So this is how it went down. After a hard day's being made redundant, I like to unwind by sitting in a sports hall with 700 other people and listening to an old geezer do the anecdotes about his hollywood life.
This is what I did on Monday. Michael Caine has a new autobiography out called "The Elephant to Hollywood" (the "Elephant" part referring disappointingly to Caine's old manor of Elephant and Castle in London and not to a "Temple of Doom"-style pachyderm trek to tinseltown) and is touring the country doing a bit of talking and stuff.
So he comes on stage and immediately spots me sitting in the crowd. He recognises me. Says he reads the blog. I am a bit confused by this, as I have no pictures of myself on this site. He rushes into the audience, punching people out of the way with surprising force for his advancing years, and grabs me in a big bear-hug. He says what an honour it is to meet me. There are tears in his eyes. He pushes a copy of his book into my hand, and writes me the above message with a glowing smile. Then he shakes my hand and goes back to the stage. The show must go on.
This is totally how it went down. It was a personal and meaningful exchange between two artists. This wasn't one of those things where the plebs queue up for an hour just to get a glance and a smile from a celebrity as they scrawl a pre-arranged-by-post-it-note message on the inside cover of a copy of the book they're hawking. How cynical are you?
In all seriousness, Sir Mickey Caine was a delightfully amusing host for the hour or so he was onstage, even managing to respond to a bellowed demand of "SAY IT, THEN!" when talk turned to "The Italian Job" with dignity and humour.
My actual "meeting" with him went something like this:
I handed my copy of the book to a lackey.
The lackey handed it to another lackey.
The lackey slid it in front of Maurice Micklewhite.
Maurice read the message I had requested aloud: "I love your work?"
I spoke up: "It's a message from me to you, which I would like you to reciprocate by writing it in the book."
Maurice said: "Well, I do love your work", scrawled some vaguely intelligible words to that effect on my copy of his book, before passing it to another lackey who finally passed it back to me. The whole transaction took no more than about twenty seconds. I didn't feel cheated, though, as I had actually got him to acknowledge my existence and almost say more than six words directly to me, which was more than most people managed.
I don't take this as Caino being rude or anything, he's just an old geezer who had had a long day, was tired, in a hurry (something about a helicopter pad closing. Oh yeah, he arrived by helicopter.) and was trying to make sure everyone got their book signed, so no time for a chin-wag. The interview we had seen earlier was more than enough engagement with the man himself, amusing and entertaining with name-dropping tales and self-deprecating anecdotes. I haven't read the book yet, but if it's owt like his public speaking, it should be highly amusing.
If you get chance to see him on this book tour, do so, cos he'll probably be dead soon. He's pretty old now. As for the book, you can probably get it on amazon, but I'm not posting a link. I'm not a fucking prostitute. Yet.