Friday 17 August 2007

Don't you know who I am?

Two stories today about the perils of being famous - but not quite famous enough.

Bestselling author Stephen King was mistaken for a vandal when he turned up unannounced at an Australian bookshop and started signing his name in books. Said bookshop manager Bev Ellis: 'When you see someone writing in one of your books you get a bit toey (nervous).' Speaking as someone whose name appears (in very small print) on one or two academic tomes of minor interest, the closest I've come to this is sneakily rearranging the books so that mine are to the fore, in those neglected corners of bookshops where such arcane publications are displayed. Being even less recognisable than King, I'm unlikely to share his experience of being pursued out of the shop by an apologetic manager and told (as King was by Ms Ellis): 'Well, if we knew you were coming we would have baked you a cake.'

More worrying than King's experience is the case of Rigoberta Menchú, the Nobel peace prizewinner, UNESCO goodwill ambassador, Guatemalan presidential candidate and figurehead for indigenous rights, who was mistaken for a bag lady by staff at a 5-star Mexican hotel where she was waiting to give an interview. According to The Guardian: 'She was wearing a Mayan dress, the traditional attire of indigenous people in central America, and the hotel's response was also traditional: throw her out.' The article concludes: 'Commentators noted the irony of upmarket resorts discriminating against real Maya while trying to attract tourists with fake Mayan architecture'.

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