Cherri Gilham is a woman that squeezes more into a day than most of us squeeze into a lifetime. A top line look at her Wikipedia page reveals that she's a former comedy actress, who was one of the first Page 3 girls and is now a writer, activist, musician and video producer.No stranger to controversy, Cherri is the kind of woman who'd score top place on my list of "People I'd like at a dinner party" - just so I could listen to her anecdotes and try and absorb some of her Chutzpah by osmosis.
The strength of the woman is in the company she keeps, and from following her on social media for many years now, she keeps some great company. In the 1970's you wouldn't have been able to turn on the television without her catching your eye, the list of "A" List celebrities and comedians that she's worked with deserves recognition. No matter what flavour Feminism you like the taste of, she made it in a male dominated industry on her own terms and has a social conscience to rival the best of her generation.
Page 3 gave her career a kick start but no-one could have imagined where it would lead her. So I'm really thrilled that she agreed to do a short interview for me, I could have asked so much more and spent hours chatting to her - this is the first in my series of "Little Interviews With" and it means a lot personally that it's with Cherri. So full steam ahead!
Cherri, thanks for taking time out to talk to me. The older we get, the more wisdom we collect. What's the best bit advice you've followed?
When I was broken-hearted after the end of a long relationship and had cried every day for 8 months and wrote on my wall calendar: 'How long can this misery last?' My son, who was 14 at the time, wrote on it: 'As long as you let it' This awoke me to my folly. As they say: Out of the mouths of babes. He was telling me that it was up to me and nobody else was responsible for my own happiness or lack of it. I knew he was right and stopped feeling sorry for myself and playing the victim.
Having said that, not all wisdom is worth holding onto! What's the best piece advice you've completely ignored?
It was from Benny Hill. I had appeared on several of his shows from 1972 - 75 and at lunch one day he said, 'Dear heart, you know what you should do? You should get behind the camera. You could make a good career in that'
I foolishly took it to mean that he didn't think I was good enough to be in front of it anymore. And felt insulted. He was always having little digs at me. Silly me. It took me another three decades to realize the wisdom of his remarks.
For I discovered that I'm pretty good behind the camera. I photograph and make videos now and have no desire to be in front of the camera. I was always too scared, in any case, to perform in front of an audience. I much prefer to be in control and not suffering the hideous stage-fright that would always encumbrance me.
Looking back, what piece of advice would you give to a teenage Cherri?
I would tell her not to wear tight-fitting winkle-picker stilettos. Even if they did look great. Because she would end up with painful bunions!
And if you had known what you know now, tell me what you wished you had known at 21.
Silence CAN be golden. So shut the eff up occasionally and let others do the talking. Also I wish I'd known I would live beyond forty-nine. I might then have taken legal steps to protect my pension!
What's the thing you're most proud of, your greatest achievement, apart from the birth of your son?
The moment I'm most proud of is standing next to Tony Blair at the General Election in 2005 wearing a hat that said BLIAR. I had stood against the Bliar on an anti-war ticket because I was enflamed by his blithe invasion of Iraq.
My friend, an anti war protester, had given me a T-shirt with Bliar on it and blood dripping from it. I wore it during my campaigning up at Sedgefield.
I had changed my name by Statutory Declaration to Cherri Blairout-Gilham in order to be under Blair on the ballot paper, hopefully causing him embarrassment.
The prissy Tony Blair being on top of a former Glamour Girl, whose name was similar to that of his wife. After the results were in I wrapped the t-shirt around a cap and wore it at the last minute when all candidates had to crocodile it onto the podium where the Bliar would be announced as the returning officer.
Somehow the Conservative agent managed to wangle me next to TB and I ended up standing beside him for about 20 minutes whilst the world's press snapped away.
Nobody could alert TB what was happening. Then further to that, when TB gave his victory speech I was still right behind him with my BLIAR-hat looming beside his quite protuberant ears. The full story of this will appear in my upcoming memoirs, entitled "MENOIRS"......about some of the men that slid through my life. The Good, The Bad and The Rotten-Thru and Thru.
So a big thank you to Cherri for sharing advice gained over the course of a liftetime. I literally cannot wait until "Menoirs" comes out for even more behind the scenes titbits and womanly wisdom. She is a rare breed this one and I have lots of questions I wish I could have asked but only had space for a few. To find out more, please follow her on Twitter here - it will be a lovely worthwhile "click"