The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Only as good as your last celebrity spot

on May 28, 2014

There’s a bookshop I go to in Singapore called Kinokuniya. Rare to find an actual bookshop around these days. It’s located on level 3 (2nd floor) of Takashimaya Shopping Centre on Orchard Road.

Orchard Road. Singapore’s premiere shopping destination. Like a hybrid of Bond Street and Oxford Street. There must be at least 10 shopping centres and five department stores crammed into this relatively short stretch of retail heaven or hell. Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada sit alongside High Street staples with your tourist $10 tat sandwiched inbetween the gaps.

It was last September’s Grand Prix weekend when I wandered out of the book shop pushing #3 in the buggy when I spot someone I think I know but can’t quite place. I’m searching my memory archives thinking how do I know you? Whilst reassembling my features into one of some recognition in case they get in their first with the exchange of greetings.

Then it dawns on me. It’s Bernie Ecclestone with his very glamorous, immaculately dressed wife towering above him looking very befuddled. He’s looking non plussed. Used to being led I guess but she is definitely not where she wants to be. I’m fully in support of Help the Aged but for some reason I held back. Quite possibly the glamorous, immaculately dressed wife by his side put me off as I was quite impossibly unglamorous and underdressed for the occasion of bookshop browsing. I wouldn’t want her thinking I’m competition either and I had also got the wrong sort of Maclaren wheels on me too.

So I regretfully left them to fend for themselves as I watched them walk off up the escalators to level 4. Still it could have been worse and they could have found themselves in Lucky Plaza, home of the $10 tat. All the while though, I was thinking how on earth do I even know what Bernie Ecclestone looks like.

When Husband and I lived in London, celebrity spotting was quite the sport.
Mr No Beans, good friend and Best Man was an avid and worthy competitor in this game. The rules are simple, like all the best games, you’re only as good as your last random celebrity spot. So this excludes all events where you’ve paid to see said celebrity or where celebrities are likely to appear like charity events, film premieres and any publicised celebrity appearance. Otherwise my last spot would be John Cleese.

In truth I was a lot disappointed at first at having spotted Bernie because he knocked Nicole Kidman off my list. Though if I’m honest I didn’t quite follow the rules properly because I only happened across her when a friend texted me that she’d seen her having coffee at a particular shopping mall and whilst I was thinking of going to a different mall, the opportunity seemed too good to miss. She was very tall and flawless. I suppose in your job as Mega Film Star you’d have to be. The one before her was Michael Parkinson in a restaurant in Brisbane which was very exciting as having moved away from London, or indeed the UK as a whole, your odds of being able to play the game well is dramatically reduced but Mr No Beans now lives in Sydney so we’re shelving the game for now.

Living in Muswell Hill, we used to see Todd Carty (Tucker of Grange Hill if you’re that old or Mark Fowler of Eastenders if you like to think you’re not) on such a regular basis that Husband called him his Unknown Close Personal Friend. Amongst others, there’s been Maureen Lipman, Victoria Wood, Johnny Vegas, Simon Pegg and I once sat behind Tony Hadley on the bus and then was stood behind him at a Robbie Williams gig, Milton Keynes in 2006.

Another reason why I refrained from giving Bernie friendly directions is because Husband has banned me from ever making conversation with any celebrity on a random basis unless it’s for work related purposes. And I don’t blame him. No matter how much you admire someone’s work and how you imagine you’d like to tell them as much, the conversation you actually have with them is never going to be the same as the one you have with them in your head.

The League of Gentlemen remains one of my all time favourite television shows. (In fact had I attempted to speak with Bernie, I may have said ‘This is a local shop for local people, there’s nothing for you here.’) The characters are morbidly dark and make you want to shrink into your collar bones. Which is exactly how I felt when I found myself stood next to Reece Shearsmith in our local WH Smith. What I wanted to say was something suitably witty and appreciative of the show without sounding like some crazed fan. Instead I just muttered in probably a squeaky voice, ‘Excuse me?’. He quite rightly looks a bit nervous, ‘Yes?’. ‘Are you the bloke off The League of Gentlemen.’ (Knowing full well he is). ‘Yes I am.’ ‘Ok.’

If I did OMG, I’d be OMGing myself. It was so cringeworthy and then I proceeded to ‘bump’ into him twice more around the shops. I bet he was ready to take out a restraining order. Such was my embarassment, I had to confess to Husband what I’d done and now whilst I still get great enjoyment from watching the League of Gentlemen, I can’t help but relive my shame a little each time.

Another time I really wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole was when a colleague persuaded me it would be ok to talk football with Alan Shearer. I really didn’t want to go as his reputation for being a highly private (grumpy) person is well known and what did I know about Newcastle United’s current defensive position even though they are my home team of choice. But he said it would be ok, he’d do the talking and just needed the company. So off we went, me ahead confident that he was behind me. I find myself in front of Alan Shearer and open with ‘My colleague here and I are from Newcastle and we just wanted to say Hello and are you enjoying the event?’ Except I’m pointing at thin air. He’s not there. I’m stood pretending to have a friend and looking like a tit. Then I mumble something else and scuttle off full of shame again. Incidentally that’s not the first time I’d seen him before though, he was sat at the table next to me one evening at a restaurant in Chester-le-Street some 13 years earlier.

My funniest encounter though has to be with two members of Westlife who were having a great laugh with former Leeds United manager David O’Leary. Same colleague having failed in his attempt to talk football with Alan Shearer decided David O’Leary would be a better bet and he was. As were the Westlifers. Funny, chatty and friendly they took photos of themselves for us and with us. Did I say ‘I love you’ to the Westlifers and ‘My Husband loves you’ to David O’Leary? Of course not.

However my top most favourite so far is this photo with Jon Bon Jovi who found himself at an event after bumping into Ronan Keating who was staying at the same hotel. As he wasn’t an expected guest then I’m going to include him in my best Random Celebrity Encounters.

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So which celebrity spot are you as good as? Let me know.

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