So I’m standing in my local KFC in Ealing. I’ve just had an original piece snack box, if you must know, and I’ve gone back to the counter to get a coffee. I look out of the window at the far end of the shop and think, it’s already getting a bit dark and it’s only half past seven. This depresses me a little. Summer is over.
Then a middle-aged guy comes in by himself and walks up to the counter, stands right next to me, and I think, hang on, i’m sure that’s John Landis, Director of such memorable films as The Blues Brothers and eh..Kentucky Fried Movie..He’s checking out the menu and i’m like..no way..
Is it him? I think so.. wait, not sure now..The guy is inches from me and I’m trying not to stare. But staring. I look around, no recognition from the eight or so other people in here. There’s one person being served in front of me and I’m leaning on the counter next to them, looking at him over my shoulder. Na..it’s just a guy with a beard and glasses. Obviously. So I get my coffee and turn to walk out but then I stop and look back. It is, you know. I’ll listen to him ordering, if he’s got an American accent then it’s gotta be..
If it is him, I’m thinking, then that’s a bit of a coincidence because only yesterday I’d watched the TV repeat of Cha’Mone Mo ’Fo Selecta- Michael Jackson Special and thought how funny the John Landis character was. If you’ve not seen it, he’s played, (not by Leigh Francis but another actor) as a boorish grinning cockney.Seems to be sending up Landis’ bluff media persona. Very funny and surreal.
And a couple of days before that, I’d trotted out to some folk, one of my favourite bits of film trivia, that being, – In the original end credits of American Werewolf in London, there’s a dedication to a famous couple. Who were they and what links them to the film‘s financier? If you don’t want to know the answer, look away now.
The film was dedicated to Charles and Diana and congratulates them on their wedding of the same year. And the film’s financial patron was – Dodi Fayed. Spooky!… If you’re playing darts whilst reading this, sorry if I made you miss…
So he leans into the counter and orders, I didn’t hear what, but yes, there’s the American accent. It’s definitely him. Oookay, so I’m in this over-bright, slightly smelly, practically empty fast food joint, sipping a coffee and John Landis is placing an order.. No one else has recognized him, only me. What do I do? I notice they’re putting his food into a bag so I know he’s ordering to go. Now what? Then he turns around, looks at me and says ‘Do you want two fries’? ‘No thanks. I’m alright’, I reply. What the fuck just happened?
Then he asks the same to some people at a table. They look at him blankly and shake their heads. He turns to a woman with a toddler who’s just arrived at the counter, ‘Do you want my two fries? I’ve got two fries with my order but I don’t want them’. She declines. He seems a bit incredulous that no one wants his fries.
So I walk to the far end of the restaurant and sit at a table by the door where there are no customers.Then a staff member asks if he can clean the table so I stand up, just as Mr Landis turns away from the counter and walks towards me. I stand in front of him, trying not to look like i’m blocking the way, if you know what I mean. ‘Hello John’. I say, hoping I’m not coming off as Rupert Pupkin, ‘It is John isn’t it’?. His grins and nods. ‘Do you mind if I take a photo’?. ‘Sure’ he says, then he asks for my phone, ‘How does it work, I’ll take one’? He fiddles with the button, holds the phone up and takes a picture of us both.I have my arm around him, which is a bit naff but so what? We look at the shot and – we aren’t in it!! I ask if I can take another of him alone and he’s fine with that..‘Thanks, really appreciate it. So..eh..what are you doing here’? ‘ I just made a film in Ealing’. Oh right. You directed one of my most favourite films ever’. ‘Oh yeah? Which one? ‘American Werewolf in London’. ‘Oh right, have you seen the Blue Ray’? he asks. ‘No, ‘You should, it’s amazing..we walk out of the restaurant whilst he bigs up the Blue Ray quality and praises the extras.
Outside, it’s gotten very dark all of sudden….beware the moon.. I turn to go left. And so does he. So now I’m walking up the road with John Landis, director of such films as Trading Places. ‘Have you ever seen Bo Selecta’? ‘No, what’s that’? ‘Well, it’s British comedy show. There’s a guy who does celebrities and wears masks..what am I on about?..well, anyway, he did a Micheal Jackson Special and you feature in it quite a bit’ He stops by a car, darkened windows, driver inside’. ‘Really,’? ‘Yeah, but, you’re portrayed as a cheery cockney wide boy’.He laughs, ‘What did you say it was called’? ‘Bo Selecta. It’s really funny. You..your character, I mean, and Jacko, talk about how you came to make the Thriller video. It’s funny’. ‘What’s it called..Bo..’? ‘’Bo Selecta, check it out.it’s very good’. He opens the car door. ‘Thanks for the photo, nice to meet you’. He grins. ‘You too’.He gets in with his white plastic carrier bag of chicken, hold the fries..
I walk on, not looking back, resisting the urge to rubbeneck and check the photos on my phone. My one is quite good. But the award winning Director of such memorable films as National Lampoon’s Animal House’s one, is, it has to be said, quite pants.Heh..
I carry on up the road, thinking momentarily of tonight’s tube strike, and imagine some guy standing on an eerily deserted platform somewhere, growling sounds echoing down the tunnel..
Coming Soon: So i’m in Greggs when Martin Scorsese turns to me and says ‘Oh, i’m getting a sausage roll too. Why don’t we club together, it’s two for £1.55..’?