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05 June 2009 @ 06:35 am
Oh, Space Angel, say it's not true  
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.
spiritof1976 on June 5th, 2009 07:42 am (UTC)
I quite liked her, personally. I get the impression she'll probably make for good TV.
Emily Geracorlimey on June 5th, 2009 08:00 am (UTC)
I quite like Sophie. Yeesh.
spiritof1976 on June 5th, 2009 09:55 am (UTC)
Nah. Had breast implants but forgot to get a personality implant.
strange powersstrange_powers on June 5th, 2009 08:24 am (UTC)
To be honest, the Big Brother crowds would boo Stephen Hawking if he rolled out of a limo in front of them, so it's probably not a good indicator of long-term opinion.
Dickon Edwardsdickon_edwards on June 5th, 2009 08:30 am (UTC)
So is there not much money in set building? I remember her building and painting the set for Spearmint's 'We're Going Out' video, sprawled on the floor all day in her dungarees. Ten years ago, dear me.

Always was intrigued by her. I think we exchanged emails a few times about her art projects, and I'd have liked to have known her better. And indeed Nick, who seemed surprised and impressed with my knowledge of all things arty (Derek Jarman in particular, I recall), if not my prowess in playing rock guitar.

Thing was, my employee status made it hard for me to socialise. And after I was sacked, it was out of the question! I entirely understood why, but it IS still hard to go for a drink with someone who's just sacked you. Sadly for me, it's not been a one-off sensation in my life.

Actually, you're the exception from that whole Spearmint / Charmenko gang, but then I didn't see much of you at the time. And I think you'd quit by the time we were Blogging Friends.

I've given up on the programme these days (however many weeks out of your life it is now?), but good luck to her all the same. I approve of her enormously. I'm so curious to see what happens to her life now.

I suspect the viewers will either boot her out in the first week, or that she could actually win. Her foreignness might help, like it did with the transsexual woman who won a few years back. For the Great British Viewing Public, foreignness can be the alibi of otherness. And she IS very Russian.
Rhodri Marsdenrhodri on June 5th, 2009 08:39 am (UTC)
Mm. She's barking, but she is very nice, and not bitchy in the slightest, which might well work in her favour.
Dickon Edwardsdickon_edwards on June 5th, 2009 09:03 am (UTC)
I saw some internet comments had her down as a 'fake'. Funny how that's a kneejerk reaction when feeling threatened - the disbelief that someone could be different from you. That a different way of living can exist at all. I think Jade Goody's ugliest moment was associated with that catcall, too.

BB has been steeped in real ugliness over the last few years. Ms Angel can only bring a bit of glamour. In the original sense of the word, though, not the tabloid one. Glamour as in spellbinding.
Eliminate Avoidable Churnkatstevens on June 5th, 2009 08:36 am (UTC)
I think they were only booing her because she was walking so bloody slowly.
Rhodri Marsdenrhodri on June 5th, 2009 08:38 am (UTC)
God, wasn't she? I've just watched it. Jeez, get a move on, woman.

deep sky, fireflyrainsinger on June 5th, 2009 09:06 am (UTC)
Wow. For the first time in years someone I'd actually vote to keep in Big Brother. She seems like great fun.

I wouldn't say she's talentless either. Her photos are excellent and some of her paintings are really well executed. She's clearly off the wall, but in an endearing psychadelic way.
(Anonymous) on June 5th, 2009 09:15 am (UTC)
Angel's CD
thank you, Rhodri: i now know what the worst record ever made sounds like
Rhodri Marsdenrhodri on June 5th, 2009 09:32 am (UTC)
Re: Angel's CD
Weird thing is, I now feel like defending her, despite ultimately agreeing with you.
crayolasmakake on June 5th, 2009 09:29 am (UTC)
"I remember her singing. "Fly away, away, away." I quit the job shortly afterwards."

...and you handed it to me.
When They divorced and the house was being emptied, in the loft there were endless bags of brnad new, still tagged women's clothes.
That's where the company's money went.

While I was there she'd taken to swanning around the house first thing in the morning in nothing but her tiny knickers and bra.
It was an odd way to start the working day.
Rhodri Marsdenrhodri on June 5th, 2009 09:34 am (UTC)
Mm. Batshit insane.

Can't help liking her, though.
twit_ch on June 5th, 2009 09:47 am (UTC)
You must be one of the only journo's who have a heads up on a housemate. Quite admirable that you are not exploiting that fact. Maybe she will make a mark on the BB viewers in the same way she has done with you and possibly even win, but I doubt it.
ext_192093 on June 5th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
I've managed to avoid any thought of Big Brother this year, chanting softly to myself if people mention it, ignoring media coverage etc.

Now you've written about this woman, you've made it sound a brilliant spectacle. Now I can't help thinking I'm missing out. Oh bollocks.
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elasticelectricwitch on June 5th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC)
lol she sounds like a wonderful combination of horrible and brilliant. I love untalented people.

Hate bb though.
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elasticelectricwitch on June 5th, 2009 10:28 am (UTC)
Went on her website and am now convinced she is the reincarnation of Winter Rose.
kimthomas on June 5th, 2009 10:50 am (UTC)
The Daily Mail has a bit about her:


Surely it must be a little bit tempting to sell your story to one of the tabloids, Rhodri?
Rhodri Marsdenrhodri on June 5th, 2009 11:30 am (UTC)
If she makes it into the last 3, I'll pretend we had an affair.


". Sophie, whose bra size is 30 GG, did her first topless shoot aged 18 and went on to pose nude for UK Playboy, but has never told her family."

Where does she keep said family? The attic?
Jasonnomoremystery on June 6th, 2009 11:26 am (UTC)
Your boss's ex-wife lives just down the road from my ex-wife. Small world. In an ex-wifely sort of way.
Rhodri Marsdenrhodri on June 6th, 2009 11:33 am (UTC)
I don't know where my ex-wife lives. Maybe she's in your neck of the woods, too. That would tie things up nicely.
(Anonymous) on June 6th, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
Oh no, I remember this wedding! I even have a video of it were Ljolja (that’s how we called her) can be seen talking to a bottle of champagne.
(Anonymous) on June 8th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
So interested to read your comments. Have worked out at the boxing gym for four years now, and got quite close to Angel. I agree with a lot of what you say: charmingly barmy, but really quite admirable. Not like any other single person I've ever met. I'm hugely fond of her. The boxing gym has relocated further up, Tulse Hill way, and you'll be reassured to know that the naked mannequins, strange wooden signs and unique unsettling art still abound. I'd like her to do well. For all her personas, she is the complete opposite of fake and BB will be all the poorer if she's voted off and we have to suffer boob implants and bitch rivalry for the next three months.
(Anonymous) on June 15th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Angel
Have worked out at the boxing gym for four years now, and got quite close to Angel. I agree with a lot of what you say: charmingly barmy, but really quite admirable. Not like any other single person I've ever met. I'm hugely fond of her.

....................That's good to know, I think she is a very refreshing housemate.

I hope she stays in.
ornithologieornithologie on June 10th, 2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
Hi Rhodri, I came via Elyse Sewell. I like your blog - if I'd known of your existence before, I would have stalked you (in a friendly way) during my work experience at the independent instead of doing menial labour and learning nothing useful. Oh well.

Anyway, based on your previous posts I thought you might enjoy this gem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYRK4X4SR8c&feature=related
(Anonymous) on June 14th, 2009 08:13 am (UTC)
Great article, do you think Angel has a chance of winning the show?

I really like her: she seems genuine and rather fragile.