I’m in Claridges sipping champagne with Kristin Scott Thomas. Actually she’s sitting at the next table but let’s not split hairs. I was the first to spot her. You know when you see a celebrity but you’re not completely sure? It happened with Natalie Imbruglia in a bar. I thought: that woman looks like Natalie Imbruglia, just paler and much thinner. Then realised it was Natalie Imbruglia and she is paler and much thinner, if that’s possible. She looked ill. It must be her, I reasoned, she’s wearing a bowler hat indoors, in July. So it was a tad embarrassing when a member of our party, all a bit pissed and over-excited, nicked her hat and ran off.
It’s the same with Kristin Scott Thomas. Not the hat nicking thing, the pale and thin thing. But it’s definitely her. The friend I’m sitting with is thrilled, she says it’s because there weren’t many celebs where she grew up in Coventry. There weren’t many where I grew up in York either, just Judy Dench. But apparently they’d have killed for a Judy Dench in Coventry. She is a Dame now I suppose…Judy Dench, not my friend.
I used to work in the media, you see, where celebs were ten a penny. I’ve worked with Joanna Lumley, I went to her house and she gave me champagne darling. And then there was lunch with Michael Palin, just me, the manager of my department and Michael. And I’ve rubbed shoulders with any number of early 90’s BBC has-beens, you know the sort: Jilly Goolden, Tony Slattery, people we never hear about now. I’ve got a great story about Tony Slattery I often reel out at dinner parties, and one about Jilly Goolden. If you haven’t heard them ask me - but chances are you’ve heard them.
I got to know Bernard Cribbins quite well when I worked on Jackanory (how old does that make me sound, for God’s sake?), and once had drinks, at Soho House, don’t you know, with an actress friend (called Beverly Hills, I kid you not) and her great mate Meera Syal. So, maybe that’s why I’m not that bothered about Kristin Scott Thomas.
But I do love that movie, The English Patient, fabulous. I just cannot agree with another wonderful friend of mine, let’s call her G, who, although pretty perfect in all other respects insists Meet The Fockers is better. Maybe it’s because she’s foreign, she doesn’t get all that British tight-lipped restraint in The English Patient. Well I’m sorry, but that sex scene, the one on Christmas day, in the heat, while all the soldiers are celebrating and they’re doing it standing behind a wall? Need I say more?
Right now Kristin Scott Thomas is eating tiny cucumber sandwiches like butter wouldn’t melt. I really can’t imagine her doing it against a wall. But that’s great actresses for you.
Oh, and I nearly forgot, I met the Queen at Buck House (as husband endearingly calls it), special invitation, arrived by limo because I worked on a programme about her. Then, afterwards, caught a Network South East train home from Victoria Station to my bedsit in Streatham. Sat next to a man eating a burger. Bit surreal. But all that was many moons ago, in another life, or rather, a life. Nowadays I have to make do with Arthur Smith in the local café, or that Andrew Rawnsley chap on the way to school. He writes for the Observer, you know. Well, it impresses me.
Funny thing about celebrities, however minor, they always know when you know, you can just tell, it’s almost imperceptible but it’s there, that telltale little look, they’re watching for it. Kristin Scott Thomas knows we know and for some reason I find that annoying.
Here at Claridges, with the chandeliers, and the music, and the dainty little cakes like miniature hats at Ascot, all worlds apart from my usual routine grilling fish fingers in Tooting, I’m blissfully unaware that in approximately forty minutes I’ll be back home, heels kicked off by the front door, new dress hanging in the wardrobe again, chatting to the boys and husband wearing my sloppy trackie bums and attempting to cook two Waitrose Essential pizzas for tea but burning them round the edges because I’m a bit pissed.
And you know what, you can keep your celebrity lifestyle; truth is I’m happy in the kitchen with my kids. It’s lovely having little trips away from it (and them) now and again, like this one, because they make me realise that.