Celebrity.  Fame.  Justin Timberlake.

An unprecedented week in politics, it has all but been wiped from my mind as St Andrews, once more, succumbed to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship fever.  Introduced in 2001, it is a pro-am event played over three different links courses centred on the ‘home of golf’, its attraction gathering momentum as most of the amateurs are now famous faces from the worlds of both sport and entertainment.  Hugh Grant – or my friend, Hugh, as I prefer to call him – has long been one of the biggest draws but, sadly, there was no sign this year.  Strange.  He didn’t write.  He didn’t call.  Could it be anything to do with the fact that he is now married?

An absolute whirlwind of a weekend, more than anything it has proved a study in human behaviour.  Human nature at its best – and at its worst.  Fame only serves to exaggerate that which already exists …. Did I mention Justin Timberlake?!

The Jigger Inn is a long-time favourite haunt of ours.  Dating back to the 1850s – yes, I set them up  – it was once the station master’s lodge.  Closed in 1969, the original clock hangs on the wall with the hands denoting ten to two – the departure time of the last ever train to leave St Andrews.  As though in a time-warp, the atmosphere is one of old-world charm complete with beams – from which hang an array of golf caps signed by the giants of the sport including my ultimate, Seve – an open fireplace and tartan abound.  The American dream!  So, it becomes the very hub of the historic town during this renowned sporting fixture.  Enter stage left … Justin Timberlake?  Patience.

Monday evening, I all but bumped into Brian McFadden formerly of Westlife fame.  Seemingly an affable chap, he was always my favourite in their heyday and I never cease to smile when I remember being asked by one of my ex-husband’s colleagues at his sycophantic Christmas work ‘do’ what I would like Santa to bring me – ‘Brian from Westlife’ was my reply!  That may have been my last foray among said colleagues – not programmed to show the required deference – but, obviously, my brownie points were not forthcoming in Santa’s opinion either as Brian was a no-show that year.  In hindsight, perhaps it was for the best.  Seemingly stalking me for the remainder of the weekend, no conversation was forthcoming, however, as he appeared somewhat aloof and unapproachable.  Brian, that is, not Justin!

It was a whirlwind few days and there was a real buzz in town.  My beloved car enjoyed fifteen minutes of fame appearing in both the local Courier and The Sun as I happened to be parked across the road from Bill Murray’s car, slightly worse for wear after some incident.  Mr Murray, meantime, was left defenceless as he waited for back-up, pedestrians gathering with their phone cameras as the word spread.  Watching from the comfort of my soon-to-be-famous jeep, the price of celebrity was all too obvious, the mobile phone, perhaps, the most heinous weapon of all.  Relentlessly, they stare, an unwelcome audience fixating on an image not a person; public property now at the mercy of piranhas intent on their pound of flesh.  A sobering glimpse of how it must feel to have sold one’s soul?  Definitely requiring of a level head.

I have been lucky enough to meet many famous people over the years and there have been few who have disappointed until now – other than Faye Tozer of Steps fame!  As a little girl, Becca absolutely loved Steps and thus we ended up on the umpteenth floor of the Carlton Hotel in Edinburgh waiting for a glimpse of them – a long story.  Suffice to say, Faye was the first to appear and, as Becca stepped forward to ask for an autograph, she just carried right on walking, claiming she had just taken some medicine for her throat (and?), before disappearing into the lift.  Worse, I was speechless!  To this day, I cannot believe her behaviour – nor mine!  She definitely gives fame a bad name, though.  Do not be fooled by that sweetie, sweetie fasçade.

Standing in front of the famous R&A clubhouse on Thursday afternoon as Huey Lewis came off the 18th, he smiled and engaged with everybody.  An absolute delight, he chatted, joked and posed for photographs devoid of any ego.  As he headed off, the girl standing next to us was desperate to have her photo taken with a really good-looking young guy who, too, had just completed his round.  Happy to oblige, Becca had no idea who he was until her mother informed her that he was the lead singer of The Vamps!  Yep, down with the kids, that’s me!  Hysterical.  Anyway, later that evening, he and his Dad introduced themselves to us in the Jigger – Brad and Derek – and spent some time just chatting.  Polite, unassuming, friendly and utter gents, both, I cannot praise Brad enough.  Lead singer of a famous boy band, Brad Simpson is a credit to his family and deserving of every accolade.  Manny couldn’t believe it when, on the Saturday, he got up to greet Becca and myself with a hug and a kiss on both cheeks like old friends.  Now, that’s what I call class and I, for one, shall be buying every Vamps CD from now on!  If only I still had that cupboard door … family joke.

I am acutely aware this post will be two days late but life has a funny habit of throwing grenades and, distracted, the words have not been forthcoming.  Forgive me.  Forgive me, too, for perhaps rambling as I try to follow my initial thread or formulate some sort of theme.  It was to be one about fame in all its guises, most of which we witnessed this weekend.  Good and bad.  Along with our friends Huey and Brad, Jamie Redknapp was just the nicest!  Rain or shine, he had time for absolutely everybody and was kindness personified.  An absolute delight.  Then there was Ronan Keating, he, too, truly lovely.  Playing at Kingsbarns in Thursday’s torrential rain, players and spectators alike were drenched but Ronan – and Jamie – disappointed no-one, unlike some.  Mentioned Justin Timberlake recently?

What can I say about Ian Botham?  Sir Ian Botham.  A lot but now I’ve written far too much so I need to précis!  Far from my cup of tea, he is big and boorish.  Thankfully, his great charity footprint has superseded his past demeanours off the cricket pitch but, personally, I still remember the revelation of his ‘double life’ in 2001.  Not surprised, then, when, on Saturday evening, all those in the back area of the Jigger were asked to leave as it had been reserved for a private party – a curry night!  Sitting at the bar, there he was, encouraging the bar staff to ‘clear the plebs’, as it were … Only him.  As I’ve said before, it’s a topsy, turvy world.

So, on a downward slide here, what of the mighty Justin Timberlake, the star draw?  Deserving of no page space, he obviously believes he accrued his $230 million fortune with no support from the public whatsoever!  A good golfer he may be – and seemingly happy to connect with those he deemed worthy – he had no time for those who had waited patiently to see him.  I witnessed it on two occasions – once in the pouring rain.  Straight out of the score hut, he turned his head to blank the crowd and walked.  At the R&A clubhouse, his security guy said he needed the bathroom, at the same time telling Manny he couldn’t use his camera.  No matter.  Shorter than one would imagine, he was dwarfed by Ronan Keating and Jamie Redknapp, giants in his wake.

‘Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people – your family, friends and co-workers, and even strangers you meet along the way.’    Barbara Bush

A lesson in life.  Can someone, please, lend Justin the notes …?

This is Trish, signing off.