The Olympics minister, Hugh Robertson, got angry with London 2012 security operatives on Wednesday. He tried to get into the Games' Media Centre without his security pass and the doormen refused to admit him. Mr Robertson, whose face is more E-list than A, was annoyed, affronted even, not to be recognised. And so he demanded: "Do you know who I am?"
It is a question used only by two sorts of people: amnesiacs, and the preposterously self-important – the latter lacking the valid, clinical excuse of the former. And it is a question, too, that has a rich anecdotal history:
* Peter Cook was being shown round the Playboy Club in Chicago. At that moment, a group of businessmen arrived and tried to jump the queue for a lunch booking. A bunny told them they would have to wait, whereupon the group's boss exploded: "Do you know who I am?" he asked. On hearing this, Cook seized the PA microphone and announced: "We have a problem here in the front lobby which perhaps someone can help us with. We have a gentleman here who doesn't seem to know who he is. If anyone recognises this man, will they please come down to reception and help us."
* When a certain Massachusetts governor was running for re-election in the mid-1950s, he went campaigning at a church barbecue. Starving hungry, he was disappointed to have only one piece of chicken placed on his plate, so he asked for another. He was then told by the woman doling them out that it was a single piece of chicken for everyone. "Do you know who I am?" he asked. "I'm the governor of this state." "Yes," came the reply, "and I'm the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister."
* Then – and this is almost certainly an urban legend – there's the celebrity guest visiting a nursing home for the elderly. Not having been recognised after a while, he gently asked one old lady: "Do you know who I am?" To which she replied: "Don't worry. The nurse can tell you who you are."
* Finally, to the tale of Gary Cooper forgetting his pass to the film studio and being refused entry by a security guard (clearly not much of a cinema-goer). Cooper simply walked over to the security office, got a temporary pass, and duly gained admittance. The action of the really big man.Reuse content