Gyles Brandreth, Biggins and Gordon Ramsay were all staying with me at my West Hill duplex last weekend. It was the event of the Seven Dials summer anyone who was there will tell you how hilarious it was.
Gordon had wanted some ideas for new TV projects in the US, Brandreth or ‘Bandwidth’ as Biggins insists on calling him wanted to view a house for sale in Compton Avenue. Actually the one on the very posh side of the street that never closes the blinds and everyone stops to look at the designer kitchen. Tony Uden, ever optimistically, has it up for £1.3 squillion. Brandreth, or Brandy as I call him, insists you can’t get anything in Knightsbridge for that sort of money, let alone four beds and a glass staircase.
You can well imagine that with this posse staying for 3 days and 3 nights not even moi could get a word in edgeways. I am basically an immensely private kind of person and hate tittle tattle, but that Ramsay is a real kitchen nightmare. The young fella-me-lad won’t lift a cheffy finger when he stays. Biggins has to do everything, even the washing up. On this visit I was determined to make life simpler for him, chores for four is too much. I had an idea. “We shall eat out for every meal all weekend, ” I pronounced. “What’s more, we shall eat ethically and locally source all our food by only eating at Dials’ cafés restaurants and bars,” I said responsibily. “Beginning with Brighton’s best, beefy, brilliant big brunch bargain breakfast at Tutti Frutti” I alliterated. The boys cheered and Biggins bellowed gayfully, then they went off to change out of their pyjamas. I was already in full glam mode, sporting my new Draylon bell-bottomed cat suit. It was stupendous. I had recently bought it from Snoopers’ Paradise in the North Laine’s conversation area. Some say the shop was named after me, but I am to modest to possibly commentate.
Yes, this was going to be a whopping calorific pig-out of a weekend, and was I up for it. I definitely deserved a session of comfort-gorging. Most of you will have heard by now, and the more observant of you will have noticed that recent mentions of hubby Adrian have been virtually non-existent in this column. I have officially Twittered on the subject of his departure from our West Hill home and I want you all to know that he is most definitely personae non gratis. The chances of seeing him on this manor again are as remote as Tesco opening on Easter Island. Adrian’s Hollywood production company has relocated to Hailsham, which is no more than he deserves. The philandering, dillitanting, Romeo has been given the red stiletto for the final time. Good riddance. I won’t say anymore, other than that he is an absolute jealous monster. His outlandish and libelous comments regarding my relationships with Steve Coogan and Nick Cave are a complete fantasy. Buffoon that he is, the dumbpkorf has made a public fool of himself. I, of course, can hold my head up by the neck as always, but he is definitely yesterday’s chow mein and tomorrow’s beef jerky. See you in court, big boy. I knew it would happen, I’m psychotic you know? I have been, since I was eleven. Enough already! Now the boys were back down we were ready to hit the streets ensemble together as a group.
We certainly cut a dash as we walked past the osteopath shop that has opened in the Tingley’s real estate office that used to be Marina Cash Registers that was apparently originally a jewellers. I had pleaded with Ramsay to wear a top but he insisted on jogging alongside bare-chested. Actually the skin on his chest is better than the skin on his face.
Red Ruth from the insurance office next door waved and beckoned us in. We happily mongraphed dedications for her into the petty cash ledger, that substituted for an autograph book. I noticed the blue carbon sheet was still in position, so fully expect to see copies on eBay soon. Ruth presented us all with a plastic Gonk Ostriches from the collection on her desk. The George Clooney calendar on the wall has been replaced with a pin-up calender of Gyles Brandwith photographs he presented to her. Luckily, he had some with him. Some women think Brandy is a ‘looker’ but for me it’s his voice that pushes my boat out. It was a great interlude. It’s always fun in the insurance office, Ramsay even bought some holiday insurance while we were there. What did he think was going to happen during a quiet weekend at the Dials? I told him he was wasting his money and we could have bought a bottle of Krug, Clos du Mesnil 1995 instead. Ramsay garbled out some hardly comprehensible comment (he was breathless from still jogging on the spot) about him working hard and he needed to spend some money sometimes and any way it gave him pleasure. I totally understand where he is coming from.
We continued on our route. The Tin Drummers all had their mouths agape as we passed by, and as we neared the kebab shop we were all presented with a sliver of freshly cut pre-formed lamb doner. How kind. We chewed this greedily as we were starving. It was 2 o’clock now and we had not eaten since last night’s (Friday) very excellent Fish Chips and Mushy Peas at Blenios. ‘Brandy’ remarked on the irony of this as Blenio’s used to be a Fish and Chip shop in the olden days apparently. How we all laughed. We passed the Chinese (Got nothing) and crossed opposite the Japanese Sushi bar to the Morrocan. Like the kebab shop, they must have seen or heard we were in the area because they came out to award us with presentation lunch boxes. Biggins bellowed that Ramsay already had a big one. How we laughed. The woman from the lifestyle shop next door didn’t know where to look, poor thing. It had taken us 18 minutes to get from West Hill Road as far as the Red Snapper, whose chef was deperate to get Gordon to taste her Thai Brown Chicken Curry. This was a new signature dish she had created by combining a Red and Green Thai curry. Gordon promised to come back. I could see he was impressed. The look on his face poorly disguised his envy at the brown colourful culinary curry creation before him. He promised to come back, that would be twice, so they were very fortunate indeed.
After an age, and what seemed like a culinary world tour, we arrived next door at Tutti Frutti, where we were ushered in by the usher past the queuing hordes. No one seemed to mind our queue jumping although one woman (it turned out to be K D Lang whose pater was, apparently according to ‘Bandwidth’, also the father of psycho analysis) complained she had been in line for over an hour; we just pretended not to hear, it is the best thing sometimes, for everybody’s sake. We were offered a window seat. Biggins bellowed and I complained that Parker Bathrooms’ huge removal van was parked directly outside so people wouldn’t be able to see us in the best light and demanded to be reseated elsewhere. Then the usher ushered us upstairs to a private dining area. I hadn’t been to this area before but was delighted as who was there tucking into their vegan sausage and egg platters were my dearest pals ‘Cazzer’ Lucas, Shami Chakrabatti and Stephen Fry. Sitting next to them was Steve Coogan and the starlet he had brought to the first saveloy party last summer, the one at which he had had the fight with Billy Bragg. We introduced everybody to everybody but I should have known that everybody knew everybody. What fun we had, joy of joys. We laughed so much in that very special, loud, and raucous way, only us carefree A-listers can. Fry “having-a-fry-up” and Cazzer “having a Wazzer”, no one was safe from our rapier wit. It’s not surprising really, as gathered in this small Dyke Road room were some of this country’s finest intellectuals. At an exact moment I was passed a note by the maitre-de. It was from Ramsay. At another exact moment I realised Ramsay was not with us.
My heart sank, what a bad hostess I was, after all, he was my house guest and I hadn’t even noticed his absinthe from this brilliant big breakfast banquet. I later found out he and ‘Bandwidth’ had been drinking the stuff all morning. I read the note aloud to all, however, in the interests of good taste I refrain from reproducing here the unexpurgiated version. Gordon must have been very affected by the absinthe as the language he used was most unlike him. I didn’t know it was possible to use a single word so many times in one sentence. He probably picked it up when he was a footballer in Scotland so one can’t completely blame it on the alcohol. The note read, “Pee Gee, please pop outside ASAP”. At another exact moment, my alarm bells rung, as did the sirens ablaze in the street outside. The traffic was at a standstill; horns boomed; a huge crowd had gathered. They all looked skyward, and they were all laughing because there, standing naked on the roof of the Seven Dials restaurant, swigging from bottles of absinthe, were Gordon Ramsay and restaurant owner Sam Metcalfe. These two were old mates from the Groucho Club. Gordon spotted me, and above the laughter and cheering of the coaxing crowd shouted “Pee Gee I ******* told you, I needed ******* holiday *****Insurance.”