My parents phoned on Friday evening.
General conversation, nothing unusual, then my mother says, apropos of nothing: “oh and you’re so funny – trying to wind us up like that!” I don’t know what she means, and I ask her, not particularly interested at first.
She says they had a message on their answering phone, from a journalist, who wants to speak to them about their daughter.
“What?” I said – now I am listening properly. They had tried to call him back on the number he left, but didn’t get through. It takes a while to convince them that this is not a prank.
I am alarmed now; I ask them for the number. There is a tug of war over who will phone the journalist, but I am more insistent. When I call, the lady who answers tells me to phone again on Monday.
It is a long weekend. There is no-one else in the flat, I had nothing planned, and I silently reviewed my life for anything of journalistic interest. I once enjoyed a flirtation with a politician as a teenager, it didn’t come to anything: would that be it? But how would they have found out? Why would it be interesting? It was exciting for me at the time, but in the grand scheme of things, someone saying ‘the FTSE’ whilst holding my toes is not exactly headlines. Did they want material for an article on young women’s drinking habits? Then again, why me?
Monday comes. I tentatively dial the number. The journalist I speak to takes a moment to recognise my name, and then brightens.
Him: “You live in London!”
Me: “No, I live in xx”
Him: “You work as a model!”
Me (increasingly baffled): “No, I work in a bank”
Him: “You’re going out with xx” (famous celebrity)
Me: uncontrollable laughter.
I realise they have got the wrong person. I am highly entertained, until I realise that the tabloids have unwittingly reported this. People phone my parents and want to know if this is true, other people ask my friends.
I leave a bar one night the next week, and when my phone signal has returned, there is a message from someone wants to speak to me about it – from the Royal Mail. I wonder why on earth the Royal Mail would be interested in it? The postal service?
I later discover that it was a drunk friend pretending to be a journalist, a victim of malapropism, too inebriated to say ‘the Daily Mail’.
I wonder what the celebrity thought about this, if he read it; I have never trusted the papers since.