Emerging from the shadows was the most handsome man I have ever seen

The most handsome man I’ve ever seen emerged from the shadows. 

 I was casually watching a programme on BBC iPlayer when my past came back to hit me slap bang in the face. Wow! It was a documentary about The Exorcist’s making. The film was first released in the UK on April 24, 1974. Young women fainted and fled the scene. The programme ends with a reporter interviewing cinemagoers as the exits. And there, in all his car-coated, hair-curling-round-his-collar, chisel-faced gorgeousness is the first man I ever slept with.

Fast forward to 1978, when my age was 19 and I shared a flat in London with drama students. Chris, one, went to Central School of Speech and Drama. Our house parties were populated by the likes of Rupert Everett and Julian Wadham (“The English Patient”), One evening, I went to meet Chris in a pub on Cambridge Circus and there, emerging from the shadows, was Russell, the most handsome man I have ever seen*. He was a Jewish East End cockney who also studied acting at Central. He was tall and slim with dark eyes that could be used to swim.

We all know that I rarely get the men I like. David was the only one who got me one after three decades of reconstructive and many very tiring Pilates classes. Russell took a liking and kissed my hand at one of our famous parties. He took me to a marriage as his date a few days later. He returned to my Barbican flat the next night. He was able to stay with me because I had a roommate.

My narrow single bed was the perfect place for the most handsome man I’ve ever seen. We didn’t have sex, as I was too terrified, and worried my mum would find out. I had also erupted in terrible acne, so there wasn’t really anywhere safe for him to land. He did hold me though, and then he fell asleep.

I got up the next morning and made him coffee. I still recall standing in the galley kitchen of the 70s and wondering if I should give the cup to him in bed. I finally got up the courage to see that he was asleep. Yet again.

I saw him very rarely again. I think he secretly knew I was in love with my flatmate, Chris, who threw me over for Joanne Whalley, for which you can’t really blame him. But even though my liaison with Russell was brief (he didn’t even remove my knickers), I know that…I can go to my pauper’s unmarked grave knowing I shared, just for one night, a narrow single bed with THAT.

Since spotting him in the clip, frozen for all eternity in the moment he was most gorgeous, I’m now wondering what became of him. I wonder who he married and how many children they had.

Naturally, I was already suffering from anorexia at the time we met. I didn’t want him to undress me, as he would have been horrified. I’d missed a session at the Tao clinic in Knightsbridge ‒ where the War on Superfluous Hair took place ‒ so had little bastards sprouting like asparagus everywhere: nipples, belly button, chin. I also had broken capillaries and had spent my student grants on visits to Beauchamp Place to have them cauterised. They were still healing so they were dark brown and scabby.

I was deaf, so couldn’t hear a word he said. I wasn’t interesting, just painfully shy. All in all, I wasn’t best placed to be a girlfriend. It was a great night. I touched a man’s bare skin. I felt normal. A handsome actor asked me out. I thought everything was going to be OK…

*Do go on iPlayer and have a look. He’s right at the end. It’s been 41 years since then.

I last clapped eyes, I’m still going, ‘Who is that woman he’s with!? Who took him to the cinema?Everyone is talking about Liz Jones’s Diary: The Podcast!?’ in a jealous rage.


               ★Everyone’s talking about Liz Jones’s Diary: The Podcast! ★

Join Liz and her trusty (long-suffering) assistant Nicola as they dissect her weekly YOU magazine diary and delve into the archives to relive the bust-ups, betrayals, bullets… and much more in this brilliant podcast. They’re outspoken, outrageous and utterly hilarious. Listen now on Apple Podcasts. Spotify. Google Podcasts.