Anyone who knows me, knows that the only person in the world I’ve ever wanted to meet, is Billy Connolly.
Since I was 14 years old, I’ve watched and consumed as much of his work as I could. His stand up makes me roar – all through the years it has made me roar. His TV shows and documentaries have taught me things about my country, my city, other countries, nature, the human condition, that I might not have otherwise learned. He has a brilliant take on the world and an even better way of communicating it.
The humour of it all, and his particular skill of nailing human observation, means that his material has stuck with me, and I have a ‘Billy one-liner’ or a ‘Billy story’ for any conversation.
I’ve had a couple of false starts when it comes to meeting Billy Connolly in person. Back in 2004, I went to see him at the London Apollo, and I took with me a drawing I’d done of him years earlier. I really wanted him to sign it and secretly wished I could meet him in person. We arrived just as the show was about to start, so the staff at the Apollo took it to his dressing room. I collected it afterwards, and he’d signed it. Had I arrived much earlier, there may have been a chance to meet him (thanks TfL!) but I was seriously chuffed.
A few years ago, he passed the window of Cafe Gandolfi Fish in Glasgow as I tucked into my lunch. He looked so relaxed, sauntering along with his daughter. There was absolutely no way I was going to run along Albion Street to ruin his Saturday.
Then at the end of last year, I finally met him. Because of art.
I managed to get on the list for his Born On A Rainy Day exhibition at Castle Fine Art in Glasgow. I was there with my fiance, another massive fan, and we wandered around feeling really quite impressed with his art. He has developed such a distinctive style for a relative beginner. Surely this is too high a concentration of talent in one person!?! We secured two limited edition prints and couldn’t have been happier with them.
Next thing I turned round and he was there. He was there, in front of me. Totally unexpected. He was looking brilliant. Looking jazzy and colourful. Looking relaxed. Yaaaas!
It was a closed door event, so he was able to take time with everyone. When I got my turn, I took the opportunity to tell him about the London Apollo..
He chatted, and laughed and engaged with everyone, all the time as patient and gracious as you like. He talked to the guests about his art, why he loves it, why it makes him feel relaxed, especially following his Parkinson’s diagnosis.
He was brilliant.
Towards the end of the evening, he stole some time to himself. Just chilling out, reflecting, before heading off in a black cab with his daughter.
It was one of the best days of my whole life, and well worth waiting 39 years for.