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James Cor­den and his wife Ju­lia threw a de­light­ful cock­tail party tonight at Lit­tle House in May­fair, for all the mates they’ve barely seen since they moved to Hol­ly­wood.

‘To be com­pletely hon­est,’ said the in­vi­ta­tion, ‘they’ve missed you.’

James ec­stat­i­cally greeted each guest at the en­trance. ‘WEL­COME!’ he ex­claimed, giv­ing me a mas­sive bear hug.

I spied Gor­don Ram­say lurk­ing in the shad­ows. ‘Evening you old dog,’ I said, punch­ing him in the midriff.

Ir­ri­tat­ingly, Ram­say’s triathlon-honed stom­ach is so hard I ended up hurt­ing my­self more than him.

Other guests in­cluded Lord Lloyd-Web­ber, Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch, Rob Bry­don, Michael McIn­tyre and the Red­knapps, Jamie and Louise. ‘Great job on Strictly!’ I con­grat­u­lated the lat­ter. She tried to re­ply but only an in­de­ci­pher­ably hoarse whis­per em­anated.

‘I’ve lost my voice,’ she mouthed, need­lessly.

‘I wish Piers would lose his,’ said my wife Celia, equally need­lessly. ‘His noise lev­els al­ways rise at this time of year.’

‘Hate to ad­mit it but I like your noise lev­els on Good Morn­ing Bri­tain,’ said Jamie. ‘So do I,’ rasped Louise. ‘Do you, Celia?’ ‘I never watch it,’ she replied. ‘It’s bad enough him wak­ing me up at 3.30am with his bloody alarms.’

‘How many?’ asked Jamie. ‘Three,’ I an­swered. ‘The first is gen­tle harp mu­sic, the sec­ond is In Da Club by 50 Cent, the third is my driver bang­ing on the door and scream­ing “GET OUT OF BED YOU LAZY GIT!”’

Later in the evening, Cor­den and I had a good chat about his ex­tra­or­di­nary suc­cess in Amer­ica. ‘You must be knack­ered,’ I said, re­mem­ber­ing how ex­haust­ing it can be to host a nightly show over there. ‘Ac­tu­ally, I’m not at all,’ he replied. ‘It’s hon­estly been such fun, and all so ex­cit­ing, I haven’t had time to get tired… yet!’

A waiter ar­rived with a plate of siz­zling sausages. ‘They’re a bit hot,’ he warned.

Cor­den took one, blew hard to cool it down, then de­voured it in one. Sud­denly, his face turned puce and he gasped for air. ‘You OK?’ I asked. His whole head was now ex­plod­ing and he started wildly flap­ping his hands.

‘Are you chok­ing?’ I shouted, as peo­ple around us be­gan to panic and I pre­pared to per­form the Heim­lich Ma­noeu­vre.

He shook his head, tears rolling down his blaz­ing face.

‘WA-TER!’ he even­tu­ally shouted.

‘Imag­ine if I’d died eat­ing a saucy chipo­lata,’ James Cor­den laughed. ‘It would be so hu­mil­i­at­ing’

I handed him a glass that Cor­den gulped like a For­eign Le­gion­naire after six months in the desert. Even­tu­ally, he spat out a huge sigh. ‘Je­sus f ****** CHRIST, that was the spici­est sausage I’ve had in my en­tire life!’ Ah, that kind of hot. ‘Imag­ine if I’d died eat­ing a saucy chipo­lata!’ Cor­den laughed. ‘It would be so hu­mil­i­at­ing.’

‘Gary Lineker once nearly choked to death on a peanut as we drank in my lo­cal pub,’ I replied. ‘Ter­ri­ble way to go!’ said Cor­den. ‘Yes,’ I con­curred, ‘and imag­ine how fu­ri­ous Walk­ers would have been that it wasn’t a crisp.’


Ge­orge Michael’s death at 53 has pre­ma­turely ended the bril­liant, and bril­liantly com­pli­cated life of one of Bri­tain’s great­est pop stars. We had many deal­ings over the years, in­clud­ing numer­ous in­ter­views, and be­came ir­reg­u­lar on­line pen­pals. Ge­orge was hi­lar­i­ously funny on email.

But it’s a din­ner we shared to­gether at a mu­tual friend’s south Lon­don house that will live long­est in my mem­ory.

Ge­orge was on out­ra­geously indiscreet form that night, re­veal­ing he’d slept with 500 men in the pre­vi­ous seven years, was be­ing cur­rently black­mailed by a French male pros­ti­tute (‘I for­got to pay him!’), would most like to have sex with El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor of all the women in his­tory, never re­gret­ted be­ing caught propo­si­tion­ing a po­lice­man in a Bev­erly Hills pub­lic toi­let (‘I was only sorry for of­fend­ing some of my fans’) and in­sisted Rod Ste­wart once served Dairylea tri­an­gles at a Los An­ge­les din­ner party claim­ing it was rare French cheese.

He also, when I tested him, knew the price of a pint of milk (‘54p from the garage near my home’), re­veal­ing he never com­pletely lost touch with re­al­ity.

Ge­orge, who had us all heav­ing with laugh­ter with his sear­ing, shock­ing hon­esty, chuck­led: ‘I’ve de­cided to just ad­mit ev­ery­thing so peo­ple can’t ex­pose me for it.’

Then he be­came the first celebrity to ever ren­der me speech­less by say­ing: ‘Come on Piers, I bet you’ve fan­cied ex­per­i­ment­ing with men?’

‘I most cer­tainly have not, Ge­orge!’ I said in my most in­dig­nant het­ero­sex­ual voice.

To round off a sur­real evening, the phone rang at mid­night. ‘El­ton!’ shrieked Ge­orge, de­light­edly. That night was Ge­orge Michael at his best. But he wasn’t al­ways like that. The won­drously tal­ented singer’s fame-averse de­scent into a dark, se­cre­tive world of heavy drug abuse of­ten made him para­noid, pompous, ar­gu­men­ta­tive, lonely and mo­rose.

But as our din­ner at­tested, he could also be hugely amus­ing, un­pre­dictable, provoca­tive and en­ter­tain­ing. Ge­orge was truly a tor­mented ge­nius. I hope he’s fi­nally found peace.


TV as­trologer Rus­sell Grant has made a dire 2017 pre­dic­tion for my GMB co-host Susanna Reid and I.

‘Fire signs are usu­ally com­pat­i­ble,’ he said, ‘and, on the sur­face at least, these two will po­litely tol­er­ate each other. But a Jupiter/ Mer­cury link be­tween their stars sug­gests com­pet­i­tive­ness can be a real prob­lem.

‘Oc­ca­sional flare-ups are likely but this could build into a vol­canic catas­tro­phe!’ Yikes! Happy New Year.

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