'Fantastic. It Was Fantastic. You're Fantastic. the Album's Fantastic'
At the Lloyd Cole gig party in Camden Town, a blonde human whirlwind in a red dress all but elbows her way through my kidneys to get to Cole and announce, with brisk enthusiasm: "Fantastic. It was fantastic. You're fantastic. The album's fantastic." "Well," mutters the singer, "that's very kind, but. . ."
"No," she snaps, firmly. "Fantastic. Goodbye." She vanishes into the crowd, and everyone stands around awkwardly and says: "That was very nice of her." "Lovely," says Cole. "But I wasn't happy with the performance tonight. Not really."
"No honestly," we all say at once. "It was great." "Really?" "Yes, honestly," we all hurriedly reply. "Really excellent."
And the next night at the Jerry Lewis/ Lee Evans Funny Bones party in Hanover Square, the very same lady practically knocks me to the floor in her quest to confront Evans.
"Fantastic," she briskly snaps. "You're fantastic. The movie is fantastic. Just fantastic." Once again, this mystery lady, a hit-and-run eulogist, vanishes into the crowd, and in her wake we are left to murmur: "How thoughtful of her to make the effort." "Yes," says Evans. "Thoughtful."
Showbiz fans fall into three categories. There are the Engagers: those who pointedly avoid any reference to their subject's stardom (which would be an admission of inferiority) and instead engage them in lengthy conversation on some tenuous common ground. ("Aren't you Jerry Lewis? Weren't QPR terrible this season?") Then there are the Starers: those who become embarrassingly silent when confronted by celebrities, in the vain hope that if the silence is long enough they will eventually do something. …