Guest Post by Rosa Lyster: Celebrity Encounters

Celebrity encounters

Rosa Lyster writes these really great essays once a week and puts them up on her website I am a huge fan of her writing and asked her to guest post on the blog today. She very kindly said yes. Here is her essay on the encounters she has had (or thought she had) with celebs.

Rosa lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.


1. I thought I saw Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) out the corner of my eye. This kind of tallish handsome-ish lanky man wearing nice pants wandered into my peripheral vision, and the celebrity-registering part of my brain lit up. Fireworks. Explosions. Someone shooting a gun into the air. This happens to me a lot. People in Cape Town are generally very good at keeping their shit together around celebrities – they affect a cool disinterestedness, like oh check it out there’s Sean Penn, and I am going to pretend that I don’t care at all. I am going to act like I have never ever heard of Sean Penn, or, alternatively, that I HAVE heard of him and I hate him. I am going to make Sean Penn think that I am his enemy. I do not play this game very well. I lose my mind at even the prospect of seeing a celebrity. They know that they are famous, I know that they are famous, and why are we all pretending like this is normal. WHY. It’s a problem that some people have. A friend of mine once saw Emma Watson in a bar in Oxford, and stared at her so hard that she had to leave. It turned out that the guy with the cool pants wasn’t Yasiin Bey at all. He was just a totally regular man. Didn’t matter. The celebrity-registering part of my brain had been activated, and I was jittery for the rest of the evening.

2. I saw Sophie Ellis Bextor walking down the street in Hackney. This wasn’t like the Mos Def thing – it was definitely, definitely her. She had this nice yellow dress on, and sweet sunglasses, and she was walking down the street towards me. Fireworks. Explosions. Someone shooting a gun into the air.

3. My friend Rom and I saw Cillian Murphy at a Beach House concert in Hyde Park. I wrote about in on my old blog, which not one single person ever read, so really it was more like my diary. This is what I said: him and his wife (who was wearing a sort of Cheesecloth purple jumpsuit, actually, but despite this she managed to come across as very nice and someone you wouldn’t mind being stuck in a lift with) were sitting at the same set of tables and chairs that we were for most of the day. they borrowed our sunscreen. the wife made a nice joke about eating some of our ice cream. things i noticed about cillian murphy:

A) his head is much bigger from the side than from the front

B) he seems all right, really.

I recognised him straight away and I could feel my eyes go all bobbly and stupid. I don’t even like him! He does not at all feature in my life! I don’t think I have ever had a conversation about him with anyone except maybe Emma! but still I was so DUMB about it. still it was all I could do to stop myself from leaning over to him and going, “Look, you and I both know that you were in that movie called 28 Days Later, so can we stop pretending please.”they were sort of next to us when we watched beach house as well. they weren’t nearly as into beach house as they were into this sort of ska band that played earlier. obviously this minused them a million points, not just cos beach house was SO GREAT, but because ska is SO HORRIBLE.

4. Rufus Sewell, in a Starbucks in Oxford. This was a bad one. I got the same feeling I did when I saw Sophie Ellis Bextor. The feeling is called Fuck fuck fuck what if I wave, or smile in a weird way or fuuuuuuuuck what if I say something to them. This is what I wrote about in my old blog/diary: The thing I am bad at is famous people. I’m the most uncool about it ever in the world. But I can’t HELP it. It feels like a LIE. He knows that he is famous. I know that he is famous. It feels like some kind of riddle, to which the solution is, apparently, look at him out the corner of my eye so much that my head starts hurting, and then get up all in a rush cos he saw me STARING, and forget my wallet and the flowers at the table, and have to run back and get them and then drop the wallet and make an extremely, extremely loud rustling noise with the cellophane around the flowers as I walk out the door BACKWARDS. Like a CREEP. Like someone’s terrible servant in a PLAY.

5. My friend Caitie reminded me that once I thought I saw a famous man at university, but it turned out to be just my politics lecturer. I followed him around for a bit because I thought he had recently starred in a movie with Denzel Washington. I did my signature move of looking at the suspected celebrity very hard, and it was only after about five minutes of gazing intently at him that I realised who he was. It’s because I didn’t go to very many lectures.

6. Upon reflection, my old blog is just jam-packed with long updates on the time I thought I saw someone famous. Here is what I wrote about someone who I don’t even think has an IMDB page: I saw him and went oh oh there is a famous man where is he from where is he from where is he from. He was walking round the exhibition with someone he obviously didn’t know very well. For example: he didn’t know that she spoke Spanish, or that she had a brother, or that she had never been to Florence. I know this because I was SPYING. I wouldn’t definitely say they were on a date, but they probably were. An exhibition seems like an extraordinarily High Pressure environment to choose for like a first or second date. The worst is having to stand in front of paintings and say things. It’s even terrible when it’s with someone you know well. The potential for being either incredibly bored or incredibly boring is generally too high.


I stared and stared at him and wondered where he was from, and convinced myself that he was extremely famous, and went on about it for ages, and then on the train home I realised that he was the actor who played Brooke Shields’s husband on that show called Lipstick Jungle. I can’t BELIEVE I remembered that. I can’t BELIEVE I worked that out. I can’t BELIEVE that some probably very crucial information was turfed out of my brain in order to make room for that.

7. My amazing mum, the best person in the whole wide world, has the exact opposite approach to famous people. This is because she is very cool. She once saw Larry King in New York and said that she experienced a flash of fond recognition, like the feeling you get when you unexpectedly bump into one of your really good pals in the supermarket. This feeling was so strong that she raised her arm in greeting and said HI! It was only after he looked at her blankly that she realised he was not one of her best friends.

8. I have actually also done this. I was walking into a restaurant on Park Street, and some guy who I vaguely recognised was walking out. I said HI and then I realised that it was James Corden. Again, upon reflection, it was probably not James Corden at all. Has he ever even been to Cape Town? It almost definitely wasn’t him.

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