As we all know, it is standard social practice that if you went to university 20 years ago with someone who becomes famous, in my case Dermot O’Leary, and then you open up a tea shop in Leeds, the celebrity has to drop everything and open it; that’s just how it is – I don’t make the rules.
Four years ago I tried to cash my cheque by ringing up his agent, who passed me onto his assistant, who passed me onto the assistant to the agent’s assistant. Here’s a tip, if you’re trying to get hold of Dermot, and they put you onto someone called Dave, save yourself four years of looking at the phone and hang up.
I’m not daft, I appreciate that he is a busy man and it would be tough to make it up to Leeds at short notice, so I asked Dave if Dermot could mention the opening of the cafe while he was presenting the X Factor.
I was thinking something like: DERM: “Next onto the X Factor stage is Wagner…and don’t forget, Boff’s Baps is open for: hot drinks, sandwiches, panninis and afternoon teas. Now here’s Wagner with, Everybody Walk The Dinosaur.” Fireworks, applause.
A few months ago we opened our second cafe and my wife wanted Dermot not to open that one as well.
“Why don’t you just ring him up?” asked my wife, as she stood cleaning the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
“It’s embarrassing,” I replied, “I don’t want him to think that I’m just using him.”
“Do you want me to ring him up? she asked over the noise of the dishes slotting awkwardly into the racks.
“Yes, it’s much less embarrassing getting my wife to ring him up for me,” I replied.
At this point my son dragged himself into the kitchen. He is 11-years-old and has recently started talking like a rapper; the type of hardcore gangland rapper who likes Coco Pops for supper.
“What’s ‘appening?” he asked and mooched over to the cereal cupboard. He grabbed the box of Coco Pops, fished out a bowl and then threw Coco Pops all over the room like the Shake ‘n’ Vac woman. I think they should put cereal control on the school syllabus. The timetable should read: Morning: Sex Education. Afternoon: Coco Pop Dexterity.
My wife looked at my son and said: “You’re just in time to see your dad squirming around.”
“Awesome. Can I film it?” asked my son.
“No, don’t be selfish; I want to do it,” she replied.
My wife used her foot to scoop up the dishwasher door and slammed it shut, then they both sat down, analysed me, and tried to recall other weaknesses of mine that they could film.
Pass me the phone,” I said reluctantly to my wife. She got up, crunched over the cereal-covered lino, and I started dialling. They both sat there, staring, expecting me to make a fool of myself, with Coco Pops squashed all over their mouths and feet.
“Hello,” I said, voice quavering, “Dermot is an old friend of mine. Is there any chance I could talk to him?”
“Hi, I’ll see what I can do. Who shall I say is calling?”
“It’s Julian; Julian Boffin.”
“Hang on; I’ll just transfer you.”
There was a slight pause. I imagined Dermot reclining on Simon Cowell’s vast super yacht, anchored somewhere like Porto Fino, and the outline of a butler carrying a phone momentarily blocks out the sun. “There is an urgent call for you, Master O’Leary,” announces the butler in a Victorian voice. “I’ll take it in the billiard room”, Dermot replies.
The line crackled and my heart started to bounce, then I heard a familiar voice: “Hello. This is Dave. How can I help?”