Elvis Presley is better than any Tory MP
Any minute now I'd be saying tearfully that all I really wanted was for her to be happy
Saturday 11 September 1999
To cut a long story short, a couple of weeks ago a large photograph of Helen, sorry, Miss X, appeared on the front page of a national tabloid newspaper under the banner headline "ELVIS'S NEW GIRL NEXT DOOR". I didn't see the original; the only paper we get in August is the Oban Times, but someone faxed it to me. "Well, at least it's not on page three," was my husband's only comment. Even by tabloid standards it was a pretty thin scoop. Miss X, we were told, lives just down the road from Elvis in West London; they were just good friends. She was his first non-celebrity date, his former girlfriends included - continued on page 10. More twaddle on page 10 about his heart-throb credentials and her "dynamic career in marketing", and that was about it.
I telephoned Miss X at her dynamic marketing office. She wasn't there. "Honestly Mum, it's just ridiculous," said Miss X from her West London flat. "I've been told not to go into the office because the place is swarming with photographers. Do you think I should go and stay with Granny?" "Certainly not," I said. "You know granny doesn't get up until 12.30 and if you start banging on her door she'll have one of her turns. Is all that rubbish in the paper true?"
No, of course it wasn't, replied Miss X. She'd been telephoned by a reporter who'd said he had a photograph of her and Elvis holding hands, she had told him to get lost, and that was it.
"You mean, none of it's true then?" I said, feeling curiously like a character from Neighbours. Any minute now I'd be saying tearfully that all I wanted was for her to be happy. Miss X admitted that she'd been out with Elvis a few times; they'd met buying cigarettes at the late-night corner shop. The first time he took her to the cinema, he brought his lawyer with him. It was pretty hopeless going out to dinner together because people kept asking for autographs, so he usually bought a take- away and they had it at home. "Anyway," she added, "you can't complain, Mum, because if you remember, it was you who introduced him to me."
Good grief, I do remember now. It must have been six years ago when Miss X was doing her A-levels. Radio Times commissioned me to do a profile of an up-and-coming boy band - Elvis was one of them; he's now gone solo. I'd never heard of them, but when I mentioned their name, all three daughters had hysterics. "You mean you're actually going to meet THE WET PETS?" they shrieked. "I don't believe it. "Can I come? Can I bring Sarah?" "Of course not, I said, it was a job, but I supposed they could wait in the hotel foyer until I'd finished and then ask for autographs.
In the end it was Helen and three friends who bunked off school for the afternoon to wait in the lobby of the Royal Garden Hotel while I interviewed THE WET PETS in a private suite. The place was swarming with security men growling into walkie-talkies and PR ladies called Lucretia. He said the hotel had been mobbed by frenzied teenage girls the night before, clamouring for THE WET PETS. They were taking no chances. The latest WET PET album was number one in the charts and they were undoubtedly the hottest things in pop music. I was glad she told me that, because they looked like perfectly ordinary lads to me and polite with it. One of them, Gary, I think his name was, even put up his hand at one stage and said "Excuse me, could I go to the toilet please?".
When I had finished asking the lads narrow questions about love, death and the human condition, I mentioned that my daughter and her friends were waiting outside for their autographs, and might they oblige. Of course, they said, they'd give them tickets for their next concert. In the foyer, the four schoolgirls stood demurely waiting for the investiture.
Fans and idols shook hands, exchanged tickets and went respectively to the lifts and the limos. When the lift doors closed, the four demure schoolgirls opened their mouths wide and started screaming. As introductions go, it was more original than the tennis club or a bar in Mallorca. But mothers don't want originality for their daughters; they want security, sobriety and someone who goes to work in a suit at 9am and comes home... what am I saying? Men in suits don't go home, they run off with their secretaries and become Tory MPs. At least Elvis can sing.
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