On the day before the Spurs game, Gascoigne was being interviewed by Gordon Burn for an Esquire cover story–a story for which the magazine was asked to pay 5,000 pounds plus 3,000 pounds-worth of Armani gear. ‘I want them to play that song,’ Burn overheard Gascoigne tell Mel Stein before the match. ‘Phil Collins. “I can feel it comin’ in the air tonight …” Remember. Tell them.’

Burn did not get many other pearls in exchange for his, or Esquire’s, cash. As with most interviews with Gazza, the main drift was to do with how much Gazza hated giving interviews. And on this day he had a particular new grievance. An Italian magazine, Eva Express, had snapped a topless Sheryl Kyle sunbathing in the grounds of Villa Gazza. The pictures had been sold on to English tabloids. The Italians billed their exclusive feature ‘Nudo nel “Ritiro” Privato’, but it was the English Gascoigne blamed: ‘You expect that from the English. Who are they? What do they do? They’re nothing. They get paid for writing crap, following people around and getting pissed up. That’s all.’

Gordon Burn took this on the chin. He had, he reported, been pleasantly surprised by the new-style, Romanized Paul Gascoigne: ‘I came half-expecting to see somebody spraying effluent from both ends, like some bloated grotesque in Viz.’ For Esquire’s photo-shoot, Gazza was looking pretty good: ‘composed, calm, muscles toned, jawline firm, almost languorous.’ And he was proud of his trim figure, although, ‘There’s no way I was ever the size people thought. The English papers used to touch the pictures up to look fatter.’

Actively Portly
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