When I was a kid growing up, being a celebrity meant a whole different thing to what it means now.
Back then it meant being famous. Being on TV as an actor or as a comedian or as a sportsman. Or on the silver screen as a movie star; perhaps still the ultimate rank of celebrity in the game of Celebrity Top Trumps. Nowadays, becoming a celebrity is so much easier. A mere presence on-line serves as an entry point or ‘influencer’ as they are now known.
In my day, an acid test of having arrived in the fame stakes – of becoming an actual real life celebrity was being able to open a shop.
“What the f**** is a shop?” I hear you young people ask.
So for this blog post to work, imagine a time when celebrities were actually famous and shops were the only places where stuff could be bought. And a happy marriage between the two was when a celebrity was invited along to formally open a new shop.
The name Bruce Forsyth will mean nothing to readers outside the UK. But for me growing up, Bruce was a comedian/song and dance man/TV presenter who was never off the telly (ever) right up until the time he passed and this made him a bone fide celebrity of his day and mine.
As a child, I was greatly excited by the news that a new sports shop close to where I lived was to be opened by the one and only Bruce Forsyth. Immediately I decided that I would go along. Many reasons for his. I liked my sports. I quite liked Bruce but mostly because I really really liked his wife and I hoped that she might accompany him.
At this time, Bruce was hosting a TV show on Saturday night called The Generation Game and his ‘glamorous’ assistant was a Swedish beauty called Anthea Redfern. She quickly became Mrs Forsyth which meant that Bruce went up further in my estimation and might have even nudged me towards such a career choice myself.
So, along to the shop I go (in my best outfit at the time, no doubt) and quickly I am disappointed that it appears Mr Forsyth is alone and not with his wife.
No matter, people queued patiently to meet the TV star and no doubt to have something signed. But I waited in line with a question.
“Where’s Anthea?” I asked.
I got to work with Bruce much later in his career and much earlier in mine and the withering look he gave me that day was the first time he used it on but not the last.
With hindsight, I realise now how impertinent I was. As though Bruce himself was not enough and that his alluring wife was required to make a young school boys day…
And I ponder over this distant memory here for good reason because tomorrow marks a first in the faltering career of Dominic Holland – when I am scheduled to ‘open’ a new shop.
And as such, I can finally lay claim to genuine celeb status.
Albeit, with some caveats…
It is a bookshop that I will be opening.
To which, probably all of you will be asking… “what the f*** is a book shop?”
For the record, a book shop is a shop that specialises in the sale of books.
NB If parents could please explain to their children what books are!
And this is not a random booking either.
The owner of said shop is a friend of mine; a comedy promoter who has booked me for many years who must be having a crisis of some-kind or or more worryingly, a slow release brain haemorrhage to think that Amazon’s days are over and that somehow he can confound the odds and all of technology by opening a blinking book-shop.
This opening of course coincides with the publication of my new novel I’,Gabriel, so you can see the synergy now. No?
I will do some stand-up for the assembled throng and then discuss my new book and then declare Ben’s shop open for business.
I hope the shop flies for him. I really do. I want Mr Bezoz kept awake at night and not just over the cost of his divorce. Anyone with the balls to open a book shop in 2019 deserves my support and yours.
And to conclude; another tie to the story of the sports shop and Mr Bruce Forsyth who was no doubt paid a fortune for his time (btw, no monies are exchanging hands tomorrow evening) – as I imagine a number of people attending tomorrow evening will do so, hoping that a certain offspring of mine might accompany me.
Tomorrow, I will get many questions, including no doubt,
And I will not be as offended by this as Bruce Forsyth was.
I get it.
And I am used to it.
In fact, I am bringing one of my sons with me but it is Harry and not Tom – and to film what will likely be my first and last ever shop opening.
I hope also that Ben’s shop fares better than the sports shop did back in the day. It didn’t see the year out and as I recall nor did Mrs Redfern, who probably saw the light or more likely someone who she probably actually fancied.
Because of the robots at Google, no money is being made off this post!
Money however, is made by the author of this blog, if people are kind enough or sufficiently intrigued to go to my bookshop and purchase one of my six books – two of which are available on this site – and all of them are available via Amazon (which is why we have so few book shops nowadays and why we should cherish the ones still open.