Stepping from the escalator, I hear an approaching train and race to the westbound platform, overtaking a familar face.
Eddie Izzard. As I jog past, he is extricating himself graciously from a conversation with a lanky European guy, rushing to join the same carriage as me and – beep beep beep! – the doors close, and here we are.
Here we are.
I never see celebrities. It’s a running joke at my workplace, where we maintain a collaborative celebrity-spotting spreadsheet on Google Docs. Everyone in my office, even the temp, has spotted Clare Balding, who lives nearby, multiple times – and yet still I, the only bona-fide Clare Balding fan in the business, lag behind. It’s still not clear whether I just don’t notice the famous people in passing or if I actually repel the famous people, but the fact remains: I do not see the famous people.
Yet here I am, in a sparsely-populated tube carriage, standing opposite a man whom I quite literally idolize. I have loved Eddie Izzard’s comedy since I was 18. I have wept hot tears of mirth over all of his DVDs and, by my own admission only last night to a new friend, nearly vomited with laughter when I saw his live show ‘Stripped’ last year. My cousin Bryony yesterday confirmed our purchase of tickets to his live show in June 2013.
Now, I’m paralysed – only too conscious of the fact that celebrities must go through their lives being constantly “noticed” by people, being “said hi to” by people, and that I am just another bloody “people” to be noticed by and and said hi to by – but still, surely, I just can’t let this opportunity go. This man has had a formative influence on my ENTIRE SENSE OF HUMOUR, for goodness’ sake.
I’m a massive knob. I go for it. I lurch towards a bearded, trousered Eddie Izzard in the artificial light of the tube train and say Hi. I won’t take up any of your time, but I just want to say: I think you’re fantastic. I want to say, JAZZ CHICKEN, BWOODLE-DI-DOO-DI-DOO! but I don’t.
Duty done, and life mission (after the Caitlin Moran one) fulfilled, I fall back against the bum rest. And Eddie Izzard, the gentleman that he is, takes a fucking interest. At least, he feigns a fucking interest. He thanks me politely, does his funny Eddie Izzard face and asks me, what do I do?
I tell him that I have an office job of which I am deeply ashamed. This is only partly true – I do have an office job, but it’s by no means the bane of my life (coming in extremely handy when it comes to bill-paying and the like) – but I want Eddie Izzard to know that I’m a WRITER and I am FUNNY and that he is a BIG PART OF THAT. But I don’t. I tell him, shyly, that I write a blog in my spare time.
He says Great! What’s it about?
I say It’s about feminism, but more broadly, about what a loser I am.
He says, Bridget Jones?
I say, Bridget Jones-lite.
Neither of us know what to do with this.
I decide to tell Eddie Izzard about a recent D for Dalrymple post – the hairy one. I tell him about my longstanding fascination with the subject of body hair removal and about the response I got from my Questionhair. I divulge some extremely sensitive information that has yet to be published on this blog, or indeed, anywhere else.
Eddie Izzard absorbs the information that I have given him, and to his credit, seems more bemused than disinterested. He offers the opinion that fashions in body hair come and go, but essentially people’s perception of beauty remains unchanged. I ask whether the Mona Lisa would still be beautiful with a lustrous pelt of hair. He apologises for not being an ‘art’ person but says he doesn’t find the Mona Lisa beautiful anyway.
Eddie Izzard and I discuss apes, and whether having a pink bum still means anything in human terms. We decide that apes probably have different criteria when it comes to body hair and bums. There is an awkward silence.
I curse myself for not being able to think of something witty with which to break the awkward silence, but charitably remind myself that I am, in essence, an introvert, and come up with my best material when not under pressure to perform. This, I reflect, is what makes me a writer, and Eddie Izzard a stand-up comedian. Not quite so charitably, I inwardly note that Eddie Izzard is nearly dead on his feet and remarkably lacking in the lols department.
Eddie Izzard explains that he has been out canvassing for Ken Livingstone all day, and shows me his rosette. He will be running for Mayor of London in eight years’ time. In what I hope is a casual, humorous kind of way, I tell him about the lady at Turnham Green who tried to secure my vote for Boris. I realise halfway through my story that nothing really very funny happened in this encounter, and I don’t really have anywhere to go. Again, we lapse into silence.
Eddie Izzard’s fingernails are beautifully laquered in a slatey brown shade. I am suddenly very conscious of my own peeling silver and ragged cuticles. I examine the tube map, and Eddie Izzard drifts off. He opens an eye when some boys further down the carriage take pictures and their camera-phones make the fake shutter noise. Our train is delayed.
Eddie Izzard says So, what will your novel be about? I repeat my tired, old joke about how most people have a novel inside of them, but I seem to be the exception to the rule, Ha ha ha! He fixes me with a baleful stare and comments that it takes determination to succeed. He mentions a conversation that he has had with John Malkovich in which the latter said that some people have ambition without determination. I say that I understand how John Malkovich feels exactly, exactly. Eddie Izzard says that he still thinks you need determination. We are silent again.
I remember I have spent my week singing. Perhaps this is something Eddie Izzard and I can talk about.
It is not.
The train stops for a spell at Leicester Square. There is a problem at Hyde Park Corner. The train driver doesn’t know how long we will stay here. Eddie Izzard and I examine our watches.
After three minutes, he stands up, asks me if I’ll chance staying on. I nod. We exchange tired smiles. He wishes me good luck, murmurs something about the importance of determination and sticking power, shakes my hand warmly and disembarks.
Three seconds later, the driver announces that we will be on our way. The doors whizz shut and the train speeds west, leaving Eddie Izzard standing on the platform*.
* He’s loaded. He’ll have got a cab.
EDITED at 0835 on Friday 4 May for grammar and lols
Very entertaining piece…hoping Jeff Vader reads it ♥
I applaud you whole heartedly for being a massive knob and saying hello 🙂 Well done, Chris! I would have just sat their drooling, possibly erroneously quoting Blackadder under the immense sudden pressure of his glorious presence. I’m sure you were far more charming than you recall…
I don’t think I’d have managed to get past “I like my women like I like my coffee. With a spoon in them!” Good work.
I have just remembered the bit of Eddie Izzard I quoted at Eddie Izzard (having previously suppressed the memory). He said ‘Are you driven?’ and I said ‘Oooh yes, driven everywhere!’ He didn’t laugh. Presumably he still thinks it’s a crap joke.
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