I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
I have a famous friend.
Actually, let me clarify that…
I’m acquainted with a few famous people who are always gracious and lovely to me whenever they see me. I also know a number of folk who are at the very pinnacle of their creative capabilities, who are heroes among those who share their passions. These virtues make them famous in their field. I met a lot of properly, massively famous people during my years at MTV, people like Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer (LOVED him), Elton John and Paul McCartney (who busted in on an interview I was doing with Take That – which was random) and OH MY GOD I met Amber Valetta once (when she was in the film ‘Hitch’) She remains the most extraordinarily beautiful woman I have ever seen outside of my own bedroom…and just think about that for a second before you accuse me of narcissism. The FRECKLES on her though…my GOD.
Yet despite all the fortunate encounters with these otherworldly creatures only once (so far) has one of them become a friend. Like, a real, proper friend. This person (who will be both horrified and elated to find himself the subject of a blog post) would no longer count himself as being particulary famous, but the truth is that he has one of those faces that makes people do double takes. Girls touch their necks and sweep their wispy hair bits behind their ears when they see him. Boys bowl straight over to say Hiya to him because they feel like they know him already. Yep, he’s a looker. He’s also excellent at what he does. He has a brain the size of a planet squashed in behind his pretty little face too, but not many people know or give credit to that, which is annoying.
But we’ll come back to that.
Now, although none of my friend’s great assets are lost on me – especially the clever brain bit – nor do any of them register on my personal sexy scale. This is possibly part of the reason why - during a seven hour drinking session many years ago throughout which various cast members of Hollyoaks and Coronation Street did karaoke in the background – we engaged in a conversation that (unbeknownst to us) was to take on such epic proportions that it gained the power to push us through the great invisible barrier from work colleagues to uber-pals. During the growing hours of that long Mancunian morning I was given access to my first genuinely unusual mind.
You see, you have to remember that (due to my armed forces lineage) I grew up all over the show emotionally, and all over the country geographically. I went to every kind of school (public/private/comprehensive) and felt both kindred and estranged from everyone I met. Also, a bit like an ‘Aldi’ Clare Balding, I grew up with animals as my friends (horses in particular) not people, but – unlike Clare – I was also socially awkward and a bit mixed up. I also lived in the sticks.
To me, famous people seemed the most exotic of all human creatures. I never saw any. EVER. Nobody did. This was BEFORE celebrity culture imploded and any old attention seeker was given carte blanche to claw their way onto mainstream TV. Before Big Brother and The Osbournes, before Google searches, and certainly before Twitter allowed you to ‘follow’ those who you really wanted to touch. To the young me famous people were mythical creatures who starred in the films that allowed me to escape my reality and I always wondered what it was (Warhol’s philosophy aside) that compelled them into positions of fame, notice or notoriety in the first place.
When I was a teenager I often wandered (whilst mucking out the stables) whether Madonna knew that she was different when she was a little girl or whether someone else – maybe in the smallest of ways – gave her a kind of permission – opened a door for her (figuratively speaking) – that allowed her to believe that her dreams were achievable and in doing so gave her the push/confidence/competence to fight for them. I can’t comment on Madonna as a person because although I have been within two feet of her (at Live8 and an MTV awards ceremony) I have never looked her in the eye. I was too scared. But she was an icon for me and I won’t stand for Madonna-bashing. So don’t even go there!… It’s just an example.
In fact I can’t say I have any great answers on this at all…I am simply musing because I saw my famous friend this weekend and it was great. I would also make the point that we cannot lump all ‘the famous’ into a pot together. Let me make it abundantly clear that I am not writing this post to put famous people (or my famous friend) up on a pedestal, or to posit them as being somehow better, or more worthy than us ‘ordinary’ folk.
I have met a number of famous people who are not only void of any discernable manners whatsoever but are also incorigable tosspots. In fact, maybe we should replace the word famous with the word talented for the rest of this post, because that’s what we’re really talking about here. Talent.
Because my ‘famous/talented’ friend is in possession of a truly brilliant mind, and over the years I have found that being around that mind makes my own better and broader. Properly talented people give off something. They do. It’s kind of an aura. It feels a bit like the warm sun on your face. Yet my famous friend is glowy and sweet and interesting to me not just because I know that he is capable of things that I am not, but also because I know that he was an EPIC DWEEB when he was at school. He is in possession of a social grace of which I will always be envious yet he still does moronic things around girls he thinks are pretty and frets that they don’t fancy him back when they clearly do. He can make barmaids fall in love before he’s even taken his coat off yet he struggles to control a self-destructive streak that would make Keith Richards blush. He’s fragile. And I hate it when he gets slagged off (in the papers or other wise) by people who don’t know him. But on that note I have come to realise that those who treat him that way do so because something about him seems to be like a mirror to them in which they see their own failings (or maybe feel the loss of their own dreams). It’s a strange thing to witness, but I have done so many times. It can’t be very nice for them, but the truth is that we all have demons, including him. I also worry about him when people try to convince him that he should be doing more ‘normal’ things…living a more ‘standard’ life…being more ‘ordinary’…like what he’s doing does not constitute a grown up life or something…
He does try sometimes, bless him, because they convince him that he’s somehow in the wrong. But it never works, and the truth is (again) that these people are not supporting his betterment in the slightest, instead they are trying to bring him down to their level so that they might feel a bit bigger themselves. I understand it I think, but I do NOT approve.
So, with all this in mind, here’s what I say…
Maybe you already have a famous friend?
Maybe you fancy acquiring one?*
*I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Or maybe – as is more likely – you know someone who is in possession of a genuine TALENT who is a little out of the ordinary and often at odds with the world because of it - because they don’t yet know what to do with it.
Maybe that person is you???
Well, even though my contribution to cultural society is microscopic, I can relate…
I know that when I finished mucking out those stables and went back to the caravan we used as the staffroom to fashion myself a cheese and bean toastie I had an inkling that my life was going to be a bit different and that it was likely to get a bit weird.
I was right on all counts and I couldn’t be happier. But that weird was only made possible, feasible, acceptable and not laughable because a handful of people made me believe not only that it was ok to want something that seemed extraordinary, but that to live in an extraordinary way – and by that I do NOT just mean to become famous in the bloody media! Jeeez! – was to be encouraged at ALL times!
So, to you my ‘famous’ friend I continue to send my encouragement and my love….
WRITE THAT BLOODY SCRIPT!!!
(& put my name in the credits or there will be trouble)
And to YOU blog friend I say stop for a moment and think of all the people in your orbit who might be in possession of an extraordinary talent and a little bit of crazy – even if that talent be only the ability to burp the alphabet whilst doing a headstand – and ENCOURAGE them!
Make them do it MORE, BETTER and OFTEN. Be the person to open that door for them…to give them permission…to set their crazy free…to help them realise their genius and support them while they produce something AMAZING.
You won’t regret it, you’ll get to ride the wave with them, and they might even take you to a few genuinely swanky members clubs… Just try not to stare…
Whatever happens, you won’t be bored and surely that’s what it’s all about!
Ok, gotta fly, new show starts tomorrow…
As to the rest, I’ll keep you posted…