I’ve had many amusing encounters with pop superstar boy bands in my time. I wrote two official books for Take That and even appeared with them on stage at Wembley.
I’ve been physically threatened by New Kids on the Block. And I became quite good mates with Bros.
But until now, my only meeting with current global phenomenon One Direction was at James Corden’s wedding, where we hung out by the side of a gargantuan marquee drinking beer and talking football.
A few months later, they conspired against me, during an argument over David Beckham, to get the hashtag # piersmorganissmelly t rending worldwide on Twitter for a whole day. An unsavoury incident that means I still get bombarded with tweets every day from teenage girls informing me joyously, ‘You stink!’
Today, I was asked by Ben Winston, Corden’s film- maker best man, to interview the group in LA for a sevenhour online ‘1DDay’ extravaganza being streamed live to the world. I found them in rehearsals. ‘Hey, it’s Stinky!’ cried Niall. Not a good start. We chatted for a few minutes, and they exuded an air of fun- loving, carefree young men who still can’t quite believe their luck.
But when the business end of their world began, they got deadly serious — performing Story Of My Life a capella. Standing a few feet away, I was genuinely impressed. These boys have worked hard at their singing.
And in Harry Styles, who looks increasingly like a young Mick Jagger, they have a frontman with cheek, charm and the vocal chops.
‘ This,’ I warned them before we started the interview, ‘is payback.’
‘Whatever, Stinky,’ chirped Liam, confidently.
I sat them at five different sofas, and decided to take the gloves off straight away. ‘Harry Styles, are you dating Kendall Jenner?’ He’d been seen dining with the Kardashian clan member in Hollywood this week. Harry’s cheery face froze in horror. ‘Erm, well we went for dinner, but…
‘My daughter needs to
know that I’m more popular with women than the whole of One Direction’
no…’ Then he smirked, adding cryptically: ‘I guess…’ A clarification guaranteed to sting the heart of any female fan watching.
As if on cue, a baby in the studio erupted into uncontrollable wailing. It was my daughter, Elise.
‘You’ve made my daughter cry!’ I berated Harry. ‘Oh God, I’m so sorry,’ he spluttered. ‘I love your pigtails, Elise!’ She carried on sobbing.
‘It’s her second birthday today,’ I added. The five boys all began shouting, ‘Happy birthday, Elise!’ It was a moment that any young girl in the world would die for. But as the camera beamed on Elise, she turned her back in quite disdainful uninterest. Back to the interview.
‘A hot date here in Los Angeles, a budding romance…?’ I persisted, with Harry. ‘MOVE ON!’ boomed a loud management- sounding voice from the back of the studio. ‘Yes, let’s move on shall we…’ agreed Harry, sheepishly. ‘YOU STINK!’ cried Liam, supportively, before adding: ‘Sorry, Piers, that’s the only joke I’ve got.’
‘Harry, my second question for you is: if you could swap bodies with any male celebrity, whose would you choose?’
‘First choice would be you.’ I feigned total lack of surprise. ‘It’s the chiselled abs,’ he sighed. I moved on to Zayn, who has a giant handgun tattooed on his lower abdomen. Something, which as you can imagine, jarred with me. ‘You’ve had a rather controversial tattoo,’ I said. ‘Can we see it?’
‘It’s a bit low down to be showing it,’ he replied, sheepishly. ‘It’s a gun,’ I said. ‘It’s a small gun.’ ‘ Why have you had a gun tattooed to your body?’
‘It’s a water gun’, he said. ‘It shoots water.’
‘ No, it’s not,’ I scoffed. Below: Mullingar man Niall Horan from One Direction