'I LOVE MY NEW BOOBS - DO YOU WANT TO SEE THEM?' After 11 turbulent years with alcoholic ex-footballer George Best, Alex Best, 33, is setting the record straight. She talks breasts, broken arms and boozing...
Some women celebrate divorce with a new haircut and a new wardrobe. Others, like Alex Best, go a bit further - and invest in a new set of boobs.
'I'm really happy with them. Do you want a look?' asks Alex, whipping up her top to reveal an impressive set of D-cups.
'I've wanted them done for 10 years,' she says. 'I was only an A-cup before - people didn't realise because I wore gel bras. But now I wake up and think, "Wow!" Look - they stay up on their own!'
With her deep Marbella tan, long blonde hair, manicured talons and implants, Alex Best screams 'footballer's wife'. But the longer you spend with the 33-year-old, it's clear she's no bimbo.
The ex-wife of footballing and boozing legend George Best, Alex has been in the public eye since she first met him at the tender age of 22. Now, 11 years, one liver transplant and a divorce later, she's written her life story. It's served as a kind of closure for her.
'I'd been asked to write a book loads of times, but suddenly I thought, "Why not?" It's been really therapeutic - afterwards, I felt like a massive weight had been taken off my shoulders. Now I feel like I've set the record straight.'
She's certainly been honest. Alex's book is a fascinating study of a turbulent marriage marred by alcoholism and violence. It contains shocking revelations (not least that she used to be a teenage Goth), but despite the traumatic subject matter, she keeps the tone upbeat.
For example, after a fight with George which left her arm broken, Alex writes, 'At least I had the excuse to have my hair washed and blow-dried at the hairdressers twice a week, a real indulgence. Well, I told myself, I think I deserve a little treat.' That's what you call looking on the bright side.
Alex smiles. 'I didn't want it to be all misery - it's about hurt, about living with an alcoholic, but it's about love too. I've included the good times I had with George as well as the bad.'
When Alex met George, he was 47, had been divorced and declared bankrupt, and was a notorious womaniser and boozer. He wasn't exactly a catch, but many people still branded Alex a fame-hungry gold-digger. She sighs.
'People ask, "What were you doing with him?" But the truth is I truly, truly loved him. We had a special kind of bond. He's charming and witty, and lovely when he wants to be. Also, there's something that makes you want to mother him and look after him. He's a one-off. I'll never meet anyone like him again. Well, hopefully I won't,' she smiles.
'And as for money - George didn't have two grand when we got married. He was skint. We lived in a horrible flat. We didn't even have a washing machine - I had to wash my knickers in the sink.'
They married when Alex was just 23.
'I never had any doubts. I wanted people to realise we were serious - I didn't want to be just the young, blonde girlfriend.'
Looking back, it seems improbable, but Alex wasn't really concerned about George's drinking, and was unaware of the bleak reality of alcoholism.
'My grandmother was an alcoholic, but I just thought she was "fun granny" who'd come in to our room at 1am with sweets. Actually, she was completely p*ssed and didn't know if it was day or night, but I didn't realise that then. I had no idea how big a deal it could be. But George used to make out it wasn't really a problem - he just liked a drink.'
Alex was soon to find out just how much of a problem it was. They'd been married less than a year when she woke up to find her hair cut off in clumps, and marker pen all over her body. It wasn't a one-off, and reading the book, it's odd how tolerant Alex is of her husband's erratic behaviour.
'You start accepting it as normal. He'd attack me, I'd go home to Mum and Dad, but then I'd start missing him, and that maternal thing would kick in. I'd imagine him leaving sausages in a pan, falling asleep and burning the flat down. I'd start to worry, so I'd go home.'
George continued to drink despite having Antabuse implants in his stomach - a drug that is supposed to react violently with alcohol - and his liver was deteriorating. However, Alex says George's ill health led to the happiest time of their marriage.
'He became so sick that he was off the drink for three years, from 2000 to 2003. We moved to County Down in Northern Ireland, and we were so happy. Ireland may have been a bit boring, but at least I had a proper husband,' she recalls.
It was while they were living there in 2002 they got the news they'd longed for - a donor liver became available and George underwent a successful transplant. But a year to the day of the operation, George starting drinking again. It shocked the public, but not Alex, who says she knew George would see it as a second chance to drink.
Along with the boozing came womanising - and Alex had finally had enough.
'I will not put up with that,' she says, sounding fierce for the first time. 'I was in my 30s and I thought, "I want kids. I want a chance to be happy." I was emotionally and physically drained, and I realised, "I can't cope with this any more." I made the decision to leave.'
George has given some nasty interviews about Alex of late, but she doesn't think it's in response to her book. 'He's always saying nasty things about me. I think, "You're the one who hurt me and I don't slag you off." But I doubt he's read the book. I don't think he's even read his own book.'
George has often suggested Alex herself is an alcoholic. She rolls her eyes. 'I don't think so! I'll go out in the evening and have a drink with friends, but I don't have it for breakfast.'
George has also sounded off about Alex's appearance on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, and his son Calum's sojourn on Celebrity Love Island - accusing them of trading off his fame.
Alex laughs. 'I went into the jungle because it was a great opportunity to get away from it all, but I won't be doing any more reality TV. And as for trading on George's name - well, I was married to him for 11 years. It's not as if I just had a one-night stand with a famous person,' she says.
'But I don't read what he says any more. When he drinks, he just rants and raves. He's Jekyll and Hyde.'
Recently, George has been pictured bruised and battered after allegedly being assaulted by his girlfriend, Ros Hollidge, 38. Alex looks sad when I ask her what she thinks will become of him.
'I don't know. I hope he's OK. I wish he had someone who would look after him properly,' she says softly.
But whatever becomes of George, Alex claims she's had enough of the celebrity game. 'I'd like to disappear into obscurity. I've set the record straight now, and I don't crave fame the way some people do. I'm 33 now and there's only so much modelling you can do. I might go back to college. Or I'd love to open up a little business - something like a farm shop.'
But if she wants to stay out of the limelight, Alex will have to alter her taste in men. Since George, she's had two romances - both of which have hit the headlines. She dated Howard Kruger, a businessman who is Jordan's uncle, and was accused of child molestation (claims Alex dismisses as 'rubbish'). She also saw Simon Jordan, who's worth pounds 40 million and is chairman of Crystal Palace football club. Not exactly the boys next door...
'I know,' she says. 'And I hate football! I just want to find a normal, nice guy - if they exist. But I'm an old- fashioned girl. I still believe you marry for life. My parents have been married for 36 years.'
So where does Alex see herself in five years time? 'Hopefully I'll have children. I do want to be a mum.'
And George? 'I don't know. I hope we'll be friends. I really did love him and I care about him still. I wanted it to last, but in the end I realised I couldn't win.'
Always Alex by Alex Best is published by Blake Publishing, pounds 17.99
. Photography: PAF. Hair: Melissa Brown at Mandy Coakley for Harringtons London using Paul Mitchell. Make-up: Lica Fensome at Mandy Coakley using Bourjois.
Top, pounds 25, Miss Selfridge; bra (underneath), pounds 14, La Senza; pants, pounds 12, and necklace, pounds 12, both Urban Outfitters; bangles, pounds 4 for set, Diva at Miss Selfridge; Skirt (worn as dress), pounds 60, French Connection; necklace, pounds 18, Freedom at Topshop; bangles, pounds 4 for set, Diva at Miss Selfridge; shoes, pounds 35, Miss Selfridge Left: Top, pounds 60, Sessun at Urban Outfitters; hot pants, pounds 40, Ben Sherman; necklace, pounds 12, Urban Outfitters; belt, pounds 19.99, River Island; boots, pounds 149.99, Sancho at River Island Top, pounds 55, Fornarina at House of Fraser; bra, pounds 25, La Senza; knickers, pounds 8.99, Pink Piranha at River Island; bangles, pounds 4 each, Diva at Miss Selfridge; shoes, pounds 60, FaithAlex in the I'm A Celebrity jungle