The quirks of public life

A strange thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago.  And it got me reflecting on living part of this curious life-lark in public.

It's my happy experience to report that when people want to have a chat with me, almost without exception they're very polite and charming and there's never a problem.  They just want to talk about something I've covered on the TV, or one of the tvdetective books, or more recently the play.

A quick aside here - can I say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who's taken the trouble to get in touch and tell me how much they enjoyed An Unnecessary Murder. Your words have meant a great deal, both to me and the cast and crew. 

Anyway, back to the point, and it was this public life. The most common look you get used to when you serve the penance of appearing on television is a kind of "I know you from somewhere... is it work, do you live around the corner, did I once meet you at a party" type of thing. 

But often people recognise you straight away, and will smile and nod, as is the polite way of we English, sometimes have a little chat, and occasionally a longer one.  Which is never a problem, because almost always it's done sensitively and with warmth and charm.

Do you sense a but coming here?  Indeed you may, and I use the word "but" advisedly, or perhaps butt would be more appropriate.  Because...

Occasionally I get asked to sign the odd autograph, which is all very fine, but on this occasion...

I was in a pub watching a band, and a group of young lads - who, in fairness, may have enjoyed the odd half of fermented vegetable juice - decided they wanted an autograph.  I duly signed a couple of beer mats, but that was deemed insufficiently creative and exciting, and so then became the signing of one lad's chest, and then...

... as Rolf Harris would have said - can you guess what it is yet? ...

... another gentleman's rear.

Yes, I jest not.  I really did have to sign a backside.

Ah well, there are plenty more ups than downs in my times.  And so, a tongue in cheek tip for approaching me, in rhyming form if you will -

It's best to proffer beer, not rear!

Finally then a song for this blog, and how about Billy Joel's Piano Man?  Because it's a beautiful piece of music, of course, but also a haunting story which hints at what can be the reality behind a public life.