Seventies Nostalgia

Monday, January 08, 2007


When I started out as a gossip columnist in the late Seventies, I took pictures of my victims with my little instamatic (this was before the age of digital), but the published pics all came out blurred. Also, I found it a bit of an encumbrance trying to delve and snap at the same time. And, as I was pretending not to be a journalist but a genuine friend of the people, whose brains I was surreptitiously picking, it looked a bit suspicious - me continuously flashing my camera in their gobs. An unobtrusive David Bailey I was not! One evening, I wasn’t minding my own business in the middle of a nightclub opening (Wedgies in the Kings Road) when an exuberant man with long black hair and dressed in black leather banged me on the shoulder. ‘Hi, I’m Richard Young, your new photographer,’ he said cheerily. He went on to explain that “Ritz Newspaper” had just hired him to be my personal photographer, which suited me fine. ‘Photograph that lump of lard over there,’ I ordered at full volume, pointing him in the direction of an obese lord. Richard did as he was told without asking any questions. Richard was no virgin when it came to the world of 'photo journalism' however. He had recently managed to successfully infiltrate Liz and Richard Burton’s birthday bash at the Dorchester, taking a paparazzo shot of them, so he knew exactly what he was doing. He manipulated his camera like it was a machine gun, relentlessly sniping fire. Rat-a-tat-snap!
Young and Lynn

At the beginning of our partnership, he didn’t know who anyone was, but he quickly learned Who Was Who, i.e. which person was worth photographing. When I was at a dinner in Karl Lagerfeld’s honour at Mr Chow, I was seated at the fashion designer’s table with a group of women journalists, who spent their whole evening, wearily having to tell their photographers whom not to photograph. I didn’t have to exert myself one little bit and concentrated on my fried seaweed, as Richard already knew ‘everyone’ and automatically knew whom to snap without my having to tell him.
‘You are fortunate having a photographer whom you don’t have to tell what to do,’ the fashion editor of Women’s Wear Daily confided in me.
‘Can I borrow him?’ the dame from The Daily Mail asked.

It was all very well that Richard was independent – too independent, for soon Richard was no longer taking exclusives for ‘Ritz’, and like all good paparazzi was making a fortune globally syndicating his photographs of the rich and famous at the functions I took him too. Richard and I worked together harmoniously for years, but I knew we had to finally part company when people at parties started to rush up to speak to him rather than speak to me first. He was no longer my personal photographer, but after having worked with me, was the only civilised paparazzo in London who was allowed to take photographs inside, rather than hang outside for celebrities in the cold.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ladies Who Lunch

In the late Seventies, it was the vogue for ‘ladies who lunch’ to throw lavish hen parties for each other. Jackie Collins told me that Jerry Hall gave a lunch party for fifty girls, and Jackie taped the lot of them. Enough juicy dialogue to fill several of her Hollywood books, I should imagine.

I think one of the most glamorous hen parties I went to, was a birthday bash given by the exotic model Marie Helvin for her best girlfriends. At the time, I wrote a gossip column called ‘bitch’ for her then husband, David Bailey, publisher of the defunct “Ritz Newspaper’, so I think Marie invited me along purely for me to cover her party. Marie hired the whole of Eleven Park Walk, off Fulham Road, which was one of London’s most fashionable restaurants at the time, and discreetly paid for the lunch after the bash was all over. The guest list included Angelica Houston who was then Jack Nicholson’s girlfriend, Nona Summers, an infamous society hostess and Elsa Schiaparelli’s granddaughter Marisa Berenson, the beautiful actress and socialite. At the time, she looked exactly the same as she did in “Cabaret”, which was pretty miraculous considering she had recently undergone extensive plastic surgery on her face after a car accident. In those days, I hadn’t yet been given a freebie tape recorder and was still using my shorthand, so it’s a shame I didn’t surreptitiously tape the lunch, because I can’t remember in minute detail, what we all talked about. Nothing about earth-shattering world events, I suspect. All I do vividly recall is that one woman, a wealthy theatre impresario’s mistress chain-smoked in between courses that, due today’s phobia of anti-smoking is completely out of date. The late Tina Chow, who tragically later died of AIDS, announced she had just returned from holidaying in Sardinia, where she said that Fanta and frozen pizzas were dished out, and all at ‘exorbitant’ prices. Considering the continental currency was then pre-euro, by today’s standards, the beach fast fodder would be now considered cheap. ‘The beaches were filled with people covered in perfume and lipstick who all looked like they had been recruited from a Rogers & Cowan guest list,’ Tina said. (Rogers & Cowan is an ‘A’ list showbiz public relations company). ‘Next time, I shall holiday on a yacht,’ she added. She announced she had also been to the Vatican, but just after Pope John Paul I had died. His thirty-three day reign was the shortest in papal history. Zandra Rhodes popped in for ten minutes, declaring it was the first time she had lunched in three months, and topped Tina by saying she had also just recently visited the Vatican but before the Pope had died. Other girls including Lady Victoria Waymouth, before she married (the late) Patrick Lichfield, the royal photographer. Model agency owner Laraine Ashton, an ex-model laughed about Omar Sharif (a movie star in those days), trying to lick champagne from her toes the previous evening. Everyone must have been feeling happy after the lunch, as all the women offered to give me a lift home. I was so touched, that I didn’t bitch about any of them when I wrote up the lunch.

Copyright: Frances Lynn, 2006