What is it that attracts so many men to the 34DD model Melinda Messenger?

She is very blonde, with that tremendous bust. She says she'd like to meet Germaine Greer one day. Why, I ask? 'To hear her views on Page Three and everything' '
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I am not sure there is a great deal to choose, frankly, between Melinda Messenger - still "The Page Three Girl Of The Thrillennium" in a lot of people's books - and myself. Truly, can't think of a thing. Except, perhaps, that she looks as if she might puncture and deflate - whoosh! - if she sat on a pin, whereas I look as if I could sit on 22 pins and one of those monstrous darning needles for old people with arthritis and still not notice a thing. But, so what? It doesn't bother me. I'm a socialist/feminist. I've done Women's Studies at East Anglia. Moreover, I've noted a rather darling little shoe shop just a few doors down from where we are having lunch.

I am not sure there is a great deal to choose, frankly, between Melinda Messenger - still "The Page Three Girl Of The Thrillennium" in a lot of people's books - and myself. Truly, can't think of a thing. Except, perhaps, that she looks as if she might puncture and deflate - whoosh! - if she sat on a pin, whereas I look as if I could sit on 22 pins and one of those monstrous darning needles for old people with arthritis and still not notice a thing. But, so what? It doesn't bother me. I'm a socialist/feminist. I've done Women's Studies at East Anglia. Moreover, I've noted a rather darling little shoe shop just a few doors down from where we are having lunch.

"Melinda, shall we?" I ask, eagerly.

"Yes, let's!" she exclaims, excitedly. I think Melinda would, also, attend a Tuesday evening women's consciousness-raising group, if only it didn't clash with Changing Rooms, followed by Looking Good with Lowri Turner. Anyway, this is how, after our lunch in Primrose Hill, north London, we end up in this divine shoe shop where, instantly and totally and magnetically, Melinda is drawn to a pair of knee-high, wedge-heeled, fake llama-skin boots at a price that would be reasonable, if it weren't so stupendous.

"Go on," I urge.

"Go on," urges the man who owns the shop.

"Excuse me," I say. "Do you know who you are talking to here? It isn't just anybody. It's Germaine Greer. Show more respect, please."

"Go on, Germaine," he urges.

"Llama is very you, Germaine," I add, mostly because it's one of those things I've always yearned to say, along with: "Quick, follow that cab."

Melinda says she'd actually like to meet Germaine one day. Why? I ask. "To hear her views on Page Three and everything." What would you expect her to say? "That it turns women into sex objects." What would you say? "If it were men pictured in their underpants instead, would we treat them as sex objects?" Rather! Actually, I am minded to give her my little pep-talk on pictures of semi-clad men and pictures of semi-clad women not being quite the same thing in a society where patriarchy is such a dominant force that it's led to the masculinisation of most of the major institutions but, hey, just look at those shiny, sheepskin-lined boots. Aren't they to die for? Wouldn't they, too, be reasonably priced if they weren't so absurdly expensive?

"Go on," urges Melinda.

"Go on," urges the shop owner.

"You've talked me into it," I sigh.

We leave the shop very happy. I thank the owner. I tell him Germaine will most certainly recommend his little boutique to her good friend Andrea Dworkin, who wears down kitten heels like nobody's business. Melinda, now 29, says she isn't usually so extravagant. "I personally can't see the value in designer stuff. I'd prefer 10 items from Warehouse than one exclusive thing." She is still getting used to having money, she says. "When I bought my first flat at 21, I bought all my furniture from MFI, thinking Habitat was much too swish. Now, I go to Habitat, and think Conran is swish." I give her a lift back to her London flat, in Belsize Park - she has another home in Wiltshire, just outside her hometown of Swindon - where she lives with her long-term boyfriend and now husband called, yes, Wayne! Wayne! What a strangely satisfying, awful name, I say. She knows, she says. He knows, she says. "He doesn't even have a middle name he can use. He says it's like his parents couldn't be bothered." What would be better? "Anything would be better. Paul would be better." They've just had a son, now six months old. He is called Morgan. It could have been Kelly "but I tried it out on a few people and they said it was a girl's name". Wayne's sister is called Alexandra. Only joking! It's Tracy.

I wonder if she'll have to hide her new boots from Wayne. Or lie, perhaps. What, these old things? Wayne, where have you been? I've had them for ever. No, she says, she won't. "I'm a useless liar and he'll find me out. Why, do you lie?" she asks. Of course not, I tell her. I'm a socialist/feminist. I can spend my money any way I wish. Although, that said, I might hide mine under the bed until, at least, we've had the gas put back on and the phone reconnected. She says Wayne will be baffled more than anything else. "He is very sensible. I'll say I need new socks and he'll say what? You've got four pairs of socks already." I say that if there is one thing that my Women's Studies course at East Anglia taught me, it's that men will never realise that when a woman says she needs something, it's not because she needs it, it's because she wants it. "Yes. It's like, bugger it! I want it!" says Melinda. We have bonded, I think.

Actually, it might be quite hard not to bond with Melinda Messenger. OK, I could, I suppose, write a little essay on what it takes to make it on to TV these days (she's currently presenting ITV's Baby, Baby which is about babies, funnily enough), or the sort of bloke who might fancy her, but she's so wholly likeable, it would just seem so incredibly mean and vile, somehow. It would be like mugging an old person, or calling at their door, pretending you're from British Gas, and nicking their purse from the mantelpiece. I can be horrid, I know, but never that horrid, and only when there is a "d" in the day of the week.

We meet at the restaurant. She is late, but fiercely apologetic. "I was doing Pants for Poverty." Oh? "For Comic Relief. I had to be photographed in a big pair of brown Y-fronts. I looked very attractive." She is very blonde, with that tremendous 34DD bust. Actually, I'm not that jealous. After all, mine are my own work, and come with an added sense of mystery - not least because, when lying down, you can never tell if I'm on my front or my back. Still, I find I am - along, probably, with a lot of Sun readers - interested in her breasts, which she had "enhanced" in her mid-twenties. Why did you have them done?

"It's just an idea I got into my head."

"Why?"

"So I wouldn't have to wear a push-up bra."

"Melinda, there are some things in life that are exhausting. Climbing Snowdon, for example. But putting on a push-up bra? That can't be too bothersome, can it?"

"I just thought I'd prefer it shape-wise, although it didn't make a huge difference. I went from a C to a DD."

"What did Wayne think?"

"He thought: what a complete waste of money."

"And your mother?"

"Best not talk about that."

Melinda and her mother, Avis. There is something very painful going on here. Indeed, when Melinda first started appearing topless in The Sun in 1997 her mother gave an interview, saying: "This is just about the worst thing Melinda could have done to me. I brought her up to believe women's bodies were there to be respected, not prostituted to meet the perverted desires of men... I will never be able to speak to her again." Ouch!

Yes, and it's still ouch! - although Melinda asks that we don't talk about it because "things are on the mend, and I really don't want to jeopardise it". I suppose it must be quite complex. I mean, coming from such a background, how did Melinda end up being as she is? I just don't know. Whatever, there are tears in her eyes. We talk about Morgan instead. She adores him. Wayne - whom she first met at 19 in a nightclub in Swansea - looks after him while she's working and, yes, sometimes she does get jealous. "I'll come in and Wayne will say: 'Oh, Morgan did this.' Or: 'Morgan likes that.' And I find I sometimes want to say: 'I know what my son likes.' But it's only fleeting." She would like more children. Lots more children. And particularly a daughter. "Because there is a unique bond between mothers and daughters, isn't there?"

"Would you call yourself a feminist, Melinda?"

"I do what I want and earn my own living so, in that respect, I think I am."

"What would you find degrading?"

"I was once offered a huge amount of money to do a top-shelf man's magazine, but I refused."

She was born and grew up in Swindon. Her parents - her father, Terry, worked for WH Smith - separated when she was five. Melinda loved school, and loved everything about it, particularly Art and English. She is still a big reader. "I always have at least four books on the go." These currently include Harry Potter and Lulu Wang's The Lily Theatre. "I prefer books to TV, film, anything," she says. She left school with decent O-levels and got a good job in marketing, while toying with modelling on the side. She was quite half-hearted about it, in fact, but signed up with a local agency in Swindon, who did some pictures of her in white, lacy bra and knickers. It was this picture which ended up as a poster for a local double-glazing firm, with the slogan: "Class behind glass." However, no sooner were they pasted on bus shelters in Swindon when adolescent boys made off with them. So, in came the Daily Star and The Sun, waving their chequebooks...

But what I want to know is: what did it do for Glevum Double Glazing? Did their sales shoot up? "I don't know," she says. "But they are still getting publicity, aren't they?"

She is, mostly, a cheerful person, I think. Do you ever get melancholy Melinda? "Yes," she says, "but only when I'm hormonal." She adores the telly career. "It's, actually, the biggest surprise of my life. I certainly don't take it for granted." She is a nice, warm person and I am pleased she has landed on her feet - or at least what she can see of them; which is a shame, what with the new boots and everything. I love my new boots, by the way. And they might even be quite feminist-socialist in their expensive, shiny, rather high-heeled sort of way.

'Baby, Baby' is on Fridays at 2.35pm on ITV

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