Saturday, 1 December 2012

David Haye - not just a nice bum...

Well I have to admit it - ‘I’m a Celebrity’ is my guilty pleasure. I’ve always liked it but this year was the best one ever.  It was great fun, we had nice contestants, the bush tucker trials were horrible, Ant and Dec were on top form and there was THAT shower scene. Everyone has gone on about Mylene Klass and the white bikini but David Haye, naked under the waterfall, ladies....well....all I can say is...pwooor! (Gentlemen...please go to the gym...go directly to the gym and do not pass go!)

I actually know another side of David Haye. Yes I know, what with Ross Kemp the other week and now this, I am positively almost an A lister myself! He bought a house in my neck of the woods, (David not Ross!); him and his gorgeous wife and baby son, and I once dropped an invite to a party through his letterbox.

It’s not as mad as you might think, well maybe it is, but I was a little short on the ground of Big Names to invite, (well actually his was the only address I knew), but there was a connection. The surprise party was for Ash coming back from Afghanistan and Ash and his brother are both great Haye fans, having driven to Manchester to watch him win his world title. So I thought it fitting.

Unfortunately the date I picked was not only David Hayes birthday, (although we could have arranged a joint do?), but also the day he retired from boxing.  So I guess he could be forgiven for not attending the knees up at The Swan in West Wickham, although Mick & Lisa are the best landlords ever. He did however contact me through his PA expressing his regret that he could not attend and sent Ash a personally signed book with a notation to him on it. It was a lovely thing to do and I will be forever grateful for that small act of kindness that made Ash’s eyes light up.

Ash had been on Operation Herrick 14 and away for 7 of the longest months of my life. But he was back now, safe and sound, and we wanted to throw a party for him and put the past 7 months Out There behind us.

In my diary I wrote:
My covert mission to ensure that Ash’s party remains a total secret is going very well. The Swan is on high alert and Gary has been in to decorate the room with balloons and bunting. Mick and Lisa have arranged a disco and I have put numerous photos from Out There onto a memory stick to be projected onto the TV screen during the evening. Lisa’s mum has baked a cake and Mick and a guy from the British Legion have supplied flags. Rosie and Sammie have contacted everyone they know and we are hoping for a good turnout. The local press will be there and Lisa has arranged for the Crystal Palace Cheerleaders to come in and give him a cheer, complete with pom-poms!

My mission is to get him there without spoiling the surprise. I decide to tell him that my friend Chris is over with her sons from Italy and that they want to say hi and see his medals. I tell him that they will be in the local Pizza Express at eight o’clock and perhaps we could just pop in to see them. Luckily Ash has no other plans for the evening: he informs me that all his mates are being ‘right wusses’ and don’t want to go out tonight. I smile. I make a furtive call to Italy to tell Chris that she mustn’t telephone me later as she is supposed to be here in the UK. She laughs and is delighted that her family is part of the deception.

With military precision I text Gary at 7.56 to let him know that we are leaving the house. At 7.59 we get to Pizza Express, the designated place to meet Chris and the boys, only to find, surprisingly, that they are not there.

‘Oh, Ash, I wonder where they can be?’ We stand outside, looking through the window of the restaurant.

‘Let me call her.’ I reach for my phone and dial Gary’s number. ‘We’re outside Pizza Express.’

‘We are all ready here, Mum,’ Gary says. I pause for further effect. ‘Caught in traffic?’ I respond. I look at Ash and raise my eyebrows. ‘You’ll be about ten minutes?’

‘He hasn’t got a clue, has he, Mum?’ Gary says.

‘Just a minute, Chris. They’re caught in traffic, Ash, what shall we do?’

‘Go to The Swan, for a quick drink?’ he says.

‘Good idea, Ash,’ I answer.

‘Result!’ Gary says.

‘We’ll go into The Swan for a drink then, Chris. Call me when you get here.’

‘See you in a minute, Mum.’ As Gary’s voice trails off, I hear him shouting, ‘Right, everyone, he’s on his way. Into positions!’ Ash and I chat as we cross the road and I notice Mick standing outside the pub smoking a cigarette. He gives me the smallest of nods.

‘Ash, my boy!’ Mick says as he embraces Ash. ‘Nice to see you!’

We follow Mick into the bar and I hang back. I notice that the door to the conservatory is shut as Ash heads towards the bar. ‘Drink, Mum?’ he asks.

‘Oh, Ash, let’s go into the conservatory. I prefer it in there.’ I catch Mick’s eye; he’s panicking ever so slightly. ‘Really?’ he replies, and for a split second I think it’s all about to go horribly wrong. But then Ash puts his wallet back into his pocket, and turns away from the bar.

‘Go on then.’ I gesture towards the door. ‘Afghan heroes first.’

As he opens the door all that can be heard it a massive cheer and the sound of scores of party poppers exploding, the flashing of cameras and the opening bars of ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now’ (David Haye music as he enters the ring!) Ash looks around at me and as I see his face I worry that he might hit the deck, believing that he is back Out There and under sniper fire. But then he smiles and walks into the room. He is immediately lost in a sea of people, surrounded by his friends, who are all laughing and slapping him on the back. Everyone is happy for him, pleased to be part of this, and so very proud.

The room looks fantastic, the place has been transformed into a magical wonderland filled with light and happiness and love, and I beam from ear to ear as I watch the scene in front of me. I go up to him and give him a hug. ‘Surprise!’

He looks at me and then frowns. ‘What about Chris and the boys?’

‘Oh, Ash… It was just a ploy to get you here. You were conned!’ I laugh.

‘Mother, I will never believe a word you say to me ever again!’

And the Cheer Leaders danced and people ate and drank and smiled...and if David Haye had been there last thing he would have said is “I’m a Celebrity - Get me out of here!”

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