BlogDay Cards

As I mentioned a couple of times on my Facebook page recently, my wife turned 40 at the end of November (although, in my humble opinion, she still doesn’t look a day over 39) and, aside from the gifts I bought for myself and the boys to give her (for which they – unfairly – took far too much credit), I decided to try and organise some rather special birthday cards for her.

Essentially, I thought it might be nice if she got a few cards from some of her favourite celebrities, and, having enlisted help from her siblings, a few months ago I compiled a list of famous people I intended to write to (via their PA or agency). I then set about purchasing as many different ‘40’ cards as I could lay my grubby little mitts on and began posting them out to the celebs on my list, with a covering letter explaining my plan and asking for their help. I also included a stamped addressed envelope, so that there was no expense involved to said celebrity (even though, I suspect, they were all in a far better financial position that myself to be paying for a stamp), in order to bolster my chances of persuading them to help me out.

In truth, from the list of ten famous people I created, I never expected more than a couple would even respond, let alone oblige (and – spoiler alert – they didn’t), but of the few I did receive back, they were most definitely the ones I had hoped for. From the remainder, most failed to get back to me at all, but that was still preferable to the two whose representatives did respond, but very firmly told me to go fuck myself*

*ok, they didn’t use those exact words, but was how it came across.

As a result, I have decided to publicly thank the famous people who took time out of their busy schedules to do something nice for a complete stranger’s 40th birthday, but also ‘name and shame’ those celebrities who were less than approachable.

In true ‘Middle-Raged Dad’ fashion, let’s start from the top and work our way down to the dregs, shall we?

Dan Snow

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Now, my wife doesn’t openly profess to having a celebrity crush like I do (Holly Willoughby, if you happen to read this, call me), but if she did, it would be Dan Snow.

Not only will I admit he a good-looking chap (although, as you will see further down my list, good looks count for shit if you don’t have the personality to match), he is – like my wife – a keen historian. And, if there is one thing my wife will surely find attractive in a man (other than his ability to produce a comedic weekly blog, and make repeated innuendo about his genitals), it is a man who loves a good castle as much as her.

Ok, this may be viewed by some as nerdy, but is it really any different to every heterosexual middle-aged man fantasising about Princess Leia in that gold bikini, Lois Griffin from Family Guy, or – dare I say it – Cheetara from Thundercats?*

(*shut up. Cheetahs are my favourite animal anyway, and she was a sexy one who didn’t wear much).

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Anyway, Dan was probably top of my list, as I knew how much she would love to get a card signed by him, so I was understandably delighted when his PA, Hilary, responded to say she would do her best to grab Dan when he returned to the UK from filming abroad.

And, Hilary didn’t let me down, because although it took a while to arrive, Dan not only signed a card, but took the time to write a personal message to my wife:

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Christ, get a room, you two….

All joking aside, I am very grateful to Dan for such a nice gesture, and if my wife does happen to run off with him in the future, at least she’ll have left me for a decent bloke.

Norwich City Football Club

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My wife is from Norwich, and is a big fan of the Canaries, so I decided to write to the club to see if they could perhaps get a few of the first team to sign a card for me.

Not only did they gladly oblige, with a card signed by most of the squad, they returned it to me within a few days (which was very good of them, as I did not get around to sending it until a couple of weeks before her birthday, so I was under a fair amount of time pressure by that point).

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I have no doubt that very few Premier League football clubs would have even replied to me, and certainly not so quickly, but having been to Carrow Road a number of times, this is indicative of what a friendly club they are. Well played, Norwich City.

Jason Manford

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My wife loves Jason Manford (although admittedly not in the same way she loves Dan Snow), so I was very pleased when a signed card returned from his people, particularly because he seemingly works around the clock on various television, radio and acting projects.

That said, he did only sign a card, with no additional message, so although I am grateful, it probably took a few seconds and he is therefore in third place (some way below the top two).

Still, he did better than….

Jason Donovan

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Jason Donovan and/or his team never got back me, but since he was a very late after-thought, with barely a fortnight until my wife’s birthday, I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much. Besides, I think he is on tour at present, which might also explain the lack of response. Jason is excused, and finishes 4th despite not actually doing anything to deserve it.

Eddie Izzard and Greg Davies

No, they have not suddenly announced themselves as a couple (although I would definitely go round for dinner if they did), but I have placed both of these gentleman in joint 5th, because although neither responded to my request, in fairness I again gave them / their representatives very little time to comply, only adding them to my list at a relatively late stage (albeit not as late as Jason Donovan). As such, they are (partially) excused for not getting back to me.

It also helps that I find both of them hilarious, and I don’t want that adoration tarnished in any way.

Graham Norton

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I have no doubt that Graham is an equally busy man, what with his own BBC1 show to prepare for and present, but I can’t believe he didn’t have time in his schedule to sign a quick card, and I gave him more than a month to get back to me, so he has dropped in my estimation now.

Ok, I highly doubt he even found out about the card, and he may very well have signed it if asked, so my gripe is probably with his team, but until I hear otherwise, I shall be holding him personally responsible.

7th place for you, Mr Norton.

Jamie Theakston

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Here we have an example of a good-looking fella (well, my wife thinks so – or certainly used to), letting himself down on account of his refusal to engage with fans. Again, it might be his publicity team who have taken the decision to block any requests for autographs, but is he really that busy/famous these days (Heart Radio’s breakfast show aside)?

Plus, he no doubt hired his publicity team in the first place, so when they responded with ‘Mr Theakston doesn’t do requests like this’, I took that to mean ‘Mr Theakston is an arrogant prick who thinks he is better than everyone else’. This may be unfair (which I will emphasise for libel reasons), but I doubt it (which I will also emphasise, because I think I am correct in my assessment).

John Barrowman

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In last place, rather surprisingly, is John Barrowman (my wife is a huge fan of musicals), who – until recently – I had a lot of time for.

Sadly, like Jamie Theakston, he is either extremely arrogant, or he has employed some particularly stand-offish people to represent him, because not only did I get a reply very firmly telling me to do one, but they went that bit further than Theakston & Co, by suggesting John would be willing to sign a book for me, if I bought tickets to one of his shows, and his book, then queued up after the show to ask him nicely.

I didn’t bother e-mailing back, as I felt ‘tell John to go fuck himself’ might have been poorly received. Last (9th) place for you, JB.

Honorary mention – Dick van Dyke

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The more astute among you will have realised that my list currently only numbers nine.

Step in (presumably with some assistance), Dick van Dyke.

Now, had I been able to secure a card signed by the owner of the single worst cockney accent in cinematic history, I think my wife may very well have lost her shit, but aside from the fact Dick is now well into his 90s, he also lives – to my knowledge – in America, and I had automatically discounted any overseas celebs (yes, Bryan Adams, that includes you), as being unachievable, not least because I couldn’t possibly cover their postage for sending the card back.

So, Dick features last in my list, but only because he is an after-thought, and not because I dislike him.

And, there you have it. If you take anything away from today’s blog entry, let it be this: Dan Snow is a thoroughly nice chap and, if my wife does run off with him, I can’t be too upset about it; while John Barrowman is a colossal bellend (or, at the very least, his representatives are).

Thank you for reading x

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I’m Kind of a Blog Deal

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I have set myself the target of meeting someone famous by the time I am forty (which, if you have been paying attention, is next February – and, yes, I do expect a card off every single one of you).

My reason for setting this target is that I have never really met anyone properly famous before, and even though I suspect I would be one of those awkward fans who stumbles over their words and embarrasses themselves, I bet celebrities get that all the time, and as long as I end up with a nice photo or autograph (or both) as proof, then the embarrassment will fade over time.

In all honesty, I have ‘met’ quite a few celebrities in the past – and yes, I was awkward on most of those occasions – but either they weren’t very famous at the time (and are even less so now), or the encounter was not by chance. By that, I mean I met them at something like a CD or book signing, or I was at an event where they were otherwise obliged (i.e. forced) to mingle with the public.

Therein lies the primary rule of my challenge – I have to properly meet someone properly famous. In other words:

1. I have to properly meet them – it cannot be a pre-organised event, and must be an entirely random encounter. I cannot count publicity events, and I am not allowed to hang around outside gig venues, theatres, their homes etc. (especially not after that time Holly Willoughby caught me lurking in her bush).

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I suspect my best opportunities will arise at airports, train stations and major sporting events, but since I don’t have plans to fly anywhere this year, and very few celebrities frequent Stockport County, that means I’ll be doing a lot of hanging around in train stations.

2. They must be properly famous – I am being realistic here, so I don’t expect to bump into Barack Obama in Tesco, but the famous person I meet needs to be someone you have all heard of, who would be considered at least B-List. A film/television star, singer/artist, or comedian would be my preferred choice (particularly the latter, so that – if I have the confidence – I can ask them to look at my blog page, in a bid to launch my career in comedy writing).

To give you examples of encounters which would not qualify for this challenge, let me run through the semi-famous people I have met/been in the vicinity of throughout my thirty-nine-and-a-bit years on this planet, and you can judge how utterly shit they are for yourselves.

Let’s start from the very bottom, shall we?

Ben Hull and James Redmond

Look, I said we’d be starting low, and it doesn’t get much lower than two actors who used to be on Hollyoaks twenty years ago; but, in my defence, it was twenty years ago when I met them (so they were semi-recognisable at the time), and I am 99% certain I was off my tits on cheap lager and Castaway when it happened.

The reason I say that, is because the meeting took place at the Sugarhouse nightclub in Lancaster (where I went to University), and I cannot recall a single night at the Sugarhouse – which we frequented weekly – when I didn’t consume vast quantities of Fosters and Castaway (separately, I’m not an animal), because they were always £1. Nowadays, you would need to pay me to even consider necking a pint of Fosters, but oh God how I miss Castaway. It was like alcoholic Lilt.

The worst part of this encounter is, ‘Finn’ and ‘Lewis’ from Hollyoaks were making a guest appearance at the Sugarhouse for a meet-and-greet photo opportunity, and I actually queued up for the privilege.

I know what you’re thinking, as well. The idea of a young, single, good-looking lad like me, queuing up to meet two crappy soap actors rather than working the dancefloor in the never-ending hunt for amorous congress is frankly ridiculous, but please bear in mind:

  • I have never been good-looking;
  • Meeting Finn and Lewis was (slightly) preferable to being rejected by numerous women;
  • My then girlfriend (now wife) was with me at the time.

It seemed like a good idea, but, in hindsight, it wasn’t.

Alan Davies

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I was in two minds whether to even mention Alan, as it was in the middle of Manchester Piccadilly train station, and he looked stressed, so I never actually approached him. Therefore, it’s not an encounter, should be technically discounted, but it’s still marginally better than two blokes from a shit Channel 4 soap.

Mackenzie Crook

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See above, only exchange ‘Manchester Piccadilly’ for ‘The Royal Mile, Edinburgh’ (he was trying to flog tickets to a play he was in at the Fringe), and swap ‘stressed’ for ‘smug and unapproachable’. I think, on balance, I would have preferred to meet Alan Davies, but since Mackenzie has appeared in actual Hollywood movies (The Pirates of the Caribbean springs to mind), he’s marginally higher up my list.

Simon Rimmer

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My wife and I met TV chef Simon Rimmer at the ‘North West Food Lovers Festival’ in Tatton Park about eight years ago, but it was as part of a cookery presentation / book signing he was there for, so it doesn’t really count. Still, we did at least speak to him.

Feeder, Mansun, Lit

I’ve lumped these three bands and their various members together (in decreasing order of fame), because I did at least meet them, get their autographs, and have my photo taken; but all three encounters were in a signing tent at the Leeds Festival, so they were by no means random.

Gary Pallister and Steve Bruce

Non-football fans may not have heard of these two pig-ugly ex-Manchester United gibbons, but when I met them in the Kingfisher pub in Poynton in the late 80’s, they were household names. That said, they were the special guest appearance at my brother’s football team’s end of season awards night, so they were not there by chance – plus, I was still too young to fully appreciate my hatred of all things Manchester United, so I didn’t even swear/spit at them.

Terrorvision

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I would argue that Terrorvision are of similar fame to Feeder, but they happen to be my favourite live band of all time, and I have actually met all but the drummers (there have been two) on a few occasions. The lead singer, Tony Wright, did briefly front another band, who I saw live at a very small venue, and I chatted with him for some time – but then embarrassed myself by producing a vast array of Terrorvision memorabilia for him to sign.

Carol Vorderman

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Not so famous these days (although she was flaunting her curves in the press last week), and as far as ‘mathematicians from Countdown’ go, I’d far sooner meet Rachel Riley now, but I had the ‘honour’ of receiving a science prize from her at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry when I was at Primary School, and from recollection she was lovely. The prize was a lego race car too (one of the big fuckers which costs a fortune).

In other news, the fact that ‘receiving a science prize off Carol Vorderman, in a museum, when I was eight’, is my 4th biggest claim to fame of all time, gives you some idea of what a sad little loser I was/am.

Liza Tarbuck

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The first of two encounters in my wife’s uncle’s pub in Islington. This first one, features Liza Tarbuck, who actually came across as quite pleasant during her stint on Taskmaster last year (if you don’t watch Taskmaster, you really should as it’s brilliant), but I know better.

I know Liza as the foul-mouthed woman who intruded on our private party, and when my mother-in-law challenged whether she should be there, she genuinely came out with the line ‘Don’t you know who I am?’

The story is only bettered by my mother-in-law’s response, which was along the lines of ‘Yes, but you don’t appear to know who I am. I’m the sister of the guy who owns this pub, so piss off’ (or words to that effect).

Liza is not as famous as some of her predecessors on my list, but I’ve bumped her up into third place, purely because of that anecdote.

Suggs and ‘Billy’ from Eastenders

On one of my first ever visits to the same pub, I watched the 2002 FA Cup Final, sandwiched (not literally) between Suggs from Madness, and the fella who plays/ed Billy Mitchell in Eastenders. I’ve just checked, and the actor’s name is Perry Fenwick, which is about as cockney a name as you can possibly get.

I didn’t really speak to either of them, but I did spend a few hours in their company, and at least one of them is famous.

Delia Smith

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I love Delia.

The ‘joint majority shareholder’ of Norwich City, is perhaps best known in the footballing world for her ‘drunken’ rant during the Canaries’ game against Man***ster City in March 2005, but for me she will always be fondly remembered for two  reasons:

  1. Delia personally intervened and switched a Norwich pre-season friendly to Coventry from Carrow Road, when it transpired the match was going to clash with – and ruin – our wedding reception. For that, I will forever admire her;
  2. She also popped up in our local pub in Stockport, prior to my beloved County playing Norwich in 2009, and despite swarms of Norwich fans mobbing her for a photo, she made a point of coming over to talk to me by the bar, as she was interested in County’s current financial struggles and fight against administration. Reports that I may have drunkenly begged her to invest in County are largely unsubstantiated.

Oh, and I have ‘met’ Delia one further time, again at Carrow Road when enjoying the pre-match hospitality in one of her restaurants there, but our encounter was restricted to me very nearly breaking her nose whilst trying to take my coat off at the cloak room (my arm had become stuck in the sleeve, and it suddenly freed just as she walked directly behind me).

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So, there you have it. I’ve never properly met anyone properly famous, and I have until next February to rectify that. Wish me luck, and I’ll keep you all posted. Perhaps…..

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Well, a man can dream.

Thanks for reading x

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