LIZ JONES’S DIARY: In which I don’t get the VIP treatment
Last month, I went to the Baftas. This sounds very glamorous, doesn’t it? And, indeed, it started out that way. I was invited to ‘pre-Bafta fashion drinks’ at the Savoy. How lovely. Mingle with the stars. The invitation said 2pm, which seemed early, given proceedings didn’t start until 7pm. I decided to wear my Dries Van Noten slip dress with gold at the décolletage and small train, and four-inch heels. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the bar to find a small huddle of fashion journalists wearing Puffa coats, parkas and woolly hats. Flat shoes. They looked at me as though I’d escaped from an asylum.
The young PR came over, wielding an iPad. ‘Just to let you know, we will be getting to the red carpet at 3pm.’ Oh goodie! ‘We will then take you down to the fashion pen – try not to walk on the red carpet as we don’t want it getting dirty – which is at the end, near the entrance and the bank of photographers. So you should get a good view of the stars being photographed, and we will try to bring someone over to speak to you, but you’re at the end so they will probably be exhausted and desperate to get inside as it’s two degrees, not taking into account wind chill, and your bit of the red carpet is without cover so you’re probably going to get wet. We will email you a list of what everyone is wearing as soon as the ceremony starts.’
Ah. After a glass of prosecco, we were herded into a people carrier. All the other journalists were about 12. This is clearly an assignment you take on at the beginning of your ‘career’, not near the end. I can see now why there were drinks at the Savoy: it was to lure me in. We were tipped out some distance away, and I staggered towards the big spotlights and silver vans bearing satellite dishes. I tiptoed along the red carpet, which was still covered in swathes of plastic: we in fashion and movies detest a smudge.
Eventually, having braved the insane fans behind ropes, who took one look at us then figured we weren’t worth a wave, let alone a selfie, we were locked in a very small metal pen. There was nowhere to sit down. The big canopy over the red carpet was acting as a filtration system to catch every last drop of rain and dump it on my head.
After several hours, we started to hear screams, which meant an A-lister had arrived. Craning my neck, I could see the essence of a star, but as they were surrounded by fluffy microphones and cameras and an over-made-up TV presenter, I was never wholly sure who they were. ‘Who is that?’ I asked the 11-year-old from Hello! or Take a Break. ‘What am I?’ she said. ‘Human Google?’
The stars did indeed stop just in front of us to pose, this way, that way, making the shape of a teapot, in front of the hundreds of photographers, but then they were whisked inside by minions wielding cashmere blankets. I couldn’t make notes, as my hands were frozen. It was depressing, too, as I kept seeing stars whom I’d interviewed at the start of their careers – Rachel Weisz, whom I’d met when she was still at school. Kenneth Branagh, whom I’d interviewed while he was at Rada; he had phoned my house to ask when we were meeting up. Joseph Fiennes? I’d been to his house in Notting Hill, and found Naomi Campbell in the bathroom. Now they were unattainable, hugely successful, while here was I… Perversely, I began to hope beyond hope Rachel wasn’t brought over, just in case she recognised me, and summoned the Red Cross with a foil blanket.
Finally, I’d had enough. I tapped the PR on the shoulder. ‘Listen,’ I said. ‘I’m an award-winning journalist. Bring me a star, now, or I will get you fired.’
She looked frightened. ‘OK,’ she said, talking into the microphone up her sleeve. ‘Let me see if I can get you someone.’
My questions fresh in my mind, I stood up straight. I could see the PR coming towards me, with… Cuba Gooding Jr.
Um. Right. None of the other fashionistas had a clue who he was, so they just craned annoyed necks round him. It was all down to me.
‘So!’ I said. ‘Can I ask how long it took you to get ready today, and are you rocking a corset under that?’
Think am barred next year.