I've never understood why people scream when they see famous people. If someone screamed at me, unless they were obviously under attack or in pain, I'd most likely run away. The celeb-spotter's shriek is repellent rather than a siren call, but it does, at least it, separate the rational fan from the manifestly unstable.
It occurred to me this week at the premiere of Madonna's new "project" W.E., a film about Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, two early stars who spent their time being chased around the world.
The fact that the film had already had a premiere at the BFI London Film Festival two months ago didn't stop producers rolling out the red carpet once more. They knew people would be interested. Even in the modern era of easy fame and fast-rising celebrities, Madonna is head and shoulders above almost everyone, having practically invented the modern way for stars to behave. Even people who are not normally interested in pop music or celebrity want to know what she's like.
Her presence on Wednesday meant fans arrived in their hundreds, penned behind metal barriers, for the chance to glimpse the superstar. But it wasn't today's Beatlemania-type teenage fans, with less perspective but loads of time on their hands. Rather, it was a surprising assortment of people, many of whom you would think would be far too old for that sort of behaviour. And by that, I mean screaming.
"Aaarrrggghhh! Madonna!" they shouted, as if only she could save them from life's malaises. "I love you so much! Aaarrrggghhh! You are my hero, Madonna! Aaarrrggghhh!" One pregnant woman had apparently spent 12 hours in decreasing temperatures waiting for her heroine.
When Madonna eventually showed up to speak to the press, she looked as though she wanted to get away as soon as possible. And yet, the hack-pack only seemed to love her more.
It was the sort of performance that from almost anyone else would have left them disgruntled, but because it was Madonna ,they lapped it up. They were happy even when initially told they only had one question, and when she spoke they laughed at the faintest hint of a joke. Despite the fact she said very little, they were all fixed grins when she deigned to walk away.
In fact, if they had broken down and screamed their adoration, I wouldn't have been in the least bit surprised.