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  • Lesley-Ann Jones

JOY TO THE WORLD



The Royal Mail negated my inclination to post physical cards this year. What point in sending them only to see press and broadcast images of vast mountain ranges of them soaked and spilling from choked depots, getting chewed to oblivion by squirrels and rats? I suppose, even vermin gotta eat.


Instead, I have donated the cost of cards and stamps to charity, and am raising my favourite cocktail to you from my watering hole du jour, Ivy Asia on London's King's Road.

I am also here to recommend my Books of the Year. Full disclosure: some of my dearest friends are fellow authors. It follows that the writers of these three unputdownable tomes and I are pals. Be not dissuaded. Devour them instantly and thoroughly. Remain of good cheer that writing of such crisp precision, erudition and elegance still exists. You will not, I guarantee, be bored. Besides, we all require distractions from decked halls and turkey tedium.


Simon Napier-Bell's SOUTH MOUTH, SWEET BOTTOM is the most candid account yet of his own dissolute, reckless life, during which he has excelled as a musician, songwriter, manager of superstar artists, creator of spectacles, disruptor, agitator and, to many worldwide, an utterly indispensable chum. 'Who's a wife, who's a lover, who's a shag?' he ponders brazenly in one chapter, before proceeding to dissect the differences. I don't remember the retraction he recalls in another, which is curious since it involves me directly, but at least he admits that the story I wrote was true! Having spent my adult life working for a record company, two radio stations, a pair of TV channels, just about every national newspaper and several publishing houses on the subject of music and musicians, I had been crossing paths with Simon for years before he and I realised that we could not live without one another. I love him and his husband Yo dearly. I adore this book as though it were my own child. Nay, as though I had written it myself.


Fellow SCRIB Philip Norman hates being called a 'rock author', but that is (mostly) what he is. He made his name with his definitive study of the Beatles, SHOUT!, and has chronicled the lives of every great you can think of. He now revisits, in WE DANCED ON OUR DESKS, the years he spent on The Sunday Times colour supplement during the 1960s. Arriving at the magazine at the age of twenty-two, he proceeded to travel the globe on outrageous expenses, interviewing everyone from Colonel Gaddafi to Louis Armstrong. He also immersed himself in an intoxicating office lifestyle which, he confides, 'made the Borgias seem almost civilised by comparison.' 'Bridgerton' with hacks is the scandalous size of it.


Graham Boynton is the father of Lucy who plays Freddie Mercury's girlfriend Mary Austin in the Queen flick 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. He was a travel writer and editor of lofty reputation when I first knew him: we had YOU magazine's fearless editor Nick Gordon and Graham's wife Adriaane, my colleague, in common. Graham is also an internationally acclaimed author whose latest work, WILD, unravels the life of his friend Peter Beard - the infamous American artist, fashion photographer, adventurer and writer who lived, louched and loved on three continents. A being of irresistible extremes, Beard seduced some of the world's most magnetic beauties including supermodel Cheryl Tiegs; leeched the lifestyles of the rich and famous, not least that of Nile Rodgers; and carried himself with an arrogance so captivating that few could resist his charms. Great was the fall-out and numerous were his victims. Beard was imbued with a darkness, some referred to it as a madness, that threatened the very existence of countless others. In death, as in life, he is a mystery. Boynton rekindles the enigma stylishly and with grace.


That's it, folks. Happy Christmas and New Year to one and all. Stay safe, and see you on the flip.

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