Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

It has been the week of two continents and three hats: ballet dancer's tiara, author's headache and Rolls-Royce wing. If I may explain the latter, one of my sidelines is going round the world promoting the latest Rolls-Royce. (Well, someone's got to do it.) I wear the trademark wing in my hair. My multiple personality makes packing a nightmare, so I always stick to the same formula: keep adding outfits until the case won't close, and never, ever take one black suit when you can squeeze in three. After two weeks on the road with the Royal Ballet's Dance Bites tour, I was heading off to the United States to publicise my book, The Vitality Plan, in its American incarnation, Totally Fit. I'm not quite sure why the title change came about, but I think it may have been necessitated by the American tendency to mispronounce the letter t. The Vidalidy Plan wouldn't have cut the mustard in the United States, and Totally Fit doesn't work unless you turn the second consonant into a d.

My publicist, Lucy, picked me up from New York's Carlyle hotel in a white stretch limo. I had been reading a Spectator article on the plane by one of the Two Fat Ladies, and like me, she had been amused to be collected (out of necessity?) in one of these vast cruising gin palaces. I find these vehicles irredeemably seedy, with their cheap decanters, disco lights and myriad tissue boxes. As we set off for Connecticut the panel separating us from the driver slid silently across. I guess he's seen it all, but I'm not sure what he expected Lucy and me to be getting up to on a Monday morning.

The next day, in Boston, I was picked up from the hotel at 6 a.m. for breakfast television on location at the World Gym. Being up before 8.30 a.m. is such an achievement for me that I was momentarily disappointed to see from the parking lot that several other people were sharing my moment of triumph. Once the camera crew and the obligatory big-haired presenter arrived, I was given three minutes to distil the essence of Totally Fit and convince the Boston Brahmins that they really couldn't do without it.

After a brief pause we headed off to a television show entitled Doctors on Call. Being greeted by a man wearing more make-up than I before 10 a.m. might have been the final straw if I hadn't had Smoki Bacon still to come. Smoki and Dick Concannon have a weekend show which includes lunch at the Cafe Rouge with a celebrity. Me, in case you were wondering.

They are the archetypal American TV hosts, everything their names lead you to expect. As the lunch takes place away from the studio, Dick asks the questions while Smoki (aged 70) operates the camera. It brought to mind those public television channels in New York, where you buy a slice of air time and then make your own programme to fill it. Everyone can be a star in America. There used to be a channel which was so outrageously pornographic (free) that I guess either Mayor Giuliani or the pay-as-you-yearn porn mafia closed it down. It was still going strong when the company was here in 1992, and groups of dancers would turn up for work red-eyed from the combined effect of very late nights and crying with laughter.

On Tuesday my new best friends at Rolls-Royce arrived in New York. Initially I was booked for a week of events in Scotland, but that has now expanded to become a world tour: Geneva, New York, London, Munich, Berlin, Tokyo and Hong Kong. I still don't know how I got involved with launching the best car in the world. …

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