Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Now What? "You've Got Something Hanging Down," I Pointed to His Trousers. It Wasn't His Belt

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Now What? "You've Got Something Hanging Down," I Pointed to His Trousers. It Wasn't His Belt

Article excerpt

When I was in my teens, my friends thought I was the luckiest kid alive because I spent summers with the wonderful actress Pat Phoenix (my stepmother at the time). The joy of being with such a great lady, a true star, was tempered by access behind the scenes to other celebrities. The shenanigans going on behind the scenes of Coronation Street in them days made Dallas look like an episode of Sunday Worship. The cast at the time included a couple of alcoholics, two sex-mad actors and half-a dozen ego-crazed divas. At a cast party, one of the actors chatted with me for ages. I felt flattered -- how kind. He was wearing shorts, and one leg rested high up on a chair, cowboy style. My 15-year-old eyes were suddenly drawn to what looked like a piece of cord hanging between his legs. I innocently pointed to it. "You've got something hanging down," I smiled. It wasn't his belt. I ran to my Dad's side feeling sick.

That, and an equally unpleasant experience with a group of England cricketers when I was just 13, ended any girlish ideas that those in the media eye are inherently admirable. Yet very occasionally you meet a "household name" and you know you have met a star.

At the Old Vic in London last week, I watched as Tony Benn effortlessly gave a masterclass in political showmanship. If there weren't any new Labour advisers present, there should have been: they could have learnt a lot.

In the dress-circle bar before Benn's show, his fans were, in the main, at least half his age. The socialite socialists were out to play -- women with long, elegant scarves, men with trendy specs

Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys drew some glances, but the biggest surprise of the night was that the Hamiltons, Christine and Neil, had the brass neck to turn up. Presumably, they were there to gawp at an ex-MP who maintains that parliamentary rules are not simply there to be twisted for cash. …

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