Why Tom Jones can’t stand drugs

The Welsh boy from the valleys strongly disapproves of drugs, not least on aesthetic grounds.


Linda and Tom Jones: "when we talk on the phone, we're young again"

Sir Tom Jones has a thing about drugs. Happy as he is living the good life, the Welsh boy from the valleys strongly disapproves of them, not least on aesthetic grounds. He can't stand seeing people cutting lines of coke in loos. Nor has he ever taken any, he insists to The Sunday Times's Bryan Appleyard. "I've never touched drugs. I've never even smoked a joint." In his new and very funny autobiography he recalls a party at Lulu's house in the early 1970s. Guests included Rod Stewart, Robert Plant and Elton John and in the kitchen was a "mound of cocaine, reaching towards the ceiling virtually a slag-heap of cocaine, with straws sticking out of it".

Where Jones came from in Wales, cocaine was something the dentist gave you. It was called Novocaine. "I was doing my TV show in about 1970 and Smokey Robinson asked me if we had any of this white powder. I said, What do you think I am, a f****** dentist?'" The idea of taking it for fun seemed "alien".

"It was a macho thing, it was part of my upbringing to go into a pub and enjoy a pint of beer. You cannot go up to a coalman and tell him to smoke a joint or have some cocaine instead when the man is dying of thirst. He'll f****** knock you out." Nor does he like the sight of young people falling down drunk. As Appleyard puts it, "the strong aspirational idea of manhood has never left him".

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His talk of extramarital legovers, however, is unlikely to win him new female admirers: some say he deserves to be showered with eggs not knickers. Yet there's no doubting his love for Linda, the girl he married at 16. "She is his touchstone, the grounding bedrock of his otherwise stardusty life," says Carol Midgley in The Times.

When he's away, he looks at a youthful photo of her when they talk on the phone and the years drop away. "When you're face to face with somebody," says Jones, "you realise that time has gone on, but when we talk on the phone we're both young again. We haven't aged on the phone." What he says is both true and romantic.As Midgley puts it: "Long live the landline!"

Mick Jagger's struggle with the remote

Talking of ageing pop stars, I was amused to read that the Rolling Stones' demand that hotels in which they stay provide written instructions on how to operate the electronics. (A very good idea.) They also want a 24-hour bar, a plentiful supply of Marlboro Lights and Reds, and after-hours dry cleaning. This "could perhaps indicate plans for wild debauchery", says Will Pavia in The Times. It could "equally betray the natural concern of men in their eighth decade who wish to dress properly for dinner".

On occasions, having forgotten to take a lead, I've found myself dragging a dog along on a walk with a belt, a tie, or even a jersey. So I sympathise with Jilly Cooper who has revealed that when she forgets to take a lead she darts behind a hedge, whips off her bra, and uses that. How very resourceful of her.

Tabloid money: George Osborne's passion for gangsta rap

"There are some things you can't say," writes Rod Liddle in The Sun. "Then there is stuff you can say only if you're a woman. Annabel Karmel is a successful businesswoman, worth about ten million quid. She told an audience that, on the whole, women were too sensitive to make it in the business world and that they couldn't cope with failure. She said this at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and the audience politely clapped her. Brilliant scientist Sir Tim Hunt said almost exactly the same thing jokingly and was forced to resign from every position he held."

"I used to enjoy Alan Sugar's company a decade ago at Daily Mirror columnist lunches," says Brian Reade in the Daily Mirror. "He was a straight talker who remembered his roots, backed Labour and was rewarded [with a peerage]." And a year ago "he slagged off Lord Digby Jones with this tweet: What a turncoat. Gordon made him a peer and now he is talking at the Conservative Party conference.' Well, if you're reading, Digby, feel free to turn that coat back to Sugar, who left the Labour party after the last election because they were no longer business-friendly' And who now threatens to move to China if Jeremy Corbyn becomes PM because he'll shut down' the London property market meaning Sugar might not be able to carry on building £10m flats for foreign speculators to leave empty God speed to Beijing, Baron Sugar of Clapton. But is there any chance you can leave behind your Labour peerage at customs?"

George Osborne has been mocked for revealing his passion for original gangsta rappers NWA, says Tony Parsons in The Sun. Perhaps he had misheard the lyrics as Straight Outta Oxford and F*** Tha TUC. "But George was a teenage public schoolboy when NWA released their breakthrough Straight Outta Compton album. A shy teenage boy was the perfect market for all that swagger, strutting and bile. What do you expect him to like? Elgar?"