The sun reader
A 'personal' visit from the rising star of meteorology - what a bright prospect. By Anthony Clavane
Anthony Clavane is the author of Does Your Rabbi Know You're Here?, a social history of Jewish involvement in English football, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Football Book Of The Year. His first book, Promised Land, won the 2011 Sports Book Of The Year.
Wednesday 25 March 1998
"This place is much better known for retired colonels and tourists who eat tea and cakes than long-legged, Swedish sexpots who are on Channel 5," mutters Joe Marshall, a music festival organiser. "She's on Live TV," Bob Birch, a close friend of the sexpot and promoter of tonight's extravaganza, corrects him. "And she's bloody Norwegian, not Swedish."
Ann Marie Foss is the type of Norwegian weathergirl who turns heads, especially those of retired colonels, tea-drinking tourists and toad-fanciers. When the 25-year-old, 6ft platinum blonde glides into the pub in a skimpy, animal-print dress and knee-length, Nancy Sinatra kinky boots, the pianist immediately stops playing Tous Les Garcons Et Les Filles and a Leslie Phillips lookalike lets slip an involuntary "Hell-ooooo".
The fact that nobody knows who she is doesn't matter. For she is slowly, but surely, making a name for herself in Britain. Subscribers to cable television, supporters of Millwall (she was installed as the Lions' mascot with the legend The Weather In
Norwegian emblazoned on every player's shirt) and a growing number of pub-goers are being made aware of her charms. Certainly, she is tonight's star attraction. Bob, who along with Budgie has great plans to "push the entertainment boat" out on the Suffolk coast, has worked with many giants in his time, Dylan and Jagger to name but two. But Live TV's leading meteorologist - she replaced a dwarf who used to bounce up and down on a trampoline but had problems reaching Scotland - is "something else, really out of this world"; a top weather-reading celebrity in the great tradition of Michael "Hurricane" Fish and Ulrika "Ka-ka-ka" Johnson. "And she'll go further than them," he promises. An acting career beckons and Channel 5 has already been in touch "to discuss various projects".
Still, the assembled villagers are not entirely clear about her role in the extravaganza. The conjurer conjurs, the chanteuse swoons and wails and the Can-Can girls kick their legs. But what, they are reasonably wondering, does Ann Marie do? I mean,
there are no weather charts in sight and no- one speaks Norwegian.
"She's making a Personal Appearance," says Bob, a little curtly. Joe decides it's time to ask Ann Marie the question on everyone's lips: why is it felt necessary to bring British audiences news of warm fronts and fog patches in Norwegian? "Why not? To many people, the weather is like a different language anyway. It's all, really, about entertainment, having fun, you know? You don't want to know all about low pressures, why the winds come from the north and things like that. You want to know if its going to be rainer or be sunny - excuse my English - and how many degrees if there is going to be a bit of wind or not. You see suns and clouds and temperatures and all that but, being Live TV, we make it entertaining and we say it in Norwegian."
Fair enough. But isn't it all a bit degrading to women? I mean, you'd never get Bill Giles blathering on about early-morning mists in his boxers.
"I think women should try celebrating being women. Women use their bodies and their qualities to their advantage. Feminists who want us to be like men are wrong."
She is very loyal to her boss, and fellow Millwall supporter, Kelvin MacKenzie. "If he's at The Den he'll always give me a ride home." And to his station, which is neither tacky nor exploitative. True, its financial editor is required to perform a striptease and its main selling point is topless darts, but all this is done, inevitably, in the best possible taste. "The financial editor just strips down to her bra, you know. And topless darts is not at all sexual. Its funny, just a little twist. The matches are always very entertaining; the girls just happen to have their tops off."
She firmly believes watching bikini-bottomed babes on sun-drenched beaches throwing small pointed missiles at a round board has a therapeutic value. "Its helping people who have hang-ups, who are ashamed of their bodies. It is helping people to be
more free." What do they think of her back in her home town of Ollerhalla? "At first they couldn't understand what I was doing. But Norway is a very small country, only four million people. So, for a Norwegian to go abroad and and do well - that's great news. My country has loads to offer, you know: skiing, Olympics 94... and football."
Ah yes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Tore Andre Flo and that commentator who famously addressed a list of English icons after his team thrashed us in the early 80s. "Winston Churchill, Lord Nelson, Lady Diana, Henry Cooper... your boys took one hell of a beating." Ann Marie giggles. "He was amazing. He used to scream out things like 'meat balls' and 'stewed beef' and things."
It is the end of the evening, and Ann Marie's Personal Appearance seems to have gone down well in swinging Walberswick. She has attracted a lot of attention from retired colonels, and won over a lot of tea-drinking sceptics. But when an inebriated 18-year-old massages her back and asks what a Scandanavian weather girl like her is doing in a little village pub like this she frowns. "I'm a spy for the Norwegian government, of course. Don't tell anyone but I'm sending out secret signals back home."
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