He grew up in the shadow of the shipyards — ‘a dark, terrifying place’, the air saturated with ‘terrible chemicals’ — only for everything to change when he caught sight of the Queen Mother, waving from ‘a big, black Rolls-Royce’, while on a visit to the North-East.
That glimpse, he has said, ‘infected’ him with the belief that he didn’t ‘belong in this street’ and ultimately inspired him to achieve global recognition as rock star Sting.
But never assume that the Police singer takes anything for granted — certainly not his £320 million fortune, which has enabled him to acquire a string of trophy properties, including a 16th-century manor house in Wiltshire and beach house in Malibu, not to mention Il Palagio, a 600-acre vineyard in Tuscany.
And it is at Il Palagio, I can reveal, that the musician demonstrates he is, quite simply, in a league of his own.
For while there is nothing unusual in his willingness to let the Italian estate to those with deep enough pockets, Sting, 71, goes two steps further.
Sting, 71, pictured with his wife Trudie Styler Sting at their villa in Tuscany. It is one of a string of trophy properties owned by The Police frontman, including a 16th-century manor house in Wiltshire and beach house in Malibu
Sting and Trudie Styler celebrate their pearl wedding anniversary at their sprawling estate in Tuscany
Not only is he willing to perform live for paying guests more or less anywhere at Il Palagio, which, besides the nine-bedroom villa, boasts five further houses, he is also, I can reveal, prepared to pitch up to dinner and charm the assembled company.
‘Sting had a seat at the top table for dinner,’ I’m told by a still rather startled source.
‘He was holding court — happy to talk to anyone who approached him,’ explains my informant, adding that Il Palagio had been booked by a tech firm.
The Police frontman is said to have charmed guests at his villa and even took to the stage to knock out some classics with his house band
Sting’s Tuscany villa, which costs ‘a mint’ to hire out – but is worth every penny, as the singer may just join guests for dinner
‘It paid a mint to hire the whole place,’ the source says. ‘Seemed Sting wanted them to get their money’s worth.’
Indeed, he didn’t confine himself to schmoozing. ‘He knocked out some of his songs with his house band,’ I’m told.
Sting’s spokesman declined to comment.
TV chef shares his proudest moment
He had a lucrative television career and a classic car collection said to be worth around £5 million, but chef James Martin says the best thing he’s cooked up has been a house for his mother, Sue.
Chef James Martin, 50, says the best thing he’s cooked up has been a house for his mother, Sue (on This Morning in 2022)
‘Forget the cars, forget anything, the greatest achievement I’ve ever had was when I bought my mum a house,’ says the star of ITV’s Saturday Morning With James Martin.
The Yorkshireman, 50, whose family were pig farmers on the Castle Howard Estate, adds: ‘I wouldn’t have dreamed about that when I was a young kid and mum used to visit me at work, crying her eyes out and saying, “You shouldn’t be working like this”.
‘But you stick at it, because it’s the job you love.’ Martin adds: ‘My family still tell me my hair’s a mess and my shoes don’t match my top. But you want that in life. My family have always been honest.’
Adrian Edmondson, who played aggressive punk student Vyvyan Basterd in 1980s sitcom The Young Ones, has turned his attention to classical music, which, he thinks, is ‘badly served’ by radio.
‘Those popular shows like Classic FM, they kind of present it as if it was Gardeners’ Question Time,’ says the actor, 66.
‘There is something cosy and middle-class about it, whereas if people got into it they would find Mozart is more punk than punk, but we are not allowed to approach him in that way.’
Comedian Harry Hill clearly has no time for false modesty.
I saw him laughing uproariously at his own gags at Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera), at the Leicester Square Theatre in London.
Comedian Harry Hill says he’s always watched his own stuff, ‘Some people don’t like to see their own stuff but I’ve always been quite like, yeah, I like it’
‘I’ve always been like that,’ he tells me. ‘In the old days, when TV Burp was on, I used to go down and watch.
‘Some people don’t like to see their own stuff but I’ve always been quite like, yeah, I like it, too. Every show is different, [In] each performance there’s something different, and it’s funny.’
Titanic Fighter Sir Andrew Dies
Baronet Sir Andrew Duff Gordon died last week aged 89, having finally cleared the name of an ancestor who was criticised on both sides of the Atlantic following the Titanic disaster.
His great-uncle, Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon, was accused of bribing his way onto a lifeboat, ahead of women and children, when the liner sank in 1912, killing more than 1,500.
Sir Andrew uncovered documents in a solicitor’s office that showed his ancestor gave each of the then-unemployed crewmen who rescued him, his wife and her secretary, a £5 cheque to show their gratitude.
This had been misinterpreted as a delayed bribe. Sir Andrew salvaged the truth. Now they can both rest in peace.