Familiar faces in unfamiliar locations - Alan Bennett, James Martin, Craig Revel-Horwood, John Torode . . . and Mick McCarthy
I recognised him as soon as he walked out of the door. His face was familiar but add glasses and the long, voluminous coat and it was definitely playwright and actor, Alan Bennett.
It's funny how you react when you see someone famous out of context. In this case, Dougie and I were walking around the Seven Dials area of London when the illustrious Mr Bennett came out of a restaurant. There was no time, or inclination, to ask him for an autograph or even say hello. It didn't feel right to intrude on his day when he was just going about his business.
It's quite different if you meet a celebrity after a show or at an event where they are geared up to meeting the public. I remember having no qualms when I met celebrity chefs at a PR event in London. Marco Pierre White and James Martin were more than happy to pose for photos. Craig Revel-Horwood was also there and surprised us by being incredibly friendly and very amenable to the inevitable selfies.
A few years earlier, we spotted John Torode and his family at a holiday resort in Portugal. Throughout the whole week, no one at the hotel pestered him for photos. Everyone left them alone, albeit stealing some surreptitious glances over the top of their books as they sunbathed by the pool.
Mind you, when he was sitting at a nearby table at dinner, I made sure I listened in when he ordered his food. If it was good enough for the Masterchef judge, it might satisfy the Burgess family.
We've done well celebrity-spotting in restaurants. We saw Pam St Clement in a hotel dining room in the Cotswolds, sporting some fabulous Pat Butcher dangly earrings. Labour MP, Dame Margaret Beckett, turned up in an eatery in Tenerife and we spied Lord Prescott tucking into a hearty breakfast at the OK Diner on the A1 near Newark.
In 2012, we were staying in Ipswich when we learned that Mick McCarthy had become manager of Ipswich Town. Dougie made a bet with me that we would bump into the new football coach. I laughed at this: of all the hotels in Ipswich, what were the chances he would be staying at ours?
Half an hour later, who should walk into the dining room? Mick McCarthy. I lost the bet.
There seems to be a food theme running here. Which might explain why, when we'd watched the back of Alan Bennett disappearing along the street, we looked up to where he had been dining. The Monmouth Kitchen. It looked like our kind of place and it was likely to be a favourite of Alan's, considering the warm goodbye the waitress gave him from the door as he left.
The following evening we managed to get a table at The Monmouth Kitchen. Contemporary Italian and Peruvian cuisine served on trendy sharing plates. Much tastier than a cream cracker under the settee.
You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk
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