Holly Willoughby, her husband Dan, and their five-year- old son Harry visited me in my Life Stories dressing room at ITV Studios this afternoon.
Holly, who was filming Surprise Surprise, is heavily pregnant with her third child. Dan, like me, is heavily pregnant with excitement about Arsenal’s new season. So we talked nappies and Chilean strikers for a few minutes before I became aware of a sudden, particularly toxic smell that had pervaded the immediate vicinity.
Social etiquette dictates that when this situation arises between people who are professional acquaintances but not close friends, nobody mentions it. So we all stood around pretending we hadn’t noticed the stunningly revolting odour.
Knowing I wasn’t the culprit, I raced to various assumptions. Had Dan consumed too many of the notoriously flatulence-inducing meat pies at the Emirates Stadium? Was Holly in the throes of a pre- birth craving for Brussels sprouts?
Late tonight, Dan sent me a tweet that solved the mystery. ‘I owe you an apology, Piers. Our son farted in your dressing room today. Holly and I have only just talked about it. Sorry.’ was warm, funny and hard-working. She could also be an absolute diva. I once booked her for my CNN show and she pulled out at the last minute because we wouldn’t let her far less amusing daughter be on for the whole interview, too. But that was Joan. A tenacious, uncompromising street fighter who, like Robin, made me laugh for more than 40 years. I woke up this morning, checked Twitter and chuckled at Rupert Murdoch’s various observations about Page Three girls and Scottish independence. My former boss’s feed is exactly like the man himself – smart, provocative, surprising and often very funny.
So I sent out the following tweet: ‘Love @rupertmurdoch’s Twitter feed.’ I then went off to play golf with Kevin Pietersen. At half-way, we stopped for a quick bacon roll, I turned on my phone, checked Twitter again – and froze in horror.
Murdoch had responded by sneering: ‘Piers Morgan seems unemployed after failing to attract an audience in US. Seemed out of place. Once talented, now safe to ignore.’ I’d been unceremoniously trashed by the most powerful man in world media.
Pietersen noticed my angst-ridden face. ‘You OK buddy?’ ‘No. Rupert Murdoch’s gone to war on me.’ My first inclination was to return fire with fire, as it always is when people take me on. But KP stopped me as my finger was about to press ‘Send’ on a suitably vitriolic retort.
‘DON’T do that! You start a feud with Rupert Murdoch and there’ll only be one winner. He obviously thought you were taking the mickey. I bet he’ll soon realise you weren’t and withdraw what he said.’
I hesitated, then pressed ‘Cancel’ and emailed a couple of friends who have Murdoch’s ear to explain that when I said I loved his Twitter feed, I meant it – and could they please relay this clarification as a matter of urgency.
For the second half of the golf match, I felt like a Death Row inmate waiting either for a last- minute Presidential pardon or imminent execution. Finally, several hours after we finished, Murdoch tweeted again: ‘Did not mean to hurt Piers Morgan. Piers a friend and a legend.’ Phew. I’d gone from being an unemployable has- been to a legend in the space of one a f t er noon. A nd Kevin Pietersen, supposedly the worst team player in world sport, had saved my sorry l it t le a*** f rom almost certain career obliteration. Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of ‘culpable homicide’ today after shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
I was one of the last people to interview Pistorius, in New York a few weeks before the incident.
He spoke excitedly about someone he’d started seeing in South Africa. ‘She’s a great girl and we’re just taking life as it comes.’
I feel desperately sorry for Reeva and her family. I also feel sad that such an inspirational athlete selfimploded in such a hideous way.
Only Pistorius really knows what motivated him to pull that trigger. But one thing’s certain – if there had been no guns in his house that night, Reeva would probably still be alive.