It was just after the new year, early in January.
I was taking five of our kids for a walk up our favourite hill. We turned around the corner at the round-about near our home and began walking toward the bus stop where the trail up the hill begins. Half way to the bus stop, one of the kids needed to relieve himself. I bent down, wrapped his bi-product in newspaper and stood back up ready to continue down the road.
I was suddenly aware of someone standing on the sidewalk just before the bus stop. He stood motionless, dressed in dark sport clothes, both hands in pants pockets, a pastel blue flat soft hat on his head, standing with one leg vertical and the other slightly leaning outward. He was motionless, and he was watching me, intensely.
I sometimes have a vivid imagination and it began to work at this moment. I had no idea who the man was. He was too far away to recognise. He stood directly in the middle of the sidewalk and his demeanour looked menacing. I wondered if perhaps he was displeased that my kids and I were taking up the whole of the sidewalk. I didn't want trouble so I decided that if necessary, I would direct the kids to the road and walk around him when we reached him.
We kept walking. He remained motionless. We kept walking. He remained motionless.
We were almost there. I was getting ready to direct the kids to the road, making sure that there were no cars approaching, when the man suddenly outstretched his hand toward me, offering to take my hand in his, a handshake. I looked closer. He was smiling at me. I looked closer. I wasn't sure. It was near impossible to believe that I was seeing who I thought I was seeing. I looked closer. It was him. It was him!
We shook hands. He wasn't even the slightest bit nervous of the kids. We talked for ten to fifteen minutes. He asked me a few questions and asked for my phone number. Suddenly, he opened the boot of his car and took out a camera. We crossed the road and he very quickly took two photographs of the kids and me (you can view one of them here). We talked a little more. A few people across the road recognised him and called to him. He replied with the politeness and respect that he is famous for. We talked a little more and he left.
The kids and I continued our journey up the hill. I was in a dream state. I felt like I was floating. It was so hard to believe that I had actually met and talked to this man. It was so surreal!
Yesterday morning, the first day of the new Chinese lunar year, my wife and I were at the theatre watching "Night At The Museum". When I watch movies, I always set my phone to Silent. Even if it rings, I will not be aware of it. I'll then check the phone for missed calls and messages after the movie has finished. This time was no different. After the movie, I checked my phone and noted that there was one missed Unknown call and one message. I rang the message centre and listened to the message. It was him!
He had called to wish me a happy Chinese new year, and to arrange a meeting to give me a copy of the photograph he had taken. He'll call again, probably after the Chinese New Year holiday. It's going to be an anxious week for me. I usually turn my phone off during "They’re Playing Our Song (2007)" rehearsals but I'm going to have to leave it on for a few days in case he calls. I don't know nor need to know his number so I'll just have to wait for him to call me.
We all have our idols, people we admire and look up to. Some people admire Stephen Hawking. Some people admire Li Ka Shing. Others admire movie stars and celebrities. I have no idols, but rather a few select people for whom I hold high regard and esteem. I don't respect people without integrity. I don't respect people who don't respect others. I don't respect people simply because they have money. I respect people who have talent. I respect people who worked hard to get to where they are today. I respect people who have earned my respect. He is one of those people.
He is 周潤發 Chow Yun Fat ;-)