When they left the Learning Technologies conference in January, Jay and Jane were struggling up the stairs at the station with a heavy bag. I was torn. Should I abandon my own bags on the platform and go and help them? Fortunately, I was beaten to the punch by a teenage boy who separated himself from his gaggle of friends and went to their aid. He returned to a chorus of gentle teasing from his friends and announced "He called me a gentleman and a scholar."
To save him from the teasing of his friends, I asked if he knew who Jay was. When I was met with blank looks, I gave them a potted history. "So is he famous?" one of them asked.
Good question. Is Jay Cross famous?
I have said before that I don't do star struck. I have met enough "stars" in my life to know that we all use loo paper for the same purpose and there are too many people who think that famous= superior, which it most decidedly does not. I once cause dismay and consternation by treating Lord Someone-or-other, former secretary of
Many years ago, my niece once made a throwaway reference to her "famous aunt". That would be me. I asked her what on earth had given her the idea that I was famous, to which she replied, "Everyone knows who you are." She had lived all her short life in a small town where I had once been a prominent member of the amateur dramatic society. In my prime, I tended to play some pretty hefty parts, and sang at my fair share of weddings. Then I left and moved to
So I don't gush over movie stars and musos. And I have no appetite for people who are famous for being famous. During an infamous confrontation in Celebrity Big Brother (what a dreadful programme!) some time ago, the Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty - at the time a bigger star than than Hollywood's Cameron Diaz, according to some sources - was denigrated by one of the other contestants, Jade Goody, for having delusions of grandeur. Goody had come to prominence during an earlier non-celebrity version of the programme and was cut down to size by Shilpa's riposte that Big Brother was her only claim to fame. The incident brought worldwide coverage to the programme, all but destroyed Jade Goody's (ahem) career and made Shilpa Shetty (who went on to win the programme) a household name in the UK.
I tend to rave about people most folks have never heard of. "I got a shout out on Stephen Downes's blog!" I once announced delightedly in the office, to a round of "Who?" I got much the same response when I listed my dinner companions after Learning Technologies.
So is Stephen famous or isn't he?
Janet made a point today that resonated with me, as well. Sometimes the most unexpected people will make reference to something I have written on this blog. People who I would never have expected to count among my readers. So are we famous, too, Janet and I?
Of course, in the final analysis, it makes not the blindest bit of difference, but it's an interesting question. Maybe Andy Warhol was right. Perhaps everyone is now famous. Does someone call you in with a megaphone when your 15 minutes are up?