Capers Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, well actually that’s not true there’s our dog Polly pottering around the kitchen, Abi’s cat Romeo, who is thoroughly put out by the arrival of Alana’s kitten Frankie, and the impending arrival or her other cat Pickles, plus the sound of all the footsteps of the girls running after said animals in order to protect presents being ripped open, tree light cables chewed through – it’s like an animal mad house here!
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Little Frankie!
Anyhow, before Chrsitmas gets completely underway, let me tell you all about last week and a few of the fabulous events I attend. Starting with my trip to Oxford, to The Feast at Keeble College. I attend along with my nephew Rhys, who is one of their alumni. Wearing my beautiful lace patterned Erdem dress, I arrived to what I could only describe as walking into the Great Hall at Hogwarts. It was truly magnificent, long tables stretching all the way along the room, candles and flowers beautifully laid out, it looked truly magical. I was sitting+next to the Warden, and it was so interesting hearing all about his life and times at Oxford, the stories were fascinating. It was a wonderful evening, and a real privilege to attend.
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The next day was not one but two Christmas drinks parties, the first being out in the countryside at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beautiful home at Sydmonton. It was a very intimate party, with family and friends all sipping champagne and excitedly discussing as well as everyone’s Christmas plans, Andrew’s new musical Stephen Ward, opening later that week. I had a wonderful catch up with the divine Nicky Haslam, and before I knew it, It was time to head to party number two! This time at the home of some dear friends of ours George and Hugh, where it was of course another wonderfully theatrical affair. I spent the rest of the afternoon gossiping  with Anthony Van Laast and Elaine Paige – you don’t get much more theatrical than that! I also got to talk dance for a good hour with choreographer and ex So You Think You Can Dance star Drew McOnie, who I know is going to go far.
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Later on in the week I was invited to a fabulous Arts Lunch at the Science Museum, where seated in every chair was someone from the world of television, theatre, literature and art. I had a truly hilarious conversation with authors Kathy Lette and Francesca Simon – who also introduced me to Claire Tomalin – and the four of us discussed which historical figures in history could, as they say, cut a caper. Despite my obsessional love of dance, their knowledge I’m ashamed to say put mine to shame! I also caught up with Imogen Stubbs and Rebecca Front as we were all ushered after lunch through the museum to see the Hadron Collider exhibition which was truly fascinating, but so far above me I had to buy the pop up book to follow it!
I had a wonderful breakfast at the Charlotte Street Hotel with my darling Debbie Moore, where as always it was gossip galore as we sipped on bucks fizz and picked at fresh fruit platters, clearly the breakfast of champions!
I was thrilled to attend the opening night of Stephen Ward, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical I mentioned earlier, as the trial and Profumo affair was all going on around me when I was younger, and although I thought I knew so much about it, there were still so many things revealed that I was amazed to hear. I loved the show, the music was beautiful , and the orchestrations were some of the best I have ever heard. The star of the show, my dear friend Alex Hanson, who I had the pleasure to work with in We Will Rock You, was just sensational. I had a lovely chat with his beautiful wife Samantha Bond, who was so nervous for him – with clearly no need to be! It was also wonderful to see my old Starlight Express cohorts Trevor Nunn and John Napier, the old team back together again. It was a wonderful evening, sadly somewhat overshadowed by the events at the Apollo Theatre and the collapse of the balcony there. Thank goodness there were no fatalities, but of course my thoughts go out to all injured and I’m sending you lots of Christmas cheer.
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On that note, I wish you all lots of love and Christmas wishes, and I’ll check in next week – probably about a stone heavier – with my Christmas news and New Years resolutions and diet tips!
Love Arlene x

Here there and everywhere!

 Another two weeks has gone by and of course it has been crazy busy as usual…

 I have been up to so many different and wonderful things and have finally found the time to put it all together…

 I drunk lots of champagne at the Beaufort Bar at the Savoy with Kathy Lette and Horrid Henry superstar writer Francesca Simon which was quite fabulous

 I spent a very special evening with my Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music director Jeremy Sams watching Le Weekend, which he composed the glorious music for, then eating an even more glorious dinner!

 I’ve been trying out a juice diet by juicemaster extraordinaire Jason Vale, and aside from a couple of slip ups (which I can explain!) I have done pretty well! I’ve been carrying my juice to all my meetings and events, and aside from a dinner out and long overdue lunch with my darling Molly Molloy, I have rocked this diet!

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 Having my juice to hand has meant I’ve taken some pictures of me drinking in some very strange places, for example at the final of Britain’s Best Cat that I was filming over at This Morning. As I mentioned last time, the cats who performed so well in all the rehearsals, basically refused to so much as glance in the right direction, which made for an utterly hilarious final of what was pretty much “Britain’s Most Useless Cat! To say that these cats unwillingly went where no cat has gone before is an understatement, but all made for some hilarious live TV. It was wonderful to work with fellow cat lover Tom Fletcher from McFly, and I’m looking forward to checking out the McBusted tour next year alongside my gorgeous Matt Willis, who I worked with in Flashdance a couple of years ago.

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 Another “juicy” filming day was me talking all about my work and friendship with Freddie Mercury and Queen for an upcoming show called “The Nations Favourite Queen Song”. It was such a rush watching all those old videos again, as the memories came flooding back of such significant points in my life, and just talking about Freddie and how flamboyant and fabulous he was, brought tears to my eyes. It strange even now after all these years how much I miss him. Of course I will keep you updated as to when it airs, and you’ll hear all the secrets behind some of the most famous videos ever made.

 Thank goodness I had finished juicing in time to attend the launch of Bakers Toolkit, the new business from Apprentice runner up and family friend Luisa Zissman. It was cakes and sweet things galore, alongside heavenly pomegranate vodka cocktails I was in my element! I met the gorgeous Francine Lewis, and would have met a whole host of other celebs had I not have done my usual early disappearing act, but it was a fabulous party nonetheless.

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 I had a truly wonderful evening at the Collars and Coats Ball for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, which was to raise money for the new dogs housing unit. It quite honestly broke my heart seeing the conditions some of these dogs have to live in, and to give them the love, care and attention they so deserve is all down to the generosity of the public. There were some of the dogs there on the night, and to say I fell in love with one or two is an understatement, and have not so subtly been begging my partner to head down there with me so we can pick out a new friend, so I’ll certainly keep you updated as to how that one goes…

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 Another awesome event I had the pleasure of attending last week was for, of course, Children in Need that I have been working with again this year. Gary Barlow was hosted a magnificent dinner at the Grosvenor Hotel in London, and it was about as star studded as they come. I was sat next to magical genius Dynamo, who made me continuously rub my eyes in disbelief as things flew across the table, cards swapped places in people’s mouths without them realising, hands and fingers bent into impossible positions, it really was an experience I will never forget, Among the other celebrities I caught up with were the divine Ben Shepherd, Louis Smith, Eamon Holmes, Dave Myers of the Hairy Bikers, and not forgetting one of the most hilarious conversations of the night with the one and only Louis Walsh. Watching the performances during and after dinner from artists such as Ellie Goulding and of course Gary himself was simply thrilling, and again an evening that will stay with me for along time. I’d also like to add my congratulations to Terry Wogan, Lizze Fee, and all the team who made this years Children in Need smash last years record by I think 5 million, bringing the total up to £31 million, which is just astounding.

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 Another charity event I was involved in last week was the recording of the flash mob dance I have put together for Save the Children, that will be going ahead on the 13th of Dec, so grab your Christmas sweater, get online, and get learning the dance so that you too can help break the world record for the most amount of people dancing together in Christmas sweaters – and raise money doing it! Me and my boys Ashley and Ashley show you how step by step, and we will be posting the link as soon as it goes up for you to get involved.

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 Filming over and sweaters laid to rest, I was off to experience another kind of dancing at Sadlers Wells with my dear friend Pamela Stephenson, to watch M’Longa, a tango show that was an absolute triumph and a joy to watch.

 I had bit of a brush with radio as I stood in for Vanessa Feltz on the panel at Radio London, and I have to say what an experience! I got into a rather heated debate with the, shall we say “mildly opinionated” Katie Hopkins, who really should as far as I’m concerned keep her mouth shut once and for all! Of course I’m all for people standing up for what they believe in, but to be that prejudiced in this day and age is just beyond me.

 So feeling much calmer, I made my way to Parliament to support a new venture I am involved in for the National Youth Arts Trust set up by my friend Fiona Laird, alongside patrons such as Grayson Perry and Ewan McGregor, that involves mentoring young people who want to be involved in the arts, and for various reasons are unable to do so due to lack of funds, It is such an amazing collective to be part of, and just seeing the hope and happiness it brings makes it even more worthwhile. I will introduce you all to the fabulous girl I am mentoring soon, and I can’t wait to keep you informed of her progress.

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 So there you have it, my last two weeks, and hopefully the last time I will be so behind on the blog for say, another how many weeks…!

 Just kidding, so until next week…

Much love,

Arlene x

 

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Part 1: The Week

know it’s been a while since I last checked in with you all, but when you read what I’ve been up to you’ll know why!

 
I’ll start two weeks ago, on the 14th of May, when I flew off to Germany and the land of Starlight Express Bochum.  There I spent a week, and every waking moment of it working on the show for the upcoming 25 year celebrations. We’re talking early morning to late at night meetings, rehearsals, conference calls, you name it we were busy doing it. So it was on barely any sleep I made my way home on the weekend from what was an exhausting, yet truly exciting week, all to be continued with the Birthday show itself in June…
This brings me up to the week just past, and it has truly been a week to remember. It was the week of my 70th birthday, and a week of being surrounded by friends and family from literally all over the world.  The first to arrive was my darling Cimone and her beautiful baby Hudson, who had come to stay with us for the week from Australia. Cimone was my PA for many years, and became a part of our family during that time, although of course there was no rest for the wicked, and having her there to jump back in where she left off was a godsend. Despite our constant contact of emails every week, it’s certainly been a good 4 years at least since we last saw each other, so there were many tears of happiness on arrival.
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With Cimone
 
Long before I had anticipated my birthday would become as big as it did, I had been booked to appear on The Wright Stuff every morning that week, so there I was, with Alana, up at 6am every morning to be in hair and makeup. ready for the morning ahead.  Over the course of the week there were some fascinating topics I got to discuss, with guests including Donal McIntyre, Amy Childs, Dan Wright, and Josh Groban. I had so much fun being on the panel, and I hope you got to tune in at some point over the week and catch me in action! 
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 With Matthew Wright
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With Josh Groban
 
On Monday after the show had finished, I made my way over to the Chelsea Flower Show with Abi, who as you know is the most amazing florist, and it was a dream for both of us to be in the presence of such floral beauty. I was particularly proud of the Alzheimer’s garden, which won a gold medal, which as you know is a charity so close to my heart. Abi and I had such a wonderful afternoon, it really is an event I look forward to every year, and am already eagerly anticipating what next year’s blooms will bring.
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Tuesday afternoon was a crazy catch up with Coco, as being away the previous week, and with every afternoon onwards being filled, left hundreds of emails for us to tackle!

Wed was The Birthday, and due to the party being such an event, I’ve written all about it in a separate post for you to read, complete with fabulous party pics!

Thursday was utter madness, as after The Wright Stuff, I had a photoshoot and interview with Femail Magazine for the Daily Mail, followed by a very grand dinner at the Savoy hosted by the fabulous Kathy Lette, all as well as managing to fit in a visit from my darling Louanne who flew in all the way from Las Vegas for one night to see me! The shoot was at the Kensington Royal Garden hotel, where she came to meet me and we managed to start gossiping straight away while Alana was finishing off my hair and makeup. http://dailym.ai/10Y4okd Two outfit changes, a quick chat all about turning 70, and I was out in exactly 2 hours, which left time for a little more gossip back at home before it was time to get my glam on, and get to the dinner!  It was the most fascinating evening, and I managed to get the hotseat next to the very hot Tom Hollander, who really wasn’t like Rev at all! Also on my table was Andrew Lloyd Webber, jewelry king Theo Fennell, Stephen Fry and Stephen Frears, Terry Gilliam and Nigella Lawson with Charles Saatchi, there were stars all over the room. Kathy certainly has the A list at her fingertips.  It was a thrilling evening, and already quite late before finally making my exit to get a couple more hours with Louanne before she flew back to Vegas early the next morning. I also popped up on the cover of Woman’s Weekly, did anyone manage to get a copy? 
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Friday was my final 6am start, and I’m sure you can imagine I was really starting to feel it by this point!  The last show over, I made my was back home for lunch with our dear friend Nick and Mary Ellen Howey, who had also flown over from Las Vegas for my party. There had been so many people there that night that I had barely had a chance to catch up with anyone other than to say hello and thank you for coming, so it was lovely to sit down for the afternoon and really relax and chat. That evening was our last night with Cimone, so Angus made a beautiful meal, and we all finally sat down, the week over, and nothing but rest over the Bank Holiday to come.
 
Saturday was spent mainly in tears over Cimone flying back to Australia, most of them during our last lunch together at Aubaine up in Hampstead, pretty sure the staff there must think we were all nuts! We waved her off that afternoon, Abi off to a party, and Angus off to the countryside, so it was just me and Alana left in what seemed a pretty quiet house after all the week’s madness. The day ended with some sushi and a very big cuddle, as I waved Alana off home, and finally, on my own, fell fast asleep!
 
I hope you have all had a wonderful Bank Holiday, and don’t forget to read part two of my blog, The Party!
 
Until next week, much love, 
Arlene x