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05 March 2006

Darren Gough pays for dinner

I think I have alluded elsewhere to the unhealthy obsession I conceived for Strictly Come Dancing (the UK version of Dancing with the Stars). Hey, I'm a mother - reality TV and a takeaway is my idea of a fun evening. Halfway through the series I also conceived an unhealthy obsession for the cricketer Darren Gough. I have to say that he'd never appeared remotely near my radar before - I was aware of who he is, as I quite like cricket on a good day, but he'd always seemed to me to be a bit of a Yorkshire dolt (apologies if you're reading Darren).

But as the series went on his sheer enjoyment of the dancing, his infectious enthusiasm, his 100% commitment and the way he was turning into a pretty nifty dancer despite having a totally un-dancerlike physique (and, if I may say so, turning into a pretty fit guy as he lost weight through the dancing) completely won me over. With a few rounds of the competition to go I was having a quick look at Digital Spy (the equivalent of the water cooler for people working from home) and realised I wasn't the only one. We're not usually betting people, but I persuaded the Husband that the Dazzler was worth a flutter at 6-1.

There are few things more satisfying in life (yes, I know this makes me sadder than sad) than to have your favourite win a reality TV show while you end up £120 richer.

So, last night Darren treated us to a belated Valentines dinner at the Notting Hill Brasserie. The 'brasserie' bit is a bit of a misnomer - this is a serious grown-up restaurant with food (and prices) to match, though the impeccably friendly service, live jazz music and glamorous clientele means that it feels buzzy and intimate rather than serious and stuffy. The food was absolutely to die for - if I told you I had scallops with herbed gnocchi and shallots, followed by chicken with wild mushrooms, roasted garlic, truffled mashed potatoes and spinach, it wouldn't begin to describe how perfectly cooked, melt-in-the-mouth and absolutely delicious each element was. So Darren, if you're reading, thanks a bundle.


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Wow ... he won? Of course, we have our own Dancing with the Stars version ... but I'm a cricket fan ... even though he's on the other side (grrr) I was strangely thrilled to hear that he did so well.

[Previously I could have joked that it was good to see he'd won at something ~ cos heaven knows he ain't winning the cricket ~ but you'd throw that right back at me now with the Ashes thing, wouldn't you Paola?]

Yes, he did win and ended up being a rather fab dancer.

He was always quite light on his feet being a quick bowler, but had to overcome a whole mindset thing that burly Yorkshiremen don't dance. But after first few rounds he was clearly absolutely loving it and his enthusiasm and dedication became totally infectious.

In the Christmas special he wore a bright red tail suit, danced an incredible quickstep, scored 40 out of 40 and brought the house down...

Sorry, I shall stop raving on. Shall we talk about the Ashes? :)

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