A seasoned look at life - November 22, 2012

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PEOPLE ask why fellow Thursday columnist Steve Canavan has more space than me. Well, he’s younger, livelier and quicker witted (though I still beat him at tennis).

Yours truly would struggle to fill a page and has other concerns now semi-retired – like maintaining Edmonds Towers and accompanying She Who Knows around the Fylde.

Steve’s also more forthcoming. Consider his chance encounter in a loo last week with Coronation Street star William Roache. I would have kept a dignified silence but chirpy-chappie Canavan chatted.

Looking back, I have passed up such encounters with the great and famous that might have enhanced my career. There was one occasion when working part-time at the Observer in London. Who should come into the Gents’ but distinguished editor Donald Trelford.

With an inspired quip I might have got on the full-time staff. But I stayed respectfully quiet, washed my hands and departed.

Later, in the lobby at the London Press Club, a smart old boy on an adjoining public phone winked conspiratorially at me. We were both calling our respective ladies and he was lying blatantly about his whereabouts. I nodded in silent collusion but never spoke – even when I discovered he was Viscount Rothermere, owner of the Daily Mail. What an opportunity to rise socially!

Steve C also mentioned the tendency of people to go silent upon entering a lift. Personally, I think this understandable as being propelled up or down in a tiny contraption is an unnatural activity prompting watchfulness.

But I’ve stayed silent even in bars, where you’re meant to converse, and especially if other patrons are celebrities.

Like the time in a former Scottish soccer player’s bar in Hong Kong. On the local radio there had been a morning interview with George Best about how he’d finally beaten the booze. By evening I by chance found myself sharing a bar with Georgie himself. He was downing a stiff one. I made no comment but, you see, we hadn’t been introduced.

Similarly near Manchester, snooker ace Hurricane Higgins went missing after jumping out of his girlfriend’s upstairs window.

He hobbled in on crutches to a Ramsbottom pub where I was nursing a Sunday lunchtime pint. The tragic star even asked to borrow a newspaper near me. It’s front-page headline screamed: “Where Is Alex Higgins?”

Any other reporter would have made a killing but poor Hurricane looked so tired I didn’t have the heart.

So you understand now, dear reader, why my own column is a modest one – and, as it happens, its space has just run out.

n Roy’s latest novel ‘At Heaven’s Gate’, a light thriller set in Lytham, is just published on kindle or in paperback. Visit royedmonds-blackpool.com for details.