Monday June 8
The longer the coronavirus crisis has dragged on, the more I’ve craved some palm-tree time at my home in Los Angeles, which is my oasis from all life’s woes.
But LA’s been resembling a grim war zone in recent weeks, with the George Floyd protests turning into riots, and the city enduring America’s most draconian Covid lockdown measures.
So, friends who’ve been trapped there are craving being back home in Britain with equal fervour and turning to Good Morning Britain for comfort.
Bond bombshell: Britt Ekland in 1974. Ekland appeared on GMB and said the 007 ‘fantasy has been ruined’ by rumours the spy discovers he has a son in the upcoming movie, No Time To Die
‘I’m having a very hard time getting through weekends without the UK morning shows,’ messaged Kate Beckinsale. ‘It’s the only way I don’t feel like a transplanted lonely alien. Thanks for keeping all the ex-pats sane. Homesickness is a bitch. Just don’t ruin it by bullying a feminist or something, I really need the dopamine.’
Tuesday June 9
Ex-Bond girl Britt Ekland appeared on GMB and said the 007 ‘fantasy has been ruined’ by rumours the spy discovers he has a son in the upcoming movie, No Time To Die.
‘I think Bond should remain untouchable,’ she said. ‘He’s a fantasy and I think after everything we’ve been through this year it would be wonderful if they turned back time and made him more the traditional, old-fashioned, bachelor, pipe-smoking Bond. I love a vain man.’
I sensed my moment.
‘I think I know where you’re going here Britt… we’ve had Pierce Brosnan, is it time for Piers Morgan?
‘You need to lose a couple of “corona kilos”,’ came the withering, if not entirely inaccurate reply.
‘If I do, would I have a chance?’
‘How old are you?’
‘55, but I look 30.’
Britt gave a slow, silent, Nero-style thumbs down. Devastating.
Thursday June 18
Very sorry to hear Dame Vera Lynn has died aged 103. She lived in the village of Ditchling, a few miles down the road from mine in East Sussex, so I grew up with an added local interest in the remarkable woman who inspired millions of troops with her singing during the Second World War.
To best understand the impact she made, consider the words of Captain Tom Moore a few weeks ago on GMB: ‘I was in Burma and saw her while she was out there. When we were in the firing line, Vera Lynn came down to see us all and gave us so much more additional heart. She was a superstar!’
Of course, Tom has been a similar morale-booster for us during this crisis.
There can’t be many greater legacies than that you lift a whole nation’s spirits in its darkest times.
RIP Vera – and thank you.
Friday June 19
At the height of this pandemic, I thought one positive that might emerge from the mayhem would be less toxic tribal culture war bulls*** and a greater sense of perspective and togetherness. After all, as the acclaimed American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson put it: ‘If a predatory enemy to our species can’t unite everyone on Earth to fight it, I’m left wondering what hope remains for civilisation.’
Yet sadly, the world seems more fractious and divided than ever.
I presumed this situation would be exacerbated when Sky News anchor Mark Austin organised a golf match at Sunningdale – we’re so competitive with each other we’ve even had a bet on who will die first.
‘I’ve sorted you a fun partner,’ he said, ‘and I’ve got a mate playing with me who’s going to ensure you get a spanking.’
‘I don’t care if your mate’s Tiger Woods,’ I replied, ‘you’re losing.’
I turned up to find his ‘mate’ was Paul McGinley, the Irish golfing legend who won three consecutive Ryder Cups as a player, including one where he beat Tiger, and a fourth when he was captain.
To add even more spice, my ‘fun partner’ turned out be Sir Andrew Strauss, former England cricket captain and the man who ended my friend Kevin Pietersen’s international career, prompting me to abuse him for months on social media.
‘The dream team nobody wanted,’ I observed.
‘Let’s just grit our teeth and get on with it, shall we?’ replied Strauss.
I turned to McGinley. ‘Ryder Cup reputations count for nothing here,’ I declared. ‘You’re going down.’
He laughed, more from incredulity than amusement, and smashed his first tee shot into the ether.
But then an extraordinary thing happened: Strauss and I both played out of our skins for the first seven holes, racing to a five-shot lead and establishing the most lethal buddy-bond since Starsky and Hutch.
‘You’re delivering the pandemic of performances,’ I chortled at Austin, who looked like he’d been mauled by a grizzly bear.
But McGinley remained upbeat.
‘This reminds me of when I beat Tiger,’ he said as we stood on the eighth tee. ‘He was No 1 in the world and playing with Davis Love III, who was No 3. I was playing with Pádraig Harrington and we got off to a terrible start. In fact, so bad I feared we were in for a thrashing. Then Tiger suddenly started making unforced errors, we started playing better, momentum changed – and we won easily.’
‘Yes, well, that won’t be happening today,’ I declared, and then hit my next shot into a ditch.
‘History’s repeating itself,’ McGinley cackled ominously, before embarking on a 90-minute golfing masterclass that left us one-down by the 15th hole and Austin yapping and slathering like an over-excited hyena.
‘Greatest choke in sporting history,’ he announced.
‘What would you tell your teams in situations like this?’ I asked Strauss, desperately.
‘I’d tell them to do their f****** jobs,’ he snarled before levelling things on the 16th and brilliantly draining a 15ft putt on the 18th to win us the match, after McGinley missed his from the same spot.
As Austin crumpled, and McGinley grimaced, Strauss and I (virtually) high-fived.
‘Piers, if even you and I can unite successfully,’ he exclaimed jubilantly, ‘then there’s hope for the world.’