*How to be Your Own Best Friend

Ever since I was extremely young, what has got me through my monotonous days is the conviction that it is only a matter of time before I will be mixing with world-famous celebrities. I’ve always operated on the basis that eventually I would be the girlfriend of a huge star and that his big-name friends would actually like me much more than they liked him, because I’m so grounded. They would tell me their joys and sorrows, and yet I wouldn’t go to the popular press about their revelations. When I was a child, I had no doubt that I would be in this glittering circle by the time I was eighteen, at the latest. With the passage of the years, though, I’ve had to keep adjusting my estimate upwards, always to about five years older than I am at any given time.

My earliest fantasy celebrity husband was Bill Wyman when he was in his ‘Je Suis un Rock Star’ period and I was eleven (and so, perhaps, a more likely future wife than I realised); then there was Iva Davies of Icehouse, until I could no longer forgive his shrill falsetto in ‘Hey, Little Girl’. When the most recent husband had fallen out of favour and there wasn’t much new blood, there were those with whom I made do, such as the man who played the flute in Men at Work.

The individual who has dwarfed all these others, though, is an American actor – let’s just call him ‘J’  –  with whom I fell in love in 1985, when I was a passenger on Yugoslav Airlines and he was appearing in the solitary in-flight movie. Without being prettier than I, he was handsome enough for my purposes; his character in the movie said things that amused me but he also had trouble finding anyone to have sex with, which, in those days of AIDs hysteria, I found immensely attractive.

As soon as I returned from my trip I got down to business and commenced research on ‘J’, which in pre-Internet times wasn’t the simple matter it is now, and I liked what I read. He seemed to have genuine relationships with women rather than making politic appearances with ambitious ‘beards’. He is six inches taller than I am.

For twenty-four years, therefore, I’ve essentially thought of ‘J’ as a spouse. This was the case even during the (many) times he had girlfriends for whom I had no respect and despite the fact he’s discussed his boring political views not merely in interviews but also on his uninteresting blog. Sometimes I’d wonder how long I could realistically pretend to care about his apparently infinite opinions, but would always decide that he was worth it. It was almost more than I could take when he became an environmental crusader, but I would remind myself that it was healthy for a couple to have some divergent interests. Look at Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward! She never divorced him even though he was fanatical about motor racing. For many years, ‘J’ has been ostentatiously best friends with a man who is also an actor but uglier and less successful than he is. I spent a lot of time considering whether I would, if I had the opportunity, go out with The Friend in order to get closer to ‘J’. Yes, I would, I decided. I thought about what would happen when ‘J’ and I met while we were all double dating and, inevitably, he fell madly in love with me. I was aware that ‘J’ would most likely have tedious scruples about going off with his best friend’s girlfriend but I was happy to work night and day to rid him of them.

As the years have ground on, though, ‘J’ has almost exclusively appeared in movies that have succeeded neither artistically nor commercially. The Friend, on the other hand, has finally come out on top as the star of a pretty good television show.

How annoying would it have been if I’d met these men twenty years ago and dumped The Friend in favour of ‘J’? So, never forget that there are advantages in reaching early middle age and not having met any really famous actors (although, when I was seven, I did meet June Salter). Chiefly, it greatly lessens the risk that you’ll commit yourself to one of these people before you know which way it’s going to go for him – once upon a time, who could have imagined that the monumentally untalented Terence Stamp would continue to have a career for so very long and Vincent Spano wouldn’t?

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