Bobbiflekman: friend of the stars


Lug 24 2009, 21:51

The other day I was walking through Newcastle and became involved in a modest contretemps. My adversary was a young man, mid-20s or so, with a mop of dark brown hair, wearing a tweed jacket and black-framed NHS-style specs. The man was talking in a huddle with two friends, but had inadvertently positioned himself in front of the entrance to the Metro station, so that anyone going in or out of the station had to step around him and into the road and, potentially, the path of an oncoming bus.

Being English, we did not actually speak to each other but instead acted out a little pantomime of reproach and apology. I glared at him while tutting inwardly and he, realising his thoughtlessness, shuffled aside with a little half-smile and eyebrow-raise of contrition. At which point I realised that I had been shooting daggers at...

...him from out of The Futureheads!!!! (I think he’s called Barry or Ross or something.) I hadn’t recognised him at first because:

a)In real life he’s taller than you would expect; and
b)He wasn’t yelping a North-Eastern inflected version of Hounds Of Love, and it’s always so difficult to place people when they’re out of their usual context, isn’t it?

Sadly, this is the most significant brush I have had with celebrity for many a year. It probably has something to with my choice of hang-outs nowadays: you just don’t see that many famous people down the Gateshead branch of Costcutters (and why ever not, famous people? Two packs of Warburtons crumpets for £1.50 is a deal not to be sniffed at in these credit crunch-blighted times). Never mind, at least I have the memories of a lifetime of sparkling encounters with pop stars to entertain me in my dotage. For example, there was:

The time I stalked Thom Yorke!

My friend and I were walking down Cornmarket Street in Oxford. I was, for reasons which are now vague, carrying a large helium balloon shaped like Ernie from Sesame Street’s head. Suddenly, my friend emitted an excited little squeak and pointed a quivering finger at a short, ginger man on the other side of the road. It was Thom Yorke and he was going into Dillons the bookstore!

OK Computer had just been released, so Thom must have been at least as well-known as he is now, but oddly nobody else seemed remotely bothered that the tiny, squinty-eyed nouveau Roger Waters was in their midst. Perhaps they were affecting nonchalant cool. Not so my friend and I, who ducked into Dillons in pursuit of him.

Inside Thom was in the current affairs section, frowning ostentatiously over a large, recently-published sociological tome. He was radiating a vibe that very clearly said: Look at me, Radiohead fans! I am dead clever and politically aware and that! But don’t bother coming up to speak to me because I will just scowl at you! My friend and I couldn’t quite work up the courage to penetrate this carapace of hostility, so we settled for a brief, giggling circuit of the 3 for 2 tables before exiting the shop, the Ernie balloon trailing behind us.

The time I met Kenickie!

Our friend Dave the Mod hosted the weekly indie show on our local student radio station, and Kenickie were booked to make an appearance to promote their debut album At The Club. Utilising the full force of our feminine wiles (or did we just threaten to rub bogies into his new Paul Weller-esque feathered hairdo? I forget which) my housemates and I managed to persuade Dave to let us hang around the studios and look after them for the evening.

Johnny X was absent for some reason*, but the three Kenickie girls more than made up for it by being tiny, sparkly and almost unfathomably lovely. They were funny, friendly, chatty and brimming with tips on make-up application. When they left, they gave us all a hug and some little packets of jelly sweets.

The time I met (well, overtook in a Ford Sierra) the Happy Mondays!

1989, and the Fleckman family was making one of its triannual trips to see my grandparents in Great Yarmouth. We were bombing down the A1 and I was gazing out of my window with slack-jawed, unfocussed attention (it was a five hour journey) when:

“Bloody hell, is that Bez?!!”

Nobody else in the car knew what I was going on about or why I was suddenly so excited, but the rickety blue transit van in the lane next us appeared to be populated by Shaun Ryder, Bez and assorted Happy Mondays. As we sped past them, I was convinced I glimpsed the leonine mane of Gaz Whelan through the back window. And then the moment was gone. We continued on our way to the Acle Straight; the Mondays carried on to I know not where (but probably to do drugs in the toilets of the next Granada service station).

*Fret not, because I completed my Kenickie full-house a couple of years later (albeit after the band had imploded) when I served Johnny in the Newcastle branch of WH Smith. He bought a paper and a bottle of Diet Coke and our conversation ran thusly:

Me: Ooh, are you Johnny X from Kenickie?!
Johnny X [with much miffed sighing and eye-rolling]: Yeeee-eeeesss.
Me: Oh, erm, sorry. [Brightly] Do you have a Clubcard?
Johnny X [softening slightly]: No, sorry.
Me: OK, that’s £1.12 please. Thank you. Bye! [sotto voce] Johnny X from Kenickiiiiiiie....


  • georgethe23rd

    Overtaking the Happy Mondays is far classier than my only celebrity overtaking story (Peter Shilton overtaking me on my 1st driving lesson). I've recently bumped into Jason Spaceman (lovely though dissheveled), David Gedge (aloof) and had a meeting with Pete Waterman (about steam trains, lovely again).

    Lug 25 2009, 7:52
  • bobbiflekman

    Aw, meeting Uncle Pete Waterman is definitely an un-toppable celeb story! I'm disappointed to hear that David Gedge wasn't lovely, though - perhaps he was having a bad day.

    Lug 25 2009, 14:48
  • idiotsdream

    You met Lauren Laverne?! She is so fucking cool.

    Lug 25 2009, 22:15
  • syknyk

    I kissed Shirley Manson once, on the cheek mind..

    Lug 26 2009, 9:03
  • Thelonious9

    Frankly, I'm surprised you still mix with the likes of us. On the subject of celebrity encounters, here at chez Thelonious we have a running joke about Jarvis Cocker. Down the years, bumping into Jarvis has not been much of a challenge. I've stood near him at gigs (not his own) at least twice, another friend has met him in a bar and yet another has served him at her market stall. Mrs Thelonious meanwhile, who is the world's biggest Jarvis fan has encountered him precisely never. If only Jim'll Fix It were still going.

    Lug 26 2009, 19:08
  • bobbiflekman

    LL was indeed cool - but Emmy-Kate and Marie were just as lovely (and - sacrilege, I know - prettier). Syknyk: Which cheek was it? Upper or lower? </Pete and Dud> I've never met the Jarv-meister, but a friend did, at an aftershow party. He was very, very drunk (my friend, that is; Jarvis was relatively sober), yet Jarvis was happy to submit himself to a rambling, slurred conversation before posing for a photograph. Therefore I can only conclude that he is a top bloke - look and learn, David Gedge, look and learn.

    Lug 27 2009, 18:06
  • Big_Baby_Jesus

    I met Reba McEntire once...or was it twice? I don't recall anymore...

    Set 10 2009, 21:38
  • rongorongo

    An ex once told me about the reclusive guy she shared a flat with at university. He would spend all his time in his room writing spectacularly miserable songs; she and her flatmates gave him a hard time about it. He did have one composition- also pretty miserable but called "Happy Song". His band at the time: On a Friday. The flatmate: Thom Yorke. (You can find the song on Youtube).

    Lug 26 2011, 15:42
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