Cheap reality TV has brought a new level and worship of celebrity recently. It's also now possible to be famous both for being familiar alone, with absolutely no other reason, and (in my opinion wrongly) for knowing another celebrity. In the past the system was being related to one, which still goes on. So if your name was Redgrave, Bonham-Carter or Dimbleby, you could have an IQ of 65 and still get a well paid job in the media. Now you just have to clean a Dimbleby's shoes apparently and that's good enough. Well I took a piss in Richard Attenborough's downstairs toilet once, but it didn't get me in the papers. OK< I think you actually have to know them fairly well first, and having sex with them guarantees fame, maybe unless you're married to them at the time which isn't news.
Given that I was born wanting celebrity (based on my power to entertain rather than simple publicity like Jade Goody and the like), how can I measure up using the new requirements for this century? Well, sod all really, but this week raised the two people I did know as a teenager and earlier in major programmes, both writers, and aspiring to a similar position myself. So with nothing else to hold on to, I'll use them.
Toby Young has just reached the A list as far as serious journalism is concerned by going onto Question Time. You don't get asked your opinions on politics without impressing the men who make the decisions. Good for him, he's a lovely bloke and deserves everything on his own merit which is a great one. But my hook is thinking of when he used to tag along with us on holiday when I was in love (from a distance) with his older sister and had to speak to her through him as she hated my guts! I remember desperately phoning her (she only lived a couple of miles away) incessantly and ending up spending most of the time talking to him as if he was there he'd rather speak to me than her. He stopped going when he was about 10 and I didn't see him again until a disco at my old school where we greeted each other like old friends. I haven't seen him since but emailed him this year (after trying to find how for a couple of years) over something and discovering he'd just written a play of his life and was asked to play himself with no prior acting experience. My claustrophobia rarely stops me doing anything I want to as it developed from forcing myself to go to things I didn't want to. But this was an example. He was on in a West End theatre. I managed to do everything on tablets I'd stopped except theatres simply as if I fidget I'd disturb the actors whereas at a film you only annoy a couple of people next to you. Plus the West End is a no-go area usually (I do manage sometimes) so it was a double no and I actually did want to see it. If he came around locally that would be the first thing to get me to the theatre in nearly 20 years and I'm really sorry I had to miss seeing it. I'll add that he was also the only person who tried to help me get my writing published and as I said he's a top bloke all round.
The other person is Will Self. He is almost my age and was at my prep school and lived in the next road. Unlike Toby though I didn't get to know him till I'd been there a few years I did go to his house, though overall I spent much more time with Toby having been in our crowd at holiday which barely split up for two weeks each year (I can't remember how many years he went though, maybe two or three). We used to go out on trips with my Dad to the seaside etc, and I'd be interested to know which places he remembers going to as we went on so many and I'm not sure exactly who came with each time. But I'm sure we were all in the back of the car making filthy comments and cracking up laughing with him on at least one occasion. And at the time, they're just Toby and Will, not famous. If I ever make it, I wonder who'll see me on TV and start saying 'I remember going to his house for tea when I was 9 and his mum coming downstairs telling us to shut up because she was working (a regular occurence). Well, if fate doesn't cut me off in advance, this will be happening in a few months and when my friend's brother was on the radio last year loads of people including me called as I'd lost his address and vice versa until I heard him on the radio. I hope the first appearance willbreak the ice and be one of many, in which case Will Self can go on Have I got news for you or They think it's all over, and say, do you know David from Kingsbury (replace with surname) came to my house once in 1971? What a little wanker (as he'd probably say about almost anyone from school).
Fame at last...