Thursday, August 04, 2005

I need a hero!

I need a hero!
I WAS a bit shocked and saddened to hear yesterday that former Secretary of State Mo Mowlam (she of the groovy wig and Good Friday Agreement fame) is critically ill in hospital.

The BBC didn't report what was wrong with her, only that she had been admitted over the weekend and was, in those famous hospital words, "critical but stable"- whatever that means.
Mo Mowlam is a woman I've admired for many years. She was Secretary of State when I first started out as a journalist and I had the privilege to meet her on one of my first outings as a reporter. I'm pleased to say she was genuinely as lovely in real life as she appeared on the TV. (Which was a good thing because back then I still got totally star struck to see any of the big name politicians of the day.)
I remember her taking me by the hand and introducing me to the people who I really needed to talk to for my story. It was as if she sensed I was new to the job and a wee bit shy and rather clueless and I'll always remember her for that.
The news that she was seriously ill got me thinking about all my heroes- all the people out there I would love to meet and it also reminded me a conversation I'd had with a local law lecturer about people I admired.
The lecturer had asked me which female journalists I really looked up to. I muttered a quick answer about Kate Adie because hers was the first name that came into my head. I didn't want to sound ignorant (though looking back, I probably did), but the fact is I'm not all that wooed by fame and fortune, more by the actions of people.
Kate Adie, fair play to the woman, has had a remarkable career, but for all I know she might be a narky old baggage to work with. When it comes to news presenters, allow me to look at Dermot Murnaghan any day of the week- who is the most handsome newsreader on the box, but I can't say I really hero worship any of them.
When it comes to talking of female journalists that I admire, I look a wee bit closer to home- to the people who, like Mo Mowlam did, offered a hand of friendship and support when I was new to the job and starting out. People like Siobhan McEleney and Suzanne Rodgers (both of whom will be raging I've even mentioned them here) who pointed me in the right direction and made sure I didn't seriously mess up my career before it had even started.
They are not going to find themselves opening the BBC News from Niger or the Middle East- but that doesn't make them any less of a reporter than Kate Adie and her sort. Their acts of kindness make them more memorable in my book than any big shot, headline grabbing hack.

Not a stalker, honest!
I do, of course, like all of us have heroes I've not yet met. Any regular reader of this column will know I have a rather unhealthy obsession with the author Marian Keyes. It's akin to the obsession I had with Princess Leia from Star Wars when I was wee where I used to sit and pray and hope she would come to Derry and be my bestest friend.
Now, I'm not as crazy to offer prayers up for a meeting with Queen Marian (All Hail), but the woman does come across as the kind of lady I'd love to sit down for a natter with. She has been painfully honest, but utterly hilarious about her own life in her books and I just think we could have bucketloads of craic and say "feck" a lot and decide to be the bestest friends ever if we met. (I know that sounds supremely stalker-ish so rest assured I've not harassed the woman- just read her books!)
All that said, I'm not sure I could actually go ahead with meeting her, or any of my heroes, if the chance actually did arise. I would be afraid of two things; first of all that they would be really boring, arrogant or just generally horrible and second of all that I would lose the ability to form a coherent sentence in the face of such fame.
As a rather sad and spotty teenager I was obsessed with Bros and would while away many a weekend entering ridiculous competitions to see if I could get the chance to meet my idols. While I would sit watching "Going Live" to see if my name was picked out of the hat I would secretly hoped it wouldn't be, because I knew I would turn into a screaming, blethering eejit if I ever came face to face with Matt Goss.
While I worshipped the very ground his Grolsch topped brogues walked on, and knew every lyric of every song he ever sang, the fact is we had very little in common. I was a wee teenager from Derry, he was a famous singer from London who would have been meeting with us mere plebs because his PR people told him it was a good idea.
I doubt he would have, as I dreamed, fallen in love with my sparkling wit and begged me to move to London and marry him. Any meeting may have shattered my illusions of what he was really like and destroyed my teenage notions of love and romance forever.
Perhaps then a meeting with Queen Marian would shatter my illusions that she is one of the funniest, most down to earth women on the face of God's green earth.
But then again, my meeting with Mo Mowlam exceeded my expectations. Perhaps I was lucky, or perhaps there are just some genuine heroes out there.

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

PMSL Lola!! Absolutely spot on about the teenage idol thing - though I was CONVINCED I was going to marry George Michael. How wrong can a girl be!?

Agree about Mo though, hoping she makes a good recovery. She is a wonderful inspiration to women everywhere and down to earth with it (she was an absolute scream on Room 101).

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