Going to airports is always weird for me if I'm not actually off anywhere. It's like an alcoholic just hanging around in a pub watching other people drink. I had to visit my least favourite terminal in the world, Heathrow Terminal 3, the other night to pick up my mother-in law, over from Toronto. Because of my broken foot, I couldn't stand up for too long, so I found a seat between two other people who seemed to be eagerly awaiting the arrival of their respective loved ones.
I sat and read for a while, trying to ignore the endless "public safety" announcements: "If you leave your bag unattended it will be destroyed... If you leave your car unattended it will be destroyed... If you leave your grandmother unattended she will be destroyed..."
It really gets to you after a while, this endless talk of destruction. And yet, if I so much as whisper the word "bomb", even if I'm talking about the latest West End musical, I'm whisked off to Guantanamo.
I watched three men with long beards and shades sit down near me to wait for someone. Everybody around me tried to appear relaxed, but you could sense that everyone had clocked them and was wondering why they were wearing shades.
I expected another announcement: "Any men of Middle Eastern appearance sporting sunglasses must immediately remove said eyewear or you will be destroyed."
I could see the people sitting next to me looking at the men and then at me, with my dark hair and brown eyes. Maybe I was an accomplice, the lookout man for the sunglassed trio? A woman shuffled past in a chador and the man behind the counter at Costa Coffee looked very uneasy.
Eventually, my mother-in-law came through and we headed for the car park. As I waited for my driver to pay his ticket, I suddenly found myself standing next to Jeremy Kyle. He looked tired having just got off a flight from New York, but in the awkward way that being "on the telly" seems to dictate, we had a stilted, stranger conversation. I introduced my mother-in-law to Jeremy Kyle – not normally the first Englishman I'd expect or want her to meet on her visit here. But he was very pleasant and didn't ask for a DNA sample to see whether she really was my mother-in-law.
As our conversation trickled on, Bruce Grobbelaar, the famous old Liverpool goalkeeper, wandered past trundling his luggage behind him. He noticed Jeremy Kyle and me, and gave us a little nod. This was turning into some weird pastiche version of Stella Street.
Our respective cars pulled up. Kyle's was a huge, heavy-duty black limo. Mine was a minicab from Swindon. I realised that I was in the wrong game. On the drive back home I tweeted about my new friend, Jeremy Kyle. To say that the general impression of him was not favourable would be a huge under-statement. It must be very difficult being him – large, lovely limo or not.
I checked my tweets. Both the people I had been sitting between in the terminal had tweeted that they were sitting next to Dom Joly. One announced that I was hobbling and had a broken foot while the other wished me a speedy recovery. Neither mentioned the sunglasses gang. It was all a bit weird.
In the same way that I can use this column to witter on about my passing meeting with Jeremy Kyle, everyone can now twitter on about sitting next to very minor celebs.
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