I came, I saw, I had a cheeseburger

THE FIRST couple of minutes in the queue for Planet Hollywood went fine, even rather well. We stood at the back, not entirely sure if we were going to commit ourselves or not. Then, no longer at the very back, I could feel the beginnings of settling in, of wanting some return on my investment. Angela kept saying: 'Come on,' and 'For God's sake]' I told her that the queue was part of the point of the place. Anyway, the second couple of minutes were a lot worse.

After half an hour, hungry, I went to get some beer and crisps from the shop up the road, walking past half-empty Indian, Chinese and Italian restaurants. When I got back, we had advanced a few feet - enough, if we craned our necks, to see the motorcycle ridden by Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon in the lobby, to get close to the Planet Hollywood officials, wearing the brashly cheerful, logo- etched Planet Hollywood uniform.

Inside, much later, we took our place in another queue, roped off, guarded, with a view of part of the central hall. The roof twinkled with points of light; screens exploded with lurid clips from action movies. People were shouting, the staff talking to each other on mobile phones. Next to me, on the wall in a perspex case, was the knife used by Sylvester Stallone in Rambo III. The very knife. Across the corridor, in another perspex case, was the Arctic Parka worn by Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2. It was bluish, a little ripped, with a label: 'Arctic parka. Flight type. Not Endangered species. Dry Clean Only.' Crass, certainly. But how could it be crass to be interested in it? It's like looking at Roman remains, except for the fact that it's actually fascinating, actually relevant. This is part of the most powerful imperialism in history; I've seen people in Bruce Willis T-shirts in four continents. Next to the Arctic Parka was Mel Gibson's flak jacket from Lethal Weapon, with the genuine fake bullet holes you see in the film; then there was Errol Flynn's battered old leather smock from the 1938 movie Robin Hood. And the jacket worn by Orson Welles in Citizen Kane. Okay? Is that not fascinating? The jacket worn by the star of perhaps, or at least in many people's opinion, the best movie ever made? Think how many people have seen that jacket, and not remembered it. I certainly didn't remember it. It's striped. It looks really old. Next time I see the film I'll look out for it.

I was hungry. The people in the queue beside me were hungry. But we weren't hungry for food; not exactly. We wanted this knife, this flak jacket, this smock. And did I tell you about the axe? Remember Jack Nicholson in The Shining, in one of his craziest roles, when he spends half the movie with a weirdly blank, benign smile, and then goes mad, attacking his family, breaking down the door with an axe? Here it is, labelled 'rubber stunt axe used in the film'. This is really it, this is the axe you see in the famous publicity poster. And here, on the wall, is the high-school yearbook of 'Thomas C Mapother IV', who has the shortest hair of his contemporaries, and credits for 'Varsity wrestling, Varsity soccer, Varsity club, Key club.' This is how Tom Cruise was, before anybody could have dreamed of his present celebrity, a smudge of his pre-fame face; he smiles, and wears a tie with a knot the size of an orange.

We were led to our table and offered a choice of cocktails. I had a Dirty Harry; so did Angela. She said: 'I'd like a Dirty Harry.' The waiter said: 'Wouldn't we all?' She had chicken fajitas, a Mexican dish of grilled chicken cut into strips and eaten with chilli sauce in thin pancakes. I had a cheeseburger. As we ate, cheerful action clips spooled away to the sound of disco music: somebody putting a hand over somebody's mouth; a man falling through water; a man bulging a bicep; Arnold Schwarzenegger hitting somebody so hard he flies through a window; Stone Age people fighting, an explosion, a long screen kiss, John Belushi playing a guitar, motorbikes, cars, things flashing, blowing up, more people kissing. A few feet away, a woman climbed up on to her table and danced, slowly, holding a bottle of tomato ketchup. The waiter came up and said: 'I'd recommend the white chocolate bread pudding.'

In the lavatory, as I was looking for the soap, an attendant darted out and squirted some into my hand. Another attendant said: 'What are you eating? Have you had your first course yet?'

'Yes.'

'What did you have?'

'Cheeseburger.'

'What was it like?'

'It was . . . fabulous]' I was getting into the spirit.

'Great] And what about - what about dessert?'

'I'm having the, the bread pudding]'

The first attendant chimed in: 'I envy you] The bread pudding] That would be my choice]'

There were maybe 30 colognes and perfumes: Eau Sauvage, Obsession, Eternity. That was why the place smelled so funny - a mixture of char-grilling and scent. I ate my bread pudding, watching clips from King Ralph and Lethal Weapon (II? III?) with Mel Gibson possibly on the motorcycle in the Planet Hollywood lobby, right underneath where I was sitting.

And then I walked out, slowly, past the Gladstone bag used in License to Kill, which contains a tube of toothpaste, a shaving brush, a razor, two mouse traps and a tube of Pritt, past the sand-scratched Webley pistol used by Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, the glasses worn by Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy, and Spock's ear-tips, 'specially rare, since they have not been marred by glue- seams', and out into the tacky, pulsing, kiosk- lined, billboard-decked theme-park that is the West End of London. But I was feeling good; now I knew there was some escape from this dross; I'd seen something real. And the hamburger was fine, it really was.

Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
books
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
books
Arts and Entertainment
The man with the golden run: Daniel Craig as James Bond in 'Skyfall'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Waving Seal' by Luke Wilkinson was Highly Commended in the Portraits category

photography
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor