‘I’ve considered all the risks,’ Joan chuckled. ‘If you die, Piers, you die’

Monday, July 13

I’ve decamped to St Tropez for the summer to recharge after the extraordinary frenzy of the first six months of 2020 (has it really only been HALF A YEAR?).

A Times columnist joked recently that I must be ‘getting very fat’ with all the Ministers that I was ‘having for breakfast’ on Good Morning Britain.

In fact, I was piling on a few extra pounds, but that was more due to lockdown comfort-eating and exhausted workout-avoidance.

Joan was absolutely seething for many weeks at my impertinent solicitousness for her welfare. But time’s a great healer, and we were reunited for a socially-distanced lunch today at our mutual favourite restaurant, Club 55 on Pampelonne beach

So, my holiday game-plan was clear: exercise, swim, eat healthily, get fit, shed weight.

This lasted precisely 26 hours, until I left a restaurant tonight and badly turned my ankle over in a grass divot.

We’d power-walked a mile there from our villa – the start of my new regime! – and there were no cabs available.

As I pondered my options, I remembered a war story from SAS: Who Dares Wins star Ant Middleton: ‘On a 60-mile trek with a 200kg Bergen on my back, I felt my ankle break. Some might have given up. I broke the other ankle to even up the pain and carried on.’

I didn’t do that – but I did grit my teeth and yomp angrily and silently home, uphill and in sandals, each agonising step causing me to yelp and almost certainly making things worse.

Friday, July 17

Dame Joan Collins has been enraged about the way older people have been treated during the coronavirus crisis.

‘I’ve always thought Western society was terribly ageist,’ she told The Spectator, ‘then our Government insisted the “over-70s” (horrible expression) were part of the “vulnerables” (an even more horrible expression) and should remain in lockdown (the most horrible expression of all) until a vaccine is found. That was utter discrimination against the hardy individuals who have no health issues. But more harmful was bolstering the existing belief among the general public (and prospective employers) that the old should keep out of everyone’s way.’

I was singled out for particular fury after cancelling a meal with Joan and her husband Percy in March.

‘Just before lockdown we were planning to have dinner with Piers Morgan,’ she said, ‘and when I texted him to check if it was still on, I received a manifesto explaining that he ‘didn’t want to be responsible’ for my untimely death!’

Joan was absolutely seething for many weeks afterwards at my impertinent solicitousness for her welfare.

But time’s a great healer, and we were reunited for a socially-distanced lunch today at our mutual favourite restaurant, Club 55 on Pampelonne beach (above).

‘I’ve considered all the coronavirus health risks for vulnerable people, and concluded that if you die Piers, you die,’ Joan chuckled derisively.

We both agreed that one good thing about the pandemic is no longer having to touch anyone. ‘I’ve been a germaphobe for years,’ Joan said, ‘My worst horror is complete strangers bear-hugging me, then moving in for the sloppy kiss. Now they’re not allowed to because it’s illegal!’

We discussed the unbelievably lurid Johnny Depp libel case against The Sun, which has seen gruesome mud-slinging between him and his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Joan revealed that the last time she saw Depp was when they too had lunch together at Club 55 a few years ago.

‘What I remember most is how incredibly patient and charming he was to all the kids who kept coming up for autographs and photos. He was at the height of his Pirates Of The Caribbean fame so they all loved him, and he couldn’t have been more courteous. He also kept calling me “Ma’am”, which I liked too.’

I’ve heard similar positive stories about him – but judging by some of the appalling stuff coming out in court, Depp’s clearly a Jekyll-and-Hyde character with his nastier Hyde side emerging when he’s off his head on drugs.

Next year will be Joan’s 70th in the movie business (her first film was Lady Godiva Rides Again in 1951, in which she played a beauty contestant) – an absolutely staggering milestone that makes her Britain’s longest-reigning star.

But as we discussed throwing a gigantic party to celebrate, an extremely fit-looking young blonde lady suddenly bounded up to the table.

‘Mr Morgan!’ she announced with a beaming grin, ‘I am Val Kahl – your biggest fan! I love how you speak your mind! I am a TV host like you and a Yin Vinyasa power yoga sculptor. I want to bend you into shapes you never knew you had! I promise you a great time!’

Her positive energy crackled almost as palpably as the negative tension around some of my lunch partners.

‘Sadly, my HUSBAND has hurt his ankle so won’t be able to do any power yoga sculpting,’ said Celia.

‘Wait, this could be just the therapy I need!’ I insisted.

Val beamed delightedly. ‘It would make me SO happy to get you into one of my sessions!’

‘Calm down, dear,’ sighed Dame Joan.

‘I am a big fan of yours too, Joanna!’ Val bellowed, unhelpfully.

Later in the meal, brilliant photos emerged (via Twitter) of the great Captain Tom Moore, 100, receiving his knighthood from the Queen, 94.

Like Dame Joan, 87, their indomitable spirit is key to their longevity.

‘If you lot had your way, we’d all be kept hidden away in dungeons until a vaccine arrives!’ said Joan, ‘when we’ve got more energy and good health than people half our age. Look at the state of you, you can barely even walk!’

Sunday, July 19

I’m now on crutches for my increasingly troublesome ankle injury, with French doctors suspecting a tendon tear. ‘How did you do that with your lack of pace?’ texted Gary Lineker.

My sons were even less sympathetic: ‘As you would say to us, Father,’ said Stanley, ‘stop moaning and MAN UP!’

Their sentiments were shared by Celia, who, when I spent ten minutes struggling to get in to bed tonight, grimaced and said: ‘This is a frightening glimpse into the future of our marriage… and so not what I signed up for.’

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