Tuesday, 3 June 2014

A Celebrity Post

I'm not one to be much impressed by fame and celebrity - not of course that I'm in the habit of hobnobbing with the rich and famous. But I did meet and speak to someone rather lovely last week. When I was thinking about writing this blog post it brought back another celebrity encounter from quite a few years back that I thought I'd share with you first.
 
I was having a spa day at Henlow Grange. In those days they sat everyone together around large tables for lunch and when me and my Australian companion, Melanie, turned up for lunch they sat us down with none other than the footballer George Best - probably one of the first "celebrity" footballers. Now I admit to being just a little star struck but my friend, whom I'd just met that day had no idea who he was. She merrily started chatting, introduced herself and asked his name, to which he modestly replied "I'm George, lovely to meet you". He stayed and chatted to us through lunch and I can honestly say that he was polite, interested, charming and the perfect gentleman, not at all what the papers would have had us believe at the time. But the funny part was Melanie had no idea and didn't recognise him at all, and he certainly didn't let on... you should have heard her squeal when I told her after he left!
 
 
Last Tuesday when I was stewarding at the exhibition there was a little bit of a buzz as we noticed Una Stubbs wandering around. She is probably best known these days for her role as Mrs Hudson in Sherlock but those of you of a similar age to me will remember her for so much more. Originally a dancer she has been a presence on British TV and stage for several decades

 
As I said, I wouldn't normally be impressed and probably would have left the poor lady to look around the show uninterrupted but given that it was a textile show... and I did have stitched work exhibited... I just had to tell her that it was her book "In Stitches" that really got me started in embroidery.

 
It was published in 1984, which was probably when I bought it, and really is the most delightful, quirky and personal book about embroidery. You have to love someone who encourages you to unpick the "Porche" logo from your man's sweater and re-embroider "Cortina". Self taught, Una Stubbs became an accomplished needlewoman, producing the most exquisite pieces of work.

 
I longed to be able to make a little whitework and drawn thread brooch cushion like the one featured in the book but alas my skills  and patience do not extend that far. However, I did used to make several of her card designs for friends and family and as I said, that was what started my interest in embroidery... thirty years ago!

 
So I spoke to Una Stubbs and told her all this and she was delightful. She thanked me and told me she doesn't stitch any more because she can't see to thread the needle. She complimented us on the exhibition and then carried on looking around. And it felt really good to meet her and be able to thank her too.
 
Have you had any good celebrity encounters?

18 comments:

  1. When I was a child and my Mum was learning to be a teacher, there was a chap who convinced me he was George Best! He did look like him, but I'm fairly sure they were just winding me up.

    The funniest one was meeting Bernie Clifton. I didn't get to chat to him or anything, but it was the surprise location - our local village post office. He was buying a lot of stamps and that gave me a clue that the guy who looked kind of familiar, quite probably was someone famous. Took me a while to work it out. He actually did live in our village as I found out later and he used to do the star part in our local village panto. All the others would work hard to learn their parts and he would breeze in and ad glib all the way through. I suspect that our village guys learnt the same panto that Bernie was playing somewhere else though. Still, thought it was nice of him to do that.

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  2. I've not had a lot of contact with celebrities, but I do remember very well being on Hastings pier very early one morning where my dad liked to fish. Someone spotted Welsh baritone Ivor Emmanuel who gave a spontaneous rendition of Oh What A Beautiful Morning. Although I was trying to be a cool teenager I can remember being mightily impressed.

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  3. Ooh, now you've got me thinking. I'd have to say that bumping into Lauren Bacall in New York in the 1970s was probably my favourite encounter with someone famous. She was delightful and posed for a photograph which is stashed in a drawer somewhere here. Must look for it.

    Really enjoyed your pictures from the exhibition and really wish I could have experienced it firsthand.

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  4. Awe Gina, you met George Best, i'm so jealous, he was my hero! I had posters of him all over my bedroom, I have read before that anyone who ever met him said he was a gentleman. The press always liked to stir it! I was so sad when he died, because he was one of 'our own' we were very proud of him!
    I remember Una as Wurzel's Aunt Sally. :)
    V x

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  5. I once spent a short while chatting to a gentleman at a catering event. I even asked if he cooked during the conversation and later discovered he was Anton Edelmann, executive chef at The Savoy.

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  6. So were you calm in George's company or were you blushing and tongue tied?

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  7. I love Una Stubbs especially as Mrs Hudson but I'm afraid I would probably have bombarded her with questions about Cumberbatch and Freeman. I remember her needlework book though.

    Your story reminds me of a similar tale I read on another blog this week by an Australian called Mel coincidentally - Coal Valley View - she tells a lovely story about sitting next to Kylie on a plane and how natural and friendly she was -like George in fact.

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  8. I was taken to see the Generation Game when I was six, as a friend if the family was one of the "experts" - which is why I was allowed into the BBC studio, as the minimum age was 14. During a break in filming, Bruce Forsyth noticed me sitting there in the front row and said hello! I also got Keith Chegwin's autograph at a bus stop when I was about 11, to my friends' mortification, and when I was on the till at Gateway during a summer job after school, I served Janet Ellis. I think she bought frozen peas...

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  9. What an amazing encounter and how lovely that you got to meet the person who inspired you and to be able to share this with her whilst at an exhibition including your work. Really you could not ask for better than that and I am sure that she would have been quite happy to have that sort of conversation with someone. I always think that Una Stubbs seems like a lovely lady. xx

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  10. Funnily enough, I saw Una Stubbs one day in Liberty's - many years ago now - buying thread.

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  11. Gina, I loved reading about both of these encounters. It's grand when opportunity actually presents itself to have a natural sort of conversation with a recognizable person.

    I admit to meeting many such folks since arriving in New York all those years ago, but perhaps my favorite encounter occurred while I was still in university in Virginia. I met Georgia O'Keeffe and she made some very kind comments about my artwork.

    xo

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  12. We often encounter the actors appearing at our local theatre in the shops and cafes of our small town,but nothing tops my late motherinlaws story of getting stuck in a luggage lift at the Savoy at the end of the last war with Clarke Gable. She thought he was a lookalike until he introduced himself and explained he was escaping from photographers - she was on her way to meet Mrs Churchill and had got in the wrong lift. You couldn't make it up really!

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  13. can't compete with that Gina but I was fascinated to hear that Una Stubbs had written a book about embroidery. I never knew.... I suppose I could say I have 2 famous second cousins called Ray and Dave Davies

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  14. I've just read Carol Q's comment - is she joking?? You already know about my recent meeting with one of Carol's cousins, and my all time musical hero.
    Aside from that, 30 odd years ago, when I was in uniform, I was told to go and tell David Essex that he had to move his car which he had just parked in the car park for Tottenham Court Road Police Station. I went out there, but I told him that although he was supposed to move his car, I was so delighted to meet him that he could leave his car there as long as he liked. He was lovely and shook my hand.
    My claim to fame is that I saved John Craven's life. He was on way to a meeting about Wildlife, and he stepped out in front of a bus, in the bus lane in Piccadilly (which runs in the opposite direction to the rest of the traffic). I grabbed his arm Nd pulled him back onto the pavement and he thanked me, so without me, possibly no Newsround!

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  15. Oh I like Una Stubbs she always seems that she would be a nice lady. Hope exhibition is going well.

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  16. I am not surprised to hear that your encounter with Una Stubbs was a good one, she always seems to be a lovely person.

    My only celebrity moment was also with George Best who actually served me in his Manchester boutique - so charming then, and such a pity that things had to go the way that they did for him.

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  17. I think Una Stubbs would have been delighted that she had encouraged you to start stitching. I had a chat once with Brandon Mabley - Kaffe Fassett's right hand man. He was charming and delightful.

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  18. George Best was living at Henlow Grange towards the end of his life and, sadly, could be seen quietly drinking himself to death any afternoon. Although I suppose if they hadn't served him, he'd have gone somewhere else.

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