I was in a queue for the train to Paris once, probably before Eurostar, and right in front of me were an attractive couple. I recognised the man: it was John Berger. The woman maybe his wife, maybe not. I knew what he looked like from author photos but the vitality fizzing from him could not have been captured in any still images. I very much wanted to speak with him but only if it was a real conversation and I couldn't think of any way to initiate that. Besides, the couple were talking to each other and I didn't want to interrupt. I love much of his work but don't know how to be anyone's fan - don't believe in fandom (not even the fandom of the opera) So I missed that opportunity.
Just as I
missed another fan-op many many years ago when I was only a tiny
pre-teen and George Sanders, my then-hero, was actually literally in the
same elevator with me in the very same brownstone house in New York
City where I lived at the time with my parents and where my hero's mistress, Zzzazza Gabor, also had an apartment. Fate, in its occasional whimsical
generosity, gave me another chance to approach this particular hero of
mine many years later (1972) at the airport in New York, on my way back
to London: George Sanders, my George Sanders, was there in the
pre-boarding area, wrapped in a fur-collared coat, looking grey and grim
and old. I desperately wanted to speak to him and again could not think
of anything to say - "I love you" would have been stupid. I didn't know
then that he was on his way to die by his own hand in an anonymous
hotel room somewhere in Spain. I read the obituary when I was back home.
RIP long-gone George Sanders, RIP gone yesterday John Berger, wherever you are. See you there one day.