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Are you sitting comfortably? We know you love insider stories: so we’ve sourced a snippet from this month’s hottest new book, Discombobulated – Dispatches from the Wrong Side (£11.99, Headpress), for your travel-reading pleasure.

Author, journo, raconteur, die-hard party animal and self-styled ‘disco desperado’ Simon A Morrison takes readers from Las Vegas to New York via Shanghai, with 50 wrong tales of high living and international low-life in settings from the glamorous to the shambolic.

In the extract below, Simon stumbles upon sunny songstress Kylie celebrating her birthday at London’s Sanderson hotel (currently featuring as Smith Travel Blog’s Hotel of the Week).


Sanderson boutique hotel in London - lobby pictureLondon, May, 2002

I had a late night this morning. Carried out from the West End of London in the back of a black cab; an English Psycho. My suit was Armani (Collezioni). My shirt was Armani. Even my boxers. Head to toe Giorgio. The taxi rolled through the streets like a black ball bearing; London was nothing but a big game of bagatelle. I smoothed the trousers of my suit and popped the cork on the half bottle of Moët I’d swiped from the Sanderson, concealed among the folds of my jacket. The cork ricocheted around the back of the cab, prompting the driver to turn his head, a scientist peering through the safety screen of a glass divide.

The Sanderson hotel looked beautiful tonight, like something built from the words of F Scott Fitzgerald, full of light and laughter and… her, floating above it all, like Tinkerbell sprinkling magic over the Moulin Rouge. Kylie Minogue. Was it not a dream? Was I really singing “hap-py birth-day dear Ky-lie” not two hours past? Be still my beating heart. I clung to the curves of the bottle for comfort because it was all true, I was indeed on my way back from a party celebrating the end of Kylie’s tour and her thirty-fourth birthday.

Kylie Minogue in Moulin RougeArmani. Moët. Kylie. Sweet Jesus himself just drop-kicked me through the goalposts of life. It was all so dreamy, so sophisticated — a Cinderella night with me as the cleaning girl, sneaking in for a few, delicious moments under the shimmering chandelier of celebrity. All I needed do now was go spuds deep with Tara Palmer-Doo-Dah and check in for a spell at the Priory and surely I was a shoe-in at the Met Bar. It must be only a matter of days before my portrait takes its rightful place in the hallowed hall of fame that is Heat magazine.

Of course ordinarily they wouldn’t let a random, stumbling, half-cut journalist within a thousand xx of a party like that. But even the most celebrated of celebrity parties needs music, and if you need music, well then you need DJs and that’s just a whole different kettle of collagen. So this was my route into Kylie Minogue’s birthday party: the DJs invited to provide the soundtrack were the MYNC Project; the MYNC Project are involved with the label Credence; Credence is under the umbrella of Kylie’s label EMI; bada-bing badaboom, ka-ching ka-ching… and that’s why ducks have feathers. And that’s why I found myself, earlier that evening, trying to find the Sanderson.

Sanderson – boutique hotel in LondonInside, I strolled around celebrity Shangri-la, finding my way into a self-contained vodka bar; a dark, soft, velvet kind of a room that felt like sitting inside a cat. Putting on a suit somehow propels one into the realms of the raconteur and bon viveur — or perhaps voyeur — and to unusual choices of drink. I ordered a vanilla Martini — which I discovered to my delight was the booze equivalent of a grown-up milkshake.

A wave of excitement broke across the room, carrying Kylie into her party. She was indeed Tinkerbell-tiny, and beautiful, dressed in an ivory-coloured Christian Dior dress; a pocket icon for the 21st-century, standing out against a pink neon sign that simply said ‘Kylie’. Yep, when you are known to the world by a single name you really have made it. A couple of hundred people — many of whom, I guessed, she had never met — gathered around her to sing happy birthday (note to self: chalk that one down on life’s list of surreal scenarios) as she received her presents and blew out the candles on her cake.

She looked happy, content, with a smile all out of proportion with her frame, as though its edges might break out beyond the physical realms of her face. I contemplated going up to Kylie to tell her my Australian ex-girlfriend named our goldfish after her, but was put off by the bouncers who formed a human shield around her; I contemplated getting sloshed with Mick Jagger, who was supposed to be turning up later. Ultimately, inevitably, the machismo and bravado wore off with the booze and I conceded it was time to abandon the ball. With my suit mischievously loose and bulging about my body, I left the Sanderson and hailed a cab. As it pulled away, I did my level best to get her out of my head.

‘Discombobulated – Dispatches from the Wrong Side’ by Simon A Morrison is published by Headpress, priced £11.99.

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