I stalk the prime minister and realise I’d be a crap paparazzo


While driving through a village in Cornwall at the weekend, I saw the prime minister walking along the road. As you do.

Kim, who was driving, was excited beyond belief; she was already on Cameron alert because she’d read in the papers that he was planning to visit Cornwall for his latest holiday, and her sister, Catherine, had spotted him in the same area last summer.

But to spot him first crack out of the box like that was amazing. Kim did a U-ey as soon as feasible but there was no sight of the PM on our return journey along the road. We concluded he’d got into one of the big black people carriers we’d seen lining the street, and been spirited away by his minders.

I wasn’t even sure it was Cameron – all I’d seen was a bloke in a navy blue polo shirt and shorts, accompanied by two other blokes. But Kim was convinced, and raved about how nice-looking he was in real life. “Such nice clear skin, and looks so young, ooh he’s lovely!”

Kim is now considering swapping her usual green-themed country-casual outfits for a more marine-style blue ensemble, inspired by how good Dave apparently looks in navy.

It was a strange coincidence actually; I’d recently received a press release from a car insurance company saying that many accidents are caused by the driver being distracted by attractive passers-by. As a result, we’d planned to enliven our journey to Cornwall by looking out for attractive strangers in other cars on the M5, but as it was raining at the time we couldn’t really see anyone, and the fat bloke we saw having a piss in a layby on the A30 near Bodmin hardly qualified as “attractive”.

So to spot Dave pottering along the street was a double achievement. The disappointment at having caught only a passing glimpse of the PM was slightly assuaged less than an hour later when, sitting outside a café in Polzeath, we had another celebrity “spot” – this time, former rugby star Will Carling, loitering about on the sea-front. And to add to the excitement, the bloke in the coffee bar said he’d met singer Will Young in the village the other day, and we overheard a woman on the ferry to Padstow saying she’d just seen comedian Harry Enfield in a café. We wandered round looking for Enfield for a bit but got distracted by a more pressing desire for a sit-down with a crab sandwich and a cappuccino, and by the photo opportunities offered by the sight of a seagull trying to disembowel a crab in the harbour.

Anyway, all this celebrity spotting was like Christmas come at once for Kim, who loves all things “celebrity” – it was like an edition of Heat or OK! come to life, only cheaper.

Our little party was on full Cameron watch from then on, but it was down to me and Catherine to cop the second prime ministerial spot, the next day, while on a hike on the coast path. Arriving at a charming little beach after a sweaty slog round the cliffs, we sat down to rest on a sand dune and idly started scanning the sands for any sign of the PM, just in case.

We’d all but given up when Catherine spotted a black people carrier in the car park, complete with blacked out windows. Nearby was a black 4×4, occupied by a bloke who appeared to be scanning the beach with binoculars. And another bloke, a big burly type with a hand-held radio thing, was on foot, apparently having intercepted a man carrying a camera with one of those enormous telephoto lenses. Imagine the thrill to overhear the paparazzo protesting he was doing no harm and the security guy accusing him of being intrusive. The game was on!

It’s astonishing how alike men look when they’re 50 metres away and dressed in shorts, so I ended up snapping any number of random blokes on the maximum 10x zoom my little camera can stretch to. For a while we were convinced a bloke in a red top was Cameron, but when he eventually wandered a bit closer we could see he didn’t have enough hair, and wasn’t tall enough. I also fired off any number of shots of couples with children, on the basis that among them could be Dave, Sam-Cam (Mrs C) and the kids.

Eventually, Catherine hissed “there he is!” and, about 50 feet away, the PM was climbing up some steps to the car park, accompanied by a huge entourage of adults and children.

I don’t know why, because in political terms I deeply dislike what Cameron stands for, but I somehow felt it would be rude to rush over and start taking pictures, so my photographic efforts were restricted to what I could take discreetly from a distance, having forgotten in the excitement to zoom in. Consequently, the resulting pics show only a bloke with brown hair wearing a dark top and carrying an orange bag, in a sort of fuzzy mist. He could be the PM, or he could be a window cleaner on his day off. You can see from this pic how hard it is to distinguish one person from another in a beach-scape.

Mental note – confine self to taking scenic shots of landscapes and cats and things; you will never join the paparazzi.

2 thoughts on “I stalk the prime minister and realise I’d be a crap paparazzo

  1. Peter Crosskey says:

    Back in February I was covering the French presidential progress through the Paris international farm show SIA on the opening day and was struck by the caveman credentials of the minders, more than once. But one person caught my attention on the edge of the scrum and he was a military type in full dress uniform carrying a cross between a briefcase and an overnight bag.
    He was evidently the duty military adviser with the nuclear trigger, walking around on the edges of a heaving crowd trying very hard not to draw attention to himself. Understandable really, since as well as the technical manual for Armageddon and the odd sandwich or two for quiet days, he was probably carrying round an all-weather army issue mobile phone.
    I imagined it to be something like the mobile handsets they had in Thunderbirds, but probably with a few more user features. And lots of careful previous owners…

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