I was recycling loads of old papers from the Natural Theatre’s musky archive room recently. Mostly it was out of date financial records but I did come across some interesting misfiled items which I of course preserved.
One particularly damp envelope was marked ‘Us with Famous People’. It contained a collection of faded newspaper cuttings including a rather jolly shot of Prince Charles in deep conversation with our Flowerpot characters in the 1980’s. You can imagine the field day the press had with that one! Also enclosed was a picture of John Prescott running (yes, running!) away from a group of our naughty Nudists. And most obscure of all, Sir Edmund Hillary posing with one of our garden gnomes. Not at the top of Mount Everest you understand, but at a VIP reception we infiltrated in Brisbane.
Cilla Black was in the envelope too, being mobbed by a trio of white hunters. Don’t ask me why!
We’ve rubbed shoulders with many an A-list celeb during our escapades. I remember being kissed full on the lips by Ken Livingstone in my character of faded film siren Gloria Swanage at the Covent Garden Buskers’ Awards, while another of our team, Pavel Douglas, once found himself dressed as a gendarme serenading Shirley Bassey through the loo door on the Orient Express.
The Coneheads have met Lady Diana and the King of Portugal, while Lady Margaret, my alter ego, an A-lister herself, has been greeted by the great and good the world over including the President of Costa Rica and Quentin Crisp.
My best VIP encounter however was when I was off duty. I was sitting on a beach on the island of Nevis watching a yacht race. A jolly old gentleman clutching a bottle of beer squatted down on the sand beside me. He asked me why I hadn’t got a drink and I explained I had left my wallet in my hotel. We can’t have that he exclaimed and for the next forty minutes he kept me topped up from the nearby beach bar.
Finally, he stood up, brushed the sand off his suit and said well, I suppose I’d better go and present the prizes. Why, I asked, who are you? I’m the Prime Minister he replied.