Girls keep it together in front of their rock’n’roll idols. It’s men who turn into gibbering wrecks

Middle aged men are complete emotional wrecks verging on hysteria a lot of the time.

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Fandom is an odd thing, attributed mostly to silly young girls. Having been one myself I don’t think young girls are daft at all. Middle-aged men, though, are complete emotional wrecks verging on hysteria a lot of the time. Sure, their predilections are catalogued and alphabetised away, but that’s just a defence mechanism to stop them going doolally.

I realised this at a do years ago in the mid-Nineties. I’d gone to Dublin to interview Marianne Faithfull, who had just written an autobiography. She lived in Maynooth in the grounds of an estate. There was no set length on the interview as there so often is these days. We spent a long, relaxed day together as she showed me round, ordered in food and beguiled me with a magical mixture of down-and-dirty gossip and her own fragility. A lot of the then It girls like Kate Moss had sought her out, as she’d been the original rock chick. Jagger had, of course, come on to Naomi Campbell, who had said, “I just can’t go out with another Leo.” Everyone knows the issue with Jagger is his star sign.

Marianne cackled away and we had a lot of fun. She remembered the best night she ever had. With Keith Richards. Another time in bed with Jagger, he, too, had admitted his lust for Keith. Sometimes she and Anita Pallenberg fooled around in front of the boys to try to make them jealous, but everyone always came back to Keith. Of course.

I eventually told her that I had indeed met her before – when she used to be off her head at Vibrators gigs upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s – but she wouldn’t remember.

A few days later the phone rang. When it’s Marianne Faithfull on the phone, you know from the purr. She wanted me to come to her do.

It was some party all right. The woman has had a life. Alex Higgins was there, with whom she had some kind of flingette, as were assorted rock stars, musicians and theatre people and anyone who was anyone in the Sixties.

I was standing there taking it all in with Nick Hornby, the late, great Gordon Burn and Damien Hirst. I had no time for Hirst in those days as he was forever getting his willy out.

Suddenly they all went still.

“Oh my God, it’s him. It’s HIM!”

I glanced over and saw a stout man with a very tall girlfriend.

“I just want to go and tell him what he means to me,” said Gordon.

“Suzanne, you do it! Make him talk to us.”

They were frozen now. Hardly able to speak. Except Hirst, who swore a lot.

The room was packed with many celebs but everyone, it seemed, had been reduced to adolescent awe by this grumpy-looking bloke.

Marianne swept over, all husky charm and knowing looks. “I’m so delighted Van could make it. Aren’t you?”

Suzanne Moore is a writer and columnist. In 2019 she was joint winner of the Orwell Prize for journalism.

This article appears in the 09 April 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Anniversary Issue 2015

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