I was at the Orion Author party last night. A fine occasion and a great venue. It was also one of those nights when I met some people I have admired and respected from afar until now. And also a friend who was the victim of a random stabbing crime just before Christmas – Roger Levy, author and dentist. He’s a strong and determined character as well as a terrific bloke and it was great to see him around and about.
I spent a little time talking to Michael Palin. Having grown up with Python, Ripping Yarns and much more, it was a little odd to face a man who I have mimicked mercilessly like so many generations of students before me (and since, no doubt). A charming man, too. Just as you would expect having seen any of his travel films. Accessible and modest, easy to talk to. It was a delight and an honour.
More recently, I’ve really enjoyed the new look Top Gear and its trio of excellent presenters. Another fortunate meeting last night was with Richard Hammond who I spoke to at the party and in the pub afterwards. Again, exactly as lively and entertaining as his presenter persona suggests. Unsympathetic to the jealousies of the rest of us who would love to drive magnificent cars for a living, which is just as it should be. Another determined character with a focused vision of his career path that is to be respected. I wish him every success. It would be well-deserved.
Too many of our celebrities carry the ‘do you know who I am?’ mentality around with them like a sledgehammer. Meeting a couple of them that don’t is most refreshing.