Monday, October 20, 2014


  The last time I was in Guy Ritchie's Mayfair pub The Punchbowl was about a year ago when it was so crowded that getting to the bar for a drink was a major challenge. Outside, security guards patrolled the street to make sure the hordes of drinkers did not stray off the pavement.
  Ever since Guy Ritchie and Madonna bought it in February 2008 for 2.8 million pounds from Greg Foreman, the son of gangster Freddie Foreman, the 300-year-old pub has been a favourite of the rich and famous and, consequently, the star-spotters and paparazzi. Princes William and Harry were customers, as were David Beckham, Kevin Spacey, Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Timberlake. Ritchie celebrated his 40th birthday there in September 2008. When Ritchie and Madonna divorced he kept the pub as part of the settlement.
  But now Ritchie has sold the pub to Cirrus Inns and how things have changed! No more celebrities, so no more crowds or security guards. While other pubs in the area are doing good business the Punchbowl, lacking customers, closes at 5pm on Sundays..  
  Friends say that although Ritchie enjoyed his role as a pub landlord he became fed up with what went with it----a few months after he bought it it was investigated for alleged trading breaches but was cleared of charging tourists more than regulars. 
 And in 2009 Westminster council received 37 complaints about noise from the pub.
  No danger of that happening now!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Even on wet weekday mornings Chelsea fans head to Stamford Bridge to shop, take the stadium tour, visit the museum and, of course, have their pictures taken outside the ground. One of the biggest attractions is a mural of the 2014 Chelsea team with a space in the middle for a fan to sit, between Jose Mourinho and Didier Drogba and perhaps dream for a few seconds of Premiership fame.

Friday, October 10, 2014


A Cocktail Week party
  Seems I've arrived in London at the right time. The London Film Festival, which opened with a wet
and windy gala premiere of The Imitation Game, serendipitously coincides with London Cocktail Week, which is based in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden, where I happen to be staying
Keira Knightley on a soggy red carpet

 So while Benedict  Cumberbatch and Keira
Knightley were attempting to keep dry and keep their hair under control --at least Keira was---on a sodden red carpet, Cocktail Week partygoers were packing into the pop-up bars which sprung up every night in shoe shops, art galleries, beauty parlours and most other shops you can think of throughout Covent Garden---an area not short of pubs to begin with. It's going to be a most enjoyable festival!.   

Monday, September 29, 2014


    I find it hard to believe but the lovely British actress Felicity Jones tells me she is having problems finding a boyfriend.      
 Having recently broken up with artist Eddie Fornieles after a ten year relationship, the angelic-looking Felicity is unattached and confesses to having difficulties playing the dating game.
   “I went on a couple of dates recently and they were very awkward,” she tells me. “I don’t want to go into the gory details of my love life but I was with this person and it was so awkward because you know what it’s like when you are so nervous you don’t know what to say to each other but you really like the person? And it’s always when you like someone that you never know what to say. Why is that? It’s so annoying. But when you don’t like someone you feel so cool and you say all these wonderful things.”
   The green-eyed actress who is at the centre of plenty of Oscar buzz for her role as Stephen Hawking's wife Jane Wilde in The Theory of Everything, had been with Fornieles since they met while they were both studying at Oxford University and they lived together in Bethnal Green until the beginning of this year.
  “I have had love and I have lost love and I was just in a very long relationship that was very important to me but unfortunately it broke down,” she says. “But I learned so much from that relationship and I am glad that person was very, very important to me and I had him in my life.”
   She is, she says, single at the moment but adds: “I am definitely romantic and I love romantic stories---that’s why I keep making romantic movies. It’s funny how seeing a love story never gets boring because it’s the dream isn’t it? It’s the dream to have a true connection with another human being.”

Monday, September 22, 2014


 Congratulations to my old mate Armando Gallo, one of the top rock photographers of the 60s and 70s,  who has just brought out an app, Genesis---I know What I Like, based on his 1980 book about the iconic British band. 
 The app features hundreds of never-before-seen photos and new interviews, making it the most ambitious and interactive rock app ever released for tablets, in which new material can be added over time.  
Armando, now photographing celebrities in Hollywood, which is where I met him, moved to London from Rome in 1966 and became a rock 'n roll journalist, covering the Beatles, Hendrix, Procol Harem, The Troggs, Pink Floyd, Small Faces, the Nice and many more. 
  A longtime Genesis fan, he toured the U.S with the band in 1974 and moved to Los Angeles the following year. 
 As well as containing the Genesis---I Know What I Like book, with more than 200 pages and 500 photographs, the app, available at iTunes App Store, also has unreleased early Genesis music, exclusive photos and plenty of other gems for Genesis fans. 
 Says Armando: "This book was truly a labour of love. I was in a privileged position following the band and I wanted to share the experience with all my fellow Genesis fans."  

Thursday, September 18, 2014


    Some people have to die before finding fame. And fame has come very late for Peg Entwistle, a 24-year-old out of work actress who committed suicide 81 years ago by jumping off the Hollywood Sign.

 Welsh-born Peg (left), a symbol of tragedy and failure, Hollywood-style, had appeared in several  Broadway plays that quickly closed and like so many others she moved to Hollywood seeking stardom. She appeared in Thirteen Women but most of her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. After that she could not get work and, broke and heartbroken, she ended her life in a symbolic way. Some say her ghost still haunts the trails of Mount Lee.
Hollywood it was
    When she jumped off the letter H the sign still read HOLLYWOODLAND but it was restored in 1949 without the last four letters. 
   One of the most iconic signs in the world, it was recently refurbished and over a ten week period, each of the 45 feet high letters was carefully stripped, primed and repainted white. 
  Now it seems Peg will finally get to be a star.
Writer-director Tony Kaye is reportedly planning a movie based on Peg's story. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


  Cracked open a bottle of champagne with the weird and wonderful Bill Murray in Toronto. Originally an assistant had brought him a green health drink but Bill turned his nose up.;

“I don’t know what’s in it,” he said. “Some greens and ginger I think. Let’s have some champagne. Bring it in.”
   Someone appeared with a bottle of champagne and we raised our glasses. “I like alcohol but I don’t have a favourite drink which is probably why I’m not an alcoholic," he said."If I had a favourite I’d probably be a drunk. I like to have different drinks. Last night I was drinking something with rum in it.”
   The night before he had been drinking at a celebration party held at the restaurant owned by his old friend director Ivan Reitman following the premiere of Murray’s latest movie St. Vincent, in which he plays a cantankerous old curmudgeon who forms an unlikely friendship with a 12-year-old boy living next door. It was no coincidence the premiere was held on the day which the Toronto Film Festival had declared Bill Murray Day and arranged day-long free screenings of some of his most popular movies.
    “It was a dizzy day,” recalled the 63-year-old actor. “I rode my bicycle around the streets and people called out to me and waved and I had a lot of texts and I saw a lot of old friends I hadn’t seen for a long time. Then at the premiere the crowd was wild. I’d never seen anything quite like that before. Then we had the party and there was a great disc jockey.”
    We had met in a Toronto hotel at an interview arranged by the Weinstein Company, the distributors of St. Vincent. It is something of a special occasion because it is virtually impossible to make arrangements with Bill Murray for anything. He does not have an agent, a manager, a publicist or any of the usual trappings of a major star, so anyone who wants to get hold of him calls a toll-free telephone number and leaves a message. If he wants to talk, he’ll call back, but most of the time he doesn’t. He freely admits his indifference has cost him several roles in movies he would have liked, but he has also managed to appear in some 60 movies, including such epochal comedies as Stripes, Meatballs, Groundhog Day and Caddyshack as well as the drama Lost In Translation, which earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination, and seven films by one of his favourite directors, Wes Anderson, beginning with Rushmore in 1998 and most recently in The Grand Budapest Hotel earlier this year.
    He has an iPad which he says he uses for playing the game Clash of Clans with one of his sons and a telephone which he only uses to send and receive texts. “I don’t like talking on the telephone,” he told me.
  Like the characters he often portrays, Bill Murray plays by his own rules and the stories about him are many and legendary. For a while he was prone to sneaking up behind strangers in the street, covering their eyes and when they turned to see who it was he’d smile and say: “No one will ever believe you.”  At the Berlin premiere of The Grand Budapest Hotel last year he got out of the car holding a full martini glass which he then downed in one gulp. His surprise cameo appearances over the years have included singing karaoke in bars, gate-crashing parties, some impromptu bartending and casual partygoing, all of which have made him an endearing figure and the kind of person worth having a whole day devoted to him by a film festival.