He is definitely not like you and me: the whites of his blue-grey eyes are preturnaturally dazzling. He also seems bathed in golden light as though an invisible 500-watt bulb is trained upon him at all times, and looks like a lightly gilded River Phoenix with a heartbeat. Setting off this twinkling skin-tone, ruffled dark-blond hair and gleaming teeth is a black ensemble: clumpy shoes, black trews and an undertaker's coat which contrives, in some cunning designer way, to be both understated and swanky. This would all be terrifying, but thankfully Mr L has a touch of the giggling gimp in his persona and proves great company.
He talks with relish about his role as Lord Alfred Douglas in the new biopic Wilde. The down-to-earth side of him which requests that the foie gras be scraped off his starter was slightly scandalised by the amount of suit fittings he had to endure, until he was told that Bosie had two new suits a day and drank nothing but champagne. Jude talks with some expertise about the intricacies of Edwardian dress, and describes the luxuriousness of his on-screen dressing-gown, lined with a bolt of 100- year-old velvet from Angels and Bermans. I ask if young actors are now being pressured to get their kits off like the actresses, and he explains with charming gravity that in his case it's always been essential to the plot.
Finally, Chris pays up and goes, leaving me, Jude and his colleague Damon to order coffees. The Independent on Sunday, muses Damon. "That sells about a million, doesn't it?" I assent vaguely: they are film people after all, and a million is film-speak for "not very much". I am keen to grab the bill because I want to put "coffee with Jude Law" on my expenses but Jude insists on paying, then it's kissy-kissy and off with an idiotic smile on my face. I only realise on the bus back to the office that the girlfriend he kept idly mentioning is Sadie Bloody Frost.
In the evening I fulfil a long-cherished ambition and go to Gracelands Palace, the Chinese restaurant on the Old Kent Road where Paul "Elvis" Chan performs over the Peking duck. We had been warned the food was terrible, but it turns out to be perfectly acceptable once you've got used to the sepulchral gloom and glowering Elvis posters everywhere you look. Our friend Kev looks like Elvis's inbred cousin from the swamps in his dungarees, even though they're Osh Kosh, the DKNY of farmwear. At 11.30pm all talk ceases as a deafening fanfare erupts ("the man you've all been waiting for: Paul - ELVIS! - Chan") and a small, handsome man rockets in wearing a white jumpsuit embroidered with Chinese dragons, and a huge rhinestone belt. As he launches into "The Wonder of You" the other diners look on in consternation as we all raise our arms in the air, sing at the tops of our voices and sway from side to side.
It would not be quite correct to say that Paul Chan doesn't miss a beat at this behaviour, because he misses the beat quite often. But he's got a good voice, the smooth Americanisms of his songs contrasting quite startlingly with the heavily accented interjections between them ("I hope you all Elvis fan, right?"). The most hilarious moment comes when, due to a mistimed bit of inter-song banter, he misses the opening of the next song and bellows through it without ever quite catching up with the tune.
But he's completely unfazed, belting out "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight", smooching with a punter, wiggling his hips and windmilling his arms. Kev and Al get up and dance, twirling each other around with great aplomb until, like trainee trapeze artistes, they fumble a catch and go flying off into opposite corners of the restaurant with expressions of the liveliest alarm on their faces. The staff imperturbably carry on delivering bottles of Tiger beer and helpings of toffee apple while this goes on. If nothing else, the Gracelands Palace boasts the most friendly waiters you're ever likely to meet, but I suppose watching your proprietor sing "I just wanna be your teddy bear" every night would crack anyone's inscrutability.Reuse content