‘Where’s the beef?’ The weirdest stories from 2016s autobiographies

Why was Michael Gove hiding in toilets, what did Carrie Fisher finally confirm for Star Wars fans, and how did Phil Collins witness a historic act of adultery?

Han and Leia were getting galactic on set

Where we learned it: Carrie Fisher, The Princess Diarist

Carrie Forty years on from the first Star Wars film, Carrie Fisher confirmed what fans had been fantasising about for decades: an intense and intensely weird affair between Princess Leia and Han Solo! We stood under the timid light of a street lamp outside the restaurant, she wrote. Harrison flicked away his Camel and looked at me: I can drop you at your place its on my way. He took my arm and drew me into the back of a taxi, moving us closer and closer until we were two faces, four eyes, one kiss, going to the place where we could rehearse that kissing we would be doing a year and a half later in The Empire Strikes Back. These were the early days and nights of the Force.

Michael Gove avoids conflict by hiding in toilets

Where we learned it: Nick Clegg, Politics: Between The Extremes

In his spirited account of the coalition years, Clegg revealed how his relationship with Michael Gove soured to the point where Gove banned Lib Dem special advisers from entering the Department for Education, let loose his somewhat unhinged advisers to brief against Clegg, and on one particularly expulsive occasion hid in the toilet to avoid speaking to David Laws.

Ed Balls confused Gordon Brown using a joint of beef

Where we learned it: Ed Balls, Speaking Out


On December 23, 1998, Balls answered Gordon Browns call about Peter Mandelsons resignation precisely at the moment when he realised the very expensive joint of British beef he had packed to go to his mums for Christmas had been left at home.WHERES THE BEEF? he shouted down the line, to which Brown replied: What do you mean, Wheres the beef? That is the beef! Mandelsons resigned!

Vivienne Westwood is the middle of a yoga/Julian Assange Venn diagram

Where we learned it: Vivienne Westwood, Get A Life

One of the fashion designers diary entries began with the unexpected line: Yoga. Then long talk with Julian Assange. Westwood continued to write of her regular visits with the Wikileaks founder, including a New Years Eve dinner party held in Londons Ecuadorian embassy, and Assanges birthday when he wore army camouflage; I was wearing my I Am Julian Assange T-shirt.

Phil Collins witnessed a historic act of adultery on Harley Street

Where we learned it: Phil Collins, Not Dead Yet


In one of 2016s juiciest memoirs and who saw that coming? Collins wrote of how, in 1991, he virtually witnessed Princess Diana cheating on Charles when he bumped into her after a visit to his Harley Street dentist. A BMW pulls up and the window slides down, Collins wrote. Its Diana and, sitting in the drivers seat, an officer-class chap I recognised as James Hewitt. Apparently unperturbed, Diana informed Collins that she had just had a colonoscopy. It was great, she said. You should try it.

Bryan Cranston was wanted for murder

Where we learned it: Bryan Cranston, A Life In Parts

The actor and his most famous character, Walter White from Breaking Bad, began to merge when Cranston revealed he was briefly wanted for murder in the 1970s. Shortly after he and his brother left jobs at a restaurant in Daytona, Florida, the despised head chef went missing and was found dead. When police asked staff if any former employees expressed ill will towards their boss, the Cranstons name came up. They were pursued and investigated by the police.

Mohamed Al Fayed tried to bribe Paxman with a lolly and a teddy

Where we learned it: Jeremy Paxman, A Life In Questions


Most weird interview goes to Paxmans off-the-record encounter with Mohamed Al Fayed when covering his attempt to get a British passport. During the 40-minute rant about the ingratitude of dis fuggin country, Fayed kept hitting a bell on his desk then demanding an assistant fetch Paxman a teddy bear, lollipops, and, finally, a Harrods gold card. I had now crossed the Rubicon, having accepted both a soft toy and a handful of lollipops, Paxman wrote. I began to understand how it was that MPs had been snared into accepting brown envelopes full of 50 notes. He didnt take the gold card.

Ruth Davidson describes herself as a shovel-faced lesbian

Where we learned it: Craig Oliver, Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit

In David Camerons spin doctors deeply unsurprising account of the run-up to the EU referendum, the juiciest anecdote probably goes to Ruth Davidson, who, when briefed that she might be teamed up with Labours Angela Eagle for one of the TV debates, replied: Are you sure you want two shovel-faced lesbians? Other than that, the most bizarre revelation appears to be just how ill-prepared the government was for Brexit. On the day after the vote, Oliver recalled that when DC pitched up at No 10 at 7am his first words were: Well, that didnt go to plan!

Joey Bartons father taught him how to fight dirty

Where we learned it: Joey Barton, No Nonsense


In the controversial footballers autobiography, he described how his father taught the 12-year-old Barton a never-failed method for winning fights. Grab the other boys neck as hard as you can. Grab his school tie or shirt, and never let go. Now, put your head straight down Just keep throwing punches with your right hand, like a piston, and aim at the top of your fist. Dont lift your head up at any stage. Theyll just hit the top of your head, which is the hardest part of your body. Keep punching. Pop, pop, pop. Eventually, they will raise their chin with the effort. All you need is to connect once on the button, and theyre gone. Ive won so many fights with that technique in pubs and town centres.

Alfred Hitchcock attacked Tippi Hedren with real birds

Where we learned it: Tippi Hedren, Tippi: A Memoir

Tippi Hedren described her horror during the filming of the famous attic scene in The Birds when she was attacked by real birds in what she claimed was a punishment from Hitchcock for rejecting his advances. It was ugly, brutal and relentless, she wrote. During the filming of Marnie she claimed Hitchcock came into her dressing room and put his hands on me. The harder I fought him, the more aggressive he became. Hedren also wrote that Hitchcock requested a mask of her face be made by the makeup department for his own personal use.

Mark E Smith is a wizened apple puppet

Where we learned it: Brix Smith Smart, The Rise, the Fall, and the Rise

In the most brilliantly bonkers rocknroll memoir of 2016, ex-Fall member Brix Smith Start wrote candidly about everything from her father, who used a walking stick fashioned out of a bulls penis, to her tempestuous relationship with Mark E Smith, whom she described as a tiny wizened apple puppet. Best of all – and this in a memoir where a woman opens a bottle of champagne with her vagina – was an anecdote featuring, of all things, superstar violinist Nigel Kennedy, Gary Lineker and a severely upset tummy.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/dec/27/wheres-the-beef-the-weirdest-stories-from-2016s-autobiographies

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