.  Fiona (in New Zealand) was busy clicking away and leaving comments on the board, it was a case of ‘may be the best woman win’.
     The voting finished on Sunday evening.  I had a look on the Monday morning but I wasn’t even on the board so I presumed that I had lost.  Just before I was about to go down to Sainsbury’s and get the shopping I had a phone call from Sam at Capital radio telling me that I had won and I was to be at Capital Radio headquarters in Leicester Square at 10am the following day.
     It wasn’t at all what I was expecting – well I don’t really know what I was expecting, perhaps a few hours to mooch around, nice and casually try on some new clothes.  It was the complete opposite – to me it felt like work experience.  The well rehearsed smile of Janet Jackson was to rear its head again as Sam had a permanent smile and of course – wrinkle free and white teeth.  The day of constant filming begun with me walking down the stairs of Capital Radio and then into the Peugeot car that was parked outside.  The stylist has picked out some clothes at Topshop.  I was asked what my dress and shoe size was the previous day (I said size 10/12, shoe size 6).  However to my despair I seemed to be having a ‘fat day’ as nothing fit and was all pretty much ‘hideous’ as Vonny would put it.  Apparently the stylist had dressed Jordan and Kate Moss previously.
     I was told that I had about ten minutes to find an outfit for the ‘date’ so like a ferret I began scanning the floor for something to wear.  I ended up getting a rouched black dress that made me look a bit on the tarty side.  It had a sequinned shoulder strap that didn’t quite sit where it was supposed to be sitting and it would’ve irritated me.  I knew that I’d be sitting there twitching and not being very comfortable at all.  As I tried another dress on one of the girls said to me “Smile, this is happy, happy, happy, happy.”  I just thought to myself – ‘just completely fuck off’.  I’m sure that she’d be stressed if she couldn’t find anything to wear in the space of ten minutes.  As she wandered off to go get whatever I asked the camera-man how I was doing for time and he said that I had about twenty minutes – not ten as previously told.  By this time it was reaching about 1pm–ish and I was in great need of some form of alcohol.
     We did some more filming and then after that had lunch somewhere in Chelsea.  I sat down at the table feeling somewhat awkward, stressed and frustrated.  I decided to go and see if I could find an outfit with a time limit of about twenty minutes.  Off I trotted to find an outfit.  I found a dress, bought it and even had enough time for a cigarette – which I was most certainly proud of and left me with a great feeling of achievement.  It is true I should’ve taken my own outfit to wear however I was under the impression that I would’ve had a little time to shop – perhaps a couple of hours not ten or twenty minutes.  It’s always nice to get something new to wear out.
     After lunch it was time to get my hair and makeup done – all of which was filmed. The camera turned into a stalker - there is no other way to put it and before too long it was ‘date’ time (which was all filmed as well).  It began to rain softly.  We were outside Aldo Zilli’s Restaurant and I had to do a couple of takes getting out of the car and walking across the road.  I stood and waited outside the restaurant with the driver and I strongly requested a drink – tequila please!  My first drink was around 7pm-ish and it went down very very easily.  I probably could’ve done with another one actually but the camera man was on his way downstairs to catch ‘the entrance’.  So I followed him down the steep stairs in my stilettos and soon there was a voice saying “Hey you.”  It was Mr Calum climbing over the seat to give me a hug. 
     I wasn’t very ‘lady like’, I pretty much fell into the little booth type seat.  The camera man positioned the camera directly in front of me which made the whole experience rather strange.  I did feel like asking the camera if it wanted a drink; after all they say that the camera ‘is your friend’, ‘be one with the camera’ – probably not the best questions to ask as I did really feel like hitting the camera out of the proverbial park.
     Calum gave me some roses, all very nice but not so when I know that he didn’t actually go out of his way to get them.  The lady from Capital Radio made it quite obvious when I was getting my hair done.  I asked him “Did you get these yourself or did you get someone to get them for you”, he muttered something about having the thorns cut off and avoided eye contact.  I thought maybe I should I impress him with my drinking skills but then that’s probably not the best thing to do.  But then again – it’s a ‘fake’ date, a PR stunt, nothing more than a pay cheque for the people involved – so did it really matter?  
     I knew a little bit about him.  I knew that he was on ‘Love Island’ but Brendan (a dancer from New Zealand) was getting on my nerves so I switched over.   I’d watched a bit of an episode of his self titled documentary or sexless test programme ‘The best is yet to come’.  The episode that I watched was when his mate took him to the desert and did some ‘spiritual’ stuff as well as some sperm kicking exercises.  I asked him how long ago that was filmed and it turns out it was about two or three years ago. 
      He did ask about my past but all I said about it was “It was pretty hard core.”  He didn’t say much after that and carried on playing with his phone.  Apparently he was going to meet a friend and he was running late.  In Aldo Zilli’s restaurant the ‘VIP’s’ normally go downstairs.  The stairs are steep and with heels the main focus was getting to the bottom in one piece.  There was a fish tank with some fish in it and that’s about all.  He showed me his tattoos.  I wasn’t overly impressed with them however I did find myself being slightly fixated on the ‘Karma’ one he had on his arm.  He had a ring and it said ‘sex, drugs and rocknroll’.  He caught me out staring at it. 
     Nearing the end Calum asked me what my number was, he looked at me and said “Don’t make this difficult” - so I gave him my mobile number.  It was almost as if I’d done something wrong and I should be throwing my number at him, forever grateful that he’d asked for my number. 
     At the end of the ‘date’ I was standing outside the restaurant and getting leered at by guys walking past.  I said to Calum off the cuff that I get a lot of attention and he just muttered “Yeah I bet” with a smug grin and carried on texting.  After that we said our goodbyes, got our photo taken and then I was in the cab going home.  It was on Capital Radio’s podcast on itunes.
     When the picture of Calum and I appeared on the website – it was the strangest thing ever.  It was kinda weird being a ‘pop-up’ on Capital’s website but Calum looked like an ex-boyfriend - so much so that even Vonny said that he looked like the ex.
     Vonny was impressed that I had Calum’s number on my phone.  I tried to explain to her that it really doesn’t ‘mean’ anything as it was ‘just for the camera’ and in reality these people really don’t give a fuck but not only that – how many thousands of people does he have on his phone.  Most people have at least a couple of hundred whereas me – I have five.
     Calum was off, scurrying down the street with other things on his mind, people to see and places to be.  He has a completely different ‘walk off life’ to me and in all reality I’d be forgotten the next day.  Besides the fact that he’d had a death to deal with that was in the public eye and made some bad decisions at the time - I was still made to feel like I should be grateful - after all he’s more famous than me.  When the after-interview came you’re put into a position where you feel guilty for saying ‘it wasn’t the best day I’ve had’ for fear of pissing other people off which is also confusing because it was a competition.  I won it.  It was just a shame that it was more focused on the marketing & PR to really give a fuck about how I felt during the day.
     Calum had an alcoholic dad which is a little different to sudden death and a massacre etc.   It’s been written numerous times where the ‘survey says’, or ‘study shows’ that ‘people’ like myself either turn to crime, drugs or have other devious and destructive tendencies whereby what has been shown or demonstrated to ‘us’ during childhood etc is then passed on to our kids and so on and so forth.  It is commonly referred to as the ‘cycle of abuse’.  It takes an enormous amount of energy defending yourself in front of judges and scheming ex-husband’s as well as people who like to meddle and cause as much disruption to your life as possible in order to ‘prove’ the opposite.   You find yourself defending yourself because of what somebody else has done to you.  The victim is put into a position where he/she can’t do anything because he/she has been labelled as a bad parent and has had a rather violent past which all of a sudden makes the victim responsible for what other people have done.  What that does is brand the victim a criminal because of what someone else did.  It’s bizarre because what tends to happen more often than not is the victims get more abuse rather than support – or completely written off.  It was the ‘Calum thing’ that made things ‘click’ into place.  It was quite cruel.  It made me quite sick with the realisation that there would be so much more grief and disruption from Andy if I was in a relationship.  Fiona, I noticed, turned into my main ‘stalker’.
      It made me quite ill.  The IBS kicked in and I was in that much pain that I went down to the A&E – not that that helped any and they said that there was nothing that they could do so that was pretty much a waste of time altogether.
     I had a break from writing after that.  Briefly, in 2009 Tracy & I went to the Baftas.  It was Tracy’s first red carpet experience and she bolted.  I did say that it was quite freaky the first time you walk the ‘red carpet’, you just have the urge to race to the other end.  She insisted she wasn’t going to – but she did and I was left in her dust – in the middle of the red carpet... in front of the media quietly shouting “wait, wait up” – but no – she was gone, Tracy was the clear winner.
     Pendulum signed our Wakestock ticket and sent it back to us in the post which I thought that was pretty wicked and Groove Armada signed Vonny’s photo that she took at the festival.  Groove Armada signed it and returned it back by post. 
     We saw Sam Sparro & The Pretenders at Koko’s.  Went to the ‘Prince of Narnia’ Premiere at the O2 (apparently the biggest premiere ever) and I saw The Bangles and The Police at Hard Rock (although that might’ve been the year before).  Went to the Nuts Football awards at Cafe de Paris where Mark Bright told me off for smoking and Chanelle looked as if she was going to burst into tears – it was me that got that party started.  Met the Saturdays where Vonny had her picture taken with them and ended up in a teen magazine.  Took the girls to ‘17 Again’ premiere where the girls couldn’t believe that they were in the same room as Zac Effron.
     I also got a phone call from Marie Claire magazine telling me that I had been chosen to be one of the faces for the Clairol Perfect 10 campaign. That was truly amazing, I’m getting a bit older – not a spring chicken as they say and I got picked!
     I was to go into London and be a model for the day.  My hair was straightened and my makeup had been immaculately applied.  I was ready to pose in front of the camera.  About a month or so later the photo was in Marie Claire (April, 2009) and then again in the next issue.  I had a whole page all to myself.  It was a huge deal for me but unfortunately I had comments ranging from ‘that’s not you’ to ‘that is a really good likeness’.  I figured at that point it’s probably not wise to let people know what I’m up to – just seem to get shit or it’s a jealousy thing.  I loved it either way.  Something that I thought that could never be possible becoming a reality.  It was truly an amazing experience and the image from the shoot is now firmly placed on my ‘trophy’ wall.
     Next up was my first television ad.  I did it for free.  I thought it’d be a good experience since I wouldn’t normally do it, I’d never had that opportunity... well... not until now – so off I trotted into London.  I didn’t really know what to expect.  That day I found out that I can do the cancan - in hotpants.  My hair was bouncing around everywhere.  My arse was too big for the chair (big sigh).  There I was dancing around in hotpants.  I do have a pair of shorts however they are for decoration purposes only – I look at them, never wear them.  I never did see the ad, of what I did see was a blip during rehearsals on YouTube.  It featured Katie Green and slim water... or something. 
     The worst thing about 2009 would have to be Pixie Lott’s album launch in Berlin.  I took Vonny.  We had to be at Stansted Airport at 5am or some stupid hour ready to board ‘Pixie’s private jet’ to Berlin where she would be doing her album launch. It was all very exciting.  I was thinking that it was going to be a wicked party but it was quite the opposite.  Shivon and I stayed at the airport hotel as it would be an absolute nightmare to try and get to the airport at some obscene hour of the morning - so we were good little individuals, ready and waiting.  After numerous check in’s, waiting around, being herded from one place to another we caught sight of ‘Pixie’s private jet’.  It was actually a 747 that’d been branded with ‘Pixie Lott’ for her promotional tour.  We got on board and we were excited.  Friends and family were up the front, the bulk of the plane was media and at the rear of the plane were her patient fans - including us.  Kinda ‘out of sight out of mind’ it would seem as once the media got their photos she stood up and said hello then disappeared out of sight. 
     We arrived in Berlin and I did indeed turn into a tourist.  We saw the Berlin Wall.  Well – what’s left of it.  It was quite a tedious day.  We arrived at the venue, Pixie did her set and then we left.  I had two beers in Berlin that day.  Vonny danced, took photos and during the hour performance Shivon was incredibly happy – until we headed back to London.  The lady gave us the wrong gate information for the airport in Berlin.  She’d also said that Vonny could get her picture taken with Pixie – but Pixie was already on the plane and didn’t socialise as per normal.  The ‘on board entertainment’ was watching the chorus of the ‘Boys and Girls’ video over and over and over... and over and over.  I cannot describe how much I now hate that song.
     When we got back to Stansted we got on a bus to go to into London, we then sat and waited for her to do a show somewhere in London. 12 hours later - no food (well actually I tell a lie, a cake thing on the plane), no drink – actually – another lie – two beers in Berlin and Vonny had water.  I asked one of the PR guys if there’d be an opportunity for Vonny to get a photo with Pixie – again.  He then shouted at me because apparently “his colleague had no right to tell you that” - he was an arsehole.
     As Vonny and myself were about to head home we stopped and chatted to one of the other girls who went to the album launch in Berlin.  She’d come from Liverpool and also stayed at the hotel in Stansted at her expense and was pretty livered.  She reminded me that we hadn’t done anything wrong.  The PR people are indeed wankers and Pixie is indeed ignorant for being so completely oblivious to her fans that were treated like shit / extra baggage if you like.
     Pleased to be back home and disappointed about the whole Pixie thing.  Next up was the Clothes Show.  We had a chinwag to George Lamb whom wished Vonny a happy birthday which she was most happy about and made up for the Pixie thing.  It was shortly after that that I found myself on Mars.
     I was only on Mars for three days and by the time I landed back on earth in a pair of ugg’s - my feet were trashed.  I had fake tan stained fingernails and toenails and when they took the wig off at the end of the day my head felt weightless.  It was my first job as an extra for a movie and there must’ve been at least 200 other extras there.  I was an alien woman being all alieny on a Disney Movie called ‘John Carter of Mars’.
     “You. White slave.  Bring me my nuts on a silver platter”, no it wasn’t it was: “You. In flight slave, bring me my nuts on a silvahh plattaah.”  I am unsure about why I said that, maybe it was the naked men on the set.  I instantly claimed the planet as my own.  Mars in mine – I think I convinced them.  
     The set was kitted out with a few massive green screens, pretend martian animals and some freaky looking people - I mean aliens.  Mars was my first ‘on screen’ marriage - it took five minutes to get an annulment and I jumped over to the fun side.  One of the AD’s (assistant directors) came over and just starting pairing people up and unfortunately being as nice as I can - the extra I got paired up with really did talk martian.  We had to walk around the spaceship and be all like ‘oh look what’s that!’ but the guy that I instantly divorced took it to extremes and began pointing at absolutely everything.  We were walking around the spaceship (bearing in mind I’m walking as quickly as I can just to get away from the pointy martian guy) and my wig got stuck on the spaceship.  All of a sudden my head was stuck and ‘aaaaahhh help me help save me save I’m stuck on the spaceship’.  Just at the moment the two main actors walked past and I’m supposed to be walking but can’t move.  My hands were waving around ever so slightly.
     One of the actors arrived on set but being bald I didn’t recognise him.  It took a while to work out who he was as just the name ‘Mark Strong’ didn’t ring any bells for me.  I eventually worked it out with the statement “Ohh... Rock’n’Rolla!” while pointing at him. That little flash bulb moment was quite embarrassing.  I now know who Mark Strong is... and I certainly do – recognise the name.  There was a little group of us martians that ended up behind Mark Strong and another guy called Taylor Kitsch.  We were heading back down the stairs when there was a random “Hello.”  It was Taylor Kitsch saying hello to me.  I checked behind me first just to double check he was talking to me.  I said something stupid like “How yah goin”... instead of a sensible ‘hello’.  My focus at the time was not to trip down the stairs.  I’m not a fan of stairs.  The ‘Ak ak ak’ didn’t quite catch on (‘Mars Attacks’... different movie).  After that brief introduction it was back for the next take.  We were running up the stairs behind both Taylor Kitsch and Mark Strong.  I was trying very hard not to perve at his bottom.  There weren’t many other places anyone could look, guys everywhere, most of them strippers and most of them half naked.
     Given the fact that it’s not very often one has the opportunity just to simply admire the scenery of half naked stripper Martian men (I think they all wax their chests), I took full advantage while I was there. 
     The next day was more running up the stairs.  This time it turned into a staring competition between me and Taylor Kitsch.  He giggled first so he lost.  Then the third day was stunt day.  I got very excited – I even went as far as offering my services of cartwheels and rolly polly’s however it wasn’t wanted and I was completely bummed.
     During stunt day another extra stomped on my poor cut-to-shreds (from wearing gladiator sandals) blistered smothered foot.  It was painful and left a gigantic bruise that took two weeks before the bruise started to disappear. The gladiator sandals drew blood and it was horrendously cold.  The guy that stomped on my foot was in a hurry to jump in front of the stunt camera car (it’s a car with an arm on it for swoopy zoomy stuff I think).  He thought it was a good idea to do a dive bomb in front of it while using my foot as a launch pad with a ringing sentence of “Aaaahh we’re gunna be famous.”  The car missed.  Unfortunately.
     I’ve worked on little things since then but the next big thing was my Chelsea Garden. I’d won an award winning garden thanks to the Times Newspaper & Bradstone.  It was the ‘Bradstone Diversity Garden’.  It was also a complete headache to install and the paper quoted me as being ‘a kiwi farmers’ daughter’ which I have no clue as to where he got that from.  I said we had a farm and that’s it - I don’t have a dad – I laughed so much its unreal.  The competition was to write 100 words why you deserve a garden.  There wasn’t any sob story it was just pretty much ‘I’m busy and my spa house never really worked out’.
     Other parties include the Cocktail Awards (got pretty hammered), getting our picture taken with the World Cup in London (not into soccer but hey ho – never miss an experience) and going to the Benefit gig on the same day.  The Benefit gig was quite amusing.  I met Rachel Stevens there so I asked her if I could get a picture.  I think it was her agent or manager possibly that grilled me.  He asked “Do you work for a magazine?” I wasn’t quite sure what that was about so I said “Is that a trick question?”  The inquisition lasted for a good five or ten minutes and I really did feel as if I was at an interview room with the lights pointed directly in my eyes.  I’d said that I’m not from a magazine but it continued... I gave up.  I said to Rachel, “Really sorry, doesn’t matter, sorry to bother you I didn’t realise it would turn into a headache”, she then said something along the lines of yes we’ll take a picture – he’s all bark.  That is the first time I’ve ever been grilled about being from a magazine – rather than the shit that goes in it... aka: Ok! Magazine.
     Other events in 2010 included attending the Grand Prix Ball where I practised pouting with Liz McClarnon and wanted to do a ‘Bond’ pose with Darius Campbell (Danish) but he wasn’t having none of it.  I met the Sugababes there also.  I took the girls to see JLS and also wandered along to a Keane gig at XFM studios in London, met them, said gidday and Tom (from the band) drew a little heart on my wristband.            
      Another interesting moment was at Lovebox festival in London.  Chase & Status were playing and the ‘mosh pit’ was growing steadily.  Vonny got hit with a flying plastic bottle so we exited really quickly.  We hung out by the side of the stage and I swear the Chase guy asked if we were okay – from the stage.  Vonny said “Was he talking to you mum?”

     We got a private dance class with peeps from ‘Burn the Floor’ show in London and then had a small chinwag with Professor Green at LED festival in ‘Londontown’.  Goldfrapp were simply awesome and so were Friendly Fires.  I spotted Professor Green in the guest area and after listening to a favourite INXS track that he’d remixed - I felt it necessary to say something about that – so I did. “So you thought it was shit?” he asked “Nah” I said “It’s good - I like the lucky on your neck.”  He showed me the scar on his neck and I guess the reason why he has the tattoo, someone glassed him or bottled him.  They’d gone straight for the jugular.  I guess ‘lucky’ – because he lives to tell the tale but luck – luck is – it not happening in the first place.
     I met Steven Spielberg on set of ‘Warhorse’ briefly (first movie that my brother and I ever saw at the movies was ‘E.T.’) and then Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt in the same week.  With Ewan and Emily it was hilarious – well I thought it was.  It was at the Blue Fin Building in London where IPC Media is located.  I thought it was absolutely hilarious and ironic that two ‘stars’ were in the building and the media couldn’t get hold of them.

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