Toodle-oo, Cool Britannia


No less a figure than Joan Collins—Emmy nominee, Golden Globe and People's Choice winner, and a woman who can without exaggeration describe herself as "first and foremost an actress, but also a best-selling author, an accomplished producer, a successful entrepreneur and a devoted mother"—channels 1976-era Johnny Rotten in lamenting the decline and fall of England (which she pointedly refuses to call "The UK"). Citing "a particular incident," Collins writes in the Daily Mail that she has recently realized "London is no longer the 'seat of civilised society' that the world once considered it to be" and Great Britain is a civilization "destroy[ing] itself from within."

Was the particular incident the horrific subway and bus attack of July 7? The attempted copycat attack of July 21? Civil liberties concerns raised by Tony Blair's proposed crackdown on extremists? No, in the biggest letdown since Dynasty's infamous "Moldavian Massacre" denouement, it turns out:

My husband Percy and I were at a ball at the Grosvenor House Hotel—a black-tie event attended by the socalled 'elite' of the city.

As Percy held the door open to let me through, a 6ft tall, middle-aged, horse-faced male pushed past me, trod on the hem of my dress and rushed outside to climb into the taxi that the doorman had waiting for us.

This was a person who should, or at least looked like he should, have known better. The cause of his behaviour? The awful pervasive disregard that we have for civility today.

That's not Percy Dovetonsils, by the way; it's the 72-year-old star's 40-year-old hubby Percy Gibson. Nor is this the worst Collins has seen. Her queenly shoulders and heaving embonpoint shuddering with disgust, she goes on to testify:

I witnessed young, drunken yobs roaming the streets kicking cars, screaming insults, pushing people and even pushchairs out of their way, attacking each other viciously and then turning on the police when they tried to maintain order.

THE WHOLE scene evoked the image of hordes of inebriated Vikings sacking devastated towns. Even during the day, feral mobs roamed the cities with absolute disregard for anyone else's property or well-being. Traditional virtues of male chivalry and female propriety were very far from view.

What has brought on this Clockwork Orange nightmare vision at a time when London, like plenty of urban areas in the United States, is by most measures doing much better than it was even back in the sixties, when Collins got run over by an inconsiderate driver in Star Trek's legendary "City On the Edge of Forever" episode? It's unclear, but last year, Collins was so dismayed by her civilization's decline that she put aside her linguistic quibbles and became either a supporter or "patron" of the UK Independence Party. Since then, she's announced her reconciliation with the Tories, and idle minds are speculating that she's going to be approached to run for Parliament on the Conservative ticket. "I think I'd rather write books," is Collins' non-committal reply. For the record, I wish Collins the best on her upcoming novel, and fully concur with the proprietor of the Joan Collins In Fur site that when she's wrapped in a dead animal, the old bag looks "gorgeous, sexy, devious and very dominating."