In 2002 my dad was ill with septicaemia. He was in the High Dependency Unit at Salford Royal Hospital. On my way to visit him, I noticed a glass lift which ascended only one floor. As I entered the building, a group of men in suits descended.
Anxious to see dad – who did eventually recovered, I thought, Oh good, as soon as I get there, they will have disembarked and I can jump straight in. It would save me rushing up the stairs and arriving in a fluster.
Turning the corner, most of them filtered out except, two. They were deep in conversation. Not being rude by nature, I was eager to see my dad. “Are you getting out, or what?”
One of the men jumped forward, startled, not realising they had even come to a stop. “Oh sorry,” he exclaimed, in a broad Scottish accent. I noticed the other man’s amused expression, and just who I had ordered out of the lift. It was then Manchester United football manager, Alex Ferguson. Graciously, he accepted my apology and I shook his hand.
Another story is about my sister, and we reminisced recently. She told me that back in the early eighties at a well-known nightclub in Manchester, she searched for the ladies toilets. Descending a staircase, she saw a private function room with a party going on. Venturing inside, she immediately spotted Mohammed Ali, who, she found out later, was there for Henry Cooper’s birthday.
Feeling braver, she wandered inside, but was stopped by a man telling her that it was a private event. My sister, known her for cheek, put on a confident voice to test him out. “I am with the party.” He immediately apologised and let her through.
She could not believe her luck, and joined a queue where a seated Ali, signed autographs. His manager stood beside him and my sister picked up a nearby menu.
When it got to her turn, his manager asked her family name. “Oh, you probably don’t know it,” she said fighting to keep her face straight.
He grinned and tapped the side of his nose. “I bet I know your parents, though.”
Underneath her breath, she muttered, ‘I bet you don’t! ‘
Muhammad Ali signed the menu, and she quickly left.
The last story goes back to the early seventies when I worked in a toy at a department store. I worked with a girl called Gay. One morning she came into work and said, “You’ll never believe what happened to me last night?”
I shrugged, “No, what?”
“I was standing at the side of the road waiting for my date when a car with black windows drew up beside me.
The window came down and a young man said, “Don’t look so worried, it might never happen.” And immediately drove off.
It took her a moment to realise it was Rod Stewart!