The last thing we celebrity stalkers need is to be invited in for a drink

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The Independent Online

I would make an exceptional paparazzo. I have an innate ability to spot a celebrity out of a fast-moving car, whether they be A or Z list. I'm good. I once spotted Rachel Hunter from behind at 150 yards. It was a busy midday in the West End and she was looking at some photos on a board outside Stringfellows. No doubt she was checking to see that Rod hadn't been paying any recent visits.

I would make an exceptional paparazzo. I have an innate ability to spot a celebrity out of a fast-moving car, whether they be A or Z list. I'm good. I once spotted Rachel Hunter from behind at 150 yards. It was a busy midday in the West End and she was looking at some photos on a board outside Stringfellows. No doubt she was checking to see that Rod hadn't been paying any recent visits.

Growing up in Lebanon was a pretty celebrity-starved existence unless you can count international terrorists. I remember getting very excited when I found out that Stewart Copeland, the drummer from the Police, had been born in Lebanon. It gave me hope, made me feel that maybe even someone living in this Levantine backwater could trip the light fantastic.

My first star-spotting experience was in the parks in Oxford where I was sentenced to 10 years' boarding school. I used to hang around the cricket ground and get autographs off visiting county cricketers. My first autograph was Ian Botham's. For some reason he was with Geoff Boycott despite them playing for different counties. I remember being faced with the choice of getting one or the other as they headed for the pavilion. It was no contest really, but I did name my first dog Boycott to make up for the slight.

Once I moved to Notting Hill Gate things went into overdrive. I used to follow Chris Evans around Tesco Metro wondering what he'd put in his trolley (a lot of carrots). I frequented a gym where the most motley of celeb crews used to flex their muscles. I would pedal slowly on my stationary bike, fascinated by the stand-off between Paxman and Mandelson on the chest press. Occasionally an instructor would tip me off about a more obscure personality such as Helen Fielding or Patrick Cox. You knew the name but couldn't put a face to them. I logged them all, and started to amass a load of weird, useless information about them from eavesdropping, detective work and writing threatening anonymous letters (sorry, the last one wasn't me it was Mark Chapman. I get confused sometimes with the voices in my head).

A friend of mine had met a new girlfriend in Newfoundland of all places and had brought her over to London. She was 25 and had never left her home town. It was something of a culture shock. I was assigned to look after her on her first day out. She was a tinge gothic and I managed to spot Nick Cave leaning moodily against a wall in Portobello within the first five minutes. This was quickly followed by a less impressive spot of Wendy James, then Jason Donovan. She was blown away and became all Dick Whittingtonesque assuming that the streets of the capital were paved with celebrity skin. I don't think she ever appreciated that she was in the hands of an expert.

I'm telling you all this because I always used to think that I was incredibly subtle in my stalking activities. When I got on to the telly and people started gawping at me I realised how obvious I had been. I would always spot the person miming the big mobile to a mate or pretending to look at a magazine a bit too intently. Maybe I wasn't that bad, I persuaded myself? Then came the awful truth. I was out drinking the other night and, as you do, ended up in Mick Jones from the Clash's house. I mumbled hello and tried to look cool but he just looked at me and said, "Dom Joly, didn't you follow me once all the way up the Portobello Road and into a bookshop?" It was a fair cop. I admitted that yes, in the past I had watched him peruse a rack of second-hand books in Oxfam for quite a while. There was a terrible silence. I tried to make it into a bit of a joke but it was not good. I've got to be more careful. If Schiffer finds the hide on the roof opposite her bathroom I'm done for.

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