How do famous names spend their precious downtime? In our weekly My Saturday column, celebrities reveal their weekend virtues and vices. This week: Dame Joan Collins
I’ll wake up, but try to sleep in until 10am. Then I’ll slip on my marabou-feather bed jacket and call down to whoever is in the house for scrambled eggs with caviar to be brought up. I consider eating in bed with a good book to be one of life’s ultimate pleasures, and I always have three or four on the go at once. I’m currently reading The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin; a romantic novel about Princess Diana called Di and I by Peter Lefcourt; and Susannah Constantine’s autobiography. I’ll also read five newspapers every day: three in the morning and two in the afternoon. I like to stay well informed.
After breakfast I’ll lie back in bed, put on reruns of Dynasty, and see how Alexis might spend her Saturday. Sometimes I’ll look at Alexis and think, ‘My God, she’s so beautiful’ – then look at my own reflection in the mirror and think, ‘What a hag!’ [Collins laughs.] I’m joking, obviously.
When it comes to my own writing, I’m very much a dilettante butterfly. I’ll start to write something, and then get distracted. I like to write in bed with a big child’s notebook and a Biro – whatever is around, really. I’ll always write long-form, like Jackie [Collins, Joan’s late sister], but she was very organised. She had a big desk and proper paper and everything. Whereas I either write in bed or on one of my many sofas.
People probably think I’m one of those women whose husband only ever sees them looking ‘done’, but Percy sees me very ‘un-done’. [Percy cuts in: ‘And let me tell you that “un-done”, Joan looks like the most beautiful little angel. In fact, I think she looks better un-done.’]
My skincare routine isn’t elaborate, but if we’re going out for a morning walk in the local gardens [the couple live in central London], which we like to do, or even staying in, I will always wear lipstick. First thing in the morning I put in eye drops. Then a French sunscreen and moisturiser. If I don’t wear make-up I’ll slap moisturiser on my face all day long, every time I wash my hands. But I’m a bit lazy with my hair. I’ll usually just brush it through and twist it up into a ponytail.
A lot of people think I’ve had a ton of work done. To set the record straight: I have not. I haven’t had Botox, I haven’t had any tweakments, I haven’t had fat injections, and honestly, when I look at the women who have – certainly a lot of women in their 40s – it appals me.
As we walk in our private gardens I have to try to escape the dogs that insist on coming up to me. Dogs love me. Whenever I’m playing poker at Julian Clary’s, he’s always astonished by how much his three love me, but I was bitten on the ankle by one when I was four, so I’m a little wary. If I see a baby in a pram, however, I will always stop and talk to it. I’m such a baby person. Babies love me, too.
After that we’ll usually call my various children and see if any of them want to come out for lunch. They’ll probably say no, because they have their own lives now, but I do enjoy going out to lunch. I love restaurants generally – the theatre of it. Percy always says that people look at me when I walk around, and I don’t either enjoy it or not. I don’t even notice it, to be honest. I’m usually too busy looking at babies.
I’m pretty good at controlling my intake of everything, not just alcohol, so I’ll usually just have one glass of wine with my lunch. I don’t understand why people seem to find self-discipline so hard. For me, it’s really very simple: I want to look, feel and be a certain way, and I know I won’t get any of those things if I’m a glutton. Also, I’m not very tall: I’m 5ft 5in, so I couldn’t eat as much as some of my friends even if I wanted to. I’ll generally only eat half of what’s on my plate.
A long time ago, I was told, ‘Always leave the table feeling like you’d like a little bit more,’ which has been a life mantra. Also, I don’t eat crap. I mean, I haven’t had a doughnut or a hamburger bun in years; I simply will not eat that sort of thing. But I will eat birthday cake – mine or somebody else’s – I do drink wine, and when I’m in California [where she spends part of the year] I will eat finger sandwiches with my girlfriends. These little pleasures never descend into slobbishness, because I’m too aware of the fact that it doesn’t feel good – and that I want to fit into my clothes.
Percy and I watch more Dynasty together in the afternoon. You see this is actually the first time I’ve ever watched it. Isn’t that funny? I was always too busy. So now I’ll keep turning to Percy and saying, ‘Christ. How did they let me wear that hat?’ They put me in the most hideous hats! Also, I was so slender! It’s unbelievable how slim I was. I think I was 120lb, and now I’m 133. That’s 13lb more! But I’ve kept it down to that because from a health perspective, I’m aware that if you want to live a long life, you have to do the work. I hurt my back last year and a lot of people thought I probably wouldn’t walk again. But I did some serious physiotherapy, I did the work – and look at me now. In the end, life is all about work ethic.
I admire women who graft, but I’m shocked by the younger women from a certain generation who think it’s all going to be handed to them on a plate. The entitlement of some people nowadays is unbelievable.
I used to cook. Of course I did, I’ve raised three children. There are many dishes that I make wonderfully: toad in the hole, shepherd’s pie, spaghetti bolognese. But then, when Percy and I got together and I started making him my spag bol, he’d be there behind me in the kitchen, hovering, so in the end I said: ‘OK, you do it.’ Now, he does all the cooking, which is fine by me, because it means I can go and watch Friends on TV.
I want to point out that this is of my husband’s own volition. I can’t make Percy do anything he doesn’t want to do. He won’t even put on sunblock when he goes out to play tennis, even though I’ve been trying to make him for years. So now I just shrug and say: ‘You want to be all wrinkly like Joe Biden? Fine.’
For 40 years I’ve been taking my make-up off with Nivea. I use their £5.50 cleanser. I just put it on my face with a Kleenex and wipe it off with one. Then I put on a heavy night cream by Charlotte Tilbury. I also always, always sleep on my back. I’ve trained myself to, because I used to sleep on my side, scrunched up into the pillow, and then I was told not to because it gives you ‘scrunchy face’. Which is absolutely true.
You want to know about ‘my nighttime ritual’? Well, that’s a little rude [chuckle]. But if you must know I like a night light. You’re picturing a little glowing Hello Kitty number, aren’t you? Sorry, but it’s a run-of-the-mill Peter Jones night light.
I just love watching TV. For me it’s the equivalent of going to the cinema, which I used to do three or four times a week – whenever I possibly could – and just get lost in those movies with Gene Kelly and Betty Grable. I’ll usually drift off after having watched a film or a load of television. That said, last night, just before we fell asleep, Percy made the most spectacular… late-night scrambled eggs. You thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?
Behind the Shoulder Pads: Tales I Tell My Friends by Joan Collins (Orion Publishing) is out on Thursday, Sept 28. Order now for £22 at books.telegraph.co.uk or call 0844 871 1514
As told to Celia Walden