London is full of strange coincidences at the moment. Yesterday I was glared at in Hanover Square by a beanie-hat wearing John Bishop and his new white teeth, and three weeks ago I found myself staring at the actor Jerome Flynne in the 100 Club thinking to myself – “I know you, I know you. Don’t you work for my accountant?” It is all unnerving. I do know him, but of course I don’t know him. This is a bit like that time I came home from work to find David Baddiel sitting on my sofa with no clue as to why (turned out he was in the area for an event at the bookshop downstairs, although this still doesn’t fully explain what he was doing in my flat sitting on my sofa). Of course of all of these, going up to Jerome Flynn and accusing him of being an accountant’s assistant would have been the most mortifying, but then again if D. Baddiel had had a nosy rifle through some of my recent delivery from a Watford storage depot directly behind him he would have found VHS copies of Newman & Baddiel live at the Shaftesbury Theatre in about 1978 or thereabouts, which would have been equally as shocking. When will I understand that seeing people on the television does not mean that I actually know them? Several years ago I said to the actor Julian Rhind Tutt, “Hello there! How are you?” thinking I had met him. I then realised I didn’t know him at all. I’d just seen him in Green Wing. This scene however did not take place in Green Wing. It took place in the Prince Alfred in Formosa Street, which is an odd pub featuring small, seperated coffin-like areas edged by wooden arches. People have to duck in and out of them to get to the bar or onto the street. Julian R-T ducked pretty swiftly, I can tell you. He gave himself a good ducking.
I once had a friend who conducted an entire ten year relationship with Robert Smith of The Cure in her own head. She worked out what their children would be called and everything and considered the impact of grandchildren on their pension years. Quite truly, I think this was the most meaningful romantic enterprise of her adolescent years, most of which were scarred with bodily odour problems and a propensity to halitosis. At what stage do the things we think are really sort of suddenly compress against that which is absolutely, physically real? I knew a girl who was so infatuated with Sean Hughes that when she met him instead of having to stop herself from blurting out comments associated with the grubby things she’d done with him in her imagination, she just stood there motionless, speechless and staring at him with her mouth open. I think it was a bit like that thing in Back to the Future when Doc warns Marty that when two points in the Universe touch, the space time continuum threatens to explode and destroy the universe. Real Sean Hughes met Fictional Sean Hughes and the girl in question sort of emotionally internally combusted. The fourth dimension could not accommodate these situations. So astonished was she by the lack of ground-bursting, water-hydrant-exploding chemical attraction between them that she never recovered, and despised him from that moment on.
The same thing happens when I watch Mary Poppins and then actually have to leave the house and go into the West End. Why aren’t there chimney sweepers who sound like lost Australians high-kicking on the vaulted roofs of Starbucks and pirouetting around the chimney pots with Mairee Parpins? Which bit of it is reality tacked on to imagination and which is imagination tacked on to a soupcon of realism? Ever since the Christmas holidays the line between imagination and reality has been closing in, and that must be to do with the vast amount of television films we were forced to watch over the Christmas holidays. Half way through drafting this blog I had to go to Covent Garden for an appointment. Walking down Earlham Street I see an actress from The Bill in serious conference with a policeman, so we had an actress who played a copper in need of talking to a copper. Perhaps she’d had her truncheon stolen or something, but it isn’t like London is helping with this blurring between the real and the imagined worlds. The surrealism continued. I went to The Soho Theatre to see the Rubberbandits at 9.30pm and enjoyed an hour of two men from Limerick with plastic Spar bags over their heads singing songs about Danny Dyer and having a horse outside. After the boisterous singing and swigging from plastic cups full of wine it was off to Bar Italia for the third time that day for two cappucinos at midnight which, some have told me, may in fact have had something to do with me not sleeping a wink last night. Bar Italia was, as always at 11.30pm on a week night, full of coppers and off duty ambulance workers, but were these coppers the same ones from The Bill? Or where they passing actors from a local night shoot? Or, were they actual policemen – which would be slightly bizarre. Imagine it! Disorientated and high on caffeine, I sought solace in the apple pie. Still at least David Baddiel wasn’t sitting at the back of the cafe on a sofa. That really would have tipped my evening into unadulterated madness.
So, now I have not slept. The chill in London is dropping, dropping and tomorrow it will be -936, at which point I can only hope that my delusions will be made increasingly manifest by the dastardly weather and I will slip entirely into an imaginative realm where the only real items will be a pair of ear muffs, three hot water bottles and a four pairs of warm socks. The city is poised this morning. Poised in blue, sunny skies ready to unleash crappo snow flakes and imprison us in our homes. No doubt when they send out the gritters they will send out Robson Jerome and June Whitfield to motor through our streets, dropping orange salt through the city streets, whilst Anne Hathaway gets her snow plough out to clear the junction at Turnpike Lane.
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