Thursday, 1 July 2010

Excuse me I'm terribly cultured you know

One of the things I have secretly been enjoying PB (post breakup) is the age old “I-don’t-have-to-answer-to-anyone” routine. It’s been refreshing to not have to worry about someone else for a while, to not have to let someone know where I am and how long I’m going to be there for. I obviously let Housemate know my general plans but there isn’t the need to detail every aspect of my plans anymore.

I took full advantage of this yesterday when a spur of the moment opportunity arose. Roy Hattersley was speaking at Hull Truck Theatre and Housemate was going with a friend who pulled out at the last minute, she asked me if I wanted to go. Why the hell not? The ticket was already paid for and sometimes it’s fun to do things spur of the moment.

I know. Me. The Ultimate Planner. Doing something spur of the moment. I’m not going to lie, it gave me quite a thrill.

It’s also fun to do something new and this would most definitely be uncharted waters for me. Roy Hattersley? Who? I vaguely knew something about him, I was pretty sure he was a Labour politician way back when and I was pretty sure he had white hair and I knew he used to have a dog. That was pretty much the extent of my knowledge. (If you did want to know a little more about him than these frankly unhelpful facts then Wikipedia can help you out.)

He was in Hull to talk at the Humber Mouth Festival (are there too many links in this post already? I fear so). We Hull people are a proud lot and anyone who has a link with Hull automatically becomes adopted by us, we bravely take ownership of them and will tell anyone who listens that this famous person has a link with Hull. More often than not it’s that they went to the University. But that’s close enough. Roy Hattersley went to Hull University and was friends with Philip Larkin – that’s a done deal as far as we’re concerned, you belong to us now. (And he did Economics at University which most definitely makes him my best friend. Us geeks have to stick together you know.)

He was there to talk about a book he has out called In Search of England which is a collection of some of his essays and columns that he was produced for various publications over the years. I was a little apprehensive to be honest, I tend to avoid anything overly political with a bargepole, I have my preferences and my opinions and I tend to prefer to keep them to myself rather than be tagged with a label.

I needn’t have worried. Politics were not on the agenda. Little wonder given that the zenith of his career, his election as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, happened the same year that I was born. He is now firmly an author and, I guess, journalist. I discovered that he’s produced a phenomenal number of books over the years on a whole range of topics, from biographies of William Booth and David Lloyd George, to the publication of his dog Buster’s secret diaries.

This talk however focused on England. And his love of England. A whimsical and romantical (yeah it’s a word) notion of England, all stiff upper lip and rolling dales and cricket on the green. He talked about some of the stories that are in the book and I found it really quite remarkable. What a talent to be able to just stand and tell some stories to a crowded theatre full of people and fully engage with them and make them laugh. I think I fell a little bit in love with him. (In a “I want you to be my grandfather way” not a “I want you to be my sugar Daddy” weird kind of way.)

And he reminded me of something. That’s it ok to be proud to be English. I dislike that the notion of patriotism has been hijacked and has become synonymous with racism, it seems a shame, America has got it down to a fine art. But listening to Roy talk I felt the stirrings of pride in me, you know what? England is rather marvellous, I like that I’m English, I like our stiff upper lip and rolling dales (but unfortunately don’t care much for the cricket) and I think I should make more of an effort to celebrate it.

But most of all I liked Roy Hattersley.

At the end of the talk his book was on sale and he was there signing copies. I bought a copy of the book that I really can’t afford because I just didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get a signed copy. (I’m all about meeting the famous people, one day I’ll tell you about the time I met Henry Winkler and interviewed Mark Owen from Take That.) As I drew closer to him I felt the familiar nerves and shakiness set in, I would love to say that I am cool and calm in the face of fame but I’m absolutely not, I get completely over-awed by it and usually make a fool out of myself.

I wanted to say something to him but I wasn’t sure what.

This might be my only opportunity.

Say something.


I’m really glad you came!” I blurted out in my most nerdiest style.

Well thank you for coming” came the stock reply.

I felt like I needed to get over just how much I enjoyed the talk but didn’t want to sound like a crazy stalker lady.

No I’m really glad I came because to be honest I didn’t really know who you were...”

Good one lady. Insult the nice man. I needed to make a recovery...

“...But now I do know who you are and I would really like to get to know you better.”

FAIL. I meant “get to know him” through his books not in the creepy way but I was mortified with my delivery and waited for the tap on my shoulder and the inevitable escorting off the premises.

Luckily for me he is a true gentleman and I think he managed to understand what I was trying to say and he smiled at me, handed back his book and said “Well that’s lovely, there’s no better testimonial than that.”

He’ll probably never come to Hull again for fear of bumping into me.

I need to work on my style when dealing with famous people in the future.

PS There was a little talk of politics at the end of the evening when he opened up the floor to questions. It was inevitable that people would ask him about the decision to go to war in Iraq (he opposes it now but was all for it back then because he had been told there were WMD) and the state of the Labour Party now and who he thinks the next Labour Party leader should be (Ed Milliband is the answer if you were wondering).
PPS And if you're like me and can never quite remember which Milliband brother is which (there should be a law against 2 brothers running for Party leader, it's most confusing), I can tell you that Ed Milliband is what I refer to as The Other Milliband. David I call the Man Child because of his creepily boyish looks, Ed is the, lets face it, less good-looking one. Don't feel bad about it Ed.


  1. OMG you hit on Roy Hattersley! LOL

  2. You are extremely good at writing what is really going make me laugh...I feel like I know you by the way you write. And I love that you are taking good care of yourself PB as you put it. Good on you!

  3. Hello! I am here at last, sorry I have been a bit under the weather! You have just made me howl with laughter (again!) so funny, just the sort of thing I would do. In fact i did do something the other night, when I was telling this man that My mouth had gone all wonky on me in the supermarket before, and A whole sentence had come out sounding like Sylvester the cat! And that I had had a massive giggling fit in Booths! ANy way the man opened his mouth to speaak and he had a really bad lisp... I felt mortified, but also suddenly had an overwhelming urge to guffaw too. I said to George We have to go NOW! I only managed to say goodbye and leave the pub before I broke into fits again! Talk about a social clutz (?). Roy Hattersley sounds great, and you know I am proud of Britain, and you are right why should being patriotic be misconstrued as racism. I would like the whole world to be on big melting pot with everyone living happily together, but I am proud of Britain, there are so many cool things about it to be proud of. It is more appreciation of what we have here, which is lacking in some people. They don't know how lucky they are to live here! Have a wonderful weekend! Suzie xxxx

  4. Thats so funny!!! I think Roy Hattersley is a Sheffield lad (and a Sheffield Wednesday fan if I'm not mistaken). He always seemed very down to earth and likeable - I don't lnow about either of the Millibands though. Bring back politicians that look like Michael Foot I say. xxxxxPS glad your doing impulsive things.

  5. Sounds like a great evening and I quite like the sound of that book. You're right not enough people are proud to be British, or maybe they're just afraid to say so for fear of upsetting someone. Love your chat with Roy lol.

  6. I met him once when he was doing a book promo in Bradford. At the Corn Exchange I think. When it used to be Dillons. Or something. I must have only been in my teens.

    The books was a diary from the point of view of his dog. I didn't buy it but it seems to get pretty good reviews on Amazon.

    I have absolutely no idea why I went. None at all.

    I didn't hit on him though :)

  7. Hi, I found your blog via SIBOL, I love your squares. Lol at you hitting on Roy Hattersley.

  8. Your a hoot! this was my first stop and I love the way you write.

  9. Thanks for the comments on my blog. The crochet book is definitely a must have, can't live without, investment. Re the ripple blanket here's a link to a brilliant picture tutorial by Lucy of Attic 24 You've probably already seen it, but if not I hope it helps.

  10. What a great sense of humour you have!
    Although I was born in Portugal, and moved to England 15 years ago...
    I`m very happy and proud to say...
    Although a vacation home in Florida would be nice! Lol
    Hope you have a lovely weekend and thank you so much for your lovely comment!
    You have made my day!


    P.S - I`m now following you!
    Do you care to do the same for me!
    I know I`m a very cheecky cheecky girl!Lol

  11. I met Gary Sobers once. My brother and boyfriend at the time were really into cricket, so when I heard that Gary Sobers was doing book signings of his autobiography at WHSmith's, I popped out in my lunchbreak to get a couple of copies. He was such a nice man, that I asked him to dedicate the books, one to my brother, one to the boyfriend. Gary Sobers started laughing at me and asked me how many men I'd got on the go. I was so embarrassed.

  12. Well tbh, I don't think I would have bragged about hitting on him hun!!!! I'd have kept that one to myself lol. But it made me giggle, so thanks for that. S x

  13. hey there Girl :)
    Acesome job on getting your blog up and running, it's all pretty and stuff too!
    Right I'm going to go and swap this link for your old one on my blog and my bloglines xxxx


  14. Yes, we should be proud to be English (even if we have got a rubbish football team!) Lovely post going to get his book and the one about Buster. Gemma xx

  15. Ha ha! This so made me laugh. I have to meet lots of talent (and I don't mean always the good looking type) for work and never know what to say. Conversation usually starts with something about the weather.

    Would love to hear your Mark Owen story. I met him 1-2-1 once and held his shoes...have to say though that since everything came out in the press earlier this year I think he's a bit of a dirty dog now. And to think I loved him for 15 years! x

  16. I love those random evenings where you go out and do something out of the box and learn lots of new things and feel inspired and more informed! Thanks so much for sharing - he sounds cool! And yeah I'm all for English patriotism too! xxx


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