Clive laughed, and suddenly I was sixteen again

Monique Roffey explains why she won't be talking back to any more stars
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Indy Lifestyle Online
The other day I met Clive Anderson. It was in the infamous green room at LWT after the live filming of one of his Clive Anderson Talks Back programmes. A friend had interviewed him and had tickets for the show. "Billy Crystal's on - we may get to chat to him," she said. Being a huge Billy Crystal fan, I was sold. Sadly, Billy didn't show up later in the green room. There was just John Cole, the political commentator, and Clive. Clive, a balding middle-aged barrister, was being mobbed by women, all journalists - one of them me.

He seemed to be loving it. The show had gone well and he was basking in the afterglow. In the flesh, Clive is animated and very spritely compared with his nervous, wooden, biro-fidgeting television self. He chatted to us for about 10 minutes. He was, as you'd expect, sharp, lively, bright and funny. He was also relaxed, unguarded, unaffected and friendly. The combination was charming. When he then laughed at something I said, I was smitten. A momentary spark of banter had made me think: hey, he likes me.

The fact that Clive is a happily married complete stranger with children didn't seem to have any bearing whatsoever. For the next 24 hours, I was thrown into a state of adolescent swoon. His fame had dissolved my intelligence and rendered reality irrelevant. "He liked me," I kept telling my friends. "He really liked me." "Yeah, Mon," they all goaded. "Maybe he's thinking of you right now." Sad.

Poor famous people. No wonder they keep to themselves. No wonder they stick with their own kind, other members of the Famous Club. We presume they're stuck up, that they've had their ego fanned and inflated by their fame. We think they think they're too good to talk to us. But they might be right. When they do, we go weak at the knees. As in my case, with Clive, we let ourselves down.

Fame is dazzling and seductive and makes even the plain and nerdy desirable. Think Jarvis Cocker, of Pulp, or Woody Allen. The truly beautiful and glamorous are overwhelming to the average person. Stories abound of Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger sitting alone at big parties, and are easily believable. Because we all know that if we saw either of them sitting alone at a party, none of us would be brave enough to strike up a chat.

There are some who aren't intimidated by fame and they're the famous person's worst nightmare. My friend Rob, a barfly and habitue of both the hippest and dingiest watering holes in town, is one of these people. He collects famous people stories. The minute he recognises someone in public he's in there. Shaking hands, introducing himself, sharing a fag, having a drink or a chat. No one floors him. Al Pacino? No. Johnny Depp? Nope. Midge Ure? Hardly. He's sprung on them all. Occasionally, it hasn't worked. Once Nick Cave was standing at the bar in the Mas Cafe in Notting Hill. Rob presented himself with a smile and a handshake, giving it all the usual male-bonding chat. But after a couple of minutes something dawned on him. "I could just see," says Rob, "that he was thinking `GO AWAY, GO AWAY'."

And then there's the problem, for some famous people, of being a Sex God. Imagine what it must be like to be famous because the world wants to have sex with you. Scary.

I stumbled across the Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher once. I must have been the only person on earth who didn't know who he was. He was standing alone at a party and, mistaking him for a friend, I grabbed him by the wrist and said "Hi!" For a split second we both looked into each other's eyes, mine registering my mistake, his absolute horror. He obviously thought he was about to be jumped by a groupie. "Sorry, wrong person," I managed. But he didn't seem convinced, and fled.

But while it must be scary to be pursued by doting admirers, the ultimate nightmare for your average superstar is probably not being pursued. A friend of mine who lives opposite Damon Albarn in Notting Hill Gate says she often sees him wandering the streets of W11, walking with his head down, avoiding eye contact. "But the truth, is," she says, "no one is staring at him, or cares who he is." But then W11 is full of hip, rich people, the children of the famous. But that's a different story.

Meanwhile, I won't ignore, but I certainly will avoid, the famous. I won't inflict my bug-eyed fangirl self on any more mature, talented men. I'm going to burn my Take That T-shirt and rip my Michael Madsen poster off the wall. No more heart throbs. For now, anyway.