“I have this weird relationship with Ricky Gervais,” a friend tells me as we walk down the street.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“Well, you know he lives on our street, so we always see him walk by.”

“Oh yeah, I see him jog around the neighbourhood all the time.”

“Right?” she smiles, pleased I can confirm the relative ease of the star’s accessibility, “When we got our puppy, he would stop to say hello to him.  Now that a year’s gone by he has this full-on relationship with our dog, but I haven’t found the opportunity to say, ‘Hi, I’m Lauren.  What’s your name?’  I think the moment’s passed, don’t you?”

“I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you introduced yourself,” I say as I fiddle with the keys in my pocket, “but if you were famous wouldn’t you only want the attention of dogs and babies with their lack of preconceived notions?”

“I guess so, it just feels weird.  Anyway,” she changes tack, “we’ll be away for the holidays, so if your New York visitors want to stay at our place while they’re in town-they’re welcome.”

“That is so sweet of you,” I gush, totally taken aback by her generosity, “well, then why don’t we take care of your dog for you while you’re gone?”

“Seriously?” she lights up.

“Seriously!  It’s the least we could do.  Let me be the one who doesn’t introduce myself to Ricky Gervais for awhile.”

“Thank you!” she says.

“No, thank you!”

Our friends from New York work in film and television.  In fact, one of them did a movie with Mr Gervais-so it’s a bonus for him not only to stay in our friends’ lovely home but a lovely home on the same street as an entertainer he admires.

When he arrives he says, “I don’t believe he lives on this street, I just don’t believe it.”

“Well, he has to live somewhere, ” I offer, “it might as well be here.”

“You really see him jogging all the time?” he asks.

“We do.  Nobody bothers him.  He gets a lot of looks though, while people make unstealthy phone calls and say, ‘Ricky Gervais is jogging towards me, I’m looking right at him!’  You’ll see what I mean.  Just take Lauren’s dog for a walk-he’ll turn up.  It won’t be weird for you to introduce yourself since you actually worked with him.”

The days go by, no Ricky.

“He must be on holiday,” I offer our dejected friend.

“I actually googled it,” he says with a frowny face, “it says he has an office on this street.  Maybe he doesn’t live here.”

“We just need to get out and about more,” I encourage.

The rest of the week goes by.  He’s not at the Dim Sum place.  He’s not in the park.  He’s not walking through the churchyard.  He’s not jogging down the lane.  I can tell, our friend thinks we’re big, fat liars.

On Saturday morning, after ten days of a glorious visit, we stand outside Lauren’s house as a car drives up to collect our friends and whisk them off to the airport.  Her dog sits in his customary spot on the window sill inside the house-his perch to view all the street’s activity.

We wave at the back of the car as it drives down the road when up walks Ricky.  He taps on the window, says hello to the dog and keeps walking.

I do not introduce myself.

 

featured image: dogsmonthly.co.uk