I find more and more the concept of celebrity culture is getting to me. The main reason is what happened to me because of Jack. In my opinion it is sheer madness. I guess some of these people might enjoy the warped amount of attention they receive. But I think it is indecent. I do not think people should be given attention to the point where it becomes worship or idolisation. There are people who live in my road who are in the media for various reasons. There are two neighbours who are in politics, one famous author, one journalist for a major newspaper here, a few who have been involved in acting or modelling, we have some who have made their money with very successful businesses, one in sports, and the biggest house here belongs to one of the biggest names in the music industry. But to me, they are just neighbours, fellow humans, and that is all they are ever going to be. I am going to treat them the same way as anyone else.
Another reason I am wary of celebrities is that I hate the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Often along with fame, comes wealth and parties. Alcohol and drugs and easy sex are touted before you like the conveyor belt on the BBC entertainment show “The Generation Game”. I hate that. I avoid anywhere and anybody who I am aware of as “dodgy”. But there have been other situations that I thought would be safe, only because what I saw was unacceptable to me, I made a quick escape. I hate the thought of some of our “celebrity” neighbours being involved in some of the disgusting habits I mentioned above.
I also despise the waste of absurd amounts on money on things like a flashy party, or a private jet. One thing I respect about Jack is he feels exactly the same way. He is very much against drugs. He has befriended and helped a lot of young men in some of the rougher communities in London. He takes his responsibility to them very seriously. And Jack foregoes many opportunities to make more money through entertainment, because he is devoted to volunteering for charities. He has made more than enough money to last a lifetime already. He has lived simply for a number of years, so that he can be on the same level with other volunteers. He has amazing energy and charisma, so he is very popular. And I guess the way he has featured in the entertainment industry adds to his popularity. But he handles it well.
There is a feeling that I find has developed within me in recent years. I have started to feel infuriated by the invasion of the press, and “fans” or just everyday people into the lives of those considered “celebrities”. I do not like the idea that someone might have to be so security conscious that they cannot enjoy a “normal” life. The invasion into not just Jack’s, but my own privacy was shocking. I know that some celebrities seem to like the attention. But I find it hard to swallow.
I see people around in London. I know I have seen them on television at some stage. I used to live surrounded by cast from EastEnders (a British soap opera). But I have never watched a single episode. So to me, they were just my neighbours. There were famous musicians and television personalities. There were footballers and popstars. I would never have known if it wasn’t for friends pointing them out. To me they were just neighbours. I have lived in various “posh” parts of London. I mentioned earlier that round the corner from me is one of the biggest names in the music industry. I saw him the other day, with his family. I liked seeing something assuredly normal. I said “Good morning”, as I passed and they returned the greeting. We often greet each other. We never have had a proper conversation. The house cost a ridiculous amount of money, which was all over the press at the time. More millions than the digits we have on our body.
To me, they are fellow humans, members of my human family. I wish them a happy life. I do not think they deserve anything nearing worship. But I really I don’t like the idea that people would show an unhealthy amount of interest, and threaten their ability to enjoy a happy family life. In fact, I strangely feel defensive over their privacy.
I have a relative on the other side of London. This particular family member is very well off. They are the closest of my family members geographically. But I am closer emotionally to the members of my family who are more down-to-earth, modest and devoted to volunteering, than my family members who are amassing great things for themselves. But as with all my family, I keep in touch, and I trek over to see my relative. Like a lot of uber-wealthy people she has “problems” and “issues”. Several times over the last two years I have seen someone I thought I recognised, but I could not place her. I thought she was a model. It is only fairly recently that I realized who she is.
I know next to nothing about her. I have liked a couple of her songs. But I am told she is massive (by which I mean her popularity and “net worth”, I don’t mean her height – she is fairly tall which is why I assumed she was a model). I don’t care. I just want her to have a normal life and to feel safe. My relative confirmed who she is and threw in some castaway tittle-tattle remarks. Those comments meant nothing to me. One of my friends revealed herself as a huge fan of this musician. I decided I wouldn’t say anything about her living (at least some of the time) in the same road as my relative. For some reason, I just feel defensive over her, the same way as I feel defensive about the guy who lives round the corner from me. She should be able to live a normal life without feeling her safety is threatened. And it’s all because of what happened with Jack. I do not like the idea of anyone threatening their safety or their ability to live a normal happy family life.
It is a wonderful gift to have family and friends who love you for you. Not because you are rich or famous or even particularly talented. It is wonderful to be able to walk in the woods with other Londoners and kick autumn leaves around. It is wonderful to go swimming down in the nearby lido on a blistering hot day. It is wonderful to nip into to a local artisan bakery, to sit chatting over a latte and a palmier, and then to leave with a paper bag containing a sourdough loaf, or pick up some beautiful flowers from the florists for your hallway. These are things that everyday “normal” Londoners are able to enjoy. I don’t see any point in spending millions of pounds on a property here, if you have to hideway, or wear disguises, and you can’t go out and enjoy these little highlights of living in the pretty pockets that London still holds.
I like my place, because it is so hidden away. People do not even know it is there. The double sets of gates and the hidden staircase hide it away from the word outside. I didn’t feel safe when I lived near Jack. My privacy was being invaded so much. But in my gorgeous little hideaway here, I have started to feel more secure and I have been able to enjoy London again. Now I roam these streets as one of the neighbours. I am that caramel blonde with the sunshine smile who always says hello when she passes. I am the neighbour who checks the neighbours’ wheelie bins when they are on holiday (because they are always away when it is refuse collection day!). I am the woman who, at the weekend, is always first into the bakery at the end of the road, because they only ever stock one large dark sourdough on a Saturday and one on a Sunday (no large loaves Monday – Friday) and I like to freeze it in portions and use it defrost and eat it during the week. I am living a normal life after I was drastically separated from Jack – and I have to admit, it feels great!