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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 04-Jul-07


Wednesday 04-July-07

Invisible celebrities

Last night on the train home a chap came and sat opposite me. He looked rather shifty as he huddled down and looked like he was trying not to be noticed. I wondered at first if he was a fare dodger, but after a glimmer of recognition I realized it was Gary Lineker, a famous English footballer who then went on to making a fortune in advertising crisps (potato chips) and as a television sports commentator. In the rough world of the football player he always came across as a gentleman and seems to be universally liked. Perhaps I should be flattered that he sat by me, but somehow I don't think he was the one doing the admiring.

So did I talk to him? No. Did anyone else? No. We all acted as if he was invisible. It's a British thing and particularly so in London, where celebrities walk the streets without being mobbed. He started off with the celeb trick of pretending to be asleep, but then opened his eyes and eventually looked quite bored. I wondered if  I should say something -- after all, I sometimes do chat with other passengers. But no. I couldn't transgress that 'leave celebs alone' rule. He got off in Sunningdale and there was a quick 'was that...?' conversation around the carriage, but no whooping or such stuff.

It was nice sitting next to the guy, even without talking. His identity envelope is rather big and I felt as if some of the fame had rubbed off on me. I told my family, who were duly impressed, although they thought I should have asked for an autograph. I was horrified at the thought of such an embarrassing act. I also would have been severely looked at by other passengers and might have had to catch another train in future, such are the power of social norms.

So if you are blessed or cursed with fame (depending on what you want), then come to London. In fact many celebrities do live here, from Madonna onwards. London life is quite lively, with clubs and restaurants for the hoi poloi as well as for the rest of us, along with all kinds of other entertainment. I'm going to see Johnathan Miller talk about humour at the RSA tonight. Good stuff.

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