Prada Amber

A few years ago, I smelled Prada Amber being worn to great effect by an elegant woman at a TV industry party. The party was a "class reunion" of the first TV show I ever hosted in the UK, the notorious pop culture crash called The Word. The Word was live on Channel 4 every Friday night at at 11 o'clock, an hour of the biggest stars, the hippest bands, and the most shocking, tabloid-freak-show studio events.

The elegant woman was Emma, the producer who'd once coaxed a creamy voiceover performance out of me for a Sean Penn interview piece by insisting that he'd been totally flirting with me in the segment. (I'd been under the impression that I'd intensely irritated him with my impudent questions, but maybe Sean's just a kiss-or-kill kind of guy.)

"Kiss or kill? Is that a threat or a promise?"

The Word reunion was a 20th anniversary celebration, and for the first hour or so, everyone was giddy with nostalgic joy at seeing their old friends and colleagues. This so-stupid-it-was-smart show was the first TV job for just about everyone who'd worked on it, and we were all getting misty.

"Remember when 'drunken' Oliver Reed freaked everyone out by acting like he wasn't drunk?"

"Remember when the singer from L7 pulled her pants down?"

"Remember when Kurt Cobain intoned 'Courtney the best fuck in in the world!' right before Nirvana launched into 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'?"

The stuff of legend, all of it.

"Awwww...everybody's here!" cried out Tammy, another producer. "Let's do a show right now!"

But something unexpected happened after the champagne began to wear off. An inescapable melancholy floated in, and became increasingly oppressive. Our gleeful fizz went flat, replaced by a niggling sense of loss -- loss of our youthful hopes, youthful recklessness, youthful youth. Without anyone acknowledging the cloud that had descended, the party emptied out.

But when I hugged elegant Emma goodbye, Prada Amber still smelled good. That, at least, was reassuring.

Prada Amber is available from and from


  1. Here's the film of me leading out an alcoholic for interview! Glory days! Maybe with the Word being made by Bob Geldof's company, you could have had Peaches at your reunion, and interviewed her whilst she was zoned out on heroin, and then it would have felt just like old times. I don't know what Prada Amber did to deserve being associated with your vile television presenting past.

    1. Yep, looks like The Word is still pushing buttons.

  2. In this video, Oliver Reed sort of sounds like Eddie Izzard when he's imitating James Mason.

    " -- loss of our youthful hopes, youthful recklessness, youthful youth."

    This is funny to me because I never miss my past, I look forward to the future. I mean, don't get me wrong, I miss a little bit of the freedom that I had before. I also miss some of my former friendships.

    But what I don't miss is some of the dumb stuff that I said or thought at that time, or some of the things that I did.

    The older I get, the more rebellious I feel. I have been getting progressively mouthier starting at 30, and there is no looking back. I predict that by the time I turn 70, I will not care a whit about what other people think. A friend of mine told me once about an elderly woman she knew who started shoplifting at Target when she turned 80 because she knew that most people would just think she had dementia and she could get away with it.

    A friend of mine who has a podcast was talking awhile back with some of his friends and the feeling of "needing to keep up" with younger people. But why? Keep up with what? Keep up with being stupid? No thank you. I'd rather keep up with learning new languages and picking up stuff I never had the confidence to try before.

    Plus, I anticipate that getting older means I'll have maybe a smidgen more cashola to try out fancy perfumes. ; )

    I intend to keep rockin'.

    1. Nora, your attitude is the right one to have, and one to which I aspire. In trying to put my finger on the reason for the reunion's melancholic tinge, I wouldn't say people were pining for their former cluelessness. It was more the feeling expressed by Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" - a good ol' weltschmerz-y wallow.

  3. Sorry if I ever seem too rabidly protective of others. Mars in Cancer in my birth chart, it makes me feel awful when people are sad.


    1. Have no idea of significance of planetary tangos, Nora, but your empathy is comforting.

  4. Ah, the melancholic tinge of the reunion. A couple of years ago I caught up with an old roomie I hadn't seen in a decade. Back then he was married, had several houses and was making good money self-employed. At the unofficial reunion he was divorced, down to one house and taking in roomies to be able to pay that mortgage, and his salary had been cut by two thirds. I won't mention his health, but: not good.

    In this particular case it was various things going wrong, but even when people's lives are okay, they're...okay. The "anything can happen" feeling is gone: people's lives have worked out how they are, and it is usually time to jettison many hopes and dreams. Anthony Powell says this is ultimately comforting and frees up space in your head (he said it better), which I am waiting for.

    who will only go to a reunion to show how unwrinkly she is

  5. Oh...AnnieA! You put your finger right on it: 'the "anything can happen" feeling is gone'. Unless you're prepared to launch into what comedian Rich Fulcher calls a series of "tiny acts of rebellion", a la Nora's shoplifting elder.