I’m asked about it alot. People want me to describe it in it’s entirety, no details spared. And I get it, it’s natural human curiosity to want to know what it’s like, so I tell them what I can, without being too explicit, as I like to be professional about these things, and maintain some level of privacy.
I’m beginning to wonder if it’s defining my identity, I’m no longer described by who I am as a person, I’m now described as that girl who met….
Yes, that’s right George Clooney, the one and only, the silver haired screen god that makes the majority of females go weak at the knees, and males turn a pale shade of green, at the very fantasy of spending a day in his shoes. Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed anyone, if they’d told me a few years ago, that I would one day not only come face to face with GC, but I would actually come face to face with him four days in a row. In Como. In his villa. OMG.
The media world is fairly incestuous, the more you become involved, the quicker you realise everyone is connected. And so it happens that my previous employer was a BFF of Mr Clooney. Having annually vacationed, pre-motherhood, at the infamous Como villa, the tradition continued on after the ankle biters were born.
With July 4th being a good reason for an American to throw a party, I boarded a BA flight with boss, the husband, and kids to play nanny for four days inside the hedges and walls of the most famous villa on Lake Como.
Landing in Milan early Friday evening, we were greeted by one of the drivers and were soon on our way to the villa. I hadn’t really over thought the fact of who I was going to meet, I figured analysing it from every angle would just result in me becoming a gibbering nervous wreck. However I do remember thinking to myself as we drove down the villa’s driveway ‘Um hello? You’re about to meet George Clooney!!!’. And breathe.
Stepping out of the car, hosts and guests swiftly descended on us, including the man himself. I put my professional ‘I’m not bothered’ face on, and shook George’s hand, introducing myself. After more introductions, including George’s then girlfriend, the gorgeous Elisabetta Canalis, we were shown to our rooms. When I say room, I really mean large hotel style room with private en suite. However with two hungry kids to feed, bathe and get into bed, my ‘Tom Cruise on Oprah’s sofa’ moment would have to wait.
Saturday morning, up bright and early with the munchkins, we head down to breakfast in the kitchen, a very informal and relaxed set up, where the food is laid out for you to pick at whatever you want. George, or ‘Uncle George’ as the kids call him, was already down at the table, working on his laptop. That I guess, is a slightly surreal experience, yet at the same time felt weirdly normal, making small talk between us all. Breakfast over, the kids had no desire to hang around and chit chat, they had one thing in mind, the swimming pool. It’s a hard life, but someones got to do it. The next few hours were spent swimming and sunbathing, until lunchtime, when the staff had made myself and the kids a delicious lunch from the kitchen of villa number 2. Yes that’s right, one villa is not enough.
It was after lunch that it dawned on me I’d been hearing loud dance music over the fence, for most of the day. I asked boss’s husband ‘Where’s that music coming from?’. ‘That’s the paparazzi sitting outside the gates, they stay there all day’. That moment felt more surreal to me, than eating breakfast with ‘Uncle George’.
Come afternoon, gelato was on everyone’s mind, so boss, husband, munchkin’s and I took one of the villa boats out on the lake and over to a nearby village for an afternoon treat. Don’t mind if I do. We returned to the villa, and more guests arrived, some woman called Uma Thurman and her then boyfriend Arki Busson, and a couple of other Hollywood types, you might know them, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski? Yeah, I know, could this get any more unbelievable. Yes, yes it could….
Elisabetta, I have to say, was a fantastic hostess, yes life is unfair, gorgeous and nice? You want to dislike her and her perfect arse sooo much, but it’s just not possible. It was as I head upstairs that I bumped into her and Emily, to whom I was introduced, and I’m standing there thinking ‘I so know you from somewhere,
but where?!’. Google soon answered my question. Emily and John were at the villa to celebrate their wedding the following weekend, at the time a closely guarded secret from the media world.
An extremely windy evening, the 9pm bell sounded out over the grounds, which usually means dinner for the adult guests is now being served in the outdoor gazebo. With the munchkins tucked up in bed, I made my way downstairs towards the kitchen. Nooo, please say it isn’t so, but there was no denying it, as I got closer to the kitchen, I could hear all the guests voices. Dinner had been moved inside for the evening due to the unruly weather. This meant, if I wanted to eat, I would have to clutter around in the kitchen, whilst half of Hollywood’s elite tuck into their dinner behind me. No. Thank. You. I would rather eat my fingernails for food before risking dropping a spoon, a cup, or more likely my whole dinner in front of them all. The very thought makes me cringe – ‘That Uma, George and company, is the entertainment for the evening, please excuse me now while the ground opens up and swallows me’. Let’s just say, breakfast next morning couldn’t have come soon enough.
The following morning the boss said to me ‘You didn’t come down for dinner last night?’, and I replied ‘No, I heard you all come in to have dinner inside and I really didn’t want to come in and disturb you all’. The boss laughed and told me never to feel like that, no one would care, and then turns to George and says ‘George tell her she can come down to eat anytime she wants’. ‘Come down to eat anytime you want’ said George.
Poolside again, the scene was a little more vibrant on the morning of July 4th. There was Uma doing laps in the pool, George chatting to his buddies, Emily working on her tan, and Elisabetta prancing around the grounds in her itsy bitsy bikini. All I needed was Robin and Mr Freeze to turn up and then the whole Batman cast would practically be complete. Meanwhile the munchkins are yelling at me ‘Get in the pool! Get in the pool!’, are you kidding me kids, hell would have to freeze over first, before I stripped down to dive in amongst this lot!
The afternoon routine repeated itself, everyone wanted gelato. But we had guests joining us on our journey: Uma and Arki, George’s hairstylist, amongst other’s. Off we went in the speedboat, and I’m thinking to myself ‘Will Uma actually EAT gelato? I’m not if she’s not, I can’t be the only greedy female on this journey!’. Sure enough, Uma ordered, and I was quickly making my flavour choice before I missed out. We moved on to a cafe and sat around for an hour or so, as you do, kicking back with Hollywood types, just a regular old Sunday right? Back in the boat, and returning to the villa, with Mr Busson playing captain, we suddenly sped up and seemed to be heading in the direction of another boat, anchored in the middle of the lake. At the last second, we swerved, causing water to shoot up over the mystery boat, and all I hear behind me is Arki yelling “F*cking paparazzi!!!”. It took all my willpower not to turn around and smile at the now soaking long lens. ;oP
That evening, the kids and I were left to our own device at the villa, as the ‘Adults’ made their way out onto the lake in the speedboat to watch the July 4th fireworks display. I spent my evening, choosing my pizza toppings, having the chefs make it in front of me, and cook it in a traditional wood fire pizza oven. There are worse ways to spend Independence Day.
July 5th and the boss has to fly back to London for work, so I’m left to look after the husband and munchkins. The day follows it’s usual pattern, swimming, sunbathing, lunch made by the staff in the poolside villa, I even had a sneaky peek out the window with the housekeepers, who were spying on the pap’s. Working life at Lake Como was become weirdly normal. I expected no more surprises. Oh how wrong could I be. As I sat back watching some afternoon tv with the kids, the husband appears asking me for my passport. ‘Sure, why?’, ‘Well Arki and Uma have said we can fly back to London on their jet instead of taking our BA flight, so they just need your passport to complete the details’. Oh.Kay.
Tuesday morning, we’re all packed, I’m in the kitchen with the munchkins, I’m occasionally chatting to ‘the girls’ aka Uma, Emily and Elisabetta, and then it’s finally time to bid farewell. Air kisses galore, yes ladies and gentleman, Mr George Clooney, who may I just add is even more handsome in the flesh, delivered a hug and a couple of air kisses my way with his parting words being ‘Thanks for not eating all my food’.
We arrived at the private airport, and after checking in, clearing security and having Uma rustle us up some food for the plane, we board the private jet. Seating a total of seven passengers, it really was another rather surreal moment, sitting on my plush leather seat and having Uma hand out sandwiches to us all.
A couple of hours later we land at a private airport near London, with cars waiting for us on the tarmac. More air kisses were exchanged, and before I know it, the Como mini-break is over.
It’s about now I’d normally wake up and realise it was all a dream. Except I was already awake, living it.