I’ve often heard said that you should never aim to meet somebody who is an idol to you. Many horror stories abound of people who have met musical icons, famous authors or actors and been disappointed.
I suppose it’s our own fault: we build these people up to be larger than life, don’t we? It often seems that the big stars we idolise are somehow inhuman; above the detritus of everyday life.
So it was with some trepidation that I bought my ticket a week ago to go and listen to Judy Blume talking about her latest book and her writing life in Manchester, UK. She has been on a huge book tour, both in the USA and UK, and I was desperate to catch her whilst she was over here.
But I was also a little worried. I had put so much faith in this woman during my formative years. It was she who talked me through periods and bras; boys and parents. As I know it was for so many other young girls in the 1970’s and 80’s. It was as if she was speaking directly to us – a comment frequently made by women-of-a-certain-age whenever her name comes up in conversation.
So, Wednesday afternoon, I drove over to Manchester from my home town of Sheffield in a frazzlingly hot car, setting off way too early in fear of not arriving in time. Weaving my way through the city, my hands sweating with excitement and nerves lest she not be the woman I’ve always thought she’d be (don’t judge me), I found my seat in the beautifully restored library.
Dear Reader, I needn’t have worried.
She was wonderful. Exactly the right balance of humour and warmth you would expect from her fabulous books; a mixture between favourite aunty and best friend. She announced to the audience that she was 77 years old now and may not write any more books. The gasp was audible. Even as she spoke the words, I don’t think anybody believed them. She has more verve and energy about her than many 20 year olds.
She spoke enchantingly about her new book, answered audience questions with humour and wit and a highlight was each time she referred to her husband, George, who accompanied her, calling him her ‘walking/talking Google’. Their relationship was lovely to see.
Leaving the library that evening with my signed books in hand (vintage copies of Are you there God? it’s me, Margaret and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing), I was glad I took the chance to meet one of my childhood literary heroines. And I felt inspired to get back to my own writing in the hope that I could reign in some of that vivacity and energy she emanated.
Have you ever met anyone you’ve been inspired by, and did they live up to your expectations?
Happy reading and writing,