Not only are today’s young girls having to work hard on their abs, butts and glutes, now the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian are instructing the poor lambs in the art of keeping their ‘lady garden’ in mint condition. Subject to the approval of their best mates, apparently, the formerly taboo subject of ‘down south’ is now open for discussion. Some celebs now cultivate, manicure and moisturise the ‘no-fly zone’ with as much effort as they put into their faces. Whatever next? Will Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt suddenly inform all studs how to take care of their gentleman’s gentleman?
I’ve been on Twitter for four years now but only have a paltry 150,000 followers, perhaps because I keep away from controversy. Until last week, that is, when I started posting a series of photos of the massive puddle that had formed in the road right outside my London residence and which then refused to go away even when the sun shone at its fiercest. I took pictures of the puddle and my shoes (or, as the tabloids say, ‘designer footwear’) on the pavement, to show the extent of the problem. Eventually, I received a sympathetic message from Westminster City Council explaining they had ‘carried out an assessment’ but that to dig up the road and take a closer look would ‘carry significant cost implications’.
I appreciated the council’s thoughtfulness as well as the kindness of taxi drivers who made every effort to park as close to the pavement as possible. One extremely solicitous cabbie even flaunted all ‘elf’n’safety’ and mounted the kerb, since there is construction on one side of my building obstructing practically the entire pavement and a dusty BMW with diplomatic plates semi-permanently parked on the other. But I also received a torrent of abuse and nasty tweets advising to me to ‘get over it’, ‘wear wellies’ and even one ‘go back to where you came from’ — which, considering I’m from London, left me wondering where he meant. In the meantime, I have become adept at circumventing the puddle with great dexterity. My puddle is keeping me fit.
Although I’m much-travelled, I had never been to Peru, the land of my husband’s birth. Since we tied the knot 14 years ago, Percy and I had planned to go several times but never managed it, so I was delighted we could spend several days in Lima on our way to Sydney via Santiago, Chile. Percy had filled me in on the beauty of his country and the abundance of gorgeous foliage. However, as we drove down the main drag of Javier Prado, I couldn’t see the trees for the wood. Because impaled on every tree, fence and lamppost were vast posters of politicians vying to become the next MP, representative, councillor or God knows what else. The sheer volume of rival candidates made our local elections the other week look positively restrained. But meeting Percy’s family and friends was sheer joy. Their generous hospitality was boundless. Every day there were luscious lunches lasting four or five hours, which segued into equally wonderful dinners thrown by Percy’s seemingly endless parade of bountiful friends. It’s a wonder they get any work done.
The culmination of our stay was visiting Calle Percy Gibson — a street named after Percy’s grandfather, a famous poet, and not, as scurrilous wags have said, named after Percy for his having married me. It was a marvellous trip but, oh, my waistline will never recover.
In Santiago I was guest of honour at the magnificent Museo de la Moda for their inaugural exhibition celebrating fashions of the 1980s. Several of my costumes from Dynasty were on display. Ruefully, I realised there was no way I could fit into any of them, especially after my Peruvian feasts. I admired several of Princess Diana’s gowns, which were stored in the basement of the museum in carefully controlled conditions. There were also costumes dating back as far as the 16th century. I was amazed at the measurements of these tiny clothes — about the dimensions of today’s ten-year-olds.
Arriving in Sydney after a 15-hour trip from Santiago I was so jet-lagged I could barely move for 48 hours, let alone unpack. I had a bet with Percy that I couldn’t fit enough clothes for this nine-week trip, which included events and functions across a variety of geography and temperatures (including also St Barts, Miami, LA and NY), into three suitcases. As I modestly admit to being one of the world’s champion packers, alongside Elizabeth Taylor, Victoria Beckham and the Duchess of Windsor, it was a high-stakes bet, but I nevertheless emerged victorious.
Joan Collins’s The St Tropez Lonely Hearts Club is now in paperback.
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