TV Spa-Dom

TV Spa-Dom


** Published in My Weekly magazine under new title of Girlie Weekend on 1st May 2010!!! **

“What’s it to be then – Funky Watermelon or Electric Moonfruit?”

“Got to be the Moonfruit,” I insisted, “I’m in a cerise mood today.”


“Why do eyeshadow colours have such daft names anyway?” I asked of Jasmine the beautician.

As she laughed, while smearing my eyelids with the oddly-titled shadow, her new assistant, Kerry, tottered in with a silver tray bearing champagne and two crystal flutes. She placed one carefully before me and one before my mother, sitting next to me. Her hands were trembling, bless her!

“Aw, you shouldn’t have.” I was half embarrassed and half loving it. These Shirley Bassey moments are precisely what I aspired to during my childhood.

“Well it’s not every day we get a glamorous superstar in,” Kerry quaked.

“I’m hardly that,” I cackled. I’m still genuinely thrown by such comments.

“Cheers then, our Mel.” Mum chinked glasses with me. “And I think you ought to try that peachier blusher this time. It makes you look less, well, brassy.”

“Cheers Mum. You could be right.” She usually is. I examined the rainbow of hues in Jasmine’s palette.

Mum is my heroine. We’ve been a close unit since Dad passed away in 1974.  I was a vulnerable kid of nine then, and haven’t always been the easiest of offspring since.

While Mum was out slaving for a wage at Simpson’s sweet factory, I’d be sneaking in her room, swathing my adolescent body in her dresses, splodging her poor lipsticks across my mouth, posturing in the mirror and dreaming of stardom.

Years later, it was she who actually thought up my stage name Melba Most; she who – despite being exhausted from her Simpson’s shift – would stay up all night sewing sequins on my costumes for those pub cabaret ‘nites;’ she who was on the front row the night I won The Big Big Talent Show – and the front row of every show I’ve done since.

Hence I love being able to treat her these days. I take her every couple of months to Swinley Grange.  It’s one of Britain’s plushest health spas, and my favourite retreat.

I’ll never forget her face the first time she entered the Queen Anne Suite, which I always book for us now. It’s bigger than Mum’s flat, with its own private staircase, leading up to a vast lounge, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and even a small sauna.

“What d’you wanna go splurging your cash like this for? A normal room would have done.  Well a caravan in Prestatyn would have done, actually.”

“You’re worth more than that, Mum. We went without for so many years, now I fully intend to relish going with.”

I’m not always a pampered guest at Swinley Grange. I also perform there often.

“What have you been doing today, Mrs Corns?” Kerry asked Mum, while buffing her cheeks with blusher.

“Ooh, well me and Mel had a sauna before breakfast – got our own, y’know – later, we did a bit of swimming, went in the Jacuzzi, and after that a tai chi class. Then we got our legs waxed. Ouch! I wasn’t too sure about that – and I haven’t even got as much hair as our Mel.”

Neither of us could talk much then, as Jasmine was painting my lips with Immoral Coral, while Kerry daubed Mum’s with Lippy Chick.

“All finished!” Mum beamed in her chair. She looked so transformed and fabulous, I swelled with pride.

“I’m nearly there.” Jasmine carefully slotted my blonde bouffant wig on my head, and then I actually was ‘there.’ Now it was Mum’s turn to be proud.

“Our Melvyn’s always loved dressing up, haven’t you, son?”

“Ready for your audience?” Kerry breathed, whipping off the cape that’s been protecting my stunning frock. “One last thing, though – don’t suppose there’s any chance of an autograph?”

“For you, darling, anything.” I squiggled my felt-tipped name across the shiny poster which proclaimed: “Swinley Grange presents its hot hen night cabaret – starring the UK’s top drag queen Melba Most and the Italian Stallions!”

Yes, I thought, rising from the chair and letting my scarlet skirts fan into a train behind me, life didn’t always glitter for little Melvyn Corns. He has come a long way.