Dame Stella’s secret fears for the world
While much of the nation is preoccupied with the creepy-crawlie intake of the contestants in I’m a Celebrity, what’s become of
who was crowned Queen of the Jungle last year?
Torquay-born “Toff” is making the most of her success in the show, using modelling fees and the royalties from a book about her life (albeit being only 24) to buy a flat in Chelsea, along with two rental properties in Devon.
But the winsome blonde has found romantic fulfilment more elusive. “There are big drawbacks to fame,” she tells me earnestly, “like when I walk
down the street and people shout from their cars and their vans.
“It’s not good for your love life. It’s very rare to meet someone who doesn’t recognise me now, so I worry that before going on a date I’ve been pre-judged before they’ve even met me.”
Never mind, although fulfilling dates within her own age group are proving tricky, she can always rely on the diverting company of Stanley Johnson, with whom she bonded in the jungle (above). Boris’s bouncy father is 78 but he has, notes Toff admiringly, an “incredible stamina” for the Chablis-fuelled lunches the pair enjoy together. Anyone fancy giving the royal knick-knacks a bit of spit and polish? is looking for a housekeeping assistant. The lucky recruit will be based at Buckingham Palace nine months of the year, then at Balmoral and Sandringham the rest of the time.
“You’ll work in stunning settings, cleaning everything from carpets and furniture to historic vases and paintings,” entices an advertisement.
“It’s feeling house-proud about the world’s most famous homes.”
You won’t clean up financially though: the annual pay is £17,000. Although that includes a berth in the servants’ quarters, there’s the downside of having to clean the bedroom that Prince Andrew still retains at the palace – dusting his teetering piles of “specialist” magazines (on golf, if you were wondering).
The Queen has never made her views publicly known on same-sex marriage but, according to Stephen Fry, HM told a flunkey that it was a “wonderful” idea when the legislation allowing gay marriage was passed last year. The garrulous Fry, who married his boyfriend Elliott Spencer shortly after the law changed, says that he heard about the Queen’s thoughts on gay marriage from a friend in the Palace.
“She turned to the privy counsellor handing her the papers to sign for the legislation and she said ‘Well, who would have thought 60 years ago’ – and there was a pause – ‘that such a Bill could come to pass. Isn’t it wonderful?’”
He adds: “After all, she has met lots of fruity, peculiar people in her life, many of whom have been family friends.” Performing at numerous carol services carries a seasonal risk for clergy, warns media vicar hands with 10,000 people in December means you are very likely to end up with a vicious cold, croak your way through Midnight Mass and feel like death on Christmas morning,” warns Coles, 56.
“One of the vicars I used to work with kept a supply of antibacterial spray under his cloak and we’d sanitise our hands in-between handshakes.”
EVEN when Stella Rimington was dealing with daily challenges to national security as chief of MI5, her view of the world remained mostly upbeat. But not any more: she admits to being “very worried” about the increase in global tension.
“I’m not optimistic about the future right now,” says Dame Stella, who was the first female director general of MI5 and has since written 10 novels based on her experience in Britain’s secret intelligence service.
“I feel the world is in a very worrying state with the rise of nationalism and people retreating behind borders. There’s the uncertainty of Brexit; things feel very unstable.” She places much of the blame for global unease on Russia and warns that dealing with those running the former Soviet Union is “like talking to the When Nick Clegg was deputy prime minister in the coalition government (such heady days!) his wife was happy to socialise, when required, with the Camerons. But Mrs Clegg would find herself hard-pressed to be civil to David Cameron now.
Spanish-born Miriam is so furious about Brexit that she admits to avoiding any occasion where she might have to meet the former PM. If their paths did cross, she would give him both barrels for holding the referendum. “I would tell him in no uncertain terms how I feel about the damage that he’s inflicted on Britain, and about how he has impaired the chances of young people,” she thunders.
“I’d say that I know he did this out of arrogance, that he chose to put himself and his own party above us all. He only has to look at the divisions in the country to realise that absolutely nothing good has come from the referendum he so casually convened.”
Her husband, she adds, feels pretty much the same. But as a Brit, he tends to keep his emotions in check (The WIMP! you can almost hear fiery Miriam cry).
“My parents have always been there for me, ever since I was about seven.” deaf; they see us as extraordinary creatures from another world.”
Stella, 83, whose latest thriller is called The Moscow Sleepers, recalls her first visit to that country on behalf of MI5 when she had been full of hope at the prospect of a less aggressive Russia.
“The end of the Cold War was a time of vast excitement and great hope. Suddenly the world began to change radically.
“The idea behind my visit was that we would help them legislate the secret services they could operate in a democracy.
“I was the only woman at the table, of course. At the concluding speech one of them said ‘In your country you have a woman Prime Minister [Thatcher], you have a lady Queen, and now you have a woman leading your intelligence service’. There was a sense of ‘You must be mad’.”
can now afford the finest tailoring but when he first began his career he relied on charity shops for clothes.
The former Doctor Who, 47, recalls that one of his best purchases was a bootlace tie bought “probably to emulate Bono or Jim Kerr” which he chose to wear with a bolero jacket.
His eclectic acquisitions made him stand out from the crowd just a little too much, however. He remembers one night out at a club in Scotland “among a sea of shellsuits” when he was smacked in the face. “Just for being a little bit dapper.”
WORRIED: Stella Miriam