Sue Arnold: Ghostwriting for Geri's yoga teacher's corgi

'What they wanted, said the publisher, was a sort of dog's-eye view of everyday life in Buckingham Palace'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Is it coincidence, I wonder, that the top three non-fiction bestsellers this week are celebrity autobiographies and that a friend who makes her living as a ghostwriter was last seen driving round town in a snappy red sports car instead of her customary old banger?

I hope not. This particular friend, who had better remain anonymous – celebrity ghosts swear more oaths binding them to secrecy than royal butlers – deserves a break. So who was it then – Posh Spice, Robbie Williams or George Best? That's starting to sound like the prototype of a new TV panel game on the lines of Blind Date – three celebrities sit behind a screen and choose which ghostwriter they want to do their autobiographies. Maybe not. I bet it was Posh that provided my friend with her new sports car.

Learning to Fly, by Victoria Beckham, has had rave reviews across the entire literary spectrum, from the Spectator to Heat magazine, and my ghost-writing friend is definitely a cut above your average jobbing journo. Indeed, the more I think about it the more convinced I am that my friend, who from henceforth I shall refer to as Dora, was Mrs Beckham's flying instructor.

Dora has the perfect qualifications for a ghostwriter. She's a professional journalist who trained as an actress, she speaks four languages, including Czech, and most important of all, in an age obsessed with celebrity and Big Brother-style exhibitionism, she's happy to stay out of the limelight.

I even remember her telling me once that ghostwriting is exactly like acting. You're pretending to be someone else and find the language to go with it. It also helps, of course, if you can write. Dora does everything.

The nearest I've ever been to ghosting was a letter from a publisher some years ago wondering if I'd be interested in writing a book provisionally entitled Memoirs of a Royal Corgi. A fairly substantial advance was mentioned, so for courtesy's sake I telephoned to ask what sort of doggy reminiscences she had in mind.

What they wanted, said the publisher – she sounded very excited – was a sort of dog's-eye view of everyday life in Buckingham Palace. The Queen took her corgis everywhere – garden parties, investitures, state banquets, and best of all, quiet evenings at home with the family watching EastEnders. Her Majesty apparently likes nothing better than a quiet evening in front of the television with a tray of scrambled eggs on toast on her lap made from a recipe given her by Mrs Thatcher. The Iron Lady's secret is to spread the toast with Marmite first.

The publisher said she had the names of all the royal corgis and little snippets about each of them so I could choose which one of them I wanted to be. I said I'd think about it and, by the time I had, they'd found someone else. It's a dog's life.

Anyway, much as I relish the idea of swanning round town in a snappy red sports car, there must be easier ways of achieving this ambition than ghosting a celebrity autobiography – even Mrs Beckham's, who by all accounts deserves the sobriquet Nice Spice.

Now there's a coincidence. I've just had a call from another section of the spice rack, a PR called Nina who wanted to know if I'd like to interview Geri Halliwell's yoga teacher. Why on earth should I want to interview Miss Halliwell's yoga teacher, I said? Because Miss Halliwell, currently entertaining British troops in Oman, has just released a video demonstrating how her yoga regime has helped her find health and happiness, said Nina.

Top of Miss Halliwell's list of requirements for entertaining our brave boys with her desert song was a refrigerator full of soya milk. Next came an air-conditioned tent, 24-hour connection to the internet and an ironing board, which seems odd considering that all she appears to be wearing on stage and off is a camouflage bikini.

Sources close to HQ say that when she first appeared on stage in this minimal costume, the soldiers shouted: "Get 'em on, Geri."

I told Nina I'd think about it.