A week or so ago, word went round medialand that Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood,61, was entangled with a 19-year-old Russian cocktail waitress. Suddenly, the rocker's London home was laid siege by tabloid reporters. Sad – or not – to say, they never cornered him.
How galling, then, for them to discover yesterday that he had, at the tabloids' moment of greatest need, been secure in the custody of that well-known scandal sheet The Financial Times. We know this because the FT's interview was published yesterday, and what a welter of confessions the pink paper wrung from him: that it took a "17-year apprenticeship" to be accepted wholly by the Stones ("Charlie and Bill stood up for me"); Lucian Freud loves his landscape paintings; and that Tracey Emin is a friend ("She's like my aunt").
And then, of course, there's his famed drinking. He'd been up drinking all of the night before (not a normal confession for FT interview subjects); there were 20 pubs within a square mile of his Dublin home; and "sometimes I get so bored I think I'll have a drink. I don't mean any harm but I just go off the rails." He was, apparently, trained for it, telling how, when his childhood home's lawn was dug up, 1,700 Guinness bottles were discovered buried under it.
Then, as talk turns to Wood's latest art exhibition, his "Little Red Rooster" ringtone goes off.
"He seems agitated," writes the interviewer. "The call brings news," he says, "of the Sun door-stepping his home in Kingston, south-west London."
The FT, unpractised at lowering the tone in its interviews, does not press for further, unseemly details. But, adds the paper's man: "A few days after our lunch, I realise that he had been given news that the paper was about to write a story about how during the week of our meeting, he was holed up with a young Russian waitress." Timing, as they say, is everything.