They know when the line is to be delivered, and demand a subservient silence from the waiting throng. If there’s a raised platform nearby they will quickly scramble to it, demanding any available lighting be concentrated on their primed and dignified face; a face ready to the deliver the line they are certain will elevate their social status to someone who could call the Queen their bitch.
And then it comes: ‘I don’t watch soap operas’ they announce, back straight, eyes into a distant, better horizon. Usually they’ll further punctuate this by appending words such as ‘they’re all a load of rubbish anyway.’
It isn’t the fact that someone doesn’t like soap operas that annoys/amuses me. That is a perfectly sane and valid opinion to hold. It’s the insistence of some individuals to use their dislike of this genre of television as a boast and calling card. As if on hearing this startling insight, the recipients are suddenly going to reassess their opinion of this person; realise they’re dealing with someone capable of winning the final of Mastermind with the specialist subject of ‘The hardest questions you can think of Hawkins’. As if A-Levels and Degrees should be abandoned in favour of having a group of people with clipboards accessing people’s disgust when forced to watch Coronation Street. That maybe job adverts should stipulate that an applicant ‘Must have a full clean driving license and hate at least five “continuing dramas” including Emmerdale.’
And always the people that have ‘I don’t watch soaps’ in the Skills section of their CV, will at some point, unprompted, announce, ‘It’s ridiculous, anyone can be a celebrity these days.’ Well maybe not all of them would say this precisely, but the podgy middle aged bloke with Bristol’s most unnecessary moustache chatting away to his mates ( some ginger ) in the Bishops Tavern, was making this very point.
But I’m not a celebrity, the bad-tash man wasn’t and if he’d have looked around he’d have probably realised the most famous person in the room was the barmaid; and her fleeting brush with celebrity was with the occupants of the pub. Her claim to fame: ‘she serves us beer’.
If ‘anyone can be a celebrity’, it seemed a massive coincidence that all the fifty or so people in this pub had shunned the dirty lure of fame and casual sex to work in open-plan offices or mobile phone retailers. Or maybe I had unwittingly entered a bar that only allows in people who haven’t had the inadequacies of their body detailed by Heat magazine.
We were the clever ones. We’d realised that jumping into the swimming pool of minor celebrity could have you treading water in the urine of daytime television. The risk of turning up to a cocktail party attended by Paul Burrell would be unacceptably high. I still firmly believe that the phrase ‘Diana’s rock’ was a reference to an improvised weapon the Queen of Hearts was planning on bringing into fierce contact with her butler’s head.
If you are a celebrity with no discernable talent that would traditionally class as you as such, then you’re just a picture in the Daily Star; a naive volunteer; your life picked apart like a drunk negotiating a KFC Bargain Bucket. And then when you realise that no one’s taking you seriously; that all you really want now is credibility. You look in the locker to see what you’ve got:
You give up watching Hollyoaks.