There’s an old saying about meeting your heroes isn’t there? What was it again? Oh yeah: NEVER DO IT.
However, just like those other sayings about running with scissors or whatever, you just can’t help yourself (presumably something needs cutting quickly). After all, they’re your heroes, of course you want to meet them, because you see the world as they do, and you just might end up becoming best friends and you can be the funny sidekick at all the parties they go to every single night.
And, a lot of the time, they’re lovely people, backing up all the reasons why you liked them in the first place and you exchange a word or two, you sincerely explain why they and their work means so much to you, and they sincerely thank you, and you can go away safe in the knowledge that they’re one of the good guys and they thought you were cool too.
But often it all goes wrong.
It might be their fault - in a bad mood, or just, it turns out, not a very nice person. Or it might be yours: panicking at the pressure of trying to say that witty and intelligent introductory line you’ve rehearsed over and over in your head and saying something very stupid instead.
And it’s the ones that go wrong that you really want to hear about isn’t it?
I spread the net far and wide, and here are some absolute beauties of times when people have met their heroes and it’s all gone terribly, hilariously wrong. And if you learn one thing from today, it’s that it turns out that celebrities are really keen to tell people who like them to fuck off.
Lucy: “When my brother was about six he came across Keith Harris (of Orville the Duck fame) in a shop in Scarborough, while assumedly Keith was milking the lucrative summer seaside tour. Obviously beside himself that a friendly face from children’s telly was actually in his home town, he ran up to him shouting, “Keith and Orville! Keith and Orville!” Keith’s reaction? “Piss off, kid.” He cried.”
Jonny: [On Duncan Ferguson] I met him once and wanted to tell him that I really enjoyed his goals against Manchester United when he was at Newcastle. But I panicked and just said, “I liked your… goals…”
Mark: “Former Peterborough and Birmingham manager Barry Fry told me and a mate to fuck off when we asked for his autograph. You don’t come back from that. Totally uncalled for.”
Alex: “Years and years ago I was at a gig in Camden and we decided to leave a bit early to get some food. As we were waiting to cross the road, three people appeared at the other side of the crossing. These three people were Cliff Richard, Cilla Black and Gloria Hunniford. We understandably lost our shit and ran across the road to accost them. I was initially chatting to Cliff, then somehow it ended up just being me and Gloria. Anyway, she’d recently lost her daughter and I’d been reading her very moving account of it and what I intended to say was “I’m so sorry for your loss”. What actually happened was me grabbing both of her hands, looking into her eyes and saying “Gloria, I miss Caron, too”. Focus on the “too” and it sounds very much like an attempt to suggest I have just as much reason to miss Caron Keating as her own mother does. Cue stunned silence from both of us for what felt like an hour until eventually, (and bless her for this!!!) She said, “Oh. That’s kind” and turned on her heel to leave me with my shame.”
Darren: “Teddy Sheringham in awful Essex nightclub. “Teddy, can I shake…” He interrupts sharply: “Fuck off mate”. I then spot two tall, scantily-clad blondes he’s with. He did say “mate” though.”
Moya: “I interviewed Ellen DeGeneres once and expected her to treat me like I was a guest on the Ellen show, but she was extremely serious and hardly smiled. A raincloud rather than a sun. It was sad.”
Tom: “I leant across the down escalators at Lakeside to shout “WILL YOU START THE FANS PLEASE” at Richard O’Brien and he leant back and just said “fuck off”.”
Dan: “At the driving range in Brentwood. Stood about four feet from Steve Davis, I pointed and said “It’s Steve Davis look”. He looked up and said “Yes.” I just walked off. I didn’t think my “It’s Steve Davis look” would be as loud as it was. I had nothing to say.”
Danny: “Lillywhites in Piccadilly, circa 1994. A rare family trip into the city on Sunday (my dad worked there and avoided it on weekends) and into the amazing Lillywhites, a massive store of sports gear and cricket clothing. And my dad surprised my brother and I as England legend Mike Gatting was there - and you could bowl at him in the nets! It was a cost per ball, my dad got us both a whole over.
“My brother went first, a few solid leg spins, one actually making it through the Gatt defence. Now I was up, my chance to impress an England great and surely be plucked from obscurity and directly into the England Youth setup. I was incredibly nervous, mainly because I was an average batsman and more importantly, a terrible medium paced bowler. Mike did nothing to help, standing at the crease at other end without a word or acknowledgement, obscuring all stumps with his, er, barrel-like figure. First ball hit the floor hard and rolled slowly to his feet where he gently nudged it back in my direction. From the side, a geeky smirk came from his bespectacled son who seemed around the same age as me. Second ball went up into the top netting and bounced down, not even making it to halfway down the strip. A louder laugh and “oh come on!” from Gatting Jnr. I was really red and embarrassed, fully aware that there were at least 50 people behind me in the queue and I was publicly failing and being humiliated in front of my family.
“Third ball went over the nets and got stuck. Gatting Jnr cackled loudly and told me how rubbish I was. Mike politely laboured up and tried to knock the ball down with his bat, failing until the third or fourth attempt. I was honestly close to tears. Knowing there were still three balls to go, I asked my dad if we could leave and yes, of course we could. An assistant showed me the way out and handed me a poster of big Mike with his printed signature, which I’ve just remembered went up on the wall above my bed and stayed there for at least two years, a testament to my awful cricketing ability. To this day, my dad still tells me that I should have taken Gatting Jnr’s glasses off his face and then punched him.”
@various_jams: “Met Ruud Gullit, he looked me up and down and shook his head.”
Dave: “Ian Brown was an absolute hero of mine growing up. I was too young to see him in the Stone Roses but I loved his solo stuff too and went to every show he did in London which was always a joyous experience. On the Music of the Spheres tour in 2002 I booked to see him at two shows, in Norwich and, two days later, in Cambridge. Anyway, I’m with my mate who’s studying at UEA in Norwich and we’re getting the beers in before the show. Suddenly, we can hear the faint but unmistakable sound of an Ian Brown track from above us - turns out the venue is directly above us and he’s soundchecking. We pop upstairs to see if we can get a sneaky peak and walk straight in where Ian’s sitting next to a snooker table. Realising this is my chance, we pluck up the courage to go and speak to him, and he’s an absolute gent - we’re chatting away about his bandmates and football, as the results come in on a screen near us. We bid him farewell, he thinks we’re cool, the show is amazing: job done.
“Two days later, again the show is absolutely brilliant (“yeah, there’s my mate Ian up on the stage, yeah we get on great guns”) and we pile out into the streets and decide to carry the night on in the local indie club. We’re busy on the dancefloor when we notice people coming in and going into the VIP area - it’s only Ian Brown and his band! We head on over, absolutely smashed and repeatedly offer to buy his guitarist Aziz a drink (he’s a Muslim and repeatedly, nicely, tells us he doesn’t drink) and try to talk to him about bus routes in Stockport. Eventually, Ian comes over, I can’t speak any more than to just blurt out “alright Ian remember me from Saturday in Norwich yeah I LOVE YOU AND YOU’RE BRILLIANT.”
“Obviously this is the sort of pointless comment to which there is no response and you can see the annoyance in his eyes which are just saying ‘oh God another drunken idiot’. He mumbles ‘cheers’ and walks off. Me and Browny: mates for two days. Then not mates any more because I ruined it.”
Kov: “My mate’s hero is Bill Oddie. I once asked him to sign a photo for him. He said no.”
@blindstagger: “Dave from Chas & Dave swore at me when I met them. I guess that’s more a badge of honour though, isn’t it?”
Dave: The day before the final gig that my band of eight years would play, I was walking up Carnaby Street and what must have been close to 100 metres ahead I saw the unmistakable figure of Bobby Gillespie slowly snaking down in my direction. I froze momentarily; I always carried band demo CDs with me, just in case of a chance encounter with Mr Big of Big Records, or for if a genuine rock ’n’ roll hero of my youth happened to be around. This was different, being the day before the big final gig, I only had one demo CD left in my bag. How incredible, I thought, that Bobby G would be the last ever recipient after my years of toil and free CD giveaways. I knew it would go nowhere, but the mere knowledge that Bobby had it in his possession would be enough. He could, as I’m sure many have, binned it 5 minutes later, or used it as a coaster, I really didn’t care.
“I stopped in the street, pulled my rock ’n’ roll man bag (definitely not a satchel) off my shoulder, reached in and found the CD. I glanced up and saw Bobby was getting closer. I resealed my bag and as he came within hearing distance I started my internally rehearsed line. “I’m really sorry to stop you…” but I didn’t actually even get that far. As soon as he’d seen me and we momentary made eye contact, he made a 90-degree turn and speed walked into the nearest overpriced Carnaby Street shop. It wasn’t even one of the trendy ones, it was an American Apparel or something similar. I was in shock and stood with a half outstretched arm still holding the CD. It was only 30 seconds, but felt like forever. Suddenly a work colleague snapped me out of it. “Alright mate, what are you doing?” I told him the full story, which as you can tell, still haunts me to this day. Snubbed in such an extreme way by that untalented Scottish git, Gillespie.”
@hepimp: “Met Michelle McManus at the end of a night out and offered to buy her a fish supper, but she declined.”
Ed: “I met Jimmy Savile in Yorkshire Sculpture Park in the late ‘80s. I asked him to fix it for me to drive a crane and he said I had to write into the show. He wasn’t that interested in talking to me. Looking back, I find that mildly offensive.”
Sam: “Harry Enfield told me to fuck off when I asked him for directions because I didn’t recognise him.”
@chrisquinn3: “Went up to Michael Owen when pissed in Royal Ascot car park. Got short shrift. Met plenty of times since and been nothing but lovely!”
Gary: “Eli Roth isn’t my hero but I like him and his films but he was a boring bozo and wouldn’t pretend to hit me in the head with a baseball bat for a photo.”
OK, you can have a nice one:
@oldmrbeerface: “Met David Gest in Camden in 2007, asked if I could touch him, he said “Be my gest!” and then we embraced for 45 mins. Everything I expected.”