Monday, 9 January 2012

Charlie Watts

One of the really interesting things about living in London is the seemingly endless potential it offers for running into or sighting famous people, some of whom are even interesting. When I first moved here, it seemed like I saw Bob Geldof every month or so, no matter where I went. I remember being surprised at seeing Tracy Emin a few years back walking down the street in The City (London's financial district), smiling about something. She'd probably just been to see her accountant. While I was hanging around waiting for the start of the Spatial AKA gig at the Barbican in November, I looked up to see Gary Oldman standing two feet in front of me, scanning the room for the people he was meant to be meeting. And then there was my up close and personal encounter with Sting.

However, the best by far occurred last summer. It was a nice day and I was walking to a meeting with one of my colleagues, to whom I'll henceforth refer to as "X." We were walking down Bond Street, just approaching the really swank run of jewellery shops. Looking ahead up the pavement 100 feet or so, I caught sight of a small figure in a powder blue blazer, his face mostly obscured by the pedestrians oscillating between us. I could just make out a spiky bit of white hair and one cheekbone. The cheekbone was pretty much the only thing I needed to identify the great Charlie Watts, who had apparently just emerged from spending some not inconsiderable amount of money with a purveyor of fine jewellery, who was now standing next to him chatting while Charlie waited for a car to collect him.

Seeing Charlie in itself was enough, but the anecdote that follows made it better. As we approached him, I whispered to X, "That's Charlie Watts." He seemed not to take note until we had passed Charlie and were 100 feet or so further along. Suddenly he stopped me and asked, "Who did you say that was?" "Charlie Watts." "Really?"

X then proceeded back up the pavement, but by this time Charlie was in his car and rolling away. "That was Charlie Watts?" "Yes." "Who's Charlie Watts?" Exasperated, I replied, "He's the drummer in the f*cking Rolling Stones." "I met Keith Richards once," replied X. "Really?" said I, incredulously. X then told me that in a previous job, he had been in a coffee shop in Noho with some colleagues, when in walked a very drunk Keith Richards, who gravitated towards them, and a short conversation ensued. At some point, someone took a photo, which X said he still had back at the office.

I interjected at one point that it would have been funny if X had claimed to Keith Richards at the time that he thought he was Ronnie Wood. After our meeting, X went off to a lunch appointment, and I went back to the office. Back at my desk, I told my colleagues about seeing Charlie Watts. They asked if X had shared his Rolling Stones close encounter anecdote with me. "Yes," I replied, "he told me about meeting Keith Richards." Almost in chorus, they shouted, "Keith Richards? Is that what he said? Keith Richards? It was Ronnie Wood!" They then produced the photographic evidence, and sure enough, it was Ronnie Wood.


Paul Dudenhefer said...

Great story! About the best I can do is to say that I once saw Sam Phillips in the old Buntyn restaurant. And how can I forget seeing the 60s-70s TV actor Claude Akins in the Shoney's on Summer and Sycamore Grove.

James Enck said...

Thanks Paul. I waited on Bill Dundee once, and Charlie Rich. Used to regularly see Sam Phillips out mowing his grass. He lived on Mendenhall just down the road from my family home.