So, an ice-breaker for you. What celebrities, including B-listers to Z-listers, have you met, and under what circumstances?
I’ll get the ball rolling.
- Bob Holness shook my hand after I’d won the fifth gold run on Blockbusters. He had incredibly cold hands (but a genuine warm heart).
- Tim Healey, aka Dennis off Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, shook my hand at Central TV Studios, Nottingham, after being told I’d won the fifth gold run on Blockbusters. He willingly signed autographs for everyone who asked for it.
- Comedian and broadcaster Mike Harding once asked me for directions when I was waiting for a bus at Nottingham railway station.
- Broadcaster and newsreader Alistair Stewart queued in front of me at Boots pharmacy at Waterloo station. He was buying a pack of headache tablets. Bless…
- I once met Trevor Bayliss, inventor of the wind-up radio, on the train going from Waterloo to Reading. I even had a chat with him about his invention.
- Stuart Hall, the notorious one, not the sociologist, employed me as his interpreter at a business conference in 1994.
- Barrister and host of Whose Line Is It Anyway, Clive Anderson, crossed the road not far from King’s Cross station in London. He was carrying a Rymans stationer’s carrier bag. Not sure of the contents thereof.
- At Sovereign’s Parade, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, shortly after the 1979 General Election, Margaret Thatcher stood ten metres away from me.
- At Darlington train station (these places seem to be one great meeting place for celebrity-spotters), I saw Mo Mowlam MP. Given that she was surrounded by a regiment of bodyguards, I decided not to thank her for a handwritten letter that she had written me a few years earlier.
- Also at Darlington train station, I saw Lord Leon Brittan (Westlands affair an’ all that) in the cafe. He was supping a cup of coffee and reading The Times newspaper.
- William Hague MP sat five seats in front of me on a flight from Heathrow to Teesside Airport. He was in business class; I, in economy. I was glad they closed the curtain to separate the classes, as he has an extremely shiny head.
- Again, a railway theme. On the train from Redcar Central to Darlington, I sat opposite Vera Baird QC, who was until 2010 MP for Redcar. She had her dog with her. We had a very pleasant conversation about Jack Straw shaking hands with Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe at Pope John Paul II’s funeral. We even shook hands one arrival in at Darlington.
- Back to Heathrow again, in 2011, I met Alistair Campbell, Tony Bliar’s ex-press secretary. I told him how very sorry I was that Labour had lost the election. We then shock hands. Little did he know (or care) that the only thing that is red about me is my hair, not my politics. Oh, the irony of the the liar being lied to.
- Still on politicians. Lord Douglas Hurd was sitting at Paddington train station, reading the Daily Telegraph, minding his own business, when I approached him:
Yes, yes, can I help you?
Lord Hurd, I’ve been a member of the Conservative Party for over two decades now. Would you be so kind as to give me your autograph please?
Of course. With great pleasure.
- Lord Hurd, British Foreign Secretary when the Berlin Wall fell, duly signed my copy of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s book, Tokens of Trust. (Come on now, I bet you were reading out his replies with a Muppets Fozzy Bear voice, weren’t you?)
Now, I know that Schatz and her nursing colleagues recently treated a German porn star actress from the 1970’s, who was an in-patient in their ward. I wonder. Was it a case of:
Welcome, Frau X-Certificate. Ah, sorry, it wasn’t your face I recognised.
Have a celebrity-packed day, won’t you!