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BRAIN, legs and inhibitions loosened by champagne, I whirled in time to the funky beat - vainly attempting to blend with Sonia's superb wild dancing. I was conscious of others pausing and moving back to give us space. This became a circle of watchers that would normally have sent me red faced into a corner to search for a place to dig a hole.

Using her lithe athletic body to the full, Sonia was able to bend back so far that her hair was touching the ground - all without losing a moment of the beat. Then the piece de resistance. As she inevitably nudged another dancer, still keeping the rhythm going, she swirled and kissed the other woman full on the lips! Sonia later told me that it was easier than stopping to apologise...

Of course, this produced cheers and applause - and an even wider audience.

Now this was no ordinary party. We were guests amongst stars from around the world at an after-show celebration of the Royal Film Premiere of Moulin Rouge.

I had an extra reason to mentally pinch myself to check I was in the real world. I would have been driving to start my summer holiday but for a chain of events that spun me into the Odeon Leicester Square. The previous Sunday saw some of the worst weather witnessed in East Sussex. At lunchtime it was as black as a total eclipse so I decided to read the Mail on Sunday instead of venturing out. I saw a phone-in competition and entered.

Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor
At 6.37pm I glanced at the clock and thought, "That's another I haven't won". Less than a minute later the Mail called to say I was one of the three people in Britain to have been selected. All I needed was music from Tales of the Unexpected...

The prize included two tickets, travel and an invitation to the after-show party. After the initial surprise, it suddenly struck me that I didn't know who to take! Single, working in a different area and living in a remote part of Sussex (yes, really!) had gradually removed me from where the fun is at.

Not to be daunted by such a minor hiccup, I thought positive instead. I asked the best looker for miles - a gorgeous 22 year old French girl. With some training in drama - Sonia had been in a Parisian production of Romeo and Juliet - she made the perfect partner for a night with the stars.

After booking into the hotel, it was Oxford Street shopping and time to don the dj. As Sonia would look good in a trench coat and wellies, you can imagine the effect of seeing her in a classic white evening dress with subtle but sensational make up.

Streets were closed and barriers prevented the thousands of cheering and screaming fans from spilling into the road. We showed our invitations to the police and stepped forward into the empty space. Sonia clutched my arm and said, "This is a bit scary." I understood. The 80 yards to the foyer was quite daunting with so much light for the cameras that it was difficult to see the cinema. The crowd didn't know us from Adam (or Eve) but they cheered anyway!

So much has been written about the film that there is little to add other than my bet that the long reviews are caused by the difficulty in being able to give it a label. Dramatic but not a drama, operatic but not an opera, lots of singing but not a musical and so on... I would have summarised a review to one word - "Spectacular".

Then we joined a fleet of coaches to the after show event and the party-within-a-party and the stars.

As everyone was in evening dress, it was a little out of kilter with the normal world. Strangers were being extra nice to each other in case they were being mentally auditioned. We gained by this - some of Helena Bonham Carter's circle stepped back a little to include us in case we were her friends! The same thing happened when we moved near to Nicole Kidman. It all added to the 24 hour fantasy.

Then it was time to depart for an early night (only five a.m.). We chose the same time as hundreds of others and taxis were being snapped up as fast as they appeared. I said Sonia should wait in the warm while I went up to the main road to grab one. I'd only walked a few yards when she called me back.

With a flutter of eyelids and her delightful French accent, she'd talked the driver of a six-door limo to take us back to the hotel! Raising the dark tinted windows we swept away from the main entrance. I smiled as I thought of possible conversations by the queuing affluent set as we swept away - "I told you I knew those two, I believe I saw them at the Cannes Film Festival...". The stylish departure completed a marvellous evening.

Later, as we had missed breakfast by a couple of hours, Sonia asked the concierge where we could find some really good steaks. Inward groan. A concierge isn't going to direct you to the nearest 'caff'. "Certainly, Madam", he said, turning to a minion to call a taxi. "I recommend Simpsons in the Strand". Mental shrug. Thought, "After the hundreds it's cost, it would be an anti climax to walk to a chip shop!".

Delightful lunch, repressed the thought that it could have been a month's groceries and enjoyed the ambience.

No pictures from the 24 hour experience but a mass of high resolution mental images - and they won't fade...



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