SOME of you might be around the same-ish age as me. Some of you may be female, which means you may, around the early 1980s, have been a Duranie. (A devotee of the band Duran Duran).
Growing up in the deep South West, I could never claim to be a full-on Duranie. I never saw them live, or got an autograph by hanging around where they lived.
The closest I got was watching Top of the Pops, several posters on my
wall, a treasured copy of Rio – on vinyl – and fevered discussions with my friend Sally about how we were going to get John Taylor (her) and Roger Taylor (me) to be our boyfriends.
Needless to say, we weren’t as hardcore and loyal as some of our peers. Apart from the soaring Ordinary World, the music faded over the years as did
our penchant for silly hair and duster coats. I grew out of Duran Duran.
Then 25 years later, wandering around the floral pavilion at Chelsea Flower Show like a proper grown-up, I spot Duran Duran’s lead singer Simon Le Bon, walking hand-in-hand with his sickeningly beautiful wife Yasmin.
At first I pretended I hadn’t noticed them, but in my head I’m thinking, “Should I say something? I’m a journalist for goodness sake, I can ask them about Chelsea. What’s the matter with you Hilary, you don’t usually get flustered by fame?”
I sidled up, offered both a handshake, intending to say, “Hello, do you mind having a quick chat about your favourite gardens?”
Instead, I stammer, “Er, hello, I’m Hilary and I’m, er, 41, which, er, means I was a big fan, and, oh, dear, how unprofessional, I, er, wondered if you’d mind if I took your photo . . ?”
At which point, Mr Le Bon takes my camera phone out of my hand, gives it to Yasmin, and gives me a hug, before posing for a photo with me.
But he doesn’t speak*. Not a word. Having interviewed a few pop-stars and actors over the years, I decided the non-speaking thing could just have been a weird celebrity quirk (I’ve seen weirder), or perhaps he was preserving his
voice, as some singers do before a gig.
So I find myself talking to this mute man – whose amazing voice I listened to in the dark, on a flip-up cassette player in my early teens – through Yasmin. But she’s struggling to make my phone take a picture.
It’s all a bit surreal.
She thinks she’s taken it, but it doesn’t click, I have to get her to
do it again. I’m embarrassed. They are both patient. I wave goodbye
and they walk off together again. Not speaking.
I stand still for a while, staring at my phone, wondering. There’s a picture of me and Simon Le Bon on it. Simon Le Bon!
I tweet it, in a completely show-offy way, hoping that somehow my mate Sally, now in her 40s, living in Dorset and mum to three kids, will see it. And be jealous.
Then I remember . . . she’s not on Twitter.
*I found out later that the first gigs on Duran Duran’s massive tour have been cancelled due to Simon Le Bon’s chronic laryngitis