Editor-At-Large: So George gets stoned and crashes his car. Send for Parky!

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The Independent Online

For an entertainer, George Michael is ill at ease on television, only ever appearing to promote a rare new record, or, in the case of last night's Parkinson show, a 50-date European tour. George is a control freak as well as a depressive, and also possesses the rampant egotism that generally goes with low self-esteem.

How I used to dread a phone call from his publicist, the long-suffering Connie Filipello. It was always along the lines of "George would like you to go and have lunch with him, them go to his studio and listen to his album together." I always had to point out that writing 3,000 words of adulatory prose from the bended knee position was not exactly my style. I'd rather let some other hack do the dirty work. I'd prefer to stay on speaking terms because George, when he does actually appear in public, is a good conversationalist and really smart. Even so, at his 40th birthday, I was a bit shocked when the DJ started playing the Great Man's entire repertoire. I haven't encountered such shameless self-promotion since a visit to one of Rod Stewart's houses in the 1970s.

But it would have taken all of Connie's powers of persuasion to have got George on to that sofa on ITV last night, knowing that his recent series of bizarre driving escapades would be high on the agenda, rather than the phone number to buy tickets for his first live show in 15 years.

After the sex in the toilet incident in Los Angeles in 1998, when he was arrested for exposing himself to an undercover cop and charged with lewd behaviour, George turned up on Parky's show and the two made a joke of the incident.

I found the sight of Parkinson making light-hearted banter about casual sex in public conveniences extremely distasteful, and wondered too how the predominantly elderly studio audience would have felt. Then George publicly came out and made a record "Outside" - not exactly a surprise to 99 per cent of his record buyers.

I will not be judgemental about his reasons for keeping that hand away from the closet door handle for so long, because George comes from a close-knit family and was devastated when his mother died. He also lost his lover to Aids, and entered a long depression. He smokes too much dope, but then who cares? Is it really any of our business?

We are buying his music to shag to, to drive to, music to dry our hair to. Quite simply, it forms a pleasurable background to an astonishingly wide range of ordinary people's lives. Do we really have to know whether he waxes his balls, enjoys sex in public parks with strangers wearing a mask or takes too much e?

What was humiliating about last night's encounter was not George's feeble attempts at excuses but Parky adopting the role of grand inquisitor - "So how did that parking incident really occur? Why did you fall asleep at the traffic lights at Hyde Park Corner?" Parky is a classy interviewer but this was really threadbare stuff, picking over the crap that's been in the tabloids and regurgitating it again on the telly.

We are the vampires not George (Parky quoted one newspaper that claimed that George was living the life of a vampire, only going out at night), sucking the lifeblood out of any bit of tittle-tattle about a public figure.

George Michael would like to make records, not speak to the press and hope that people would buy them in their millions. They generally do, but in today's PR-driven world he is required to get his arse out of bed and on the box to flog tour tickets. If he wants to do his head in with dope, I couldn't care less.

Those closest to him must hope he finds peace and equilibrium another way. And as for his sex life, that's none of our business. Unlike most people who read the Scum and the tacky tabloids, he has a strong sense of family duty and has had a loyal partner for a whole decade. That's certainly better than my track record.

The job is weird but the woman is wonderful

As the servants put the inflatable corgis in a bag for the Balmoral jumble sale, the Queen will be settling down this morning for a nice cup of tea and a quiet rest during The Archers, known to be one of her radio favourites.

Her 80th birthday has been marked in predictable ways, with a walkabout just outside her front door, a swanky family banquet and a visit to Broadcasting House. There have been newspaper supplements and 80 facts celebrating her glorious 80 years.

Walter Bagehot, the eminent Victorian economist and writer, once described the British constitution as a combination of the dignified and the efficient. Elizabeth's strongest trait has been her gift of dignity.

We are living through times in which dignity seems an irrelevant anachronism to an increasing number of her subjects. ITV's idea of prime-time television entertainment is a 71-year-old grandfather asking a 42-year-old gay singer whether or not he had sex aids in the boot of his car. Go to the supermarket and see eight-year-old girls with bare midriffs and make-up. Whatever happened to childhood? Teenagers kick men to death and film it for "fun".

The Queen has been a constant reminder that there is another way of doing things - of not blabbing at every opportunity, of not displaying your emotions or baring your soul.

We may not agree with the role of the monarch, but she has carried out her weird job through turbulent times in her own family and that of the country brilliantly. Charles will be another matter.

Call me! I can help you find hairdressing heaven, Cherie

Cherie Blair's latest crime is to have a hairdresser who charged her £275 a day during last year's general election at a total cost to the Labour Party of £7,700. Sandra Howard couldn't resist leaping into the fray, claiming she only spent £65. So what? My beef is that the hard-working Cherie, who visited more than 50 constituencies, couldn't have found someone who, for the sheer kudos, would do the job a bit cheaper. I have a gorgeous hairdresser who comes to my house early in the morning before I go filming and charges £50. And if you turn up at a TV studio with your hair looking a bit ratty, then the professionals in make-up are always completely happy to sort you out. Pauline Prescott was a hairdresser, so presumably she does her own. Cherie is constantly in the public eye, and is right to be concerned about how she looks. But it's about time she got better advice. I'm only a phone call away.

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