A while ago WordPress suggested we describe our first encounter with a celebrity, and as I’ve no other ideas for today I’m going to have a go.
This is not as easy as it sounds.
Define encounter, for example. I’ve passed George Best in the street. I’ve seen Van Morrison in a coffee shop. Because I grew up in Dalkey I’ve drunk in the same pub as Chris de Burgh and Maeve Binchy, but never spoken to either. Do any of these count?
Or does when you’ve met them matter? A friend called Ronan Guilfoyle sat beside me in primary school. He is now a well-known jazz bass player and composer, but back then wasn’t, obviously. Does that count?
On the sporting front I’ve met commentators George Hook, Michael Lyster, George Hamilton and Jimmy Magee. I’ve played football against Kevin Moran, played cricket against three of the Irish team who recently famously beat England, and played it with Judge Moriarty of the Moriarty tribunal. I was at the wedding of rugby international Paul Dean, though only because Mrs Tin and his wife grew up next door to each other.
I realise all of this makes it sound as if I move in exalted circles, but that’s just the size Ireland is. The fact that I’m not actually related to anyone famous practically makes me famous in itself.
Now define celebrity. How many of the people above have any of you overseas readers ever heard of? Do they therefore count as celebrities?
Because he had kids in the same class as two of mine I used to chat in the mornings outside school to a quiet, charming American who later broke up with his wife and went off with Sinead O’Connor, and when Oprah interviewed Sinead they shot a clip of her at home, with my pal Frank pottering about in the background. I can therefore say I know a guy who’s been on Oprah (may have to re-word that sentence) but even I would think that’s pushing it.
If I’d to choose one celebrity that I know I’d go for one of my neighbours, even though I can’t name her here. She has been to jail for defrauding her employer out of a quarter of a million quid. I think she counts, and obviously better than he could.
I will finish with a slightly surreal story, though. Shortly after his mother died Ronan Keating from Boyzone founded the Marie Keating Foundation to raise money for cancer research. They launched with a billboard campaign, and I was in St Stephen’s Green in central Dublin when I first saw one of these. It showed a lovely photo of Ronan with his mum, both of them smiling into the camera. I looked up at it, admired the photo, then looked down again.
Ronan Keating was walking along beneath the billboard.
Like I said, Ireland is small enough for stuff like that to happen.