THE MUSIC MAKER
Do you want me to bring a car round to the back of the theatre in case you're mobbed at the stage door?"
I looked up at the fawning record company executive who was pacing the dressing room floor, wringing his hands like a character from Pickwick Papers and opened my lips to decline the offer as politely as I could. Then I realised he was talking to the Spanish pop group sitting behind me. The singer flicked her hair back and said something pretentious about a car not always being necessary and needing to feel the warmth and love of her fans. When we all left ten minutes later there were precisely zero fans waiting to show any warmth or, indeed, love. I chuckled to myself and went for a kebab.
We'd been playing a live theatre performance in Malaga for one of the most popular radio programmes in Spain which was on a sort of roadshow tour thingy. The pop group from Madrid were on because they had just had a big hit and I was chosen to represent the Malaga music scene, presumably because of my swarthy olive skin and smouldering dark brown eyes. Anyway, all went well but I was struck by the airs and graces adopted by the group, especially the singer. Come on, I thought, you've only had one hit song and it's not a very good one at that.
For some reason, I was reminded of these proceedings this week, when I read about Tom Cruise shouting and swearing at a couple of poor saps on the set of Mission Impossible 517 or something, because they were standing too close together, looking at a computer screen when they should have been social distancing. Leaving aside the fact that they were quite probably searching for a special effect that might make the diminutive star look a bit taller, threatening to have people sacked over something like that as he did, is, well, just not on. No-one can doubt that Cruise was right to insist on social distancing but a quiet word would have done the trick.
Fame is a fickle mistress. One minute you're singing your one not very good hit to a radio audience of millions, the next your slumped in a bar, slugging back warm gin and tonics telling the bored waitress about how you were once so famous you needed cars brought round to stage doors to protect you from swarms of adoring fans.
At least Tom Cruise has been genuinely well-known for decades even if he owes much of that recognition to dancing on a tatty sofa in his underpants.
Still, none of it gives him the right to chuck his weight about on set like that, as if acting was a difficult job or something.