No: not Rebekah Brooks - and definitely not Mrs Angry
* updated again, Monday: see below
Here's an idea: take a trip out of Broken Barnet, just for this post, and come away with Mrs Angry for a spa weekend. Slip out of your robe, and dip your toe in the jazuzzi. Ahh: that's better, isn't it?
Mrs Angry has just been reading the stories about the alleged links between Champneys Spas, the Met Commissioner, and News International. How very interesting, she thought, as last week she had tweeted a jokey reference to a visit to Champneys a couple of years ago - in May 2009, in fact - just looked it up.
And yes, she can't speak for all of the other guests, but she did pay her own bill ... in fact she should have sent the bill to the London Borough of Broken Barnet, as she was there largely to try and deal with the stress caused by their installation of some of their problem tenants next door to her home, but that's another story, see early blogs, and no, Mr Freer, I'm not ever going to let you forget.
I think men often wonder why women like going to spas, and what they get up to there. Let Mrs Angry explain. The reason why your wife goes there is, well: a. to get away from you, and b. to lounge about in a horrible white gown, bitching to her best friend and plotting divorce. And what better way to pass a weekend? Note to self: time to make another booking, maybe ...
From time to time you are supposed to go to exercise classes (no, not Mrs Angry) and undergo various forms of alternative therapies or treatments, wearing only ghastly paper thongs, listening to terrible ambient music and trying not to laugh. Some treatments really are ridiculous: try having yourself dipped in liquid wax (you might enjoy this, actually, Brian) and rolled up in bandages, just like being embalmed - while you are still alive. Very Edgar Allan Poe. Mostly harmless fun, though. The drawbacks are that there is no bar, and nothing to do after dinner, so it is all very virtuous, and rather like being at boarding school.
The Champneys at Tring used to belong to the Rothschild family, and parts of the building still retain an air of faded grandeur. In the evening twilight you can sit in the drawing room, gaze through the French windows onto the lawn and listen to some old boy tinkling away on the piano, or wander about the rather spooky old wing, and through the empty rooms. It's like being in a rather dull house party in the 1930s. The sense of past occupants is quite strong, in fact Mrs Angry twice woke up in the middle of the night and felt someone, or something, was sitting on the end of the bed, yet there was no one there: not even a NOTW reporter -very unnerving. She had to keep the lights on for the rest of the night. So: an odd place really.
During this visit, hearing the name 'Rebekah Wade' called by a receptionist in the treatment area, Mrs Angry had looked up to note the flame haired editor stomping about looking, frankly, darlings, a bit rough, and rushing off for some evidently much needed beauty treatments.
Ms Wade, as she was then, just before her wedding, and shortly before taking up her post at the News of the World, appeared to be accompanied at Tring by her mother, and there were also a couple of well known female tabloid hacks - including columnist Jane Moore - from The Sun lying about outside on the verandah area on the Sunday afternoon.
Ms Moore is not impressed by citizen journalism, according to an interview given to the Independent in 2008: 'I don't really understand blogging, it's like verbal diarrhoea to me', which is funny, because that's pretty much how many people feel about The Sun and oh whoops, The News of the World, isn't it? Still, as Jane grudgingly admitted, 'blogging can be fantastic for stories ...' Mmm.
Rather weirdly, at the same time on the verandah, only a couple of yards away, former boxer Frank Bruno was sliding into the jacuzzi, displaying his still wonderfully toned torso to the admiration of the surrounding female guests: and one or two men. This struck Mrs Angry as even more surreal, as of course poor Frank had been the victim of a shameful story in The Sun in 2003, with a cruel headline 'Bonkers Bruno Locked Up', provoking universal criticism and forcing Rebekah Wade to withdraw it and replace the headline with 'Sad Bruno in Mental Health Home'. Bruno, who is a gentleman, and rather sweet, failed to jump out of the jacuzzi and give the hacks a thump and/or the benefit of his opinion, which was disappointing.
Mrs Angry and her friend happened to leave the spa at the same time as the Wade party, and noted with interest the royal treatment and formal send off they received from the management and other staff on their departure, who were evidently well acquainted with them, kissing terms, even - so lovely to see you again - which rather suggested that they were frequent and distinctly honoured guests.
This morning we learn that stories in several papers, such as the Telegraph, make allegations about Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson's five week stay at Champneys' Tring spa. Champneys' PR consultant Neil Wallis was arrested last week in relation to his time at the News of the World, and the phone hacking scandal. Oh: and of course Mr Wallis has had a post as a communications adviser to the Met, as well, which is all very confusing, isn't it?
In the Standard, Scotland Yard is quoted as saying that Stephen Purdew, the owner of Champneys, is a personal friend of Sir Paul's and therefore offered him free accommodation and meals, which is very kind, of course. And friends of Mr Wallis are this morning reported to be alleging the Stephenson story is an attempt to shift media attention from News International to the police.
Well: Mr Wallis's company, 'Outside Organisation', only received the contract for Champneys last November, but clearly the spa at Tring at least has been favoured with the custom of News International staff for some time beforehand.
Mrs Angry's head is spinning: is yours?
*Update, a reader has pointed out in the comments below that 'Mr Rebekah Brooks', her husband Charlie, has a connection to Champneys in regard to his Kriotherapy unit. Perhaps Sir Paul tried it out in his weeks at Champneys, recuperating from his operation?
Ah: hang on, according to a statement by Scotland Yard, quoted in the Mirror:
"The Commissioner personally paid for all other treatments and extras, including a number of subsequent physiotherapy and cryotherapy appointments at Champneys Medical."
That's sorted that out, then.
... and now of course Rebekah Brooks has been arrested, which may have the unfortunate result of making her unable to attend parliament to answer questions on Tuesday. Timing is everything, isn't it?
*The curse of Mrs Angry strikes again:
Sir Paul Stephenson has resigned. His long statement includes the following comment -
"Now let me briefly deal with the recent story in relation to my use of Champney's facilities. There has been no impropriety and I am extremely happy with what I did and the reasons for it - to do everything possible to return to running the Met full time, significantly ahead of medical, family and friends' advice. The attempt to represent this in a negative way is both cynical and disappointing."
Staying at Champneys can be awfully expensive.
*Update Monday: Normally Sundays are quiet in the blogosphere: yesterday this post had ten times the normal level of hits: interesting. This morning, Mrs Angry notes that an infamous champagne socialist from Broken Barnet, sulking because no one kissed her at Champneys, has been mouthing off in the Grauniad, and cheekily impersonating her, although rather notably she does not know seem to know to spell Mrs Angry's (other) surname. http://bit.ly/pp01nf