IT WAS disappointing to see Shirley Bassey pointing the (Gold) finger at Charlotte Church last week. The teenager may be all grown up, but she's still the same person who was pictured in Bassey's dressing room eight years ago shyly asking for an autograph and hugging the diva with a star-struck giggle.
Where's the international superstar sisterhood? Cardiff girls should stick together - particularly those who have morphed into Cymric celebrity goddesses. For who else knows the pressure of having to mention Wales in every single interview, lest the folks back home start making tart little comments like, "Who does she think she is - I remember her in the Parc and Dare."
While Shirl and Charl may be separated by almost 50 years, I've always thought they have a lot in common - forceful personalities with genuine charisma and that peculiarly Cardiff brand of feistiness. They share a talent for singing big belters; they're both gay icons and they both had star billing in the 1999 Rugby World Cup ceremonies. Perhaps the latter experience lies at the root of La Bassey's antipathy towards Charlotte.
The Pocket Size Diva was only 13 at the time, but she stole the sparkle from the Queen of Tiger Bay by simply singing. Who can forget Bassey's out of synch miming that day? Not to mention the moment of melodrama when she received her public with outstretched arms. She was so busy basking she nearly tripped over a schoolboy rugby player. It would have taken hours to extract him from that giant flag dress.
Now that Charlotte is an adult - and a possible usurper to the Welsh Diva Crown of Bassey, Shirley has some bizarre career advice, "Charlotte Church? She needs to take a long rest - a year off to go away and think," says the Dame, adding, "Because she has made a very bad choice moving into rock music. She was once the classical voice of an angel. Not now."
Such a "bad choice", in fact, that Charlotte's debut single went straight in at number two while her first pop album Tissues and Issues - released today - also looks set to be a chart success.
Her extrovert character is far more suited to pop music than the anodyne world of crossover classical - as is her voice. Its angelic quality was her Unique Selling Point when she was a child, but as a lively 19-year-old young woman with a penchant for Cheeky Vimtos, Charlotte has found a niche that reflects rather than stifles her personality and talent.
She's also achieved something very few former child stars manage - reinvention, although the irony is she hasn't changed a bit. Whatever your opinion of Charlotte Church, she is natural. She doesn't hide behind an image contrived by her record company. What you see is what you get. Her down-to-earthiness is a world away from the archness of Bassey.
The broadsheet press that once ripped into her classical performances with sniffy malice now love her. She is arguably the most street-credible celebrity Wales has at the moment.
But Bassey isn't impressed, having obviously fallen for the tabloid tales of the vices of an angel, "I think Charlotte has let herself down. When I was that age, there was no such thing as binge drinking. It was totally different. We had an adventure. We used to say, 'Let's go to a dance and see what gorgeous fellows we can meet.' Now, girls like Charlotte say, 'Let's go and see how many drinks we can knock back.' I think it is dreadful."
This from the woman who hasn't exactly lived the convent life herself. Pregnant at 17, Bassey endured a tempestuous relationship with boyfriend Pepe Davis who once tried to stab her in a jealous rage; married the openly gay film director Kenneth Hulme twice and had an affair with Peter Finch.
By contrast, Charlotte's excess Cheeky Vimto consumption is the picture of innocence. She hasn't done too badly on the meeting gorgeous fellows front either. And while we're on the subject of appropriate behaviour for a 19-year-old, a surfeit of bling, animal prints and thigh-high slits isn't Dame Classy when you're pushing 70.
A Damehood carries certain responsibilities. It's a pretty dignified role. You don't hear Judi Dench bitching about 19-year-old starlets because she just doesn't have to. Having been there, done it and worn the sequins, surely Shirley can afford to be more generous towards a fellow Welsh performer who may still be on a learning curve.
Yet perhaps the older icon could take a tip from the young pretender. As Charlotte embraces a growing new fan base, Dame Shirley is in danger of alienating her hard-core support. The interview that prompted her blast at Church also contained a rather uncharitable view of the people who have kept her in leopard-skinned luxury for four decades, "They follow me across the country but I don't want to see them there night after night," she whinged.
"They think it is mean of me and unreasonable, but they don't see my side of it. I am going to a different town every night and I don't want to see the same old faces; it is psychologically upsetting."
Bassey should remember that while diamonds are forever, the little gems who turn up and buy front row seats at every gig she performs, might not be there if she treats them like that. Empty seats would be even more "psychologically upsetting".
With such a jaded attitude to being an international Cymric superstar, maybe she should practise what she preaches. Think about it Dame Shirley a long rest - a year off to go away and think.