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?'


'What did you have?'


'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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury


Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7


Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary


Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige


Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions