Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Stalking: could do better.

Stalking is a bit of a specialist interest. If there was an NVQ in stalking, I suspect most people would fail miserably.

I certainly haven't got the aptitude for it. I lack the required level of obsession, have insufficient patience, don't like standing around in the cold unless some horses or blokes are about to ride by at speed and I have almost no pride in my one and only autographed celebrity photograph - of Stan Stennett.

The rot set in when I was eight. Along with 200 others from my primary school, I clutched a small union jack and was forced to stand at the side of the route the Queen Mother was supposed to take to open an old people's home in the village.

We stood for about an hour encouraged by thoughts of Her Royal Highness swathed in billowing Cartland/Barbie pink riding in a golden coach lobbing sherbet fountains to us joyous, flag-waving children.

She swept past in a big grey car to have boiled beef and carrots with the old dears without so much as a royal wave.

I haven't been able to get very worked up about celebrities since then. When a film crew descends on Gloucester or Cheltenham I feel compelled to go take a mildly curious look but not much of a look really - more a glance and a couple of pics.

It was snow joke in the centre of Gloucester yesterday (I refer to the magnificent centre which is the Cathedral not the actual centre, which is deadly 60's concrete). They'd obviously had a bit of weather. The Cathedral close and Millers Green were blanketed with snow. Dr Who was in town and they were filming the Christmas Special.

I find myself slightly more interested in David Tennant than I had been in the Queen Mum. He's a man with sharp, mobile features, penetrating eyes and more charm than any individual person deserves. There he was, in his Dr Who startorial splendour of flowing brown coat over ill-matched pinstripe jacket trousers and trainers.

He only took notice of the hundred or so stalkers gawping from behind barriers when someone shouted his name - then he smiled winningly. I told you he was charming.

Acting is a weird business; a bit of fake snow-blowing, horse movement, a lot of standing about, looking, watching and waiting; a few seconds of “action” and it's back to the standing, watching and waiting.

Riveting, it wasn't. I managed a whole twenty minutes though, which is my new stalking record. I only managed five minutes trying to catch a glimpse of Alan Rickman years ago when they filmed the first Harry Potter in the Cathedral cloisters and ten minutes at Gloucester Docks when “Amazing Grace” was being filmed - but that doesn't count as I was snapping the beautiful tall ships, having been told that Ioan Gruffudd and David Jason had been and gone.

Some stalkers had been diligently following the Dr Who filming for much longer. A cheerfully woman in a wheelchair rocking a baby in a pram had been there for nearly five hours.

“My daughter loves David Tennant,” she remarked “but I haven't seen anything from here.” She'd been shoved under a hedge. Certainly a stoic, undemanding granny to be treasured.

I told her she hadn't missed much. The tardis stood impotently beneath a nearby archway, wrapped in tarpaulin and tied up with string. Why the daleks didn't think of tarpaulin and string, I've no idea but it seems to immobilise it very successfully.

David Tennant didn't do anything dramatic. He failed to dematerialise or even attempt to wrestle a lost-looking cybercreature to the ground and there was no sign of that cool pen/screwdriver thing which he uses for tightening bolts and stunning people - though not at the same time, I've noticed. Surely a design flaw.

He stood and watched, and waited, had a coffee from a cardboard cup and had a bit of a chat with several people including David Morrissey (the merest recollection of the excellent Sense and Sensibility tends to give one the vapours) who seems happiest in period costume and was also well-versed in standing about.

The most exciting thing was a stunning Victorian hearse drawn by six magnificent, gleaming horses wearing jetblack plumes.

And the most extraordinary thing was that, in spite of the standing around and members of the crew and minor cast being encased in arctic-quality puffa-coats, David Tennant didn't look cold or remotely bored.

It's encouraging. It means he has another string to his bow.

If the acting ever dries up, he's got the stamina to make an excellent stalker.