It was the Rugby World Cup 2007 and Grant and I had been sent to France to cover the All Blacks' triumphant victory. As well you know, there was no victory. However, our flights were paid for and Jonah and his wife at the time, Fiona, who were our dearest friends, were also in Paris. We were staying in a chic but modest apartment in the Opera District. Jonah was staying at The Crillion on Concord. If you don't know Paris, it was like we were staying in a nice flat in Ellerslie, and they were in the penthouse of The Langham.

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The first time we journeyed over to see them we were met with heavy security for the Israeli Prime Minister who was also staying there. My inexpensive frock from Glassons, although simple and chic, suddenly felt very polyester and wrong.

Jonah wanted to take us to the famous Buddha Bar. We had not heard of it, because we were not cool. Apparently it was. When you enter you are immediately met by a sweeping staircase that leads down to tables and, yes, a giant Buddha.


The maitre d' may have been expecting us, but perhaps not, as Jonah is more famous in Europe than he is at home. A great fuss was made and we were led down the staircase to the best table in the joint.

I'd been drinking. Back then I'd nearly always been drinking. Grant had just competed in the national bodybuilding competition and was ripped and amazing looking in jeans and a fitted T-shirt. Jonah always looked amazing. Fiona was elegant and gorgeous. I was drunk and wearing a silly dress.

At the next table I recognised singer Craig David. He recognised that someone more important than him had been seated at the top table, but he was so engaged with the stunning, vapid girl he was with and his smartphone that he just managed to look slightly put out. The girl must have been bored with Craig David that night because she decided to focus her attention on Grant.

Jonah ordered champagne. I drank most of it. As the night went on the girl became more obvious with her flirting. When she started licking her lips and winking at Grant, me and the champagne decided enough was enough. When she left for the bathroom, I gave her a minute and followed. The restroom was empty but for me and the lip-licking girl. Remember, please, I'd had a lot of champagne, I marched up to her and yelled in her face: "Stop f***ing coming on to my husband and concentrate on the has-been singer you're with!"

I was drunk. I also felt triumphant and sassy. When I got back to the table the girl had clearly related the story to Craig David. I told my table the story, then I eyeballed Craig David. He eyeballed me. Grant looked embarrassed, Fiona looked mortified and Jonah carried on eating his seafood.

It was only when Craig David moved towards our table that Jonah stood up and just glowered down at him. Craig David sat down and then almost immediately he and the girl grabbed their phones and dignity and took off up the magnificent staircase.

Our table was silent. I remained drunk and slightly remorseful, Grant remained good-looking and embarrassed, Fiona looked like she wanted to strangle me and Jonah just said: "Anyone want some more oysters?"

Everyone who knew Jonah has a million stories. He's a man who took you on adventures and you became enveloped in his weird and wonderful world. I understand that the world has lost one of the greatest sportspeople to ever live, but I remember him most fondly in intimate incidents like this that to me now almost seem implausible.


A couple of weeks ago Jonah sent me a Craig David CD with no note.

Polly Gillespie co-hosts the breakfast show on The Hits.