Given my frequent comments about not liking ‘the celebrity culture’, you may not be surprised to learn that I have worshipped few heroes in my life.
Which is not to say that I don’t admire and respect those who have genuinely achieved in their lifetimes, merely that it takes a little more to impress me than ferocious ambition, fluke luck, hype, technically-enhanced performances, and cleverly staged and televised auditions.
Nor does it belittle the many actors and actresses, singers, musicians, writers, directors, producers, filmmakers, sports men and women, and artists of all shapes, sizes, branches, disciplines and genres, who have enriched and brought joy to my life.
I love to watch them and listen to them. I love to lose myself in their work. I am happy to shell-out my hard earned shekels, to recompense them for their undoubted talents, but to actually fete and worship them. . ?
I’m sorry, but no.
If I may paraphrase Neil Simon, from the multi-award-winning motion picture The Goodbye Girl. . . Great artists and their work are wonderful to watch, admire, and even emulate. It’s only when they climb down from their pedestals, and mingle with the rest of us, that everyone’s life gets screwed up!
Neil Simon was a little more pithy but how true that so often proves.
However, there is a small and elite band of humankind that I do place higher than ordinary mortals, and since I have nothing else going on in my head this week, as with most weeks, I have decided to share that list with you. . . You lucky people!
So, here goes. . . . . . .
My earliest recollection of something more than admiration for another unrelated human being was Sir Winston Churchill.
I can still recall the fit of melancholy that enveloped me as I stood on a frozen Sunningdale station platform in January of 1965, and watched the great man’s coffin pass by on that final journey to his eternal resting place.
It was about the same time when my immediate future was decided, in the Headmaster’s study that day, and if you have no idea as to what I’m talking about you should read Flying with Cuckoos.
However, far from my recollection of that chastening experience, my recollection of Churchill was a man of boundless charisma, and a life filled with achievement and inspiration.
Since that time I have added four more inspirational figures to my elite club of ‘celebrities’ and all for different reasons.
Audrey Hepburn was the second ‘celebrity’ to be added to the short list, because she was quite simply the most beautiful movie star of all time; dainty and delicate and impish and stylish and quite, quite beautiful. She has inspired legions of celebrity wannabes, but to my mind there will only ever be one Audrey Hepburn.
Next came Margaret Thatcher, who was anything but dainty and delicate, and I am sure that many in Britain consider her something akin to the antichrist. I have no intention of getting into political argument, but whatever else people may or may not think about Thatcher, one thing is indisputable.
She picked up the crown of Britain’s democratic process, from where Ted Heath had left it lying in the gutter, in 1974, and restored It to its rightful place. Margaret Thatcher makes my list for that act alone.
Then comes Seve Ballesteros, because I love sport, and I love golf, and I love charismatic characters.
Forget about who’s better or worse, or who won this or who won that.
In my golfing lifetime I’ve hit the ball over four-hundred yards, albeit with a following gale-force wind. I’ve had holes-in-one, albatrosses and back-to-back eagles, sunk sixty-foot putts, and returned sub-par rounds. I have seen the best, talked to the best, and occasionally played with the best, but Seve was different. Seve could play shots that were beyond the comprehension of mere mortals.
I once met and chatted to him, and even had the good fortune to play one of my finest-ever golf shots under the gaze of the great man. It was a major thrill. I was so sad to see his life cut short by such a terrible disease, but grateful that he has inspired others to take up the battle against cancer.
They can be contacted on. . .
Last, but by no means least in my list, is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
I have twice been fortunate enough to meet and speak to Her Majesty, and on both occasions she left me in awe. That she has so graciously and dutifully served this country for over sixty years, and continues to do so, is both inspiring and humbling. Long may she continue to reign.
That’s about it. My short list and my first- and last-ever post on ‘celebrities’. . . I promise.
Have a good one.