i remember the day i was told to fuck off by a celebrity.
there was a time when wayne sleep was the shizzle, and the time he was hot stuff was also the time my old man was working at the wig and pen club on the strand.
back then the wig and pen was the oldest club in london - the building had survived the great fire of london. it being an olde building it was a bit pokey - but i guess that was the charm of it. mostly it catered to judges, lawyers and journalists (see wig and pen - awesome, and of course its location is also a dead give away to rich and expense account types who wined and dined there. dad was in his element there handing out a line of patter to any tom dick and harry who came in mixing deference with sarcasm while drinking himself to an early grave.
(a bit of a digression here - a while back i had this idea to do a piece about my dad and the clubs and hotels he worked at sort of this is the only way a bloke like him could get to a place like this thing. i thought i would start with the wig and pen. i rocked up there to see if i could talk to someone about my idea and bugger me senseless it had been turned into a thai fast food joint - i was gutted.)
back to the story.
for a reason that escapes me wayne sleep had gone to the wig and pen club. a few days later this visit was immortalised in cartoon form in a national newspaper. the cartoon featured my old man very prominently.
needless to say he was made up.
at the time i was studying at the london school of economics. one of the things i used to do when i was studying was to wander around soho and the west end at night.
one night i was walking down long acre in covent garden and walking close by me is wayne sleep. we are pacing each other. he is oblivious to me. i am staring at him like a loon. i want to say hey you appear in a cartoon with my dad, but i don't. instead i keep staring at him as we keep walking in the same direction. i still want to mention that he has appeared in a cartoon with my dad, but i don't i just keep staring. by this stage wayne has noticed me. he is looking at me in an odd worried way. but why i think, after all you have appeared in a cartoon in a national daily paper with my dad. i said nothing, i kept staring and had an inane grin on my face. quite what wayne sleep must have been thinking i have no idea but i very much doubt he was thinking - i bet i have appeared in a cartoon with his doubt. he was more than likely to be thing along the lines of: who is this weird fucker?
obviously i ignore this glare from wayne sleep.
unfortunately we are still walking in the same direction and we have matched pace. i am still giving him that look that clearly says you have appeared in a cartoon with my dad but wayne sleep is being a bit of an idiot and he is just not getting it. i mean come on – i am the son of the man he appeared in how can he not want to acknowledge that.
i can honestly say that no part of my rational or common sense brain was working – so i am not picking up the warning signs or realising just how stupid i am being.
we continue on this mad path for a bit longer me with the stare but never once articulating why i am staring. him thinking i am a mad arse stalker weirdo. finally he snaps 'why don't you fuck off you cunt?'
i am somewhat taken aback and stop in my tracks. wayne sleep disappears into a building, he had obviously timed his wildean barb at just the moment he was arriving at his destination.
i am left alone in the dark night time street – there is no one around. i am a tad upset not because wayne sleep had sworn at me but because he still didn't get it he appeared in a cartoon with my dad, how didn't he know? then there is a moment of worry, perhaps he did know and perhaps i've ended up getting my old man into trouble. that bothers me as i walk to the tube station.
somewhere in the middle of the tube ride i realise what a tit i have been and smile ruefully at the whole thing – i have been told to fuck off by a celebrity, and deservedly so.
that said i still wonder if wayne realises just how lucky he was to be in a cartoon with my dad? i doubt it: his loss.