Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rocker Stalker

Rather weirdly, I nearly became poet John Hegley's stalker at the Edinburgh Festival one year after telling him at the bar of the Assembly Rooms that I was not only coming to see his show, I had brought a lot of friends with me, as I had seen him perform in London "many times". For the next few days everywhere, but everywhere, I went in Edinburgh I bumped into him. It became so embarrassing I nearly stayed in. I don't know who felt more awkward, him or me.

But that's nothing compared to the lifelong crush I appear to have on Annie Lennox, resurrected again by the release of her new solo album that nearly had me in tears during the Jonathan Ross Show last week and in subsequent listenings produces a lump in my throat.

When she first appeared (in The Tourists) I was suitably impressed, but on reflection it was really just a rehearsal for nearly a decade of beautiful music with Dave Stewart. I bought every Eurythmics album and we played them endlessly, endlessly, endlessly. There is something about her voice that presses the buttons for me and I still go slightly weak at the knees over Annie Lennox. At the peak of her powers I was besotted - musically speaking of course.

After they split she came to New York to play Central Park and I was living there. I asked a member of my team to secure tickets. Impossible, I was told. Rubbish, I said. I was wrong. I couldn't get bloody tickets for love nor money. The Pope was in NYC at the same time and I saw HIM twice, scornfully remarking to the cowering members of the team that it was easier to see the f*cking Pope than Annie Lennox. What made matters even worse was that when the DVD of the show came out, it was blisteringly, bloody, barnstormingly brilliant. I think I wore the stupid thing thin playing it so often.

But back in London it came as no small surprise to be walking a small nationwide into the school playground one morning to see Ms Lennox walking out, having dropped off her small sprog. I could barely speak I was so moved. I think I began to hyperventilate. In front of small children. Every morning, almost without fail, I walked in as she walked out, I would bow my head (face red) and walk past in case she saw me and suspected me of stalking her. I could not bring myself to speak.

The school was heavily favoured by slebs and a lot of them I knew professionally. But I could never bring myself to approach The Diva.

"Hi Annie, I know it's the school playground and all, but I just well, really, er, really, um , well, ........."

"Thankyou. It's very nice to meet you. Why don't you drop round for tea and crumpets one day and I'll sing you a song."

Yeah, like that conversation ever took place.

Even worse, I would occasionally find myself, shortly after 9am, at the local petrol station filling up the tank and who would be at the next pump. Filling hers. And then at the cash queue there would just be the two of us. God I felt awkward.

Sleb restaurants and clubs in Soho, television studio green rooms, and posh parties are where you definitley do NOT approach music royalty so seeing A. Lennox at such places and bashes was slightly easier to deal with. But in local caffs, shops and pavements around our neck of the woods it almost forced me to dart behind the odd postbox. I once looked up during coffee at one of those communal tables to discover her at the same table. Jeesh.

In Le Caprice I was at a tiny table with a friend from Arizona and pointed out to her that at the next table but one was Jools Holland, a fabulous muso and TV persona, and whom I had met a couple of times. We might even talk when he got up but rather annoyingly he started to talk to the woman sitting to my left, at another tiny table, whose elbows had occasionally touched mine during dinner. Bugger, I thought, before glancing through the very corner of my eye on hearing this woman speak to confirm that it was...well you've guessed who it was. I froze, fearful of being labelled the Playground Stalker or somesuch. I grimaced and rolled my eyes at my dining companion, doing a kind of muted Basil Fawlty impression, trying to convey who this was and that I could be arrested at any moment for harrassment. Mercifully, we escaped before the rozzers (sleb protection squad) were called.

And then it all went away as Ms Lennox did other things and I moved out the area. Until Friday, when I was near to tears at the sound of her voice again, wondering if I could just pop down to a stage door somewhere and lurk a little.......

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