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.
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').