Sunday, May 27, 2007

Six degrees of conversation

A list of famous people to whom I have spoken on the telephone, but have never met.

Elvis Costello, Mark Almond (pop stars). These were both phone interviews. Costello was in a very jolly mood, despite the fact he'd just been on The Big Breakfast. This was disappointing, as I was hoping to get him to say something dyspeptic and cruel. He was rather uncomplimentary about Status Quo, but otherwise he just mused about playing gigs where the punters have to get home before midnight, because that's what they arranged with the babysitter. Marc was a bit scatty, but charming. And, no, I didn't ask about the stomach pump, and it's not true.

Herbie Mann (legendary jazz flautist). Another interview. A little crabby, but he was dying at the time, so that was fair enough. Admitted the only modern music he listened to was Sting, which really wasn't fair enough.

Steve Lillywhite (record producer and ex-Mr Kirsty MacColl). He called my flat because he needed to speak to his next-door neighbour, a violinist who was getting off his face in my living-room. I said, "I'll just get him." Steve said, "Thanks."

Justin de Villeneuve (who discovered Twiggy). He wanted to talk to my flatmate, because she was working on a play about his life, starring Paul King (who sang 'Love and Pride', and ended up working for VH1). I said, "I'll just get her." Justin said, "Thanks," but in a more languid manner than Steve had done. This, I think, epitomises the difference between the 1960s and the 1980s.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes (explorer, marathon runner, posh nutter). Needed to talk to the editor of a magazine I was working on. I said I'd get the editor to call back. Sir Ranulph said: "Well, there's not much point in calling until it gets dark. I'm going to be hammering in fenceposts for the rest of the afternoon."

Simon Hickson (off of cult kids' TV duo Trevor and Simon, the analogue Ant and Dec). Phoned to discuss a request I'd made to numerous worthies to contribute their memories of university to a book I was compiling. Nothing came of it. On second thoughts, maybe it was Trevor, not Simon.

Your turn.

PS: As soon as I posted this, I remembered two more: Steven Wells, aka Swells, aka Seething Wells, aka Susan Williams, who used to place thinly-disguised SWP tracts in the NME, disguised as glowing reviews of disposable pop guff and/or death metal; and Manda Rin from Glaswegian lo-fi trio Bis (who did 'Kandy Pop').

34 comments:

patroclus said...

None come to mind for me, but my brother has spoken to David Bowie on the phone. Bowie's son Joe was in the same house as my brother at school, and my brother once answered the house phone when the the Thin White Duke rang to speak to him. My brother said 'I'll just get him.' Bowie said 'Thanks,' but I don't know in what tone of voice.

I used to see Paul King at the bus stop in Kentish Town, waiting for the 134 to take him down to the VH1 studio in Camden. Frankly he could have walked; it's not far, and it would have been good exercise.

Annie said...

Ooh, this is fun.

Lulu. She said ‘My name’s Lulu, I’m a singer.’ She wanted to meet one of our flaky mind body and spirit authors, to talk to him about auras or crystals or angels or something. I said ‘Hold on, I’ll put you through to publicity.’ My colleague in the background was hooting at the top of her voice ‘Lulu, lulu, lulu!’ (not realising it was the Lulu.)

Jilly Cooper. She said ‘It’s Jilly Cooper, can I speak to Tom Rosenthal?’ I said, he’s out, can I get him to call you? She said, ‘Don’t worry darling, I’ll be writing in my little shed at the bottom of my garden…’ Jilly Cooper called me darling!

Gore Vidal. He said ‘It’s Gore Vidal, for Tom Rosenthal.’ I said, ‘Hold on, I’ll put you through.’ Then I cut him off. (Not on purpose.) Tom Rosenthal hit the roof – it was in the days before email & he was phoning through an obituary for someone important who had just died.

Annie said...

Steven Wells was a she?! Well I never...

Tim Footman said...

Dylan Jones tells a story about how Bowie once phoned him up and said "Is that Peggy?", thinking it was his mum. (Both called Jones, see, got the wrong line in the address book.) Doesn't count, because I presume Dylan Jones has met David Bowie. But presumably it also means that Dylan Jones sounds like an old lady.

My sister-in-law saw Lulu at the vet's once.

I Cut Gore Vidal Off. What Norman Mailer wants on his gravestone.

And Steven Wells wasn't a she. Susan Williams was a he. Long story, and only of interest to aficionados of the 80s punk performance poetry scene.

bye bye bellulah said...

Rudolf Nureyev, (God) I said "can I kiss you too?" he just smiled and nodded (so I did - no tongues, natch)
Richard Gere (actor) held a door open for me cos I had a pint in both hands and a fag in my mouth, I said "thanks" he said "you're welcome"
Jilly Cooper (star) is a star. She was almost out of the door after a literary lunch and saw me watching, turned and walked back through the crowded hall just to come and say thank you to me (working as till monkey at literary lunch).
Russell Grant (astrologer) told me off for not stocking his books in his local bookshop (nr Snowdonia). Should've seen that one coming.
Bobby Ball (arse) - he wasn't even funny

ps thanks for the link!

dh said...

American Express (now a McDonalds outlet)in Syntagma Square, Athens used to handle poste restante. I once found myself in line to check mail behind Henry Miller. As he was leaving I said '...er Mr. Miller I...' He said 'Fuck off.'

Tim Footman said...

Those are all great, Nureyev and Miller especially. But they're face-to-face. I'm looking for phone conversations with no prior or subsequent meatspace interface.

If we're talking real world, I could talk about treading on Luther Vandross's foot (he aplogised - what a sweet man), making a Martini for Wayne Sleep, or sharing a big bag of crisps with Ian Hislop, Pam (Ma Larkin) Ferris and the tallest man in Britain...

Annie said...

Incidentally, I remember thinking Elvis Costelloe was hideously ugly back in the day. Now I look at this photo of him and think he's absolutely 100% my cup of tea - funny how your tastes change...

patroclus said...

Hm, I used to really, really fancy Elvis Costello back in the day, but he doesn't really do anything for me now.

Murph said...

How do you know the business of the stomach pump is not true if you didn't ask?

rivergirlie said...

barefoot doctor - i interviewed him on the phone once.
dan pearson, garden designer - ditto.
whadya mean? you've never heard of either of them!

bye bye bellulah said...

Duh, s'pose it would help to actually read the post properly.

Magnus Magnusson - I took a message from him apologising graciously for not being able to attend a party. and said, hello, yes, ok, ok, no problem, yes, thank you, bye. He was more eloquent.

Robert Swipe said...

Would that be well known seventies dullard David Bowie then Patroclus? How did *he* *ever* get his son into the same school as Patroclus Major (or is it Minor?), I wonder??

Mind you, they'll take any old shite at Gordonstoun nowadays, I hear...

I have never had a telephone, so you'll have to put up with the face-to-face encounters...

I once spoke at length to Neil Conti (ex- of crap 80s popsters Prefab Sprout, but better known for having been David "70s dullard/father of public school twat Joe" Bowie at Live *phhht-terrr-ping* [that's a spitting with disgust into a spitoon sound, btw....] Aid in 1985). It was at the Red Lion Brentford - which just goes to show how far he's fallen by then. It's now a MacDonalds, so it could have been worse I suppose...

I once exchanged a few words with ex- Liverpool and Manchester United legend and current Reading manager Steve "Stevie" Coppell at a veterans five-a-side tournament in Twickers. They were "cheers Steve", to be precise. He'd just kicked a ball back onto the pitch for us. Great first touch - you never lose it...

I've also had several emails from Alan "I invented Oasis" McGee. Usually telling me that if I don't move away from his drive way, I will be physically escorted from the premises by the constabulary.

No sense of humour the jocks, have they?

L.U.V. on ya,

Bob

Oh almost forgot to plug the podcast

Oh and I went to college with Mrs. Jim Irvin - Sally Margaret Joy to all those sad non-NME readers from the late 80s....She *would* have, I reckon....

And Patti Boulaye and Robert Wyatt (well, his missus, Alfreda Benge gave it to me, but it was his money...) both gave me money when I was busking - presumably to shut me up...

Tim Footman said...

I have never fancied Elvis Costello, but I've kinda wanted to be him for about 30 years, which is much the same thing.

And in an odd bout of small-worldery, I have met Magnus Magnusson and Patti Boulaye in real life, and spoken to Jim Irvin on the phone.

But not Neil Conti. There's class.

patroclus said...

Bob: I might actually have based my entire opinion of Bowie purely on his dubious choice of educational establishment. What on earth was he thinking?

I had an email from Steven Johnson the other day. It was very exciting.

realdoc said...

I have given medical advice over the phone about a little baby who was Elvis Costello's god-daughter.
Ditto with Frank McLintock, 70's arsenal icon. The baby didn't say much just crying really. Mr McLintock sounded very Scottish.
My sister went out with a guy who had a message from Van Morrison on his answer phone.


These aren't very impressive are they?

Tim Footman said...

E-mails are a whole different ball game, as are letters. I got one from Tony Benn once, and then I lost it. But what did Mr Johnson have to say, P? Was it filthy?

I think they're pretty cool, Doc. And good to know that the intervening years haven't turned Frank McLintock into, say, a Norwegian.

Did the guy just happen to have been called by Van recently? Or did he keep and treasure the message, like George's top score on the video machine in Seinfeld?

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

I have no exciting sleb phone stories, apart from briefly speaking on the phone with Welsh singer/songwriter Martyn Joseph once. I was helping a friend organise a concert.

However, I love the concept of 'meatspace'. It made me chuckle for exactly 47 seconds. And that, for me, is a sizable chuckle...

First Nations said...

every major U.S. player in the Scientology organization of the 80's (excepting LRH himself, who was being kept stoned to the tits by then to keep him from screaming and swatting at body thetans.) and to each and every one of these luminaries I said "Just a moment please!' and connected them. one would think that, as Operating Thetans, they would have no use for MEST Tech and would prefer to conduct their business via pure theta, but apparently no.

Annie Rhiannon said...

Hee, fun post. Unfortunately I've never spoken to anyone famous on the phone so I can't join in.

But, like you said, I have seen Björk's minge.

Tim Footman said...

In the interests of full disclosure, 9/10, I should stress that I first encountered the word 'meatspace' on Patroclus's blogroll.

That's fab, FN. Does it include celeb Thetans, or Kirsty Alley?

See, Annie. If you'd spoken to the minge on the phone, you could have had a slice of fame.

rivergirlie said...

just thought of a better one - i once spoke to stephen spender on the phone - IN FRENCH - and it was one of those things where neither of you wants to give in first, so the whole thing was en francais. ludicrous really.

Pisces Iscariot said...

I once spoke to Jesus on the phone...he said i owed him and his dad bigtime.

Marsha Klein said...

See, this is why, although I read your blog almost every day, I very rarely comment. I thought your last post was excellent but couldn't think of anything worthwhile to add and I've never spoken to anyone famous on the 'phone.

I saw Dylan Moran chasing one of his children in John Lewis. And having pizza with his family (ditto Clive Anderson, actually). And on the bus with his wife and their new baby. But no 'phone calls.

Tim Footman said...

Double points for a dead one, rivergirlie. I hope you told him where to stick the plume of his tante.

PI, you should have taped that and played it to Richard Dawkins. The thought of his face, as he sees his entire livelihood evaporating...

I don't see why you feel so inhibited, Marsha. It's not as if anyone here has anything particularly useful or intelligent to say, least of all me. Well-crafted bollocks is about as good as we get. But I'd watch out for that restraining order from Dylan Moran if I were you.

bye bye bellulah said...

I agree with marsha klein, there is something addictively daunting about this blog. I'm just sledge-hammering away as a kind of deep immersion therapy and because I'm not getting enough at the moment, I guess, and need to keep myself otherwise occupied.

BiB said...

I've spoken to Etienne Daho and Karl Urban by phone, but I met them too, so does that make them not count? In any case, folk might not have heard of them without slightly special - French or Lord of the Rings, in this case - knowledge.

Prince Charles once asked my sister what she had in her plastic bag, and it was her sandwiches, but there wasn't even a hint of telephonicness involved. Can I pretend he phoned her especially?

Tim Footman said...

So this blog is like some kind of psychosexual comfort blanket, Bellulah? Well, it's always nice to be wanted.

And bib, if a middle-aged man phoned me up to ask what I had in my bag, I'd report him. Etienne Daho's cool though.

Richard LP said...

Once, when drunk at a drumming festival on a Japanese island, I made a reverse charge call from a phone box to Dame Barbara Cartland. She accepted the charges, and chatted on at length.

Tim Footman said...

Damn you, Richard, I think that trumps everyone else's efforts, for context if not for the celebrity contact.

Was the late scribe an aficionado of Japanese drumming? Or of phone calls from personable drunkards?

Richard LP said...

She just really, really liked to talk. To anyone, about anything. For hours and hours.

Valerie said...

Damn. I hate the phone, so I've never talked to anyone truly famous on the phone, though I've met (but not talked to on the phone) Harlan Ellison, and had breakfast at his house, and then got yelled at by him for not watching television. But I don't think that counts.

Robert Swipe said...

"I might actually have based my entire opinion of Bowie purely on his dubious choice of educational establishment. What on earth was he thinking?"

Yep, that would represent an excellent modus operandus on which to form an opinbion of one of the greatest artsist still managing to haul his weary bones across the planet's surface. I'd certainly agree that sending your son to Gordonstoun outweighs the artistic merit of The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Pin Ups, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, Station to Station, Low, Heroes*....what *was* I thinking of all those years??

Bob

*I could go on.

Oh, and Jazzin' for Blue Jean...

Nowhere Girl said...

Does voice mail count? For someone else? I had a brief temp job for Yngwie Malmsteen's manager (remember Yngwie? That German heavy metal rocker?) Yngwie was pissed, and possibly stoned, and left a rambling voice mail message because his manager had cut off his access to his bank account. Apprently, Yngwie and his wife went through $10,000 in a month (I wonder what they spent it on, hmm?), and his manager had to cut him off for his own good. Yngwie was like "I want my money and I want it now! It's my money!"