Thursday, February 25, 2016


in 1988....
  It had been 28 years since Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards and I last saw each other so when we got together in New York the other day we had a lot of reminiscing to do. 
  We both agreed we looked slightly different nowadays but Eddie was the same upbeat, optimistic and energetic guy who was working as a plasterer when he qualified, entirely self-funded, for the 1988 Winter Olympics ski-jumping competition.
.......and now!
  Despite finishing last in both the 70 and 90 metre events and embarrassing snooty British Olympic officials in the process, Eddie became a household name and endeared himself to people around the globe because of his guts, fortitude and refusal to give up. .
 When the Olympics finished he flew to Los Angeles where I picked him up in a limo at the airport and took him to NBC studios in Burbank where he was due to appear on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.  While I waited backstage sampling the free beers in the hospitality room Eddie turned on the charm for Carson and presented him with an Olympic pin.
  Afterwards we did the rounds of pubs and clubs--starting at the King's Head in Santa Monica where he wanted fish and chips and then to downtown Los Angeles where we hit several clubs including the now-defunct Stock Exchange where a group of girl clubbers recognised him and sent him notes across the bar, much to his delight.
  "I fell in lust about three times that night," he laughingly told me in New York.
  He was in New York to help promote Eddie the Eagle, the 20th Century Fox film about his Olympic adventures which stars the Welsh actor Taron Egerton as Eddie and features Hugh Jackman as his alcoholic trainer---a character who didn't exist, says Eddie.
  "He's a composite of all the many trainers I had from so many different countries," he says. "But basically the movie is true to most of the facts."
  After Eddie's spectacular but brave failures, the British Olympic Committee, who felt he was making a mockery of the sport, instituted what became known as the Eddie the Eagle Rule which made it much tougher for hopefuls to qualify for the Olympics.
 Consequently Eddie failed to qualify for the 1992 Winter Olympics in, France, the 1994 Games in Norway and the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan.
  Undeterred and now aged 52, he still skis whenever he can, earned a law degree, still works occasionally as a plasterer and gives motivational talks, makes personal appearances and has appeared in advertisements.
  "It feels very surreal having a movie made about me, he says. "Getting to the Olympics 28 years ago was fantastic---it was a dream and the realisation of my ambition to represent my country.

 "It was a huge bonus to be christened Eddie The Eagle and I loved it and it was great fun.but I never thought in a million years that 28 years later a movie would be made about my life. It's just incredible."

Sunday, February 14, 2016


  Friends, fellow golfers, drinking pals and all those whose lives he had touched packed into the back bar of Ye Olde King's Head in Santa Monica for a memorial drink and group photograph paying tribute to Tom "Gibbo" Gibson, who died in late January.
With Gibbo on the Isle of Man
  The photograph has been sent, along with others, to his sister Nettie in the Isle of Man, where a similar memorial was held in Gibbo's local pub, the Queen's Arms on the Douglas seafront.
  Aged 71, he was taken to hospital after falling downstairs at his home and was eventually removed from life support. 
  Manchester-born Gibbo, a fervent Manchester City supporter and long time King's Head regular, left his home in Playa del Rey five years ago to return to the UK, where he lived with his sister in the Isle of Man, but he always kept in touch with his friends in California .
    An excellent golfer, he worked as a car salesman in Santa Monica for many years until retiring to
play more golf.
A photo board tribute in the King's Head
  Friendly and affable, he loved a joke and a laugh and, generous to a fault, he was a good friend to many.
   I last saw him in October when my wife and I visited the Isle of Man. We drank with him in his local pub and the following day he took us on a tour of the island.
   He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


 He may have all the trappings of the big-time movie star he is, but it's hard not to like George
 Clooney. Easy-going and friendly, he comes across as one of  Hollywood's good guys.
 Talking with him about his latest movie, Hail Caesar! a throwback to Hollywood in the 1950s, in which he plays an affable but idiotic movie star, brings out plenty of anecdotes about old Hollywood.
 After all, his first father-in-law was Oscar winner Martin Balsam, his aunt was singer Rosemary Clooney, his  uncle was Oscar-winning actor Jose Ferrer and his cousin Miguel Ferrer.
 " My aunt Rosemary's house was party central for a long, long time and Jose and her would throw these wonderful parties," he recalled when we talked at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. "When he was 20 my father spent the night there drinking with Marlene Dietrich. Gregory Peck and his wife Veronique used to have big parties too and I would go there and Jack Lemmon would be playing the piano and it was a fun, exciting time."
Clooney, Amal, and their house in England.
  Clooney and his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin also throw parties at their English home on a 5.5 acre island in the Thames at Sonning Eye. But, he says, they are very different types of get-togethers.
 "It's not with a lot of famous people," he says. "It ends up being with a lot of politicians. My wife just got President Nasheed released from solitary confinement in the Maldives after he was jailed for political reasons and two nights ago at our house in England he came over to say hello.
It's less about stars and more about people that she and I work with in other parts of our lives."
  Of the house, built in 1680, he says: "I love it there. I have a boat and we share the island with a dinner theatre which is perfect because I'll be able to work there when I need it later."


  It's always a pleasure seeing Nicole Kidman, whom I first met 21 years ago on Batman Forever. A lot of water under the bridge si...