So I received a text message at 9.42pm last night, saying the following: "I think Nick's ex-wife is on Big Brother." And while this was something of a surprise, actually, when I thought about it, it made perfect sense.
I've posted on here about Angel, aka Space Angel, aka Sadko, aka Helen Sadko, aka Helen Hobbs, aka Elena Tchebotareva a few times before. She's one of the most extraordinary people I've ever met, which isn't to say that we're great mates, in fact quite the opposite: she probably thinks I'm a tedious pessimist, while I've always been utterly terrified and slightly contemptuous of her unwilting belief in her imminent fame. This is someone who could never be criticised for not throwing herself wholeheartedly into everything she does. Her effort levels are strangely inspiring. But her music is disorientating and a bit upsetting (as is her web design), her boxing career has been marked by an incredible series of straight defeats, and while she once claimed to be a "world famous visual artist whose paintings can be seen all over Europe," I only ever saw them all over her house.
My ex-boss fell for her in a big way while he was working in Moscow, and began a long-distance pursuit which eventually paid off. She came to live in London in the mid 1990s at the house where I went to work every day, and the two of them got married at Brixton Registry Office while wearing garb so hilariously outlandish that the registrar seemed slightly concerned that the whole thing might be being filmed for You've Been Framed. She began to pursue a career in, uh, music and general larking about, while I worked like a bastard in an adjoining room to help my boss earn the money that would pay for it all. From an earlier blog entry:
The latter years of working for aforementioned boss were liberally dotted with instances of me having to run errands for her, and my boss claiming that, as he was paying me by the hour, this formed an integral part of my job. The tasks could range from teaching her how to use Macromedia Flash, to phoning people on her behalf, to debugging her MIDI setup, to just fixing her computer when it became "stoned". "Rhodri, help me. My computer is stoned." You mean it has crashed? "Yes, yes. Help me." I became wearily resentful of her, and, as it was a 2-person business, increasingly annoyed at the amount of money she was leeching out of it (she had a credit card which was paid off automatically by my boss's bank accounts.) In early 2001 I did some sums, and worked out that she was pocketing way more than I was, and all she did everyday was paint nude portraits of my boss and leave them lying around the house, and then make sub-Pet Shop Boys pop music with heavily accented English lyrics. "I want to fly," I remember her singing. "Fly away, away, away." I quit the job shortly afterwards.
Thing is, she's not unpleasant. Far from it. She's lovely. It's a shame that she was roundly booed by the crowd on entering Big Brother last night, and I get no pleasure from the fact that she's already getting hammered on various online forums, but I'm not surprised. I don't think she'll last a month in there, if the public have anything to do with it. They'll see her as a grandstanding fake, but actually, she's just wildly eccentric. So eccentric that she didn't even consider removing her phone number from her website before going on one of the most popular shows on British telly. Older blog post, continued:
Since I quit the job, she has embarked on a short lived career as a rapper, including a memorable appearance on Living TV ("I want to fly, f-f-ffly") and then began boxing. "I am the top lady fighter in the UK," she told me. "I make a lot of money. I fight another lady, I get paid 2,000 pounds. I go to the Olympic Games, America, I become very famous." She appears to have married the owner of a "boxercise" studio in Herne Hill [actually, it turns out, she just adopted him as her father, whatever that means] and she turned up yesterday at my flat in a swanky car, carrying a brand new iMac (unopened). "Rhodri, put some software on this computer for me." I spent an hour updating her system, at which point she chucked £50 on my desk. "Here you are, fifty pounds," she trilled. "I love money, you know. I make lots of money. I fight other ladies, make lots of money." She looked bruised, battered and as hard as nails. I wasn't going to argue. I pocketed the money. "And you know when everything change, for me? When I give up music. I give away guitars, keyboards, I don't play music anymore. Then suddenly I make money. Music is a curse, Rhodri. A curse. You must stop making music. Then you make money."
I've never met anyone so utterly driven by the pursuit of fame. I'm glad she made it onto BB; I imagine it's probably been an ambition of hers for some time. It's terrible to say this, but she's probably perfect for the format, because a) she's unpredictable, b) has an unquenchable desire to be famous, but c) doesn't really have the raw talent to back it up. Although, having said that, she's a bloody amazing set builder. If you want scenery, she's your girl. Last blogcerpt:
She's very good with powertools, making stuff, being creative with wood and paint. So, imagine my horror while coming down Herne Hill the other day, to see an enormous, garish sign [outside the boxing studio] above the Half Moon. Even from a couple of hundred yards, I could tell immediately that it was Angel's handiwork. The name of the studio has been cut out of plywood, painted bright pink and stuck on the outside of the building. To the right of the sign is a 2D plywood figurine, in a boxing stance, black, wearing shorts and vest, and presumably represents Angel's [father]. And to the left, another figurine, female, also in a boxing stance, with 2 bloody great enormous wings sprouting out of her back. No guesses as to who that might represent. Highly incongruous, garish, utterly inappropriate for a boxing studio, but somehow rather marvellous nonetheless. If you're in the Herne Hill area, do go and have a look. I believe that it might become a tourist attraction.
Sadly it's not there any more. Angel, Elena, whatever your bloody name is, good luck, and for god's sake don't pay any attention to the British public.