On Monday afternoon Karen and I decided to make the most of the last day of our holiday staycation by following in the footsteps of many and spending a pleasant few hours in the local park with the kids.
And by “the kids” I, of course, mean our kids specifically rather than “the kids” generally. I’m afraid the days when I’d sit on a park bench necking back a bottle of Diamond White with the local yobbery are far behind me. There are, after all, only so many cars that you can nick, joyride and leave burning by the roadside while you hold up the nearby petrol station before it all becomes a tad boring.
Ennui totally killed crime for me. My low boredom threshold made a straight man of me in the end.
So we’re feeding the ducks and some of it is reaching the birds and 33% of it is going into Tom’s mouth as he can’t bear to part with his share and we pass what looks like Russell Howard on a park bench.
For those of you who don’t know Russell Howard is an up-and-coming comedian who appears regularly on the BBC’s Mock The Week programme and is extremely funny – and I apologize to my overseas readers as Russell Howard and Mock The Week will undoubtedly mean absolutely nothing to you but the experience I’m about to recount possibly will so bear with me.
Anyway, Mr H is neither swigging Diamond White nor getting down with the kids but is doing his best to look unobtrusive and unremarkable while he talks to someone rather earnestly on his mobile phone. He is, in effect, blending in.
And indeed he would have got away with it but for an uncanny act of synchronicity... I’d bought Karen Mr H’s comedy DVD for Christmas last year but as we’re working our way through an immense DVD backlog we’d only got round to watching it the day before our visit to the park. The “Extras” package on the DVD features footage of Russell in civilian mode where he looks oddly unrecognizable from the bouncy persona he presents on TV and stage... but having seen it we were able to see through his “blending in” tactics and pick him out immediately.
It was him. On a park bench in Leamington. Him off the telly. A real life famous person. Him. Him there.
It’s funny but I always thought I’d be unfazed by a close encounter with a famous person. That I’d play it cool. Nonchalant. They are, after all, only people. Same as you and me. No big thing. Autograph hunting is for saddoes. Etc.
And yet I cannot deny there was a small part of me wanting to run up to Russell, shake his hand, say hello and act like his best mate in a manner that would have resulted in the rest of my life being spent trying to overcome the subsequent sense of shame and wince-worthy degradation.
The impulse was so strong.
But I was saved by his mobile phone. Fame be damned. There was etiquette to think of! One cannot just interrupt a phone conversation for the sake of self gratification! It’s bad form! It would be un-English Goddamnit!
So we fed the ducks and left Russell Howard in peace and he – no doubt feeling the sniper glare of our distant attention beginning to bear down on his shoulders – soon got up and walked away from us, looking smaller than he does on the telly and disappointingly un-star-like and disappeared into the milling Bank Holiday crowds of Leamington Spa.
When we got home we did a quick Google search... you know, just to see if he was playing any gigs locally which would explain his presence in the park and found this (check out the last question at the bottom of the page).
Yep. Russell it seems lives locally. He’s moved in. He’s become a Leamingtonian.
He and me are practically brothers!
Welcome to Leamington Spa, Russell! Hope you like it here. But next time you’re walking around town, keep your mobile phone handy, eh?
For both our sakes.