Impeccably dressed and naturally convivial, Bill Nighy is happiest in his own company. He talks to Nigel Farndale about football, staring at trees and riding a motorbike with Judi Dench

Bill Nighy has suggested we meet in Notting Hill, in a café run by an Italian family who really know their coffee. His ritual is to come here for an espresso on his way to his favourite Indian restaurant nearby, where he likes to sit and eat on his own while reading a book. But even if he wasn’t a regular here, I suspect he would still be recognised by the waiters, because he never tries to disguise himself in public. On the contrary, he always seems to look like someone doing an impersonation of Bill Nighy.

It’s to do with his black-framed glasses and the bespoke navy suits he wears over open-necked shirts. Today he arrives in an overcoat and midnight-blue silk scarf with white polka dots, which also seems very Bill Nighy. He wears these elegant clothes well, but doesn’t he ever feel like dressing more casually? Putting on a T-shirt and jumper? “Actually,” he says in that mellow and unhurried voice of his, “I never wore T-shirts even when I was supposed to wear them. Never felt I had the right shape. Couldn’t do a T-shirt justice. And I don’t do unshaven well either. It makes me look like someone about to have a breakdown.”
The film team review The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Guardian

He is keenly aware of his own absurdities, which not only include his sartorial “fetishism” (his word) but also a fairly manic obsession with football (in general and Crystal Palace in particular), and music (again in general, but especially Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones). He can’t help it; he has a compulsive nature – one that, like his professed “crippling self-consciousness”, seems to be at odds with the insouciance and languor of his public persona.

But does he ever catch himself stepping into a sort of Bill Nighy character when he leaves his house, playing up to people’s expectations? “Not really, no. I always assume when I meet people in the street that they are going to be basically disappointed. But there’s, what’s the word? There’s no… what is the word? No conflict. There’s no conflict between the private me and the public me.”

The public him, the actor, has had a career that can be divided into two halves. The first got off to a wobbly start. Struggling to find work in the early 70s, he gave up acting and took a job on a market stall in Croydon selling women’s clothes. “Then someone put me up for an audition at the Everyman in Liverpool and my life changed.” The Everyman – where the resident writers were Willy Russell and Alan Bleasdale – was a hotbed of socialism and agitprop. That must have been a shock to his system, given that his father, who ran a small garage in Caterham, Surrey, was a Tory.

“Yes, I was a mess of anxiety and general unease,” he says. “I had somehow managed not to learn the difference between Left and Right, and when I got to the Everyman it was too late to ask. I took the Times in one day and the director took it off me and threw it across the room in disgust.”

From the Everyman he progressed to the National Theatre, where he worked with David Hare, Tom Stoppard and Harold Pinter. But this wasn’t a happy period in his life. Wracked with insecurity about work and money, and suffering from chronic stage fright, he developed an “unhealthy relationship” with alcohol, a dependence he wasn’t to kick until 1992. To this day he still doesn’t like to talk about it.

Then in 2003, at the age of 53, he became highly bankable almost overnight when he won two Baftas, one for playing a newspaper editor in the TV drama State of Play, and another for his role as a washed-up but endearing rock star in the Richard Curtis romcom Love Actually. He appreciates what that film did for him (not least that it got him out of ever having to do an audition again), but he is a bit scratchy about people assuming that his acting career began that year. “I did go through a phase of politely pointing out that I had been around as an actor for a long time before that.”

One legacy of the first half of his career was that he found it hard to turn work down when the second half began. He has averaged three or four films a year since, but has become choosier lately. And his bankability as a film star has meant he can also afford to take up offers of theatre work when the mood takes him. His recent West End performance opposite Carey Mulligan in a revival of David Hare’s Skylight won him much acclaim, and he enjoyed doing it so much he is about to head off to Broadway to do it again, for a four-month run.
Nighy in 1985’s Pravda with Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Baines and Peter Blythe
Curtain raiser: Nighy (right) in 1985’s Pravda at the National Theatre with Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Baines and Peter Blythe. Photograph: Alastair Muir/Rex

The play is set in the post-Thatcher early 90s, and as with all David Hare plays, there are some comic lines in it. There is also an anti-Thatcherite political message – one with which, you suspect, Nighy agrees. Although he doesn’t like to align himself with any one party, his politics are broadly on the Left, and if you want to get him on the subject of the Robin Hood Tax, which is a levy on financial transactions, you should settle down for a half-hour lecture. He lobbies about it on behalf of Oxfam at G8 summits.

But the reason members of the public always approach him as if they know him, as if he is an old friend, is not because they expect a lecture on politics. It’s because they think he will make them smile. And it is easy to see how they might confuse him with the parts he plays: all those amusing tics and mannerisms you see on film are his, as is that hesitant voice and delivery. It can all seem like self-parody when you meet him in person.

One of the first things you notice about Bill Nighy is his hands. He suffers from Dupuytren’s contracture, a condition that causes some of his fingers to bend in towards the palm, which can make shaking hands with fans difficult. Does it hurt? “Not at all. It started in my 20s. It was alarming and I should have had an operation on them at the time, but I didn’t because I was a mess and was frightened.” He holds up his left hand. “It means I have a spooky handshake.”

The hands have become part of what makes him distinctive as an actor, affecting as they do the way he moves and holds himself, so much so that some young actors assume it is an affectation. “They come up to me and say: ‘I like that thing you do with your hands.’”

The hands are, as it were, something he has to bring to every role, and they make him an easy target for mimicry. I came across a sketch online in which Harry Enfield plays Bill Nighy playing Hugh Grant in a Richard Curtis romcom. It’s all “Gosh!” and “What a clot!” and it is cruelly well observed, not least because Nighy always seems to play a version of himself in Richard Curtis films, notably The Boat That Rocked (2009) and About Time (2013).

He is aware of this, and does sometimes go out of his way to avoid it, as he did for last year’s Pride, a film about a group of gay activists who supported the miners during their strike. Not only did he look different in that, with his slicked-down hair, but he sounded very different, too: Welsh, in fact. (“To get the accent right,” he says, “I went down to Wales and hung about in pubs with a tape recorder asking people to speak my lines.”) But even in Pirates of the Caribbean, when he was speaking with a Scottish accent and had his face obscured by octopus legs, Bill Nighy was still unmistakably Bill Nighy.
Nighy in the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with Judi Dench and Celia Imrie
Nighy plays ‘an absent-minded and charming adaptation of himself’ in the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Photograph: Laurie Sparham/BBC/Neal Street Productions

In his latest film, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, out this month, he is very much back to playing an absent-minded and charming adaptation of himself. It is a follow-up to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was a surprise box-office hit in 2011 (surprise because it was about old people setting up a retirement home in India). The sequel has all the warmth and gentle humour of the first and sees Nighy riding around Jaipur on a motorbike with Dame Judi Dench on the back for the second time. “I’m still hopeless on a motorbike,” he says. “Took 17 takes. I don’t know why they didn’t use a stunt rider in long shot.”

Does he imagine he will end up in a retirement home like that one day? “I’m hoping not to retire. What do we hope for? Go to bed and don’t wake up, I suppose.” Actually, he contemplates mortality much more than this glib answer would suggest. “I probably think about death 12 times a day,” he says. “I measure my life in Champions Leagues. How many do I have left?”

But he also has other ways to fill his days. “When I’m working I have to get up at five, so when I’m not I like to get up at 10,” he says. “I put on some John Lee Hooker, shave, then go round to the café for a leisurely breakfast with two football pages. Then I go to the bookshop for a browse. Then I drink coffee very slowly in a café near Berkeley Square.”
Bill Nighy photographed by Alex Lake Jan 2015 For Observer Magazine.
Bill Nighy. Photograph: Alex Lake

He has a thing for Berkeley Square. “I love studying the plane trees. They overwhelm me. As you get older you feel you need to pay more attention to what is around you and relish it. I’m greedy for beauty.” He concedes that his perfect day is really “wandering about London on my own. I built my life around not being in a hurry.”

And in the evening? “In the evening I like to eat in an Indian restaurant on my own and then go home and watch football matches. I have Sky Plus-ed. I record the whole season. The Spanish league, too.”

For 23 years he lived with the actor Diana Quick, the mother of his daughter Mary (who is also an actor, and director, and to whom Nighy is close). But the couple separated in 2008 and nowadays he seems to prefer his own company. Or at least I think he does. Is there someone he comes home to? “No, Nigel,” he says, his mouth a horizontal slab, twitching at the corners. “I don’t come home to anyone. I live alone, and if I was in a relationship and I were to tell you about it I would involve your readers in something approaching gossip, and I know they would never forgive me for that.”

What about friends? Sounds a bit lonely, this day he has described. “I do have friends, honestly I do have some, but I sort of enjoy my own company and I don’t do that thing of: ‘Let’s all get together.’ I would never throw a party. Wouldn’t know whom to invite.”

Richard Curtis? David Hare? Dame Judi? “I suppose. Maybe. Maybe it would be more of a dinner party. I did once give a dinner party. But it was a long time ago and it won’t happen again.”

A poignant note on which to end. It is time for the spooky parting handshake. He retrieves his scarf, exchanges a few friendly words with some members of the public who have recognised him, and heads outside to wander about on his own and stare at trees.


James Blunt

It could be the homes around the world; his military bearing; or that he’s our biggest musical export since Elton. For whatever reason, being called annoying, a philanderer or – worse – middle class doesn’t exactly keep James Hillier Blount awake at night. Nigel Farndale met him

It’s not the sight of the groupies that haunts me, but the sound, or rather the absence of sound, as they ghost past us on their way up the stairs to the dressing-room. It takes me a moment to figure out that the reason they aren’t talking to each other is that they don’t know each other. One of the band members, the keyboard player, I think, has picked them from the audience on the basis of their looks. Half-a-dozen of them, all in their late teens and early twenties, and all, surprisingly, in pretty frocks, as if they were going to a Sunday school meeting. They have been separated from their friends like lambs weaned from their mothers. The silence of the lambs.

The ‘us’ they are filing past is James Blunt and me. He has a bottle of beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and not a hair in place – tousled just so, like a Renaissance painting of John the Baptist – but they don’t realise it’s him because he has changed out of the suit he was wearing on stage and is now in jeans, T-shirt and leather jacket, as well as a pink feather boa and star-shaped novelty sunglasses. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the end of the day; we need to go back to the start, well, to the middle, when the seats are empty and the Texan sun is at its most unforgiving.

A barefoot and unshaven Blunt is wearing normal sunglasses and shorts as he plays his piano, strums his guitar and sings his plaintive songs into the microphone for the sound check, all the while looking out with his soulful eyes over an empty, open-air arena in Houston. At 5ft 7in, he’s not a tall man, but he has presence and an unaffected manner – a certain maturity, too, one that you wouldn’t normally associate with a pop star in the ascendant.

But then he is 34 and this is his second career, his first being as an officer in the Household Cavalry. He joined after graduating from Bristol University with a degree in sociology. He became a champion skier for the Army and not only saw active service in Kosovo, but also guarded the Queen Mother’s coffin when she was lying in state.

Tonight he will be supporting Sheryl Crow, though, since his second album ‘All the Lost Souls’ and the single from it, ‘1973’, went straight to number one in America, he is arguably the bigger act these days. Indeed, not since Elton John has there been a more successful British singer-songwriter in the States.

His first album, ‘Back to Bedlam’, also went to number one over here, as it did in 18 other countries, making it the biggest-selling album of the millennium. It even entered the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest-selling album in one year. But it was his first single that really put him on the map. You’re Beautiful became the sound of that summer. It was everywhere, and still is – having become a favourite at weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs. I even heard a brass band playing it at an agricultural show in the Yorkshire Dales this summer.

As well as millions of sales, James Blunt has won Brit awards, Ivor Novello awards, MTV awards and various Grammy nominations. In terms of credibility, he’s headlined at Glastonbury and won the respect of the world-weary music press. Yet not everyone loves him, as he points out when we get something to eat in the canteen area back stage.

‘After Back to Bedlam really started selling,’ he says, ‘there was this sudden aggression towards me in the UK, for whatever reason, and that focused my mind, made it clear to me what I was doing and why I wanted to do it. I write songs for myself. I don’t write them for you, or for anyone else, I write them because I have experiences that I need to process. I don’t have the answers all the time, but I do have lots of questions, and I express them in the songs I write.’

He is, I think, alluding to a poll last year of ‘the most annoying things in life’, which put him at number four, just behind cold-callers and queue-jumpers. ‘I haven’t met anyone who voted in the poll, have you?’ he says when I mention this. ‘That poll probably came from a website that was after some publicity. You and I could do the same poll very quickly right now and it would count as a poll. We could do one about annoying newspapers, for example. I promise the Sunday Telegraph wouldn’t be in my list. My parents take it.’

His father, a retired colonel in the Army Air Corps, manages his son’s finances. His mother arranged the purchase of his six-bedroom villa in Ibiza (he also has a chalet in Verbier and recently bought a place in Chelsea). ‘I’m not married,’ he says, ‘and so the support structure in my life is my parents. I’m closer to them now than I have ever been.’

He certainly isn’t married, as the photographs of him emerging from nightclubs with various high-profile women on his arm attest. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was probably the best known socialite, Jessica Sutta, of the Pussycat Dolls, the most glamorous. He also seems to be photographed regularly cavorting on beaches with bikini-clad models such as Petra Nemcova, whom he dated and then dumped – unceremonious dumping being his way of ending relationships, according to the tabloids. He once said he found himself in a swimming pool in LA with nine naked women. ‘I was the only bloke. It was the only time I wished my mates were there, purely to spectate. I had arrived. It was a moment.’

Now he says of the tabloid interest in his peripatetic love life: ‘Last week I went to my home in Ibiza and was photographed by the paparazzi in my swimming trunks with girls. What is the point of that? I’m not that bothered, but maybe the media should be concentrating more on global warming or the Russian invasion of Georgia.

‘Looking at me in my swimming trunks is not a great sight. It’s a waste of time. There generally is a long lens pointing at me wherever I go, these days. I’m comfortable with it. I appreciate how things work. But my record label said something about my always being photographed coming out of nightclubs and I thought, “But this is what I do. I was doing it before the second album came out, so what is different now? You didn’t tell me to stop then.” I’m not going to change my life because of these people. I don’t see why I should.’

His label also gets him to dye his grey hairs and be enigmatic about his love life, which is an old tactic dating back to the Beatles – they had to pretend they didn’t have wives and girlfriends so that fans could fantasise they were in with a chance.

Actually, at the time of going to press, Blunt seems to be going out again with one of his old flames, Verity Evetts, an Oxford-educated barrister. He has also stayed friendly with some of his other exes, the socialites at least. He told one – an ex who got married not long ago – that he doesn’t feel ‘centred’ at the moment and would like to get married as well. Then again, he also said that he never tires of singing You’re Beautiful night after night because it gets him laid night after night.

Either way, he tells me he has grown used to the idea that his mother will probably find out from the papers what he has been up to, and with whom, before he has had a chance to tell her. ‘And my [two] sisters are quick to email me about things in the papers, laughing their heads off. I get healthy, ritual abuse from them, and give it back myself.’

As we are talking, I can’t decide whether the way Blunt smiles all the time is disarming or disturbing. He’s like a victim of a religious cult, smiling at the beginning of the sentence and at the end. I guess he has a lot to smile about, but also I sense a great deal of insecurity to disguise.

Then, I’m distracted by the sight of Sheryl Crow playing table tennis across the room. She has been holding her adopted son in one arm as she bats with the other, and now, even more distractingly, she is heading straight for us. ‘Are we going to have one of our little conversations on stage again tonight, James?’ she says. ‘That flirting thing. I think it worked well last night.’

They discuss the duet they will sing – a cover of Cat Stevens’s The First Cut is the Deepest – then we both watch her shimmy away, her blonde curls bobbing. ‘She’s very down to earth,’ he says. ‘I’d met her a couple of times, which was why she asked me on this tour. We do end up playing a lot of table tennis on the road. We’ve done 117 shows so far this year, in 117 cities, and there are a lot of hours to fill in the day.’

As he sleeps on his tour bus with his band, one city tends to blur into another. When I joke that he is in Cincinnati now, he looks genuinely confused. ‘No, this is?… Oh, right. Actually, I always get the tour manager to say where we are just as I’m going on stage. I still managed to get it wrong the other night, saying “Hello Dallas” when I meant Austin. I’m surprised I got out alive.’

He is funny on the subjects of things that go wrong. ‘People are normally surprised by my show, which is more energetic than you might think. Jumping on the piano. Jumping out into the audience and running up and down the aisle high-fiving them. But going off the stage can be quite dangerous. I broke my finger once. My legs carried on when I jumped off, and I smacked down on the ground. The spotlight was on me, and when I got back to the piano I hit the wrong note and thought, “Why did I do that?” And I looked down and saw it was because my finger was broken, sticking out an angle. Look,’ he says holding it up. ‘It’s still crooked.’

On another occasion, in Chicago, he jumped 8ft off the stage. ‘When I began running to the audience, a security guard stuck his arm out and I thought, “Does he want a hug?” Then next thing I know he’s rugby-tackled me. He wouldn’t release me and I was screaming in his ear, “I’m the f—ing singer.” I had to wait for the other guards to pull him off.’

I would have thought Blunt’s training in unarmed combat would have helped. I presume he still works out. ‘No, never. Couldn’t handle it. Too boring. I am a hyperactive person though.’ He likes an adrenaline rush, as well, having recently bought an 1100cc Moto Guzzi V11 Sport motorbike. There’s also the skiing, which he still does, and the riding. Actually, he tells me, he never really liked horses before joining the Life Guards. So why did he join that particular regiment?

‘Well, it is a reconnaissance regiment.’ But they are all so tall in the Life Guards, did that not make him self-conscious? ‘Some are. The Foot Guards tend to be taller regiments, though. The Life Guards take a few shrimps, as well. Besides, they are on horses, so height isn’t so important. Also being in that regiment had the benefit of being in Knightsbridge. I got a chance to be in London and meet people in the music scene.’ And groupies, as it happens.

As he paraded up and down the Mall in plumed helmet and shiny breastplate, girls would stick their phone numbers down his knee-length boots. But it was his time in Kosovo that really made girls swoon. He used to strap his guitar to the outside of his tank, because there wasn’t room for it inside. He had learnt to play the violin at five, the piano at seven and the guitar at 14, while a pupil at Harrow.

He writes his songs on piano and guitar. ‘But mainly guitar because it is easier to carry around. It’s like a child messing around with a toy. If a tune comes to me I don’t record it instantly. I think if I remember it, then it must be worth remembering, and if I forget it, then it was forgettable.’

Does he have any anxiety dreams about forgetting lines or chords? ‘Not yet. Perhaps I will tonight. Perhaps you’ve jinxed me. But audiences aren’t judgmental, and if things go wrong and you can look them in the eye, that is fine. The only people who are judgmental are the journalists. I will be conscious of you being there in the audience judging me.’

Blimey. Sorry about that. Is it true he signs breasts? ‘Not that I remember. Not that I’m fussy what I sign. A lot of men started coming to the shows after I appeared on Top Gear last year. That was such fun. I spun the car five times. I thought I might as well make the most of it. I am competitive.’

He recorded one of the fastest laps, but I’m surprised blokes didn’t think him manly before that, given his tour of duty in Kosovo. ‘It’s because I sing songs that are heart-on-your-sleeve and therefore I must be overly emotional. Nothing I can do about it. I could pose more, but I am comfortable with my masculinity.’

He has said that his lyrics are autobiographical, in which case, are we to assume that the lyric on his new album, ‘I killed a man in a far away land’, means he killed a man in a far away land? I only ask because in the past he has said that he would never try to exploit what he went through, what he saw. ‘You should ask any soldier how many lives he has saved. How they do it is no one else’s business. What I took from my experience in Kosovo is that you are told from one day to the next who your enemy is and it keeps changing. That’s what is happening in Iraq, too. I believe in looking people in the eye, looking for the common humanity.’

He is a great believer in looking people in the eye. He will use the phrase again later and it seems to reveal a Christ complex, or a John the Baptist one. That direct and challenging stare of his. It would also explain the hair.

It is time for him do some photographs before he goes on stage and, endearingly, he says he is ‘not fussed’ about the grooming he is offered before they are taken.

On stage his features contort with passion when he sings. The big video screen goes in tight on his face. His voice is by turns soft and tremulous and forceful, but always high. Having seen him in concert once before, a couple of years ago, I notice the tone of his banter has changed.

‘Wow it’s hot tonight,’ he says now. ‘I’m surprised any of you are wearing any clothes. We could all take them off and get friendly.’ It is suggestive, designed to get the teenage girls in the audience screaming. Before he used to joke about his ‘girlie voice’ and taking helium to get it that way, and being ‘a bit wet’ and the ‘housewives’ favourite’. I think now he has realised that, actually, he is a proper musician, a popular one, too, and that he doesn’t need to apologise for it.

Afterwards, back in the dressing-room, he strips to the waist as he talks because he wants to take a shower before going back on to do his duet with Sheryl Crow. ‘Things got a bit hairy out there when I jumped into the crowd,’ he says. ‘Did you see that? Some thought it was some kind of sport to grab me.’

I watch his duet from the side of the stage and notice he whispers something in Sheryl Crow’s ear and then she starts running her hands over his trousers suggestively, patting them. Afterwards, I ask what he said. ‘”Is now a good time to ask for your phone number?” She was checking my pockets, pretending to look for a pen.’

He shows me round the gold-coloured tour bus where he will be sleeping tonight as they drive to their next gig in Dallas. It is full of hi-tech equipment and is nicely air-conditioned but there isn’t much space in the bunks. ‘We do live in close proximity,’ he says. ‘Some of us stay up late. This is the crew end, they have to get up early.’

Where do the groupies go? ‘Never have groupies on here. Never. They’d only get in if we invited them in. But we’d only ever invite friends in.’

Does he sleep OK? I heard he has to take sleeping pills. ‘It is a bit of a rough sleep, but better than a hotel and taking planes all the time because you have to get to the airport two hours early, which is miserable. Then your flight gets delayed.’

He is drinking champagne from a plastic cup. ‘This is for your benefit,’ he says. ‘The tour management went out and bought a bottle of champagne because he thought I should be seen drinking it. Better for my image. Isn’t that sweet? Normally, we drink vodka and beer. In fact, I think I’d rather have a beer, now. Want one?’ He opens a well-stocked fridge then takes me to the back of the bus where there is some seating space. He has one small case which he pulls out from a cupboard. It continues a few pairs of socks, T-shirts and a spare pair of jeans. No photographs or mementos. ‘This is all I have for 14 months on the road,’ he says. ‘I’m not known for style.’

Does he know how much he is worth? ‘No I don’t, not very interested in it to be honest. I travel with hand luggage only. That is why I always seem to be wearing the same clothes in photographs. If a tabloid says my clothes aren’t fashionable or my hair looks stupid, I really don’t worry about it. Don’t have any hair gel.’

In London, he takes the Tube or the bus. He prefers pubs to restaurants. When he goes to Ibiza, he flies easyJet. Still, that’s at home. Presumably on the road he can afford to be more self-indulgent.

Another lyric that we can only assume is autobiographical is ‘I’ve taken a s—load of drugs’. It is. Though his only comment on the subject is that he has ‘a comfortable relationship with drugs’. His relationship with fame is less comfortable. Oscar Wilde said there were two forms of tragedy: not getting what you want, and getting it. Is that how it felt for him when he went to number one? ‘Actually, I don’t think I had been dreaming about it. Certainly, I hadn’t anticipated being so recognisable so quickly.

‘I do remember getting a phone call from the record company, who said both the single and the album have gone to number one, and thinking, “S—, this is not what I expected.” I hadn’t prepared myself for it. Number two is great. Number two is nice. I sensed then it would mean having to change from being a musician to being a celebrity and that that would be a change for the worse. Fame doesn’t affect me, but it does affect everyone else around me. As for celebrity, it is the worst invention of the modern world. Gossip columns treat your life as if it were a cartoon. Relationships reduced to cartoons.’

Although there are other public-school bands around at the moment – Radiohead, Coldplay – Blunt seems to have suffered more than most from a perception that he is too posh to be credible. His family name is Blount (and his middle name Hillier), but he changed it to Blunt to sound, well, blunter and more proletarian.

When he tells me he would nevertheless still send a son of his to Harrow – ‘I think I would. I think I would. Public schools make individuals rather than sheep’ – I ask what he makes of the mood change now that the old Etonian David Cameron has made it OK to be posh. ‘Is it? I must come back to Britain immediately. Is it really safe to come back?

‘It’s not a dirty word to be posh, people come up to me and no one gives a damn if I’m posh. It’s about having a normal conversation and looking people in the eye.’

We head back to the dressing-room where he puts on his feather boa and novelty sunglasses then we wander back downstairs to have a word with Sheryl Crow, who is signing autographs. This is the moment at which the keyboard player says: ‘This way to the good-time room girls’ and the silent groupies dutifully appear.