Michael Barrymore is a huge TV star in the UK, but he is unknown, I suspect, in the US. A few years ago, Barrymore's career came to a juddering halt after various revelations that he was gay. But what really made things difficult was the death of a gay man at one of Barrrymore's parties.
Rumours circulated, as rumours will, and since then he hasn't been working much -- though he did feature in last year's Celebrity Big Brother, which he didn't win.
Barrymore's catchphrase, in his heyday, was 'Awight?' This is a childish, lisping version of the enquiry 'All right?', which is, in parts of the UK at least, a version of 'How ya doin'?' (Look, I never said the man was an intellectual, OK? He's a popular entertainer, for the under 100 IQs, who constitute, by definition, a large part of the population.)
On 2 October 2006, as part of his rehabilitation process, Barrymore has a new book forthcoming from Simon and Schuster UK. Title: Awight Now: Setting the Record Straight.
So far so good. But now I am told that, released 16 October, will be a rather different Barrymore book. This is entitled Not Awight Getting Away With Murder. (ISBN 0-9546949-1-0.) It is written by Terry Lubbock and Andrew Simmons. And who they? Well, Terry Lubbock is the father of Stuart Lubbock, who died in Barrymore's swimming pool (allegedly; some say the swimming pool story is false).
You can find the S&S book listed on Amazon, where there is, in fact, rather more information about it than on the S&S official web site. We learn, for instance, that a new Channel 4 series is planned for Barrymore in the autumn.
Of the Lubbock/Simmons book, however, I can tell you little. Amazon denies all knowledge of it, and the only reference on Google (so far) is to a Daily Mirror report. Headed 'Lubbock book war', and dated 29 July, the story runs as follows:
Well, this one will run and run. I love that final paragraph, don't you? It chimes so well with the book's title.
Stuart Lubbock's father is rush-releasing his book about his son's death at Michael Barrymore's mansion to coincide with the faded star's autobiography.
The ex-Strike It Lucky host was expected to earn more than £1 million for his memoirs Awight Now: Setting the Record Straight.
But Terry Lubbock, 61, has decided to release his book Not Awight: Getting Away With Murder on the same day as the 54-year-old's launch, October 16.
Mr Lubbock insists Barrymore was not involved in the death of Stuart, 31, at his Essex home but believes he has never told all he knows. A pal said: "Terry just wants people to know the truth."
A search on Google for the Lubbock book's ISBN produces no result that I can find, but the number itself suggests to me that this is a one-off -- i.e. that Mr Lubbock is publishing it himself.
Of Mr Lubbock's co-writer, Andrew Simmons, I know nothing for certain either. But there is at least one Andrew Simmons with writing skills and show-business connections. He won an Edinburgh fringe award in 2004 for a cabaret show called Topping and Butch. The citation stated that 'Sharp, gifted, intellectual and daily-updated writing combined with their outstanding talents in speech, song, music and performance, produce political and news-based comedy of unrivalled power, delight, and - above all - fun.'
In the absence of other nominations I suspect that this may be our man. He knows show business and the gay world, and he can write. But whether this is or is not Mr Lubbock's co-author, his cabaret act certainly sounds interesting. 'Butch [i.e. Simmons] is slim, a younger lad, muscular and balletic, with a relaxed and easy-going style, fetish gauntlets, tight leather shorts, and a whip. Apart from that, they're both more or less naked, except for matching Doc Marten boots.'
I am going to Edinburgh myself this year, and must remember to look out for it.
How did I find out about Mr Lubbock's potentially contentious book? An anonymous person yesterday posted a comment on my 27 January 2006 piece about Tesco.com. After giving the book's title and authors we are told, in slightly careless prose:
"Father of Stuart Lubbock Terry works with professionalal analyst, team up to trawl through dozens of witness statements, expert and forensic reports and piece together how Stuart Lubbock was killed. A monumental cover-up is revealed, showing that this was no accidental drowning." Unquote. Will Tesco be stocking, Not Awight along side Michael Barrymore's Awight Now, they have the same release dates.I wonder if any of the newspapers will cover this -- or will it be too hot to handle? Watch this space.