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Back in the Day
Caroline Boucher looks back on the heady 70s where a drunken lunch turned into a plane ride across the pond to see Elton….
We’d chartered the 747 before the end of the main course. It really couldn’t have been easier. All you had to do in those laid-back days of the Seventies was ring BA, drop a name – Elton John – and they’d put a nice big plane on hold to fly the office and friends to LA.
I was Elton’s in-house PR, and the week before he and I had an office lunch at around 4pm at my desk to work out the LA interview schedule. We munched gloomily on chicken salad brought in from Richoux, the next door restaurant in South Audley Street. Elton was knackered from touring and rather strung out.
So the plane-chartering lunch a week later with Elton and the band already schlepping round America was a much more relaxed affair at Montpeliano, an Italian restaurant that’s still across the road from Harrods and just down the street from John Reid’s house. Reid managed Elton and between them they had founded Rocket Records and employed a load of us to work there. The office workers tended to operate as a pack, so we’d often have long lunches, or enforced long sojourns in the pub. Sometimes Reid – who still has a temper like a bear – would fire us all and we’d go en masse to the pub waiting for him to come and get us. Nobody was left to answer the phones, and it was usually Elton ringing in a fury from LA to find out his chart position.
We’d set out for lunch that day with no intention of hiring a plane. But Elton was about to play Dodger Stadium and we all wanted to see him. Lunch that day was pretty much calamari-based which we all thought the height of sophistication plus with Fiorucci jeans and boiler suits in fashion we were on permanent diets. All washed down with Verdicchio, then the wine de nos jours. And, of course, plenty of cigarettes.
We filled the plane easily. The office, friends, Elton’s mum, other artists on Rocket like Kiki Dee, the footballer Rodney Marsh. Everybody had a party bag waiting on their seat – a camera in each one (well, until the ground staff nicked a few) – which I dragged out to the plane on a trolley. The hack from the Telegraph got so drunk we had to wheel him through customs at the other end. We partied all the way over, all the next week and all the way back. Happy days!
Caroline Boucher remembers lunch with Joan Collins in Bath
I love Joan Collins. I love her ballsy attitude, her disregard for her age, her wit and her looks. She has always looked bloody amazing. So when I set out to interview her a few years back at the Bath Spa Hotel I was praying she’d stand up on all counts.
Joan was appearing in a play in the city, and was regally installed in a huge suite at the hotel. I was interviewing her for the Telegraph about films she loved, so she asked me to lunch. Stories about her abound; I’d met her briefly some time back when she was married to record label boss, Ron Kass when they both attended a junior employee’s wedding (big Brownie points for that). I can still clearly recall her sitting on a bar stool wearing a mauve winter coat. It was the first time I’d seen her in the flesh, and her beauty stopped me dead in my tracks. I was hard pushed not to stare and stare. Mind you, we all know she works hard at it, and this was borne out by a friend who sat near her on a transatlantic flight (first class, naturally). Joan sat down, got out her face case, took off her make-up, put on moisturiser, an eye mask, tipped her seat back and went to sleep. Just before landing, the process was reversed.
This time in Bath she didn’t disappoint. She was still getting ready when I arrived, so she did make a pretty grand entrance. But fair enough. She is an actress, and once again, she looked absolutely amazing. (The alchemy, apparently, is that her eyes are set so wide apart.) There were a few people there too – PA, husband etc – but Joan entertained from the moment she entered the room. She was interested, interesting and above all, absolutely hilarious. Lunch was trundled in on trolleys and we chattered on. I can’t remember a single topic, or any of the films she chose but it gave me a chance to stare unashamedly at the extraordinary face which really shouldn’t look that good with make-up that thick, but really, really does.
But my favourite thing of all was that she ate like a horse.
In the week that Paul McCartney embarked on his third marriage, West Country based journalist Caroline Boucher, remembers his 1969 wedding to Linda…..
Paul McCartney’s wedding this month brought back a strong sense of déjà vu. Maybe it did to him too. I was a cub reporter on the music paper Disc and Music Echo in 1969 and the editor dispatched me and my notebook to the steps of Marylebone register office to cover the event. I remember thinking how pretty Linda was. Paul looked radiant too but he was never my favourite Beatle; that was George. read more