Celebrity squares

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The Independent Culture
Do you have recurring dreams? I do. And the latest is definitely disturbing. I dream I've woken up in the middle of the night to find Jeremy Beadle in a clown's costume crawling under my bed. Then Bruce Forsyth slithers from the gap beneath the chest of drawers and grins that maniacal grin, the drawer above him opens and Noel Edmonds pops out, wearing one of my sweaters. I am poised to scream when, suddenly, wearing one of those painter's smocks and a Cavalier's floppy velvet hat, Keith Chegwin pops his head through the wall beside the top of the curtains and says "Guys, guys, you're doing it all wrong. You're supposed to go behind the wardrobe first, then under the duvet and then under the bed. " This is the point at which I wake up sweating. It's probably a good thing, because Dale Winton is bound to turn up one of these days.

That's the trouble with celebs. They just can't leave it alone. You try to pretend they don't exist, but they just keep pushing it. One of the points of London is that everyone can ignore celebs in the street. But you see, a lot of them have a problem with that.

Not all, of course. They were fine when I lived in popstar paradise on the King's Road. This was a great place to practise your vague other-direction stare: I got in lots of practice ignoring the Geldofs and their daughters Fluffy Bicycle-Bell, Yoghurt and Banana; treating Joanna Lumley with absolute indifference in the queue at Peter Jones; not falling over when Daniel Day-Lewis lolloped past the Duke of York's barracks. I liked celeb-spotting. But then, there are celebs and celebs.

You see, they come in two very distinct breeds: the ones who like London because they get ignored and the ones who get insulted by that very fact. Like Michael Barrymore: he's not content with cluttering up the airwaves with his peculiar brand of unhumour, now he's got to barge into gay clubs shouting "Look at me!" In fact, it's possible to become a celeb simply by doing exactly that, as long as you do it long enough and loud enough. It's called Cleo Rocos syndrome.

The thing is, also, that while celebs are still celebs, they generally hang around the celeb joints where the bridge-and-tunnellers pay a premium to see the rope fencing off the VIP lounge. And they stay away from the rest of us. But when stardom proves to be short-lived, they get really narky. I mean, one minute you've got hot-running page 3 girls, the next you're back in Chelmsford with nothing but some photos of yourself with a silly haircut. That's when things turn really tragic.

The problem for real people, of course, is that you can never tell where the demi-ex-celebs are going to turn up. Recently, I was in a pizza parlour when a former soap star came in. One who had thought, after a few years of whoring around Stringfellows, that he actually had the potential to be a sex god and had headed for a singularly undistinguished spell in America. In the land of short-legged, pig-eyed bigheads, he would have been a megastar; we all knew from the outset that in the land of Harrison Ford he stood no chance.

He marched into this basement with his lackeys and no one batted an eyelid. So they all filed out and came in again. Then he bumped against several tables, trying to catch people's eyes and saying "Sorry" in a pointed way. He had a friend who was built like a Boeing 747 who kept trying that too, until he bashed his fat backside into the fork I'd placed strategically under my elbow the second time I lost my wine glass. Then they all took turns to go into the loo with a bucktoothed blonde. Can't think what they were up to in there. The Londoners, bless 'em, did nothing all evening except occasionally employ the W-word. Eventually, his friends were reduced to shouting, "Oi, John! John!" in a last-ditch effort to get some attention. See what I mean? Tragic.

I think, though, that the reason they've started invading my dreams is simply that it's been summer and there are more of them in London in the summer. In the winter, it's most likely to be a Tory MP who jumps your queue; but in the summer they are all in Chiantishire enjoying the fruits of their directorships and it's much more likely to be Alvin Stardust or Kevin Costner who nicks your taxi. No, look, that's not true: Kevin Costner has never nicked my taxi. He probably got one look at my face and thought better of it.

But they've been everywhere lately, queueing to get their photo taken with Kylie Minogue, getting turned away from Harrods for wearing crap clothes, gawping behind really famous people at premieres. The other day we were in an Italian restaurant in Docklands at the table next to the tragedy that was Bros. Well, Sarah said that the other one was there, too, but the only one I recognised was the one who has lately sprouted some bum-fluff on his chin, because he's always getting his picture taken with Kylie.

Anyway, the boy (sorry: man-yes-I-am) and his coterie tried all night to get noticed. Well, they must have been because they were wearing silly hats and talking in loud voices: "Do you remember the time that guy asked for your autograph and you said..." It didn't work because it never does. In the end, they got hysterical and, when Sarah went over to borrow their salt and pepper, face fungus grabbed the pots and waved them at her. "You see that?" he said. "That's a famous singing group, that is." She took them, deadpan: "Still charting, are they?"

That's the trouble with celebs. They never know when they're setting themselves up. And I'll just give you one warning, Chegwin: if you are ever, ever tempted to show your cheery face from behind my woodchip again, I'll be waiting with my dream baseball bat