Saturday, 30 April 2016


If you work hard enough, sooner or later you'll receive the recognition you deserve. My first drama teacher, Lydia Grant, used to say to me every week: "You've got big dreams. You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying: in sweat". Every time she said that, I would sweat instantly and profusely. That's how much I wanted fame and how unhealthy I was. Sadly, after 6 years of studying and sweating at the New York City High School for the Performing Arts, I left and, like all my fellow pupils there, I didn't really do anything afterwards.

Well, nothing recognisable. Miss Grant had promised me fame and it never arrived. But I never gave up. Maybe recognition isn't important. Maybe the work is reward enough, I often tell myself. And, to be fair, I get a lot out of doing what I do. I'm very satisfied with the skill I have perfected over the years. And I have experienced tiny flashes of fame before and I hated it.

At a recent music festival, a man came up to me and said he listened to Vitriola (he didn't say he liked it, just that he listened to it). Then he asked if he could have an autograph. Not my autograph. Robin Ince's. A couple of years ago at a party, a BBC producer said they were really happy to see me as they had an idea for a Radio 4 series for me. It was very exciting and he certainly gave it an interesting pitch. Well, the first few minutes of the pitch were great but tailed off once the penny dropped that I wasn't Dave Gorman. Turns out beards really can fool people. And, of course, I have signed countless Angela's Ashes DVD's as well as numerous photographs of the successful actor Michael Legge. Photographs of a man who looks nothing like me. It still makes me smile to think that there's a huge fan out there with a pristine shooting script of the film Angela's Ashes signed by Frank McCourt, Robert Carlyle and me, rendering it worthless. 

I was on my way to Scotland the other day and, at King's Cross station, a pigeon did a huge almighty massive shit all over my little suitcase. I mean, it was only a pigeon yet it managed to absolutely cover my little suitcase in shit. Covered it. I soon found myself in a dark corner of the station, alone and on my knees scrubbing away to remove the mess and the stench. And that is exactly how I've always been recognised.

Until yesterday.

If you persevere, people will notice. I know that now. How long have I been doing what I do? Years. So very, very long. I remember starting out and being so nervous. Terrified. But I soon got confident. Sure, yes, I made many mistakes on the way. It's gone disastrously wrong a lot of times but I'm definitely way better than I used to be. I'm confident. And when people see that confidence, they respect it. And you. And if you persevere, people will notice. You got big dreams? You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is were you start paying...

On the metropolitan line going to Amersham yesterday, I asked a man to turn his loud music off that was blasting from his phone and he stared at me. For two seconds. A long time. Then he smiled and switched off his music and said "You again?"

Yes. That's right. That's how famous I am now. I'm the man who tells people to be quiet on public transport. So famous am I at that one thing that people have started to recognise me for it. Apparently, I "had a go" at him on a tube train a couple of years ago. Brilliant. I sat next to him and we talked. Because that's what I do. That's what I'm known for. I ask you once to switch your music off and I have a go at you. If I have to ask you twice, you're getting the lecture.

And this is my life now, I suppose. Fame. That's what I have now. I promise I won't let it change me. Really. I'm still going to be that normal, everyday, down to earth bloke that foams at the mouth if you so much as sniff on a train or make a fucking FaceTime call to a baby while sitting next to me in a quiet pub (WHY THE FUCK DO PEOPLE DO THAT???). No. I'll still be the regular Joe that I always was.

I'd like to thank Miss Grant for believing in me all those years ago. And thanks to @BrianFerry for dinner too. 

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