Fame famished

Ray D’Arcy was in the playground. I glanced at him, looked away quickly, then casually glanced over a few minutes later. It was definitely him. Was Jenny there too? Yes! There she was! I had a sudden urge to walk over to the two of them and say hello. I mean, I know them right? Listening to people on the radio for three entire maternity leaves can do that to you. I could tell them that I was the person who three years ago sent in the question on how to deal with foxes living in your garden – maybe they’d remember that (of course not). Or I could tell Ray that I met him twenty-something years ago when I was on Blackboard Jungle and he was the presenter. Or I could just tell them that they got me through some very lonely days on my first maternity leave, and thank them.

Of course, I was never really going to go over and say any of that – instead, I played it cool, glancing over every now and then but otherwise pretending I hadn’t seen them.

I took out my phone. “Do not tell me you’re going to tweet about seeing Ray and Jenny,” my husband said. “Of course I’m not!” I replied indignantly, “I’m just checking the weather!” I put away my phone again. And continued to act normal. As you do. I glanced over discretely one final time, and wondered what it’s like to walk into a playground and know that at least a few people will know who you are. Would it be on your mind? Or since it’s an everyday experience, perhaps not at all?

I find fame fascinating. Not in a desperately wanting to know what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast way, but in a wondering what it’s like to know that everybody knows you kind of way. If I had the chance to go for pints with Angelina or Julia or Drew, that’s something I’d like to ask them. When you walk down the street with your family, are you conscious that people know you? When you bring your kids to a restaurant, are you aware that you’re causing a stir? As you order your non-fat Chai-tea in Starbucks, do you feel the eyes of other customers on your back? Or is it so second nature now that it doesn’t even register?

Office Mum post: Julia, Angelina, Drew
images: Wikipedia.FR and CommonsWikimedia.com

My daughter wants to be famous and I can’t figure out why. She’s six. And she has never seen a copy of OK Magazine nor watched X-Factor nor met a famous person. She just about knows who One Direction are, but doesn’t quite get it, saying she doesn’t have a favourite “character”

Yet for some reason, she thinks being famous sounds “Amazing!”. I asked her why, and she said “because everybody would know you and think you were great”. I don’t know where this comes from, but maybe there’s an in-built desire for positive attention in all of us, and for some, fame seems like it might seal the deal.

There are kids everywhere who want to play Premiership football or audition for The Voice or become super-models. And some of this obviously comes from exposure to TV and magazines and billboards and conversations. But some of it must be innate – a desire to do something extraordinary and be recognised – even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.

But apart from asking Angelina or Julia or Drew what it’s like to be famous, I’d mostly be star-struck during our hypothetical pints. I once sat next to Gay Byrne in the Gaiety, and when he said “Hello”, I croaked out an unintelligible response and then sat there frozen, with “I’m sitting next to Gay Byrne!” going round and round in my head. I am so not cool when it comes to this sort of thing. Later that evening, Ian Dempsey’s wife spoke to me in the bathroom, and I still remember that fact fifteen years later – see what I mean?

Actually, I’d make a terrible celebrity now that I think about it – I’d spend my time over-thinking it. In real-life, well-known people probably don’t think about it at all. Until they look across a playground and see a woman taking out her phone, and her husband gently telling her to put it away.

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18 thoughts on “Fame famished”

  1. So glad its not just me. Stood at a traffic lights with Sonia O Sullivan a few weeks ago and talked myself out of saying hi! I don’t think I could deal with the pressure of it; having to look absolutely perfect out first thing in the morning with kid in tow for fear of someone tweeting that they’d seen me and I was a wreck!
    Lisa recently posted…TwentyThreeMy Profile

    1. Oh I’m glad I’m not the only one Lisa – I can totally relate to your Sonia O’Sullivan situation!
      I sat next to Mario Rosenstock from Gift Grub in my local cafe recently and had to similarly hold myself back. And that’s kind of what I wonder about – are Sonia and Mario and Ray thinking “yep, that woman beside me has recognised me and is desperately battling with herself about saying hi” 🙂

  2. Ha ha!Id be like you I think-trying to play it all cool but secretly bricking it!I don’t know how to handle celebrities.We know so much about them yet they are total strangers.Ray and Jenny gave me much solace and entertainment on my maternity and carers leaves.I miss them!
    Aedín recently posted…Mini meaningsMy Profile

    1. Yep. It’s such a one-sided relationship but we’re mostly oblivious. Which is nice. We can just pretend we’re all friends. Sure I remember you on Ray’s show from back before I knew you!

  3. My husband still regrets the day he didn’t go over to say hi to Woody Harrelson when we spotted him having a pint outside Naughtons in Galway. I knew as soon as I saw himself look over at Woody that he was nodding hello and thinking “how do I know that guy?” Thankfully he waited until we turned a corner before asking me, he reckons he would have been totally on for a chat but I think “maybe” he was just nodding back thinking… yup there’s another one! 🙂

    Lovely post!
    Naomi Lavelle recently posted…MomentsMy Profile

    1. Oh I love that – I love that you guessed what he was thinking but didn’t say it till you were a safe distance away. I’m thinking you should watch True Detective for sure 🙂

  4. Celebrity in Ireland and in France are so different. Ireland is so small that you’re bound to bump into someone famous at some point, or know someone who knows a celebrity. I think Irish people in general don’t pay too much attention to famous people. And also, they are a bit like you, they don’t want to bother them. Irish celebs have an easier public life than their American or British counterparts I think.

    My husband met this guy in a pub in Malahide once. The guy asked him where he came from and when my husband said Mauritius, the guy said it was a beautiful country, that he’d never been there and he would love to go some day. So what did my husband say? ” If you decide to come one day, let me know. I’ll arrange something for you, you won’t have to pay for hotel or anything. You know it’s so expensive over there” etc etc. The guy replied it was very nice of him and the conversation ended there. When he went back to his table, all the friends had their eyes and mouth wide open. My husband didn’t have a clue what was going on. And then they told him he just had a conversation with Bono!!
    So yes, my husband invited the biggest rock star on the planet to do some couchsurfing in Mauritius 🙂
    Nearly Irish recently posted…RootsMy Profile

    1. Oh that’s such a brilliant story!
      I absolutely agree about the size of Ireland – it’s something that fascinates me. I find watching the Late Late Show each week (yes, I know…), there’s always either someone we know in the audience or being interviewed or winning the prize. And every Irish person has met famous people – it’s part of what keeps us here I reckon 😉

  5. I remember reading an interview with Nick Cave after he spent some time in Cork. Responding to a question on how he found living there, Cave said Ireland was a great place for people constantly coming up to him to assure him it was place he would left alone in peace.

    Has anyone noticed Aidan Gillen is everywhere these days? Nip down to your local Spar and I bet he’ll be agonising over the muffins at bakery. Trust me.
    MO’D recently posted…Five reasons why winter is better than summerMy Profile

    1. Yes, I do think our reputation of being brilliantly casual around celebrities is probably greater than our actual ability to be brilliantly casual around celebrities. I’m a big fan of Aidan Gillen since The Wire
      *runs to Spar, even though it’s after midnight and much wine has been consumed*

  6. I saw Ray D’Arcy crossing the road in Donnybrook one day. V. exciting, it was. But I played it cool, of course.

    I once said hi to someone because I knew their face, and only afterwards remembered they were famous and didn’t know me from Adam and was mortified in retrospect. It probably happens to them all the time. I’m racking my brains to remember who it was, but I don’t know. So many famous people in Dublin.

    I don’t see any famous people out here in the wilds of Maryland, so I have to dine out on tales of people I know who know Bono and that sort of thing.
    Maud recently posted…Dance nowMy Profile

    1. I’m starting to wonder now if poor Ray is perplexed at the number of peple who see him crossing roads and in playgrounds, and ignore him completely…
      You will have to come home for a visit soon and get your fix of famous people. I just thought of another one – I was on my lunch one day at work and saw Michael D Higgins going into the Abbey Theatre. I love that about Ireland – there aren’t many countries in whcih you can bump into the president on your lunchbreak

  7. I am not overly star struck by anyone but my OH would have no problems going up and completely annoying the life out of them.
    I remember hearing Gabriel Byrne of the Late Late talking about this. He was speaking about coming to Ireland after some award he got. He was pleased with himself and had been on the Late late the night before. He was walking down O Connell Street and a man came up to him and shook his hand. Then he said, ‘That last film you did was brutal’, and walked off. He said that’s why he loves coming to Ireland.
    I don’t think I’d cut it in the celebratory world as I can’t cope with photographs.
    tric recently posted…I’ve been made redundant!My Profile

    1. It’s not surprising Anna – our celebs tend to look very normal, just as weathered as the rest of us, and nowhere near anything that looks like an entourage!

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