Missing a date with a friend is never advisable, but the potential for mortification is much worse when the person you’ve stood up happens to be Al Pacino.
Stephen Fry – whose friendship circle naturally spans the Godfather actor – was due to meet Pacino for a casual Sunday afternoon tea last week when he thought he’d have a quick nap.
"I made a complete spectacular idiot of myself last weekend – I worked all Sunday on a Radio 4 programme and I thought I’ll have a nap," he told BBC Breakfast.
"And the nap just grew and grew. And I work up rather groggily to see that I’d missed tea with Al Pacino. And I thought, 'That is ridiculous. You don’t fall asleep knowing you’re going to have tea with Al Pacino and then just blow him out.'"
He might have an on-screen persona who "can command men to kill", but Pacino handled the situation like a gentleman, while Fry fobbed him off by telling him he had a "sleep problem".
"There was a huge spate of emails from my PA and his people," said Fry. "They were very concerned, 'Are you ok Mr Fry? Is everything alright? Al hopes there’s no problem?' I just grovelled back, saying, 'I don’t know, it’s terrible, I had a sleep problem.'"
Stephen Fry launches the third instalment of his memoirs, More Fool Me, today (25 September), in which he addresses his former battle with cocaine addiction.
"The only point of writing an autobiography, or so at least it seems to me, is to be honest," he told The Sunday Times.
"And in this book I have been utterly candid about a period of my life in which I spent an enormous amount of time and money on cocaine powder.
"I know how stupid that is, but I also know better people than me have found themselves on the same path."