Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Puts you there where things are hollow

I was just paying the £16.50 to S at my hairdressers  for my regular dry trim today when she said, “By the way, I meant to ask you, C – did you illustrate 'The Gruffalo'? Only I was watching the film of it over Christmas and I said to my husband: I'm sure one of my customers did the pictures for this.”

“I wish!” I replied, laughing, although inside my head a cheeky little voice was saying, “...do you think I'd still be coming here and getting change from a £20 note for a haircut if I had?”  'The Gruffalo', as I'm sure you're aware, is a famous, best-selling picture book, plus it's won several awards and sold over 10.5 million copies around the world. Life for me would be very different if I was receiving the royalties from that.

Or would it? As I walked home, it set me on a trail of thoughts which then led me to the notion of fame in general and how difficult I'd find it to cope with recognition. All these kids that say they want to be stars and celebrities... I just don't understand. I won't deny that the money would be lovely, but I simply couldn't bear the pressure. The lack of privacy would be my biggest problem. Then there are all the expectations, the critics, and the judgements from people who don't know me about how I look or what I wear, what I say. Oh god and what about the gossip? The possibility that a boy from a very distant and very dim past might want to tell tales about the night I let him put his hands up my jumper in my parents' back garden, you know the kind of thing. I couldn't handle it (fame, I mean; I'm not talking about the boy now...).  It would be my idea of hell.

I'm quite happy to stay in the shadows of obscurity. Of course I wouldn't mind receiving the royalties on a best-selling book but, you know, I think I would still get S to cut my hair... I'd just be more generous with my tip.


(Thanks too to The Swede over at Unthought Of, Though Somehow, whose recent post was very timely!)

14 comments:

  1. You could handle it...the same way I told you to handle the public speaking event...bourbon and cocaine. Lots of cocaine.

    You're a star to us C...are you underestimating our expectations...underestimating the pressure of providing the goods here..

    Also, we like gossip.

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    1. I'd better stock up then, I've got 5 more talks to give in the Summer...

      But thank you kindly, I shall try to live up to your expectations (ha!) and provide you with the requisite amount of gossip. (As long as it's not about me, a bottle of Bourbon and a line of coke).

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  2. What will you do when massive success does come a-calling? You never know! At least you'll probably be grounded but I actually think £16.50 for a trim sounds a little steep. Oh how so many of us dreamed of fame when we were young - pop star, footballer - but I'm sure I'd freak out. Having just read Morrissey's autobiography it doesn't sound all that much fun and it's no wonder Bob Dylan hides away like a madman.

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    1. Just got Morrissey's autobiography too, looks great on flicking through as haven't started it yet.., but it was in the Bargain Bin in Tesco which seems somehow ironic!
      Indeed, I think when you're little it's normal to want to be like your idols and that's fine and fun, what I don't get is the obsession with it for those who are older and should be a bit wiser, to just 'be famous'. I'd have to hide away too!

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  3. Fame sounds revolting but so many people chase it relentlessly... give me the riches and the freedom to do whatever for your next project... but not the fame!

    I definitely would not be well equipped to deal with it, as a school girl I was silent and always in the background, no-one ever bothered me and I imagine when my class mates get out our old year end photos they are stumped to put a name to my face. It went to art college and found some confidence and lots of friends but always remember the day I was in W H Smiths and a boy I had never seen before came up and called me by name, I went into a complete panic! I literally shook with fear, how the hell could someone who I had not spoken to know who I was? What an idiot!

    Anyway, imagine millions of people thinking they not only know your name, but everything about you and they already feel as if they know you a little... very scary if you ask me. If you ever get to illustrate a "Gruffalo" of your own, maybe use a pseudonym? ;o)

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    1. Exactly.... when you see these reports on celebs everyone acts as if they know all about them, as if they are qualified to make massive judgements - I'd be far too sensitive. No wonder so many go off the rails...

      A pseudonym and a mask, I think!

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  4. Like you I have (often) wondered about celebratory status. Finally the multi million selling album, the stadium tours etc. The money would be great, but the pressure to continue to produce - I'm not writing at the moment, the muse has left the den but say I had a contract and a record company, manager, agent etc. etc. all needing me to deliver so they can afford to go on holiday with their kids.

    Also I like anonymity - my wife long hankered after living in a small village. Not for me, one I like amenities close to me but also I live in a large conurbation where no one really knows me... I'm more anonymous in the city with thousands about me than in a small village - I prefer that I can just be me without any worries

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    1. I hope you get your muse back - I do understand as it happens to me too in my line.

      I also know what you mean about anonymity. I live in a village, it's not tiny but it's small enough to know quite a lot of people and for news to spread quite quickly. Knowing people and it being friendly has a lot of advantages but at the same time I'm cautious about not wanting everyone to know my business. I enjoy the anonymity I feel when I go down to London!

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  5. When we were young we wanted to be famous pop singers, famous actors or famous footballers. These days, the aim seems to be to try and achieve the fame bit without actually doing or being any good at anything. Does that make me sound like a bitter old man? Bah! The youth of today.........!

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    1. Haha, I listen to myself sometimes and think I sound so clichéd and old but, you know, just because we're older it doesn't mean we're wrong :-)

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    2. I think there's been a general degradation of existence and the culture reflects it.

      Fame is a chintzy echo of esteem. Queen Elizabeth I, T.S. Eliot, e.f.bartlam, Plato, William Faulkner, etc...are all famous but they are also all highly regarded. Their fame is born out of respect for the depth of their achievements.

      You can see it clearly in regards to the two subjects that have dominated, at least western, thought and culture from the beginning...Love and Death. All we get now is sex and violence...sex...and violence...sex and violence, sex and violence, sexandviolence, sexandviolence, sex and....

      sorry about that....

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    3. Is that you, Plato?
      :-)


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  6. I do not understand this 'I want to be rich and famous' but do nothing to warrent it.....give me the rich but not the fame, any time....If I ever won the lottery, no publicity thank you..

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    1. Same here. I'm not even sure I'd want to be rich... well, not toooo rich. Just reasonably rich (and a lot richer than I am now) - that would do!

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