From the limelight down to limbo

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The Independent Online

Where are they now? That is the cry that goes up from time to time, when we suddenly remember people who used to be famous, and are now forgotten.

Where are they now? That is the cry that goes up from time to time, when we suddenly remember people who used to be famous, and are now forgotten.

People who were once always in the news or on telly, and who now are halfway between the headline and the obituary - yes, where are they now? Let's find out.

Ron Atkinson

Ron Atkinson was once the gruff, avuncular, no-nonsense TV football pundit par excellence, the Bernard Ingham of the round ball and oval screen. Then he said a naughty thing, when the mikes were still on, and he vanished. Ron said he was very sorry, but it was too late. He had committed the ultimate sin; speaking in public the way people like to do in private. Now he is a Buddhist monk in a small monastery in Burma, shaven-headed and repentant, taking his turn to beg in the streets and spending hours a day fasting and praying. But he will be back. They always are. Meanwhile, he doesn't think much of Rangoon United's back four.

Bernard Ingham

Bernard Ingham has gone into mourning for the departure of Alastair Campbell. While Campbell was in power, Ingham made his living out of people coming to him to get his comments on the new spin doctor generation. But now, no Campbell, no Ingham. What Ingham would like these days is to be consulted on the present crop of spin doctors at 10 Downing Street. But there aren't any. Or if there are, they aren't letting on. Ingham finds this very interesting. But nobody else does. Meanwhile, Ingham is learning to knit.

Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi was on the verge of becoming the only leader of India whose name anyone could remember, and then she gave it all up in favour of - well, can anyone remember who did become the Indian Prime Minister? No? Well, then. Experts now think that Sonia Gandhi's strange behaviour on seizing power was entirely due to her Italian background. It is exactly what Signor Trapattoni, the Italy football manager, would have done. Get a victory, sit back fearfully on your lead and then let others score. Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi is selling her story to Ciao! magazine.

Iain Duncan Smith

IDS is reading Bill Clinton's memoirs and gnashing his teeth with boredom.

David Blaine

David Blaine gets up every morning and enters a small box, to which a motor is attached. He drives this box, in conditions of some discomfort and great boredom, to the centre of the city, which takes the best part of two hours. Leaving the box for a brief period of work and eating, he then returns to his cramped quarters and drives the motorised box in incredible discomfort for another hour or two back to his home - no, as you were! Sorry! That's the average London commuter we're describing there! Sorry! We have no idea what David Blaine is doing. He just seems to have, well, vanished. And nobody could see how he did it.

Somebody called Howard

Remember how there was a guy called Howard who was always going to be the Democrat front-runner against Bush? And then suddenly Howard was nowhere, and this guy called John Kerry came from behind to be the front-runner? And this guy called Howard went so far behind that now no one can remember his first name, and pretends he never even happened? So, where is he now? Way behind, that's where he is. Waiting for John Kerry to come and keep him company.

Cliff Richard

Cliff Richard is in a small room under the Centre Court at Wimbledon, hoping it will rain so that he can come out and sing. We think Tony Blackburn is now down there with him.