We’d like to thank Sonny for the following story.
Every time business takes me to the English seaside town of Brighton, I always make sure I have time to take a walk on the pier. I do this, so I can buy a bag of chips (French fries) and eat them, sitting on a deckchair, on the beach. In November of 2009, I was on just such a trip. I’d finished my first meeting in good time, so knew I had an hour or so to make my seaside pilgrimage.
It was a pretty nice day for November. It was cold, but sunny. A sunglasses and scarf kind of a day. But my favourite kind of seaside weather had brought out a reasonable winter crowd, and there was a small queue at the booth that sells chips. A queue that didn’t seem to be getting any shorter because the middle-aged guy at the front of the queue was taking forever to get served. It all seemed pretty good-humoured though, as there was quite a lot of laughter coming from the booth. Eventually, he got sorted out, and left with his order. After that, the queue moved fairly quickly.
After I was served, I took my chips and walked down onto the beach, looking for an empty deckchair. I could see two just ahead of me, but one was already occupied by the same middle-aged guy who’d held up the queue. So, I went over to ask him if the other chair was free. But, when I got there, I got the shock of my life, because the middle aged guy was Bill Murray! At first, I couldn’t get anything out of my mouth, because my brain was trying to cope with the weirdness of unexpectedly running into a movie star on Brighton beach. He picked up on this and got in first.
“Yes, I am Bill Murray, the guy from Ghostbusters.”
“I know” I replied “but I’ve always thought of you as the guy who does those great films with Jim Jarmusch.”
This must have been the right thing to say, because he actually smiled, which sort of made my day.
“So, is this a fan thing, because if so, what’s it to be, photo or autograph?”
“Actually, I was just going to ask you if anyone was using this deck chair, sorry.”
This made Bill laugh. Which, by the way, is a really nice sound. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Bill Murray laugh in a movie, he’s always struck me as a wry smile sort of a guy. Bill Murray has a good laugh, very genuine.
This left me with a dilemma because, yes, I did want the deck chair, but at the same time, here was one of my cinema heroes. Should I just plonk myself down in the chair, or should I drag it to a respectable distance.
“Would it be OK if I just sat here, or would you prefer me to go somewhere else?” I asked.
“I just like to watch the waves.”
So, I sat down and ate my chips… and, right next to me Bill Murray did the same thing.
It was nice. Sure there were a million questions I would have liked to have asked him, but in many respects it was nicer just to sit there, the both of us, eating chips and watching the sea, in silence.
When I was finished, I screwed up my chip wrapper and I stood up. I could see Bill had also finished his chips.
“Would you like me to put that in the bin for you?”
He balled up his empty wrapper and handed it to me.
“Thanks” he replied… and then he reached out and touched my arm “can I ask you a favour?”
“Of course,” I replied “just a name it.”
“If you tell anyone this story, of how you bumped into me on this beach today, would you lie about where it happened?”
“What, you mean like change the location to somewhere like Brighton, instead of… ”
“Yeah, something like that. It’s not a big deal, but I’d appreciate it.”
“I can do that.” I said.