Updated: May 13
I have never asked anyone for an autograph. Apart from getting my schoolmates to scrawl their handles in a W.H. Smith autograph book when it was quite the thing to do. Right up until someone wrote the rudest of words in your book, or contributed an obscene doodle, which you had to modify by inking over and around the private parts; so that if your mum caught sight of the book she wouldn’t be shocked so much by the presence of such anatomical detail as used to appear in magazines like Razzle, as surprised by the incongruous presence of a map of South America.
There’s a story about Spike Milligan receiving a letter - complete with an SAE (remember them?), which asked him for an autograph. Spike dashed off his signature, popped it in the post and the recipient was no doubt delighted when it dropped onto his doormat. Perhaps less delighted when Spike turned up in person two weeks later and asked with some exasperation,
“What are you doing with it?”
I always agreed with Spike. Never got the point of the autograph.
I saw The Manfreds a couple of months ago. They broke off, mid-first-half for Paul Jones to deliver an ad of at least five minutes for merchandise (including Manfreds vinyl box-sets), with assurances that band members would be available during the interval, “with sharpies at the ready” (at this point, he held up a sharpie and waved it at us; which made a change from waving LPs around like he was bringing a Typhoon in to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier). Incidentally, after the ad break, we’re into the next number, Ha! Ha! Said the Clown, which is described by Mike Hugg on Wikipedia as ‘one of the five worst songs ever written’. So it was great fun to see the Huggster up at the back banging out the hated Clown chords on his keyboards.
As for selfies. Well, as far as the selfie goes, I have a confession.
Mrs B and I were at an outdoor Rod Stewart show in Taunton a few years ago, and there was a break in the support acts.
“I’m going to get a beer,” I said to Mrs B, “do you want anything?”
“See you in a bit.”
I popped off to the extensive and reasonably-priced catering area (that should see me OK for a complimentary pie next time), and who should I spot but one of Rod’s old flames. Anyone? OK, I’ll narrow it down a bit. Blonde. No? It was the lovely Susan George. If you’re unsure of who I’m talking about, she looks like you’d expect one of Rod Stewart’s old girlfriends to look. Blonde, slim, leather trousers, every schoolboy’s dream.
“This’ll give Mrs B a surprise,” I thought, as I approached Ms George with some nervousness. As I said, I have never asked anyone for an autograph, let alone invited them to make a guest appearance in a selfie.
I hung around the fringes of her group, quite unsure of how to proceed but one of her friends spotted me and I was ushered into the presence. Ms George was very sweet, we exchanged a few words, one of her pals knocked off a couple of snaps on my phone, we shook hands, and I buggered off.
I took my seat next to Mrs B, and cheerfully offered up my phone, “Have a look at this then,” I crowed.
“Oh, you haven’t.” she said.
“How could you?”
“Well, it’s mortifying.”
“Oh, God. It is isn’t it?”
“Whatever possessed you?”
“I don’t know. How awful.”
Susan George didn’t seem to mind, but if she did, then I’d like to apologise, and for anyone and everyone out there in the Public Eye – I promise it will never happen again.