The Adventures Before My Adventure

Hello from Hong Kong! Yes it’s finally arrived and here we are ready to open the international tour of Starlight Express! Despite the final rehearsals running from morning till night I’m hoping to be able to get out and see some of the city before I head on to my next port of call, New York! I’ll tell you all about HK, and what I’m doing in NY when I check in next week.

But first let me tell you all about last week’s adventures. It was pretty busy as I was doubling up between The Wright Stuff every morning, and Starlight Express rehearsals all afternoon and evening – however I did manage to fit in a few other exciting things….

Did you catch me on the Wright Stuff? If not there’s a few episodes here and you can see me in action, so to speak! I had such a great time, and loved meeting Jolly Olly, Ana Matronic, Louis Emerick and Cian Ciaran!

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Tuesday was the only day that week I didn’t appear on the show, and that’s because I was in Leeds for a very special 100th Birthday party! My brother in law’s Aunt Rose, who is, at 100, still the sharpest, most switched on and fabulous lady I have ever met. She really is an inspiration in the truest sense of the word, and I can only hope to be laughing away as brightly as she was in years to come.

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Wednesday I managed to fit in a wonderful couple of hours between The Wright Stuff and Starlight, attending the Arts Lunch at the Science Museum, hosted by Christopher Hastings. The guests included Reece Shearsmith, Terry Gilliam, Janet Suzman, Michael G Wilson, John Sessions, Margaret Drabble, Imogen Stubbs and Miranda Richardson The food was divine, the conversation scintillating, and the exhibition that was to follow after lunch looked incredible. Unfortunately I had to dash back to rehearsals so couldn’t stay to see it, but I will be there as soon as I get back from my travels.

Thursday we had our final run through of the show before we left, and it is looking truly phenomenal, if I do say so myself! Now let’s go show Asia what we’ve got!

Friday afternoon after my final morning on The Wright Stuff was just meeting after meeting and an intense catch up with Coco as it was the last day I had with her, and I’m not back for three weeks… So you can imagine it was rather hectic. After getting everything pretty much sorted I was looking forward to a lazy Saturday of packing, when disaster struck…

As I mentioned earlier after my trip to HK I’ll be winging my way to the US, where for the first week I’ll be rehearsing for the American tour of We Will Rock You somewhere in upstate New York called Utica. (Anyone? No, me neither!) So there I’ll spend my first week, then of course it would be silly to be so close and not get to one of my favourite places in the world, New York City baby! Anyway, as I was glancing down my itinerary, I realised that my hotel dates for staying in NY had been booked for September! Panic set in, how had I not seen this before? How had no one spotted it? I was beside myself having managed to find a fabulous deal on a hotel right there in midtown, would they even have any rooms left and worst of all had I lost all my money?! I’m happy to say that there was another room for me, and thankfully was only charged for one night cancellation, or you would have heard me screaming all the way to the city!

That being resolved I was able to head to dinner that evening with a smile on my face. It was my Abi’s 23rd Birthday, and we were celebrating with dinner at the fantastic new restaurant Chotto Matte on Frith St, where I swear every dish they brought out was more divine than the next. We had the most wonderful evening, finished off with desserts from heaven!

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Sunday and leaving day seemed to arrive so soon, and I spend my final hours at home surrounded by my wonderful family having a delicious Birthday brunch of blueberry waffles and pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, all homemade by my better half! After a few tearful goodbyes – yes I know I’m only away for three weeks! – you’d think after all the drama on Saturday I’d have had my share, but of course I couldn’t get off that easily – after a traffic free ride to the airport, there was me thinking I was out of the woods and on my way… but of course the flight was delayed from 10:30pm till 1:30am, how boring!

Still we arrived safe and sound, and here I am! So until next week where I’ll be writing to you from Utica (again, anyone?) for now it’s Zai Jian from me!

Love Arlene x

Part 2: The Party

I can’t even begin to work out how many hours of planning this party took, but let me tell you, every second of them was worth it!  From the moment we walked in, and guests started to arrive, up to the last person to leave – way past the cut off point I might add – it was an absolute success.

The Birthday celebrations had begun earlier in the day on my return from filming that morning on The Wright Stuff. I arrived home to find all my presents on the table, and a lunch of fresh bagels with smoked salmon, ham, turkey and cream cheese all beautifully laid out as a surprise. My gifts were so thoughtful and perfect, and I could hardly believe how lucky I felt opening one after the other, surrounded by my family. Unbeknownst to me, for the past few months my assistant Tully had been making a DVD of video messages sent in from friends all over the world, and I sat and watched it in tears as message after message played in front of me. Coco had also as a surprise made a book of all the birthday letters sent to me, alongside pictures from years ago I had never seen, and brought back so many wonderful memories. With emotions already running high, all the girls were buzzing around the house, in and out of Alana‘s magic makeup chair, until it was finally my turn. With my hair pulled back in a simple ponytail, and just some eyeliner and lipgloss, I wanted to go for something understated that said I’m 70 and I look fabulous! I wore a black vintage jumpsuit with a Vivienne Westwood broach, Louboutins and an Aspinal handbag, the look was complete, and I was off to party!
With 200 people there to celebrate with me at the Bloomsbury Ballroom, the night flew past as I greeted all my dearest friends and family, dotting around from one person to the next, only stopping to make a short speech to thank everyone for coming, and to say how special they were to me.  There was champagne, canapes and cupcakes, all of which was heartily devoured, and I could hardly believe it as the clock struck 11, an hour past my intended home time, and I quickly flew home before it reached midnight, and my sensational 70th Cinderella moment vanished in a puff of smoke.
I hope you enjoy the following pictures, and of course there are too many names to mention, but thank you to all the came, and especially to my darling family that worked so hard to make the night of my dreams possible
Love A x

 
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 With Russell Grant
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With Brendan and Zoe Cole
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 With Andrew and Madeleine Lloyd Webber
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With my gorgeous girls Alana and Abi

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