Most of us have a story to tell about someone really famous they once met. We listen hoping to be proved wrongly or rightly about their God like celebrity status. My story involves one of the most famous politicians of the Twentieth Century. William Jefferson Clinton, Bill to you and I.
I met him in a bar. Yes, a bar. The Hotel Lobby bar of No. 1 Aldwych in the West End of London. I was a junior Lloyd’s Broker out drinking after hours with friends and colleagues. We were roaring drunk and I had just spent considerable time in the ladies powder room splashing water on my face trying to sober up.
When I skulked back out to where our group was sitting one of my colleagues informed us that Bill had just walked in. Yeah right, was our reply. We looked over and he was flanked by a number of heavies. The bar was heaving, it was pre theatre time.
We all looked on dumbfounded. It’s not often you’re in a bar with Bill Clinton. Seizing my Carpe Diem moment I told everyone I just had to go and talk to him. Actually, that was the drink talking whilst holding back my inhibitions.
I walked over and stood behind where he was seated. I waited for him to stop talking when he looked up and then stood up and held out his hand to me.
Bill Clinton was shaking my hand! Thankfully the alcohol had rendered my dumb gene speechless and my sober gene had kicked in.
I told him that I was taking a once in a lifetime opportunity of meeting him and wanted to say hello. He couldn’t have been nicer and told me how pleased he was that I had taken the time to speak with him. (He actually looked like he meant it, clearly the mark of a great politician).
We chatted momentarily and I asked him why he was in this bar. ‘Its where the cool crowd hang out so i was told’ he replied in his unmistakable southern drawl. He was over visiting his daughter who was studying in the Capital.
In the five minutes we spoke he was so polite and charismatic. I was transfixed by the huge presence he had. He seemed so much bigger in the flesh then he does on TV. Realising I didn’t want to out stay my welcome I thanked him for his time. Just as I was parting my mouth continued to speak, before my brain was able to shut it down. I asked him if he could do me a favour.
I was asking Bill Clinton for favours!
I told him that I was sitting over by the windows with my colleagues having a few drinks. I motioned to where we were. I asked that when he left if he could walk that way out and come over to say goodbye, i told him he would make me look a hero amongst my colleagues. He laughed, heartily and said he would.
I thought no more of it. I went back to our table and carried on drinking regaling my colleagues with my tale of meeting Bill Clinton and trying to make sense of what had just happened. When an hour or so later, a man stood over our chairs. It was Bill himself.
Calling my name (he remembered my name !!!) he said goodnight and that he was heading off. He extended his hand for me to shake. I got up shook his hand as he offered me his cheek, which I kissed. Goodnight Bill, i replied like it was the most natural thing in the world.
That is my claim to fame, one of which I am still dining out on some twelve to thirteen years later and despite what Bill Clinton stands for or goes on to do, he will always be a hero of mine for making me feel just a little bit special and doing as I asked.