Following our move out to the sticks in 2011, on one of our first ventures into the local small market town up the road, Mrs S & I decided to to check out a promising looking deli/coffee shop. Once inside, the place had a distinct Mary Celeste vibe about it and I wondered if it was actually closed. Suddenly, without warning, a man popped his head up from behind the counter and explained apologetically that he was just looking after the place for a few minutes while the owner had gone to the bank. His sudden unexpected appearance made me jump, not least because the man behind the counter was none other than Yosser Hughes, or to be more accurate, the actor Bernard Hill. Younger readers may be more familiar with his work in films like Gandhi, Titanic and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but to my generation he'll always be associated with his iconic role in Alan Bleasdale's Boys From the Blackstuff television series. It transpired that Hill lives locally and I've seen him around town many times in the years since that first encounter.
At my old gaff, Swede Towers, the locals would frequently take in parcels for neighbours who weren't at home - we all helped each other out. One day about three years ago, the postman knocked at the door to ask if I'd mind taking a parcel for the young couple who'd recently moved into the big place next door but one to me. The postman was impressed by my neighbour, but I hadn't seen him and the name meant nothing to me. Turns out it was Norwich City and Netherlands goalkeeper Tim Krul. He and his wife were also regular visitors to the supermarket where I work, where he was endlessly polite and accommodating to selfie requests from customers and fellow staff members alike.
One afternoon last week, as I scrambled around on my knees, trying to squeeze a few extra packs of crumpets onto a very low shelf at work, I heard a strangely familiar voice say 'Excuse me'. As I struggled to my feet, the man in question asked if we sold gluten free pizza bases. I replied that we certainly did and took him and his wife round to the relevant aisle. 'Perfect' he said and thanked me warmly. It's fairly common knowledge that he owns a property in a nearby village, but this was my first ever actual encounter with Brian Eno in town. (I did have close call a couple of years ago though).