Stop the presses! Hollywood A-lister ventures away from the red carpet and into... um, Essex. Yes, you read correctly: last Sunday, Lindsay Lohan – the actress, socialite and all-round princess of Hollywood – made the somewhat surprising decision to visit the county best known for its fondness for fake tan, miniskirts and white stilettos.
Specifically, she went to Faces nightclub, Gants Hill. A notorious haunt, its usual clientele consists of east London geezers, Z-listers and wannabe WAGs.
Think Chantelle from Big Brother sandwiched between Danielle Lloyd and Jodie Marsh. So what was Lindsay thinking?
There is, of course, one obvious explanation: Lohan's rumoured girlfriend, Sam Ronson, was booked to DJ at the nightspot and, devoted partner that she is, Lindsay came along to support.
On the other hand, there are plenty of more fun explanations – like the possibility that she actually wanted to be there.
After all, who hasn't been tempted by the dubious pleasure of a night spent in the sort of place you know that you shouldn't be seen dead in? Whether it's in our student days or by the time we're old enough toknow better, it can be hard to resist the pull of the sub-par bar. Even if it does mean a night of WAGs and realty-TV stars.
Whatever the reason, I wouldn't mind betting that – secretly, perhaps – Lindsay quite enjoyed her night in the Home Counties. After countless hours spent shimmying on Hollywood's most glamorous dance floors, a bit of spit and sawdust could prove a welcome break.
And, as any seasoned party-goer knows, there's nothing quite like a low-class dive to guarantee a good night. In fact, rather than thinking of them as the poor cousin of the member's bar, perhaps it's time we gave the unpretentious watering-hole the credit it deserves. There are ample reasons to favour a trip to your local over a night at Mahiki.
Here are four:
1. The basics
The cooler the club wants to be, the harder it tries. But do you really want to dance to tunes by leftfield Franco-Japanese art-house rappers? Or, come to think of it, have to watch out for the "art installations" helpfully dotted around the dance floor. Far superior, surely, to spend the night bopping to middle-of-the-road R&B before staggering into the karaoke machine in the corner.
2. The other clubbers
Spend a night in Mayfair, Miami or Beverly Hills, it's always the same. Everyone is so... beautiful. The girls are blonde, tanned and thinner than a sheet of paper. The guys are tall, chiselled and filthy rich. Spend a night in the real world and – bam! – suddenly you're the most attractive in the room. Lindsay may have been forced to grind alongside mere Charley from Big Brother, but at least she can be content in the knowledge that she was not only the most famous person in the room, but also the thinnest, glossiest and best-dressed.
3. Guaranteed entry
Few things are more humiliating than being denied entry to your chosen nightspot – especially with 50 paparazzi to document your shame. But head for the right place and they not only let you in, they might even let Lohan queue-jump. And should she need a knight in shining armour to deal with any paparazzi who manage to track her down, the locals may well be able to offer a pretty direct – and effective – way of getting rid of them.
4. Bathroom attendants
(Or lack thereof.) There are few more awkward dynamics than that between (mildly tipsy) clubber and bathroom attendant. You know the situation: you stumble in, make use of the facilities, and then she – or he – is there, proffering hand cream, a spritz of fragrance and breath mints. It's like a bad dream of the Debenhams beauty hall. Before you know it, you're accepting all of them – and don't think you can leave without a tip. Alice-Azania Jarvis
Read my lips, losers!
What would you say if you'd just been elected President of the US? That you look forward to making the world a better place? Or that everyone who's ever crossed you had better watch their backs? Clearly, these thoughts have been on the mind of Adam Buxton, of comedy duo Adam & Joe. He has overdubbed Barack Obama's victory speech and posted it on YouTube (type in "Adam Buxton Barrack Obama"). Choice lines include: "You've haven't just made me king of America, you've made me king of the fricking world." And: "I'd like to thank John McCain and all those dicks who booed when he mentioned my name when he so massively lost – in your face!" Rob Sharp
Don't be economic with the truth
The phrases "credit crunch" and "economic downturn" have slipped into our daily lexicon as smoothly as George Clooney cracks smiles, but has anyone else noticed how much it is being misused and abused to serve individual interests? All too often, these words are being redeployed as improbable excuses for avoiding social contact. Word up, people: if you've lost your job and are facing repossession, you've earned the right to wallow. Ditto anyone who can see such events coming down the track. But most people playing this card have not (yet) been hit.
Take my friend Emma, a highly paid corporate lawyer with an equally high-earning husband. Emma feels forced to stay in on Saturday evenings watching The X Factor. Asked why, she has the ready-made reply: "Just sitting out the credit crunch." We all know the truth. She loves The X Factor. And the prospect of a night on the sofa is just more tempting than socialising. But she also seems disproportionately worried about a financial crisis that has not yet cost her even her morning latte. Everyone is trying to slash outgoings in unfathomable ways. Sudeley Castle has trumped the field with an announcement that costs will be cut this Christmas by holding off on the mistletoe – has no one told them mistletoe is free, and that kissing people is too, and that both are fun? Sophie Morris
Life imitating cyberspace
With sales up 30 per cent in the first nine months of this year, Scrabble is Britain's favourite board game for the first time since the 1980s. Back then, assembling the tiles into "internet" would have had your opponent scrabbling for a dictionary. But it's Facebook's Scrabulous that's credited with boosting the board game. The question is whether other popular aspects of Facebook will cross over into the non-virtual world. Will people start tagging friends by scribbling their names across their faces? Or poke relative strangers? To anyone telling me their status updates: save it for the web. Larry Ryan