Just when you thought it was all over, along comes a stonker. Nessum dorma till they’ve read this excellent short story from Killian at The Comely Banking Crisis – the latest entry in the The Day I Met… Competition.
The celebrity encountered needs no introduction, so let’s cast off immediately and hear about…
The Day I Met Luciano Pavarotti
The memory is as clear as the sea was. My twelve-year-old self. In a small boat off the Italian coast, stuck there with Pavarotti; he’s sitting on the prow, filling his end of the boat with his injured pride. For such a distinctive figure, whose culinary and hanky habits, never mind famous face and domineering physique, not to be recognised by his only boat fellow, hurt. What better way to prove his identity than with his most distinctive feature of all, with a blast from the great tenor’s lungs.
So goes the scene, as I remember it, in Frank J. Schaffner’s inoffensive and somewhat insubstantial 1982 film Yes Giorgio. A cunning nun plays on the pride of Pav’s character, Giorgio Fini, tricking him into a private concert. Yes Giorgio appeared in our childhood home on VHS, rented by my father of course, an opera enthusiast not averse to the continental lifestyle, nor to horses.
Mine is the kind of father who taught his children life’s core values through such juxtapositions as a thimble of orange juice at breakfast to the strains a rare John McCormack recording; no-more-than-necessary meets best-you-can-get. An austere packed lunch – value cheddar cheese sliding around in margarine brown-bread sandwiches with a piece of fruit – consumed amidst the wealth and glamour of the Dublin Horse Show is exactly the kind of scenario that stands out in my childhood memories.
I was at that age when clippings of incongruous heroes like Michael Jackson, Hothouse Flowers, Bros and Iron Maiden decorated my bedroom walls. So when my parents suggested a trip to the pocket of the show-jumping arena of the Royal Dublin Society to see if we could meet some of the famous riders, perhaps even getting an autograph or two, they were speaking my language and my sister and I readily agreed.
There were no familiar faces but certainly names that matched those in the programme. Smiles and signatures, real autographs, didn’t disappoint. But when my father pulled my sister aside and suggested that she approach a large, grumpy-looking man, eccentrically dressed, even tatty, we were naturally reluctant. Fortunately this was the age when parents basically forced children to do embarrassing things for the amusement of adults, so we were compelled forth, raising the notebook and pen, surprised by the man’s blasé familiarity with the process and more so by his ridiculous scribbled signature which, admittedly, matched in our separate notebooks.
Not to be defeated by his children’s shy disposition, my father thought he’d channel that nun in the boat and goad Pav into doing what he did best.
“Do you sing?”
Frowns, “It is my job.”
A short pause. “Will you give us a song?”
Frowns more, “I cannot sing here!”
Alas, we lost the autograph book.
I love it. The only ripple of unease is a belated concern for your safety having to share a small vessel with such large ballast. And I know you’ll be regretting not having started a round of We’re All Going To The Zoo Tomorrow… and cajoled Pav to supply a verse about seeing the kangaroos a hop-hop-hopping at full volume. Then again – the boat would never have survuved him doing the actions.
Great story. If only there were to be more like it every Wednesday stretching far into next year. Well… there could be. That’s up to you. Email your own tale to me at paulwaters99 at hotmail.com and you – like Killian – could win a book. (Which reminds me Killian – must send you the list of books.) The rules are simple – just send in a story about your celebrity encounter.
We’ve had some great ones already about a disparate bunch of singers, actors, politicians and others. Click on any them below to get a flavour of what has gone before.
- The Day I Met… My Nemesis and discovered his secret
- The Day I Met… Jim Jarmusch
- The Day I Met… The Queen
- The Day I Met… James Nesbitt
- The Day I Met… met Her!
- The Day I Met… the Colonel
- The Day I Met… Indira Gandhi
- The Day I Met… Billy Bragg
- The Day I Met… Gerry Adams
- The Day I Met… Telly (Kojak) Savalas
- The Day I Met… Frederick (Day of the Jackal) Forsyth