June 10th, 2005


You're Only Ever 6 Steps Away From Anyone Else...

Today I have decided to list my encounters with the famous. This will be underwhelming. Academics don't count, not even Niall Ferguson and Natalie Zemon Davis. This is because they are academics. No, I am talking glitz, glamour and... something or other here...

1) Princess Anne and the Queen Mum were once driven past my Junior School. We all stood outside on the street getting very wet indeed in our summer dresses. We all waved as the car went past and were rewarded with the sight of a gloved hand waving back at us. Or so I would assert.

2) On our Junior School trip to London we went to Downing Street. When we got there, the policeman at the gate wouldn't let us in (bah!), but allowed us to at least look up the street. Arriving at that time was... Mark Thatcher (this dates me). Excitingly, he was driving a red Vauxhall Cavalier.

3) Later I was going to the bus stop to get home from school and I noticed a young man walking down the street, hand-in-hand with a girl. I largely noticed him because a) he was in my way b) he had his head very ostentatiously down. It was the guy who played Billy Boswell on Bread (still dating myself...), who had come up to do the pantomime.

4) A girl in the year above me did bits and pieces in the pantomime and one year went out for a bit with one of the Chuckle Brothers. This still strikes me as being a bit obscene, especially as they weren't even funny when i was a kid and no-one could ever establish which was the one (let's forget the age-thing).

5) Similarly tenuously there was a truly horrid baggage 3 years ahead of me at school and her stepbrother was Maxwell Caulfield who played Miles Colby on 'The Colbys'. Maybe 4 and 5 should be disallowed as I never really encountered either of them and classed alongside things like Vic Reeves having once worked for the parents of a schoolfriend and Brian Clough having been the first cousin of my Aunt's ex-husband.

6) In the Oxford Union (incidences of physical contact and/or mutual acknowledgement):

a) I have been stepped on by Rob Newman, Patsy Kensit (who is tiny), Marie Helvin and some others whose names escape me (which, judging by the quality of this list, must make them especially fly-by-night and paltry).

b) We were once paid a pint by the bar manager to go and attend a speaker meeting given by James Wilby. He made a grand rhetorical gesture by asking which one of us might be lucky enough to make it as a professional actor. I pointed at Mitch and, unfortunately for me, he saw. The man could have had a career as a junior school teacher, I tell you. I still go a bit pink when I see him on the TV...

c) Despite years of training to the contrary, one day I ran through the Union corridor from the bar and up the stairs to the loos and back. On the way back I bumped into... Toni Morrison who, in contrast to me, was proceeding in a very stately fashion at the head of a line of lackeys (including her husband, who is loads smaller than her). I apologised and her face remained inscrutable. I didn't realise who she was until my friend said, "Bloody Hell, Marj! You just ran slapbang into Toni Morrison, you pillock!".

7) In London our workplace was bang opposite the Portland Hospital, which meant that we got to do things like hang out of the window to watch Liam Gallagher go from pub to pub and generally stalk around the place (although I can't recall which of his birds was dropping a sprog that time).

8) Excitingly, our workplace local was quite close to one of the BBC studios and the odd actor would drop in from time to time. I even once saw Matt Lucas outside, hailing a cab. He was grinning broadly and dressed in black. I didn't recognise him at first, this being pre Little Britain, so I smiled back as you do when someone you haven't placed but you have the nagging feeling you should have. He's not very big, either.

9) Lynn and I once spent a jolly Sunday helping to paint an Arts Centre in Homerton. Top newsreader and catlover Martyn Lewis came along and told us all personally what good jobs we were doing. There was also some poor lad from 'Changing Rooms' who was doing the mural room and had my inverted talents in that direction foisted upon him.

10) When phoning around for work experience places in publishers, I called the company of Leo Cooper, husband of Jilly Cooper and spoke to the man himself, there only being him in his company. When I did a bit of work experience with André Deutsch, I got Gyles Brandreth on the phone. He was fairly patient with me when I buggered up putting him through to another office on the phone.

Jealous? Na! I wouldn't be either!