A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Friday, 11 May 2012

Hooptedoodle #52 – On Being Rich and Famous

Nothing gets Breakfast TV switched off quicker in our house than the scheduled few minutes with the Show-Biz Correspondent, possibly live from Hollywood, with tales of who has been seen with whom. Glossing over the fact that I have not heard of most of the people mentioned, I really cannot believe that anyone gives a rat’s about this stuff. Does someone out there actually care?

Not being interestingly rich or famous myself, I have never paid much attention to the private lives of those who are. I accept that I appear to be in a minority here, so let’s be a bit more specific – I don’t care much about the private lives of people who are still alive, anyway. Once, long ago, astounded to learn on the BBC’s lunch-time national news that a Palace Spokesman had told the world’s press that Princess Diana was suffering from a slight cold (she was still alive at the time, I hasten to add), I complained to my wife-of-the-day that I was once again thinking of resigning from the human race, or any other species which spent its time waiting for daily news of this calibre. Bad move – I was immediately skewered with a familiar laser-beam stare.

“You,” she said, “should be trying to get in the queue to JOIN the bloody human race”.

To this day, I am sure she was right, so since then I have tried to keep track of areas where I don’t quite line up with the mainstream – not because I necessarily wish to change, you see, but because a little understanding never did any harm, and forewarned is fore-something-or-othered. Armed – yes, that was it.

All those magazines that stare at me next to the checkout in the supermarket – the ones with an exclamation mark at the end of the title – all plugged into some national obsession. “Katy Price tells all – exclusive”, and there is Katy on the cover, looking right at me – sharing her secret just with me. Good on you, girl. You tell em. Don’t tell me, though, for goodness sake.  

That’s what nearly all kids want to be now – rich and famous. Rich = famous. I’m not so sure about that, but there is a general assumption that fame brings riches, and you have to be rich to be interesting. Just as well that Jesus or Gandhi aren’t around now, then – they would get no coverage at all.

I see special celebrity editions of shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, and many of the supposed celebs are unknown to me. There are more and more famous people, it seems, and I’m still not one of them. I’m probably jealous – that must be it.

I knew we were in trouble a few years ago when I saw a bit of a TV show which featured people who earned money from being professional look-alikes – being booked to turn up at hen-parties and suchlike. I found that an interesting idea, and I thought the Bruce Springsteen clone was really good, but there was one character I had not come across before, and it turned out that this particular guy earned his living from impersonating one of the then-current stooges on the Big Brother reality TV show. Just a minute – but isn’t that a reality show, featuring real people (i.e. non-celebrities)? Does that mean that exposure on reality TV converts people into celebrities important enough to justify the existence of a paid look-alike?

This is scary – especially since anyone who thinks he sings quite well in the bath can now get publicly humiliated on Britain’s Got Talent – are they all famous too? At this rate, everyone is going to be a celebrity eventually. I hadn’t thought of this – if I become the last man on earth that no-one has heard of, surely in its way that would be, like, really exclusive? I mean, you know, such a person would be interesting enough to warrant some media exposure. Someone should interview him on TV to see what’s wrong with him. Ghost-write his autobiog. Hmmm.

On the radio recently there was a pointless phone-in about something or other, and someone was sounding off at length about the obscene amount of money Wayne Rooney gets paid a week, and what a disgrace this is. [For non-UK readers, or UK readers who could not care less, Rooney is a prominent football (soccer) player with Manchester United – arguably the most gifted English player at the moment, and his private life keeps the media and the public in a state of great excitement]. For once, the pundit in the studio seemed to me to have something sensible to say:

(1)   If Rooney is offered a certain, very high, wage, is he expected to say (as we all would, of course), “Oh no, that’s far too high – I’m not worth it”? Bear in mind that a single bad injury could end his playing career tomorrow, so this whole issue is very high-geared. The man is not a filing clerk.

(2)   This is a free market – if the complainer begrudges him the money (or envies it?), all they have to do is apply for Rooney’s job. I’m sure that Man Utd would be delighted to talk to them.

Is all this, ultimately, just about envy?

I fear that, once again, I have not progressed my ideas very far – I’ve just sort of wheeled them out of the shed. No matter, I can wheel them back again for another day. On the general topic of not fitting in with the times, here’s a good song from Loudon Wainwright – this is the best clip I could find. I’m sorry that the last 4 minutes or so appear to be silent – you can stop it when the music ends or, if you prefer, you could use the silence to meditate on a topic of your choice. I guess LW is not rich or interesting enough to justify a better clip.

Once, back in the days when I wore a suit every day, I was mistaken for someone famous. I was hurrying up Charlotte Street, in the centre of Edinburgh, late for a meeting with a lawyer, as I recall, when I was stopped by two middle-aged ladies with beaming smiles.

“You’re him, aren’t you?” said one, “him on the telly.”

I was a bit taken aback, and explained that I was sorry, but I was not him.

“Oh, come on!” said the second lady, “we know who you are!”

I muttered something appropriately pathetic, and continued to my meeting.   

Later the same day I was telling some colleagues about this. One of them couldn’t believe that I hadn’t asked who they thought I was. I was a bit surprised that I hadn’t asked, too, but deep down I’ve always known that I would probably have been upset if I had found out, so I’m glad I never knew. Sometimes I do wonder, though.

That’s as near to famous as I ever got.


  1. The words "Celebs" and "Goss" make me die inwardly evry time I see or hear them. I could go on and on about this subject-but keeping it short I am with you on the UK's obsession with the whole parade of plastic, orange skinned Z-listers!!!

    1. Aahh - I was rather hoping you would go on and on about it. No - you have to rest - understood.

  2. I heard a rumor that you were once a famous musician. Talk your way out of that one. If youre famous how come you ain't rich?

    1. Lies - all lies. I was one of the ones that passed the medical for the rhythm section, so I used to keep my head down. The guys in the front line got famous - we were there just to help them sound half decent. Anyway, I've done my time for all that.

  3. I can't stand all the celeb worship crap, I couldn't give a shit who's shagging who and whatnot and for spouting off about it at home I get that stare as well along with "Your a miserable old git" Then I then proudly agree, nodding my head!!

    1. Ray - there's a dark plot at work - real sexual politics in action. All to do with the emergence of women in the media - TV is programmed by women for women - who else would watch reality TV anyway? The press are the same - everybody mindlessly poking into everyone else's business, gossiping and telling lies. We have a celeb culture because we are directed to have one - mags build people up so they can write about them and ultimately blackmail or destroy them. I hope it stops soon - I am getting very fed up with it.

  4. There's a queue to join the Human Race? Is it long? Hardly seems worth the bother most days. I think I'll wait till the queue's shorter.

    1. It's only hearsay - I thought about it for a while, but it doesn't sound like my sort of thing. Anyway, I think they would keep asking me what I was doing in their garden.

    2. The bouncer probably wouldn't like my shoes.

  5. I'd like to agree with all that you wrote above, except that I have a guilty secret, well, maybe it does not count as 'hero worship' as such, I'm not sure. I once staggered up to Max Wall and his Mrs who were having a quiet drink in a Greenwich pub and shook his hand vigorously, mumbling something about finding him incredibly funny. I'm not sure he could understand me, it was noisy and I was slightly drunk, but he smiled back and said "thank you". I'm sure he thought I was being a nuisance, maybe all celebs think those hoards of worshipers are being a pain in the proverbial? No, I doubt it, it feeds those enormous egos of course.

    Changing the subject slightly I have been browsing back over your images and those hexes look kind of interesting. Got me thinking.

    All the best,

    1. Lee - good to hear from you. Good story - that sounds to me like someone making an appropriate, courteous tribute to someone who was genuinely talented, which is exactly the correct thing to do. You must always tell them you love them.

      In Max Wall's day, we didn't really have celebs in the modern sense - different context.

      If you want to have a chat about hexes - pros & cons etc - email me through the blogger profile - I'll be delighted.



  6. Late postcript - I swear I didn't watch it, but I understand the winner of Britian's Got Talent was a dog.

    omg etc - that puts a whole new dimension on things. Will the supermarket checkout now feature editions of 'Wuff!', with revelations about who's been sniffing at which lampposts?

  7. Yes Tony, a 'dancing dog' no less, so my daughter told me! Says it all really. Apparently it could walk across the stage on two legs too!

    I would love to hear your thoughts on using a hex system, I'll email you later, thanks. I have just posted a few thoughts of my own on 'grids' on my blog.


  8. Which is why we haven't had a television for over ten years now...


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