Everyone who loves a bit of glamour and hilarity is on the Ab Fab bandwagon at the moment and particularly if you work in PR or "media". 25 years ago I worked at the PR agency whose founder Lynne Franks was the reported inspiration for Edina and experienced first hand those early hedonistic Ab Fab days.
The agency was a notorious sweatshop. Everyone worked long hours, very rarely had a full weekend off and the money was rubbish, but it was the hippest agency in town. Run by a woman, with a fabulous client list that included all the great and the good, it was THE place to work. At the time, getting a job there was the equivalent of earning a Blue Peter Badge!
The office was a refurbished warehouse on the Harrow Road in West London, skirting the borders of nearby trendy Ladbroke Grove and NottingHill. The reception area, complete with oversized flower arrangements, music and TV monitors, concealed a throbbing nerve centre of PR's. Rows upon rows of glamorous youngsters punted their wares to journalists as in those days column inches was what it was all about. Every client had a profile they wanted to build and a product they wanted to promote and ultimately sell.
My first day at work I still hadn't actually met Lynne and nothing could have prepared me for that first encounter. She dispelled with niceties and simply instructed me to get on the phone and prove myself by the end of the week with the gold bullion of success - coverage. Lucky for me I passed the test.
The office was frequently full of celebrities and models, the store rooms were always full to bursting with fabulous clothes and the latest hot products. There was always an event to get to and never a shortage of something to borrow to wear at short notice. There was no work life balance, the two were firmly intertwined.
When Absolutely Fabulous first aired, there was no doubt in anyone's mind who worked at the agency that she was the inspiration for Edina's character. Lynne was larger than life, although invariably dressed head to toe in floating Ghost ensembles and not like Edina in too small Lacroix oufits. She always entered the office on the phone, often calling you as she walked into the building to demand an update on a campaign. Her adorable PA kept her life afloat. She was a hard taskmaster but she was also sensitive and very funny and her staff were loyal. She was, however, at that time a Buddhist chanting spiritualist and secretly we all dreaded the day that we would be invited back to her house as the rumour mill was rife with stories of Buddhist rituals and tree hugging.
The dread, however, was also laced with excitement, as the invitation was also a rite of passage, a sign that you had reached the inner sanctum of Lynne's approval. I remember my first encounter as if it was yesterday, first kneeling in front of the Buddhist shrine then laying on her lawn arms and legs spread out like a starfish, eyes closed, being told to hum and trying desperately not to laugh whilst thinking "What the F***!"
I made some truly fabulous friends there, but there is one in particular who is front of mind on the eve of the film's release, because whilst Lynne may have inspired Edina, this girl really WAS Edina. "Sweetie Darling" was her catchphrase. She made air kissing a fine art, wore head to toe designer gear and quaffed copious amounts of champagne. She even looked like her. Sadly we have since uncoupled but I still remember her with fondness and tomorrow night when I gather with my other Ab Fab mates from those days we will raise a glass in her honour as well as Edina and Lynne's of course as we take our seats on the front row! "It's the weekend sweetie!"