Archive for the ‘Journal’ Category

How I’ve ended up being Patrick Dempsey’s co-star

Monday, February 11th, 2013

I’m in a film.  Yes, me.  A film!  With co-stars Patrick Dempsey (‘Grey’s Anatomy’) and Chris Noth (Mr Big in ‘Sex and The City’).

Confused?  Well, so was I.

Last year – in April – I was asked to fly out to Belgium in order to film for a “new business reality show, where a team of experts help improve the chances of a group of unemployed people from around the world”.  The director met me in my very nice hotel the day before to talk me through what I was required to do exactly.  The brief was to train each candidate (I would be seeing three) in dining etiquette.  He specifically had chosen lobster, snails and oysters for me to teach.  Three of my least favourite foods in the world, but fine, I shall teach how to eat them.  They were paying me, at the end of the day.

The next day, a delightful runner collects me and drives me to the location (another hotel in the city).  I was filming almost within ten minutes of arriving at the location.  Anyone who’s filmed anything before will tell you that never happens.  Filming is usually just a lot of faffing about and waiting.  I knew something was up.

I was asked to open the door to the lobby and bring in the first candidate.  Sitting outside were two ladies.  One perfectly normal lady, and one Japanese-looking one.  I had been told to work with the Japanese lady first.  And in she came.  Falling over herself, kissing me, and behaving in a very odd way.


Little old me thought that she was just a hopeless candidate that the TV programme had found – great for TV.  So I went along with it, trying to be as charming as possible and cope with the stupid questions, prying questions about my personal life, and lobsters being waved in my face.  Only about ten minutes in did I realise that she really couldn’t be for real.  I was giving as good as I got (I mean, I just about survived Russell Howard), but I have to admit I was probably coming across like a rabbit in the headlights.

The sequence ended with me having this Japanese girl – Ushi – thrust a choux bun in my face as she showed me how she would eat it.  It dropped all down my suit.  I nearly snapped at this point.  It had gone far enough.

ushi_pieAfter filming with Ushi was done, I was then told they didn’t need any more from me.  What about the other candidates? I asked.  Nothing more needed, the answer came.  I asked the director and sound engineer whether she was for real; I was told she was.  Hmmm.

Thankfully, my runner – who was taking me back to the hotel to change and then fly home, let me in on the plot.  Although she thought it was for a TV show.  I didn’t realise it was a film until LAST NIGHT when I found a trailer on YouTube.  It appears Ushi (who I discovered is The Netherlands’s answer to Borat and Keith Lemon) has duped many others in the making of this film, including Messers Dempsey and Noth.  Ho hum.

I was livid at the time – more so about my suit than anything else.  But now that several months have passed, I am finding the whole thing funnier.  Just.

The film is released on Thursday in Europe.

Buttling in Persia

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Last month I had the privilege to work with Neda from Persian language TV to film a piece for later this year on how to be a butler. We filmed at the delightful Sennowe Park in Norfolk and had great fun as I taught her how to clean silver, serve afternoon tea, set the table, answer the door, as well as butler service at table.

The day was organised marvellously by the delightful Vernonica Joly de Lotbinière from More Then Good Manners, who was worked with Neda before. You can read what Veronica had to say about the day on her blog, here.

The episode will be posted here and on my main website when it airs later this year.

Strictly, China & the Royal Wedding

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

It’s been a busy old few months! Ever since the Royal Wedding was announced at the end of last year I have been speaking (or have been asked) about very little else. It’s wonderful news for the Monarchy, country and the couple themselves and I cannot be prouder to be British at the moment. BUT… could Prince Harry just wait at least three years before he announces his engagement? I need a rest.

That said, come early February I had thought the press and nation were not interested, as apart from one or two exceptions, I had received very few Royal Wedding-related press requests. However, come the beginning of March they soon enough started to roll in, snowballing. And they are still coming – just weeks away from the actual event. Having spoken to the wonderful television presenter Victoria Arbiter, whom I met whilst we filmed something for Canada’s CTV (airing sometime in April), she said that she had received very few media bids until quite recently. What has obviously happened is broadcasters had forgotten how soon things comes around and then all panicked at once as they put together their programming for ‘wedding week’.

Filming in progress for CTV

Victoria Arbiter & Alexandra Messervy filming for CTV

Not only have I been living, talking and breathing the Royal Wedding, but also I have been preparing for my trip to China – which I begin on Tuesday. I have been invited over there on a speaking tour where I shall be addressing audiences on the essence of British-ness and what it means to be a gentleman. I shall be staying in Guangzhou, which is north of Hong Kong. I have heard all sorts of stories about the cuisine and various other things, so I was having mixed feelings, but I am actually (now) quite looking forward to the whole experience. I will be over there for 12 days, and then return for a week’s breather before ‘wedding week’ kicks off. I hope to blog from China – but I may get distracted so please don’t hold me to anything!

One of the most enjoyable things of my year, if not life, happened earlier this week. I was invited back to my alma mater, Clifton College, to sit on the judging panel of a fund-raising event entitled ‘Strictly Scrum Dancing’. My followers on Twitter will know that the BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ is my favourite show in the whole world and so to be asked to take part in something like this was joyous. I had great expectations before the event and did worry that perhaps as I had been looking forward to it so much, the actual event would disappoint. Well – au contraire! It exceeded all expectations. Never have I had so much fun. I had been asked to be the ‘nasty’ judge (or, as I saw it, ‘fair’). Having hundreds of people booing you is really quite a feeling, and I loved every second of it. We did two shows – a matinee and an evening performance. What was good about the afternoon show (which was shorter than the second) was we could use it as a practice round for the main event, which for me meant I could be bitchier and my put-downs more finely tuned. I am not sure yet how much we raised but I suspect it’ll be at least £3,000 (having done some very rudimentary sums). I think I enjoyed it so much because for most of my life (as it’s the polite, and right, thing to do) I spend my time being nice to people and thinking of other people, there is very little scope, time or need to be ‘nasty’. And so I just let rip. I was even told in the evening (by the dancers) I could be even bitchier! Well, talk about red rag to a bull.


Judges for Strictly Scrum Dancing

In character for judging Strictly Scrum Dancing*

I had better finish off cooking dinner for my family, who are staying with me this weekend (Mothers’ Day tomorrow in the UK). We are having a pea, mint and pancetta soup, followed by Greek lamb tray bake, and finally white chocolate, almond and date brioche Panini.

Joi wooi (that’s goodbye in Cantonese!)

*Image courtesy of Amelia Allen.