I once met Anjelica Huston when I was commissioned to cook a ladies lunch party for a friend of hers that I worked for in the capacity of “Girl Friday” at the time. I can’t imagine what possessed me to make cold avocado soup but that is what happened and Anjelica being the Living Legend that she is just nodded along with it and thanked me at the end. If ever my friend and I are feeling unsure abut our power status within a relationship one of us will inevitably shout at the other, “Anjelica Huston NEVER EVER called Jack Nicolson” and try to instill in ourselves the cool composure of someone charitably untroubled by a revolting green soup.
I once met John Steinbeck Jnr and asked him if he knew who was pictured in the pendant round my neck that I had bought from a junk shop earlier that day. He eyeballed it and said, “That is Johnny Weissmuller and let me tell you, knowing Johnny as I did, he would be very pleased to know where he is currently hanging”.
I once met Nigella Lawson at a party on Kensington Roof Gardens and nearly died and went to heaven when she asked if I would join her Ping Pong team.
I once met Drake when I ended up on a table with him and my friend at The Wolsley. I was seated opposite his manager who spent the entire meal on the phone which, as I drunkenly pointed out to him and to my friend and to John, the doorman, made him “shit company”. I stomped off to the end of the table to sit with Drake and my friend and I can’t remember anything else about the night at all other than practically hovercrafting off my chair with delight, and having to leave in a taxi from the studio rather than listen to them sing along to each others’ new demos as I had an early start the next day. In the morning at work my friend told me that Drake had “totally fancied” me and I was so hungover I was sick into a bin under my desk.
I once met Mel Brooks when I was 19 in Ronnie Scott’s and when I asked him to come over and meet my Dad he lunged forward and kissed me on the lips. I had no idea who he was and once I found out, went home reeling from a somewhat churning mix of pride and horror.
I once met Sir Ben Kingsley when he approached me in a twinkling mythical forest on the set of Prince of Persia and asked me to sign his petition calling for Sharon Shoesmith to be forcibly removed for her role as Director of Child Services for Haringey. He was sporting, a deep tan, a black and gold brocade ensemble and a lot of eyeliner at the time. I was signature no. 12.
I once met Lesley Philips in a tent in the middle of a field in Wales and he said “HAL-loooowww” to me, which made me snort with laughter and caused my Dad to have a full body convulsion.
I once met Tom Cruise at his first costume fitting for Universal Studio’s “The Mummy”. For our first introduction we, the costume department, lined up as if preparing to shake the hand of the Duchess of Cornwall at the Royal Variety Performance and waited for him. He came in and did a fabulously presidential double handshake to each member of the design team and then led us indoors to his dressing room. He was brimming over with ideas and excitement about his new role and cudgeled his brains over infinitesimal details, trying to inspire us to perfect his character’s costume. He managed to give off a welcoming, almost benevolent glow, whilst maintaining an internal defensive barrier, like an upholstered perimeter fence. The weirdest thing that happened was that he suddenly ran away – about 3 metres- at top speed – in order to test the durability of his trousers.
I love to think that I have a wealth of ‘meeting people’ anecdotes that could take me through any number of dinner parties but the only one that has ever earned me any admiration from my peers is to have accidentally left Tom Cruise hanging when he went for an unexpected High-Five. So for that I must offer him my eternal gratitude and an apology – Sorry Hun, I never saw it coming.