Although the South American tour had given me a firmer relationship with Queen, I was startled as well as delighted to get an invitation to Freddie’s fortieth birthday party at his house in Logan Place on Sunday, September 7th 1986.

It was to be a Mad Hatters’ theme party. I remember panicking slightly about this, ‘cos I’m not a hat person. I’m too short and the sort of hats that suit my face make me look like a mushroom. I took with me a journalist friend called Les Daly, whom I’d known since my DC Thomson days in Dundee. He’s now the assistant editor of the Sunday Times colour supplement. It was a magic day. The sun was shining and once beyond the green door in the wall, we were in a different world. Everything had been organised down to the last detail. I can remember the flunkies with white-painted faces coming round with little chequerboard sandwiches, served from vast top hats. It was all very Alice-in-Wonder-land. We all drank an incredible amount and I fear I did one of my party tricks. I taught Jim Beach’s children how to make water bombs which I’d learned from the Rupert Annual when I was four. I met Jim a couple of years ago and he was still cursing me for it. Patti Mostyn, Elton’s Australian PR-cum-bridesmaid was so drunk, it was only the fact that her heels were embedded in the lawn which kept her upright.

It was lovely for me to see the house that Freddie had described all those years before, complete with minstrels’ gallery. He took Les and me and Anita Dobson on the Grand Tour, finishing up on the balcony outside his bedroom where we stood drinking champagne and taking in the party in the garden beneath. He was very happy and proud and he had every reason to be. Brian was wearing a sombrero the size of a flying saucer and extremely tight black velvet flares which his wife kept telling me were ten years old. I believed her. If that was the day that Brian met Anita, I’m firmly convinced those trousers must have had a lot to do with it.

As we stood on that balcony, Freddie pointed to the house across the street and proudly told me that Diana Rigg lived there. You’d imagine a star as big as Freddie wouldn’t be impressed by his neighbours but he was. Stars need their stars too. 💛

Nina Myskow (Journalist and Broadcaster)
“This Was The Real Life”
By David Minns and David Evans