So- who have you met who is famous?

We all have our list of chance meetings, moments when we brushed against the lives of those everyone knows and discusses.

Our list is dusted off and brought out after the coffee and mints, when conversation has become latterly broad and expansive.

The theatre folks fare best in these things, with minor star after minor star listed authorititively, together with a small accompanying thumbnail review.

If they could hear these reviews, I wonder, might these minor celestial bodies modify their behaviour? People talking about celebrities can be incisive, nay, merciless. God help said star, if he or she were having a bad day and turned a little sharp, a little graceless. Their behaviour is immortalised in common lore.

Phil and I have our own list. The day a royal walked into our local; Phil’s interviews with two top, beloved comedians; meeting Bob Fossil in a lift on the London tube (Google him and grimace).

But the most serendipitous chance meeting happened on our trip to one of the great cities of the world.

I am not the sort of person who goes jetting off to New York at the drop of a hat. I didn’t even think I was going there. I was very happy in the knowledge that I was off on a little local flight to York.

So much so, that as my 40th birthday loomed I was brain-deep in Yorvik Centre virtual maps and steam railway timetables.

I was at my happiest, well within my comfort zone, not casting even the smallest glance in the direction of the battered suitcase.

At the last minute, after all  the ironing and toy assemblage, the kids would be dropped off at Mum’s.  I would throw trousers and sweaters in its direction, zip it up in a tearing hurry and crash out of the door to the station for a quick weekend in a posh hotel.

Appearance is rarely my top priority.

Problem being: when I crashed out of the door there was a large white limo waiting.

After a regretful glance at the sensible flat walking shoes on my feet, I allowed a very nice man to put my battered gladstone bag with plastic trim into the cavernous, sweet smelling boot.

It didn’t take me long to work out what was going on. A few seconds. York, New York. Hmmmm.

And while most would have screeched a grateful thank you at the top of their vocal range, I prayed silently it would not be so. Not one hours travel, but eight. Not a few hundred miles away from my little ones, but thousands and a great ocean. Not coming home Sunday, but Tuesday. And I didn’t have a thing to wear.

Minutes later, we stood in the International Departure Lounge. Nine hours after that, we were in one of the most comfortable beds in New York, at the Algonquin, naturally: that home of the chattering classes just like us. And then began some of the headiest days of my life to date.

Every morning: a classic diner next door. And then, walking. Walking uptown, walking downtown, walking till our feet hurt, then walking some more. I was utterly captivated by a place that prided itself on its youth as we do our age. Guggenheim, Empire State, Rockefeller, Central Park, Chinatown, Greenwich Village. Brash, loud, alien yet somehow familiar.

And as we walked down Broadway to catch a ferry we stopped in at Starbucks. And there she sat: Olympia Dukakis.

To us,  she is iconic, a marriage of everything we know and everything we don’t. We know every word of her part in Moonstruck: the beautiful woman who has grown old, holding men sway now with the force of a graceful personality. I want to grow old like that.

We were dumbstruck. There she sat, talking to her friend in Starbucks while an inordinate amount of silent miming went on across the aisle.We knew it wasn’t grown-up to be excited but it was difficult to contain our elation. We had to make do with grimaces, eye rolls in her direction, a shared, delighted disbelief.

How did it all end? British to a tee, we just got up and left.

But through the front window we could be seen, wildly gesticulating, squeaking batsqueaks of triumph, just to have seen a heroine of ours.

The next time you reel off your list after the three-course meal or the take-away Indian, it’s worth noticing your priorities. Who is the one at the top of the pile?


6 thoughts on “Starstruck

  1. The list is so long….Jonathan Ross at the luggage carousel in San Francisco airport, (our luggage came off before his, and we got an autograph…..I have no shame!) Jake was kissed by Kylie in Bluewater, still not washed that cheek! Vic Reeves was on the Ebbsfleet train with Miff the other week and of course we had a chat with the oh so famous Olly Murrs, (X-Factor runner up) at Gatwick airport!! Beat that!!!!!

  2. Haven’t really met that many famous people but I do have a gorwing list of people I would like to meet. John Williams, Christepher Nolen, J.K. Rowling to name a few.

    1. I’m with you all the way, DWB. JK Rowling’s a particular interest of mine because she wrote with young kids…still haven’t worked out how she did it. And for the man who wrote Star Wars I would consider staking out his local pub….

  3. I once saw Peter Graves in a gift shop at the Los Angeles airport. He was at the counter paying for a newspaper, and I was across the room looking at paperbacks. Our eyes met, and we smiled at each other. I wanted to tackle him and ask all about Mission Impossible, and about his brother who starred in Gunsmoke, but I didn’t. I went back to looking at books. I was born in the U.S., but my DNA is very British.

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