That time Joan Rivers and I went to Europe for a holiday…… and I chased Rob Lowe down the street.
Hello my sweet cordon bleus!
The jet lag has finally worn off so I thought it was time to write my last column for the year in the form of the Jaq & Joan Extravaganza to Europe rehash.
Yes, this lucky mamma somehow found herself winging her way with Joan Rivers on an end of VCE trip celebrating all HER hard work and my ability to run hot baths and make protein balls (I don’t know how I did it). I was also celebrating the fact that we somehow managed to get at least one child educated. Go team!
So The Old Blighty and City of Lights it was to be. Six nights in each with a hot flash-inducing schedule of must dos curated by Joan and the odd suggestion from moi. As it was her trip, I was happy to toddle along and be her lady-in-panting. This also meant I was not going to get to the V&A on this trip.
I won’t lull you into a malaise with a blow by blow of the entire trip, but I did make a few notes as we went along. As you would expect, when let loose on an international stage there was a high probability of shenanigans and the odd caper!
It all started out innocently enough..it always does.
Oxford and Regent Street shopping, catching up with cousins and seeing Mamma Mia in the West End saw us off to a flying start. The Christmas decorations in London are some of the best in the world so I was like a kid in a candy shop. I think Joan regretted not going to Byron with the rest of the class; trying to keep her mother under control for two weeks was going to be more challenging than trying to get into a pub with a fake ID and Facebook account.
You see I am up with the down. Anyhoos....
We booked one of those touristy bus tours so Joan could get a good feel for the city. Travelling on the Tube is handy and all, but you do need to see more than the saxophonist at Oxford Circus station. Luckily it was a gorgeous sunny (but arctic) day. Rugged up like Eskimos, we were ready to be laden down with lots of travel fun facts, then when we saw who our tour guide was.
I thought he did a good job in that series, The Young Pope, I didn’t think he would have had trouble finding more work?
Okay, so it wasn’t actually Jude Law, but he was a dead ringer, posh accent and all. Joan and I found it so distracting we kept Googling images of Jude Law and comparing them to ‘Jude Law on the Buses’, to the point we may have missed some highlights of the tour. ‘Jude Law on the Buses’ was clearly an actor. Charming, funny, cheeky and well spoken; we were gutted when we had to get off. It was almost worth going around again for another 2.5 hours just to listen to ‘Jude Law on the Buses’.
That night we headed out to some very groovy digs called The Booking Office. The hip locale not only provided a fabulous vibe for us to relive ‘Jude Law on the Buses’ but we inhaled some sumptuous food and wine. It turned out to be dinner and a show. Joan and I had our attention very quickly drawn to a little soap opera unfolding before our very spritzs’. Two twenty something guys and a girl were well and truly into their Saturday night festivities which seemed innocent enough, until I realised that each time one of the young chaps went to the toot, Lady Bovary would start sucking face with the other. It became a pantomime when as each chap was on his way back from the loo we were compelled to call out, ‘Look out behind you!’. It was all very interactive. Who would have thought, our very own panto with mood lighting and pan seared scallops? It will come as no surprise to learn that Madame Bovary went home with both lads.
The next day we battled the weekend crowds and made our way to the London Eye. Thank Frank that we booked our tickets online the day before, it saved a whole lot of palaver. It was another cracking day but bone chillingly cold. Standing still outside for any more than 10 minutes in the London winter sun, that expels just three hours of daylight and no heat is just a ridiculous thing to do unless you are trialing some cryo tech therapy for your muscles.
Up and around we went. ‘Oooo look at that. Oooo look at this. Ewwww who farted?’ and before we knew it, we were on the ground once more and hurtling towards Belgravia so that Joan could take some Insta-worthy shots of shop fronts; apparently a thing. We weren’t prepared for the run-in, or in my case run-down of a Hollywood superstar.
There we were…..
Innocently strolling down Eabury Road taking in the Christmas splendor when out of the corner of my eye coming from the other direction, was the chiseled-jaw sexiness of none other than Rob Lowe…the real, dinky-di, subject of my teenage crush, flushing cheeks, Rob Lowe!
I knew he was in London working on a movie because ‘a friend’ follows him on Instagram, so it was not out of the zone of possibility. In that moment I reflected on my 48 years and thought to myself, ‘Do it!You only live once and you’re getting on old girl.’
Me (whispering but probably not): ‘Joan Rivers. That was Rob Lowe.’
Joan Rivers: ‘What? No way. What are you doing?’
I turned on my Walnut boot (those bloody boots should get their own Instagram account) and proceeded to take chase after Real Rob Lowe. What a sight that must have been from inside Peggy Porschen Cakes as patrons supped genteelly on their tea. A beanie clad Real Rob Lowe sauntering down the road, followed in quick pursuit by a middle-aged groupie in knee high boots, who is being chased by her adult daughter, who is in charge after her mother who is running down the Real Rob Lowe and thinking, ‘ Jesus Christ here she goes.’
The Real Rob Lowe would have heard the clack, clack, clack coming up behind him and thought, ‘Fuck it, I thought I was in the clear. So much for the beanie,’ but if he did think that, we would not have known because I am pleased to report he was ridiculously charming. He happily posed for selfies, made conversation and was even polite enough not to mention the long line of drool coming out of the corner of my mouth.
A few more days flew past of more shopping, sight seeing, and a trippy egg loo experience in a very posh restaurant.
Then before we knew it we were off to Paris…..
Straight off the bat, I can’t speak French. My year eight French however will get me the necessities.
Je voud drais un table pour deux sil vous plait.
I would like a table for two please
J’mapelle Jaquelyn. Sans gluten?
My name is Jaq, is there anywhere in Paris that sells a slice of gluten free toast with avo?
Excuse moi, Puis-je avoir un autre whisky?
I think you get the idea.
This is my third trip to Paris, but my longest stay, so I really tried to get with the lingo as it is a beautiful language and I believe you should always try. Well I did have a go and it got to the point where my bonjours got quite good even if I do say so myself. The only issue with getting nifty with your bonjours of course is that the locals then launch straight into French, so you see it is a bit of a poisoned chalice type situation now that I am very good at my bonjours.
As I may have eluded to before, Joan Rivers is not exactly what you would call a culture demon. She likes to rip through the must-sees at breakneck speed Clarky Griswald style. Being a Type A personality, I think she thinks there is a prize for the fastest time around the Louvre. Luckily I had been there before, because we tore through the Louvre quicker than most people queue for the loo. The poor bloody Mona Lisa was black blur, so thankfully we have photographic evidence to prove we were there.
Ooooh random side note. I never really noticed this before, but French people actually do walk around wearing berets and carrying baguettes. It’s not a stitch up.
Rushing the Eiffel Tower wasn’t a possibility. The line up was so sodding well slow. In the time it took to wait in line, I had process re-engineered the whole shebang in my head, retrained the staff and had awarded team member of the month to Claude for his ongoing commitment to customer satisfaction.
First world problems.
Of course the climb was worth it and I was grateful for the exercise and the opportunity to warm up because Paris was more brass monkey weather than London. How amazing to get the opportunity to climb in the day and see all the lights come on at dusk….at 2.30pm. Weird but lovely.
Our other highlight included a make-your-own-perfume workshop. Admittedly I ended up with something that looked like I had eaten asparagus the night before. As usual Joan was unimpressed with my efforts.
Me: ‘It doesn’t smell that bad’.
Joan Rivers: ‘It smells like air freshener.’
Me: ‘Maybe it just needs a bit of time to mature on the skin?’
Joan Rivers: ‘Are you sure you have that long to live?’
I did get a moment of reprieve from Joan’s critical eye when I ventured to 5 Avenue Marceau, the home of the Yves Saint Laurent Musee. Joan would rather poke her own eyes out than stare at couture. For me there is no better use of one’s time. It didn’t disappoint. Such beauty, history, creativity…..brrrrrinng, brrrrring!
Me: ‘Hello Joan what’s up?’
Joan Rivers: ‘How long does it take to look at a bunch of old frocks. Come on I want to get up to Sacre Coeur, then Cafe Berry for an acai bowl.’
Me: ‘Yes dear.’
Farewell YSL it was lovely while it lasted.
We saw Sacre Coeur. I am also pretty sure we also knocked a nun to the ground as we went blistering past.
Me: ‘Excuse moi. Desole. Pardon Madame. Desole Monsieur.’
We were headed out to Versailles the next day and I was considering taking out additional third party insurance as a precaution.
I think I referred to Versailles as Ver-sigh because that’s what you do when you see it. I was completely unprepared for the scale of the place, it was too much and I am usually a ‘there is no such thing as too much’ kinda gal. I was also expecting that the palace was in the middle of a paddock thanks to my addiction to period drama movies. I had no idea there was a town in the front yard of the grounds. Joan and I were expecting to be met at the train with a set of Veuve Clicquot gum boots so we could trek through the fields to get there. So apart from that slight reality check, the rest of it was a dream come true and a fitting end to what was a magnificent trip.
Clearly there is more I could bang on about, but as with anything, less is more. What I will say is, having such an amazing opportunity to spend time with my girl after what has been ‘a year and then some’ was for me, the best bit as only a mum would think. Having Cheong the fabulous flight attendant on Singapore Airlines ply us the booze all the way home and act like our own personal butler didn’t hurt either.
Finally, thank you for showing me such wonderful support this year as I have ventured into this new phase of my writing and media work. The emails, texts and messages on the socials and gorgeous comments while I have been out and about, have really blown me away and meant more than you know to this old dag.
I wish you all an amazing, safe and happy Christmas with loved ones and an exciting new year ahead.
P.S Stay tuned for more nonsense, food and whisky tales in 2019.