The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - RADIO WEEK -

Late tonight, I was sit­ting in the small ‘VIP’ room Bri­tish Air­ways thought­fully in­tro­duced at Los An­ge­les’ LAX air­port to keep egocrazed celebri­ties away from the pr ying eyes of other, to­tal ly un­in­ter­ested first- class pas­sen­gers. The only other occupant was a tall, strik­ing, el­e­gant African-look­ing man work­ing on his lap­top. I mum­bled a tired ‘Hello’ and sat in another cor­ner of the room.

And there we sat in si­lence for a few min­utes be­fore I asked him where I could get a cof­fee. He told me, I re­turned with a cup, and we struck up a con­ver­sa­tion. ‘So what do you do?’ I asked. ‘I’m in the mu­sic busi­ness.’ ‘Oh re­ally? What part?’ ‘I write songs.’ ‘Any­thing I’d know?’ ‘Maybe,’ he smiled. ‘Who have you writ­ten for?’ ‘A few peo­ple…’ ‘Like who?’ ‘Jen­nifer Lopez, David Guetta, Usher, Tinchy Stry­der, Ch­eryl Cole… and I’m work­ing on some­thing for Justin Bieber.’

I laughed. ‘ Blimey! You should per­form your own stuff and cut out the mid­dle man!’ He smiled again. ‘I do, ac­tu­ally.’ ‘Ever had much suc­cess?’ ‘A bit.’ ‘With what?’ ‘A song called Break Your Heart did quite well.’ ‘How well?’ ‘It got to No. 1 in Bri­tain… and Amer­ica.’ I sat up­right. ‘RE­ALLY?’ ‘And then another one called Dy­na­mite did pretty good too.’

‘As in, “I told you twice, we gon’ light it up, like it’s dy­na­mite”?’ He laughed loudly. ‘That’s the one!’

It was one of the big­gest hit sin­gles world­wide in the past two years. I even work out to the damn thing in the gym. ‘So you’re… Taio Cruz?’ ‘I am. Ac­tu­ally, we’ve met be­fore.’ ‘We have?’ ‘Yes — I ap­peared on Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent.’ ‘Not as a con­tes­tant?’ ‘No! I sang Dy­na­mite.’ We Googled the clip, and there I was giv­ing him a stand­ing ova­tion af­ter what had been a quite stun­ning live per­for­mance. My only de­fence is that he looks rather dif­fer­ent in his stage gear.

We spoke for an hour or so. Taio, 28, born in Lon­don to a Nige­rian fa­ther and a Brazil­ian mother, told me he woke up in the mid­dle of the night with the lyrics to Dy­na­mite in his head, raced down­stairs in his un­der­pants and wrote it there and then.

He’s a mu­si­cal ge­nius, and a thor­oughly nice chap. Just hope I recog­nise him next time. The 12th an­niver­sary of 9/11, and I was in­vited down to the of­fices of Wall Street firm Can­tor Fitzger­ald to do a deal on its trad­ing floor for char­ity: Princes Wil­liam and Harry did the same at Can­tor’s UK HQ.

Can­tor lost 658 em­ploy­ees that hor­ren­dous day, but thanks to its ex­tra­or­di­nary boss Howard Lut­nick, has re­built to twice its old size. I min­gled with an eclec­tic va­ri­ety of lu­mi­nar­ies, in­clud­ing ac­tress Ju­lianne Moore, ten­nis leg­end Bil­lie Jean King and sex guru Dr Ruth Wes­theimer. The pint-sized doc­tor had the best sales pitch of us all. ‘Do me the best deal, and you’ll have great sex FOR­EVER!’ she bel­lowed at the testos­terone­fu­elled traders. My se­cret ob­ses­sion is PG Tips tea. I have it im­ported to Amer­ica in vast amounts, and drink five or six cups a day. It makes one small cor­ner of a for­eign field feel for­ever like home. To­day, I in­ter­viewed mu­sic su­per­star Sh­eryl Crow, and when I saw Ricky Ger­vais was my guest tonight, but when I went to shake his hand in the CNN make-up room, rather than hold­ing up his right arm, he held his left awk­wardly across his body. ‘You okay?’ I asked. ‘ No! I’m in bloody agony!’ ‘What’s the prob­lem?’ ‘ Frozen shoul­der. It’s like ten­dini­tis. I’ve been to so many spe­cial­ists. I’ve had X-rays, MRIs, ul­tra­sounds, steroid in­jec­tions — noth­ing’s worked. They call it frozen shoul­der, or, which is re­ally rub­bing salt in the wound, 50-Year- Old Shoul­der. The doc­tors all just say to me, “We don’t know why it hap­pens, but we know it gets bet­ter by it­self.” I could have an op­er­a­tion to speed it up, but I’m not big on hos­pi­tals.’ ‘Why not?’ ‘I al­ways think I’m go­ing to die.’ Mr Ger­vais is, of course, one of the world’s most fa­mous athe­ists, so this would be a fairly fi­nal step in his life. ‘Do you fear death?’

‘ To me it’s the end of some­thing glo­ri­ous, but I’m not de­pressed about it. I don’t want to die any more than any­one else. There’s a strange myth that athe­ists have noth­ing to live for. It’s the op­po­site: we have noth­ing to die for!’

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